Author Topic: Nitra-Guard Bio-cubes from Orca Labs promises denitrification free of Redfield’s  (Read 8737 times)

Dan Cole

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Found this post on the Reef Builders site...
http://reefbuilders.com/2012/09/27/nitraguard-biocubes-orca/#ixzz27mymtyeP

I don't have time to comment on it at the moment but I'll come back to it later. Very interesting.

Dan

-------------------------------------------(the post follows)----------------------------------------------------------------------

Orca Labs Nitra-Guard Bio-Cubes are an interesting take on solid carbon dosing. A lot of our readers are likely familiar with biopellets and their assorted variations, but these appear to be completely different. Nitra-Guard Bio-Cubes were originally invented in South Africa, and come in two variations; the Nitra-Guard Bio-cubes and the Nitra-Guard Bio-Cubes Titanium. The first of the two is the most similar to conventional bio-pellets, but is claimed to contain 400% more usable carbohydrates and is suppose to work much quicker (days vs. weeks). The Nitra-Guard Bio-Cubes Titanium is also a carbon source but it is a (the first)  Redfield ratio resistant carbon source, meaning that if your main problem is battling Nitrates with no Phosphates in the system the Bio-Cubes Titanium will still function properly. Like the regular Bio-Cubes the Titanium variation is also claimed to contain 400% more usable carbohydrates, and is likewise suppose to start working much faster.

For those that are not familiar with the Redfield equation, or its application to carbon dosing in aquariums, might be a bit confused about the exact difference between the regular  Nitra-Guard Bio-cubes and the Nitra-Guard Bio-cubes Titanium. The Redfield equation is the balance between carbon, nitrogen and phosphate in plankton and bacteria/yeast. The ratio is 106:16:1 with very small variations among different bacteria and plankton. Considering that plankton and marine bacteria get their carbon, nitrogen, and phosphate from the water column, the lack of one of these nutrients will stunt or stop growth. So if there is no Phosphate in the system, bacteria will not grow propely and absorb the nitrogen like intended. It might seem counter intuitive, but for nitrogen export there thus needs to be a small amount of Phosphate. In conventional carbon sources that is, the Nitra-Guard Bio-cubes Titanium somehow works even without the right balance of Phosphates in the system.

Another cool thing about these cube-pellets beside their much higher amount of carbohydrates, is the way these Bio-Cubes are used. The Bio-Cubes do not require a reactor, and users are actually discouraged from using reactors unless they install a venturi for air intake. Instead these Nitra-Guard Bio-Cubes can be used by creating what the creators call a “bomb”, which is in essence just a media bag with an airstone and the Bio-Cubes. Each Nitra-Guard container comes with its own media bag, so you’ll just have to add the airstone and you can simply drop the bag in your sump. Top off the Bio-Cubes as needed every couple months, and you’re good to go (Orca Lab’s recommends four, but the exactly number obviously depends on your system).

What the exact pricing will be like is currently unknown since Nitra-Guard is still looking for a US distributor, but it seems in several other countries 500ml sells in the $55-70 dollar range so we expect the products to be priced around that pricepoint. Orca Labs recommends 1-4ml per liter (3.78 ml-15ml per gallon) so the product might seem a little bit expensive, but the products lasts for months until it needs to be topped-off rather than replaced, and doesn’t require a reactor. We should get our hands on some of the Bio-cubes in the next couple of months so stay tuned for a full run down.



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Quote
For those that are not familiar with the Redfield equation, or its application to carbon dosing in aquariums, might be a bit confused about the exact difference between the regular  Nitra-Guard Bio-cubes and the Nitra-Guard Bio-cubes Titanium. The Redfield equation is the balance between carbon, nitrogen and phosphate in plankton and bacteria/yeast. The ratio is 106:16:1 with very small variations among different bacteria and plankton. Considering that plankton and marine bacteria get their carbon, nitrogen, and phosphate from the water column, the lack of one of these nutrients will stunt or stop growth. So if there is no Phosphate in the system, bacteria will not grow propely and absorb the nitrogen like intended. It might seem counter intuitive, but for nitrogen export there thus needs to be a small amount of Phosphate. In conventional carbon sources that is, the Nitra-Guard Bio-cubes Titanium somehow works even without the right balance of Phosphates in the system.

