Bio pellet reactors. Ive convinced myself to get one? Maybe. Need help

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Jon Warner

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You very likely will have different bacteria grow from whatever you dose vs whatever the biopellets are. Hard to kick start and then switch.

Sugar is fine. Vinegar is fine. Vodka is fine. Biopellets are fine. A mix is fine. I hate the smell of vinegar and cheap vodka was still not cheap had too many impurities for me (although it is still probably fine)... so I went with sugar since it was cheap, pure and easy. Each has their downsides and positives. Some bio pellet reactors can get full of gunk, clog and not work right without constant cleaning, but the manufacturer and BRS videos don't tell you about this.

People used to get all bent out of shape over the particular kind of dosing, but it was all stupid... like a sticker Calvin whizzing on a Ford, Chevy or Ram truck while on another brand. Dumb. Some types have a very small chance of fueling some cyano over others, but at your levels the cyano is long since poisoned anyway... we are talking small here and not worth arguing about unless you do indeed have a Calvin ticking sticker and are a huge fanboy.

If your N is that high, then you will not likely be able to do this super slow. You will need to be somewhat aggressive while being safe and ramping SLOWLY. Most biopellet systems were made to kinda maintain and not really lower, but some can lower with larger amounts.
I really like to remind people that BioPellets are NOT Carbon dosing.

Carbon Dosing is a very specific practice of adding soluble Carbon to the water stream thus creating an imbalance between bacterial colonies, Nitrate, Phosphate and organic Carbon in the water stream.

Carbon Dosing creates a cycle of bloom-bust as bacterial colonies expand and then die as the temporary abundance of C stops.

BioPellets, solid Carbon pellets add NOTHING to the water. They serve as a food source AND a substrate for bacteria. Bacterial growth is limited by the available N&P in the water. Instead of feeding bacteria on every grain of sand and rock in the tank, most of the action is confined to the reactor.

Only in extreme situations will bacterial bio-mass shed off the pellets and end up covering the display.
 
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jda

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If nothing every leaves the reactor, then how does anything get exported?

PHB Polyhydroxybutyrate is a time release, slow dissolving carbon source derived from glucose and/or starch. Yes, it takes bacteria on the pellets to break them down, but they do get outside of the reactor and into the tank in the form of hydroxybutyric acid for other bacteria to use, grow (and use up N&P) and then die and get exported.

I know that biopellets were sold as all kind of things (and some magical) early on, but they are just another carbon source in the end.
 

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I forgot, but one reason why people did not want to use sugar was for their corals, but most never knew why. Acetate can be used directly by corals which is a benefit in a reef tank. This is of no consequence in a fish only tank. If you see some people talking about how superior vinegar is, then it probably does not pertain to your tank (Calvin P i s s i n g).

All of this is slowly coming back to me since I do not carbon dose in a reef and I have not had a FO in a while. Sorry.

I will also say that straight, small, slow doses of LC directly into the tank of a FO with either filter socks is a wonderful and cheap way to control P once the nitrate is down. This is more effective than GFO with high levels, IMO. I would not worry about P until N is under control or you can growth limit the bacteria that you are trying to fuel with the organic carbon.
 

tricky_tran

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So I'm very fortunate I think I can make this work. I just got my skimmer. Its hooked up, what a great product. Its pretty big for my tiny little sump lol and the reactor BARELY fits. The pump for the reactor doesn't fit. So I have to hunt down either some tubing or an elbow pipe to attach the pump as the pump has room in the middle of the sump, just not to the side. I WILL make it work. I'm not buying another sump.
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The blue is where the fittings need to go to hook the pump to the reactor. The red line is the outtake for the reactor almost in line with the intake to the skimmer. Its a freaking tight squeeze in there. I had to put my Heater under the reservoir for the bio balls. It's weird but it works.
Letting the skimmer run, did a big water change a few days ago. Will test nitrates
If you need to replumb the reactor pump, have you thought about running a T from your return pump with a valve to control flow instead of adding that extra pump? kind of like a mini manifold. get some extra hose, whatever fitting you need for your reactor, a Barbed Tee and Ball Valve = no need for extra pump and added heat?

