New sulfur denitrator working great!

2Wheelsonly

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When staring the SD, you have to let the bubbles out every day. For the first 2 weeks, I’d let the bubbles out twice a day. Then every day. Letting bubbles out is part of the process but it’s not the main IMHO. The main thing is time and patience. Trust me, I am the most impatient person there is but you just have to be.

You will see phases that occur in the SD. The water inside the reactor will become cloudy, when you see that raise the drip rate and it will become clear after a day or so. Then test your water and if the readings are high, go back to the slower rate.

NO3
Understood and thanks! I am very interested to know where in the process nitrites sit, currently my ouput is very high in nitrites but does not seem to change.
 
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NO3

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Im not certain but depending on how your water parameters are, it may take more than 8 weeks to see any results. Speaking for me, my nitrates were thru the roof and it took me 8 weeks to see my levels drop. Maybe others can chime in with their knowledge and expertise.

NO3
 

Belgian Anthias

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When staring the SD, you have to let the bubbles out every day. For the first 2 weeks, I’d let the bubbles out twice a day. Then every day. Letting bubbles out is part of the process but it’s not the main IMHO. The main thing is time and patience. Trust me, I am the most impatient person there is but you just have to be.

You will see phases that occur in the SD. The water inside the reactor will become cloudy, when you see that raise the drip rate and it will become clear after a day or so. Then test your water and if the readings are high, go back to the slower rate.

NO3
To export produced gasses one just has to connect a small air tube on the highest point. Such reactor normally is not pressurized, the gasses leave at the highest point. No need for daily degassing!
If the reactor has a closed-loop the gasses can easily be collected at the highest point in a gas collector, to be released periodically. This way it is easy to test the gas content. Using BADES the flow can be high enough to carry out the gasses via the normal effluent.

What are the different phases that can be seen to occur in the SD? What may cause cloudy conditions? Is it necessary to try to remove the cloudiness or is it better just to wait till it clears up?
 

Belgian Anthias

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An SD can be operational after a few weeks. Starting up an SD only takes a week to see results and see difference between influent and effluent. if not, there is something wrong. The start up procedure normally takes +- 2 weeks. Conditioning the reactor at max flow may take an other 2 to 4 weeks .
After 6 weeks a BADES reactor should be fully operational. This if the reactor is big enough.
 

Belgian Anthias

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SD and BADES Systems used since 1996 in public marine aquarium systems and for home aquaria are based on the MAAO method. These reactors are not kept anoxic. Flow is increased as high as possible after startup.
After start-up and targetting 0 nitrate in the effluent ( which must not be a target for using BADES), normal flow is considered to be a flow between 2l/h and 4l /h for every liter of sulfur used, depending on the nitrate level and the daily nitrate overproduction. A BADES reactor managed in accordance with these guidelines will still remove enough nitrate at a flow rate of + - 5x the volume of the reactor per hour (MLongouet2000) and will still work well at an hourly flow rate of more than 10x the volume of sulfur (Hignette1996). ref: https://www.baharini.eu/baharini/doku.php?id=nl:badess:bades:maao This makes it possible to remove the daily nitrogen overproduction daily at a very low nitrate level.This if the reactor is big enough!

The MAAO method uses tube reactors. For BADES Systems it is advised to use Slow Moving Bed Reactors (SMBR)
For the application of BADES to export nitrate-nitrogen, no reactor is needed. Stimulating BADES in a normal biofilter creates a nitrifying biofilter which does not produce nitrate as an endproduct but N2. Such a BADES biofilter removes ammonium- nitrogen and supports the carrying capacity by which a very high bio-load can be supported.
 

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For those of you with a working denitrator...do you still see bubbles in the unit? No matter how much I try I always get small bubbles in the top if I shake it up a bit. Not a lot but they are always present...

Should these be free of ALL air bubbles in order to work? I can't possible tighten things any further and there are no water leaks anywhere near the unit.
I'm using the same SD as you. You don't need to remove the bubbles. This SD will only allow a limited amount of bubbles. There is something called nitrogen purging that can be used to remove oxygen from water. Maybe the bubbles can help produce a low oxygen environment in the reactor(if they are not air).
 

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AquaMaxx TS-2. Sometimes bubbles go through the pump and make noise, but I don't think there have ever been enough bubbles to cause the pump problems. If the bubbles are nitrogen, and as long as they don't hurt the pump, I think they may be helpful.
 
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NO3

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Oh ok. I have the Korallin S-3002 and I let the air bubbles out from my effluent. I don’t have any bubbles anymore, I don’t check every day like I used to but when I do, I don’t have any bubbles.

NO3
 

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So I was watching the inside of the chamber and see active bubbles rising through the sulfur and calcium media to either get sucked out the effluent or back through the recirc pump.