Good description of the Redfield ratio.  With respect to the Titanium pellets, I take this to mean that either there is a different strain of bacteria involved that doesn't require phosphates or phosphate is added to the bio-pellets themselves.

Quote
Another cool thing about these cube-pellets beside their much higher amount of carbohydrates, is the way these Bio-Cubes are used. The Bio-Cubes do not require a reactor, and users are actually discouraged from using reactors unless they install a venturi for air intake. Instead these Nitra-Guard Bio-Cubes can be used by creating what the creators call a “bomb”, which is in essence just a media bag with an airstone and the Bio-Cubes. Each Nitra-Guard container comes with its own media bag, so you’ll just have to add the airstone and you can simply drop the bag in your sump. Top off the Bio-Cubes as needed every couple months, and you’re good to go (Orca Lab’s recommends four, but the exactly number obviously depends on your system).

This is interesting.  I saw this in operation at Aquatic Kingdom and it is certainly an easier way of using the pellets. When I saw it, I remember thinking, wow that is weird...to me the whole idea was to export the bacteria so you could in effect remove the nitrate and phosphate from your system.  How is this going work when the bacteria is trapped in the bag?   The other thing to note is the introduction of air.  Is it possible that bio-pellets are more effective when air is added, whether or not they are housed in a bag or reactor? While these things are a bit puzzling it will be interesting to see the follow up article when Reef Builders actually get a sample of the bio-cubes to try.

Dan
« Last Edit: October 04, 2012, 08:21:48 AM by Dan Cole »
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Orca nitra guard bio cubes
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2012, 04:32:42 PM »
Mark Nel, the owner of Orca in Johannesburg, South Africa  brought this post to my attention.  It was written by Irie Ivan...a customer and user of the Orca  Nitra Guard Bio Cubes.   Irie kindly consented to my posting it here.    The original post can be found on the Marine Aquariums SA Bulletin Board.

I was asked by moderators on another forum (but thought I'll post it here too) to give some input on the site’s biocube thread, and when asked, as per my usual modus operandi when asked to do something, words like fastidious, thorough and tedious to the point of painfulness come to mind…. Before I start, please note that I have no affiliation with the manufacturer or any distributors of the product. I have never received any free samples or monetary remuneration from the company and all tests done with their product has been done at my expense and with stock purchased at retail price. My opinions and thoughts about the product might come across as biased, which I am happy to admit, as it is seldom that I have found a product in this hobby which will do exactly as claimed, as well as some more.

Use it, lose it, the choice is yours…..

Orca Nitra Guard Bio Cubes, my thoughts…..

Ever so often, a new buzz word starts doing the rounds amongst hobbyists, a new concept, a new product, or the re-emergence of something from years gone by. It seems the buzz has now started spreading internationally too with recent posts on Reef Builders. Slowly but surely, I have (not so quietly) observed the emergence of yet another buzz word on the South African Marine Aquarist Forums, namely Nitra-Guard Bio-Cubes.
I first came across the product towards the end of 2011, whilst discussing setup and filtration options for my new tank with an industry wholesaler, Liaquat Sain from Aquality distribution. He showed me a sample of this product, reminiscent of cubed feta cheese, just a lot harder. Due to space and budgetary constraints, a DSB or zeolite methodologies were not an option for nutrient control in my new setup, and after a brief explanation of the product and reading the label, I was tempted. Having wasted literally tens of thousands in this hobby on products which simply don’t do what they claim, or do it effectively, I was still slightly sceptical, even though I knew Liaquat as someone to give solid advice based on research and not motivated by sales. When the time for filtration setup arrived, I thought to myself: Worst case, I would have wasted another few hundred rand in this hobby, but fortunately I have some knowledge on how to revert to other methodologies should this one turn out to be bogus….
The recommended dose on the label read 1ml per litre for lightly stocked tanks and 3ml for heavy stocked tanks, so, being a new system and wanting to stock it fast and relatively heavy, I decided to go with 2ml per litre… I placed it in a regular hang on filter, filled my tank with water, added some fresh uncured live rock, as well as a bit of cured stuff from a fellow hobbyist and waited for the cycle to start…..

