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Sulfur Pearls

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  • Sulfur Pearls

    Has anyone tried Sulfur Pearls? I was browsing around Aqua Medics website and came across this. Anyone have any experience with how this works?

    sulfur pearls are formed from pure sulphur. They are used in Sulphur nitrate reactors as the filter medium and energy source for the bacteria. They have to be replaced from time to time as they are slowly consumed by the bacteria. Caution: Use only in nitrate removing anaerobic filters having a low water flow rate. The pH value and carbonate hardness (alkalinity) of the aquarium must be monitored regularly. We recommend sulphur filters are only used only in combination with a hardness reactor, filled with ab Hydrocarbonate, to neutralise the acid produced.

    Here's a reference:

  • #2
    Greetings All !

    What they're talking about is a product designed for "Autotrophic Sulfur Denitrification", aka ASD.

    Basically, sulfur reduces nitrate, yielding atmospheric nitrogen and sulfate (SO4) ... and the "transitory" existance of a tad of sulfuric acid.

    Here's an extract ...

    ASD: Autotrophic sulfur denitrification, a type of anaerobic denitrator utilizing elemental Sulfur as a chemical feed source for reducing nitrates, has been advanced and used in places. The reaction series (4 NO3 + 3 S = 2 N2 + 3 SO4) involved is acidic, can be best tied-in with melting down a source of carbonate, does result in excess sulfates, but these don't appear to be problematical (natural seawater contains about 2,700 ppm of Sulfate.

    Extracted from:
    Nitrates in Marine Aquarium Systems
    Bob Fenner
    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."
    Hunter S. Thompson


    • #3
      Greetings All !

      Ooooppps ... should have checked your link first ... sorry for the redundancy.
      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."
      Hunter S. Thompson


      • #4
        Both H&S and Schuran make a Nitrate Filter based on the Sulphur Beads. There is little info on the market about them, but I played with one for a short time. You basically need ~2/3 suphur to 1/3 Coral Media. If you have very High Nitrates, you need to be careful because they can be very agressive and cause Nitrites to rise. Note that is only with Very High initial Nitrates.


        • #5
          I've never used sulfur but tried methanal for about six months where the methanal was dosed into a remote container containing tank water which was dumped back into the display after 12 hours. This cycled FO tank water from about 20ppm to 0 and held 8g. I stopped because it seemed to be feeding algae even though the tank nitrates where dropping. This did not deal with PO4 IIRC. All this was at least 1o years ago.

          “People are very open-minded about new things - as long as they're exactly like the old ones.”
          ...Charles F. Kettering


          • #6
            Greetings All !

            Let's see if I can redeem myself here ...

            Autotrophic Denitrification Reaction (ADR) A relatively recent development is the emergence of denitrification using bacteria colonization on a sulfur substrate. These bacteria are chemoautotrophic in that they obtain their energy from sulfur and they obtain their food from inorganic carbon (i.e., carbon dioxide). In an oxygen deficient environment they use the oxygen in nitrate for respiration. (i.e., Thiobacillus denitrificans).The chemistry of ADR is given in the following reaction: Which states:

            6 NO3 + 5 CH3OH yields 3 N2 + 5 CO2 + 7 H20 + 6 OH

            Here are some observations about this sulfur-denitrification reaction:
            • Under stoichiometric conditions, about 0.6 lb of sulfur is required in the consumption of a pound of nitrate.
            • As a bonus in the process, about 0.1 lb of ammonium is also consumed per pound of sulfur.(This reduces the load on the bio filter in having to convert this quantity of ammonium to nitrate)
            • Notice also that sulfates are produced in relatively large quantities (i.e., 1.1 moles per mole of sulfur).The sulfate has not shown itself to be deleterious to fish. This is thought to be attributed to the fact that seawater already has a large concentration of sulfate (e.g., 885 mg/l). High sulfate concentration is also considered safe for drinking water. The USEPA is considering an MCL for sulfates of 400mg/L (3).
            •Acid production reduces alkalinity.The elimination of 1 mole of nitrate leads to the consumption of 0.41 moles of bicarbonates. Alkalinity is typically restored with a calcium reactor or more conveniently by mixing the sulfur with scallop shells or maerl (e.g., typically 50/50) ...

            ... Here are some of the observations presented:
            •This exhibit contains 1 MM gallons of saltwater. The treatment facilities pumps 1MM gallons per hour of which40% is filtered in 8x16 filter vessels.
            •Operators employ autotrophic denitrification using sulfur. An 8x16 Filter is 3/4 filled with a 50/50 mixture ofsulfur and scallop shells. [Thus, the vessel volume is 5000 gallons and the reactor volume is 3750 gallons (500 cu.ft. –250 cu.ft. Sulfur)].
            •The Sulfur grade is referred to as “drum flake” .
            •Flow direction is up through the bed. Flowrate is 25 to32 gpm [.6 to .8 reactor volumes per hour; .2 to .27 gpm per sq.ft.].
            •Nitrate removal amounts to about 0.1 lb NO3 / cu.ft. Sulfur / day .