Still a high amount of nitrites (YES NITRITES, not NITRATES) and I just simply wish I knew what that means! I read that nitrites are part of the process but when I seem "stuck" I am not sure if that means I don't have enough sulfur, my bacteria colony isn't mature or if I have an air leak somehow?

I ordered Bacter M to kick start this thing, its apparently designed to kick start sulfur denitrators.

Could my water/tank be incapable of growing bacteria? I have never had nitrate issues over the past 4 years and now I am approaching 50+ with very minimal feeding! Carbon dosing never worked (tried for over 6 months with zero results). Large water changes also don't seem to do anything. (changed 800G on my 350G over 3 days and it barely made a dent)

I have tried 4 different nitrate test kits as well as had two LFS confirm my readings are correct. I think my tank decided it's going to be immune to any attempt to lower nitrates and laughs at science. I pretty dang frustrated at this point, I really have a hard time not getting triggered. While I don't have coral problems I know that if nitrates keep rising I am going to reach critical mass. It's like a pressure tank that keeps rising. At what point do corals die from too high nitrates? 100? 200? 300? over the coarse of 6 months I have gone from 0-5 to 50+ (test kits are so far orange/pink I don't even know what they are)
 

Belgian Anthias

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So I was watching the inside of the chamber and see active bubbles rising through the sulfur and calcium media to either get sucked out the effluent or back through the recirc pump.

Still a high amount of nitrites (YES NITRITES, not NITRATES) and I just simply wish I knew what that means! I read that nitrites are part of the process but when I seem "stuck" I am not sure if that means I don't have enough sulfur, my bacteria colony isn't mature or if I have an air leak somehow?

I ordered Bacter M to kick start this thing, its apparently designed to kick start sulfur denitrators.

Could my water/tank be incapable of growing bacteria? I have never had nitrate issues over the past 4 years and now I am approaching 50+ with very minimal feeding! Carbon dosing never worked (tried for over 6 months with zero results). Large water changes also don't seem to do anything. (changed 800G on my 350G over 3 days and it barely made a dent)

I have tried 4 different nitrate test kits as well as had two LFS confirm my readings are correct. I think my tank decided it's going to be immune to any attempt to lower nitrates and laughs at science. I pretty dang frustrated at this point, I really have a hard time not getting triggered. While I don't have coral problems I know that if nitrates keep rising I am going to reach critical mass. It's like a pressure tank that keeps rising. At what point do corals die from too high nitrates? 100? 200? 300? over the coarse of 6 months I have gone from 0-5 to 50+ (test kits are so far orange/pink I don't even know what they are)
Did you use Bacter M ( Dupla?) to kickstart an SD? Do you wonder why the SD does not work yet? Probably this product only contains heterotrophs. Does this product contain organic carbon? It will for sure not contain the bacteria needed. You probably made a heterotrophic denitrator which functions very badly due to not enough carbon. see nitrite production.
Why simple rules made by professionals after a decennium of research and practical use are not followed and why people always try to influence natural processes in an attempt to accelerate things. Doing so, one has to know the basics and know what the result of adding a product will be. At least know what is added, what it contains.

BADES ( Biological Autotrophic Denitrification with Elemental Sulfur), as the name says, is done by autotrophic sulphur bacteria, mainly Thiobacillis denitrificans with the help of many others.

Never ad products of which one does not know what they contain exactly.

Having nitrite may be caused by incomplete denitrification or uncompleted nitrification. Having nitrite is normal in the first weeks and during start-up procedure. Not after 8 weeks.

Managing nitrate is easy using BADES! The bacteria needed can not be delivered in a bottle!!!

If you can not get your reactor to work as an SD, you may turn it into a normal BADES biofilter. You do not have to remove the sulfur, increase the flow slowly ( over a few days) until an hourly flow of +- 10x the volume of the reactor. The effluent should be aerated continuously, a basic rule when using a reactor. Test influent and effluent for NO3 and wait a few days. Test again and notice the difference. Effluent nitrate content should be less as influent nitrate content, if not slowly decrease the flow a bit and wait a few days. Measure again and adjust again if necessary. We do NOT target 0 nitrates in the effluent. One only has to remove a bit more like the daily nitrate overproduction daily to lower the nitrate level. A high flow BADES biofilter also removes ammonia-nitrogen.
Mix at least the same amount of calcium carbonate media if alkalinity consumption must be prevented.
 

2Wheelsonly

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Did you use Bacter M ( Dupla?) to kickstart an SD? Do you wonder why the SD does not work yet? Probably this product only contains heterotrophs. Does this product contain organic carbon? It will for sure not contain the bacteria needed. You probably made a heterotrophic denitrator which functions very badly due to not enough carbon. see nitrite production.
Why simple rules made by professionals after a decennium of research and practical use are not followed and why people always try to influence natural processes in an attempt to accelerate things. Doing so, one has to know the basics and know what the result of adding a product will be. At least know what is added, what it contains.