Few days, No ammonia, no nitrites and no nitrates, weird…,but waited a few more days and still nothing…… Thought I might be on to something here and decided to start adding fish… Started with a huge Yellow Tang from my previous tank.. two days, no detectable nitrates, 5 Chromis, two days… nothing, Midas Blenny……. Few more damsels…… still nothing…. Added corals, and still nothing…. Knowing that my Phosphate would creep up, and not having reagents for my photometer, I decided to get some phosphate remover. With at this stage still only “suspected” good results with Orca Cubes, I tried some of their PO4 remover, as it was affordable and simply being a GFH I knew it would at least do something… Christmas time came around and I went away for a one week holiday, leaving my neighbour in charge of the tank with some concern regarding overfeeding and nutrient levels, but I needed the break and living out in the sticks one does not really have too many options in terms of tank sitters. On my return, the first thing I noticed besides the fact that all the fish were still swimming, was that what was half a Ocean Nutrition tub of pellets prior to my departure, was now empty. A few colourful words and thoughts about what part of a pinch in the am and a pinch in the am does he not understand…. Grabbed my test kits and totally flabbergasted, my NO3 was still not measurable…. I got another kit, and the result was the same: no colour change indicating presence of nitrates.

I was impressed…. Finally, a product which does as advertised, no more dosing of bacterial cultures or carbon sources, no more worrying about nitrates….

During routine maintenance, I checked on the GFH in another hang on, only to discover that it had clumped quite badly. Not being able to find satisfactory information on this, I decided to contact the company who manufactures it. I found an email on the web, and sent a mail, which was answered within a few hours by a phone call from Mark Nel, owner of OAL and developer of the company. Yes, I was impressed, an owner of a company making a product I use contacting me…. Did someone say service?? After explaining the clumping in the GFH, I mentioned to him about how impressed I am with his cubes, resulting in a lengthy conversation about its development, what makes it different and the basics of how it works:
My perception that it was just another form of solid carbon, was quickly dispelled when I was given a brief breakdown of the science behind its development. In order to understand why this product cannot be seen in the same light as the nitrate reducing pellets available in the trade, one has to understand what each product is.

Let us look at pellets:

Pellets were not developed for the aquarium industry. They were developed as a material to
1.) make plastic biodegradable (or at least speed up the process)
2.) utilize renewable sources of raw materials instead of fossil fuels, hence the development of PLA:


PLA (polylactic acid) is a plastic produced from resources that can be renewed on an annual basis, such as sugar beet, sugar cane, wheat, maize and cellulose.

The PLA manufacturing process includes biotechnology activity in the sucrose (sugar) or glucose extraction phase before transformation by fermentation (using a micro-organism) into lactic acid. This lactic acid is then chemically transformed into PLA.

PLA has been known as a polymer for many years in medical applications, such as stitches, orthopedic or galenical pins. This sector of application was developed on the basis of the biocompatibility between humans and this polymer, which is obtained from lactic acid. Due to technological developments and optimisations of the procedure, PLA is now available on commodity markets, such as packaging, disposable objects, fibers and more. Many product developments are ongoing and should enable, in the near future, the use of PLA in such sustainable applications as the automotive industry, floor coverings and electronics.



In addition to the conventional methods, PLA has the distinctive feature of increasing end-of-life management options. PLA from renewable raw materials is also biodegradable and compostable. This is one of the options for managing the end of life of this biosource polymer.

Excerpt taken from Futerro
Truth of the matter is, the pellets are derived from the same product which is used in manufacture of disposable and biodegradable “plastic” cutlery / plastic bags. This is not meant to shed a negative light on pellets, as the pellets do contain a carbon source (in the form of starch) and will therefore harbour microorganisms which utilize the carbohydrate molecules to remove nutrients from our tanks. Bottom line, they do work if employed correctly.

One has to ask why simply not just import biodegradable pellets from their country of origin, somehow “boost them in terms of carbon content,” repackage and market at a rock bottom price? When asked, the developer of orca Bio Cubes gave me a rather interesting answer:

