What You Will Need for Biopellets
BRS biopellets are fairly easy to use. You will need the following items to get started:
- Appropriate amount of BRS Biopellets
- Media reactor such us the BRS Biopellet Reactor. The reactor should not use foam pads to hold in the media because they will clog over time.
- Small feed pump like a MaxiJet 1200.
- Household measuring cup
Add one cup (236mL) of BRS Biopellets per 50 gallons of system water volume to the reactor. For example a 100 gallon tank would use 2 cups of BRS Biopellets.
Place Reactor & Pump and Adjust Flow
Place the reactor and pump in the tank and adjust the flow so that all of the media is tumbling. Faster tumbling will keep the media free of biofilm and make it easier to keep the media tumbling for prolonged periods of time.
Add Beneficial Bacteria Strain (optional)
Add a beneficial bacteria strain like KZ Zeobak directly into the reactor. This may speed up the process and help maintain populations of beneficial bacteria but is not absolutely required.
Wait 4-8 Weeks
Wait 4-8 weeks for the bacteria to populate. During this time resist any temptation to change anything even if nitrate levels are continuing to rise. Some aquarists experience a bacterial bloom when first starting this system which clouds the tank for a few days. The cloudy water is generally scarier than harmful, but it can reduce the oxygen levels in the tank. If you do experience a bacterial bloom we recommend aiming a few powerheads at the surface of the water to maximize gas exchange. Continue water changes as usual.
Depending on the system add new Biopellets every 6-12 months. Do not remove remaining biopellets.
Depending on the system it should take 4-8 weeks for the bacteria population to multiply and begin its work on your nitrates. Once you have the reactor going we suggest not making any adjustments for 8 weeks. Give the media and bacteria time to adjust to the parameters found in your tank and begin working. Even small adjustments to the reactor can change the parameters inside the reactor and slow down the results.
Please keep in mind that while solid carbon dosing (biopellets) has become extremely popular, it is still very new to saltwater aquaria. There is a lot of good theory on why it works well but some struggle to see results, which may mean you will need to adjust some parameters to achieve the best results. Because there are so many variables it is often difficult to determine what might be holding an aquarist back.
These are some of the most common variables that would affect the how the system works; starting nitrate levels, phosphorous (phosphate) levels, dominant strains of bacteria in the tank, use of additional commercial bacteria strains such as zeobak, types of live stock, protein skimmer size and quality, use of UV sterilizers, potassium levels, amount of light surrounding the reactor, type and amount of fish and coral foods used.
Because there are so many variables it is difficult to give one size fits all advice for this product but this is the sweet spot where we have found the most success with the above variables.
- Most customers will use this system to reduce already high nitrate levels and then maintain them at the new low levels. This means the bacterial load is going to go through constant adjustment as the nitrate levels drop and add complexity to the beginning stages of the system. You may also choose to use a series of large water changes near each other to get the levels down before starting the biopellet system. This will keep the parameter changes to a minimum and remove a level of complexity during the initial stages. Either way, please allow 8 weeks before making any changes.
- Bacteria require small amounts of phosphorous to metabolize nitrate properly and phosphate levels theoretically could be a limiting factor for this system. For this reason we recommend not using phosphate removal products like GFO during the initial phase where are you are trying to lower your nitrate levels. Once you have the nitrate levels down we recommend continuing the use of GFO to maintain optimal parameters in the tank. You may find that your GFO lasts longer when used in conjunction with the biopellet system. We find that the Hanna PO4 checker is the best tool to test phosphate levels because it gives easy to read reliable readings.
- It is difficult to control the dominant strains of bacteria in the aquarium, however continual dosing of beneficial bacteria strains found in supplements such as zeobak may help with this.
- We do not think commercial bacteria products are absolutely required but they have the potential to speed the process up and control types of bacteria. This is certainly something we would recommend trying if you are having difficulty with the system.
- Some corals and sponges will consume the nitrate laden bacteria which will effectively reduce the amount of nitrate available in the water column.
- A high quality UV sterilizer will damage the bacteria’s DNA and keep it from reproducing which could slow down your results and reduce effectiveness. If you own a low quality UV sterilizer the benefits are pretty minimal to begin with so we recommend completely removing it from the system. If you have invested in a high quality UV sterilizer we feel the benefits are substantial so you should try and incorporate it into your system rather than remove it. We recommend turning the UV sterilizer off until you have achieved results with the biopellets and then turning the UV sterilizer back on.
- Some aquarists believe potassium could be a limiting factor. We recommend levels around 380mL/L. With this system this can typically be achieved with a quality salt mix and a reasonable water change schedule.
- We recommend keeping the reactor in a dark area to limit the amount of other organisms living inside the reactor itself.
- In general the best method to control nitrate is paying close attention to the quantity and types of foods used. In this case we believe maintaining a stable supply of food could also be helpful. Feeding the same amount at the same times of the day will help stabilize the food supply for both the bacteria and your tanks inhabitants. For instance if you feed every weekday, but are gone weekends this might produce instability in the food chain for the bacteria and resulting populations. A good automatic feeder could help with this.
The absolute best advice we can give with this system is to set it up and forget about it for two months. Unless something is obviously not right resist all temptation to make any changes until the two months are up.
Some aquarists experience a bacterial bloom when first starting this system which clouds the tank for a few days. The cloudy water is largely more scary than it is harmful but it can reduce the oxygen levels in the tank. If you do experience the bacterial bloom we recommend aiming a few powerheads at the surface of the water to maximize gas exchange. Feeding the effluent of the biopellet reactor directly into the protein skimmer or near the protein skimmer's intake pump will also help with this.