Santa Monica Filtration

Santa Monica Filtration SURF8 Algae Scrubber


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The SURF8(TM) is the largest version of the SURF Scrubbers®, which were the world`s first floating surface Upflow Algae Scrubbers® (also called UAS®) and seaweed cultivators. The SURF8 / SURF8x is also a Ribbon Scrubber®, which is what allows the green hair algae (mostly cladophora "angel hair" seaweed) to be removed from the scrubber/cultivator with one hand without needing to disassemble anything or take anything to the sink. Simply lift up a lid and pull the growth out. And you can feed some of the growth to your fish and snails if you want to (fresh food is best!). The large size of the SURF8 / SURF8x also stabilizes the unit when one light is lifted up.

This SURF8 / SURF8x floating surface scrubber/cultivator has over 96 square inches (600 square cm) of extremely rough Green Grabber® algal growth surface which can grow up to a 1" (2.5 cm) thick block of green hair algae in saltwater (less in freshwater).

The SURF8 / SURF8x combines the exact functionality of two SURF4 / SURF4x units into one larger unit, and does so in about the same total space but with less air tubing and more floating stability than two separate SURF4 / SURF4x units would provide. The LED lights on the SURF8 / SURF8x are exactly the same (and can be swapped at any time.with) the lights on a SURF4 / SURF4x, and since each light has a separate power supply, you can operate them on opposite photoperiods if you like. So, for those who have been seeking pH stability, the SURF8 / SURF8x is the first scrubber which will allow you to alternate the photoperiods without having to buy two separate scrubbers.

The SURF8 / SURF8x is designed for larger sumps, but will also fit well on top of dedicated scrubber-sumps, refugiums, frag tanks, displays (if it will not block the lighting), and fresh and saltwater ponds. One of the two growth compartments can also be operated solo, by turning off the light and the air flow (using the supplied air tubing caps) of one of the compartments. This allows you to reduce scrubbing capacity when not needed, such as when cycling a new tank.

The SURF8 / SURF8x starts with eight bubble openings at the bottom of the growth compartments, where upflowing air bubbles (from a high capacity air pump, not included) flow up into the two growth compartments and bring aquarium or pond water with it. As the bubbles and water enter the growth compartments they rub the algae-attachment ribbons and get blasted by the super-red 660nm LED light. The bubbles then circle around and around inside the growth compartments, rubbing against the ribbons and the Green Grabber super-rough rock-hard attachment textures as the bubbles rise up to the water surface. This repeated rubbing of bubbles causes algae to start growing on the ribbons and textures; freshwater grows thin stringy algae, and saltwater grows thicker, denser algae. The air then goes out of the top of the filter, quietly and with no salt spray, and the water goes down and out the eight drain holes in the bottom without any bubbles remaining.

A few features of the SURF8 / SURF8x provide real usefulness and are available on no other algae scrubbers except SURF scrubbers. First, the enclosed growth compartments increase the dwell time of the water and bubbles inside the unit so that they rub the algae many times before leaving the compartment. This actually reduces nutrients (nitrate, phosphate) to a level lower than the outside water, which allows greener growth to occur sooner (lower nutrients grow greener algae) inside the unit, especially in high-nutrient aquarium or pond water. In other words, the SURF8 / SURF8x creates a lower-nutrient ecosystem inside itself which is different from the rest of the outside water. Also, the position of the air bubble inlets (below the growth) causes the bubbles to flow up through the growth no matter how thick the growth gets. This is in contrast to waterfall scrubbers which mostly flow water on the outside of the growth, leaving the inner layers of growth without flow.

Another feature which was highly requested was quiet operation. Since the SURF8 / SURF8x does not touch the aquarium glass or sump glass, and since it`s made of heavy material surrounded by foam, it is a fairly quiet algae scrubber. The two thick and heavy gauge plastic growth containers are connected together by plastic beams, and are coated internally by even thicker and heavier Green Grabber rock textures, and then are surrounded on the outside by 1.75" (4.38 cm) closed cell polyethylene foam. This stops virtually much of the sound from going sideways. And the two 3/4" (19 mm) thick LED lids are filled with super dense polyurethane (the lids are 1.5 pounds each), which absorbs more sound than a rigid structure would, and much more than a non-sealed structure would. Lastly, the path that air has to take to get out of the top requires the air to first go sideways towards the foam, and then upwards along the foam; this allows the foam to absorb any remaining sound exactly the way foam absorbs sound in a studio. So while you may hear bubbling while standing next to it, you will not hear much if there is other equipment or pumps working like return pumps. And as growth fills the compartment, even more sound is absorbed by the algae itself. And there is 10 feet (3 meters) of 3/8" OD (outside-diameter) pure silicone air tubing for you to be able to place your air pump wherever you like, such as in a separate fish room, or a closet, so that it will not add any sound if you don`t want it to.

