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pupi
08/17/2017, 04:52 AM
Hi guys,

I'm setting up a new tank, cycling right now, the goal is to obtain a low nutrients system with heavy skimming and lots of live rocks. Thinking about how to feed the corals, I have thought about using zeolites just to produce bacterial mulm to spread in the tank that should be a viable live food for corals. Zeolites though have a lots of other effects which could interfere with other filtration methods so I thought about using Siporax, which should have higher available surface and should be chemically inert. My plan is to run them in a fluidized bed at low flow and give them a daily burst of a few seconds with a more powerful pump to shake them and release the mulm into the display tank.

Do you think such a system would be valid as a source of live food for corals? Of course I would add other sources of food...

Could there be drawbacks I am not thinking about?

For this kind of use which kind of Siporax do you think would be best suited? I was thinking about Siporax mini, it should be lighter and more easily shaken by the water flow.

Thank you in advance!

cham
08/17/2017, 07:48 AM
Interesting idea, curious to what others think

plyle02
08/17/2017, 08:31 AM
Hi guys,

I'm setting up a new tank, cycling right now, the goal is to obtain a low nutrients system with heavy skimming and lots of live rocks. Thinking about how to feed the corals, I have thought about using zeolites just to produce bacterial mulm to spread in the tank that should be a viable live food for corals. Zeolites though have a lots of other effects which could interfere with other filtration methods so I thought about using Siporax, which should have higher available surface and should be chemically inert. My plan is to run them in a fluidized bed at low flow and give them a daily burst of a few seconds with a more powerful pump to shake them and release the mulm into the display tank.

Do you think such a system would be valid as a source of live food for corals? Of course I would add other sources of food...

Could there be drawbacks I am not thinking about?

For this kind of use which kind of Siporax do you think would be best suited? I was thinking about Siporax mini, it should be lighter and more easily shaken by the water flow.

Thank you in advance!

Maybe this application would push micro life that is feeding off detritus that is building on media, but as far as nutrient control, unnecessary IMO. Zeo mulm is by product of their operating philosophy, not the central reason for disturbing the stones. The stones do not have nearly the surface area as siporax, and the surface becomes inefficient if the surface has bacteria all over it, thus the purpose for disturbing this media. Benefits of running low nutrients are more fish, more food, more coral food, plus the ability to add aminos as well as other coral foods and supplements. Not that this will not work, but as I know it, as long as siporax or pumice does not get clogged with detritus, there would be no reason for disturbing this media. With the homing efficiency of these medias, they sort of control their own populations. Some systems require dosing of bacteria to help populate the tank, and carbon source to feed bacteria, but only if nutrients and bioload demand it.

jda
08/17/2017, 09:07 AM
This is not even close to necessary. The SPS will grow and thrive just fine without any of this.

However, if you want to do it, you will need to get the particle size of the stuff that you are trying to grow and see if it even is catchable for the SPS. Next, see if dinos and coral tissue can even get any energy out of it of if they use more energy catching and trying to process it than get out of it.

It has a been a LONG time since I looked at this, but zooplankton size is more what SPS are looking to eat and not bacteria size.

Over the decades, lots of people have had great ideas to feed their corals and none of them have really worked like they think... phytoplankton, marine snow. Most of the time, the do end up feeding the corals after the additives die elsewhere, become part of the N cycle and give the coral a bit of N and P. While this might sound good, you can do the same thing and keep your fish and clean up crew more happy by feeding them a bit more.

Aleph
08/17/2017, 10:20 AM
@plyle02

If filtration is you primary goal then yes, of course the whole shaking thing is secondary. However, in my case I would add this system to a tank with an already established filtration system and already low nutrients so the only purpose of the media would be as a "food growth" substrate.

@jda

I know this system is probably unnecessary but if it worked it surely wouldn't hurt...your points are totally correct, and the viability of the mulm as actual food is the main doubt that brought me to make this thread. The point is, it seems unlikely that sps or any kind of coral would bother themselves with something so small, and still the mulm is widely regarded as viable coral food by reefers, and also by the official zeovit guide, and seems to trigger a feeding response, so wondering how to solve this doubt I have come up with two possible explanations:

1 - The presence of bacteria in the water column actually feeds other organisms like zooplankton that rise in population and become themselves food for corals (this benefit could be more evident in heavy skimmed tanks where more bacteria are skimmed out of the water column and the water is more bacteria deprived)

2 - The mulm is likely to be made of bacterial aggregate held together by a matrix made of detritus, mucus, whatever...the bigger size of the bacterial aggregates could make them more viable as food

