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Official Bacterial Driven Thread

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Ryan Thompson View Drop Down
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    Posted: October 31 2010 at 9:06pm
LOL I like putting official in the title, sounds like I know what I'm talking about. LOL

Now for the serious part.

I have been studying this system for well over a year now, probably close to 2. I have seen some awesome tanks that employ this style of reefing. It is a great way to run your tank closer to Natural Sea Water if that is what you prefer.

I am just going to post the BEST manual I have found thus far.


MicroBacter7/Vodka dosing guide


So, I am sure by now many of you have heard of people dosing vodka and bacteria into their systems. You first thought may have been "what" or "why", but I am here to help explain the reasons behind why those of us who do dose vodka do so. 

Let me start by saying I am not an expert on the subject. I am not a scientist and cannot get into the intricate details of how and why the dosing of vodka works. I can however tell you what has worked for me and give you a general idea of how vodka dosing aids ones system. Please keep in mind that this dosing system is not without risks. You can wipe out your system if the proper procedures are not followed. 

Before reading what I have to say below be sure to check out the links below:

(This will give you a general idea on how much vodka to dose) 
Vodka Dosing by 'Genetics' and 'Stony_Corals' - Reefkeeping.com

(This is a simple overview of the vodka dosing trend in this hobby) 
Gimme a Vodka, on the Live Rocks, with a Splash of Heavy Skimming. (03/30/10) / Feature Articles - Quality Marine


Basically, the ethanol in vodka feeds bacteria in your aquarium which in turn multiply. When the bacteria multiplies it consumes N03 and P04. The bacteria, along with the nutrients it has consumed is then exported by a large protein skimmer. The bacteria, in this case MB7, is added in order to keep the bacteria diversified and help stave off red slime. You can dose vodka alone but I wouldn't recommend it. 

When I first setup my current tank I had been adding Microbacter7 from Brightwell aquatics. While this help the tank I wasn't all that impressed. It wasn't until I started dosing vodka that things really took off. Within a month of dosing vodka I no longer had to use GFO. Within 3 months I actually had to add Amino Acids and feed the tank more as it had become "too clean". The corals had lightened up and actually stopped growing. After cutting back a bit on the vodka dosage and adding more food the corals once again took off. 


Please note that you MUST have a sufficient sized skimmer and proper aeration to employ this dosing system. Reefers have crashed their setups by not running a skimmer or having proper flow/aeration. 

Here are some things I have observed when dosing MB7/vodka:

PROS
-My skimmer is pulling out more gunk then ever
-My water is even clearer now
-Polyp extension in corals has greatly increased
-Coral growth has exploded. Within two weeks of dosing I have counted 36 new, small coral heads coming out of my large mille. 
-The sand bed is whiter.
-Glass and overflow box stay cleaner longer. 
-Coraline algae has begun to show up on pumps and over flow. 

CONS

-Some corals have lightened up even more.
-Red slime is appearing in spot it hasn't before. 
-Bacteria is making my sand bed clumpy, so I have to gravel vac it twice a month. 


Is vodka dosing for everyone? No. But for these of you willing to take the time to understand and implement this system it can change the way you go about reef keeping. The system is simple and cost effective, allowing you to achive near ocean like water quality without the use of expensive GFO or refugiums. 


If you decide to dose MB7/Vodka here are some helpful tips: 


MB7 (Bottle Instructions.)
+
Vodka (or carbon) Dosing - Vodka Dosing by 'Genetics' and 'Stony_Corals' - Reefkeeping.com
=========================
Probiotic Reef Keeping.


Time to dose = during lights on seems best. MB7 into the display. Vodka into the sump.

