Running Bio Pellets


It wasn't me!
Bio Pellets seems to be the next big thing in terms of water chemistry. Bio pellets are a biodegradable polymer that serves as a stable and consistent organic Carbon food source and substrate for bacterial strains that consume organic compounds including Phosphate and Nitrate.

There are a few companies making bio pellets (Warner Marine, and BRS being 2 of them). I chose to go with the Warner Marine EcoBak bio pellets. My reason for choosing them is I trust the company, and I personally know several people that are running this brand.

The first thing you nned to do is obtain a reactor to house you bio pellets. Make sure you get one that is big enough to run the amount. I chose to incorporate a NextReef MR1 knowing it will be able to hold 750 Ml of the media once the system is up and running to full potential.

The first thing you need to do when starting this system is remove the sponge pads inside the reactor.

These should be replaced with a plastic screen. I purchased a package from the local craft store. These are needle point screens.

Next cut the screen to fit the reactor body. Do not cut it the same size as the sponge because it will be too small and allow the bio pellets to fall under it. It should fit snuggly. If the edges curl up a bit that is okay.


Once you have your screens cut, measure out and rinse off your biopellets in clean RO/DI water. My sytem calls for 750Ml of bio pellet media. From my research, I am starting out with 500Ml, and in a few weeks will add the additional 250Ml.

Add the Bio pellets to the reactor

Once the reactor is filled, decide where you want to place it in your sump/stand. You can have it in or out of the water, doesn't matter. Measure your tubing and cut it to fit. You should have a pump that will move a minimum of 100GPH through the reactor. I chose a Maxi Jet 1200 with a ball valve (to control flow) to push the water. Next step is to cut the discharge tubing on the reactor. It is important that the end of your discharge tube is at or very near the inlet to your skimmer pump.

Plug in your pump and watch as the reactor is filled. You want to see a very gentle tumble of the media. If you are using a ball valve in-line with your pump you can adjust water flow. If you get no tumbling at all is is okay as long as you are sure you have at a very minimum 100 GPH pushing through your media.

More will be added to this thread. Also hopefully the other members that are running bio pellets can share their experience here as well.
Fast, its been a few months since you have set this up, what are your impressions of the bio pellets (I'm considering setting this up to help deal with nitrates / phosphates in my system)
It has been about 6 weeks now. I have not noticed some of the die off, or Cyano issues that some people have reported. I think mainly due to the fact that I am running Warner Marine pellets, and some other folks were not. I have been in contact with Jon Warner regaurding my system, and the amount and way I am running them. I started with 500ml and have not added more as of yet. I was going to run a full water test today and post before I do a water change, so stay tuned.
Okay. I am scheduled for a water change today, so I ran a quick water test. After about 6 weeks of running the Warner Marine Bio-Pellets my reading are as follows:

Amonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 0
Cal. 420
Mag. 1350

Everything in my tank seems happy and healthy. I am seeing some zoas closing up, and shrinking. I have no explanation for this, unless they were just really used to nutrient rich water I was running prior to the introduction of the pellets.
I've seen some stories of algae outbreak and coral death when reading about bio pellets, have you observed any of this in the time that you've been using the bio pellets? I'm on the fence about pulling the trigger on a bio pellet setup through BRS

I have heard the stories, but have not experienced any of those issues here. Seems like the folks that had those issued were running some other pellet, not the Earner Marine pellets. Everyone I know using these same pellets has not had issues. That is the main reason I chose that brand. Also, you can email the manufacturer and the owner will get back to you to answer any question or concern you have.
Here is a pic of the test run 05-03-11. Again, this is after 6 weeks of running bio pellets, and 2 weeks after the last water change on this tank.


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Awesome, thanks for the info Fast - I think I'm going to go ahead and order a setup from BRS

I would advise against the BRS bio pellets. Just my opinion, and experience, but there have been numerous people with issues surrounding the bio pellets, and certain manufacturers. From the research I have done, the people I know, and the forums I've read, Warner Marine makes the very best pellet, and no one has had any issues what so ever.

Keep in mind, you will still need to test, and dose accordingly.
thanks for the input fast. I'll look into the other makers of BioPellets. BRS has a pretty reasonable reactor for biopellets that gets pretty good reviews. You're using the Warner Marine pellets correct?

When you're talking about dosing, I assume you're referring to Cal / Alk / Mag correct?
I've been running bio pellets for almost a year now. I definitely swear by them. I had a huge hair algae break out when I started using them. One of the things they do is draw out the phosphates etc. that's been soaked in the rocks. After about a month once all the nutrients have been drawn off the rocks the algae goes away and does not return. I use the vertex pro biopellets.
thanks for the input fast. I'll look into the other makers of BioPellets. BRS has a pretty reasonable reactor for biopellets that gets pretty good reviews. You're using the Warner Marine pellets correct?

When you're talking about dosing, I assume you're referring to Cal / Alk / Mag correct?

Yeah, BRS sells the Octopus reactor, which is really nice.

Just do your research on the pellets you are looking at. I am using the Warner Marine pellets.

And yes, you do assume correctly.
Are they the WM EcoBak pellets? I've been reading good things about them but, I'm also reading that even running them after a while you'll start seeing the phosphates rise. Did you read that in your research?

Randy Farley-Holmes said:
IMO, you may well need some GFO when using any type of organic carbon dosing. Such methods can use more nitrate than phosphate for well understood reasons, and so can leave some phosphate when nitrate is depleted.

FWIW, I use vinegar dosing and GFO, among a variety of other export methods.

So no, I would not assume you'll never have a phosphate issue that requires a binder like GFO.
Not a lack of perfection, just more processes to consider. The reason for that creep is that in hypoxic areas bacteria use nitrate as a source of oxygen, in addition to using it for building tissue mass. That uses nitrate at a rate faster than the "ratio' that is used by aerobic bacteria to build tissue, and leaves such tanks often with an excess of phosphate.

I only ask because I'm trying to figure out if GFO or Biopellets would be more effective.
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Yes, I am running the Warner Marine Ecobak pellets. They do dissolve over time, so you need to add to them after 9-12 months to keep the correct amount in the reactor.

ccCapt is also running pellets and has taken both his GFO and his carbon off-line. I myself am shutting down my carbon reactor today.
In your research was that the best reactor you found or are they all pretty similar in function? And is there a certain amount you use for tank size or for your bioload?