Will be starting threads on the various "method's" in advance reef keeping so hobbyist can understand each method better. As with anything in this hobby there is no one way or wrong way to keep a Reef tank.
Here is the FAQ from the Zeovit forum so that you can understand the basic's of the system.
ZeoVit Basic Information by Shadowramy
Some say that ZeoVit is just the latest ‘snake oil’ to hit the reef market, while others praise the colorful results it gets. Still others believe the results but believe the system is just much too complicated and too expensive.
First let me state that this article is in no way meant to explain scientifically how the system works or sway you one way or the other to buying into ZeoVit. I am asked a lot about the zeovit system so I really wanted to sit down and give my thoughts. I am mainly writing this to try and explain in laymen's terms what the system is about for those that are interested in knowing about ZeoVit.
I have been running a ZeoVit system successfully for over three years now. Before that time I ran a basic Berlin system using live rock, live sand, and a skimmer with strong lighting. Later I added refugium full of macro algae to help nutrient export.
Around 2005 prodibio came on the scene, people where getting some great colors using the system, others were not getting much of anything. I decided I would give the system a try.
After about six months using the prodibio system I was getting some really good results as far as algae reduction and lower nitrate and phosphate levels. I was cleaning much less and was able to feed much more. I then read a forum where people where incorporating ZeoStart as a carbon source with the prodibio system. I decided to give it a try. Again, even better, my corals were growing faster with brighter colors and I was having very little issues with any algae.
Prodibio was a great start but I was wasting much of it because the dosage size. Dosing is done every 14 days and I only had a 75 gallon tank so I was only using about half the product and dumping the rest.
I then decided to find out more about zeovit since I was already using ZeoStart and dabbling in Amino Acids. Upon my research if found very mixed results, the scientific community seem to frown on the system, primiarly because the designer of the system, Thomas Pohl, would not release the ingredients of what is in the additives.
What Does ZeoVit Do?
Let’s start off with what does the ZeoVit system do. Zeovit is a system that incorporates bacterial sources to help rid a system of excess nutrients. Some have labeled this as one of this first well publicized ultra low nutrient system or ULNS. The idea is to mimic natural seawater (NSW) parameters by reducing the levels of Nitrate and Phosphate without lowering other essential parameters such as Calcium and Magnesium.
The best way that I understand this is a two step process; 1) the system removes excess nutrients such as nitrate and phosphate through bacteria sources and skimming. 2) Once ULNS has been achieved, you may 'tweak' coral colors through additional Zeovit additives.
Well isn’t that what you are suppose to accomplish in a reef system? Can I do that with a nice high-end skimmer and frequent water changes? Well yes, but there are some nice side benefits to the zeovit system that we will talk about later.
Many think by reading nitrate and phosphate at ‘undetectable’ on their trident test kit they are running an ULNS, however, very few test kits can measure nitrate and phosphate at those low levels. Typically, zeovit users use a photometer such as the Hana meter to test for phosphate. The Hana meter digitally reads down to .001. In Zeovit, there are visual identifiers that signify you are past one step and ready to move to the next. Simply adding a food source such as amino acids without running your system through step one will result in just adding more nutrients to your system and the result might not be that good.
One note; Zeovit is not a ‘cookie-cutter’ system, since every system is different and has different needs, the dosage and products of zeovit will vary from one tank to another. Although Zeovit is a very precision system you will get your best results by watching your corals and letting them tell you what is needed. Zeovit uses some basic introductory guidelines to get you started.
The Basic Four
The basic four is the absolute minimum you will need to incorporate (purchase) for the zeovit system. The other Zeovit products are 'as needed' additives and suppliment to help improve or tweak your system. In addition to the basic four, you will need some type of Zeovit reactor and use Carbon 24/7 every 30 days.
Think of these as porous man made rocks that absorb something, specifically reef toxins (I would say nitrate and phosphate but nobody knows for sure if these actually remove them or help bind them so your skimmer can easily remove them). Zeovit uses a mixture of different zeolites that have been found to best reduce toxins in a saltwater system. Exactly how they work has been much debated; from a theory of bacterial colonizing to locking-up or removing ammonia, to a transformation process of nutrients to a different ion. Sorry, I have no idea of how it works just that it does.