Rules 
1) Need a good skimmer

Noticed in Water testing
1) high nitrates = increase vodka as per instructions.
2) no Nitrate/Po4 change in LONG time = try another carbon source like vinegar, sugar, biofuel...
3) low nitrates = maintain till 0 then reduce to maintenance levels of vodka
4) Increase in Alk = stop dosing Cal / alk, test water change h20 for alk level. Decrease with large water changes and/or chemicals if it gets bad. Corals may stop taking Cal/ALK while getting used to Probiotic system & increased light.
4) new tank/build = follow instructions, stay close to the low side of dosing.
5) Phosphate being high = a round of GFO

Noticed in Algae/Bacteria Reaction
1) Bacterial Blooms (slimy white strings) = too much bacteria, decrease vodka dosing.
2) algae on glass after increase of MB7 = reduce MB7 :P
3) brown dusting or brown hair like stuff = decrease MB7 (also check http://www.rimlessreef.com/1/post/20...eament-of.html )
4) cyano = increase MB7 and/or lower/stop vodka dose. After the cyano has gone away restart the vodka from the initial or maintenence dose. If it's really bad consider a "lights out" period. If really really bad consider "Red Slime Remover."
5) peach fuzz = stop or decrease (especially vodka) dosing for a while (about a week or till the fuzz dies off) then start back up with the maintenance dose. OR This may also just go away in time.
6) glass and sand getting dirtier = dose more/feed less

Noticed in Live Stock Reaction
1) Corals losing color = more feeding, possibly Amino Acids, lower photo period an hour for a while.
2) Corals Burnt Tips = check alkalinity..get it to 7-8 dKH by stop dosing alk...maybe stop dosing EVERYTHING if it gets bad.
3) Monti caps bleaching = Cut the vodka dosage in half and stay there until the cap starts to color up and/or lower the lighting photoperiod for a bit or have a light "day off."
4) Everything dies = Blame the wife, kids, or something other than your own possible mistakes Smile)

Other
1) substrate hardening = keep it broken up and siphoned with water changes. Maintain a good high PH of 8.1 - 8.3
 

Another great link is http://www.rimlessreef.com/

That is about the best place I can tell you to start reading and researching.

That is taken from a guy named Sonny out of Michigan. His tanks are absolutely gorgeous and he has changed the way a lot of people look at this method including me.

Now if you go ask people about this method, they will tell you that you will kill your tank and that is the worst idea in the world. To those people I say, "Have you tried this method? Have you even researched this method or are you just believing what people say?"

I will post my experience in the next post and what I have modified over the last 7 months.

DISCLAIMER: ANYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO YOUR TANK, IS YOUR OWN FAULT. I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE IF YOU DON'T FOLLOW THE RULES.
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Great thread and thank you very much for the info Ryan!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ahanix Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 31 2010 at 10:58pm
Nice Ryan! I'm going to start this soon, but I need a few more hours of research and a trip to the liquor store
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nick801 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 31 2010 at 11:36pm
I'm curious the methods/which amino acids are being used?
anyone have an article on this?

Edited by Nick801 - November 01 2010 at 12:16am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jeffs_little_ocean Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 31 2010 at 11:41pm
Boy, I dunno? I read it and its intruguing, but I just dont know. Im going to have to read this again tomorrow when im not so tired. Afew concerns right from the start is how good of a skimmer do you really need? My skimmer pulls about 1/4 cup of gunk a day. Is that good enough? And does this system do away with water changes? What about the other elements in the salt that feeds the tank? Also I worry about all my fish and inverts. Not to mention the thousands of tiny brittle stars, pods, and microlife I have in there that you cant even really see. If I killed them by feeding a bacteria bloom that sucked all the O2 out of the water, I would feel so bad! On the other hand, the sps in those tank pics are unbelievable! Oh man, Im going to have to study more into this...
Life is good....right?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nick801 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 01 2010 at 12:11am
^ from one of those articles linked above this is quoted:

"I always recommend performing weekly or bi-weekly water changes of 10 to 20%, respectively. It seems very reasonable to assume that such regular water changes should be maintained if vodka supplementation is instituted. "

so still plan on doing water changes Jeff
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I am currently running my system using a large amount of charcoal and the hiatt right now bacteria.  It sounds kind of similar to the vodka dosing, except it uses charcoal for the carbon source, and the right now for the bacteria.

I am very new to vodka dosing, or the hiatt system, maybe you can explain the differences, pros/cons, or if there is nothing in common, and I am just confused...

