Note: I actually started this blog on 9-6-10

These days there seems to always be a "latest & greatest" product that comes out, promising to cure all the ills of our tanks with little to no effort needed by the aquarist.  Sometimes these products are totally hype (anyone remember the eco-aqualizer) and sometimes these products are worth another look.  After doing some reading I decided to give a new product a try; bio-pellets.  Basically bio-pellets are a way to dose carbon, much like dosing vodka, with the theory that this carbon will provide a fuel source for bacterial growth.  This bacterial growth can "result in improved biological filtration and water clarity, as well as providing your system with necessary bacterial plankton to nourish other organisms" (quote from Vertex Pro-bio Pellets) like filter feeders and corals.  These bio-pellets are suppose to be a better carbon source then dosing vodka since the bacteria growth is contained in the reactor, not in the aquarium or the plumbing.  Plus using the bio-pellets is suppose to reduce the odds of over dosing the carbon.

To begin my test I asked a local fish store (Ruff Waters) to order some bio-pellets.  The bio-pellets they ordered are from Vertex Aquaristik called Pro-Bio Pellets:


According to Vertex the bio-pellets are "novice friendly, affordable, efficient and 100% reef safe."  The bio-pellets will also "dramatically reduce nitrate and phosphate" as well.  Pretty big claims, hopefully they will work out that way.

One thing that I noticed is that there are very few instructions for using the bio-pellets.  According to the bag you use 50-200ml of media per 100 liters of net system water volume.  Once you figure out how much to use you soak the media over night in RO water to help prevent the pellets from breaking apart when they tumble in the reactor.  The media is fairly small:



Once you have soaked the media overnight the next step is to place the media in to a fluidized media reactor.  Since I had purchased a reactor from bulk-reef supply I decided to use it for the bio-pellets.  An important note here: the bio-pellets should not be used in conjunction with any other phosphate removers and according to the directions you must insure proper water movement to prevent hydrogen sulfide build up (this is interesting since they don't really mention what "proper water movement" is).  With my reactor I use a mj1200 so I will assume that this will provide enough water movement.

Here is the media in the reactor (note: since this photo I have switched to the new bio-pellet cartridge from BRS, see a previous blog post for more details):



One important hint that I found while doing some research on this product is to direct the out-flow of the reactor to the chamber that holds your skimmer.  This will help prevent any bacteria from colonizing in your tank.  I ran the out-put from my reactor very close to my skimmer's feed pump with the idea that any bacteria that escapes from the reactor will get removed from the water by the skimmer:


Now that everything is in place it's time to sit back and wait for the bacteria to grow and do their job.  Since I stirred up some detris in my sump I haven't taken a pre-use water sample yet but I plan to do so.  After a couple of weeks I will take another sample and see if these bio-pellets are doing their job.

I was able to get my water tested today (9-6-10).  My Nitrates were good, they tested zero, or at least not detectable to the test kit I used.  My phosphates were not so good: 0.29ppm with a Hanna Phosphate meter

I am going to try and update this soon, hopefully I will be able to test the water again this weekend using the same hanna tester..