Measuring Nitrate Extraction from a DSB

Discussion in 'Biological/Natural Filtration and Deep Sand Beds' started by Nemos Janitor, 8 Oct 2009.

  1. Nemos Janitor

    Nemos Janitor

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    How does one measure the nitrate extraction through a DSB? "exclude Refuges for now" My point is. Is there a formula for input of foods /energy to extraction? How do i know that my DSB is working and extracting nitrate? Is the DSB not just another Buzz word thing? :).

    Yes i fully understand the principle/concept. Need something i can relate to.

    Does a DSB become saturated and the nitrate reduction reduce or is it perpetual?

    Does your LR absorb nitrate and become saturated?

    Thoughts that might concern and some ponder on!!!!
     
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  3. danimal

    danimal

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    definitely tagging along here :)
     
  4. Falcon

    Falcon

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    i would imagine that there is a limit to the amount it can process which will be mainly dictated by suitable available surface area for the denitrifying bacteria.

    ok now go do an experiment hehe....take an old tank and leave only a single powerhead in there circulating nothing but freshly mixed seawater and some bioballs...feed this once or twice a week but be constant.

    right so after several weeks of testing nitrates you should be able to estimate average nitrate increases weekly....then add a seperate tank with a dsb and keep the feeding constant.make sure the flow is similar in direction,quantity and quality by simply using the same pump and make the other tank same height to minimise head loss...

    now take readings of nitrates daily and you will surely be able to quantify the nitrate consumption for your dsb size...make this a graph and bob nitrates your uncle....


    OR stop asking complicated questions lol:lol:
     
  5. dallasg

    dallasg Moderator MASA Contributor

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    well one would have to run it in a closed setup where one can measure the bio-load added and then work out a rate of depletion based on the process of the nitrogen cycle, but due to the complexity of this, i fear that the results will be inconclusive
     
  6. Nemos Janitor

    Nemos Janitor Thread Starter

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    :whistling: So without some fancy experiments it is almost imposable to determine if you DSB is working of not. And how effective it is. Hmm....

    I believe that a DSB is very over rated. It is not the magic to keeping down nitrates. Many other factors need to be considered. And mostly these other, less expensive, methods far outperform a DSB. In fact i have systems that do not have a DSB at all but an aerobic filter with BIO balls and Ehfisubstrat with zero Nitrate and PO4.

    I also have systems that have a DSB's with very high nitrates. So my loyalty towards a DSB are tarnished somewhat.

    Come on pro DSB reefers give me some means to justify the theory. And find out why the systems with a DSB have high nitrate. ;)
     
  7. Mekaeel

    Mekaeel Moderator MASA Contributor

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    Happened to me about 2-3 years back. That is why no more DSB.
     
  8. Falcon

    Falcon

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    well i run two tanks with dsb(a 200lt and a nano 45lt) nano has in tank dsb.and my large reef has always relied on no dsb but rather caulerpa filtration for nitrates and phos.

    after eight months i can safely say that my 200lt has absolutely no algae besides minor glass algae which is cleaned once every week or two.i'm not running any phos removal at all so i can safely assume my nitrates are zero.

    in my nano also i have no algae but here im also running chemi pure elite so who knows but the dsb appears to be working as theres lotsa bubbles under the surface?

    in my big 680lt reef i started adding sand to make a dsb as since i had an accident(nephew gave the fishies nesquick strawberry) well my caulerpa filter crashed and since then ive re introduced diff types twice and they just die off so nitrates and phosphates have gone crazy!i removed the bioballs and ceramic rings recently as well as the tank is ridden with cyno and i'm goind dsb and phos removal i'll let you know in a few months time but i suspect that my live rock is already saturated with phos but i'll test nitrates in a month anyway.
     
  9. Bob the (reef)builder

    Bob the (reef)builder

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    I think that, many systems work well, and the whole hysteria about Bioballs as "nitrate factories!!!!!!" is taken way over the top.

    I think that DSB's and even liverock can become clogged and old and lose a large amount of efficiency as nitrate reducers. When set up right and working they do a good job though.

    when I was using Vodka and Bacteria a few years ago, I ran into a wall with regards getting the PO4 down any more. Couldn't figure it out until I realised that the tank was Nitrogen deprived and that the bacteria which needed a carbon source plus PO4 and Nitrogen source to work were getting the first two but due to the DSB had exhausted the nitrogen to the point that the method was not working any more.