Besides the theory though I don't have any direct experience with this matter so that's the reason why I'm gathering feedbacks...

pupi
08/17/2017, 10:25 AM
Oops, I posted by mistake from my brother's account. Count the above reply as mine, sorry!

pisanoal
08/17/2017, 11:06 AM
Hi guys,

I'm setting up a new tank, cycling right now, the goal is to obtain a low nutrients system with heavy skimming and lots of live rocks. Thinking about how to feed the corals, I have thought about using zeolites just to produce bacterial mulm to spread in the tank that should be a viable live food for corals. Zeolites though have a lots of other effects which could interfere with other filtration methods so I thought about using Siporax, which should have higher available surface and should be chemically inert. My plan is to run them in a fluidized bed at low flow and give them a daily burst of a few seconds with a more powerful pump to shake them and release the mulm into the display tank.

Do you think such a system would be valid as a source of live food for corals? Of course I would add other sources of food...

Could there be drawbacks I am not thinking about?

For this kind of use which kind of Siporax do you think would be best suited? I was thinking about Siporax mini, it should be lighter and more easily shaken by the water flow.

Thank you in advance!


I think you are missing the concept of a fluidized bed. Siporax would not fluidize at low flows. It would take considerable velocity due to the geometry and packing characteristics of the siporax. For a fluidized bed, think gently tumbling, or bubbling surface.

If you do indeed intend to fluidize the siporax, the,velocities required would most likely be sufficient to keep the surface free of bacterial film (continuous sloughing), so you would not need to put it on a schedule to do this.

pupi
08/17/2017, 04:17 PM
I think you are missing the concept of a fluidized bed. Siporax would not fluidize at low flows. It would take considerable velocity due to the geometry and packing characteristics of the siporax. For a fluidized bed, think gently tumbling, or bubbling surface.

If you do indeed intend to fluidize the siporax, the,velocities required would most likely be sufficient to keep the surface free of bacterial film (continuous sloughing), so you would not need to put it on a schedule to do this.

I know well how fluidized beds work, what I was proposing was a continuous low flow that does not actually fluidize the Siporax that would just be the same as to put them into the sump with sporadic (daily?) bursts with a powerful pump that actually fluidize the Siporax to release the bacterial film. Think of it as an automatic zeolite reactor like the zeomatic which I think works roughly like that.

About the shape, I think that the hollow cylinders (the standard Siporax) would not be really suitable for this purpose, it would take a big reactor to use them efficiently. I was proposing the Siporax mini, they are much smaller and I think much easier to "shake".

jda
08/17/2017, 05:53 PM
There is a third possible explanation: that the people telling you this are selling you something. I know that sounds dooooochie and all of that, but nobody who quit zeovit ever posts about how their tanks miss it or that anything suffers.

In any case, I think that you are right that it probably won't hurt anything. I would still spend the money and energy elsewhere like on a CaRx or better lights that are well known to feed the corals.

Zooplankton in our water columns are just dreams. The filtration is too good and they are quickly removed. There have been studies where millions of rotifers are released into the tank and in a few hours only a very few can be found in a water sample.

Lastly, even if you can get a good size for your SPS to eat, do they get any benefit out of it, or do they spend more energy than they get. If these are the "brine shrimp" of coral food, then I would avoid it.

pupi
08/19/2017, 03:56 AM
@jda
That's a possibility for sure, that's why I wanted to gather direct experience feedbacks, I think that's the only way to know how things are.
About the money that's not a problem, I already have almost everything I need to implement the system from my previous tank so it would be an almost zero cost experiment.
Your observation about the depletion of microorganisms on the water column is correct, that's why I wanted to release the mulm in bursts so that (should it be edible) there is a small time window in which there is available food before it gets skimmed (it could also be possible to turn off the skimmer for some time to increase effectiveness).
I have a question, you are referring to the possibility of SPS spending more energy than they get, do you mean that they could spend energy catching the mulm and then they would not eat it or simply that the mulm would not be nutrient enough when eaten? Is this observation based on your direct experience or have you read about it somewhere? If so, could you point me to some source? This is an important matter in my opinion.

Bulldog88
08/19/2017, 08:02 AM
Following along, as I'm thinking of using siporax on my 120 build

jda
08/19/2017, 08:15 AM
Rotifers released into the tank not only are the wrong size, but get "exhausted" and have no energy left to give whatever consumes then and the spend more energy digesting than they get when they are done. Not a great parallel, but it is one. Adult brine shrimp are worthless nutritionally too (for fish).

