Aquarium - Solid Carbon Dosing with Vertex Pro-Bio Pellets

Using solid carbon dosing with Vertex Pro-Bio Pellets to control phosphates and nitrates.

When it came time to replace the Rowaphos in my reactor, I decided to try solid carbon dosing to see if it would do any good. It lasts longer, the bacteria it produces consume NO3 and PO4 (nitrates and phosphates), hopefully robbing the "fertilizer" from the algae in the tank.

I bought the Vertex brand Pro-Bio pellets. I cleaned out the phosphate reactor and started with around 200ml of pellets. The instructions say 50-200ml of media per 100 liters. I have around 90 gallons of water volume, which converts to 340 or so liters. In theory, I could use the entire 500ml bag. After a week, I added another handful to the reactor, bringing it up to around 250-300 ml online.

I have not seen a bacterial bloom as many people have reported, nor a large drop in Ph. Then again, I'm starting with very low nutrients. I have a few patches of algae and apparently, what little there is, is consuming all the NO3 and PO4. After 2 weeks (started around 8/1/10), everything is still 0's.

I have noticed that I do not need to clean the glass as often now. Previously, almost daily, now about once every 3 days. I have also noticed an increase in cyano bacteria, strong at first, but seems to be decreasing a tad.
Here are a few threads from Reef Central to read for further details.
Vertex Pro Bio
Solid carbon dosing

Check back - I'll be updating with any results about once a month or so.

10/8/10 - I've added a few more tablespoons of pellets the couple of water changes to get it up to the proper dosage. I'm still in the undecided camp on this product. It's nice not to remember to have to dose vodka, but I've learned a few things through my observations.

I've read several comments about the bacteria produced need more nitrates to consume an equal amount of phosphates. With my low bio-load, I'm starting to think that may be true. I'm still seeing algae (bryopsis). Instead of overfeeding, I'm leaning towards more fish. After all, fish poop is supposed to be good for coral!

I'm still seeing cyano bacteria. I've changed the outflow on my reactor to be long enough to drain near the skimmer intake. My skimmer (ASM mini-g) may not be up to snuff either. But I'm not dropping 2-3 bills on a new skimmer yet (I need new bulbs soon and some LED is on my wish list).

Water is certainly clearer and I only need to clean the glass twice a week.

I'm going to leave it online for a while longer, maybe adding more pellets and a little larger pump. I'm not satisfied that the one that's on it now is sufficient.

1/19/11 - Today I'm taking the pellets offline. I haven't had any issues with 'trates, but then I never did. It's always been PO4. I'm still seeing some bryopsis ans green algae on the glass, even though the PO4 test still shows nothing. Time for a Hanna or such and back to Rowaphos for a while. I'll use vodka to handle any 'trates if any show up.
3/7/11 - Pellets still offline. no issues to report (pellet related).