Has anyone tried vodka? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-01-2009, 02:56 AM Thread Starter
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Has anyone tried vodka?



No, not for you!

I mean dosing it in your tank.

Several very successful reef keepers dose vodka as a carbon source with stunning results.

I was thinking that it might work as a supplement or possibly even a replacement for CO2.

Anyone have any thoughts for input?

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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-01-2009, 03:05 AM
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I'd be more worried about the effects of alcohol on the fish. During my drunken college days I saw vodka poured into a freshwater tank - killed every fish that swam through it more or less instantly.

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-01-2009, 03:13 AM Thread Starter
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That was a concern of mine as well, but apparently, you use a very small dose to start and even when it's rolling well, it's a small amount.

I am talking about starting dosage is 0.1ml of vodka per 25 gallons and a maximum dose of 1.3ml per 25 gallons.

1 US fluid ounce = 29.5735296 ml. A single shot glass would be 1.25 times that much so we are talking very, very small amounts.

I guess one could properly setup a small tank, say 10 gallons and start off with .004 ml/day for a couple weeks and see what happens.

If this worked, I could dose my 46 bow front for a year for about $10! That is if I didn't have the occassional bloody mary.

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-01-2009, 03:24 AM
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I'm going to keep an eye on this thread to see what others have to say. It'd be really cool if this worked - I have a gallon of Vodka in the garage and I hate the stuff...

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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-01-2009, 03:51 AM
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I wouldn't Excel doesn't cost as much as vodka and doesn't have the same capability of killing fish as alcohol does it's just not that bright of a test to try.

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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-01-2009, 07:25 AM
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While I can't comment on dosing vodka since I haven't tried it...

I dunno what kind of Vodka Brad has laying around but a cheap handle (as any college student can tell you) is pretty dang cheap ($12-18 for the terrible stuff) and given the amounts mentioned is definitely cheaper than Excel. Given that a handle is 1.75L and so would cost about $6/500mL using the higher end of my range, compares to a cost of $11/500mL for Flourish Excel over at our friendly PlantedTank sponsor GLA) and turns out to be about 1/2 the cost...at its most expensive.

So at the least, it's worth exploring in a planted-only tank, and with good results would still be worthwhile testing in a tank with livestock. I'd be concerned with the ethanol being bad for your livestock but with such miniscule quantities I'm not sure it would matter (and over time it would evap off anyway).
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-01-2009, 01:24 PM
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I've used vodka before to euthanize my fish when it was necessary and have seen the effects first hand. Of course I used a very strong concentration for that and I know somebody is going to say "The dose make the poison". I'm sure Excel and CO2 can kill your fish/shrimp as well in high enough doses...

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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-01-2009, 04:06 PM
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I suspect this is a joke. Alcohol is not a suitable source of carbon, not even for people! This comes up as a joke about once every 3 months here and on other forums.

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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-01-2009, 04:11 PM Thread Starter
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This is no joke. Go to reef2reef and check out the TOTM. He has been doing it with smashing (no pun intended) success.

Sprung and Delbeek also do it and they are some of the foremost aquarists in the world. Granted, the leap to freshwater has not been made yet.

Also, this method will lower Nitrates dramatically and help clarify the water because it causes particulate matter in the water column to cohese. (I hope I spelled that right).

I will be setting up something small soon to test this.

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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-01-2009, 04:46 PM
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Yea, you could also add sugar as a reduced carbon source, but why is a reef tank so carbon limited for the bacteria to start with?

The type of carbon is important here. Organic reduced carbon or DIC: CO2/HCO3/CO3?

They are very different and play very different roles.
Unlike reefs, we are supplying DIC mostly in the CO2 form for plants which use that as a carbon source and take DIC=> organic reduced(sugars basically) carbon.

In reefs, corals, shellfish, marine plants that form CaCO3 take DIC and form CaCO3, not....organic reduced forms of carbon.

Some/most macro and micro algae, all plants can take HCO3 or CO2, none of which are really limiting in oceans, and use it for reduced carbon sugars.

Perhaps it would be wiser to have a Refugium to supply the organic carbon?
Carbon will leach out of these plants/algae and supply the bacteria with a source for further NO3=> N2 gas, or better yet, use plants/macro algae to directly remove both NH3 and NO3

Refugiums also work with stunning success in reefs also.
Try feeding the bacteria to you tangs, I can do this with the macro algae/plants.

