Sulfer vs BioPellet Reactors

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Andrew Schubert

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Background: I've been Running Zeovite for the past 2 years and really haven't been too happy with its results (especially with as much as it all costs). Anyways, I ran across these BioPellet reactors and Sulfur reactors for controlling nitrates and am interested in maybe making the switch. So here is my question?

I've read a LOT of really positive reviews for Sulfur reactors. However, it doesn't seem to be very popular these days. BRS doesn't even sell Sulfur reactors. Seems all the rave is about BioPellet. So what makes BioPellet so much better then Sulfur. Seems the only downside to Sulfur is a reduction in PH and ALK. But I already dose KALK, so I don't see that as much of a problem.

Sulfur media also only has to be replaced 1x every couple of years it appears, where BioPellets it seems have to be replaced much more often. Plus, it seems BioPellets are still very reliant on your skimmer, where Sulfur will help control your nitrates to a certain degree even without a Skimmer.

Anyways, are my assessments correct? If you have run a BioPellet or Sulfur reactor I would love your input on this. Which do you prefer and why? Or maybe you are like me and had never heard of a Sulfur reactor until I ran across on at MarineDepot.
 
Fritz

Montiman

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I have run both in the past and while both work they work even better together.

BioPellets are simpler IMO. The reactor design is simpler, no nitrogen venting and generally faster results.

Sulfur reactors are great too but tend to take longer to establish and reestablish if you ever open one to clean it out. The reactor itself is more complicated and tends to have more clogging problems than a pellet reactor.

The biggest down side to pellets for me is the cost. On my heavily stocked 200 gallon I go through about $180 of pellets a year. Maybe this is no big deal but I wish it were cheaper. Maintenance wise I only open the reactor 3 times a year to add pellets and I clean the pump annually. This is much less work than when I have used a fuge that required frequent pruning, collected detritus, and bled light (and algae) into all of the sump chambers. When I had sulfur reactors I would vent nitrogen weekly, and clean the reactor once a year to replace some media and get sludge and detritus out. While this was cheaper it was certainly more work than pellets.

Since the sulfur reactor and carbon dosing use different processes I have found they work better together. Especially if you are running a sulfur reactor you may find that adding some organic carbon will jump start it much faster and give you better results.
 

tippin.turtle

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I run bio pellets for the reduction of nitrates, phosphates, and the bacteria themselves are a vehicle for phosphate transport when corals consume them. In my minds eye a bio pellet reactor is simply a nursery for beneficial bacteria.
I run bare bottom and vacuum once a week. I meticulously clean my aquarium and maintain a rigid water change schedule. I'm an OCD aquarist. So bio pellets serve me very well and I do not run a large amount.
I think a lot of people have difficulty with them as they use a large amount at the start and suffer ill effects as the bio pellets mature.
I do not test nitrates but my phosphates are generally between 0.070-0.030ppm on average.
So with your aquarium maintenance, feeding schedule and amount fed, it's possible to use bio pellets in an effective beneficial manor.
Start with 1/3 the amount recommended for tank volume and increase the amount your using over time .
I added the recommended amount for my tank volume after 6 months of use. You do as you see fit but this was effective and safe for me.
I'm including a shot of my tank taken two days ago because many on this forum who give advice do not.
IMG_1261.JPG
 

blasterman

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I run biopellets without a reactor for pesky nitrate when it happens.. Throw them in a media bag and in your sump in a high flow area. Takes them a couple weeks to ramp up

Tumbling biopellets in a plastic cylinder looks cool but doesn't have any biological merit. As long as there's decent water flow there won't be any problems. Done it for years.

In the 2000s fluidized beds were a thang for awhile and just like biowheels and wet/drys they were retired to the museum of junk science gimmicks. The fluidized bed got a name change to "reactor" and is still hanging around in the biopellet industry.

Biopellets are basically starch and are a slow form of carbon dosing that builds up localized bacteria. The retail markup is insane on biopellets considering their actual value.
 
Fritz

josephxsxn

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Used a sulfur reactor a while ago on my 120 gallon but never hooked it back up when I moved. It worked great without any issues besides as some people mention the flow sometimes clogging. Converted my new tank to biopellets and it took so long I thought they were not working and ended up over dosing the tank killing a few corals before taking it offline. Everything has hence recovered but I went back to sulfur reactors and lanthium chloride to solve my problems.
 
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