I have no idea if yours will have any nutritional value or not. People like to talk about all of the theoretical benefits of this thing or another and don't think of the theoretical downsides and this could be one... especially when the coral do not need it whatsoever. They could be the miracle food that reefing has been missing (I doubt it since nobody who ever quit Zeovit noticed much difference), but you could also do harm. In any case, you were wanting possible issues so if you can find out something, then it might help. ...I know that this is pretty helpful, sorry.

It seems like you are trying to figure out how to make your acros have the best possible environment. If so, then put some Metal Halides over the tank and let them work, or a many-bulb T5 setup. If you are thinking of using some panels, then all of this will be moot since the difference in LED and T5/MH has such a gap for acropora that you could never overcome it with any coral food or "system." Don't overthink this too much. I think that you will have the best margin for error with experiments if you have best of breed lights and water parameters.

pupi
08/19/2017, 09:07 AM
Rotifers released into the tank not only are the wrong size, but get "exhausted" and have no energy left to give whatever consumes then and the spend more energy digesting than they get when they are done. Not a great parallel, but it is one. Adult brine shrimp are worthless nutritionally too (for fish).

I have no idea if yours will have any nutritional value or not. People like to talk about all of the theoretical benefits of this thing or another and don't think of the theoretical downsides and this could be one... especially when the coral do not need it whatsoever. They could be the miracle food that reefing has been missing (I doubt it since nobody who ever quit Zeovit noticed much difference), but you could also do harm. In any case, you were wanting possible issues so if you can find out something, then it might help. ...I know that this is pretty helpful, sorry.

It seems like you are trying to figure out how to make your acros have the best possible environment. If so, then put some Metal Halides over the tank and let them work, or a many-bulb T5 setup. If you are thinking of using some panels, then all of this will be moot since the difference in LED and T5/MH has such a gap for acropora that you could never overcome it with any coral food or "system." Don't overthink this too much. I think that you will have the best margin for error with experiments if you have best of breed lights and water parameters.

Yes, I'm trying to create an environment as close as possible to the "natural" environment in which corals live, and of course it's not going to happen, I know, but still being able to provide live viable food (which in nature, if I'm not mistaken, is the main source of energy for corals) would be an improvement towards the goal whether it's actually necessary or not.
There is also a practical reason: in the low nutrients tanks that I've seen (and my previous tank was one of them) it's absolutely necessary to provide external nutrients for the corals to be healthy. That means that you have to balance fish food, various types of coral food, amino acids, etc... Having an "automatic" source of live food would provide a stable baseline for feeding and stabilize everything in my opinion.

I agree with you that there is no theoretical evidence that this should work for sure, hoping someone can give us more feedback based on their experience.

About lighting, I'm starting with LEDs because I've seen lots of beautiful tanks also posted here in the forum that run on LEDs and have very healthy acros and with stunning colors at the same time so I wanted to take the challenge. Should this lighting not bring satisfying results I always have my precious ATI T5 fixture ready to go!

Piper27
08/21/2017, 08:10 AM
Sounds like buying some zeolites and shaking them would be easier. Anyways unless your using a carbon source I don't see any mulm developing on the sporax. I definitely don't see mulm developing on sporax if your system has a large amount or even a normal amount of live Rock. The rock will be housing most of any mulm and bacteria that you could disturb into the water. Also I would think that growing mulm on sporax would cause issues with it's ability to process nutrients and would eventually kill off the good stuff on the sporax, just a guess though. If you do try it anyways, I would make sure you dose a carbon source to the reactor daily instead of dosing it into the sump water where it probably won't help you.
Personally I just dose a lot of carbon source and keep a large amount of live Rock in a separate tank. I dose the carbon into the live Rock tank to keep bacteria populations high and so I don't get mulm developing in my sump and display. This gives me a lot of leeway if I need to raise the dose to lower nutrients. I think using a carbon source is all that is needed to keep any kind off food for corals in the water. Shaking mulm off zeolites didn't make any difference in the health of my corals. Some may have seen benefits but I have not talked to any of them. I have always had the best luck when I kept things simple.
Good luck!

Lord,Darth Bane
08/21/2017, 08:21 AM
The bacteria is living inside the tiny pores of the Siporax, not on the surface, which you couldn't simply shake them off.

Even for Zeovit system, pulling the Zeolite reactor is not mainly for feeding corals, but more for shaking off the biofilm to help Zeolite absorbing more NH4, otherwise the biofilm may decrease its efficiency.

