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Old 01-08-2013, 02:25 PM   #21
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It wouldn't hurt to add some biopellets in a reactor and see what results you get. It's certainly an inexpensive way to do it (far less expensive than adding another protein skimmer), and may be enough of a boost to make up for being slightly underpowered on the skimmer.

I have had enough success with them that I swear by them. I have been running my reactor since last February and I have maintained undetectable levels of nitrates in my system without water changes ever since (I don't necessarily recommend no water changes, this was an experiment I wanted to try).

I would get a decent reactor and pump, then start adding biopellets and keep testing every week or two. I'd be shocked if your numbers didn't decrease within the first 2 weeks. How much they would decrease in a system the size of yours I'm not sure.

Best of luck. I'll be following to see how it goes.
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Old 01-08-2013, 03:52 PM   #22
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Bio pellets = carbon/vodka dosing. Its cheaper to buy a $10 bottle of vodka
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Old 01-08-2013, 04:08 PM   #23
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No doubt it's cheaper.

How does carbon/vodka dosing work, then? What do you test for? How often do you add the stuff? How easy it is to mess up?

...and depending on the answers to these questions, is that worth the one-time cost of a bio-pellet reactor?

[spends 5 minutes on Google]

I've found some anectodal stuff about how it's been done. My inclination is that I'd be nervous about keeping up and overdosing, which are mitigated by the reactor. Is there other evidence that could make me feel better about that?

...also, with the bio-pellets, it seems like you just set it up and put in some pellets, and the bacteria use the pellets as needed, meaning that the risk of overdose wouldn't be an issue. Is that right? If so, why are people saying that I should start small? Is this referring to the effect of the reactor? I'm intimately familiar with the Nitrogen cycle, and that certainly starts with very small effects until the bacteria population gets kicking.
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Old 01-08-2013, 04:34 PM   #24
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I added all of my biopellets at once and got a bacterial bloom that lasted almost a week and killed a sandsifting star I had in the tank at the time. The water was super-cloudy for 5 or 6 days. Luckily that was the only loss of life it caused, but it is definitely worth the trouble of adding it a bit at a time. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of the bloom to show you, but you can do a Google search and see that others have had the same thing happen.

Keep in mind that your system is significantly larger than mine, though. So adding 500 ml of biopellets to your 180 gallon system most likely won't have the same shock as it caused in my little 40 gallon system. That being said, it's pretty easy to avoid the problem completely by ramping it up over a little time.
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Old 01-08-2013, 04:41 PM   #25
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OK so this is not like the Nitrogen cycle where the amount of bacteria will naturally regulate itself; it depends on the amount of food you give it, and too much bacteria at once can cause problems with the tank.

This means I don't understand what's going on with carbon dosing as much as I thought I did...
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Old 01-08-2013, 04:46 PM   #26
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You also have to realize that with high levels of Nitrate, you have a lot of food for the bacteria to feed on, so when you add the capacity for that much more bacteria all at once it's going to go crazy until it eats up all the food (nitrates) and then it will fall to a normal level that it will maintain.
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Old 01-08-2013, 04:48 PM   #27
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So would the following be correct, then?

If my tank has a "reasonable" level of nitrates, something like 20ppm or less, then excess bio-pellets in the system would not be an issue.
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Old 01-08-2013, 05:07 PM   #28
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I think it is only an issue when initially adding the biopellets. If you add a whole lot, then the bacterial bloom will be the maximum amount the pellets can support for as long as it takes to consume the nitrates, then it will fall to whatever level of bacteria can be continually supported by the nitrates produced by your system. If you add fewer pellets at first, the amount of bacteria will not be a problem as it consumes the excess nitrates.

Once you have enough bacteria in the reactor to reach that equilibrium where your system produces only enough food for the existing population of bacteria, I don't think you can have too many biopellets, because the amount of bacteria will not be able to increase any further. Ideally you want enough pellets to support more than enough bacteria, so the population can rise and fall naturally with fluctuations in the nitrate produced by your system.

Another thing the pellets do is they actually absorb some of the other things that may exist in your system, such as phosphates and silicates, and then as they tumble and erode away naturally your skimmer will remove them from the system. You will notice the volume of pellets decrease over time for this reason, and occasionally you will need to add a bit more.
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Old 01-09-2013, 10:08 AM   #29
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Hey just tested my water in god knows how long my fish seem fine I have probably just fed them about 30-40mins ago n shook the hell out of my API test kit then tested the water well here's my results

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Well after shaking I placed the stuff in each tube n bam automatically the nitrate hit 80 hell it may even be 160 is it cause I shook too much or what I'm about to do a water change I have live plants but not a lot

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I also added a few small fish about 14 hours ago
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Old 01-09-2013, 10:10 AM   #30
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Also my filter pads are do for a changing too so I was gonna get new ones today
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