Economics of a Sulfur Denitrator?

Economics of a Sulfur Denitrator?

Postby William » Fri Jun 29, 2007 11:52 am

Are any of you running a sulfur denitrator on your broodstock or growout systems. They seem to be all the rage for big show tanks lately. But on show tanks economics are not usually a factor.

Has anyone compaired setup/running cost of a sulfur denitrator to the cost of the salt required for frequent water changes?
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Postby mpedersen » Fri Jun 29, 2007 1:31 pm

That's an interesting question. I can only throw in that Joe Lichtenbert attributes the use of "chemical" denitrators from the DAS (Dutch Mini Reef) aquariums to his early success at RPI (it was the type where you fed it alcohol I think). On the flipside I don't believe Joe is still using denitrators on any of his systems, but I could be wrong.

I can say that I recently built a denitrator to run on a small, overstocked aquarium here at home, but for 2-3 months I haven't seen any significant pulldown if any at all.

I would guess this question should be analyzed in the most basic yet complicated sense; what are the limiting factors of fish culture? Space, Gas Exchange, Waste Management and Disease Control. Any others out there? Basically, if you can use a denitrator to keep nitrates down, it not only saves you money on salt / water changes, but may actually help you raise more fish per gallon of water than you could without it...

VERY interesting question!

Matt
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Postby FuEl » Sat Jun 30, 2007 4:43 am

If the denitrator is not working, you probably need a bigger unit. :lol: When I first fixed up mine to my 50 gallon system, nitrates dropped from 50 ppm to 5 ppm in a week. A week later, close to zero. I will still go with the water changes though, kind of worried about the sulphates produced.
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Postby vaporize » Sat Jun 30, 2007 9:11 pm

Maybe Dman can jump in, I know he tried many methods including various denitrifiers, at the end, he end up using a remote DSB with some success.
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Postby William » Tue Jul 03, 2007 12:37 am

Ok, I decided to to the math myself. From my calculations, it is not even close. A sulfur reactor is FAR cheaper than water changes.

Here's what I came up with.
http://web.willandsam.com/Water-Change- ... eactor.xls
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Postby miska » Thu Sep 27, 2007 5:12 pm

The sulphure bacteria are very toxic when die .It's not wort to try it...(this hapenes to me )
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Postby Clownfish75 » Thu Sep 27, 2007 5:48 pm

I have experimented with sulphur denitrafiers, I even had one built before i realised some of the issues involved.

First of the investment in equipment is fairly high dolar wise, i used a redox controler, dosing pump (peristaltic pump) and an electrode, i beliove you would be nuts to run this one a system with either your expensive breeding broodstock or heaps of juveniles, you need the control.

I also found that there may have been an increase in cyanobacteria in the system water as the units where infested with it.

I had 2 units running at full steam, combined the units would have been 40-50L or about 10-12gal in size, and this was not near enough for the system size, i would imagine that on a system of maybe 1000L this might come close to suitable, nitrate removal was 100% on one pass, just getting enough water through was the problem.

Finally the biggest logistical problem, all the column unit syou see are build back to front. The medium in them bceoms cloged with bacterial mass in 2-3 months, this requires cleaning, in a single column this is an epic and smelly task, it a tank arrangement with a removable lid was used it would allow you to remove part of the filter and clean then replace. This is how my next one will be, when i get to it.

I have to say i wouldnt be surprised with what miska says, that there will be some negative affect of this filter.

The reason i stoped using these filters was the avaliability of sulphur took me a loing time to find so i had given up on building a new unit by the time i got it, and i swaped to algae scrubbers for nitrogen removal, they in themselves removal all nitrate but also have effects on breeding spawning and egg development, i just cant see that sulphur is a free ride.

Dont forget if you utelise sulphur it will throw out the ionic balance of the water, and i cant figure out if this will be good or bad.