BADES ( Biological Autotrophic Denitrification with Elemental Sulfur), as the name says, is done by autotrophic sulphur bacteria, mainly Thiobacillis denitrificans with the help of many others.

Never ad products of which one does not know what they contain exactly.

Having nitrite may be caused by incomplete denitrification or uncompleted nitrification. Having nitrite is normal in the first weeks and during start-up procedure. Not after 8 weeks.

Managing nitrate is easy using BADES! The bacteria needed can not be delivered in a bottle!!!

If you can not get your reactor to work as an SD, you may turn it into a normal BADES biofilter. You do not have to remove the sulfur, increase the flow slowly ( over a few days) until an hourly flow of +- 10x the volume of the reactor. The effluent should be aerated continuously, a basic rule when using a reactor. Test influent and effluent for NO3 and wait a few days. Test again and notice the difference. Effluent nitrate content should be less as influent nitrate content, if not slowly decrease the flow a bit and wait a few days. Measure again and adjust again if necessary. We do NOT target 0 nitrates in the effluent. One only has to remove a bit more like the daily nitrate overproduction daily to lower the nitrate level. A high flow BADES biofilter also removes ammonia-nitrogen.
Mix at least the same amount of calcium carbonate media if alkalinity consumption must be prevented.
I used Continuum Aquatics Bacter Gen MD designed for denitrators with reef micro fuel per their instructions. It says it creates anoxic zones...
 
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Belgian Anthias

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I used Continuum Aquatics Bacter Gen MD designed for denitrators with reef micro fuel per their instructions. It says it creates anoxic zones...
Designed for denitrators? Also for SD? micro fuel? my God.
How it will do that? What it contains? If it creates anoxic zones, which are NOT necessary for the BADES process, then it must speed up oxygen consumption. Without knowing the product, it probably adds organic carbon into the reactor to promote fast heterotrophic growth. This kills the autotrophic bacteria needed if they are already present. They need nitrate but when fast growers use it up first !!!?
Everything needed is delivered by nature! Just patience is needed. And not that much.
One can accelerate the incubation time only by adding conditioned sulfur, from another filter or by activating the sulfur in a bucket? It can not be delivered in a bottle!

Why an SD is kept anoxic?? This has been advised for carbon-based denitrators because heterotrophic denitrifiers are very sensitive to free oxygen. For BADES based reactors this is NOT needed.
Years ago, adding carbon to an SD to accelerate things was advised on Web Web media. When asked for references they admitted having no experience at all with an SD and there were no references available for the advice given. Of course, it is logical, adding carbohydrates will accelerate oxygen consumption and create an oxygen-free reactor fast at very limited flow. But also high anaerobic heterotrophic growth, DNRA and sulfate reduction. This kills an SD and most BADES applications!!
 

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Yeah this thing is garbage, for 5 straight weeks when I give a good shake hundreds of bubbles float to the top. I have sealed this thing so tight, I don't see any water leaking. My aqualifter pump intake line is fully submerged in a calm low flow area of the sump.

It's just spewing nitrites into my system and it wont even do an even drip. I doesn't drip for like 10 seconds and then pours out in a stream and stops to no drip for 10 seconds and pours out. I don't know where the air is coming from...I might just take it offline and throw it in the trash outside. At least it was on sale for $270...

So many things in this hobby are hit and miss and nothing is black and white. So frustrating that you have to gamble on whether or not something is going to work.

Maybe my system is killing all bacteria as it enters? 50+ nitrites and no change after two massive water changes; carbon dosed 2 cups vinegar daily for 7 months and still 0.0 reduction of nitrates. Tried the brightwell blocks rated for 1000G, put 4 of them in my tank and nothing. My nitrates go up and up and up. I even tried stopping feeding and feeding every other day and then to once every three days.

I am starting to believe that nitrates can leech into a system. How much of my tank do I pull apart before I find it?
 

Belgian Anthias

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Yeah this thing is garbage, for 5 straight weeks when I give a good shake hundreds of bubbles float to the top. I have sealed this thing so tight, I don't see any water leaking. My aqualifter pump intake line is fully submerged in a calm low flow area of the sump.

It's just spewing nitrites into my system and it wont even do an even drip. I doesn't drip for like 10 seconds and then pours out in a stream and stops to no drip for 10 seconds and pours out. I don't know where the air is coming from...I might just take it offline and throw it in the trash outside. At least it was on sale for $270...

So many things in this hobby are hit and miss and nothing is black and white. So frustrating that you have to gamble on whether or not something is going to work.