    As soon as I added nitrates (as Sodiun Nitrate or something) the PO4 dropped out of bed.

    Its why, I'm sure that Zeovit says a DSB is not good with their system. They work too well for Nitrate reduction thus retarding bacterial growth.

    Problem I believe comes with time and clogging, and why many DSB people say that they need refreshing in time.

    Cheers

    Rob. :)
     
  10. RiaanP

    RiaanP Moderator

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    Well when I started my old Playstation setup. It had a 90L display and 2*60L sump. Everything in it came out of my brothers old setup which he then sold. The water, Liverock and crushed coral substrate. And some live stock. As it was an existing tank there is no cycle process. Well maybe a small one. Anyway his old tank was phosphate and nitrate rich. Off the scale. And I could not get it down at all in the few months I looked after his tank before it got sold.

    Back to Playstation setup
    The rock was so saturated that I got green fluffy algae growing underneath the rock. And cayno at one side of the tank. I kept the detritus trap, crushed coral but a thin 2cm layer. Because I got a Golden Head Goby.
    I done 3 things. I setup an Algae scrubber and I did setup one 60L sump as a DSB, and got some Cheato.

    As all 3 matured and settled / grow. The Phospahte and Nitrate levels started to go down. Nitrated first. Until 3 months later the readings was 0. So I can not point to oone item only and say that was the solution. My skimmer runs on a timer only at night. And gets emptied once a week only.

    I got many copepods running around on the DSB and inside the Cheato. And I believe my DSB is alive and well. HAd a few guys around and all commented how busy it looks. So I must conclude that mine looks better than theirs...:whistling: Thereby I mean that surely different setups look different. And each DSB life forms will be different that the next DSB. That is why you must re-seed every couple of months (4-6 max) just a cupfull from another reefer or two. I done that 3 times already this year.
     
  11. butcherman

    butcherman Moderator MASA Contributor

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    isnt a DSB considered a biological filter? and being biological is also subject to enviromental factors like temp water movement food ph etc. isnt not something mecanical like a skimmer that can just be fixed. surely the bactrial level in it would rise and falll due to the avaliltiy of nitrates? and if something dose go wrong with it you normally only find out to late. (ie. natrates being high)so wouldn't it be better to try and find out the staus of the dsb rather that trying to formulate an equation that will let you quantify the nitrate export?
    unless im totally miss understanding the question.:)
     
  12. Nemos Janitor

    Nemos Janitor Thread Starter

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    Yup a DSB is a biological filter of the anaerobic type and all those things you mention do play a part. Now i am glad you brought up the available nitrates thing. In a system without an aerobic filter how are these nitrates produced?

    In my experience systems without an aerobic filter and with a DSB "only" show both traces of nitrite continually and a slow increase of nitrate over time. Time meaning more than a year or two.

    Now to check the status of the DSB what would i have to measure? The slow increase of nitrates over a year before i find out the DSB is inefficient? Perhaps measure the DO and REDOX at the surface of the DSB and the redox at the "what level" of the DSB? Any other suggestions?

    The DSB is a vast debatable subject. Often floated freely by many aquarists that do not fully understand its function or capabilities and have not got any idea what it is doing.

    Well i get that impression from this thread. :yeahdude:

    By Impression i do not mean those that posted.


    @Bob the (reef) builder & @Falcon & @RiaanP all great input. Thanks guys.

    @butcherman not picking on you, You just brought up some good points i wanted to expand on.
     
  13. Falcon

    Falcon

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    look heres another reason that i did not fall for the whole bio ball "nitrate factory" theory...

    there can only be a certain amount of nitrates that a bio ball set-up can produce,this is directly related to the amount of nitrites available which is obviously dictated by the amount we feed.there is no other way to produce nitrates really in our aquaruim so the factory needs nitrite.so limit your feeding or skim heavy and the bioballs will not be a factory plus heres something everybody seems to miss like you said nemo theres always some nitrite available in dsb only set-ups and nitrite is much much much more deadly than nitrate so whats happens when you have an accident and not enough surface area to convert that ammonia and nitrite?


    i may have stopped using bio ball and ceramic rings but it still irritates me how ignorant people can behave sometimes.they totally dismiss bio balls and ceramic rings as the plague but if a reefer puts small pieces of live rock in their sump then they leave it below the radar! wake up people small pieces of live rock can be just as much of a detritus trap as bio balls and ceramic rings lol

    so heres a question has anyone tried bioballs after all the other filtration processes ie skimmer,dsb etc and had any success? i think this may just work if done in the right order a balance can be achieved with zero nitrites and ammonia.this will obviously also have to allow as least detritus as possible to settle in the bio balls or ceramic rings.
     
