Dosing phosphate causing problems with LPS

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tnc112105

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I have been dosing phosphates in my reef for the past several weeks via Brightwell's NeoPhos. For a long time my phosphates were undetectable (Hanna ULR Phosphorus) with significant negative effects on SPS. LPS were not affected and were thriving despite low nutrients. I tried unsuccessfully to get my nutrient levels up by natural methods such as reduced water changes and overfeeding, so I started dosing.

At the start (2 months ago) the rocks and substrate were binding a lot of the phosphate, so I would dose manually, and the numbers would quickly return to 0. Around the same time I rented a PAR meter from BRS and made some minor adjustments to the lighting, increasing PAR by ~10%. I have ramped up the dosing slowly since then and am now maintaining a consistent reading of about 4ppb @ 4ml x 4 times daily via an electronic doser. The SPS are looking really good now, but the LPS, in particular chalices, acans and Duncans which were once puffy and happy prior to dosing have been withering away 1 by 1. In addition, ALK consumption stagnated about 2 weeks ago, and is now slowly but steadily decreasing over the past 4-5 days (I test daily). I am starting to get concerned. NO3, which was also 0 at the time I began phosphate dosing has been stable around 2-3ppm for several weeks.

When I started dosing, I asked whether the ion in conjunction with the phosphate in the NeoPhos could cause any deleterious effects by sustained, long term dosing. Although the Brightwell packaging indicates that the NeoPhos is a "proprietary blend", it was suggested that it was primarily a blend of Sodium and Potassium phosphate salts. I am considering sending out an ICP test to see if either of these elements are elevated.

In the meantime, what is the best course of action? Is it unlikely that the phosphate dosing is causing these problems? Should I look for other causes? I am concerned that if I discontinue phosphate dosing that the numbers will plummet to 0 again and I will be quickly back at square one.

Thanks in advance for your help.
 
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Lasse

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Is it unlikely that the phosphate dosing is causing these problems?
IMO yes - in my aquarium - is always the LPS that suffer from to LOW PO4. However - I use pure KH2PO4. - nor a combined product.

If you dosing - beware of this fact that ---
dose -> nothing happens, dose -> nothing happens ..... and suddenly - althing happens with the leftover concentration of PO4. The storage warehouse is full and much will be as leftover in the water column.

Sincerely Lasse
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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While I do not like to trust that companies use adequately pure ingredients unless they say so, I think it unlikely the Brightwell product is directly causing an issue due to anything in it except phosphate.

Remember that adding phosphate may allow organisms to grow more and use up other nutrients such as nitrate or trace metals.
 

ScottB

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I would send out for an ICP. If I had to guess, you are depleted on I and/or K. My duncan fusses when one or both are missing. None of my SPS seem to care.
 
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tnc112105

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While I do not like to trust that companies use adequately pure ingredients unless they say so, I think it unlikely the Brightwell product is directly causing an issue due to anything in it except phosphate.

Remember that adding phosphate may allow organisms to grow more and use up other nutrients such as nitrate or trace metals.

I would send out for an ICP. If I had to guess, you are depleted on I and/or K. My duncan fusses when one or both are missing. None of my SPS seem to care.


Nitrate is 2-3 ppm, so I know that shouldn't be the issue but you make a good point about trace metals. Come to think of it, I remember Iodine being low on my last ICP test, but I thought a comprehensive 2-part like B-Ionic had trace elements already added (please correct me if I am wrong) so after switching from a DIY 2-part about a year ago I stopped thinking about it. I'm reluctant to think its Potassium since I've dosed close to 750mL of NeoPhos over the past 7-8 weeks, but I could be totally wrong.

If it is a trace metal deficiency, what is the solution? More frequent water changes (currently 15% every 1-2 weeks)? Or manual dosing? I guess it depends on how quickly the elements in question are being depleted. How do others maintain in heavily stocked tanks? The growth I'm seeing is quite meager in comparison.

I'm going to send out an ICP test and hopefully shed some light on what's going on. Is there any risk in starting to dose Iodide to see if it helps? I have a few corals that are currently on the brink that I'd prefer not to lose while I'm waiting for the results of the ICP.
 
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ScottB

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I've been running IORC and ESV 2 part in my display for 5 years. I also change about 15% every 10-14 days. SPS dominant with a few LPS down low. Somewhere around the 3 year mark, my occasional ICP started coming back low on K (250) and zero on I.

The ESV must not supply it any more (if it ever did). My daily dose is 120ml of each part per day of a 139G system. I don't know which corals are consuming so much, but if my duncan looks unhappy I have skipped too many doses. My acropora never seem to mind.