“‘We either find a way…or we make one’
There was once a famous general known as Hannibal Barca. He gave the Romans the worst defeat they ever had at the battle of Cannae where he killed more than 80 000 of them. That strategy, known as the perfect defeat, is still taught to generals today and was even used in Operation Desert Storm by General Norman Schwarzkopf. When Hannibal Barca crossed the Alps with elephants, he was quoted as famously saying ‘we either find a way…or we make one’ This saying has been the backbone of all my success. He was eventually defeated by the Romans who used another strategy which can be expressed simply as ‘you are only defeated when you admit that you are defeated’ this strategy has always carried me through my darkest times.
I was looking at another form of NO3 removal after it became almost impossible to get the ion exchange resin that works in seawater from the manufacturers. Price issues, importing hassles etc… all started to become a little too much. I had to find another way.
I looked at pellets that were made in the USA and China and noticed that they were adding starch into the pellets.
It would need a real form and quantity of carbon in order for the product to work. All these pellets are being bought from suppliers who will make them to a certain spec and that would not change.
Unfortunately, due to the high amount of heat required to blow mould, incorporating too much starch would burn the starch and also significantly reduce the tensile strength of the plastic bags. We are therefore left with a product with only limited carbohydrate fuels in the mix.
In order for me to come up with something superior, I would have to find a way to get more carbohydrates into the product
I set to work and of course, I had found a way, but, did this way lead me to where I wanted to be? It was at this point that I realized that if I “found a way”, I would be like the rest of the companies that were selling something inferior in performance. Would I want to buy biodegradable pellets from the Chinese and then repackage them. I did not want that. I wanted a product that would speak for itself. It was blatantly clear, a way had already been found and the other companies were using it already. I would need to “MAKE a way” if I am to become successful and to stand out of the crowd. Making my own way would be the only way forward.”

Easy to see how Mark’s words can ruffle a few feathers in the industry, but it seems like he has a valid point…..
http://www.alibaba.com/trade/search?SearchText=biodegradable+resin&IndexArea=pr oduct_en&fsb=y
Whether these pellets are the same as used in the aquarium trade (i.e. unchanged), or whether they are changed to incorporate more of a carbon source and to what degree it is possible to change them, only thorough research will reveal….

Anyway, the intention of this article is not to play a proven form of “solid carbon dosing” against what is perceived by aquarists to be another form of carbon dosing…… On this, Mark comments:

“The truth is if you have a carbohydrate source, nitrogen and phosphorous, you will make biomass. This is the truth, but, if the carbohydrate source were limited or not biologically available, that would change that truth. This truth would become the reality of the matter and this reality is either failure or limited results. I often hear people talk about BIO-Cubes as “it’s just another form of carbon dosing” or “if it was such a good product, the big guns would already have it” The truth is that yes, those pellets do contain carbohydrates, but, due to the limited amount and low surface area, success is limited and that is the reality.
BIO-Cubes have been completely designed for use in an aquarium and are not a derivative of other industries. Every time I see posts like “it’s another version of ….pellets” I immediately realize that that person has no knowledge of what he is talking about. Unfortunately, I can prove that this person is ignorant because simply put, you can’t make plastic bags out of BIO-Cubes. The truth is they do contain similar ingredients, but, the reality is that BIO-Cubes is the only media of its kind that was designed for use in aquariums. This is a statement that I will uphold until the day comes that someone can successfully manufacture plastic bags using BIO-Cubes.”

So…… What exactly are bio cubes?

With a scientific and aqua culture background, and being an avid body builder, Mark is well aware of the function of carbohydrates in providing your body with glycogen required to burn as fuel for the muscles. All of this conversion from starch to glycogen required some work on the part of the body. Why not just supply them directly with what they need?
Utilizing a modified glucose as found in a two part drink developed for bodybuilders, called “bang bang,” whereby the body is provided glycogen in a faster way than relying on the bodies conversion of starch to provide energy,(Interestingly, also developed by Mark.) he researched ways to incorporate the modified glucose into a suitable aquarium substrate.
But this simply was not good enough….
Now, we all know that increasing the surface area in our filters result in a more effective filter that removes ammonia and nitrite more effectively. In order to make the product perform better, a higher surface area would be required. Increased surface area would house more bacteria, more bacteria would require more nutrients such as NO3 and PO4 which would increase the desired results.
Whilst researching an excellent quality of activated carbon for his company, when reading about some activated carbons that has a total surface area that is over 2 000m2 per gram, the idea struck him that outer form of the structure would not matter as long as the inner matrix of the structure had what was needed.
He set to work creating large cubes that had large pores in them. The larger pores allowed the biomass to be ejected efficiently, but, still created a massive surface area to give the product that unfair advantage that it required to be considered a superior performing product.
At the end of the day, the proof is in the pudding: Even though the results from reefers here and internationally who have used this product show definite results, pictures speak a thousand words:
Some Potassium Nitrate & Potassium Phosphate was added to a tank set up for this test using mature reef tank water. Levels were raised to around 100mg/lts (ppm) and the PO4 levels were between 8mg/lts and 10mg/lts (ppm), basically, off the chart. No livestock was added to the tank, water circulation was by means of an air-stone and the cubes were placed in a small hang on filter. About 20 ml (a tot glass) of cubes from my reef tank was used to seed the fresh cubes.
Total water volume of tank: 60L
Total quantity of cubes: Approximately 50ml (I know this is approximately ten fold the recommended dose, but then again, bear in mind that the nutrient levels were several magnitude higher than those expected to be found in well kept tanks.)
Day 1
NO3:


