Are low Phosphates killing my coral?

pharazon

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Oh, I see. So that means that I do want some nutrients (N03 and P04) in my tank at home?
Absolutely. There’s no single number that works for every system, you just have to put it through it’s paces and see how your corals react.

Remember nothing good happens fast. Whatever changes you make, make them slowly.
 
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DirtMcGurt

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So your only method of nutrient export are water changes? If that is really the case then maybe you need to cut back on your water changes so nutrients accumulate.
Other than a skimmer and what hair algae is growing in my refugium... yes. Those are the only things exporting nutrients. Once nutrients accumulate, either thru dosing or feeding, how long should it take for things to stabilize? Or will I always have to dose either P04 or N03?
 

JustAnt

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Other than a skimmer and what hair algae is growing in my refugium... yes. Those are the only things exporting nutrients. Once nutrients accumulate, either thru dosing or feeding, how long should it take for things to stabilize? Or will I always have to dose either P04 or N03?
Sorry friend but I can’t answer that question. Best of luck
 
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DirtMcGurt

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Sorry friend but I can’t answer that question. Best of luck
I appreciate the input and that you didn't just try to act like you knew everything lol. Idk if anyone has all the answers but maybe someone can fill in that bit of info. Thanks again for chiming in tho.
 

William DeCoursey

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Are you running a refugium with macro algae? Sure sounds like you are and that your tank has become phosphate limited.. basically, not enough phosphate to keep your chaeto growing, so when P hits zero, your nitrates will rise.

No expert at all here, but the same recently happened to me. I was using old dry rock and I think it finally stopped leaching out P. Now I'm having to dose it and both N and P are swinging around a little as I try to dial it in.
 

Nano sapiens

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I'm a little too dumb to grab all those big words and have it make sense. Are you saying that "zero nutrients" works in the ocean but not in reef tanks? I'm not trying to over simplify it but I'm just having trouble understanding all that.
What Pharazon just posted. The big words are just there to provide precision when discussing nuanced topics like this one and are not meant to intimidate.
 
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Nano sapiens

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Other than a skimmer and what hair algae is growing in my refugium... yes. Those are the only things exporting nutrients. Once nutrients accumulate, either thru dosing or feeding, how long should it take for things to stabilize? Or will I always have to dose either P04 or N03?
'JustAnt' is justified in saying 'That he doesn't know". No one can say for sure since each system is unique. Best advice I could give is to check PO4 and NO3 levels a few times a week to get an idea of how your system curently uses these nutrients, then adjust your additives and feeding to minimize swings and keep levels stable over the long term. Good luck!
 
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DirtMcGurt

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Are you running a refugium with macro algae? Sure sounds like you are and that your tank has become phosphate limited.. basically, not enough phosphate to keep your chaeto growing, so when P hits zero, your nitrates will rise.

No expert at all here, but the same recently happened to me. I was using old dry rock and I think it finally stopped leaching out P. Now I'm having to dose it and both N and P are swinging around a little as I try to dial it in.
I do have a refugium, and tried a few types of macro algae without any luck. So what you're saying would make sense. Since you started dosing N03 and P04 how has your tank responded? Any corals reacting to the dosing?
 
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DirtMcGurt

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'JustAnt' is justified in saying 'That he doesn't know". No one can say for sure since each system is unique. Best advice I could give is to check PO4 and NO3 levels a few times a week to get an idea of how your system curently uses these nutrients, then adjust your additives and feeding to minimize swings and keep levels stable over the long term. Good luck!
Gotcha. I definitely respect the guy for saying he doesn't know instead of guessing. I'll start keeping a closer eye on my N03 and Po4 levels and try to keep them stable. Hopefully the corals I have left pull thru.
 

JustAnt

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Just in case I’m ever in need to dose nitrates & phosphate..... What specific product is used to raise each. Thanks
 
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DirtMcGurt

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Just in case I’m ever in need to dose nitrates & phosphate..... What specific product is used to raise each. Thanks
I know there are cheaper versions out there but I've been using Brightwell's Neonitro for nitrate and their Neophos for phosphates. If you ever get the Neophos be sure to check the dosage. There have been two versions. One is more diluted than the other. Brightwell has said they're working on getting a dilution that's more friendly to both nano tank users and users with larger systems.
 

Hans-Werner

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I think the PO4 and NO3 concentrations should be a bit more balanced, not exceeding 50 fold. This would mean with 0.05 ppm PO4, NO3 should not exceed 2.5 ppm. Higher ratios in my eyes create unstable conditions with the danger of phosphate always dropping to "0". I prefer even much lower ratios, more like 10 or lower but this is contradictory to most recommendations for NO3.
 

