What is all this fuss about sugar in a Reef Tank?
Lets first look at how you and I, plants and animals get their energy. What we do with in each cell of our body is to take starches and convert them to simple glucose (sugars) to be used as energy. We have a complex digestive system. We can also take sugar directly and use it. Thus glucose (sugar) is essential for life.
As everyone is aware of everything is in degrees or level. If we were to eat a candy bar no big problem. If we eat 2 lbs of sugar a day we most likely would eventually die. Our insulin production would go crazy! Now lets us apply our common sense to this issue. Organic build up is generally the biggest concern for the Reef Hobbyist. Reef tanks operate in what is called a nutrient poor system. We have billions of bacteria is our rocks, sand and every where in our tanks. Denitrating bacteria operate best with a carbon (sugar provides)(See Moe, he recommends quite a bit of glucose for operating a denitrating filter). molecule to denitrate the water. Once in our tanks the corals, plants and bacteria all compete for this energy source. These simple animals absorb the nutrients directly from the water. Many use light energy to convert starches to glucose and use glucose to transport the iron. This helps them live. The bacteria on the fishes skin also use these very small amounts of carbon increasing the fishes resistance to parasite attack and helping to keep the fish healthy. We do not use polygluconate for minor or major element additions. That is Calcium is a major element having a level of 400,000 ppb compared with iron of 10 ppB a trace element We recommend Calcium be replaced via our Kalkwasser, Calcium chloride or water changes. Strontium is a minor element 8-10,000 ppb and we use SrCl. Reef tanks using polygluconate show a lower level of nitrates.All Amazing Coral Reef products containing iron use a polygluconate base to keep the iron in a usable form for the plants and animals. The level of this carrier is in the parts per billion. That is it is used for trace elements only! You decide. Which is more natural. EDTA or glucose.
So if this compound is very beneficial to our fish, corals, and bacteria what is going on. Well Sea Chem use polygluconate for both their minor element Sr and I believe possibly for Calcium inaddition to using EDTA chelant in some of their products. We do not want to add EDTA as it adds to the organic load in the tank and has a shelf life of about 1 year. We do not believe that Sea Chem are doing anything wrong but rather Kent Marine are trying to position themselves away from Sea Chem. It is what we call sales hype. There is a lot of it going around and we do not like it as it takes away from the Hobbyist learning the correct fundamentals to operate a Reef.