ETOH is not the only source of carbon that can be used in a reef, there are many far less $ sources. Perhaps you do not want to add refugiums.
So adding a source of reduced carbon is for the bacteria really, since reef folks try and run their tanks so lean ande do not feed their fish much or have hardly any fish.

The bacteria that denitrify become Carbon limited basically.
This can happen in FW tanks also, but if you have a fair amount of plants? Never.
But we add NO3/NH4 etc, marine planted tanks also do better dosed with some KNO3 etc, since the sexual induction is general caused by a reduced limitation of NO3, then they melt(Caulperas mostly). If you keep the NO3 at 5-10ppm, they do not. I add about 0.2ppm 1-2x a week also to keep the NO3 uptake steady and not limited by PO4 also.

This like the booze/reduced carbon addition, increases and helps the NO3 uptake.

Bacteria, plants, coral, fish etc, all can have a limiting nutrient/food, and by reducing one, you limit the others.

So if you provide that limiting factor, say reduced Carbon, this allows the other nutrients to be metabolized.

If you strongly limit PO4 in a planted tank, the demand for CO2 goes way down, 2-4-10X depending on how limiting, and the rates of growth also are greatly reduced proportionally.

See Liebig's law of the Minimum and then add carbon(organic and DIC) to that concept.

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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-01-2009, 05:17 PM Thread Starter
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Wow, Tom, that was a great explaination! I really appreciate it.

I assumed (wrongly) that a carbon source was a carbon source as far a plants go.

Now, my question is: can/should one run a refugium type tank on a freshwater setup with easier to keep/cheaper plants to reduce the onset of algae and help to filter the water...much like a bog filter in a pond.

If the answer is yes, how do you combat the CO2 being driven off by having an overflow? Would Java Lace Fern be a good plant to use (since I have a bunch!)? Also, floating plants tend to filter the heck out of the water and, like duckweed, are very prolific. Since I don't want floating plants in my display, a refugium would seem to be a good option for this type plant.

This opened up a whole different, although possibly related, line of questioning for me.

Thanks,
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-05-2009, 03:21 PM
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Ethanol, usually vodka, is dosed in reef aquariums as a food source for bacteria that will reduce nitrate and phosphate. This bacteria also provides a food source for coral and other filter feeders. I personally do not dose vodka as I do not have nitrate/phosphate issues, plus I have read of many problems with fish and bacterial blooms. Even if I did, I would increase my usage of phosphate reducing media(ferric oxide) or add a refugium, or just find out the source of my N and P.


dantimdad, refugiums are used on reef tanks to export excess nutrients and provide food sources for coral/inverts. Im new to planted tanks, but I would think that a refugium would just compete with plants for fertilizers and such? Refugiums are also sometimes run on a reverse lighting cycles to the main lighting to help stabilize pH swings overnight.
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-05-2009, 03:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dantimdad View Post
Now, my question is: can/should one run a refugium type tank on a freshwater setup with easier to keep/cheaper plants to reduce the onset of algae and help to filter the water...much like a bog filter in a pond.
I'm in the process of setting up a refugium for a saltwater tank right now. I think the difference is that on a saltwater tank, the ideal parameters are zero nitrates and phosphates. But for a freshwater planted tank, that's not the case. You don't want to overfilter all your nutrients.
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-08-2009, 05:59 PM Thread Starter
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I understand the purpose on a reef tank. I always use them.

My question was about using one on startup just to battle the initial algae then take it offline.

Either, way, it's probably just best to stick to proven methods at this point and start the bowfront all over. It's an algae bomb because of lack of CO2 and not enough plants. Plus I really think there was a bunch of gunk built up in the plain gravel on the bottom that caused problems.

Steven
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-08-2009, 06:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dantimdad View Post
I understand the purpose on a reef tank. I always use them.

My question was about using one on startup just to battle the initial algae then take it offline.

Either, way, it's probably just best to stick to proven methods at this point and start the bowfront all over. It's an algae bomb because of lack of CO2 and not enough plants. Plus I really think there was a bunch of gunk built up in the plain gravel on the bottom that caused problems.

Steven
In my experience the best way to battle "initial algae" is patience until your tank gets properly cycled and balanced and keep the photoperiod low (like 5-6 hours or so) in the begininning and slowly ramping it up over the first 3-4 months. This is the way I started up a 60P (18 gal) shrimp/endler tank and had little algae to speak of. And this was using a "gunky" used Aqua Soil substrate too.

From what I've seen people get too anxious and impatient, and load up the fish bioload into the tank too sooner, crank up the light wattage and then run it for 10-12 hours. A sure recipe for massive alage outbreak.

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