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Real-time VIBRANT Review - 4th Dose

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seabass

 Real-time Review Using VIBRANT, by Underwater Creations Inc.

This thread will not document a controlled scientific experiment by any means, but will be a real-time look at the treatment of two separate tanks of mine (a 40 gallon, and a 100 gallon with 40 gallon sump).  I don't see Vibrant as a quick fix that will show results after only a few doses; but instead, I anticipate the process will take months.

 

My main goal is to clear my tank of unwanted algae; so I'll likely be doing some manual removal and increased maintenance (potentially affecting the results).  But in the end, I'd like this thread to demonstrate how this product affects both of these tanks.  Also, keep in mind that every tank is different, so your mileage may vary.

 

Available Reviews:

This is not a new product by any means, and I've seen a number of positive videos like:

 

I've also read negative reviews from respected members, like these from HarryPotter and Sancho.  And even some Vibrant threads which seem to go on forever.  But while reviewers may have gotten mixed results, I am looking forward to seeing if this helps either of my tanks.  In this thread, I plan on sharing my real-time experience with using Vibrant, posting relevant information and pictures whenever possible.  If you would like additional information or pictures, be sure to let me know.

 

My Past Unsuccessful Attempts Using Other Methods:

I'm not unlike everyone else in this hobby that has fought algae issues at one time or another.  I've certainly tried manual removal, more herbivores, and nutrient restriction.   I've even tried more radical approaches like hydrogen peroxide.  Here's an attempt that I made using manual removal, rock scraping, and multiple hydrogen peroxide treatments.  This FTS was taken in January 2016:

012316a.jpg  012316b.jpg

The bag contains the algae which I manually removed.

 

After two weeks of manual removal and multiple peroxide treatments, the improvements where undeniable.  However, the closeup shows remnants of stubborn algae.

013116a.jpg  013116b.jpg

I continued additional treatments, making even more progress; however, I eventually lost this battle and ended up fragging the remaining livestock off of the rocks.  I'm sure a lot of you can sympathize.  I'd hate to think about how many corals (and $$$) I've lost due to algae problems.

 

Tanks Being Treated:

Both of these are mature tanks with notable algae problems.  Also, I've just completed a DrTim's Re-Fresh and Waste-Away regiment on the 40gal consisting of:

  • Day 1: Wrap tank in black plastic. Turn off lights.  Dose Re-Fresh.
  • Day 2: Dose Re-Fresh.
  • Day 3: Dose Re-Fresh.
  • Day 4: Remove black plastic.  Restart light cycle.  Remove organic material.  Add a 1/4 dose of Waste-Away.
  • Day 5: Add a 1/4 dose of Waste-Away.
  • Day 6: Add a 1/4 dose (or more) of Waste-Away.
  • Day 7: Add a 1/4 dose (or more) of Waste-Away.
  • Day 8: Add a 1/4 dose (or more) of Waste-Away.
  • Day 9: Partial water change.

The 100gal is currently on Day 6 of this same program.

 

The 40gal utilizes a HOB skimmer, while the 100gal has an in-sump skimmer.  For dosing purposes, I figure the 100gal tank, with its sump, has a total water volume of about 120 gallons.  Here's the 40 gallon tank, taken on 9/21/20:

092120a.jpg  092120e.jpg

 

And the 100 gallon tank, taken on 8/13/20:

081320a.jpg  081320d.jpg

 

Note that both tanks have a good amount of decorative macroalgae.  Obviously that's not the problem that I'm trying to solve.  I will be removing the macro prior to dosing (taking some new pics to be used as a reference).

 

Anticipated Potential Issues:

Some people have reported large cyano blooms, dying snails, loss of macroalgae, and even SPS tissue necrosis.  I speculate that the tissue loss could be due to a combination of low nutrient levels along with alkalinity levels which are higher than natural seawater levels.  So I will attempt to monitor nutrient levels, even though I don't keep acropora or other more difficult SPS corals.  It is also recommended to maintain regular maintenance and not to overdose; both of which can potentially cause problems.