I should say that I seem to be in the minority with this experience, but that pattern in that tank is very obvious.
 

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I would not dose K without knowing the concentration for the moment. The reason is - IME - that a K concentration over 550 ppm can create problems for fish, snails, hermits and shrimps. I have experiences of high fish mortality in these concentrations, twice.

Iodine is another task. I would start to dose a very low daily amount of it in order to get a flux of iodine through the system.

I would not rely on WC according trace elements in aquarium heavy populated with coral. IMO - ICP and dosing is the only solution.

Sincerely Lasse
 

ScottB

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I would not dose K without knowing the concentration for the moment. The reason is - IME - that a K concentration over 550 ppm can create problems for fish, snails, hermits and shrimps. I have experiences of high fish mortality in these concentrations, twice.

Iodine is another task. I would start to dose a very low daily amount of it in order to get a flux of iodine through the system.

I would not rely on WC according trace elements in aquarium heavy populated with coral. IMO - ICP and dosing is the only solution.

Sincerely Lasse

Would you consider Salifert's potassium test kit to be adequate? Would you recommend another? Red Sea?
Sorry for the temporary hijack @tnc112105
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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B-ionic has all of the important major, minor and trace elements, but neither it nor any two part or normal Balling method is suitable as a "supplement" of these ions. They may actually lower the concentrations of ions despite containing them.
 
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tnc112105

tnc112105

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No problem at all @ScottB , this info is helpful for me as well.

@Lasse , I'm not sure I would consider my tank "heavily populated". I lost a lot of corals when I bottomed out my nutrients several months ago and only dosing about ~30mL of two part per day. So part of me is reluctant to immediately blame consumption for bottoming out trace elements
 
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tnc112105

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I'd personally be surprised if iodine is critical in this case.

Thanks Randy. Do you have any suggestions of things I can test for, or try in the interim or would you just wait for the results of an ICP test? Any specific elements that you think might cause these kinds of issues when limited?
 
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tnc112105

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I'd personally be surprised if iodine is critical in this case.

Thanks Randy. Do you have any suggestions of things I can test for, or try in the interim or would you just wait for the results of an ICP test? Any specific elements that you think might cause these kinds of issues when limited?
 

Lasse

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I'd personally be surprised if iodine is critical in this case.
I´m not sure on this either but IMO - it is not very dangerous to dose a small amount on a daily basis as a try. You will have a flux of a compound that easily disappear from the water normally.

I feel the opposite with dosing potassium (K) without knowing the start concentration. In aquarium with regular WC and no zeovit or macro algae it is a very stable compound that dimmish very slowly

@ScottB I have never used these tests - I have only read that people have difficult with them and that you have to be very careful with them. Because it is consumed very slowly - I rely on my ICP tests.

Sincerely Lasse
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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I´m not sure on this either but IMO - it is not very dangerous to dose a small amount on a daily basis as a try. You will have a flux of a compound that easily disappear from the water normally.

That's certainly true. It is a safe and easy experiment. :)
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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Thanks Randy. Do you have any suggestions of things I can test for, or try in the interim or would you just wait for the results of an ICP test? Any specific elements that you think might cause these kinds of issues when limited?

I do not know which ones are most likely to impact a coral, but the ones that readily deplete and become undetectable include manganese and iron. A mix of trace metals might be a fine thing to do at this point.
 

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I´m not sure on this either but IMO - it is not very dangerous to dose a small amount on a daily basis as a try. You will have a flux of a compound that easily disappear from the water normally.

I feel the opposite with dosing potassium (K) without knowing the start concentration. In aquarium with regular WC and no zeovit or macro algae it is a very stable compound that dimmish very slowly

@ScottB I have never used these tests - I have only read that people have difficult with them and that you have to be very careful with them. Because it is consumed very slowly - I rely on my ICP tests.

Sincerely Lasse

I am grateful for the warning on overdosing K. I've had 2 consecutive icp-analysis.com results come back with low K. I dosed a liter to get from 250 to 340 between tests. Roughly matched what Salifert was reading. Given your warning on K -- and @Randy Holmes-Farley skepticism with icp-analysis.com, I think I will go with a different ICP and a Red Sea test kit. The Red Sea process is 27 minutes... ugh.
 

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I find the Salifert K test kit to be adequate. I seems to get me within the ballpark of what ICP tests report.
Thanks for that confirm. I was getting little suspicious that my kit was showing seemingly small increases after dosing >1 liter of solution. But ICP backed up the Salifert pretty much.
 
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