The zeolites are stored in a reactor, which looks a lot like a Calcium reactor without all the extra do-dads on it. It is a single chamber with a second chamber inside the first with a handle that protrudes out of the top. The Zeolites are placed in the second chamber and once a day the second chamber is ‘pumped’ to clean the zeolites of mulm (algae build up). This mulm is said to actually feed corals.
Zeolites are changed out at approximately every six to eight weeks (I have never had good results with zeolites lasting past eight weeks). I assume the exchange rate is based on the amount of nutrients you have in your system much like activated carbon.
One thing I know for sure, running a zeovit system without zeolites will not work to its full capacity and using a different ‘ebay’ zeolite will not work. I can absolutely tell when my zeolites are expelled and no longer fit for use, my corals will look faded.
This is a bacteria source that is used to colonize the zeolites, live rock and/or sand beds which help reduce nutrients. The biggest difference in my option about other carbon sourced systems such as a vodka or vodka/sugar/vinegar (VSV) is that they do not incorporate a bacteria source. It has been theorized that running a system that is totally reliant on ones own tank to produce the necessary bacteria can result in one bacteria completing against another bacteria. This competition can result in a mono-culture of bacteria which does not remove nutrients at all.
Zeobak is dosed every day initially, after colonies have established in your system this is drastically reduced to once or twice weekly.
This is a food source for your corals and bacteria, since you are basically starving your corals of excess nutrients you need to put something back in for your corals to feed on. Since zeovit has introduced so many other food sources such as amino acids and Xtra, I rarely use this product any more.
Initially dosed at approximately five drops per 200 net gallons.
This is the carbon source; it smells like an Easter egg coloring kit (vinegar). I am sure it is some mixture of vinegar, sugar and/or something else but not sure exactly what. Initially, this was the carbon source I used in conjunction with Prodibio BioDigest and it worked very well.
ZeoStart helps in the reproduction of nitrifying bacteria which basically ‘eats’ phosphate and nitrate. Zeostart works in conjunction with zeobak (the food for the bacteria) and zeobak works in conjunction with the zeolites.
Zeostart is dosed at approximately 1ml per 200 net gallons.
Additionally, zeovit incorporates GAC carbon that is run 24 hours for 30 days and then exchanged. This can be run passively in a bag or through a reactor. Zeovit does have their own brand and I have used it with great results. I have also used hydro-carbon and Seachem matrix with good results. You do want to watch out for aggressive carbons such as ROX. For me ROX was just too much for my system and reduced my growth in some corals.
It is also assumed in the Zeovit method that you are using strong lighting and a good protein skimmer that is skimming DRY. I have actually had very good result in using a basic skimmer such as an ASM G3 on my system skimming dry. I really believe you want a good skimmer but not one that is too oversize for the system that is going to pull out all your additives that you are putting in, this is the reason as to NOT skim wet.
Refugiums, phosban reactors, phosphate removers, denitrification reactors, algae/turf scrubbers, ozone and UV filters are not needed and should be removed before you start the zeovit setup.
Finally, in order to effectively use zeovit you need to run your system as close to natural seawater levels as possible. This mean an alkalinity of 6.5-7.5 dKh, Calcium 410-430 mg, Magnesium 1250-1300 mg, Salinity 33-35 ppt and Potassium (K+) 380-400 mg. Therefore the salt you choose is very important, you want something with a low alkalinity, high potassium and good Calcium levels.
Zeovit goes onto add supplements that target certain aspects for coloring, growing and improving your zeovit system. When you first setup a zeovit system, stick with the basic four until you achieve ULNS status which can take anywhere from three months to a year. It took me a good six months even after using the prodibio system.
The zeovit supplements are what I consider ‘tweaking’ supplements. They are specifically used to tweak color, growth, recovery time, and aid in problematic issues. My advice is to use only one supplement at a time and measure the results. If you add too many supplements at once you won’t know what one is doing from the other.
Below is what I recommend in the order I recommend them. I will give a basic description of each, if I use the supplement and the result I have seen.
AAHC (Amino Acids)
AAHC was the first supplement I started with. Right away I noticed a ‘fuller’ coral with polyp extension. Typically most of my polyps would extend at night time but since I started using the AAHC I was getting much better expansion during the day.