 

As this video warns, at 2:19 into the video, overdosing Vibrant may cause a relatively rapid increase in organics:

 

In addition, Underwater Creations states, "It can make your aquarium look so clean that you will think you can skip your regular routine aquarium maintenance of filter changes and water changes. We highly recommend that you do not skip this but that you use Vibrant in conjunction with your normal aquarium routine for a happy vibrant aquarium."  I feel that this disclaimer is to encourage people to continue to export organics (including the additional organics caused by the breakdown of algae).

 

I have stated in a number of threads, that I believe that the number one contributor of cyano is organics in the system (detritus on the rock and within the sand bed, as well as dissolved organics in the water column).  Considering the potential amount of organics resulting from the breakdown of a large mass of algae, you can easily imagine why people have reported cyano blooms after dosing Vibrant.

 

Treatment Plan:

My plan is to dose the recommended amount twice weekly, on Mondays and Thursdays (with water changes over the weekend).  And while Underwater Creations indicates that there is no need to discontinue skimming after dosing, I plan to temporarily adjust each skimmer so that aeration is not interrupted but nothing is actually skimmed out of the system (as recommended with DrTim's bacterial products) for a few hours just after dosing.

 

EDIT: I'll start with weekly dosing for three weeks, then switch to dosing twice a week starting on week four.  Also, I decided not to disrupt skimming right after dosing, as Vibrant doesn't seem to cause an immediate increase in skimmate production.

 

One 16oz bottle should be enough to treat both systems; but I purchased two just in case I wanted to continue dosing.  And even though I read it was alright, I was still hesitant to have bacteria shipped during the winter months.  The two 16oz bottles add up to 946ml; and I'll be using 16ml each time I dose both tanks.  That provides for 59 doses for each tank.

 

At two treatments per week, that's more than 29 weeks of dosing.  I've seen where different kinds of algae take much longer to be affected; and even BRS's video seemed incomplete after a total of 9 weeks.  So I should have enough to fully treat the algae, and then finally switch to a maintenance dose.  Underwater Creations claims that the bacteria has a shelf life of well over a year, so that shouldn't be an issue.

 

I plan to monitor alkalinity, phosphate, and nitrate.  I don't have a way to monitor dissolved organic matter; but as indicated above, I anticipate that control of organics will also be important.  Prior to dosing, I plan to transfer most of the macroalgae to another tank.  I may or may not decide to reintroduce the macroalgae after treatment is complete.

 

I hope to start dosing my 40 gallon tank this week, with my 100 gallon tank following a few days later.  I'll try to be transparent about the treatment methodology that I take, and the results achieved.  Feel free to follow along in real time, and let me know if you have questions, or have a request for additional pics or information.

 

Notes:

  • The bottle states that Vibrant "BRIGHTENS AND CLEANS AQUARIUMS IN AS LITTLE AS 12 HOURS!"  However, I feel that the bottle and website should state, as they have elsewhere:

    Cloudy/hazy Water- 1 dose
    Diatoms - 1-2 doses
    Cyanobacteria - (Yes, it will outcompete another bacteria) 1-5 doses
    Dinoflagellates - 2-5 doses
    Bubble algae - 3-8 doses
    Hair Algae - 3-5 doses (depending on species of hair and how bad the infestation is)
    Turf Algae - 8-20 doses ( again, depending on species and how bad the infestation is)
    Bryopsis - 6-30 doses ( again, depending on species and how bad the infestation is)

  • Unlike meds and chemical treatments, it's recommended to use activated carbon while dosing, as dissolved organics (and other undesirables previously taken up) are being released as algae die.

  • Use of a protein skimmer (set to wet skim) is recommended to help remove dissolved organics and excess bacteria.

  • Even though they claim that it treats cyano, reports of increased cyano blooms are common.

