Zeo, vs Cubes, vs Pellets

Discussion in 'Chemical Filtration / Low Nutrient Systems - LNS' started by irie ivan, 4 Nov 2012.

  1. irie ivan

    irie ivan MASA Contributor

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    Whilst giving advice to a fellow reefer, he enquired about zeovit and what it is and in chatting to another reefer, he wanted to know more about pellets. Having done a fair bit of research into the different methods and having run zeovit years back, as well as my recent write up about cubes, the thought to do a comparison thread oN Ultra Low Nutrient Systems occured to me.....

    I guess a good starting point would be to elaborate a bit on ulns.
    In essence, it refers to what the name implies. Throughout the "evolution" of the hobby, we have focussed a large part of our resources on nutrient removal. With the advent of berlin methodologies, we started getting close by using bacteria to remove nitrate in low oxygen environments. Algal turf scrubbers, plenums, deep sand beds and macro algal refugia were all implimented to assist in our struggle. Unfortunately, these methods, although they work and work wel, require large areas for nutrient removal to reach levels coparable to natural reefs.
    Documentation from earlier years existed showing that addition of ethanol aided in nutrient reduction. Initially, this method was combined with denitrificatipn in anaerobic denitrifiers, but it was later realised that addition of a carbon source such as ethanol, vinegar, etc. can aid bacteria in removal of nutrients. It was soon discovered that addition of a carbon source allowed us to rapidly obtain levels which cannot be detected on test kits, predominantly for nitrates and to a certain degree phosphates as well.
    It was soon realised that biomass assimilate nitrogen and phosphorous into their structure, as long carbon is present. A plethora of methologies arised utilising bacterial and carbon dosing.
    I have chosen to have a closer look at the three most popular methods in Sa
    H
    Before we go any further, yes, I am expecting sponsored attacks, the naysayers, one liners making no significant contribution and of course a few ruffled feathers.
    And yes, as much as I will try to be objective, considering my recent write up on cubes, I am sure there will be a bit of bias coming through. Let's try and keep it civil, factual and be open minded.

    My idea is to start off by listing the basic principles of each and then rip it apart to ascertain the advantages and caveats of each..

    Oh and yes, they all three work, so no need to debate that.
     
    Last edited: 4 Nov 2012
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  3. irie ivan

    irie ivan Thread Starter MASA Contributor

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    Firstly, lets look at Zeovit:

    This is my overstanding of how it works, based on research, experience and due to Mr. Pohl's reluctance to elaborate on the facts behind it, my opinion.
    I invite people with the facts to correct me where I make errors....

    The basic zeovit methodology consists of 3 components, addition of a bacterial culture, provision of a substrate for biomass to colonize and addition of a carbon source to feed the biomass, as biologically avail carbon as needed for assimilation of nitrate and phosphate is believed to be lacking.
     
  4. Johan Luus

    Johan Luus

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    Excellent, cant wait! Thanx tagging ;)
     
  5. ziyaadb

    ziyaadb

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    Said like a Boss!!!!!:thumbup:
     
  6. LCornelius

    LCornelius Moderator

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    Tagging along chief!
     
  7. Watermark

    Watermark

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    Basicly yes.

    • Zeobak is your bacterial supplement
    • Zeostart3 is your carbon source
    • Zeofood 7 is also a bacteria food as well as coral food
    • You have a Zeolith reactor whith Zoelite stones in running at around 300 to 400 liters per/hour which can be plunged twice a day to release.
    • ou have various supplements of Amino acids and elements you can dose to tweak colours etc.
    I have been using it for over a year and have been very happy with the results however it requires a strict schedule and once should never overdose. Also requires your tank paramenters to be spot on i.e. Alk, Ca, Mg, Salinity. My No3 is 0.25mg/l and Po4 is 0.02mg/l and i do not run any Po4 remover. Again one should follow the Zeovit guide closely.
    Chat to Submariner for more info on Zeo products.
     
  8. irie ivan

    irie ivan Thread Starter MASA Contributor

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    Firstly, lets look at the addition of bacteria:
    When one looks at seawater, the bacterial count per ml is astronomical! Whether addition of bacterial strains is required, is still open to debate. Initially, bac poplulations are not that huge in new systems, so dosing makes sense, sort of... It allows us to significantly speed up the cycling pricess.
    There is also some truth in the statement that certain strains of bac are very specific in terms of preferred growth media and considering that we remove the media regularly, as well as Removal via skimming and shaking the media, again, there is some sense in continuous dosing.
    Lets not get into the debate regarding the bacterial strains or why they probably don't naturally occur in our systems at this stage... Or whether it is even needed to dose Chemilithotrophic bac strains... At all. Consuder that straught carbon dosing has proven to remove N and P with regular in tank biomass! Its part of the system, so lets accept that for now.

