Algae Scrubbers/Refugium's too efficient for my own good, is it right for me, and do I need one?

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hart24601

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Carbon dosing - I have always liked it. The tank spotlight in my signature I used mostly vodka for a long time, couple years. Its not only for nutrient control but also to boost the microorganisms. In fact I didn’t really run it for nutrients but more as food.

Past few years with new system I have been running chaeto - small amount of carbon from all for reef although went exclusively to kalk a while back.

I do have to dose chaetogro to keep it running well, but I don’t mind, was vodka before. I do like the chaeto is low maintenance carbon dosing was fussier ime running it several years. The macro is more forgiving of not monitoring nutrient levels.

We are at a point in the hobby now so many techniques have been used and produced world class tanks that I hesitate to call anything the “best”. Some strategies are better suited for some tanks, but everything has pros and cons and it’s good to remain objective about it. Often we feel whatever we are doing currently is the best and ignore downsides. It is smart for a hobbiest to learn all they can and even read the older books to see techniques that are not seen anymore but used many years ago.

Imo to claim something is better in the hobby now or the best hands down, you really need to be able to prove it with a tank that exceeds any system running counter methods - quite a hard task. Unless someone is keeping coral no one else is able (not using their maintenance or techniques) or has drastically better color, or breed fish or keep a population others can’t unless they change to match the claimed “best” - how whatever claimed really the best?
 
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tippin.turtle

tippin.turtle

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The reason you see fuges coming back is bc they are an old school, fundamentally sound workhorse type tool.

Ppl ditched them for plenum and then went back
Then ditched them for DSB and went back
Then ditched them for bare bottom and went back
Then same with Zeo
Then same with carbon dosing
Then same with ultra low residuals

And now things are swinging back now that ppl are thinking more about nutrient throughput than residuals.

No matter what the fad, the fuge will be waiting for us when that fad dissapoints the avg reefer

And ppl will swing back to it bc it gives them minimal failure points, gradual self-regulating nutrient depletion, Easy to read performance feedback and minimal entry cost
I get it and I understand how and why one might choose it. If I had a sand bed I would probably have one running to help reduce the effects of such a "nutrient battery". A work horse would may very well be required in that regard.
 

stephj03

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I see your point. I have a manifold with several ports and a secondary pump on my reef tank hard plumbed should I need it if the primary should fail. Something you think about knowing how expensive livestock can be. I have many tools at my disposal should I need them. Wisdom perhaps gained from experience.
Carbon dosing is not an issue in nature as the micro fauna is absurdly more vast and extensive than what is found in a typical reef aquarium. Anything that leverages a greater population of beneficial bacteria in your aquarium is adventitious, a bio pellet reactor or any form of carbon dosing accomplishes that goal. A refugium on the other hand does not.


Here again, that's a pretty contrarian view, even amongst the marine scientific community.

That's a pretty big burn on the contribution of live reef rock, sand floors and perhaps especially mangrove lagoons.
 

hart24601

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I do want to add while I like carbon dosing I prefer liquid over pellets. I never liked biopellets much as it’s very hard to know how much carbon is entering the system. It all depends on the reactor flow, amount of pellets, how old the pellets are (have they shrunk from being consumed - then topped off with larger new pellets with less surface area, what is the exact material and how much does that particular substance and how fast does it release carbon, how long does it take for new topped off pellets to develop a biofilm, going back to flow again how much do they tumble, and how easily does the particular pellet material get released into the water?

Basically with pellets you don’t know at any one time how much carbon you are adding and even if somehow you could figure it out the variables above make it change over time. Dosing vodka or vinegar... well you know exactly how much you are adding and can easily fine tune.

Of course pellets can and do work, but ime they are not the optimum way to carbon dose.
 

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Perhaps, but haven't seen any scientific data to support "unutilized photosynthetic products" making up any part of coral nutrition and does not justify to me that macro algae's are beneficial as the primary source for management of phosphate and nitrate levels in the reef aquarium as suggested by many selling/promoting this principle.
I was wondering if anyone has actually measured the increase in the amount of bacteria in aquarium water from carbon dosing? Bio-pellets likely do not.
 
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tippin.turtle

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Carbon dosing - I have always liked it. The tank spotlight in my signature I used mostly vodka for a long time, couple years. Its not only for nutrient control but also to boost the microorganisms. In fact I didn’t really run it for nutrients but more as food.

Past few years with new system I have been running chaeto - small amount of carbon from all for reef although went exclusively to kalk a while back.

I do have to dose chaetogro to keep it running well, but I don’t mind, was vodka before. I do like the chaeto is low maintenance carbon dosing was fussier ime running it several years. The macro is more forgiving of not monitoring nutrient levels.

We are at a point in the hobby now so many techniques have been used and produced world class tanks that I hesitate to call anything the “best”. Some strategies are better suited for some tanks, but everything has pros and cons and it’s good to remain objective about it. Often we feel whatever we are doing currently is the best and ignore downsides. It is smart for a hobbiest to learn all they can and even read the older books to see techniques that are not seen anymore but used many years ago.

