Poor Man's Nutrients Control - Donovan's Nitrate Destroyer

Donovan Joannes

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Hello fellow reefers!.

I have been in the hobby for more than 3 years, the first 2 years was tough. Cyno, diatom, nuisance algae, high NO3 (120ppm at one time) and ich/velvet. I have tried several nutrient control method (poor man, so most of it were DIY project). GFO, water fall scrubber, cheato, caulerpa, purigen & DSB (I do have bigger sump before) and nothing works for me (partly due to my own fault, so if you experienced quite the opposite please do not spit on me, thank you). The tank looks terrible. Copepods was everywhere and that was the only good thing about my sump.

After extensive readings and brainstorming on several forums, I brave the storm and built my twin tower bacteria reactor and to my surprise it works like a charm. So, here we go...
 
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Donovan Joannes

Donovan Joannes

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Parts needed:-

3" or 4" PVC pipes (3 to 5 feet in length)
Matching flat end cap x 4 pieces
1" nipple x 1 unit
1" jam nut x 2 units (to match with the nipple)
Clear flexible hose (for effluent outlet)
Bio balls (medium & large size)
Ceramic rings (large seize)
Crushed coral (roughly 1/2" in size)
Pumice rocks (seachem denitrate/matrix or equivalent)
Piping works tools (hacksaw, PVC cutter, PVC glue, mechanical drill etc)
Reef safe ball valve (to match with your inlet pipe/hose)
Another length of clear flexible hose or 1/2" PVC pipe (for water inlet)
Small water inlet pump or you can tee-off your return/overflow (your decision)
 
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Donovan Joannes

Donovan Joannes

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How it suppose to look. The height of each tower depends on your available working height (for easy carbon dosing). I would recommend at least 18" high. You can make it higher or use bigger diameter PVC pipe but make sure the media sizes are increased as well. Bigger pipe with smaller media sizes will clog once bacteria grows in there. If having another pump for the reactor is not on your setup list, just tee-off your return or overflow pipe. My small fountain pump failed on me recently (leaky circuit tripping my main electrical switch) so I just drill a hole and fit in the hose.

Nitrate Destroyer.jpg
 
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Donovan Joannes

Donovan Joannes

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Success story:-

Started using this reactor in February 2016 (NO3 roughly 80ppm)
Nitrogen bubble started to flow out (clearly visible via the hose, NO3 slightly lower than DT)
End of 2nd week, bacteria slime start to build up (effluent output goes directly into the coffee strainer aka my filter socks. I have to squeezed it out)
End of 3rd week, NO3 was down to 3ppm in my DT, effluent registered zero NO3
Started maintenance dose on 4th week
Second month, I started seeing bacteria planktom bloom every morning in my DT. All corals enjoying the food. No coral direct feeding since then.
Has been running with less than 5ppm NO3 with virtually no maintenance on the reactor (only daily carbon dosing)
 
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Donovan Joannes

Donovan Joannes

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My FTS this morning. Ignore the green coating as I purposely runs my colored led channels 85% for 4 hours daily (i am doing some evaluation on SPS coloration under different spectrum). I lost quite a few snails due to starvation, that green algae helps a lot :D

Sight_2017_04_26_054823_756.jpg


Sight_2017_04_26_054926_611.jpg
 
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Donovan Joannes

Donovan Joannes

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What I have under the cabinet...

Resun 450 chiller
10G sump (5G max level)
Dymax LS10 skimmer (rated 400L)
3000L return pump
Nitrate destroyer

Not TOTM worth if you ask me but at least it works satisfactorily.

WP_20170402_07_44_07_Pro.jpg
 

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Great set up, reminds me of a tiny version of a rural waste water filtration system for a hundred or so people. Thanks for posting!

Edit:

How much and how often do feed? I would like to see your build thread if you have one, interested in trying this out.
 
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Donovan Joannes

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Differences if compared to direct carbon dosing into water column:-

1) No cyno outbreak
2) Confined space so no bacterial bloom outside the reactor
3) Controllable and measurable input/output
 
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Donovan Joannes

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Great set up, reminds me of a tiny version of a rural waste water filtration system for a hundred or so people. Thanks for posting!

Edit:

How much and how often do feed? I would like to see your build thread if you have one, interested in trying this out.

Feed what?. Carbon? :)
 
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Donovan Joannes

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Additional information:-

To speed up bacteria colonization, seed the reactor with off the shelf bacteria in a bottle (5ml) every day for 5 days. Carbon source can be started on 3rd day, start with 5ml daily. If you owned a spare channel auto doser, split the carbon dosing into several hours. Once NO3 reduction start (effluent test result), adjust your daily dosing quantity accordingly. Monitor effluent output every day. I set my effluent flow to roughly 10% of daily turnover of your total water volume. For the 1st week testing is not required.
 
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Donovan Joannes

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Thx and what's the flow rate on this?

Start slow for the first one week, probably 5ml per 10 seconds. Continuous fine stream of water is the slowest I would suggest as dripping will more likely end up with hydrogen sulfide production. Usually the flow will get slower after few days due to bacteria build up, crank up the flow if this happens. Test effluent output every 2 or 3 days so that you know the NO3 reduction rate. IME, once the reactor has matured and NO3 is low enough, 5% - 10% of total water volume flow rate in a day will be able to keep whatever NO3 level you are trying to keep.
 
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Donovan Joannes

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Sorry to be a pain but could you make a list of make/ model of the media?
I looked up rings but don't see anything big/small.
Thx

My local LFS is carrying Dophin bio ring and balls. I can buy white ceramic ring cheaply. If none is available, you can use coarsely crushed coral rubbles, seachem matrix etc. Any bio balls/rings with high porous features will do. Make sure water will flow freely through the media. Too small and they will compactly arranged overtime and clogged the reactor.
 

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