This is why Zeovit tank still needs to feed CV. CV is the food for coral.

If you want to provide food source, setup a refugium in the sump. You still need to feed the system though.

pupi
08/26/2017, 01:37 AM
Thanks guys! Your points are correct, I didn't think about the fact that most of the porosity of the siporax will be internal, and so the bacteria living within the siporax will likely not be released when shaken. I could try with zeolites, but I don't like the fact that they subtract ammonia from the nitrate cycle, for the same reason I won't be adding any carbon source, in my opinion it's best to let the bacteria regulate themselves upon the organic load of the tank.
Could you think of another suitable substrate? Anyway, probably not worth the trouble :sad1:

Piper27
08/26/2017, 08:03 AM
Why would you not want a little ammonia taken out with zeolites? Zeolites also take out other nasty stuff from the water, but I have only seen a positive impact when running them on a low nutrient system. Carbon dosing is used when your tank is having trouble keeping up with nutrients by itself. But can also be used in small amounts to add the benefits of having extra bacteria without stripping the water. I don't see another substrate working for developing bacteria mulm if your not feeding it with a carbon source anyways.

Lord,Darth Bane
08/27/2017, 02:24 AM
Thanks guys! Your points are correct, I didn't think about the fact that most of the porosity of the siporax will be internal, and so the bacteria living within the siporax will likely not be released when shaken. I could try with zeolites, but I don't like the fact that they subtract ammonia from the nitrate cycle, for the same reason I won't be adding any carbon source, in my opinion it's best to let the bacteria regulate themselves upon the organic load of the tank.
Could you think of another suitable substrate? Anyway, probably not worth the trouble :sad1:

You could use Zeolite without changing them every 6 weeks, then once they get exhausted they would not further absort NH4.

Again, this is not an effective way for producing food for corals. Adding a few more fish and feeding them would be a far better way. Or better, a refugium with DSB. You could stir the surface 1cm of sand then there would be lots of food particles going to the water column.

jda
08/27/2017, 10:50 AM
If you are after a top 1% SPS tank, then you are going to struggle with LEDs... next to nobody gets to that level with those lights. I will not start a lighting argument or war and will not respond beyond this post, but if you are truly wanting a high end reef tank, then I might suggest that you limit your unknowns to just one so that you know what to correct if you need to IMO, you will be chasing too many variables if you use LED and this feeding method, so either just go straight Berlin (known awesomeness) or put your ATI on there (also known awesomeness) and just have one variable.

BTW - acropora need no filter feeding to survive and thrive... even in nature. The light and water-borne elements can and will give them all that they need. The reefs where nearly all acropora are collected are oligotrophic with next to no nutrients in the water.

pupi
08/27/2017, 12:33 PM
@Piper27
I have read that in uln environments zeolite can deprive the water column too much and cause stn, of course that usually happens in conjunction with carbon dosing and many other variables, like in zeovit tanks...I wanted to make an experiment without having to worry too much about stuff like this...well, if I wanted to try I could start with small amounts and see how it turns out...
@Lord,Darth Bane
Not changing the zeolite could actually be a good idea. Of course I would feed the tank as I would without this system, so this would be an "extra". I have set up a cryptic section in the sump that would act similarly as a refugium would in terms of filtration and food in the water column...
@jda
I'm going with a Berlin like method from the start - lots of rocks, lots of water movement, heavy skimming, and wanted to risk the LED variable because I liked the challenge, reduced costs and less maintenance (I hate having to replace the bulbs every n months) and I love the light itself, it's much more vivid than the t5 lighting and it's much easier to calibrate the color spectrum to the exact blue/white balance I like...
I don't think I have the experience nor the talent to aim for a top 1% tank (besides, it will be a mixed one with LPS and SPS), I just want a tank that has healthy corals and good colors, maybe not as good as tanks with mhs or t5s but again, I've seen tanks with beautiful colors run with led so...we'll see...

jda
08/27/2017, 02:55 PM
My bad... If you are not wanting a top 1% tank, then why are you messing with all of this? Just basic Berlin with a CaRx/Doser and 20% monthy water changes can get to top 5-10% with absolute ease.

I guess that you just like to mess with stuff and try stuff out? If so, that is cool, but know that SPS and stability are key and that experimentation will hold you back... a lot.

Aleph
08/30/2017, 11:09 AM
Yes, I definitely like to mess with stuff and try stuff out, as long as it doesn't hold particular risks...top 5-10% would be more than enough, I guess I'll just try to reach that goal with "standard" methods and work my way up from there...thank you all for your suggestions!