PO4:



There was no marked change during the first few days, which left me a bit disappointed, as I really though the bacteria would have a field day with the new real estate and nutrients to boot.

However, after day eight, things suddenly went downhill….. in a good way (Please note that PO4 sample had to be diluted 3 times:





Day 9:





Day 12:





Actual PO4 reading as per Hanna photometer: 0.08, where, like in my tank, it bottomed out and would not go down without some additional help…. Anyway, pretty powerful stuff…. So we have to ask: What exactly is going on here?

I’ll stick to the basics and try not to get too involved with electron donors / receptors, ATP, Redfield ratio, etc, besides, this is becoming a long story…
The cubes serve as a very suitable substrate for biomass colonization, due its large internal surface area, as well as the vast amount of biologically available carbon to serve as an energy source. Pretty much the same reason aquarists started adding vodka to their tanks: suspected shortage of biologically available carbon.

Please bear in mind that we are not dealing with the “traditionally accepted” final step in the nitrogen cycle, but something all together different. In the “traditionally accepted” final stage of de-nitrification, anaerobic conditions are required, which harbour bacteria which strip the oxygen molecules from the nitrate ion (which is made up of nitrogen and oxygen).

We are dealing with a process which occurs in an oxygen rich environment, in fact, the more oxygen, the better these cubes work it seems…… More eyebrows raising????

The reality is, that all living organisms require 4 essential things, i.e. Nitrogen, to use in synthesis of structural components and Inorganic phosphorus in the form of the phosphate PO3−4 is required for all known forms of Life, playing a major role in biological molecules such as DNA and RNA where it forms part of the structural framework of these molecules. Living cells also use phosphate to transport cellular energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Nearly every cellular process that uses energy obtains it in the form of ATP. ATP is also important for phosphorylation, a key regulatory event in cells. Phospholipids are the main structural components of all cellular membranes. Calcium phosphate salts assist in stiffening bones.

And lastly, they require Carbon as an energy source and oxygen to well, yes…. BREATHE!
(in fact there are a few more elements they require, but that is beyond the scope of this article)
In essence, this is exactly what bio cubes are: A perfect real estate for bacteria to colonise, as it provides huge areas, filled with lots of free food which is locked up in this “real estate”, yet is biologically available to them. Oxygen is supplied by the well oxygenated water flowing past from the tank and Nitrogen and Phosphorous is supplied by means of dissolved organics in our tanks, i.e. NO3 and PO4. As the bacteria “discover” this massive pieces of real estate with the nutrient (carbon) which is mostly limiting now available in huge quantities, to be honest, in an extremely easily available form, they are hell bent on colonising it…. Wouldn’t you be? However, to colonise, they need Nitrogen and Phosphorous as mentioned above….. With these elements constantly passing by as dissolved organics in the water column, they are now ready to procreate, and if there is one thing I remember from those micro biology lectures at college, it is the rate at which bacteria can multiply, given ideal circumstances……. It is called exponential growth….. And as they multiply, they turn dissolved nutrients into biomass.