Thanks
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MadReefer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 01 2010 at 1:15am
I have my doubts as to why you would want to use this system. This is mainly because I've read about as many failures as success stories from this system. I have other reasons, BUT I don't doubt it can be successful, I know it can even though I haven't done it myself just because it makes sense. I just like a system that is extremely stable and allows for some laziness.
Also, claims like "my skimmer is pulling out more gunk than ever" as a PRO. I can toss a bunch of junk in my system and it will cause a skimmer to pull that gunk out in a lot of activity, but that is not a pro to tossing junk in my tank.
I guess there is not too much point to me going on about this here, except to say that if you don't understand why this system does any good, at the biological level, you probably shouldn't try it. I personally like other methods for everything this accomplishes.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fishoutawater Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 01 2010 at 1:43am
Isn't the pellet system safer, and just as effective? With far less maintenance? You still need an "adequate" skimmer though.
Some day, when I grow up,...

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kellerexpress Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 01 2010 at 6:32am

I would think so, seems to me like pellets would be less risky, and you wouldnt have to worry about dosing every day.  They accomplish the same thing right?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ryan Thompson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 01 2010 at 8:55am
Originally posted by Jeffs_little_ocean Jeffs_little_ocean wrote:

Boy, I dunno? I read it and its intruguing, but I just dont know. Im going to have to read this again tomorrow when im not so tired. Afew concerns right from the start is how good of a skimmer do you really need? My skimmer pulls about 1/4 cup of gunk a day. Is that good enough? And does this system do away with water changes? What about the other elements in the salt that feeds the tank? Also I worry about all my fish and inverts. Not to mention the thousands of tiny brittle stars, pods, and microlife I have in there that you cant even really see. If I killed them by feeding a bacteria bloom that sucked all the O2 out of the water, I would feel so bad! On the other hand, the sps in those tank pics are unbelievable! Oh man, Im going to have to study more into this...


They recommend using a skimmer that can handle 3-4x your tank size. Fore example my skimmer is rated for a 150 gallon tank. I have somewhere between 45-50 gallons of totalt water volume.

If done right, you won't have a bacterial bloom. I still have micro fauna and brittle stars in my tank. That is why a good skimmer is recommended, to keep the O2 levels up. You also need the skimmer to pull out nitrates and phosphates that the bacteria consumes.


Originally posted by Davidwillis Davidwillis wrote:

I am currently running my system using a large amount of charcoal and the hiatt right now bacteria.  It sounds kind of similar to the vodka dosing, except it uses charcoal for the carbon source, and the right now for the bacteria.

I am very new to vodka dosing, or the hiatt system, maybe you can explain the differences, pros/cons, or if there is nothing in common, and I am just confused...

Thanks

I would say they have similarities but aren't that close. The bacteria method is about the only thing they have in common.

Charcoal or Activated Carbon is not a carbon source like ethanol (Vodka), sucrose (table sugar) or vinegar.


Originally posted by MadReefer MadReefer wrote:

I have my doubts as to why you would want to use this system. This is mainly because I've read about as many failures as success stories from this system. I have other reasons, BUT I don't doubt it can be successful, I know it can even though I haven't done it myself just because it makes sense. I just like a system that is extremely stable and allows for some laziness.
Also, claims like "my skimmer is pulling out more gunk than ever" as a PRO. I can toss a bunch of junk in my system and it will cause a skimmer to pull that gunk out in a lot of activity, but that is not a pro to tossing junk in my tank.
I guess there is not too much point to me going on about this here, except to say that if you don't understand why this system does any good, at the biological level, you probably shouldn't try it. I personally like other methods for everything this accomplishes.

The ONLY failures I have seen are all user error.

I don't know how adding some vodka and bacteria is adding a bunch of junk to my tank. The bacteria eats nitrates and phosphates, the vodka is food for the bacteria. When the bacteria has done its job, the skimmer pulls out the waste.

I have been adding bacteria for almost 2 weeks now and I can't believe how much more stuff is being pulled out by my skimmer.

I have yet to find another method that even comes close to accomplishing what this method can. From weekly water changes, good refugiums, to algae scrubbers. Nitrates and Phosphates tend to build up in all of the above systems from my experience. Eventually our tanks have a single strand of bacteria that becomes dominant (might be more than one but you get the point). By adding in a bacteria source, you multiply and diversify your bacteria load.



