DIY alternative to AZNO3?


.Registered Member
I have a huge nitrate spike in my tank for no apparent reasons. I have been reefing for over 10 years now, and have never had nitrate issues, I have mostly been struggling to lower the phosphates so far. It all started after I drilled through my tank. I was mounting a door frame on the opposite side and drilled the wall and the reef behind it :( The drill bit went through the rear wall about 1" above the bottom, and I had to empty the tank. Corals went to a friend's fowlr tank, the rock I stacked densely in a small tank with a powerhead - it stayed there for over a month until I fixed a patch over the rear wall of the tank and filled it up again. The tank cycled quickly, in around a month, and I brought back whatever remained of my corals (a couple of hardiest acros, forest fire monti, seriatopora, mint pavona, hollywood stunner chalice - most of the rest were gone by the time I could bring them back). I have no fish currently. The tank is 70g with a DIY skimmer based on the Reef Octopus VARIOS-4S pump (which is probably an overkill for this tank). I have noticed some coral discoloration recently (mainly, my hollywood stunner looked very bleak under white light) and when I did the tests, the phosphate was at zero (Hanna HI713 checker), the nitrate was extremely high, higher than the maximum color of the Red Sea test in high range mode - probably 100ppm or higher. I have no idea where this high nitrate comes as I do not feed the tank, I am only dosing alkalinity and calcium.

I am now trying to lower the nitrates as quickly as possible as I have brought in many SPS frags recently and I would like to get rid of excessive nitrates before they start to die out. I am currently dosing phosphate + organic carbon (a mixture of glycerine and alcohols). I dose about 0.15-0.2ppm of phosphate each night and it is at zero the next day. Based on Redfield Ratio I would expect that will need to dose about 10ppm of phosphate (cumulative) to get rid of 100ppm of nitrate, which means that I will have to continue this scheme for nearly 2 months to get rid of the excessive nitrate, and I am afraid to dose more than 0.2ppm phosphate a day (plus I am afraid that adding more organic carbon may result in a cyano outbreak). I am also doing 10% water changes twice a week but that hardly affects anything.

So, I was reading the forum about other methods of NO3 reduction and while I discarded some (namely, I read that ion exchange resins for NO3 do not work well in saltwater, despite their manufacturer's claims - that was very tempting), I read from respected members of the community that the product called AZNO3 really works and people were able to drop the nitrate from really high values (80-60) to much nicer figures (0-2). I have ordered a bottle, but it will take at least 10 days to deliver it internationally and in the mean while I am looking for DIY opportunities to make similar stuff in case I need a replacement. The manufacturer's description says that "The active ingredient in our product is Cozymase which functions in the oxidation of proteins and of many other compounds important in the intermediary metabolism and the resulting active enzyme Maltase in the aquarium. The Massecuite is food for both the Cozymase to develop and the resultant Maltase to thrive." After some googling I found out that Cozymase is an enzyme which is otherwise called Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (or most commonly referred to as NAD+), and Massecuite is "a dense mass of sugar crystals mixed with mother liquor obtained by evaporation" (Merriam Webster).

Based on the above I gather that AZNO3 is basically the same organic carbon (which they call Massecuite to make it sound more scientific) but its put on steroids by adding an enzyme (NAD+). A search for "Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide" on Amazon reveals that it is a known human health supplement and is available as 250mg capsules for less than $30 per 60 capsules (a total of 0.25x60=15g) or as powder (but at the cost that is twice as much for the same 15g). I believe that the cheaper version would be even easier to use as it has already been weighed our 0.25g per capsule.

Now, the difficult part is to figure out how much NAD+ and how much sugar is contained in each milliliter of that AZNO3 bottle. Anyone has any ideas on how to do this easily? I can think of weighing a measure of the stuff (say, 5ml), then evaporating the water and weighing again. We will thus obtain the weight of dry matter. If we can somehow convert the sugar to CO2 (maybe by adding some yeast and waiting for a few days - but then the solution may need to be diluted so that the resulting alcohol concentration does not exceed the maximum that can be handled by the yeast), then the alcohol and water can be evaporated and the weight of dry matter would be NAD+ (plus the weight of yeast that has been added). This can be done but is sort of complicated and needs precise measurements on the milligram scale (I have one with the accuracy of up to 10mg) which is not very easy to do at home. Does anyone have other ideas/suggestions on how to find out the actual NAD/Sugar content in the product? Another approach can be based on the totally unscientific method of guessing, i.e. trying to dilute one capsule in a small amount of water, dosing it gradually into the tank and trying to figure out how well it works...
I found it on Amazon for 30 a bottle.

Also wouldn't carbon dosing accomplish the same results? Vodka dosing is what I used for nitrates back when I had a large tank. 8 bucks for half a gallon of cheap vodka lasted me over a year.
Yes, AZNo3 worked very well for me. I was able to reduce the nitrate from over 50 to 5 in 2-3 weeks. I did not follow the directions to the letter, though. I just added a small amount initially and then increase gradually - but I didn't measure the amount - was squirting it into the tank in high flow area and was eyeballing how much went there. I didn't try the DIY alternative as I don't have the nitrate issue and have spent probably half the bottle I bought.
I think you can always buy the stuff at their website but I am not sure if they are offering the best price for it, or maybe you can find a better deal elsewhere, It is always better to shop around before buying. It would be interesting to try the DIY version, though.