  • I recommend that people perform a deep clean (removing as many organics) prior to starting Vibrant dosing.

  • Maintaining nitrate levels is important while dosing Vibrant, and dosing nitrate might even be necessary.

  • Potential issues (like cyano, as well as changes in nutrient levels and/or alkalinity consumption) may arise due to the use of Vibrant.  Experienced aquarists are usually better equipped to handle these issues, which could require additional (or changes to) maintenance, testing, and dosing.

 

Conclusions:

Reserved for post-treatment comments.

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NoOneLikesADryTang

I’m looking forward to a real world, uncontrolled testing of this. Thanks for sharing your process, and future progress with us, Seabass. 

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GraniteReefer

On one of the tanks you should simultaneously run fluconazole as IME it was the conjunction of both products that worked.  And even then manual removal was needed as it makes the algae “soft” and easy to uproot.  

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seabass
2 hours ago, GraniteReefer said:

On one of the tanks you should simultaneously run fluconazole as IME it was the conjunction of both products that worked.  And even then manual removal was needed as it makes the algae “soft” and easy to uproot.  

Thank you, good to know.  I'll keep that info in my back pocket depending on the results.  I can certainly see how a combined solution would improve results.

 

I know it doesn't sound like it, but I'm trying to maintain as much diversity as possible by sticking to bacterial additives.  Although the reports of dying snails worries me.

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DSFIRSTSLTWATER
1 hour ago, seabass said:

Thank you, good to know.  I'll keep that info in my back pocket depending on the results.  I can certainly see how a combined solution would improve results.

 

I know it doesn't sound like it, but I'm trying to maintain as much diversity as possible by sticking to bacterial additives.  Although the reports of dying snails worries me.

Hey seabass, I have actually used just the vibrant and it knocked out my algae problem. I will say i started slow. I did one dose a week for 3 weeks then upped it to two doses for the next 7 weeks. It takes weeks, just fyi. I also was doing water changes and manual removal. It was right around week 5-6 that I was able to start sucking it off the rocks with a turkey baster. Every night I spent a good 20 mins sucking out as much as i could.

As for sps and animal loss... I had zero deaths. (now i am having an issue but it was my fault and i'm currently fixing it lol)

 

Hope that helps 🤷‍♂️. I think the starting out easy with the dose helped. Wasn't a shock to the system.. maybe I just got lucky? I do still use it too but it's once every twoish weeks sometimes 3 weeks. Depends on if I remember lol. 

 

Edit: you can check out my shit show of journal if you want lol

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seabass

Thanks Dave, I'll go check out your journal.

 

On 9/28/2020 at 8:51 AM, DSFIRSTSLTWATER said:

I think the starting out easy with the dose helped.

I think I will do just one dose for the first and second week, before I ramp it up to twice a week.  You hear about similar ramp ups with DrTim's products, so that makes sense to me.

 

Edit: I ultimately decided to dose weekly for the first three weeks, before upping subsequent treatments to twice weekly, starting on the forth week

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DSFIRSTSLTWATER
1 minute ago, seabass said:

Thanks Dave, I'll go check out your journal.

 

I think I will do just one dose for the first week (and maybe even the second), before I ramp it up to twice a week.  You hear about similar ramp ups with DrTim's products, so that makes sense to me.

I can't wait to see how it works for you. I battled algae forever and I couldn't ever really get it under control no matter what I tried. This was a saving grace. Like we say all the time though, everyone's system is different. 

Starting small makes sense also. 

 

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seabass

A quick update to my plans.  I haven't started yet; but I hope to do some cleanup (including removing the macroalgae), water changes, baseline testing, as well as getting some reference photos this weekend.  Then I plan to start dosing both tanks this coming Monday.

 

I'll dose 1 ml of Vibrant per 10 gallons of water, once a week (on Mondays) for three weeks; then hopefully switch to dosing twice weekly (Mondays and Thursdays) starting on week four.  On the weekends, ill take pics and do testing; I'll also perform maintenance and water changes.  I'll edit the initial post to reflect the changes to the dosing schedule.

