Carbon dosing, do you do it?

Discussion in 'Reef Chemistry' started by sfsuphysics, May 5, 2015.


What do you do?

  1. Dose vinegar

  2. Dose vodka

  3. Use biopellets

  4. Other (specify)

  5. Nothing

Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Just curious if anyone else doses carbon at all, I've been doing vinegar for over a month now and unfortunately I don't yet see any results, granted I have a large volume of water so what I'm up to dosing now (200mL) might not be denting it at all.

    Just curious what might be the most cost effective (if I find something that works), I got a big ol' reactor that I've used for carbon, but I think I'm taking that off line for now (too many issues with remembering to replace it every couple weeks)
  2. jonmos75

    jonmos75 Supporting Member

    I run Warner Marine ecoBAK Plus Bio Pellets in a BR-110 Reef Octopus Biopellet reactor.
  3. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Is that reactor any different than any other reactor out there? All the videos I've seen mention tumbling action (something you don't want with carbon) I'm a bit worried that I might not be able to get enough tumbling.
  4. Vhuang168

    Vhuang168 Supporting Member

    From my reading/research, you want a low tumble. Like a slow boil, just want the pellets to bump each other to slough off the bacteria.

    I've also read that you may want the return to go bk in front of the skimmer so it can pull out all the bacteria before returning to the dt.
  5. Enderturtle

    Enderturtle Volunteer

    Hey whats the goal behind carbon dosing?

    Isnt it to feed bacteria to break down nitrates/phosphates?

    Isnt this feature mainly targetted for people with big tanks or tons of fish? Reduce water change needs?
  6. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Yeah it's a form of nitrate/phosphate reduction, for whatever reason there is a nitrate/phosphate "issue" (not all of us can have tanks like Mr. Ross with the levels he has :) )
    jonmos75 likes this.
  7. HiFidelity

    HiFidelity Guest

    So I've been dosing Vinegar for a few years now, currently I don't do it for the purpose of dosing carbon but so that I can spike my kalkwaser w/ an extra spoon of lime.
    I did dose Vodka for a while and about 6 months ago when I setup a remote fuge I decided to stop dosing Vodka just to see if the fuge is effective on it's own.
    The result of this experiment is 2 refugiums, one in the sump & one remote also I'm going to start dosing Vodka again because Phosphates are higher now than they used to be when I was dosing, I didn't think that Vodka was effective at exporting Phosphates, I believed that it was mainly nitrates but in my experience and with my particular tank Vodka was doing more than meets the eye.

    I plan to run GFO next, I too am chasing the most efficient/cost effective method of nutrient transport.
  8. jonmos75

    jonmos75 Supporting Member

    Yes, not all reactors are the same...I first started out with the BRS bio-pellet reactor and pellets and couldn't get a good consistent flow even after modifying the container and I ran that for 6-8months with piss poor results, having a friend work with me and then he recommended to change to these pellets & this different reactor and the results were great after a couple months...

    With bio-pellets you want them to tumble as slow as possible without creating dead spots.....

    I have a larger pump driving my bio-pellet reactor and my carbon reactor and use valves to control the flow individually in each reactor and then have the outlet tubes of both reactors feed into my skimmer inlet.
  9. jonmos75

    jonmos75 Supporting Member

    I decided to take on the challenging of a to get my levels low enough this is one of the was to accomplish this...

    Yes it does break down Nitrates/Phosphates I also dose Mircrobactor7

    It can reduce on the amount of times need to do a water change or the volume of water changes, BUT NOT completely stop doing water changes...;)
  10. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Yeah, I've long accepted that having 20% changes every week or 2 on my 600+ gallons of water is just not going to happen at all, and I'll deal with the issues as they may be. It's also why I don't have an absolute ton of fish in my system, I think the amount of fish I have in my system is somewhere along the lines of what most people would put in a 90-120g tank (but I think people overstock their tanks anyways :D).
  11. Enderturtle

    Enderturtle Volunteer

    Ohh yeah I have a 40 breeder with 2 one to two inch clownfish. They arent pooping enough!

    So low # of fish, small system, skimmer, and water changes are enough for me at the moment. Im planning on adding 3 more small fish. Maybe.

