Good Nitrate to Phosphate ratio for a reef tank?

Top Shelf Aquatics

tariqms

New Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Mar 5, 2021
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Pakistan
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
How do you guys lower your nitrates only ? My NO3 is 25.6 and PO4 is 0.08 I know the balance is out and that is what I am trying to fix but not sure how to lower the nitrate only, I am carbon dosing to keep them low.
 

sixty_reefer

5000 Club Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Nov 8, 2018
Messages
5,436
Reaction score
7,625
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
The Reef
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
How do you guys lower your nitrates only ? My NO3 is 25.6 and PO4 is 0.08 I know the balance is out and that is what I am trying to fix but not sure how to lower the nitrate only, I am carbon dosing to keep them low.
The simple answer is that everything that assimilate nitrates into they’re biomass will also require some phosphates, in your situation just monitor the phosphates and add some if necessarily.
You are using a source of dissolved organic carbon that will encourage the the growth of heterotrophic bacteria and in the process they will assimilate nitrogen and phosphate sources into their biomass and exported from your system via protein skimmer.
 
Last edited:
Aquarium Specialty - dry goods & marine livestock

Miami Reef

I’m the problem, it’s me
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Sep 8, 2017
Messages
8,291
Reaction score
14,246
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Miami Beach
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
How do you guys lower your nitrates only ? My NO3 is 25.6 and PO4 is 0.08 I know the balance is out and that is what I am trying to fix but not sure how to lower the nitrate only, I am carbon dosing to keep them low.
Carbon dosing is heavily geared toward nitrate reduction because of denitrification. :)
 

olonmv

Valuable Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
1,685
Reaction score
1,702
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Houston
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
How do you guys lower your nitrates only ? My NO3 is 25.6 and PO4 is 0.08 I know the balance is out and that is what I am trying to fix but not sure how to lower the nitrate only, I am carbon dosing to keep them low.
Personally, I run a nitrate destroyer. I can dial in my N03 via flow and carbon dose amount. Started at 36ppm and down to single digits. Slowly bringing it up to 10ppm. I’ve preformed no water changes since the beginning of September ‘22 when I started this thing up.
 
World Wide Corals

Randy Holmes-Farley

Reef Chemist
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
56,227
Reaction score
49,698
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Arlington, Massachusetts, United States
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
How do you guys lower your nitrates only ? My NO3 is 25.6 and PO4 is 0.08 I know the balance is out and that is what I am trying to fix but not sure how to lower the nitrate only, I am carbon dosing to keep them low.

Most methods take out a lot more nitrate than phosphate. Sulfur and carbon denitrators especially so, followed by organic carbon dosing.
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

Reef Chemist
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
56,227
Reaction score
49,698
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Arlington, Massachusetts, United States
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
I was told 100:1 ratio by one of my LFS’. So if you have 10ppm N03 then P04 should be around .1ppm. That’s the ratio they run their tanks at and they look great.

I just ate Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers and I look great too. QED, Goldfish Crackers make great looks.

Seriously, it's just not appropriate to make these kind of crazy conclusions about ratios.

if they keep 10 ppm nitrate and 0.1 ppm phosphate (both of which, incidentally are within my recommended concentrations ranges) and have great tanks, then that is the ONLY thing one can conclude.

Does it seem sensible that if nitrate was 0.001 ppm and phosphate was 0.00001 ppm, with that same 100:1 ratio) that the tank would thrive? What about 100,000 ppm nitrate and 1,000 ppm phosphate? Whether it would or not, one cannot possibly draw conclusions on those based only on observing a tank with 10 ppm nitrate and 0.1 ppm phosphate.

One can often go astray when thinking in ratios.

I've yet to hear of ANY situation where one can go astray by talking about absolute concentrations (in any ratio you want), such as 2-10 ppm nitrate and 0.02 to 0.1 ppm phosphate.
 
Last edited:

sixty_reefer

5000 Club Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Nov 8, 2018
Messages
5,436
Reaction score
7,625
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
The Reef
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
I just ate Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers and I look great too. QED, Goldfish Crackers make great looks.

Seriously, it's just not appropriate to make these kind of crazy conclusions about ratios.

if they keep 10 ppm nitrate and 0.1 ppm phosphate (both of which, incidentally are within my recommended concentrations ranges) and have great tanks, then that is the ONLY thing one can conclude.

Does it seem sensible that if nitrate was 0.001 ppm and phosphate was 0.00001 ppm, with that same 100:1 ratio) that the tank would thrive? What about 100,000 ppm nitrate and 1,000 ppm phosphate? Whether it would or not, one cannot possibly draw conclusions on those based only on observing a tank with 10 ppm nitrate and 0.1 ppm phosphate.

One can often go astray when thinking in ratios.

I've yet to hear of ANY situation where one can go astray by talking about absolution concentrations (in any ratio you want), such as 2-10 ppm nitrate and 0.02 to 0.1 ppm phosphate.
Would this apply to the 16 to 1 ratio estimated nutrient assimilation regarding carbon dosing on your article also?
 
