Can I add vodka to nitrate-reducing filters?

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Why would you want to add perfectly good vodka to your aquarium? Jason Scott tells all.

The basic theory behind a nitrate filter is that many bacteria should be able to thrive in a low oxygen environment. These convert nitrate into nitrogen gas which is released into the atmosphere.

For this to work these bacteria need a source of food, which is typically either sulphur or carbon. Sulphur nitrate reactors use special sulphur beads to provide the food required.

Conventional nitrate filters need to be dosed with a carbon source, and vodka is the most popular one. This is normally diluted.

Vodka can also be added to directly to the aquarium to reduce nitrate and phosphate in a process called assimilatory reduction, but this is strictly for the experts.

This is a very complex topic, so if considering it I advise you to carry out some further reading.

This item was first published in the September 2009 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine. It may not be reproduced without written permission.