Barbed Tee

Ball Valve
 
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Jon Warner

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If nothing every leaves the reactor, then how does anything get exported?

PHB Polyhydroxybutyrate is a time release, slow dissolving carbon source derived from glucose and/or starch. Yes, it takes bacteria on the pellets to break them down, but they do get outside of the reactor and into the tank in the form of hydroxybutyric acid for other bacteria to use, grow (and use up N&P) and then die and get exported.

I know that biopellets were sold as all kind of things (and some magical) early on, but they are just another carbon source in the end.

If you're interested, I can send you the original research from when I wrote the patent application as the first American company introducing Biopellets (EcoBak)... And the only BP that's NOT the same PHB as the competition.

Biopellets are not "time release" in any sense of the word.

They are 100% inert in sterile water.

Bacteria consume the polymer from the surface of the pellet itself.

The bacteria use an acetic acid based process to consume the polymer. To oversimplify, bacteria bond to the pellet surface and produce a compound that reacts with the polymer to produce energy for growth and metabolism of the bacterial bio-mass.

Could a small amount of liberated Hydroxybutyric acid hit the water stream, sure... But not at the level of liquid Carbon dosing and not enough to eliminate the difference between BP and liquid dosing.

There is no process in the aquarium to liberate soluble Carbon into the water stream from the polymer.

What you are seeing in the display and the method of export are the bacterial bio-mass that shed from the surface of the pellet. This is why we recommend the output of a reactor be routed to the skimmer.

In certain situations, if the bio-mass settles out in the display, it can start to break down, releasing the organic compounds that make up the bio-mass.
 
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jda

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Vodka, vinegar or sugar is 100% inert in sterile water too... it is not of any consequence. Whether or not Bacillus, or whatever, can live not around of the PHB does not matter... even if they escape and die, or escape and live, or just die, they fuel other types of bacteria down the line just like any other type of carbon source would.... or get removed. Net result is exporting of N (and some P) that they uptook.

Whether or not you grow Bacillus or Strepomyces (or whatever, I am not a bacteriologist) to become food for other bacteria down the road, or just put in a more direct form of fuel, the result is the same. Ethanol, sugars, vinegar is direct and biopellets release over time as the bacteria break them down... different application, but the same end results. In the big picture, it is just another source of carbon dosing where bacterial levels in the tank rise and hopefully get removed. I doubt that anybody needs another temporary store of some nitrogen.

Saying that they are not carbon dosing is misleading, IMO. It is ridiculous as saying that you are not responsible for a murder if you paid somebody else to do the dirty work or just doing it directly yourself... dead is dead just as carbon to grow things to be exported is organic carbon dosing.
 

Jon Warner

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Vodka, vinegar or sugar is 100% inert in sterile water too... it is not of any consequence. Whether or not Bacillus, or whatever, can live not around of the PHB does not matter... even if they escape and die, or escape and live, or just die, they fuel other types of bacteria down the line just like any other type of carbon source would.... or get removed. Net result is exporting of N (and some P) that they uptook.

Whether or not you grow Bacillus or Strepomyces (or whatever, I am not a bacteriologist) to become food for other bacteria down the road, or just put in a more direct form of fuel, the result is the same. Ethanol, sugars, vinegar is direct and biopellets release over time as the bacteria break them down... different application, but the same end results. In the big picture, it is just another source of carbon dosing where bacterial levels in the tank rise and hopefully get removed. I doubt that anybody needs another temporary store of some nitrogen.

Saying that they are not carbon dosing is misleading, IMO. It is ridiculous as saying that you are not responsible for a murder if you paid somebody else to do the dirty work or just doing it directly yourself... dead is dead just as carbon to grow things to be exported is organic carbon dosing.

We mostly agree... this is just a personal thing for me as I've been involved directly for 10+ years...

