Vodka or Vinegar Dosing

Discussion in 'Reef Chemistry' started by brettandlyndis, Aug 11, 2016.

  1. My reef has been up and running almost a year and a half. Very happy with it, getting great growth and coloration from everything. But I did test and my nitrates were around 20-25 ppm. I have chaeto growing in my sump, along with skimmer, and purigen. I dose Kalkwasser daily for calcium requirements. I'm reading about the wonders of vodka dosing to bring down nitrates and that it also helps with water clarity and coral coloration. I'm also reading about adding vinegar to my kalkwasser. How many of you dose either of these, and are you noticing really clear results?
  2. roostertech

    roostertech reef noob

    If you are happy with what you have, why mess with it? ;) That is my philosophy.
    tankguy likes this.
  3. I should have said for the most part, I'm happy with it. I do get brownish tint on the sand daily, after the lights have been on for a while, and while I feel my corals are nicely colored, I can see the potential for getting better coloration out of them.
  4. I'm in the same boat you are. Nitrates around 20 and a light dusting of cyano by afternoon. I did a lot of research into dosing either vodka or vinegar and decided against doing wither right now. However, I had decided if I go that route to use vinegar. Both seem to be equally effective, but vinegar according to everything I read is less likely to set-off a possible cyano bloom at times.
  5. Vhuang168

    Vhuang168 Supporting Member

    It depends on what kind of tank are we talking. LPS/softy? SPS dominant or mixed reef?

    LPS/Softy, 20ppm isn't that bad. I would say it is in the accepted range. I would take a look at your lights if you find your LPS and softies are pale.

    SPS is a totally different story. 20 ppm is high but 0 is no good either. 2 ppm seems to be the target most aim for.

    Mixed reef is the worst! I find that I need nitrates to be around 3-5 to keep everyone happy. Zoas and LPS are growing again. They stalled out for a long time when my nitrates were below 2. Even SPS weren't too happy, but at the slightly higher nitrate levels, they have colored up nicely and growth is good.

    Take a look at NoPOx from Red Sea. There is also a DIY version of that and seems to do well. I did try vodka/vinegar/nopox for a while and while it did keep nitrates in check, it never did take off. Meaning I couldn't get nitrates down to single digits.

    Be aware that vodka/vinegar dosing has its caveats. Too big a dose and the bacteria bloom could drop the O2 levels to dangerous levels. Your skimmer also needs to be up to par as that is the main form of export.
    travis furia likes this.
  6. F6553066

    F6553066 Guest

    Dosing either in my experience is hit or miss. One of my tanks had no issues, but one of my other ones, I had 3 at the time, had a cyno/ brown algae breakout. I have used both vodka and vinegar and they will lower your no3. My advise if you can lower any other way try that first. If not start very slowly. There is a chart showing the dosage on I think the "advanced aquarium" web site. If you can't find it call me at 510-655-3066 Also don't expect immediate results. It may take a couple of months.

    Dick Flanagan
  7. Vincerama2

    Vincerama2 Evil Overlord

    I think for nitrates, you have to suck it out with water changes.

  8. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    If you have Cyano issues, reducing nitrates will make it worse, not better.
    Cyano indicates that your main problem is phosphates, not nitrates.
    And reducing nitrates without phosphates makes the ratio worse, benefiting Cyano even more.
    (Look up redfield ratio)

    To me, it sounds like you should add/increase GFO.

    I switched from an algae scrubber to vinegar dosing because my Nitrates were too low, starving corals.
    So regardless, be careful. Don't start dosing just to chase numbers.
    I have a lot of fish though.

    If you want to add more fish, then long term, vinegar dosing might be a good plan. Definitely works.
  9. I started using Red Sea NO3: PO4-X about three weeks ago. It;s a fairly simple carbon dosing system and it worked well for me so far. My Nitrates dropped down after about three weeks (currently at 2) My cyano issue is not gone, but it's 90% better at this point. Anyone have any input on that product?
  10. Vincerama2

    Vincerama2 Evil Overlord

    Also, vinegar is way cheaper than even cheap vodka. I think I was going to try this a decade ago, and bought the cheapest Walgreens brand (!!) Vodka for like $6 for the bottle, in comparison, you can buy a gallon of vinegar for, what $2? I still have most of that cheapo vodka in a cupboard somewhere.

  11. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    Yes, but you need to use 8X the amount vinegar as vodka.
  12. Vincerama2

    Vincerama2 Evil Overlord

    Ah, OK. Still a gallon of Walmart vinegar is $2.50, and one gallon is 8 pints. So that would be the equivalent to a pint of Vodka. One litre is like 2 pints or so.
    So a gallon of vinegar is equivalent to say half a litre of vodka. Hmm, so the cheapest of the cheap vodka is only a little bit more than the gallon of vinegar.

    Maybe not comparable, since you dose vodka directly, right? I think vinegar is more used in conjuction with kalkwasser?
  13. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    Hard to say what is more "usual."
    Vinegar can be dosed directly if used for Nitrate reduction.
    Vinegar can be combined with Kalk to help stabilize PH.
    Also, vinegar with kalk allows some 30% more kalk to be dissolved.

    I just dose vinegar, no kalk, but sometimes wish my PH was higher.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2016
  14. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Officer at large

    The amount of chemistry that one could deeply get involved with in this hobby is pretty much limitless.
  15. sjbro

    sjbro Supporting Member

    I dosed vodka for a while a few years back trying to fight GHA. I didn't see any side effects, at the same time it didn't make a big difference for my algae problem. As it was said above in the thread, that is most likely because I also had a phosphate problem bigger than a nitrate one. Since then, I stopped dosing vodka. I now rely on refugium with sand bed & cheato, bio pellets which require very low maintenance as compared with GFO, and aggressive skimming. I'm algae free for couple years, everything is good. Phosphate & nitrate levels are low, almost undetectable.

    That's what worked for me. And I believe the greatest tool was patience. It takes time to correct the levels. When i change things slow, and keep a stable schedule, the situation improves.
  16. Vincerama2

    Vincerama2 Evil Overlord

    Ah, there's your problem, you were putting the vodka into the tank. You're supposed to drink the vodka until you don't care about the algae!

    I might try some vinegar mixed into my RO/DI reservoir, that gets pumped into my kalkmixer (which then tops off the sump).
    But I'm reluctant to complicate things.

  17. roostertech

    roostertech reef noob

    I thought you suppose to drink the vodka till the algae look pretty. But I guess you way work too.
  18. sjbro

    sjbro Supporting Member

    As long as it involves drinking, it is good for me!

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