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Can't keep phosphates up

Cjud7982

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I've been trying to get more into sps lately, and have had some success, but they all seem to color down over time. I have a medium to heavily stocked mixed reef in a 180 gallon. Oversized skimmer, chaeto, and carbon reactor is pretty much the only filtration. I feed a full 6x6 sheet of nori daily and 2 cubes of brine and 2 cubes of mysis plus 3 scoops of reef chilli daily. I have stopped doing water changes for the last couple months trying to get my phosphates up. Cannot do it, so I'm looking to dose it. There is little to no algae growing in the tank except the chaeto is growing pretty quickly.

Parameters are
Temp -78.5-79
Salinity - 1.025
Alk - 10.5
Calcium - 460
Mag - 1380
Nitrate - 5ppm
Phosphate - undetectable
pH rock solid around 7.95-8.1

Tests are using salifert.

I've never had this problem before and historically have always fought to lower them lol. I also have a dosing pumps for the alk and calcium.

This is the most stable this tank has ever been, but a little upset that my sps keep browning.

Also lights are 3 maxspect razor 120s plus 4 bulbs of t5, 2 blue plus and two actinic with a 3 hour peak. Flow is done with two 6105 tunzes at max and a various 8 return pump.

I was wondering if it was lighting until I realized my phosphate is consistently low. I'm honestly trying to run a little higher nutrient system.

Lastly, all other corals are doing great, hammers, torches,Duncan's, leathers, monties, shrooms, zoa's gorgis, etc. Only ones showing issues are the sps.

Any input is appreciated!!!
 
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Xanthurum

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First let me say that I have been struggling with phosphates as well, I use a Hanna ULR checker and have had readings of 0.00 I would first suggest you lower your alk, most people that keep SPS shoot for around 8. That being said you should do this very slowly probably try to get it there in a month to 6 weeks.
I have been using Brightwell NeoPhos to dose daily to keep phosphates above 0.01, I shoot for 0.03. I am also dosing NeoNitro to keep. Nitrates from bottoming out also. I have also put my skimmer on a timer so it only runs 12 hours a day. Your tank sounds very similar in that I feed heavy and have a pretty heavy bio load and yet I can’t keep nutrients up without dosing.
 

TexasReefer82

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If the water has no phosphates it's because the rocks are not yet saturated.

You can begin dosing a phosphate solution or you can feed the tank more. I'd suggest using reef roids a couple times a week until phosphates come up. it will rest assured raise phosphates and your corals will much appreciate the food source as well.
 
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Cjud7982

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Thanks for the input guys. The rock has been through about 3 tanks and has been "live" for well over 10 years and has gone through many high phosphate cycles so I dont think its a saturation thing.

I'll see if letting my all lower slowly will help, and will try to use reef roofs. I've never used reef roids, must be super high in phosphate to be causing you guys to have elevated nutrients?
 

kingy138

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Thanks for the input guys. The rock has been through about 3 tanks and has been "live" for well over 10 years and has gone through many high phosphate cycles so I dont think its a saturation thing.

I'll see if letting my all lower slowly will help, and will try to use reef roofs. I've never used reef roids, must be super high in phosphate to be causing you guys to have elevated nutrients?
Reefroids are not that high with PO4.
People with existing phosphate issues or immature tanks drop it in so work magic on their corals, but on young tanks you really only need fish food and poo, maybe occasional amino acids.

Any PO4 added to a tank already battling to keep it down will always result in increased PO4, the situation is just magnified.

I've added it three times last week and it made no difference to my PO4 at all.

I'm not struggling to keep my PO4 up, but it's starting to get to that point. My Hanna Phosphorus ULR detects between 2-5PPB, even when feeding four time a day.

I am dosing Tropic Marin NP Bacto-Balance, which is a carbon source, but only 0.2ml, which is a fraction of what is meant to be dosed to my tank.

The rest, the corals are using.
If my PO4 drops any lower, I'll just stop the bacto-balance, as at 0.2ml per day, it can't be doing much anyway.

I would personally dose phosphates, until it's detectable, then figure out a maintenance dose, as more feeding just equals more poo, which equals more nitrates, unless of course you want more nitrates too.

Just be careful as your NO3 and PO4 are in relative balance in your tank, and the bacteria has adjusted to your parameters. Changing the relationship (PO4 without more NO3), can result in cyano, so do any changes slowly.
Don't keep dumping it in until you see PO4 on the same day, calculate a starting dose and do it for a week, testing everyday if possible.
Then decide what you want to do, up the dose slightly, reduce or continue.
 

schuby

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Having to dose phosphate or nitrate in a mature, mixed-reef tank with fish doesn't make sense to me. Consider taking these actions (not all at once):
  • Feed the fish more
  • Reduce the light duration on your chaeto
    • and/or reduce the size of your chaeto
  • Reduce the amount of media in carbon reactor
In general, I see people on this site with successful mixed-reef tanks target Phosphate around 0.1 ppm and Nitrate around 20 ppm.