Once any of the required components (O2,N,P or C) run out, the bacteria will stop multiplying, as they require all of them and in specific ratios. Once this occurs, the bacteria will go into a dormant state, until the limiting nutrient is available, at which point they will again take up C,N,P and O2. I have found that with this product, my PO4 level dropped up to a point, where after it will not drop any more. This is not due to any shortfall of the product, but simply due to the laws of nature. Remember that ORCA BIO CUBES were not advertised as removing PO4, it was developed and marketed as a Nitrate removing substrate. The fact that it removes PO4, is simply an added bonus, thanks to the laws of nature, i.e. the ratio of CNP uptake by biomass, Redfield Ratio ring a bell?
What is important to remember, is that the input of food into our aquaria is often skewed when compared to the biological uptake ratio of Nitrogen to Phosphorous. Truth is, we mostly add more PO4 than the biomass can remove, as it will reach a point where there is no more Nitrate available for bacteria to use in their “expansion project.” This fact is relative to any biological method of nutrient removal, regardless of what clever marketing salesmen may have you believe… Nature has laws and they cannot be changed…. Manipulated, but not changed…. I strongly suspect that this is probably the primary reason why the product is not marketed as a Nitrate and Phosphate removal product, but rather just as a Nitrate removal system.

In saying that, I by chance stumbled across a method in which this product can be used to reduce the PO4 concentration, even after its removal due to Nitrogen limitation is reached. This is however something for a much more advanced article, but as a hint, I urge the reader to google EBPR.

If you are still reading at this point, I strongly urge you to not just take my word for it, do a search on the internet forums and discuss the results hobbyists have had using this product. Do some research on assimilation of CNP by marine bacteria, availability of carbon as a fuel for bacterial growth, etc. Start at the onset of vodka dosing a few years back and follow the progression into solid carbon substrates and you will find that ORCA BIO CUBES are heading in the right direction, or should I say, leading the way….
« Last Edit: October 04, 2012, 08:22:16 AM by Dan Cole »
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Interesting read--thanks for posting.

I am still having trouble with the concept of having to supply anerobic bacteria with oxygen via the airstone. The author has posted that anerobic bacteria get their oxygen via the breakdown of nitrates.
I question that this process might be slowed down if oxygen is supplied readily via the air stone. Metabolically it takes less energy from on organism to get pure oxygen then it does to metabolize it from a more complex substance as nitrate so the organism will take the route where it has to expend less energy to get what it needs
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I was thinking the same thing Scott but I figured that might be a positive thing.   If the addition of air slows down the anaerobic respiration then you should have more NO3 available (it is not being degassed) for the bacteria to consume and thus result in more po4 being taken up as well.   

I saw that as a good thing and wondered if it would be beneficial to add air to our reactors as well but then again my coffee cup is always half full.   ;D  I sent a note to Mark about the bag and air thing and will post his response here later today.

 
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Here is the note I sent to Mark and his response....

Thanks Mark and please thank Ivan for me too....I've just posted the article.

I have no doubt that bio-pellets work...we've been selling them for year or more now and I've had lots of success stories so to me that is not an issue. The questions I had regarding the cubes didn't seem to get answered though or I missed it.  I'm a little confused about them being run in a bag....I thought one of the main benefits of using the pellets was the ability to export the nutrients by exporting the bacteria via our protein skimmers.  Having said that I guess I'm just not clear on how we export the bacteria when it is trapped in the bag.  Ivan was/is running the cubes in a filter so that issue didn't get addressed. Adding air also intrigues me.  I can see where that would slow the nitrate removal and thus allow more po4 to be taken up and I'm guessing the introduction of air would have the same effect if it was added to a reactor or whatever vessel the bio-cubes or pellets where housed in.  An interesting way to manage the Redfield ratio.

If you can shed some light on these two aspects of using the cubes that would be appreciated.

Marks reply...

Hi Dan,
That was a good article he wrote, I know he will be very proud to have it shown on your site. Well, the air and the bag issue. The biomass does not really get trapped in that bag. The biomass goes through it rather easily. If the air output is very low, then you might get some build up on the bag. The air acts as a scrubber and also because I have put so much carbohydrates into the cubes, the more air you give them, the more potent they become. They also act as a way of getting freshwater flowing through the bag in the centre thus greatly increasing the performance yet again. I am not sure if pellets would benefit from air in the system as the carbohydrates in there are limited. I am also not so sure if you can expect any great fireworks from the larger pellets. They have increased the porosity with micro-pores, I tried that a few years ago and found that the biomass blocks those micro-pores and you lose efficiency very quickly.
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Great research Dan
I can understand the info about adding the air but IMO it is not totally necessary and the pellets should still be as effective without using it
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Quote
I can understand the info about adding the air but IMO it is not totally necessary and the pellets should still be as effective without using it.