    Secondly, the media used: zeolites.... From wikipedia:
    Zeolites are microporous, aluminosilicate minerals commonly used as commercial adsorbents.
    According to zeovit, they use a mix of various zeolites proven to work best in water purification. Again from wiki:
    Where and how the zeolite was formed is an important consideration for aquariums. Most Northern hemisphere natural zeolites were formed when molten lava came in contact with sea water, thereby 'loading' the zeolite with Na (sodium) sacrificial ions. The mechanism is well known to chemists as ion exchange. These sodium ions will speciate with other ions in solution, thus the takeup of nitrogen in ammonia, with the release of the sodium.
    Zeolites have a porous structure that can accommodate a wide variety of cations, such as Na+, K+, Ca2+, Mg2+ and others. These positive ions are rather loosely held and can readily be exchanged for others in a contact solution.
    So in essence, the theory is that the stones take up ammonia and serves as a substrate for the bacteria to colonise. With the available ammonia, containing the vital bacterial tissue building block nitrogen, makes perfect sense.
    The zeo stones are then shaken regularly to release the bacterial buildup, which have taken up nutrients in their natural growth and multiplication cycle and these little biomass conglomerates either get eaten by corals or skimmed out. Makes perfect sense.

    Unfortunately, zeolites dont just have an affinity for ammonia, the net abounds with info regarding the affinity for potassium by zeolites. (we are only talking about the zeolites intended for reef aquariums and wont get into the discussion on affinity for Calcium by some)
    Now, potassium at a concentration of around 400ppm, has a vital roles in various areas.....
    it plays a vital role in cellular repolarization, is an indespensable constituent in development of plants (remember that sps house simbiotic zooxanthellae in their tissue, and zooxanthellae is a unicellular plant.....) those faded pastel colours of yester years zeo tanks ring a bell?
    Fortunately, we have come to realise this a few years back ;via a very clever marketing strategy by zeovit to sell K+) and we now measure potassium when running zeovit...
    Of course, testing of potassium is a prerequisite, but fortunately the likes of Salifert have brought out a test kit for this which is affordable. Gone are the days of paying around R600 for a kit, its now around R200!!
     
  9. Nemos Janitor

    Nemos Janitor

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    Ivan can you explain the theory behind the low nutrient systems please. One reads about striping the corals of their zooxanthellae and then rebuilding this zooxanthellae for artificial colour. The zeo system is, as i read, one of those. Do all three of these systems do this ? or non? or which ones...

    I am sure the readers will apreciate a little more background. Me to. :thumbup:
     
  10. Pete

    Pete

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    This is going to be a very interesting read once again. Tagging
     
  11. Ridwaan

    Ridwaan

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    Very interesting...tagging along
     
  12. irie ivan

    irie ivan Thread Starter MASA Contributor

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    Gave a bit on the ulns by editing 1st post.
     
  13. crispin

    crispin

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    tagging for now, smoothing down ruffled feathers and looking forward to joining later on :)
     
  14. ziyaadb

    ziyaadb

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    hahahaha Love it!
     
  15. Nemos Janitor

    Nemos Janitor

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    :thumbup:

    Ivan this thread will no doubt go deep into the theories and speculations of the different systems. I would hope that the newbie tags along and uses as a reference for future. There are so many basics to learn before going this route of reef keeping. One day it may become the starting point. :thumbup:
     
  16. dallasg

    dallasg Moderator MASA Contributor

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    nice thread... i have loads to add..
    especially looking forward the clueless/belligerent oneliners, now to the serious stuff

    While these my sound like advanced topics, i do believe there is a place for the beginner, based on them knowing the biology of the nitrogen cycle, eg mineralization, nitrification and denitrification.
    While Alk, Ca, Mg and the other usual suspects are important, these can be taken care off in new lightly stocked tanks with weekly or bi-weekly water-changes and then we can start with these later...

    There are two methodologies i want to add here that we have forgotten, one is carbon dosing, the other is, well different, Prodibio and Brightwell's NeoZeo way which is very similar to Zeovit.

    Take note that most of these are proprietary for obvious reasons, and that std VSV dosing would be the only true open system. These all work to an extent and i have ran all of them for over 6 months to get a good understanding and feel for them and even mixed and matched to get the strengths of them. I have had 8-10 tanks running these for testing, and when i mean testing i mean running them as a reefer, not a lab scientist, that what their respective companies do, i test in real-life, using my own tanks, livestock, making mistakes, breaking the rules, getting lazy etc so please none of the questions about lab tests, std practices...

