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activecactus
09/24/2016, 11:12 AM
So after a number of years out of the hobby, I'm finally able to set up another tank. So much has changed( LEDs, new algae scrubbers, biopellets, etc). I've tried to stay on top of the advances when I could and I see that biopellets are even being phased out for other carbon dosing approaches.

I've been intrigued by this method for a while now and am willing to give it a try in hopes of having a set it and forget method for a ultra low nutrient system where I can heavily feed the tank.

I just got saltwater circulating through the tank and sump(no pellets yet), so the following is what I have and how I plan to implement biopellets.

-90g tank with 15g sump
-mag9 return pump
-mag5 feeding 2 BRS canisters (1 for carbon/gfo, 2nd for biopellets)
-reef octopus skimmer
-new apex controller
-100+lbs Fiji cured rock
-1 to 2" sand bed

The sump is split into three compartments-
1 for the skimmer
2nd for the return and the mag5
3rd for 10L of siporax

My plan is to not use the skimmer for direct removal of bacteria from the BP reactor, but to directly feed the 3rd chamber and just have the siporax breakdown the mulm or bacteria that comes from it.

I plan on purchasing a dissolved oxygen sensor(after saving and selling some stuff), to place at the bottom of the 3rd chamber. I should be able to monitor and control just how annoxic the chamber is by adjusting the flow of effluent coming out of the BP reactor.

I hope this makes sense and will post pictures soon.
Please let me know if this sounds feasible or not as the minimal research I've done seems to suggest it's possible.

activecactus
09/25/2016, 10:42 AM
Here is a quick video to show what I mean.
http://vid12.photobucket.com/albums/a233/activecactus/IMG_0817.mp4

Side note: I do have a glass cover that sits above the spray bar to prevent any gas exchange.

GimpyFin
09/26/2016, 10:48 AM
I'll chime in since I've been using bio pellets successfully for about 2.5 years. One of the most important things is that they are used in a reactor that keeps the pellets suspended and gently tumbling. A lot of general purpose reactors can fall short here and you may end up with pellets clumping and turning to a gooey mess. On the flip side, if they are blown around too violently they aren't effective either.

IMO, with the rock and sand bed you have, you really don't even need the ceramic bio media. If you stay with that, I would definitely put the pellet reactor output by the skimmer and not have it go through the bio media, or you'll likely end up with a mess. The purpose of this method is to have the film/waste from the bacteria consuming the pellets removed by the skimmer (Different than bio media like siporax breaking down ammonia/nitrate in the water.)

As far as type of pellets, Ecobak/Ecobak plus are one of the better pellets, IMO. If you have a strong skimmer and the output of the reactor is near the skimmer, it works well. You can start off with a smaller dose to limit the bacterial bloom you might initially get (Goes away pretty quick in most cases.) After that you can add more according to recommended dosage/tank size, and then just add as they are depleted over time.

Anyway, just my $.02. Hopefully it helps. Cheers.

reefgeezer
09/26/2016, 03:10 PM
Your plan may be over-kill. Nitrate is better understood now and pretty easy to control in a properly stocked & fed system. It can easily be driven too low. IMO, your rock, a skimmer, and a little GFO will go a long way. You can add the other stuff as the need arises.

activecactus
09/27/2016, 05:25 AM
I'm aware that the traditional way of using pellets has been a proven method, but it seems to be hit and miss with a lot of people. I can't help but wonder if it has to do with fine tuning the reactor flow, adding just the right amount of media or feeding the tank proportionally to the amount of pellets. Having to constantly check parameters once you've adjusted the reactor then waiting and waiting, checking and checking all the variables till what seems to be months before the pellets get colonized by the wrong bacteria.

Isn't the correct bacteria for breaking down nitrates living underneath the outer bacteria in the reactor?
It would seem to me that providing an anoxic zone for the right bacteria to colonize would be more effective than just having small pockets of it.

With the ability to monitor the level of oxygen in the chamber it makes me think that there could be a direct relationship as to how effective the bacteria is consuming the nitrates. Essentially dialing in how much you want to remove.

I am skeptical if this will work because of the short contact time that the water passes through the system and if the siporax can even break down the other bacteria. I do think it will be fun to try out though.

GimpyFin
09/27/2016, 08:15 AM
Reefgeezer adds a good point as well. You may not necessarily need to run something like biopellets if you don't have an issue otherwise keeping Nitrates in check.

They work a little differently than rock/sand/biomedia, which simply provide bacteria areas to colonize. With pellets, you're adding a carbon food source for bacteria to feed and grow, similar to vodka/vinegar dosing. As the pellets are consumed by bacteria, excess nutrients are also consumed and the film shed from this is removed by the skimmer. This is why it's important to have a gentle tumble in the reactor (So you don't get a clumpy, slimy mess), and your skimmer is near the output of the reactor (To effectively remove the waste produced.)