I don't see it that way Scotty....I think if you're going to run it in a bag you need a way to, as Mark put it, scrub the cubes, bring in new water and move the scrubbed bacteria out into the system....to my way of thinking into a skimmer as a means of nutrient export.

I think Shawn was running pellets in a bag without the air so it would be interesting to get his take on this.   Do you want to bug him about that or shall I?
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Quote
I can understand the info about adding the air but IMO it is not totally necessary and the pellets should still be as effective without using it.

I think Shawn was running pellets in a bag without the air so it would be interesting to get his take on this.   Do you want to bug him about that or shall I?

It's your turn--I have asked him to join in a couple of times now ;D Maybe he will for you---LOL He did give me permission to add some of his work I had previously in my capn forums

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I tried the Bio-Cubes when the SA inventor sent some samples to Daniel at Aquatic Kingdom. I was already using NPX Bioplastics that were not able to maintain Po4 & No3 levels below 25. I used 5 containers of the cubes that were about $70 each on a 1350 gallon reef tank. The cubes turned brown and partially dissolved, but they did not impact Po4 or No3 levels. I ended up dosing vinegar (500ml/day) and Po4 & No3 dropped to zero in about three weeks. I did have a cyanobacteria outbreak, but it was quickly removed with erythromycin (2 doses).

I don't understand the air stone recommendation either. Airlifts move water to the surface for gas exchange, but the actual bubbles do not add up to much in the way in surface area. Anaerobic denitrifying bacteria do not need an aerobic environment. Perhaps the air is simply to agitate the media to dislodge excess biofilms. Air bubbles provide a more erratic flow than a powerhead. The Zeovit system uses physical agitation of the media carried out by the user.

The coral tanks in our shop have zero No3 & Po4, maintained by a (static) media bag of NPX Bioplastics and no other means of nutrient control. The Bio Cubes will likely do the same. I may add more NPX Bioplastics to the 1350 reef tank so I don't need to dose vinegar manually.


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I tend to agree with Shawn. Having dug into bacteria deeper  I have found two authors who have quoted that oxygen will kill off anerobic bacteria. If that is the case then the pellets simply become bioballs supporting only aerobic bacteria and eventually becoming importers of nitrates back into the system.

Shawn--did you remove the pellets or dose vingear along with them?
« Last Edit: October 31, 2012, 08:45:49 PM by Scott Yager »
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I don't understand the air stone recommendation either. Airlifts move water to the surface for gas exchange, but the actual bubbles do not add up to much in the way in surface area. Anaerobic denitrifying bacteria do not need an aerobic environment. Perhaps the air is simply to agitate the media to dislodge excess biofilms. Air bubbles provide a more erratic flow than a powerhead. The Zeovit system uses physical agitation of the media carried out by the user.

While I didn't get the air thing at first either I've come to understand that it's purpose is to dislodge the bio-films and bring nitrate and phosphate into the bag (to feed the bacteria if you will) via the water exchange that is taking place as the air displaces the existing water in the bag.  Sort of like what we're doing when we push water through a reactor.   I don't think it's any more complicated than that.  Just another way of bring freshwater (food) to the bacteria and dislodging the bio-film. 
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I tend to agree with Shawn. Having dug into bacteria deeper  I have found two authors who have quoted that oxygen will kill off anerobic bacteria. If that is the case then the pellets simply become bioballs supporting only aerobic bacteria and eventually becoming importers of nitrates back into the system.

Dumb question for you Scotty...why are we hung up on the need for anerobic bacteria?  Aren't we trying to encourage bacteria to grow so that it consumes Carbon, Nitrate and Phosphate?    We seem to keep talking about anerobic bacteria like it is the only bacteria that will do that job.   Doesn't aerobic bacteria do that job too?
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I tend to agree with Shawn. Having dug into bacteria deeper  I have found two authors who have quoted that oxygen will kill off anerobic bacteria. If that is the case then the pellets simply become bioballs supporting only aerobic bacteria and eventually becoming importers of nitrates back into the system.