    Here are the methodologies i will list for later discussions
    1. Zeovit
    2. NP Reducing Pellets
    3. NeoZeo
    4. Prodibio
    5. VSV
    6. Orca Bio-Cubes (V4, Titanium, and next-gen)


    Since we starting off with Zeovit i will stick to the theme and refer to my list as this thread goes on:

    I started zeovit in Nov 2011, 250L, all the reactors, the menagerie of blue-bottles, their carbon, the weekly water changes, the tedious drop counting, milliliter dropping, stirring, swirling and pumping...

    One note; Zeovit is not a magic band-aid, every system is different and has different needs, although Zeovit is a very precision system you will get your best results, as in any system, by watching your corals and letting them tell you what is needed.

    a note on PO4
    Some elements will bind PO4 from the water column and this compound will accumulate in the sand and rocks. Under certain conditions the PO4 can be leached back in the water column, also algae for example can pick up the PO4 directly from the substrate. It can be typical for such systems to have no detectable PO4 in the water column in which algae can grow very well.

    i like to think of zeovit as a living creature that requires human feeding, yes while N+P are there, ammonia is there, without the blue bottles, the zeovit organism dies...
    so when thinking of this route understand that sitting back and enjoying only happens after a daily routine, which for me proved to work well for results but too much time for what i had.

    i will comment on the colouring mechanism of zeovit after i have put it down concisely, once again its my views based on this eighty guarded secret
     
  17. dallasg

    dallasg Moderator MASA Contributor

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    while you mention K, potassium, there are many others we need to keep in the back of our minds when it comes to corals and fish, while we are focusing on toxins and nutrient removal, we also need to take into account the minerals needed for coral and fish well-being, electrolytes, amino acids, trace elements etc as these will all get used in various processes in and around the reef. some we may know their uses, others we find assimilated into bio-masses and still don't know, while others are innocently taken in or taken in to remove their harmful affects from the environment. as mentioned by irie ivan, the zooxanthellae inside the corals have their own needs which still need to be addressed as well, but on a smaller scale for now, one such possible element could be Fe, iron.
     
  18. irie ivan

    irie ivan Thread Starter MASA Contributor

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    Wow, dallas... What can I say....

    Anyway, was talking about the stones.... And the bac and the food for them...

    Now, if we are to believe what is branded around in cyberspace, the addition of bac adds several strains of bac, intended to work together to remove N and P, ie nitrate and phosphate which is our main objective.
    As these bacteria dont occur in our systems naturally, or at least not to the degree where thry would have the same benefits as when dosed regularly. According to zeovit, these secret strains of bac take up PO4 to the point where a phosphate binding media is not required, in fact it is advised not to be used.
    Reality is, that though there are some strains pf nac which are more effecient at P scavenging, assimilation of nutrients in a marine environment are always gonna happen at a specific ratio...
    Balanced to N assimilation by some factor.
    Unless we are familiar with the exact strains and their CNP ratios, we have not got much to go by other than the usual ratio, which is generally close to the redfield ratio of 106:16:1.
    But Zi was talking about the stones.... Its all relative..... It is highly unlikely that the po4 uptake of certain bac strains which are belived to colonise the media are sufficient to make a significant change to the ratio. In short, theory dictates that we should still have some po4 present, as simply put: we dont add N&P in the ratio that it is consumed according to the redfield ratio.
    I strongly believe that the balance of po4 is taken up by yes, bac witch take up po4 in a higher ratio than 16:1, and the balance is taken up by the stones themselves. This is achieved by the zeolites containing aluminium oxide in their make up. Think seachem phosguard, chiefly consists of aluminium oxide......
    Pretty clever of zeovits mr Pohl to use the stones to take up the shortfall in natures CNP ratio. :)
    Please note, that is just my theory, as i have not run zeostones without the rest of the blue bottles to ascertain po4 removal.....
    Happy to test thos if soneone wants to send me a few stones...
     
  19. dallasg

    dallasg Moderator MASA Contributor

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    i actually have 3 bags of zeovit stones, and 1 box of brightwells stones to test, so best way to test?
    RO water with some phosphoric acid and stones left to stew ? test before and after, in say 1L RO.
     
  20. carlosdeandrade

    carlosdeandrade

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  21. leslie hempel

    leslie hempel Moderator MASA Contributor

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    Good thread... looking forward to reading through it as soon as i get back from site....

    this is definatley a topic that needs clarification. and i for one will be following with keen interest. thanks @irie ivan .

    If i may , this is an advanced topic, please treat it as such....
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 26 Nov 2015
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