  14. RiaanP

    RiaanP Moderator

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    I think this feature of bio balls are an issue because it traps the detritus, creating a build-up area. Same as the crushed coral substrate does. Stir it up and you release the green pea soup.
    Other than that, it is there to give surface area for the bacteria to grow. Looking at the Koi fish industry, that is what they all use. And for them it is OK? And they also overstock and overfeed.

    Also the difference with life rock pieces in the sump is that worms tend to live in the rock to help clean the detritus build up. And not in the bio balls.

    Conclusion, if we can prevent trapping detritus, then bio balls should be ok.

    Think about this. Some bio balls, especially the smaller white ones float. What about a double layer floating above the DSB? So that you can stir them without disturbing the sand, to release any trapped particles.
     
  15. Falcon

    Falcon

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    hence i say we put it after the skimmer etc so that detritus wont even make it to the bio ball in the first place;)

    also i have noticed pods and filter feeders living in bioballs and i mean lotsa pods and filter feeding worms stuck on them.
     
  16. RiaanP

    RiaanP Moderator

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    Thinking about what I just said. (arguing with myself )

    The bio balls is designed that way to optimize the surface area per ball. And the sand is also just surface area. And the finer the sand the more surface area is available in same space. Having a DSB and bio balls. How mush more surface area compared to the sand will the bio balls add? Rather use the space for more sand.

    And on my own idea of the white floating bio balls, why the effort, rather use that space for cheato.
     
  17. Bob the (reef)builder

    Bob the (reef)builder

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    My understanding of the whole bioball thing is that it really has little to with detritis capture, as a properly set-up system with plenty of flow over bio-balls suspended in air will not catch significant detritis. In fact bioballs work so well as the slipery plastic surface which builds a coat of bacteria is supposed to shed this sheath as the bottom layer dies. Thus being self cleaning in a way.

    The reason for bio-balls supposed nitrate factory status is more to do with the fact that they are simply sooo good at breaking down ammonia to nitates, but can go no further in this process.

    The DSB or liverock that we tend to prefer is less effective in the ammonia to nitrate stage due to less access to O2 but does the job. It then has the ability to further break the nitrates down on the spot as they sink into the really o2 depleted areas in the DSB or live rock.

    Sorry Nemo's this thread has drifted somewhat. Regarding your question on how to test the DSB, I would hazard a guess that an old DSB (probably clogged and anoxic ) would have zero O2 reading at a relatively shallow depth, or with an MV meter from about -350 downwards you will be creating Suphur diodide and a potential big problem in the case of a powerfailure etc.

    Possibly the DSB's that you have witnessed not working have been wrongly set-up or something. Too shallow or not enough flow etc.
     
  18. Nemos Janitor

    Nemos Janitor Thread Starter

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    Well the question on how to determine nitrate extraction from a DSB was an almost imposable one.:) Interesting nevertheless. The main purpose was to establish an awareness of what a DSB is and does.

    My interpretation might disturb some and enlighten others. However here it is. Abruptly.

    A DSB is totally useless if not set up correctly.

    What i have been eluding to is not the DSB or plenum concept,i use both with knowledge and experience,;) some times correctly and others not, failures and success included. And i concur the DSB does work and is a very useful form of natural filtration used correctly. However it is very inefficient compared to other forms of nitrate extraction.IMO. It is also flouted as "the" biological filtration system. It may well be on systems planed by experienced aquarius and/or public displays where biologists tend the systems, but most definitely not as a new system setup for an inexperienced reefer.

    Now i am going to put forward some statements/advise often suggested on this forum. These are meant with good intentions by enthusiastic reefers wishing to help a hobbyist. Take a moment to consider these ten.