 

Neither tank has had any sort of testing besides specific gravity, including temperature, in a very long time (years for most things).  I kind of expect that parameters will be less than ideal, and I will likely have to try to make adjustments (possibly even dosing nutrients if necessary).

 

I will try to document a full range of parameters this weekend, but will likely limit weekly testing to alkalinity, phosphate, and nitrate.  I hope my reagents aren't expired.  Occasionally I'll purchase new kits with the intention of testing regularly (then let them expire on the shelf); but there's a chance I have some kits which will still work.

 

Water changes have typically been months apart.  So some changes will likely be do to the changes in maintenance.  Again, this is not a scientific experiment, but a documented look at the effects that dosing Vibrant (while performing regular maintenance) will have on these two tanks.

 

Another thing to consider is that I just completed the DrTim's dino protocol, of Re-Fresh and Waste-Away, on both tanks (despite not thinking that either tank actually had dinos).  The effects have already been observable, and might have already had effects on the water parameters.

 

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DSFIRSTSLTWATER
4 hours ago, seabass said:

A quick update to my plans.  I haven't started yet; but I hope to do some cleanup (including removing the macroalgae), water changes, baseline testing, as well as getting some reference photos this weekend.  Then I plan to start dosing both tanks this coming Monday.

 

I'll dose 1 ml of Vibrant per 10 gallons of water, once a week (on Mondays) for three weeks; then hopefully switch to dosing twice weekly (Mondays and Thursdays) starting on week four.  On the weekends, ill take pics and do testing; I'll also perform maintenance and water changes.  I'll edit the initial post to reflect the changes to the dosing schedule.

 

Neither tank has had any sort of testing besides specific gravity, including temperature, in a very long time (years for most things).  I kind of expect that parameters will be less than ideal, and I will likely have to try to make adjustments (possibly even dosing nutrients if necessary).

 

I will try to document a full range of parameters this weekend, but will likely limit weekly testing to alkalinity, phosphate, and nitrate.  I hope my reagents aren't expired.  Occasionally I'll purchase new kits with the intention of testing regularly (then let them expire on the shelf); but there a chance I have some kits which will still work.

 

Water changes have typically been months apart.  So some changes will likely be do to the changes in maintenance.  Again, this is not a scientific experiment, but a documented look at the effects that dosing Vibrant (while performing regular maintenance) will have on these two tanks.

 

Another thing to consider is that I just completed the DrTim's dino protocol, of Re-Fresh and Waste-Away, on both tanks (despite not thinking that either tank actually had dinos).  The effects have already been observable, and might have already had effects on the water parameters.

 

Yay!! Can't wait to see what happens :happydance:

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seabass

Today was testing day (both tanks at 1.024 specific gravity):

 

  40 gal 100 gal
Salifert Phosphate (Exp: 3/2019): 0 ppm 0 ppm
Hanna ULR Phosphorus (Exp: 9/2018): 0 ppb 3 ppb
Salifert Nitrate* (Exp: 10/2017): 0 ppm 0 ppm
Salifert KH (Exp: 2/2023): >16 dKH 13.1 dKH
Salifert Ca (Exp: 5/2020): 420 ppm >500 ppm
Salifert Mg (Exp: 8/2021): 1335 ppm 1305 ppm

 

* To test the expired nitrate kit (which read 0 on both tanks), I tested a container of rocks that I dose ammonia into to keep the biofilter alive.  The result was 75ppm, so I'm thinking that the kit still works.

 

Even though most of these kits have expired, I feel that they are probably still good enough.  Still, I have a new nitrate kit and new Hanna reagent packets on order.