Maybe my system is killing all bacteria as it enters? 50+ nitrites and no change after two massive water changes; carbon dosed 2 cups vinegar daily for 7 months and still 0.0 reduction of nitrates. Tried the brightwell blocks rated for 1000G, put 4 of them in my tank and nothing. My nitrates go up and up and up. I even tried stopping feeding and feeding every other day and then to once every three days.

I am starting to believe that nitrates can leech into a system. How much of my tank do I pull apart before I find it?
What is wrong about a normal simple bio-filter? The low price?

This SD works as a batch reactor!? This explains a lot. It should be a continuous flow! What is used as a flow regulator? If batches are created your SD can not build up a propper balanced biofilm. Do you wonder why nitrite is produced!?
An SD should have a continuous drip rate at startup and a continuous flow after startup. Normal flow is between 2l/h and 4l/h for every liter of sulfur used once the nitrate level is at a normal level. The reactor must be big enough! (ref:)

BADES reactors operate at a daily flow of +- 1x -2X the total system volume while maintaining a low nitrate level of +- 1-2 ppm exporting a daily nitrate overproduction of +- 1-2ppm daily., even when targetting 0 nitrates in the effluent.

Your system is not killing, you are! Promoting one type in the competition for the same nutrients will kill!
Managing a life support system is not a game nor gambling. A lot of vinegar was added daily? This is in ppm?
Did you take into account all other building materials which are needed to support the growth wich must remove all that vinegar, including phosphate? How did you stop dosing, slowly, or from one day to another? Adding organic carbon supplements DOES NOT export nitrate-nitrogen or any nitrogen, it only stimulates heterotrophic growth and produces protein if all building materials needed are present. If that produced protein is not exported, most will be recycled and remineralized, producing building materials and nutrients, ammonium, phosphate and CO2, which then must be assimilated using another dose, replacing the carbon exported as CO2, and so on. What if your skimmer is not very effective in removing TOC? A good skimmer only removes +- 30% of TOC ( Total organic Compounds including DOC), (ref:)
Dosing organic carbon is gambling with the risk of losing the carrying capacity needed to support the bio-load. Dosing organic carbon based on the nitrate level does not prevent overdosing and may harm, even kill corals.( ref:) Corrals do not like a high C/N ratio. (ref:)

And you must not throw away the SD, as was explained it is easily turned in to a BADES bioreactor. If the reactor is not big enough to manage the nitrate content, it will be able to lower a high nitrate level until its limits are reached.


Do you have any idea about the daily nitrogen overproduction? For managing a marine system one should know what is going on.
Having nitrate production is a good thing as it shows this tank has still an autotrophic carrying capacity which means dosing carbon did not remove it, which also means a lot of the biowaste is recycled in the tank and not exported, producing a lot of inorganic nitrogen. Normally dosing organic carbon removes autotrophic carrying capacity as overdosing OC steals most ammonium. Fast-growing heterotrophs prefer ammonia-nitrogen as a nitrogen source.
 

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@2Wheelsonly IMHO, I would take out the SD , open it and replace it with new media and start over. I'm sure this is not what you want to read but this may be the best route to take. Don't add any boosting chemicals or anything like that, just let the unit work for itself. I've had the same problem and I took the unit off of the tank and replaced the media. 8 weeks later I'm adding fish in my tank, up to 5 now. Feeding every other day and my results are at zero, using Salifret test kits. The units do work but they need to be setup and installed correctly the first time.

NO3
 

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Do you have any idea about the daily nitrogen overproduction? For managing a marine system one should know what is going on.
Having nitrate production is a good thing as it shows this tank has still an autotrophic carrying capacity which means dosing carbon did not remove it, which also means a lot of the biowaste is recycled in the tank and not exported, producing a lot of inorganic nitrogen. Normally dosing organic carbon removes autotrophic carrying capacity as overdosing OC steals most ammonium. Fast-growing heterotrophs prefer ammonia-nitrogen as a nitrogen source.
Forgive me here, trying to understand this further. Are you saying that while my nitrate levels are high maybe nutrients available to the corals are low and still available as a food source that carbon dosing won't utilize? I have over-simplified the heck out of this but just trying to make more sense here.


@2Wheelsonly IMHO, I would take out the SD , open it and replace it with new media and start over. I'm sure this is not what you want to read but this may be the best route to take. Don't add any boosting chemicals or anything like that, just let the unit work for itself. I've had the same problem and I took the unit off of the tank and replaced the media. 8 weeks later I'm adding fish in my tank, up to 5 now. Feeding every other day and my results are at zero, using Salifret test kits. The units do work but they need to be setup and installed correctly the first time.

NO3
Could it be that the media wasn't bad and that by taking it out and putting it back together had a better air tight seal? Not questioning just trying to find out the reason sulfur wouldn't work?
 

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