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    Biopolymers: PCL, Instant Ocean Nitrate Reducer & Tetra GmbH’s Patent

    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 Biopolymer Nitrate Reducer

    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.

    Biopolymer Carbon Dosing

    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’:

    biopolymer 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.

    6 Comments

    1. mcliffy2
      March 26, 2010 at 10:53 AM | Permalink

      How do you think these compare to the NP Bio Pellets?

    2. Reggie
      March 26, 2010 at 1:36 PM | Permalink

      Looks like the product is liquid and not pellets.

    3. March 26, 2010 at 2:29 PM | Permalink

      Reggie, the product is a liquid base, but inside are small PCL beads… no larger than a grain of sand.

    4. March 29, 2010 at 8:14 AM | Permalink

      Impossible to tell at this point. These are said to be patented, but I've yet to hear of a patent # relating to the product.

    5. April 3, 2010 at 5:20 AM | Permalink

      Do you guys noticed in the graph that PCL actually flats out at around 35 mg/L even with the best 2nd mixture flats out at 20 mg/L.

      At that nitrate concentration even at 20, it’s still very high for aquarium contents.

    6. April 3, 2010 at 12:20 AM | Permalink

      Do you guys noticed in the graph that PCL actually flats out at around 35 mg/L even with the best 2nd mixture flats out at 20 mg/L.

      At that nitrate concentration even at 20, it's still very high for aquarium contents.

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