View Full Version : A Brief Intro...

01/20/2016, 08:10 AM
We here at Marine Biosystems would like to take a moment to introduce ourselves and provide some general information on what we do, where we came from and where we are headed. First, I would like to thank everyone here for their support and the opportunity to be a productive member of this community. We anticipate using this forum (and other forums on this site) not only to promote and support our products/customers but to contribute to the overall community as a whole. So, you will undoubtedly see our name pop up from time to time responding to general questions and discussions within the site. We look forward to contributing to the hobby any way we can.

To start off, my name is Tom Blaha and I started this brand about a year ago. My first saltwater tank was one that I maintained way back in 1990 in the Biology department at Penn State University. It was a small tank - about 75 gallons and housed mainly invertebrates and a few fish. It was nothing glamorous but was enough to plant seed of marine aquaria keeping in my blood. I graduated there in 1991 with a BS in Microbiology and went on to work on a PhD in Biophysics at Case Western in Cleveland. Before I could complete that degree I started a computer programming and development company that is the parent company of Marine Biosystems today (yes it has been a convoluted journey). For most of those years I desired to get going in the hobby again and finally got the opportunity a few years ago to set up another tank. Boy.. how things have changed since 1990!

I ran that tank for a couple years and have had the opportunity to experience the frustrations, highs and lows of modern reef keeping and I really love this hobby. In running that tank, I was introduced to the biopellet reactor by a local LFS when I was having a minor nitrate issue. I was told they were pretty effective at controlling nitrates so I decided to give it a try. I won't name the brand or the type, but what a train wreck it was. It worked fine few a few weeks, then it clogged up. Once it was clogged, I could clean it easily, but it would just reclog within a day or two. It had effectively self destructed by its own design, making itself essentially useless for the task it was designed for. I did some more research, talked to a lot of people and came to the conclusion this was more or less the experience of most people trying to run biopellets in their system regardless of the reactor make or model they chose to use. Out of frustration, I decided to "build a better mousetrap", starting with a good hard look as to why all the biopellet reactor designes failed for the same reason and then progressing to how do we design something that gets around that.

So, in the fall of 2014 the analysis began and it didn't take long to see that problem was with how everyone was attempting to fluidize the pellets. All reactors (at the time and the vast majority still) relied on fluidizing the pellets by blowing water through them - either from the top, bottom or side. This is a terrible way to fluidize large particles. When the particles are at rest, they act as a solid, when in motion, they act as a liquid. By forcing water through them, only those pellets in the direct path of the water flow will fluidize, the neighboring pellets will remain solid. The solid areas are dead spots. When fluidizing carbon or GFO, dead spots are not the end of the world because they don't develop a biofilm which is sticky. Biopellets do. So in the case of biopellets, dead spots = clumping. and once you have clumping you may as well start over. To get rid of the dead spots with these inefficient reactors your only real choice is to get a bigger pump to throw more water at it... which is what most hobbyists end up doing (outside of giving up) with varying degrees of success. Fortunately, after all this analysis we concluded there was a better way.

Since the pellets act as a solid at rest and a liquid in motion we knew we had to find a way to fluidize the entire pellet mass without any dead spots. Given that, the F5 Biopellet reactor was born late February 2015. It uses a unique, patent pending lifting plate under the pellets. Water comes from a pump below and passes through the plate. The water outlet nozzles force the water horizontally under the pellets and across special lifting fins, fluidizing the entire mass from the bottom up. The fluidized pellets ride about 1 - 5 mm above the plate on the incoming water with gravity pulling the mass back down to keep it in a nice uniform flowing system as the reactor operates. In affect, rather then having individual nozzles blowing the pellets around like the status quo designs, the F5 plate makes the entire bottom of the reactor act as one giant nozzle. It is so efficient in fact, that we have a bigger problem finding pumps small enough for it to operate correctly - good thing for ball valves. For example, we hear common reports of needing 400 - 700 gph to fluidize 400 ml of biopellets (enough for a 100 gallon tank) for the long term. Our reactors require about 100 gph (they ship with a Rio 180+ which has to be dialed back a little with the included ball valve). Our own testing with these operating on real tanks reveals not a single failure due to clumping even on our oldest units, which have been running non stop since February 2015.

One big implication for this design is the ability to miniaturize it. Since we are not burdened by the need for a large pump, we can easily design units which will properly function in smaller nano and pico aquaria. To that end, we do offer a nano version that can treat up to a 30 gallon tank running on a Rio 50+ pump with its correspondingly tiny footprint.

So we started making and selling these last spring with the original models being all 3-D printed, making us the first commercially available 3-D printed reactors in the US.

In September, we had a booth at MACNA and met a lot of great people that had a lot of great suggestions. Coming out of that we decided to refine the design and begin manufacturing it from cell cast acrylic. The conversion to that manufacturing is just being completed.

Which brings us to today. Today, we are a company looking to design and manufacture unique, quality products which work efficiently and make reef keeping easier and more enjoyable for all. All our products are manufactured in our shop here in Chardon, OH from materials which are also sourced from US manufacturers. Currently, only the pumps are sourced from over seas vendors.

So, in a nutshell thats how we got to this point. If you are interested in more reading, reef-builders has some interesting articles on us here....

marine biosystems - Reef Builders

Our website is at http://www.marinebiosystems.com

.. and of course, we monitor this board so please don't hesitate to ask any questions you may have.

We anticipate this to be a big year here - we have a few new ground breaking ideas in the works and we will keep you posted of those developments in this forum as the time comes.

07/05/2016, 02:44 PM
Late welcome :)

3D products could start being a majority soon, I hope.

12/14/2016, 04:52 PM
Will you be coming out with a recirculating BioPellet model?