It’s totally understandable if you have a few questions about dosing the PNS (purple non-sulfur) bacteria-based products PNS ProBio, PNS Substrate Sauce and PNS YelloSno. For one, they’re all unusual products and it’s likely that you haven’t worked with anything like them before. Also, as with any food or live product, ideal dosage varies from tank to tank.
Here are a few important things to consider as you go forward. First, you can relax, as both they’re all quite safe and aren’t easily overdosed. Second, it’s good to keep in mind that YelloSno is simply a food and not alive, whereas ProBio and Substrate Sauce are very much alive; YelloSno must be refrigerated (especially after opening) whereas ProBio and Substrate Sauce should be stored at room temp.
The dosage for ProBio and Substrate Sauce is 1.25 ml/gallon whereas YelloSno is 1.0 ml/gal. Each product may be used as often as daily (less often is acceptable, depending upon results and your goals). They may be used together (even mixed together) and used at the same time. However, with ProBio and YelloSno (as with the PNS Product Combo), many users find an alternating schedule to be very effective (that is, dosing just one product each day, switching between the two from day to day).
These products are easily dosed by hand. Dispensing YelloSno from an automatic dosing devise is possible. However, to prevent contamination, the product must be well-chilled. Also, it should be on a stirrer to keep the “snow” well-suspended. Dispensing ProBio and/or Substrate Sauce from a doser is also possible but may require frequent cleaning due to potential clogs (live microbes can form a biofilm over the tubing’s inner surfaces). As an alternative, particularly when seeding a system to establish permanent colonies of these bacteria, one might add the first dose to a porous biomedium (filter sponge, ceramic block, etc.) and just chuck that into some area of slow water flow in the sump/refugium. For use as a probiotic, ProBio and Substrate Sauce may be soaked into any aquarium food a minute or two prior to feeding; this can increase feed conversion and reduce waste production as well as introduce healthful carotenoids into your fishes' diets.
As with any food, YelloSno dosage may be increased to boost coral growth, but also may be decreased to maintain lower nutrient levels and generally good water quality. This period of fine-tuning typically can begin after a few weeks of moderate use (e.g. full dose of each product on an alternating schedule) and close observation of results.
ProBio and Substrate Sauce dosage can likewise be adjusted after a few weeks of moderate use. Because these live heterotrophic and denitrifying microbes consume nitrates, phosphates and organics, they generally cannot foul the water. This essentially means that you may feed as much to your corals as you desire. It even means that increased dosage will result in decreasing nitrate and phosphate levels! Finally, while ProBio and YelloSno are by design complimentary to each other, either product may be used on its own. Substrate Sauce is generally used alone, since it is designed primarily for use during the cycling period.
One of the features of Substrate Sauce that makes it suited for cycling is its purposefully excessive phosphate level (at full dosage it raises phosphate concentration by approximately 0.03 ppm); this is to supply bacteria in the substrate and biofilter with the phosphorus they need to survive and grow before fish are added (e.g. fishless cycling methods).
Still, many fully cycled, mature, well-filtered systems with fast-growing corals oftentimes require the addition of phosphate (crazy, right?). In such cases, Substrate Sauce may be used sparingly as both a live food and as a phosphate supplement. Of course, PNS bacteria themselves consume phosphate aggressively, so monitor levels often to be sure feeding rates and phosphate levels are both in the sweet spot. Thus, you can use ProBio alone, Substrate Sauce alone, or use some combination of the two that maintains phosphate levels just where you want them. Few natural methods of nutrient management are as safe and simple!
Note: To help support our industry's retailers, we offer PNS Substrate Sauce exclusively through AlgaeBarn and through select LFSs.