Originally posted by fishoutawater fishoutawater wrote:

Isn't the pellet system safer, and just as effective? With far less maintenance? You still need an "adequate" skimmer though.

Pellets have shown to work quite well, maybe too well.

I have actually read quite a few issues with the pellets. People add the recommended amount and it is too much for their system. They want the pellets to be a one size fits all program and it just doesn't work in this hobby.

I personally like this system for me because I can control how much bacteria and Vodka enters my tank. When I start seeing some stringy stuff grow on my overflow, it means I am dosing too much vodka. So I don't dose for a couple days and the bacteria strings subside. At that point my snails have found the jackpot of food and eat it up like crazy. I then lower my vodka dose and continue on as planned.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davidwillis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 01 2010 at 9:05am
Thanks For the answers.  This is interesting for sure.



Originally posted by fishoutawater fishoutawater wrote:

Isn't the pellet system safer, and just as effective? With far less maintenance? You still need an "adequate" skimmer though.

When you say "pellet system" what does that refer to?  

Thanks
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 01 2010 at 10:34am
Ryan mentioned white stringy stuff being an indicator of too much carbon food being added so that the tank starts growing too much bacteria. This reminds me of a couple of tanks out in South Jordan that have that problem. They are not being dosed with any carbon food but have because of more polluted water and slight overfeeding for a long time, have developed into more like bacterial driven systems on their own.

The principle behind this bacterial driven method is to overfeed with the pure food that bacteria thrive on. Fish foods are not exactly pure bacterial foods or we could do the same thing without the Vodka/sugars. When there are more bacteria, any source of food is going to be eaten very quickly. This is why these systems show extremely low N levels. Simply said, the overpopulation of bacteria eats every last "morsel" in sight. Of course this means that there are a lot more dieing bacteria (bacteria life span is measured in days). The dieing bacteria need to be skimmed out.

As a caution, the major problem comes when the dosing is missed or something interferes and the overpopulation of bacteria starve/die-off quickly. This system is also dependent on one specific source of biofiltration, the bacteria. Any biological system, especially one as complicated as a reef aquarium, that depends on one source of biofiltration is more at risk.
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Originally posted by Jeffs_little_ocean Jeffs_little_ocean wrote:

Boy, I dunno? I read it and its intruguing, but I just dont know. Im going to have to read this again tomorrow when im not so tired. Afew concerns right from the start is how good of a skimmer do you really need? My skimmer pulls about 1/4 cup of gunk a day. Is that good enough?


You have to over-skim the tank due to the increase in bacterial population that you are artificially causing by dosing the carbon source. The carbon essentially causes a diverse bacterial bloom that consumes everything in the tank including your detritus and keeps your levels in check. Unfortunately because you have increase bacteria you are going to have increase bacterial die-off which is what the skimmer pulls out of the tank. Which is why you have more junk coming out of the skimmer. The skimmer isn't magically pulling out more stuff from the water that wasn't there before, there's more bio material in the water due to the bacteria you add and feed for the skimmer to pull out.

What can happen if you don't dose for a time period? Like if you go away for the weekend and just leave the tank? I ask because I'm wary of a system that requires constant maintenance. To me, that's not a stable system because like you said..... user error can cause tank crashes and with a system like that user error is almost a given at some point in the tanks life.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MadReefer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 01 2010 at 12:21pm
Originally posted by Ryan Thompson Ryan Thompson wrote:

The ONLY failures I have seen are all user error.

I don't know how adding some vodka and bacteria is adding a bunch of junk to my tank. The bacteria eats nitrates and phosphates, the vodka is food for the bacteria. When the bacteria has done its job, the skimmer pulls out the waste.

I have been adding bacteria for almost 2 weeks now and I can't believe how much more stuff is being pulled out by my skimmer.

