vodka dosing

Carbon Dosing-The Good, The Bad, and the Hangover

Many reefers have read articles about carbon dosing and tried the occasional addition of various carbon sources to their tanks over the last few years. This carbon can come in many forms; vinegar, acetone, grape sugar, bio pellets, and the most popular, Vodka. Some of these additions are measured based on tank volume, some are placed inside a media reactor, and sometimes the addition simply comes as an offerring up to the coral gods. In any case, what are all of these about, how do you decide which to use, and what have the findings been here at Reefnation as we have tried these techniques on our tanks.

Carbon Probiotics

So what is carbon Probiotics? Simply put are the addition of live microorganisms (bacteria that feed on the carbon and consume nitrates in this case) that are beneficial to the host organism, which in this case is our coral ecosystems.

So whether we are adding vodka, vinegar, solid carbon, or sugars, these carbon sources are helping to grow and enhance the number of nitrate eating bacteria in our reef systems. Bacteria can be added to the tank in order to speed up the growth of a bacteria culture as well.  It is thought that there are different strains of these bacteria which feed off the forms of carbon listed above.  Having a well rounded culture is probably a good way to start.

Carbon Dosing Recipe

The method we have used here at ReefNation in the past is pretty simple.  We have used a mix of vinegar and vodka that we mix together in a dosing bottle.

Before you start, there are a couple of things to do first:

-Test your nitrates and phosphates.  You will need this baseline reading to see if there is a measurable change later.

-Start slow!  Remember, nothing GOOD every happens in a reef tank quickly.  As you build up the bacteria culture, you really can’t start with too small a dose of vodka.

Vodka Dosing 

-Week 1- Days 1-3  .1ml  per 25 gallons of tank water

-Week 1 Days 4-7  .2ml  per 25 gallons of tank water

-Week 2+ Add .5 ml  to your total dose until your nitrates reach desired level