The main advantage of the SURF8 / SURF8x, or any algae scrubber, is that if you size and operate it properly it can be the only filter for your pond or tank, even replacing water changes. It can, however, also be used with other filters. Some other filters such as carbon dosing (Zeo, pellets, etc) may slow down the scrubber, but nothing will really "hurt" the scrubber except possibly large amounts of algaecide or copper medications. The SURF8 / SURF8x cannot even dry out, since it`s always under water; so it`s safe in power outages or tank-controller mishaps.

The SURF8comes with dual power supplies on each LED lid (total of four power plugs), each plug powering four LEDs (total of 16 LEDs) on the SURF8. Not only does this provide backup, it allows you to start each scrubber compartment with less light in a low-power mode, which sometimes helps growth start faster in low-nutrient water or new tanks. It also allows you to alternate photoperiods, or to completely turn off one of the compartments if you want to focus the growth in the other compartment.

The SURF8 / SURF8x comes with 10 ft (250 cm) of extremely flexible pure silicone white airline that is 1/4" (6mm) inside-diameter, and 3/8" (9mm) outside-diameter; this allows you to put your high-capacity air pump in another room or closet if desired. The SURF8 / SURF8x requires a high capacity air pump that can pump at least 20 total liters per minute (0.8 cfm), which regular air pumps that use regular airline cannot do. You will instead need an aquaculture or hydroponics type of air pump. You can pump as much air as you like, however; an 80 lpm pump is no problem, because the bubble-rings which circle the air inlets prevent large bubbles from escaping. It is the air bubbles which move water into the growth compartments and up the growth surfaces, and also supply carbon dioxide (CO2 in the air), which allow algae to grow in the filter. The more bubbles there are, the thicker the algae can grow. Large bubbles even create openings in the algae for light to reach further down into the growth; thus reducing dark areas. The bubble-rings also shield the bubbles from strong powerheads or flow that some sumps have, so that all the bubbles go up into the SURF8 / SURF8x growth compartments.

Each of the two LED lids contains red (660 nm) 3-watt LEDs which are attached to an aluminum heat sink which is painted black to reduce heat; it does get warm but is completely waterproof. The LEDs will give the pond, aquarium or sump a slight red color at night when the aquarium lights are off, but this will occur less as the SURF8 / SURF8x fills with growth. You will need to get at least one timer so you can run the LEDs for 12 to 22 hours per day (not 24). The LEDs never needs replacing.

Each growth compartment of the SURF8 / SURF8x will need to be cleaned ("harvested") every 7 to 10 days or when thick with growth. Just lift up the LED lid, grab a handful of algae, and pull it out. You can even feed some of the algae to your fish. In saltwater, you usually do not need to take anything apart, or take anything to your sink, once the growth gets thick. With freshwater however, the growth is thin and stringy enough that you may need to take the SURF8 / SURF8x to a sink (or outside) in order to brush the growth out while holding the unit under running water.


  • Dimensions: 17" wide by 11.5" tall by 4.5" thick (42 cm wide, 29 cm tall, 11 cm thick)
  • Recommended Water Level: ~4" (10 cm) of water to operate in
  • LEDs: Eight red (660 nm) 3-watt LEDs on each lid, which are attached to an aluminum heat sink which is painted black to reduce heat; it does get warm.
  • requires a high capacity air pump that can pump at least 20 total liters per minute (0.8 cfm), which small low-cost pumps cannot do. Pumps that say they can handle 20 or more airstones, or pumps with 4 tubing attachments instead of one, are best..You can have as much air as you like, however, 10 lpm per inlet (40 lpm total) is no problem.
1 - 5 Gallons 5 - 10 Gallons 10 - 40 Gallons 55 - 120 Gallons 180 - 300 Gallons 450+ Gallons
RAIN2 x2 x3 x5
DROP.2 x2
Saltwater only
HOG.5 x2
x2 x4
HOG1.3 x2 x4
HOG2 x2 x3 x5
Saltwater only
x2 x3 x4
Saltwater only
x2 x3 x5
Saltwater only
x2 x4
Saltwater only

Product Manuals & Documentation

Santa Monica Filtration SURF8 Algae Scrubber

Owner's Manual available for download in Adobe PDF file format
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