    Seems like carbon dosing is more for people with overstocked tanks, large tanks, and/or those seeking easier water change plans.
  12. Kensington Reefer

    Kensington Reefer Supporting Member

    water changes!
    make them large enough to matter...30%
    do them often to prevent pollutant buildup
  13. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Possibly, it's another way of removing something from your tank, nitrates are a fact of life, and all the water changes in the world won't remove them completely as you'll still have some baseline amount of nitrates (ok slight exaggerations, all the water changes in the world would probably remove them to negligible levels :D). But if you do a 30% water change every month, and have been doing them regularly, you're still going to have 70% of all those "bad things" in your tank because the rate of them accumulated is still the same (assuming you haven't done anything to change it). Now if you're good with your tank, then 70% of what you had is still perfectly fine in all regards because you probably had negligible amounts to start with, however carbon dosing can add another player to the field and reduce your nitrates even further because you now have a "creature" that is actively consuming nitrates, not just diluting what you had (water changes). However you could make that same argument for protein skimmers too, low fish levels, lots of water changes, don't feed much, hell Arnold doesn't have a protein skimmer last I checked and he has a 120G tank that is filled with fish :D

    But who knows, I'm tempted to ditch the attempt on hard corals all together and go back to a softie tank, then I don't even need to worry about calcium and alkalinity too :D
  14. HiFidelity

    HiFidelity Guest

    Hey Mike, what's causing you to dose Vinegar? are nitrates/phosphates measuring high? if that's the case I'd say you can try Vodka next, I've dosed it alongside vinegar with no ill effects. The cheapest bottle of vodka is a few dollars all you could potentially lose is time since you have to start dosing extremely small amounts and raise the dose slightly over a long period of time as well (few months).

    Kalkwasser needs aside if I had to choose between vinegar & vodka I'd say vodka was the more effective one for me, not sure why maybe it grows different bacteria than vinegar? I can't possibly provide a scientific explanation other than that was the observable result from my trials & errors.
    Coral reefer likes this.
  15. jonmos75

    jonmos75 Supporting Member

    Yes you need some Nitrate & Phosphate in the aquarium and it is all in a balanced ratio of Carbon: Nitrate: Phosphate (160:16:1)...if you can maintain this ration your corals will be happy and little to no algae issues
    Last edited: May 6, 2015
  16. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Nitrates are higher than I would like yeah. I was thinking of running over the Safeway later today and picking up a bottle of the safeway select el-cheapo vodka and giving that a run too. I'm not a drinking person so I don't have any idea how much vodka costs, I know it's a more concentrated forms of carbon, but a gallon of vinegar cost just over $2 at costco.

    But yeah I've read different carbon sources provide different strains of bacteria, but then I also read that there's no evidence that says that different strains are in any way more useful. Either way, I consider it an escalation, first vinegar, then vodka & vinegar, and if all else buy some biopellets from BRS or something and give that a shot :D
  17. jonmos75

    jonmos75 Supporting Member

    Mike- please don't buy their pellets I didn't have very good luck with their pellets...What I really liked about Warner Marine ecoBAK Plus Bio Pellets is that they are small so it doesn't take a lot of flow to get them tumbling...
  18. HiFidelity

    HiFidelity Guest

    Mike you're an advanced reefer haha so I trust you've read plenty on starting a Vodka Dosing Regiment... Don't rush it and start with the smallest dose possible (I just started doing 1ml every other day) and bump it up once every week, you're not going to see any results in the first month because you'll only still be dosing a few ML's but after a month and the bacteria (if different type than that which is sustained by vinegar) will be well established and you can increase your dosage exponentially from there. In my opinion I'd say as a safe maximum I wouldn't go past 0.1 ml/gal of tank volume per day, it is also my opinion that at that point if carbon dosing is not putting a dent in your test results look for a better method.
  19. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Advanced reefer? HA! Old reefer sure, but hardly advanced. But yeah I know start slow, and work your way up.
    Now to figure out where to get absolutely cheap vodka, I didn't see the Safeway Select stuff anymore, they got all fancy with their "premium" alcohols, and the cheapest stuff I saw had some other flavor additives in it, so I didn't get that.
  20. HiFidelity

    HiFidelity Guest

    hhmmm I would try foodsource or some budget store like that...

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