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Postby Jens Kallmeyer » Sat Sep 29, 2007 8:21 am

HI there

When these filters showed up on the German market a few years ago they were all the rage, the massive problems started rather soon after.
As I am the mod of the chemistry board in one of the largest German speaking reefing forums I got my fair share of cries for help when things went badly wrong.
The main problem with these systems is the simple fact that they produce sulphate, which is not hazardous by itself and is a main constituent of seawater. BUT: over time sulphate will become enriched in the tank, which in turn will start to effect the pH of the system. There were many cases where the pH dropped to values below 7.8, some folks reached 7.3.
Not so much of a problem in a growout tank, but a major one in a reeftank is the fact that limestone is used to neutralize the sulfuric acid that is produced during the nitrate reduction. The limestone will dissolve and raise the Ca levels in the water. THere were reeftanks that suddenly had a Ca level of 650 ppm.
The next problem problem (and IMO the worst one) with these reactors is the constant risk that they turn from just anoxic (nitrate reducing conditions) to fully reducing. Under such conditions they produce hydrogen sulphide. People tried to circumvent these problems by installing an internal pump to prevent the material from clogging and an electrode to control the ORP inside the reactor. The problem is that any electrode will be covered with a microbial biofilm in no time. When covered it will measure the ORP of the biofilm, not that of the water inside the reactor. The offset can be dramatic in either direction.
When you really need a nitrate removal device, rather go for an alcohol-driven system like those from Deltec, and lead the outflowing water into the protein skimmer. I used one of those filters in an earlier reeftank, had very good results.
Even if the sulfur filter looks intriguing in the first place, they are accidents waiting to happen.

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Postby FuEl » Sat Sep 29, 2007 9:17 am

Hi Jens,

That happened to be exactly. To prevent full reduction, I had to turn the effluent from the denitrator to maximum flow. Soon later I got my water parameters screwed. My kH got down to 3, with my Ca levels up to 850 ppm due to the over-efficient burning of the buffering medium (aragonite) in the second chamber of the nitrator. :shock: I have a friend who is running a similar unit but he does not have the problems I face. This is because he is controlling the effluent of the denitrator to about 1 drop every 1-2 seconds. The hydrogen sulphide smell was strong, but it did'nt seem to screw water parameters up so much as compared to there being minimum smell at all. Anyway I am performing weekly 20-30% water changes on my system now just to make sure parameters are maintained. :D
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Re: Economics of a Sulfur Denitrator?

Postby EasterEggs » Wed Aug 31, 2011 3:22 pm

I know this is an old, old thread. Any updated information?

I happen to have a Korallin S-1502 sulphur denitrator sitting in my fish room. It was previously used (by someone else), but now just sits there. I am building two growout banks both with large protein skimmers. I was thinking of putting this sulphur reactor on one bank and use chaeto on the other bank to see what the comparative results are. My growout banks are about 180 gallons each total capacity.

Having never used a sulphur denitrator before, what precautions should I take? If I rinse the old media in tap water (or RO?) can I still use it? It sounds like the reactor will need regular cleaning, I don't mind that. It also sounds like I might want less flow running through it, should I hook up a MaxiJet instead?

If this is really such a bad idea I can pull the Eheim off to use as a return pump and I can use the reactor for something else.
Last edited by EasterEggs on Wed Aug 31, 2011 7:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re:

Postby johnrt » Wed Aug 31, 2011 4:24 pm

Clownfish75 wrote:The reason i stoped using these filters was the avaliability of sulphur took me a loing time to find so i had given up on building a new unit by the time i got it, and i swaped to algae scrubbers for nitrogen removal, they in themselves removal all nitrate but also have effects on breeding spawning and egg development, i just cant see that sulphur is a free ride.
Christian


Hi Clownfish75,

Did the Algae Scrubber have a positive or negative effect breeding, spawning and egg development? What specifically did you notice?

Thank You,
John T
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Re: Economics of a Sulfur Denitrator?

Postby EasterEggs » Wed Aug 31, 2011 4:45 pm

John, you might be better off PMing, this thread is from 2007. I bumped it up to see if there were any new experiences using the reactors. :)
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Re: Economics of a Sulfur Denitrator?

Postby Clownfish75 » Wed Aug 31, 2011 5:28 pm

Hi Guys

Eastereggs the sulphur filter will still work, rinsing it in tap water is fine, they will develop their anaerobic flora very fasts o the freshwater wont hurt them.

Personally i wouldnt run one without a ORP controller so you can dose the filter justt he right amount.

JohnT the algae scrubbers stuffed up the egg quality so i had a big drop in egg viability this could be removed by carbon addition till the carbon ran out then it would return to poor egg health, when i removed the algae scrubber the egg quality issues disapeared.

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Re: Economics of a Sulfur Denitrator?

Postby PaulG » Wed Aug 31, 2011 6:26 pm

Clownfish75 wrote:JohnT the algae scrubbers stuffed up the egg quality so i had a big drop in egg viability this could be removed by carbon addition till the carbon ran out then it would return to poor egg health, when i removed the algae scrubber the egg quality issues disapeared.


