Instant Ocean’s recently introduced Natural Nitrate Reducer is one of the new biopolymer products on the market aimed at reducing nutrient levels in your aquarium. The product has a gooey consistency filled with small plastic beads–I can only guess what the liquid portion of the product is, but we can say with fair certainty the […]
Instant Ocean’s recently introduced Natural Nitrate Reducer is one of the new biopolymer products on the market aimed at reducing nutrient levels in your aquarium. The product has a gooey consistency filled with small plastic beads–I can only guess what the liquid portion of the product is, but we can say with fair certainty the beads are made up of biodegradable polyester–PCL or formally polycaprolactone.
The product is patented under patent #7,244,358, thanks to Günter Ritter and Tetra GmbH of Germany. The idea of PCL in waste water treatment is nothing new and it was only a matter of time for it be applied to aquariums. In fact, the patent was applied for in 2002 and finally granted in 2007. It then took nearly 3 years for Instant Ocean to finalize and market the Nitrate Reducing product. Interestingly, the patent also mentions PHB or Polyhydroxybutrate. In the document it states PHB was very effected in anerobic conditions when applied into the aquarium substrate, while PCL was overall more effective in aerobic conditions.
The use of PHB is based on Boley’s 2000 study Biodegradable polymers as solid substrate and biofilm carrier for denitrification in recirculated aquaculture systems. With a little research I was able to find some follow up research from Boley and the University of Stuttgart, on evaluating biodegradable polymers including PCL, PHB, and potato flour based BioPlast GF and GS. Below is a chart from this study showing the effectiveness of the biopolymers previously mentioned.
Boley shows that PHB and PCL, a mixture of biopolymers (carbon sources), marginally outperformed PCL by itself. These materials were used in a ‘fixed bed reactor’:
You can find the word document here in a browser friendly HTML version. Early adopters have reported some success with Instant Oceans product, however it may take more time to cultivate biofilms using these biopolymers, than when using the more commonly used carbon sources such as Vodka or VSV. I suspect PCL will be incorporated by many aquarists going foward. It is relatively inexpensive and like NP BioPellets, does not require daily dosing.