            Conclusion:Using pressurized fiberglass vessels as modular water quality control reactors in aquaculture recirculating systemsis proposed as a low cost effective way to eliminate nitrogen toxins. The origin and elimination of these toxins was described as part of a detailed description of the nitrogen cycle. While these vessels have application throughout the cycle, the focus here was the use of a vessel-denitrification reactor that uses a sulfur/shell substrate. This reactor technique is being employed with good success throughout the world.

            Extracted from:
            Save Money and Water the Way Aquariums Do
            Jim Murray
            Anyone have any experience with how this works?
            Not personally, but I've had a few customers who dabbled briefly with this stuff in the late 1990's ... IIRC, their experiences seemed to be much the same as Brian's. Dangerous nitrite fluctuations seemed to be an issue ( ... they were running wildly overstocked/overfed fish only systems ...). They seemed very satisfied with nitrate reduction, but were constantly complaining about the lack of convenient/appropriate/cheap sulfur sources.

            "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."
            Hunter S. Thompson


            • #7
              The H&S unit is basically a recirc filter like a Calcium Reactor, and you just do a slow drip back to the tank. Once I fiqured out about the Nitrite Production, and adjusted the output to compensate, It worked great. It is just not a product to throw on a tank and walk away, it does take a little trial and error to get the flow exact for your application.
              No problem with the sulphur supply, I have over 20kg sitting here, and it is clean and 99+% pure.


              • #8
                A sulfur denitrator along with a rowaphos reactor was what I originally planned to use for my 400g tank before I decided to go with the more natural method of Zeovit instead.

                I think they are a good and convenient (compared to dosing ethanol) way to reduce nitrates, but redundant in a Zeo system.

                I was going to go with the Aquacare ADN 110

                400 gallon reef, Bubble King 300, I~Spin, 2 x 10,000K BLV 400W, 2 x 20,000K Radium 400W, 2 x 6,400K Osram 400W, Schuran Jetstream 1, AquaController Pro


                • #9
                  Thanks guys for the explanation. I know exactly what it is now. I remember seeing this on European Aq's but had no clue what its purpose was.

                  As orion said, it would be redundant if using ZEOvit. But it would definitely be nice to try out on the side with a test tank just to see what it does. Im always curious about everything.


                  • #10
                    Having something installed like this would resemble the sulphur consuming bacteria found in the deep ocean floors IMO. Having too much bacteria in a closed system means trouble. Supposedly Aqua Care is working with a rotating Roto reactor to eliminate some of these problems by the website Orion provided. Here's what they recommend:

                    A complete de-nitrifying system consists of following components: Roto-Bio-Reactor, sediment tank for collection most of the out flowing bacteria, flotation unit (AquaCareFlotor) for destroying the rest of bacteria with ozone, pumps and controlling techniques.


                    • #11
                      i know this is a REALLY old thread, but i didnt know whare to post it... i was wondering if one could make a kind og sulphur reaktor in a deep sandbed kind of way? i was thinking of maybe putting an inch of sulpurbeads in the bottom of the sump, and 3-4 inches og coral gravel on top of it, and maybe 8 inches of bioballs on top of the gravel... and maybe a layer of something that doesent restrict flow, but seperates the sulphur beads and the gravel to make cleaning and replenishing easyer when that time comes...


                      • #12


                        • #13
                          sorry about the dots, i don't know how else to subscribe to the thread...


                          • #14
                            I've used this many years ago ,with the result that all the live rock must be replaced.
                            You can believe it or not ,but all the rocks contains a lot of Phosfates and couldnt clean them ,even after using more then a year phosfate-killers (changed them every week) ,my water turned to PO4=0 after 4 days back to PO4=0,5 .
                            I think that PO4 problem was due to those Sulfar ,only think that was good ,the NO3 was turning back from about 100 to 0.So I decided to restart the tank then and take out those Sulfar.
                            Dont misunderstand that was more the 10 years ago ,now I'm running a bigger tank without thos Sulfar.I should not do it again.

                            greetz Yvan


                            • #15
                              hmm... i have also heard of live rock absorbing phosphates and releasing them back slowly, but i don't understand sulphur could have anything to do with it..
                              it's because i'm setting up a medium sized predator tank, and nitrates are going to be a problem, and i dont want to rely on coulerpa/chitomorpha or deep sandbed alone, find it to unstable... i was thinking of rowaphos/phosban and sulphur for phosphates and nitrates...