Dumb question for you Scotty...why are we hung up on the need for anerobic bacteria?  Aren't we trying to encourage bacteria to grow so that it consumes Carbon, Nitrate and Phosphate?    We seem to keep talking about anerobic bacteria like it is the only bacteria that will do that job.   Doesn't aerobic bacteria do that job too?

Aerobic bacteria are responsible for oxidizing organics(poop) to  ammonia and ammonia to nitrites. Anerobic bacteria reduce nitrites to nitrates and then to harmless nitrogen gas. There are two strains of anerobic bacteria.
Both bacteria need carbon as they can't produce their own(heteotrophic) and both chemically either by oxidation or reduction convert organics to nitrogen gas. since it is the aerobic bacteria that oxidize then they need an environment rich in oxygen. This oxidation is an integral part of cellular respiration in bacteria.

In highly aerated environment will only support aerobic bacteria which means you end up with a lot of nitrites and nitrates.

The reproduction rate of aerobic bacteria is many fold times the reproduction of anerobic bacteria.

The main reason IMO they switched from carbon dosing directly into a reactor was to control the rapid increase of bacteria in the display tank so as to prevent blooms of aerobic bacteria(visible by cloudy water). The idea of keeping the flow through the external reactor was to stop the mulum(dead bacteria) from clogging up the reactor.

However I think there is a fine line here between creating an aerobic envirnoment and an enviroment the is indusive for anerobic bacteria. If you don't get this right then you get alot of dead anerobic bacteria and poor nitrate production.

This is why I agree with Shawns method of having the pellets in a bag with not alot of circulation/aeration. Aerobic bacteria does not need encourgement to grow---anerobic does.
I also believe that pumping oxygen in with the pellets kills off anerobic bacteria.
If you re read my articles on bacteria in the library you can notice where this is stated
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Aerobic bacteria are responsible for oxidizing organics(poop) to  ammonia and ammonia to nitrites.   Anaerobic bacteria reduce nitrites to nitrates and then to harmless nitrogen gas. There are two strains of anaerobic bacteria.

Both bacteria need carbon as they can't produce their own(heteotrophic) and both chemically either by oxidation or reduction convert organics to nitrogen gas. since it is the aerobic bacteria that oxidize then they need an environment rich in oxygen. This oxidation is an integral part of cellular respiration in bacteria.

Thanks for taking the time to explain this Scotty...I'm just trying to understand the process a bit better.  I'm still not convinced however that aerobic bacteria isn't our friend.  As I understand it aerobic bacteria will also consume or capture carbon, phosphate and nitrate as it oxidizes the organics.  I found this explanation on Wikipedia in a discussion about the Redfield ratio...

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In the ocean a large portion of the biomass is found to be nitrogen-rich plankton. Many of these plankton are consumed by other plankton biomass which have similar chemical compositions. This results in a similar nitrogen to phosphorus ratio, on average, for all the plankton throughout the world’s ocean, empirically found to be averaging approximately 16:1. When these organisms sink into the ocean interior, their energy-rich bodies are consumed by bacteria that, in aerobic conditions, oxidize the organic matter to form dissolved inorganic nutrients, mainly carbon dioxide, nitrate, and phosphate.

It's the last sentence that I found interesting but I didn't want to quote it out of context.

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When these organisms sink into the ocean interior, their energy-rich bodies are consumed by bacteria that, in aerobic conditions, oxidize the organic matter to form dissolved inorganic nutrients, mainly carbon dioxide, nitrate, and phosphate.

I assume this is the bio-film that we are talking about...the dissolved inorganic nutrients, mainly carbon dioxide, nitrate, and phosphate.  Is my understanding okay so far?

If so, that leaves me wondering about this.

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In highly aerated environment will only support aerobic bacteria which means you end up with a lot of nitrites and nitrates.

How does this tie back to the bio-film being produced?  What process is driving the production of nitrite and nitrates?

The secondary question this raises in my mind is whether the introduction of air via the air stone will actually create an environment richer in oxygen then pushing water through a reactor given the over all volume of water we're talking about?  Does it really increase the oxygen very much?  As I understand it water only has a certain ability to hold oxygen and if we're running at the saturation level or close to it because of our skimmers and other water movement, what affect, if any, does it really have?

I have some other questions about the rest of your post too but I won't trouble you about that now.   If my thinking on the above is way off base then my additional questions are probably irrelevant.

I appreciate your taking the time to help me understand the processes at play here.
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