 

Many months ago, it was visibly apparent that I had an alkalinity problem in the 100 gallon tank.  So I started blindly dosing sodium bicarbonate by putting a heaping teaspoon in the 2 gallons of water which I daily top off the tanks with.  The 100 gallon has recovered, but apparently, my 40 gallon tank doesn't use alkalinity nearly as fast.  I've also been using Sea-Lab No28 blocks in the 100 gallon to supplement calcium (which, BTW, is a highly inaccurate way of dosing).

 

So there you have it; virtually no nutrients and very high alkalinity levels.  I have a lot of work to do to balance out the water chemistry.  This will probably involve larger water changes along with dosing nutrients.

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Tired

Ouch, the nutrients. Maybe you oughta just put a couple spoonfuls of houseplant fertilizer in there. That can't possibly go wrong in any way whatsoever. 

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seabass
12 hours ago, Tired said:

Maybe you oughta just put a couple spoonfuls of houseplant fertilizer in there.

I have a bottle of Guillard's F/2 that I use to culture phyto.  I also have dry nitrate and phosphate ferts from Planted Aquarium Fertilizer.  However, I'm not yet sure how the breakdown of algae might add to the available nutrients.  I'm going to keep an eye on them, but will probably need to supplement both phosphate and nitrate.

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seabass

While obviously my tanks' initial parameters are off, correcting them should improve overall coral health.  We should keep this in mind as we watch for changes to the system.  For this review, I want to focus more on the algae and water parameters, versus coral health and growth, which I don't anticipate will be directly affected (either positively or negatively) by Vibrant.

 

Today I tested a batch of Reef Crystals mixed to 1.025.  I'll be using these alkalinity and calcium numbers as a target.  I'm a little less concerned about magnesium.

 

  Reef Crystals
Salifert KH (Exp: 2/2023): 11.2 dKH
Salifert Ca (Exp: 5/2020): 490 ppm
Salifert Mg (Exp: 8/2021):

1500 ppm

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seabass

So I removed most of the macroalgae from both of the tanks.

 

100 gallon:

100520a.jpg

 

I got most of the macro, but will continue to clean them both up:

100520b.jpg

 

40 gallon:

100520c.jpg

 

I dosed both tanks with Vibrant (12ml in the 100gal, and 4ml in the 40gal).  Things are still kind of dirty; I'll get better pics later this week for the reference pics.

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seabass

100620d.jpg

Ew, bubble algae.  Didn't know I had that.

 

Took out the rock and scraped it off (trying to cut under it).

100620e.jpg

 

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seabass

A few pics that I took yesterday:

 

100 gallon:

100720a.jpg

 

100720b.jpg

 

100720c.jpg

 

100720d.jpg

 

40 gallon:

100720e.jpg

 

100720f.jpg

 

100720g.jpg

 

100720h.jpg

 

We can see that the 100 gallon tank has less algae (and different types of algae) than the 40 gallon.

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debbeach13

So far would you say under your expectation, meeting expectations, exceeding expectations or too soon.

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seabass
21 minutes ago, debbeach13 said:

So far would you say under your expectation, meeting expectations, exceeding expectations or too soon.

I think too soon.  I'm not expecting much during the first few weeks.  I even anticipate a potential increase in certain forms of hair algae as the review continues.  For example, BRS's video showed an increase in hair algae in tank 3 on week 2 (@ 5:57 into the video), as well as in tank 5 on week 6 (@ 8:37 into the video).

 

It almost looks like some of the algae in my 40 gallon tank might be developing white filaments (a good sign); however, I'd probably say that the algae appears mostly unchanged.  It would be nice if the bulk of the algae was gone by week 9, but some of the BRS test tanks (mainly the ones with mature rock) weren't completely cleared by then either.  I'm actually expecting this to take more like 3 or 4 months to clear (and probably a few weeks to before we see significant changes).

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seabass

The 100 gallon is experiencing some blue green cyano.  I don't recall having that since my freshwater days.  I'll get some pics this weekend.

 

Here's my speculation.  The sand bed is loaded with organics.  Usually we hear of Vibrant causing cyano due to the breakdown of algae, but this tank already had a high level of organics (which I believe is fueling the current cyano bloom).