I have yet to find another method that even comes close to accomplishing what this method can. From weekly water changes, good refugiums, to algae scrubbers. Nitrates and Phosphates tend to build up in all of the above systems from my experience. Eventually our tanks have a single strand of bacteria that becomes dominant (might be more than one but you get the point). By adding in a bacteria source, you multiply and diversify your bacteria load.
I agree that it is user error, but my point was that it's easier to have user error with this system. Simply said, it requires more attention.
About my comment with the skimmer not being a plus, it was more the way it was said than the core of what was trying to be said. He should have said the plus is nutrient export that just happens to be through the skimmer.
I haven't had the problems you mention with the other systems you describe. Sometimes I wonder if I have too much nutrient export or if I don't feed enough. I read a study that suggested over skimming will lower pod production. I like a system with very diverse life. I try to make a naturally whole system. I see the people who tend to try this system mainly care about SPS.
I'm glad you have success with this system. If it creates a system that you enjoy, that is awesome and that is all that matters.
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Originally posted by Luckedout Luckedout wrote:


Originally posted by Jeffs_little_ocean Jeffs_little_ocean wrote:

Boy, I dunno? I read it and its intruguing, but I just dont know. Im going to have to read this again tomorrow when im not so tired. Afew concerns right from the start is how good of a skimmer do you really need? My skimmer pulls about 1/4 cup of gunk a day. Is that good enough?
You have to over-skim the tank due to the increase in bacterial population that you are artificially causing by dosing the carbon source. The carbon essentially causes a diverse bacterial bloom that consumes everything in the tank including your detritus and keeps your levels in check. Unfortunately because you have increase bacteria you are going to have increase bacterial die-off which is what the skimmer pulls out of the tank. Which is why you have more junk coming out of the skimmer. The skimmer isn't magically pulling out more stuff from the water that wasn't there before, there's more bio material in the water due to the bacteria you add and feed for the skimmer to pull out. What can happen if you don't dose for a time period? Like if you go away for the weekend and just leave the tank? I ask because I'm wary of a system that requires constant maintenance. To me, that's not a stable system because like you said..... user error can cause tank crashes and with a system like that user error is almost a given at some point in the tanks life.



Someone brought this up in that forum posted above. Apparrently if you stop dosing altogether it wont really mess anything up. Your tank should stay just fine and you can pick back up where you left off when you get back. Ill see if I can pull up this post when I get home
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ryan Thompson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 01 2010 at 2:56pm
Matt hit in on the head. You can leave on vacation and not worry about the tank. It won't crash because you're not dosing.

You just can't come back though and dump in all the vodka you missed. I actually dose less when I return and slowly build back up. I've been on vacation four times since I started dosing vodka. I've never had an issue with it. There is still plenty of other bio filtration going on in my tank. I don't dose vodka every day or at the amounts some others do. When I get home from work I'm gonna post my routine and modifications to the system.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bugzme Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 01 2010 at 4:31pm
Ecobak worked great for me!
Jeff
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I KNOW ROCKS THAT ARE YOUNGER THEN ME!! I AM A Realist! I write what I think!!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ryan Thompson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 01 2010 at 5:10pm
Here is my quick rundown of how I run my tank.

What I dose and how often:

MB7 - 1 drop, maybe 2, daily
Alk - 5-10mL (BRS 2 part), daily
Calcium - 10 mL (BRS 2 part), daily
Magnesium - 30-40 mL (BRS 2 part), weekly
Strontium - a pinch, 2-3 times a week
Vodka - 1 drop per 30 gallons of water, 3 times a week
Lugol's Solution - 1 drop, 2 times a week
AquaVitro Fuel - one inner capful, maybe every other week right now
Water Changes - H2Ocean salt mixed to 1.0264 or 35ppt, once a month

That is what works for me right now.

Edited by Ryan Thompson - November 01 2010 at 5:11pm
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I respect what you are doing but that's 3x more than I did, even when I was coral farming. Why spend effort where it's not needed? Maybe you like to tinker? Okay, that makes sense.

And before Jeff says anything, all types of SPS grew fantastically and had great color in the Refugium, no skimmer system with 4 hours direct sunlight.

But I'll be watching this carefully and if it looks like the effort is worth it in increased growth, when I resume coral farming, I may end up using a modification of this system. Smile
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