William DeCoursey

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I do have a refugium, and tried a few types of macro algae without any luck. So what you're saying would make sense. Since you started dosing N03 and P04 how has your tank responded? Any corals reacting to the dosing?
I've just started dosing phosphate. For the first few days, it didn't give me measurable concentrations. I've read that the rocks, sand, and corals can soak it right up. Now I'm back in the .06 area. Nitrates are trending down. Chaeto is growing hard. Can't say as though I noticed anything dramatic with corals. Most are frags. Some looked a little puffier. It hadn't been a long-term deficiency though. I had cut back on feeding while giving medicated food.
 
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DirtMcGurt

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I've just started dosing phosphate. For the first few days, it didn't give me measurable concentrations. I've read that the rocks, sand, and corals can soak it right up. Now I'm back in the .06 area. Nitrates are trending down. Chaeto is growing hard. Can't say as though I noticed anything dramatic with corals. Most are frags. Some looked a little puffier. It hadn't been a long-term deficiency though. I had cut back on feeding while giving medicated food.
Thanks for the feedback. Can you give me a little info on your setup so I can compare it to mine? Is it a mixed reef? Lps and sps? About how much do you feed? What were your nitrates at and how much/rapidly did they fall? I know it's a lot to answer but anything could help. My tank seems to soak up any P04 that I add in a matter of 12 hrs. I've been afraid to keep dosing regularly and raising P04 too high but maybe I need to dose regularly.
 
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DirtMcGurt

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So far you folks are giving me a lot of good info. I really appreciate everyone's input because this situation has been nagging for a while and has been very frustrating. Since I try hard to take care of my reef and still have issues.
 

William DeCoursey

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Thanks for the feedback. Can you give me a little info on your setup so I can compare it to mine? Is it a mixed reef? Lps and sps? About how much do you feed? What were your nitrates at and how much/rapidly did they fall? I know it's a lot to answer but anything could help. My tank seems to soak up any P04 that I add in a matter of 12 hrs. I've been afraid to keep dosing regularly and raising P04 too high but maybe I need to dose regularly.
I have a 65g DT, maybe 72g total water volume. Pretty standard 3 chambered sump, chaeto fuge, except no skimmer. Part of the reason for removing it was consistently getting 0's for N and P. The tank is young (4 mo's) and lightly stocked (5 juvenile fish and robust CUC). Kalkwasser in ATO, weekly water changes.

I had it on lockdown, but lost a fish to intestinal parasites. As a precaution, I fed API general cure, bound with focus, to frozen for near two weeks. You have to feed much lighter when medicated. My P zeroed within days and Nitrate's started to slowly rise. By the end of the medicating period, they'd gotten to about 30. Nitrates are decreasing at about the same rate they rose. It's tedious, bc I'm not willing to dose P up to .3 and just hope the chaeto does its job faster than GHA can take hold and Nitrate and Phosphate testing is painful
 
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DirtMcGurt

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I really appreciate that detailed background of your DT. You also taught me that you have to feed lightly when medicating a tank/fish. I agree that the testing is tedious but its something I need to do. I'm about to order some more Neophos and I guess I better add a Phosphate test kit refill to that order. Since I'm low on that too.

I was on vacation this weekend and didn't ask my house sitter to dose phosphates since he's almost clueless to what goes into reefkeeping and was doing good to feed them and keep an eye on water level and temperature. My P04 was at 0.01 and my Duncans and BTA were all closed. I dosed Neophos yesterday and I'll start testing and dosing each day. I really hope this helps. I'll know when I see my tank after work.
 

infinite0180

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Following along here. My tank has had low PO4 from the start. Just did a ATI ICP test at the 5 month mark and NO3 was 9ppm while PO4 was 0.02ppm. Both those numbers are exactly what i was getting when testing at home. I just ordered a Neptune auto feeder to try and increase feeding.
 
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DirtMcGurt

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So the ATI ICP tests for nitrates? And is pretty accurate? That may be the kit I go with next. My NO3 and P04 was about where yours is. I know all tanks are different but I seem to need a bit higher P04 than 0.02. I got up to 0.04 P04 and about 5 ppm for N03 and things seemed better but not great. Hopefully you can get there by feeding. I've had an Eheim auto feeder for a while dropping food at 10am and manually feeding LRS at 6-7pm and couldn't get my P04 up. So I started dosing Brightwell's Neophos. I'm seeing where that takes me and I'll shoot for 0.06 Phosphates. That's the plan anyways.
 

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