Thanks for your feedback

--Jon
 
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If you need to replumb the reactor pump, have you thought about running a T from your return pump with a valve to control flow instead of adding that extra pump? kind of like a mini manifold. get some extra hose, whatever fitting you need for your reactor, a Barbed Tee and Ball Valve = no need for extra pump and added heat?

Barbed Tee

Ball Valve
I have not thought about that thanks! I'll have to read the directions for the eflux because I know I can adjust the flow, I wouldn't want to take away from the outtake power into the tank. That would be my only concern but yes that would probably be a better idea!
 
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So I just read all this.
What is going on with your tank ?
Extremely high nitrates and phosphates. Like we are talking 300ppm+ for nitrates.
The tank and its inhabitants were setup for failure this way before I got the tank and obviously I am trying to get them lower. (Fish that got too big for the tank size, bare minimum filtration, too much crushed coral substrate) I dont have corals or inverts so obviously it doesn't need to be perfectly low because a fish only tank can tolerate higher levels. What I've done to improve the tank thus far isn't enough long term and I wanted to go the biopellet route to help the large bioload/nitrate problem this tank will most likely have for a while.
 
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If you need to replumb the reactor pump, have you thought about running a T from your return pump with a valve to control flow instead of adding that extra pump? kind of like a mini manifold. get some extra hose, whatever fitting you need for your reactor, a Barbed Tee and Ball Valve = no need for extra pump and added heat?

Barbed Tee

Ball Valve
Late reply but I just got a reply from Current in regards to this and they said it would damage my Eflux pump and not to do it. So I've bought the plumbing stuff to attach to the reactor pump as it looks like I'll be using it.
 

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I installed a biopellet reactor, as well as another media reactor w 4 liters of SeaChem denitrate on January 11. I have started w 1/2 the recommended amount of pellets, which is 200 ml. Both were seeded with Bacter Gen MD. As of last testing-this week-my nitrate was still off the Salifert chart. Tank is massively overstocked and overfed but it looks great-and always has-and one would never suspect my high nutrient levels. I still dose nopox.
 

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My experience with biopellets. I added a biopellet reactor last year on a 30 gallon nano. All I experienced was some reduction in nitrate (from 5 ppm to 3) and consistently low ph of 7.9 all through the day even in summer/fall with windows open and a skimmer on. Given the small size of the tank then I added a sump (20 gallon) and despite the dilution, the nitrate reduction from that point was minimal (may be low phosphates) but ph was still low. Removed the reactor and my ph increased to 8.1 despite cold weather and then I converted the biopellet reactor to a co2 scrubber with tight seals and a water filter (scrubbed off all filtering material and just the skeleton). Ph is 8.3 consistently and goes down to 8.2-8.1 at night. I don't think it's worth it imo. I am new and probably folk might have success with it with better care. I have found water changes to be more helpful.
 

tricky_tran

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Late reply but I just got a reply from Current in regards to this and they said it would damage my Eflux pump and not to do it. So I've bought the plumbing stuff to attach to the reactor pump as it looks like I'll be using it.
First time I have heard that a pump manufacturer is recommending not to connect to a manifold. Wonder how many other manufacturers don’t recommend this.
 
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SakuraSky

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This
I installed a biopellet reactor, as well as another media reactor w 4 liters of SeaChem denitrate on January 11. I have started w 1/2 the recommended amount of pellets, which is 200 ml. Both were seeded with Bacter Gen MD. As of last testing-this week-my nitrate was still off the Salifert chart. Tank is massively overstocked and overfed but it looks great-and always has-and one would never suspect my high nutrient levels. I still dose nopox.
This is how my tank is ( not overstocked but large fish) and the water looks great and the fish have been super happy. But the nitrates& phos are sooooo high. I've read that even seeded biopellets can take up to 4-6 weeks before you get that plateau. So don't be too surprised if there is no difference for a month.
There are so many options and I hope the bio pellets do something for my tank. Its worth a try and document it so others can see my progress and if I'm successful or not.
 
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