Again, the pellets you use play a part too in the results. Ecobak plus, IME, works well and seems to feed/promote a good diversity of bacteria compared to some of the others. I've also had no side effects like cyano when using it. My Nitrate level has never really gone above 2 with this, but has been around 1 or a little less pretty consistently.

reefgeezer
09/27/2016, 11:31 AM
...My plan is to not use the skimmer for direct removal of bacteria from the BP reactor, but to directly feed the 3rd chamber and just have the siporax breakdown the mulm or bacteria that comes from it...

Maybe I'm just closed minded or don't understand how Siporax works, but, IME, this really defeats the purpose of the biopellets. They work by binding nitrate and, to a lessor extent, phosphate in bacteria that is bound in the mulm and/or removed by skimmer.

By diverting the mulm exiting the reactor around the skimmer and allowing the bacterial mulm to be broken down, all you are doing is re-releasing the bound nutrients back into the system. It would have the same effect as just letting untreated untreated flow normally through the Siporax. In the process you would be adding carbohydrates from the biopellets to your system. This could add to the organic bioload of the system and possibly encourage Cyano or Dino's to propagate.

activecactus
09/27/2016, 08:29 PM
I never thought of it that way.
Makes sense to me. That sounds like a bigger reason it wont work.

I guess i just thought that anoix bacteria could break down anything and whatever it couldnt, the corals would comsume.

reefgeezer
09/28/2016, 07:12 AM
I never thought of it that way.
Makes sense to me. That sounds like a bigger reason it wont work.

I guess i just thought that anoix bacteria could break down anything and whatever it couldnt, the corals would comsume.

I believe that when used normally, biopellets can provide some limited free organics that the corals could use. I just think that not trying to export the majority of the organics that exit the reactor is not a good idea.

dz6t
09/28/2016, 09:59 AM
Biopellets is a way control high nitrate. The method was first used in fish farming industry to solve very high nitrate problem due to overcrowding and heavy feeding of fish.
If you don't have a high nitrate issue, you don't need biopellets. I have seen many tanks, especially SPS dominated tanks got ruined by improper use of biopellets.

GimpyFin
09/28/2016, 11:15 AM
If you don't have a high nitrate issue, you don't need biopellets. I have seen many tanks, especially SPS dominated tanks got ruined by improper use of biopellets.


People can have issues with SPS and biopellets when running higher alk. When you go above 8.5-ish dKh and low nutrients, you can start getting alk burn on some SPS. I keep mine between 7-8 with no issues.

reefgeezer
09/28/2016, 01:42 PM
People can have issues with SPS and biopellets when running higher alk. When you go above 8.5-ish dKh and low nutrients, you can start getting alk burn on some SPS. I keep mine between 7-8 with no issues.

+1... Lower alk, available nitrates & phosphates, and a suitable export method are required.

activecactus
09/28/2016, 05:43 PM
People can have issues with SPS and biopellets when running higher alk. When you go above 8.5-ish dKh and low nutrients, you can start getting alk burn on some SPS. I keep mine between 7-8 with no issues.

Thanks for that tip! When it comes time to use pellets, I'll route the line to the skimmer and just feed the siporax with the carbon canister.

It's been real fun having the chance to get back into the hobbie. Hopefully for the long term.

Thanks for your guys advice!

GimpyFin
09/28/2016, 05:54 PM
Glad to provide any assistance I can. I've used pellets for quite a while, so I've become familiar with some of the issues and quirks. Best of luck with the tank!

activecactus
06/03/2017, 01:27 PM
So I'd like to give you guys an update on what I've done so far and my experience these 8 plus months.

I decided to go with pellets that do not need to be tumbled and I just ran the output into the bio media. So far so good (I think). My experiences have been;

- no bacterial bloom
- minimal pellet consumption (little mulm)
- undetectable NO3 and PO4 unless I dose

Now I know that I have a phosphate problem because I had a Bryopsis outbreak back in January. I got rid of most of it using the fucazole treatment. I say mostly cause I forgot to turn of the carbon filter for 8 hours. I dosed at night and when I woke up, it dawned on me that I forgot to turn it off. A couple weeks later only a few stems remained and I decided to turn on the carbon filter.

I started dosing 20ml of Kno3 and 1ml of phosphorus a day to keep my levels at 5ppm and <.03ppm. A couple weeks of dosing and I stopped cause my nitrates seemed to stabilize around 5ppm.

Just a couple weeks ago my nitrates climbed up to around 10 ppm with no change in my feeding routine. I had been noticing that the flow through the biopellet reactor had noticeably slowed down so I opened the valve to give it more flow. This helped a little but eventually slowed again. So last week I simply dumped the pellets into another canisters and the flow was good again. I cleaned the old canister and noticed the build up of mulm preventing the water flow.

Now Im back to dosing Kno3 and PO4 and the bryopsis is coming back lol.
Hopefully I can get my levels stable again before I get over run with algae again. Lol

Zoas and palys doing great
Euphillias good
Sps so so, but I attribute that due to the alk swings I'm trying to stabilize.