Hi Christian,

Was this issue with algae scrubbers across teh board or only with clownfish?

Do we know why thats the case and would you expect teh same thing with growing large amounts of macro algae?

The reason I ask is that 'Fishroom V2.0' I was considering using an algae scrubber OR growing large amoutns of macro algae


TIA
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Re: Economics of a Sulfur Denitrator?

Postby Rocky » Wed Aug 31, 2011 8:11 pm

That is interesting information. Have anybody else had this experience? I too have built an algae scrubber, but I certainly don't want to use it if it causes harm to the eggs.
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Re: Economics of a Sulfur Denitrator?

Postby EasterEggs » Thu Sep 01, 2011 11:41 am

Clownfish75 wrote:Hi Guys

Eastereggs the sulphur filter will still work, rinsing it in tap water is fine, they will develop their anaerobic flora very fasts o the freshwater wont hurt them.

Personally i wouldnt run one without a ORP controller so you can dose the filter justt he right amount.

Christian


Thanks for your reply Christian. Buying an ORP controller isn't cheap, not something I really want to put money into right now with the costs of setting up a full breeding room right now. I will keep an eye out for a used controller. It it to measure ORP within the chamber or within the system?
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Re: Economics of a Sulfur Denitrator?

Postby Clownfish75 » Thu Sep 01, 2011 5:09 pm

Easter, yes to monitor the ORP inside the chamber and then you hook the supply pump up to it and it doses water to the unit to keep it in the ideal range.

Paul and Rocky

Macro as in caulepera is pretty useless i have found, cant even control small fish tanks so i doubt it will come tot he party on a breeding setup. Maybe if you grew something different you might get a different result.
I cant say 100% for sure that all algae scrubbers will influence the egg quality, but a commonly accepted condition of algae growth in reef tanks is that they will pump organics and toxins in the water to help them compete for space. The increasing concentrations of these can and likely will cause issues, hence why the carbon worked.

I should point out that i had the broodstock and growout linked at the time, as soon as i split the system into 2 so the growout kept the algae scrubber and the broodstock lost it, i solved all the issues, not to mention the water quality management was much easier without the load of the growout.

I dont think the growout was the reaosn the broodstock had eg quality issues.

Christian
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Re: Economics of a Sulfur Denitrator?

Postby EasterEggs » Thu Sep 01, 2011 6:07 pm

Ok thanks for the clarification Christian. :)

How about Chaeto for macro harvesting? I have used it on reef setups with really good results. Most people don't design a good "chamber" in the sump for the Chaeto so they really don't get the benefit. Simply adding a clump of Chaeto and a light does not a good denitrator make! From what I understand, Chaeto is not aggressive like some algae that Christian is describing that release toxins. Makes sense regarding the egg quality inhibition.
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Re: Economics of a Sulfur Denitrator?

Postby William » Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:17 am

Christian,

What exactly was the problems with the egg quality?

Reduced # of eggs? Eggs died before time to hatch? Eggs did not hatch? Hatched weak and died shortly after?
Will
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Re: Economics of a Sulfur Denitrator?

Postby Clownfish75 » Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:27 am

HI Will

Eggs died before time to hatch? Eggs did not hatch? Hatched weak and died shortly after?

all of those.
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Re: Economics of a Sulfur Denitrator?

Postby William » Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:30 am

Thanks for the clarification
Will
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Re: Economics of a Sulfur Denitrator?

Postby Suzy » Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:30 am

Following this with great interest. I have been an algae lover for years, using it for function and display. I have found it is wonderful at removing nitrates and nitrogen products. So much, in fact, that I have to add nitrate.

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Re: Economics of a Sulfur Denitrator?

Postby fishyfred » Mon Dec 19, 2011 7:08 pm

We live on a farm and pull a lot of our water out of a well on the property. Does the sulfur affect the growth of the fish? I'd never considered this until now...but I have noticed the wear and tear on the equipment. I can always use a shurflo to send the water from another source. Thanks!
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Re: Economics of a Sulfur Denitrator?

Postby Scottt » Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:35 pm

Interesting old thread.
The only addition I have to it is that I too used algal-scrubbers on my broostock system, and had the same results as Christian. Without running activated-carbon, I couldn't get clownfish eggs to hatch and survive at all.

The sulfur-denitrators sound too dangerous for me. I like the plant-idea, but for a large grow out, one would need lots of light.
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