Dr. Reefs Quarantined Fish

Randy Holmes-Farley

Reef Chemist
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
56,227
Reaction score
49,698
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Arlington, Massachusetts, United States
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Would this apply to the 16 to 1 ratio estimated nutrient assimilation regarding carbon dosing on your article also?

Ratios can be a rough guide to the relative amounts taken up by organisms building tissues. Of course that can vary when some organisms try to horde nutrients when they are available.

But because of denitrification driven by organic carbon dosing (which reduces nitrate and not phosphate), one does not expect the same ratio for nutrient consumption and I hope I never stated otherwise.

Most definitely one cannot expect nitrate and phosphate to rise and fall in a reef tank in any particular ratio since several processes add or remove one and not the other.
 

sixty_reefer

5000 Club Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Nov 8, 2018
Messages
5,436
Reaction score
7,625
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
The Reef
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Ratios can be a rough guide to the relative amounts taken up by organisms building tissues. Of course that can vary when some organisms try to horde nutrients when they are available.
I to agree that ratios are only useful to have a rough guideline on the possible outcome of a action, allowing for some of us to determine and understand what’s happening on a larger scale. They not set on stone as several variables could lead to different results, adding dissolved organic carbon to a plenum in a reef tank and adding dissolved organic carbon to the water column in a quarantine tank for example could have two completely different outcomes regarding how that organic carbon can be utilised or assimilated.

But because of denitrification driven by organic carbon dosing (which reduces nitrate and not phosphate), one does not expect the same ratio for nutrient consumption and I hope I never stated otherwise.
this is also correct imo depending on which organisms is taking the advantage of the dissolved carbon, denitrification will use much lesser phosphates in comparison to heterotrophic bacteria.
what you wrote in the article should be used as a guide line and could be useful to many reefers as long as they understand that different environments will use nutrients in different ways once carbon is added

Most definitely one cannot expect nitrate and phosphate to rise and fall in a reef tank in any particular ratio since several processes add or remove one and not the other.

We can’t although recognising some of them may be useful to determine possible issues in the future, if more folks were aware off the ratio that aragonite absorbs phosphates wile trying to balance itself in the setting up of a system, many would stress less with that particular problem for example.
 

olonmv

Valuable Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
1,685
Reaction score
1,702
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Houston
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
I just ate Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers and I look great too. QED, Goldfish Crackers make great looks.

Seriously, it's just not appropriate to make these kind of crazy conclusions about ratios.

if they keep 10 ppm nitrate and 0.1 ppm phosphate (both of which, incidentally are within my recommended concentrations ranges) and have great tanks, then that is the ONLY thing one can conclude.

Does it seem sensible that if nitrate was 0.001 ppm and phosphate was 0.00001 ppm, with that same 100:1 ratio) that the tank would thrive? What about 100,000 ppm nitrate and 1,000 ppm phosphate? Whether it would or not, one cannot possibly draw conclusions on those based only on observing a tank with 10 ppm nitrate and 0.1 ppm phosphate.

One can often go astray when thinking in ratios.

I've yet to hear of ANY situation where one can go astray by talking about absolute concentrations (in any ratio you want), such as 2-10 ppm nitrate and 0.02 to 0.1 ppm phosphate.
I have to admit, when I was first told about the ratio. Initially I thought ok but, 20ppm no3 and .2 PO4 doesn’t sound like a ratio I’ve read anyone run but 10 and .1 sound convincing and seems to be the popular level. I really didn’t put much thought past that.

not trying to mis-inform anyone, I was just mentioning what was recently told to me. Their tanks look great and Im not one to argue with the LFS owner.

Thanks for the different perspective on ratios.
 
Last edited:
Nutramar Foods

KStatefan

2500 Club Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Jun 24, 2015
Messages
3,218
Reaction score
3,110
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
MHK
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
I have to admit, when I was first told about the ratio. Initially I thought ok but, 20ppm no3 and .2 PO4 doesn’t sound like a ration I’ve read anyone run but 10 and .1 sound convincing and seems to be the popular level. I really didn’t put much thought past that.

not trying to mis-inform anyone, I was just mentioning what was recently told to me. Their tanks look great and Im not one to argue with the LFS owner.

Thanks for the different perspective on ratios.

I posted this in another Ratio thread a few months ago

This data is taken out off Mike Paletta's article

Tank Parameters of some Masters

I used the middle of the range give for the calculation

1669984056411.png
 

GARRIGA

Valuable Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Oct 12, 2021
Messages
1,196
Reaction score
900
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
South Florida
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
I'm no longer trying to keep any ratios. I bottom out my nutrients or try to since that's easier than trying to maintain a narrow margin and overfeed to ensure there's a constant influx of nutrients. Only have the one Xenia as a canary in the coal mine since it's an experimental tank for these exact reasons and due to my house having elevated CO2 the fight with ph is relentless and apparently unwinnable at the moment due mostly to size of tank since it's only a 20 and limits what I can do.