Imo to claim something is better in the hobby now or the best hands down, you really need to be able to prove it with a tank that exceeds any system running counter methods - quite a hard task. Unless someone is keeping coral no one else is able (not using their maintenance or techniques) or has drastically better color, or breed fish or keep a population others can’t unless they change to match the claimed “best” - how whatever claimed really the best?
I agree with your point of view, truly. I take issue with macro algae as the one and only savior to elevated nitrate and phosphate levels found in reef aquaria as the current dogma in the hobby.
 

Dan_P

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What’s more, why would you want to miss an opportunity to feed your corals by trapping those nutrients in something you’ll be exporting/harvesting in the form of macro algae’s ; depriving your corals of a transport mechanism that only bacteria can provide?
Coral only eat bacteria?
 

Dan_P

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I understand that they work and there is "controllability". My issue is that this practice is being promoted routinely as the 'first" approach to nutrient control while a simpler method with far greater benefits for coral health exist (carbon dosing). New reefers may not be aware of carbon dosing or as another poster stated he was simply repeating what he had seen from a coral retailer.
Seems to me that macro algae's are not the "best practice" in most circumstances or at least at the hobbyist level.
I too fell into this line of thought until I gained experience with both practices and have since realized that what is being promoted is NOT the best approach from my findings for the majority of us in the reefing hobby. I wish to pass along to new reefers that they should seriously consider the pro's and con's of each rather than just following along because everyone else is doing it.
Would you clarify this statement

“from my findings for the majority of us in the reefing hobby.”

Thanks
 
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tippin.turtle

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Would you clarify this statement

“from my findings for the majority of us in the reefing hobby.”

Thanks
Dan, corals consume phosphate by ingesting bacteria they eat. That's there only means of obtaining phosphates according to the scientific research as I understand it. Should you and others believe different you are free to do so.
 

Dan_P

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I am saying carbon dosing is better as it serves multiple purposes within the aquarium and is easier to setup and maintain.
I have a refugium and I have a bio pellet reactor. Some who have invested time and money will cling to the advocacy of a refugium's use and will not hear of an relatively older more effective practice.
I'm simply saying carbon dosing is better having used both and it has benefits that macro algae doesn't provide unless your aim is to also feed algae's to your fish.
You really haven’t proved your point about carbon dosing being better than growing algae as a nitrogen and phosphorous control. I follow your arguments but that is not the same thing as providing data.
 

Dan_P

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Carbon dosing utilizing bio pellets has certainly been a "win" for me as I have never had a more successful reef tank than I do now. Part of that success has been nutrient control. I don't have a sand bed or a refugium that collects and harbors detritus. My system I suppose would be considered "ultra clean" by most. I have a 45 gallon refugium that contains two Marine Pure 8x8 ceramic bio blocks and serves as additional tank volume only on my system. I anticipated using chaeto for nutrient control but the need has never presented itself and have found that bio pellets when used in a reactor at the amount appropriate for tank volume is all that is required. Plus I get the added benefit that my corals have bacteria loaded with nitrates and phosphates that can be easily consumed promoting coral growth and health.
I believe macro algae's are hindering more tanks than they are actually helping. Bio pellets are not idea for large systems with heavy bio loads but for the average aquarist certainly an over looked beneficial tool that's easily incorporated to most tanks.
I wonder how many successful reef tanks use algae to control nitrogen and phosphorous vs using carbon dosing?
 

hart24601

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I agree with your point of view, truly. I take issue with macro algae as the one and only savior to elevated nitrate and phosphate levels found in reef aquaria as the current dogma in the hobby.

I do think the question and premise of the thread are totally valid. And to your point Tropic Marin has a good video about why so many of their products now contain some carbon - according to them similar to what you say, corals do get nutrition and feed off microorganisms.
 
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You really haven’t proved your point about carbon dosing being better than growing algae as a nitrogen and phosphorous control. I follow your arguments but that is not the same thing as providing data.
Well you are correct and some people will never be convinced despite ones effort even if empirical data was readily on hand. One thing is for sure, I have a thriving reef tank what about yours? Care to share?
 

Dan_P

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Dan, corals consume phosphate by ingesting bacteria they eat. That's there only means of obtaining phosphates according to the scientific research as I understand it. Should you and others believe different you are free to do so.
MMM...mind sharing the reference that says coral only take up phosphorous through bacteria consumption? If this were true, how would PO4 in the water be detrimental to coral growth?
 
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hart24601

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I was wondering if anyone has actually measured the increase in the amount of bacteria in aquarium water from carbon dosing? Bio-pellets likely do not.

Yeah let me try and find it. Although like you I take issue with claiming something is the best. I am thinking this study looked at liquid carbon dosing so it could be different with pellets.
 

hart24601

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Here it is. Being a microbiologist in a former life i remember it being out there. And again for the record while I used carbon for years I now use macro and prefer it.

 
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tippin.turtle

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Here it is. Being a microbiologist in a former life i remember it being out there. And again for the record while I used carbon for years I now use macro and prefer it.

Nice article!
 
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