Denitrators, and why every reefer should have one

Denitrators, and why every reefer should have one

De-Nitrators, so why should anyone dish out the cash for these?

Well, for starters, after a quality protein skimmer, a d-nitrator is seriously the best bang for your buck. Think about it. A piece of equipment that does more to remove nitrates from your system  for less money and with less upkeep  than anything else you could buy.


Lets compare a de-nitrator to some other options for removing nitrates from your reef. Like, water changes, refugiums, and bio-pellet reactors.

First up; water changes. Lets say your reef nitrates spike up, lets say to 40/50ppm, because you love those anthias and angels and wrasses and love to overstock(yes, you’re probably overstocking that reef tank of yours, you know it, i know it, we all know it, so stahp lying to yourself). Think of the amount of water you’re going to have to pull out of that reef of yours. And remember, you cant, nor shouldn’t do huge water changes less you’re looking to shock some livestock.


So then what, 10%, 20% water changes per week? Dropping your nitrates levels 10% per week aint gonna cut it. Going from 50ppm to 45ppm after a water change aint going to solve your nitrate problems. Especially if you keep the same stocking and feeding regimens. The fish will out pace you when it comes to dropping mad deuces into your beloved reef. So maybe 20% then? Nope, still wont do didly squat. Trust me, I’ve been there, and back, and back, and back again. Thats not how math works yo. You’re going to be need to get roughly into the levels of 40%-50% weekly water changes to put an actual dent into those nitrate numbers. But say you can actually drop your numbers with 20% water changes, just 20%. OK, 4-5  water changes per month, on say a 100g reef, you’re coming to a 80-100g worth of water per month, thats 1,040 gallons per year. For this example, we’re using Tropic Marin Salt, cause its a damn sexy ass salt. 200g mix of the Tropic Marin Reef Salt is $92 on as of this writing. Lets round that down to 5 buckets at $92.00 that comes out to $460 per year in just the salt costs..Dayum! And we’re just starting out!


Now lets consider the cost of that water you use. Shit aint free either. Lets say you swap out the media on your RODI unit just once per year. Thats a 10micron, 5 micron, 1micron, RO membrane and DI Resin once per year.  Roughly adds up to $60-$65 per year.  So we’re at about $520.00/year. Now lets factor in the amount of time are you going to spend doing those water changes. Mixing salt, testing salt, draining water, refilling water…..How much is your time worth to you? I suggest you take the $ amount of what you deserve to get paid and multiply that say 1hr/week and 52weeks/year. Hell, lets just use minimum wage. Lets use that FED min wage number just so we can low ball the shit outta this example; $7.25 x 52 weeks = $377.00…….. So right now, that annual cost of keeping your nitrate levels nice and low  via water changes and your reef nice and healthy comes out to about $897.00……NEXT!!!


Refugiums! Tested and trusted by many. My main a gripe with refugiums is that for nutrient export, the volume of the refugium has to be HUGE. Like literally the size of the tank itself or larger. The other issue is it does take maintenance. You will have to actually clean the thing regularly and thats simply more work for works sake. They work, they’ll be great, but you’re piling up more and more shit onto your to-do plate. Which for us, is pointless if there’s an easier way to accomplish the same goal.




Bio-Pellet Reactors. Now these bad boys imho are great, especially for tanks around the 60g size. We use them ourselves on a number of our lease reefs. They’re not all that pricey, you can make one for basically $75 with the media. The downside is that like the refugiums, you will have to maintain them. Now its not a lot of work, but still. Why bother? The media does tend to jam up regularly, so opening it up and stirring out reef crud every now and then is required. And you do have to replace the media regularly as it gets used up. They will also require you to have a good sized skimmer and they will sometimes cause your skimmer to overflow like a mother ducker…..Yes, a ducker, its a word. You can also develop bacteria blooms and these can be detrimental and in a lot of cases will turn the water milky for a few weeks. So not all that bad for nitrate removal, they do a great job at it, but its the same problem as the refugium, extra work. At least more work than a de-nitrator takes.


Now, lets take a look at using a De-Nitrator. First off, the thing I love the fudging most about them, is they’re pretty much “set-it and forget it”. There’s very lil actual adjusting that will ever need to be done besides turning the water flow up or down….Thats it…fucking it. This will literally take u like 1 sec to do that. They can cost a pretty penny, yes, but they’re a whole lot cheaper when comparing to things like doing water changes and the time you can spend maintaining refugiums, algae scrubbers, and bio-pellet reactors. A De-nitrator will pay for itself in less than 6 months. Once they’re running, water changes arent really a thing that will need to be done. You’ll have to top off and stuff, but thats it. No more lugging trashcans of water around. Top off, and boom, you’re done son! The media will typically last for a few years, you never need to take them apart like a bio-pellet reactor, and they can handle huge bio-loads.


A decent reactor set-up will typically cost $300-$600 (some super fancy ones are a few $,$$$) *cough* Bill, make your shit cheaper*cough*. So they’ll cost you about the same as a good quality skimmer or some nice reef lights. And if you’re planning to have a healthy reef, with as few problems as possible, a de-nitrator for waste control is critical. So fi you got a 60g reef or above, go get yourself one! Seriously! You can thank me later.

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