If you are still adding zeofood I recommend you half does AAHC, if you over dose you will most definitely get brown algae and sometimes cyano.
I dose 3 drops daily on a 200 net gallon system about one hour before my light kick off for the night.
Coral Vital (CV)
I really liked coral vital in conjuction with AAHC. AAHC seem to help give good polyp extension while CV help with coloring. Using CV a lot of my staghorn corals developed full color instead of just tip color. I also noticed an increased growth rate. I usually mix CV up with whatever I am feeding that day and dose all at once.
I dose 5 drops per 200 net gallons.
There are a lot of theories about potassium in a reef system. Some say it is not needed, some zeoheads say the process of bacteria exchange through the zeolites and skimming removes too much potassium that needs to be added later.
I use K-Balance only as needed. There is a test kit but it is very difficult to read. I use my Montipora caps as identifiers. When they start to get this washed out grey tone to them I add about 2 ml of K-balance every other day until they look bright again.
It is also said that an overdose of potassium can result in Acropora tips being burnt. I have seen picture of this but never experienced this myself.
Potassium Iodide (PIF and Job Complex)
Potassium iodide really helps the color of blue and purples in your system. I usually alternated between PIF and Job Complex because each contains a little something different.
I also dose based on what I see. If my blues are faded I will dose 3 drops of PIF one day and 3 drops of Job Complex the next until my blues are back. It doesn’t take much and usually end up dosing each about twice a week.
Also I watch my yellow corals. Signs of adding too much include yellow corals turning green, if this happens, stop (unless you like the green color).
This boosts green and some red coloring in corals. Use very sparingly, over dosage can cause major algae issues.
I dose 3 drops once a week.
Xtra has become one of my favorite additives for two reasons. Not only does the dosing of Xtra increase polyp extension, it adds a level and depth to corals. It is very difficult to explain, but if you look very closely at a coral you see an underlying almost phosphorus tint to the coral that glows, it almost looks like the skeleton of the coral glowing.
The second reason is that Xtra at a double dosage aids in the recovery of coral fragging and when adding new corals. It was suggested to me when I moved from my 75 gallon tank to my 120 gallon tank to double dose Xtra for two weeks. I did, and I did not lose a single coral. I have also noticed that on a fragged coral, the tissue is replace over the cut in a much shorter amount of time.
I am not sure to what to label Xtra as, maybe a food or a color enhancer. By dosing Xtra, I dose my AAHC a lot less (almost half dose) and I eliminate all zeofood dosing. Also, since using Xtra, I no longer use ZeoSpur.
Currently I am dosing 1 to 2 ml every other day opposite sponge power.
Sponge power is really a mixed bag, it is basically used to feed sponges which in turn process vast amounts of water acting as a natural filter cleaning and polishing the water. However, it does also increase the growth of aptasia and other glass anemones.
It is also said to increase the colorization of purple, I have yet to really see this.
I currently dose 5 drop every other day opposite Xtra.
I am labeling these as problem solvers since they are generally used to solve some issue or used as maintenance additive to cleanup something.
Coral Snow is generally used to reduce yellow in your tank that carbon doesn’t absorb. CS has a nice side-effect; it has been report to help remove cyano bacteria (algae) from a system. Since I have never had cyano I can not really comment.
I primarily use CS when I do water changes to help clear or neutralize acid compounds.
I dose 2 ml into my water change bucket once or every two weeks.
This is a very new product that I though I would give a try. It is said to help with cyano and help clean sludge from sand beds and live rock. Right now I have only dosed a couple of times, once by itself and once with zeobak. I have experienced increased sludge in the skimmer, a darker nastier skim mate. As far as additional coral coloring, I have yet to see anything but it is still early.
There are a couple other products from Zeovit but I either no longer use them or simply do not currently use them.
Since this is just a basic understanding of what the ZeoVit system is, it is diffuclt to come to conclusion other than from my own experiences. For me, zeovit has been a great system that allows me to tweak colors to my liking. The cost is neglible considering you would probably spend about the same amount trying to reduce nutriets through other means. The system is also a very easy system to maintain as long as you pay attention to what your tank is tell you.
Zeovit.com - http://www.zeovit.com/
Zeovit Guide version 1.03 - http://www.korallen-zucht.de/files/z..._english-1.pdf
Zeovit Tank Examples