Aquaforest Probiotic Method

The Probiotic Method by Aquaforest is a method of obtaining an ultra-low nutrient environment in your reef aquarium with the careful proliferation of bacteria. These bacteria consume nitrate and phosphate from the aquarium water, managing the levels in your aquarium and locking those nutrients up into biomass and bacterioplankton. The bacterioplankton is then a highly nutritious and natural source of food for your precious corals and can be removed via efficient protein skimming. It can be a substitute for traditional "carbon dosing" methods and is also scalable and can be tailored to your specific aquarium based on the desired level of nutrients available in the water. 

Probiotic Method Tips For Success

A true ultra-low nutrient system is intended for experienced hobbyists that desire to grow primarily SPS corals. When implemented correctly you can obtain very low levels of nitrate and phosphate so as not to interfere with the coral's metabolic processes. You will also need to ensure that ample nutrients, vitamins, and amino acids are provided for those corals for optimal growth and to display their best colors.  Supplementing your corals using AF Vitality, AF Amino Mix, and a variety of coral foods is critical to your success when implementing the Probiotic Method. 

  • Always maintain stable alkalinity levels of 7.0 - 8.0 dKH.
  • The rapid drop in nitrate and phosphate levels will cause stress among your corals.
  • Test nutrient levels often, multiple times per week to ensure stability.
  • Do not maintain undetectable levels of nitrate and phosphate rather maintain them at low levels that are detectable using your test kits.
  • If corals appear to be starving or lacking nutrients, increase feeding.
  • A strong protein skimmer set to "DRY" skim is recommended for maximum nutrient export. Clean skimmer often.
  • Ensure an appropriate amount of internal water flow is provided at all times with the use of powerheads or wavemakers.
  • Dose all recommended supplements precisely.
  • If nitrates and phosphate levels are elevated, reduce those levels using GFO and/or frequent water changes before implementing the Probiotic Method.
  • Ensure the aquarium contains porous rock and ceramic biological filter media to provide a habitat for beneficial nitrifying bacteria. 

While the ULNS approach is primarily focused on SPS dominant aquariums, it can also be applied to mixed reef aquariums or any saltwater tank where nutrients need to be reduced. The dosages and results will simply be different based on those target parameters.

Recommended Nutrient Levels

SPS Dominant Reef
NO3: 0.1 - 0.5 ppm
PO4: 0.01 - 0.04 ppm
Mixed (LPS & SPS) Reef
NO3: 2 - 5 ppm
PO4: 0.01 - 0.05 ppm
Soft Corals, LPS, and Fish
NO3: 2 - 10 ppm
PO4: 0.01 - 0.08 ppm


Probiotic Method Products

How to Implement Aquaforst Probiotic Method

1. Probiotic Reef Salt

Probiotic Reef Salt is the main component of the Probiotic Method. When mixed to the proper salinity, the salt contains all of the elements found in natural seawater PLUS carefully selected strains of probiotic bacteria that will reduce nitrate and phosphate levels in the aquarium.  This product alone will be sufficient to maintain levels in all soft coral and most mixed reef aquariums. To further reduce nutrient levels, dose the aquarium with additional Probiotics as described below. Use Probiotic Reef Salt for all water changes to avoid stress upon the system and maintain healthy probiotic bacteria. 

  • For 33 ppt - start with 1 kg (2.2lbs) of Probiotic reef salt per 7 gallons (26 liters) of RO/DI water.

2. Bio S 

Nitrifying bacteria to be used when establishing a new aquarium or immediately after a water change to help replenish the nitrifying bacteria population in the aquarium.  Not required in established aquariums or to maintain ultra-low nutrients but works as a precursor when establishing your new aquarium.  

  • 1 drop per 100 liters (27 Gal) daily for first 2 weeks after initial setup of the aquarium.

3. Pro Bio S and -NP Pro

Together, these two products can further reduce nitrate and phosphate levels in the aquarium and create nutrient-rich biomass for easy export from the aquarium. These are recommended for SPS dominant aquariums and mixed reef aquariums where a drop in nutrient levels is desired. Remember not to maintain zero NO3 and PO4 but rather keep those levels low. Ensure your protein skimmer is working efficiently to effectively remove biomass and ample water flow can help deliver that biomass to your corals.  In addition to a reduction in nitrate and phosphate, you will also experience less build-up of organic waste material in the sand bed and rock crevices.  

  • Pro Bio S
    • Carefully selected probiotic bacteria
    • 1 drop per 100 liters (27 Gal) daily.
  • -NP Pro
    • Liquid polymer that fuels the rapid growth of those beneficial bacteria to maintain low nutrient levels
    • Concentrate Version - 1 drop per 100 liters (27 Gal) daily.
    • Doser Ready Version - 5mL per 100 liters (27 Gal) daily.

4. Pro Bio F

This product stimulates the growth of bacterioplankton and contains a culture medium to promote the further reduction of nitrate and phosphate. This is a substitute for other "carbon dosing" methods using Vodka, Vinegar, and Sugar.  The suspended bacterioplankton provides that optimal food source for small polyp corals. When used in combination with Probiotic Reef Salt, Pro Bio S, and -NP Pro, aquarists can maintain a true ultra-low nutrient environment for the development of vibrant pastel colors and optimal growth among SPS corals. 

  • 1 Spoonful per 100 liters (27 Gal) daily.