 

If I were to make any recommendations at this point, it would be to do a deep clean prior to dosing Vibrant.  But in my case, I will have to do this on the fly.  Maintenance isn't just changing water; it includes exporting the organics from your system (something I've been negligent of).  

 

This 100 gallon tank has also had a bloom of pods this week.  Well I think it has, as I can see in it better than I have been able to lately.  Anyway, it's nice to see that Vibrant doesn't kill off things like pods (at least it hasn't after one dose).

 

I'm a little concerned about the long term effects on biodiversity in an algae free system, not to mention the herbivorous snails.  I dosed a bunch of phyto into the tank last night.  Seemed weird dosing algae into a tank that you are dosing Vibrant into.  I haven't read about phyto dosing during Vibrant dosing.  I might have to research that a bit.

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Tired

You could always try and add some algae back in. It's not as if you could ever keep it out by any means other than never adding anything new to the tanks again. One would hope your snails would be able to keep newly introduced stuff under control... though I do wonder why you've had such bad problems. I wonder if you just got a particularly virulent strain of hair algae, or if something else is egging it on. 

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seabass
14 minutes ago, Tired said:

I do wonder why you've had such bad problems.

I suspect it was due to years of lack of maintenance.  The 100 gallon isn't nearly as plagued as the 40 is.  However, I'm relatively happy with the biological diversity of it.

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seabass
10 hours ago, seabass said:

I haven't read about phyto dosing during Vibrant dosing.

The other thing that I think about is, if I could dose DrTim's Waste-Away while I'm still dosing Vibrant. 🤔

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DSFIRSTSLTWATER

On my system, I got the algae almost wiped out. I did have a lawnmower blenny and I wanted to make sure he had algae to eat. He did a wonderful job of cleaning and it almost seemed like he ate the detritus as well. I have a bare bottom tank and I noticed that the bottom of the tank looked good. Just speculation though.

 

I miss my my blenny 😕

I have heard on many occasions that the time it takes to get rid of the algae is the same amount of time it took to get it. In my case it was about 4 months. It took me I'd say about 2and a half to 3 months to get it 90 percent knocked.

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seabass

The patchy blue-green cyano is in the back corner:

101020a.jpg

 

Here's some regular cyano in the 100 gallon tank:

101020b.jpg

 

And the 40 gallon:

101020c.jpg

 

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seabass

Overall the corals seem to be embracing the changes: removing the shade due to the Caulerpa, the improved water chemistry from partial water changes, the occasional clouds of detritus accidentally kicked up by disturbing the sand, and a closer attention to water parameters, not to mention the Vibrant itself.

 

I actually doubt that Vibrant is a primary reason for improving coral health, but it's nice to see that it doesn't seem to be causing any direct harm.  However, I feel that the less aggressive encroachment of algae favors coral growth.  It's hard to say at this point, but I believe that I'm seeing the initial effects on the algae due to dosing (pics soon).

 

My initial concern about organics appears valid.  I feel that I must make continued efforts to export organics as the makeup of the water continues to change (like the amounts of dissolved organics and the inorganic nutrient levels).  I need to do another round of testing to check the nutrient levels; but I'm primarily guessing about the levels of DOM.  I also plan to adjust the 100 gallon tank's skimmer to skim a little wetter.

 

I feel it's primarily the organics, along with a lack of nutrients, which causes people the most grief (cyano) when dosing Vibrant.  I still feel that supplementing nutrients may be required (while, at the same time, expecting release of nutrients due to the breakdown of algae).  I'll make that call after pre-dosing testing.  And I'll continue efforts to clean up the sand beds.

 

Of course I'm only a week (and one dose) into this, so much of what I'm stating is primarily speculation.  However, I'm in it for the long haul, unless something fairly catastrophic happens.  I'm looking forward to another round and week of dosing, plus hopefully some observable results.

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