SPS require phosphate. Something else (chaeto and maybe carbon reactor) is consuming it all.
 

kingy138

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Oh I missed that point, when you say carbon reactor, do you mean GAC or carbon source pellets?

If GAC then no issue, if pellets, then this is the issue.

But as Schuby said, reduce lighting period on your fuge will help too.
 

TheDuude

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You might also want to look at dosing some amino acids if you are not already... seems they will help raise your phosphates slightly as well as help color up your corals.
 

schuby

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Could you elaborate on " medium to heavily stocked mixed reef in a 180 gallon"? Are you referring to fish, coral, or both? A full tank shot would help give us better context.
 
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Cjud7982

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I
Could you elaborate on " medium to heavily stocked mixed reef in a 180 gallon"? Are you referring to fish, coral, or both? A full tank shot would help give us better context.

Absolutely. Here's a few shots of the tank. I just had to turn the lights back on cu they were off for the night, so most of the corals are closed up.

Corals are pretty well stocked, never as much as any of us would like haha.

And the fish list is, 4-5" purple Tang, 4-5" yellow, 4" tomoni tang, 5-6" convict Tang, 2-3" blue hippo, 5-6" mag roxface, 2 adult clowns, 3 pajama Cardinals, 1 adult Mandarin goby. I think that's it.

Ohh and about the carbon, it's just a media reactor running red sea activated carbon. I've never carbon dosed this system with vodka or vinegar.

IMG_20200804_225353907.jpg IMG_20200804_225402625.jpg IMG_20200804_225408181.jpg IMG_20200804_225417778.jpg
 
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Cjud7982

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Thanks for the info guys. I think the concensus and after researching as much as possible,I think I'm gonna slowly over the next month or so down to 8-8.5 and try and bring my phosphates up just a tad. Not sure what changed over the last few weeks but something sure isn't happy.

Thanks for the thought guys! Wish me luck
 

BYU

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get rid of the cheato
you are running cheato and over rated skimmer
 

blasterman

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I also vote reducing cheato light time. Getting rid of cheato entirely might cause a severe swing to other way.
 

BYU

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i got rid of my fuge
it was the best move i made
i needed room for my calcium reactor
my corals are much happier
 

BYU

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doubt it will jump that high
just test every week for a bit
 

The0wn4g3

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I'm having the same problems you are with zero nitrate and phosphate. Preface: using Salifert for Nitrate and Hannah phosphorusffor phosphate.

I've reduced fuge lighting from 16hrs a day to 6, removed filter sock, turned off protein skimmer, no change.

I started feeding reef-roids at 1/2 tsp per day (75 gallon tank) for a week straight, no change.

I then dosed Tropic Marin Plus-NP at the recommended max dosage (3ml for me), no change after a week. Started increasing the dosage until I hit 20mL per day and within 12 hours phosphate and Nitrate would be back to zero. It comes in a 200mL bottle so I ran out pretty quick. Around this time my water became super cloudy. I cranked the skimmer back up, added the filter sock, added GAC.

Since Monday I've been dosing 5mL Brightwell Neonitro and Neophos at 8:30, 12:30, 5:30, and 9:30. Nitrate measures about 0.1, phosphate is still measuring zero.

So from my experience: keep the skimmer on, keep GAC running, keep the fuge. None of these have impacted my phosphate or nitrate and only caused more problems when I turned them off.

I believe the key is to continue to dose phosphate additives until the rocks become saturated. I have about 100 lb of reef saver from BRS. I'll be setting up a a dosing pump to do 1mL every hour today.

I'm also starting to dose Brightwell Coral Amino today.
 

PatW

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I run chaeto and have a pretty good skimmer. I have a 300 gallon and have a fairly light load. I feed about 8 by 2 nori daily, about a quarter tsp of pellets, a cube of brine and a cube of mysis daily. I keep my nitrates at between .5 and 1 ppm and my phosphates at around .03 ppm. I measure phosphates with the Hanna ULR phosphorous detector.

I dose phosphate because otherwise they will go to zero. I but analytical grade trisodium phosphate. I add 2 tbs of crystals into 1 gallon of RODI for my stock solution. 2 tsp of stock into 300 gallon will give a decent phosphate level.
 

BYU

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also reed roids and pellets make my phosphates jump up
 

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