    1) Dude the ceramic rings bio balls must go they are a nitrate factory.
    2) Ceramic rings collect detritus which cause nitrate.
    3) Remove xy piece of glass to create a DSB.
    4) You must flow x times the volume over your DSB.
    5) Your DSB must be at least 150mm deep
    6) use play sand it is cheaper than aragonite.
    7) on finding a crab or nu nu, sump it (DSB) it will help in the reduction of detritus.
    8) Have patients and wait for your tank to cycle.
    9) Your DSB will take up to 10 months to perform properly.
    10) The inevitable Algae responses.

    Sounds familiar?

    Now consider these.
    1) Ceramic rings and Bio balls are an aerobic filter. reducing toxic Ammonia and nitrate very quickly and efficiently. They do produce nitrate.
    2) While detritus is considered a No No for it's nitrate production it is food for your corals. With a little effort the detritus can be fed to corals like sun's, Brains and dendros.
    3) Removal and changing of the sump results in an aerobic filter that is non existent and a DSB that is far to small for the application. recipe for disaster long term.
    4) The flow over a DSB is pointless if the DO is inadequate. The statement assumes that the water flow will produce the required o2 levels. Hmm... Good 100% skimming producing high DO (o2) levels at the DSB surface are far more beneficial that flow rate. IMO a high flow rate over a DSB reduces the filtering waters contact time to reduce nitrate.
    5) The depth of the DSB is irrelevant. The important factor is the depth band that denitrification takes place. This is influenced by substrate size as per point 6.
    6) Play sand is far to fine for a proper DSB. It clogs very easily and 150mm is dangerous. it will excrete sulphur dioxide if disturbed. Consider checking out the granule size for best results.
    7) If your DSB is set up correctly and you are skimming correctly then the creature will starve to death.
    8) A tank with out an aerobic filter will never cycle. There will always be available nitrite.
    9) a DSB takes a long time to establish. and can deteriorate very quickly.
    10) Well algae outbursts are simply due to available nitrites and PO4.

    Now that we have some of my thoughts and i am sure many of your own i suggest considering. Note i deliberately excluded Refuges in my first post.

    1) A refuge needs to be about 15-20mm deep. Abundant with pods etc.
    2) Grow caulerpa "caulerpa" yes caulerpa, it grows very very quickly and has the highest nutrient/nitrate extraction i have experience with. But it is TOXIC you might say. Well it is. And so is butter. I am well aware of the Bornemann paper as well as the fact that caulerpa is used widely as a scrubber without ill effects. just dont let it get into your DT.


    I am confident that most of the older/&younger experienced reefers understand what i have being trying to say. I would rather see a newbie be put on the path of an Aerobic filter with a refuge and good skimming and water management re grime than a DSB. It is far easier to understand and manage. IMO
     
    Last edited: 15 Oct 2009
  19. RiaanP

    RiaanP Moderator

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    Nemos, some points I agree, and a then some I do not.

    particle size
    That is very fine.
    Here is another interesting article
    The Deep Sand Bed – One Of The Most Effective Filtration Methods. | Aquarists Online | Aquarium Fish Resources And Information

    A while back I did post a question about the position of the DSB, Scrubber and Skmmer. what is the best sequence. And everybody convinced me that skimmer, dsb then return is the right way. And scrubber somewhere between, no conclusive decision was made on its location. My logic says that the DSB needs food, and if skimmer removes it, how will it survive?
    Further, I believe that converting the bio balls and ceramic rings to a DSB is not a good idea at all. As you said,
    And the old chamber will be too small to be used as a DSB. The bio bals and ceramic rings chambers are normally narrow and high. The height is not the issue, but the footprint of the dsb will be too small. And in this, comes the problem of DSB's setups that simply does not work.
     
  20. Nemos Janitor

    Nemos Janitor Thread Starter

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    @RiaanP you have a very good understanding of filtration concepts and are correct. One must also consider that there are many ways to skin a cat. I acknowledge that.

    You hit the nail on the head with the DSB foot print statement.
     
  21. RiaanP

    RiaanP Moderator

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    Thank you

    Another interesting point on that article
    So do not put the skimmer after the DSB.

    Now here he contradicts the other statement on
    So do not put the skimmer before the DSB.

    So where must the skimmer go??????:(

    As you say, looks like there are many ways to skin a cat.
     
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