No dinos, no cyano (anymore), no GHA (anymore) remaining turf algae is receding yet only exists on one rock nearest the light. I'm switching lights and reducing the height of my rocks.

Only issue I'm seeing now is white slime which apparently is a result of heavy carbon dosing. Going to try Salifert Flatworm Exit as some have reported working for this issue. I've cut down on carbon dosing in the past but that didn't solve the issue for me since nuisance algae returned. Not a 100% sure the white slime receeded since I didn't at the time understand what this is or make the corralation between it and carbon dosing. Don't do WC or any export since it's the basis of my experiment and absent carbon dosing then my nitrates and phosphates go through the roof. reefing is a balance of action and reaction. Which I find interesting trying to solve each reaction.
 

sixty_reefer

5000 Club Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Nov 8, 2018
Messages
5,436
Reaction score
7,625
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
The Reef
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Tenecor AIO Conversion Kits Now Available!

sixty_reefer

5000 Club Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Nov 8, 2018
Messages
5,436
Reaction score
7,625
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
The Reef
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
I'm no longer trying to keep any ratios. I bottom out my nutrients or try to since that's easier than trying to maintain a narrow margin and overfeed to ensure there's a constant influx of nutrients. Only have the one Xenia as a canary in the coal mine since it's an experimental tank for these exact reasons and due to my house having elevated CO2 the fight with ph is relentless and apparently unwinnable at the moment due mostly to size of tank since it's only a 20 and limits what I can do.

No dinos, no cyano (anymore), no GHA (anymore) remaining turf algae is receding yet only exists on one rock nearest the light. I'm switching lights and reducing the height of my rocks.

Only issue I'm seeing now is white slime which apparently is a result of heavy carbon dosing. Going to try Salifert Flatworm Exit as some have reported working for this issue. I've cut down on carbon dosing in the past but that didn't solve the issue for me since nuisance algae returned. Not a 100% sure the white slime receeded since I didn't at the time understand what this is or make the corralation between it and carbon dosing. Don't do WC or any export since it's the basis of my experiment and absent carbon dosing then my nitrates and phosphates go through the roof. reefing is a balance of action and reaction. Which I find interesting trying to solve each reaction.
I suppose you not skimming also?
 

GARRIGA

Valuable Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Oct 12, 2021
Messages
1,196
Reaction score
900
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
South Florida
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
I suppose you not skimming also?
Nope. Desk top tank plus basis of the experiment yet I’ve seen others that skim having the same issues. Do you suppose skimming would solve this and why. I know next to nothing about this white slime which I recently found out was bacteria and not algae.
 

olonmv

Valuable Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
1,685
Reaction score
1,702
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Houston
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Nope. Desk top tank plus basis of the experiment yet I’ve seen others that skim having the same issues. Do you suppose skimming would solve this and why. I know next to nothing about this white slime which I recently found out was bacteria and not algae.
That bacteria is coral food from what I understand.
 
www.dinkinsaquaticgardens.com

sixty_reefer

5000 Club Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Nov 8, 2018
Messages
5,436
Reaction score
7,625
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
The Reef
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Nope. Desk top tank plus basis of the experiment yet I’ve seen others that skim having the same issues. Do you suppose skimming would solve this and why. I know next to nothing about this white slime which I recently found out was bacteria and not algae.
In my opinion there is several issues with the experiment, the reason I asked about the protein skimmer is due to the recycling of nutrients, theoretical you are only diverting the nutrient into the bacteria mass with the carbon dosing once the bacteria dies in the system the previously assimilate nutrients will become available again in the water column this is most likely why your nutrients increase once you stop carbon dosing.
you have to understand that carbon dosing and algae beds are in the same category, both assimilate nutrients into they’re biomass and those nutrients will only be removed from a particular system if the algae or the bacteria are extracted from the system. Regarding carbon dosing only a protein skimmer can do that job for you.

the slime you have now in your system can be due to many things including a die of of beneficial bacteria due to starvation, every organism in our systems requires carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus to live if you are transferring all those nutrients to a particular type of bacteria due to being stimulated with they’re preferred type of dissolved organic carbon all other may well be in starvation or dormant by the same reason.

what we need to reflect in our hobby is that if nutrients are not being removed effectively they will only recycle into another organism, most times not understand this is the cause for nuisances to take over.
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

Reef Chemist
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
56,227
Reaction score
49,698
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Arlington, Massachusetts, United States
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Those are not ratios, they just the residual nutrients that the system runs at.

They are the ratios available at any given point in time, just like the true Redfield ratio in the ocean.

I agree it does not say what ratio is being added or consumed. One would not expect it to. An analogy is the N:O:C ratio in air. It is a fixed ratio outside, but that says nothing about the ratio consumed or added in a closed room.
 

What are the benefits of a cube aquarium?

  • Better light coverage

    Votes: 19 70.4%
  • Viewing from more angles

    Votes: 16 59.3%
  • Positive flow patterns

    Votes: 9 33.3%
  • Unique aquascaping

    Votes: 7 25.9%
  • Other

    Votes: 2 7.4%
Top