Help with nitrates/phosphates - general thoughts

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lynncgo

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Ok. I have had a tank for some years now. This newest tank has been up for about 1.5 yrs. I travel(ed) a lot for work and have always kept my tank as low maintenance as possible. Only LPS with clowns and watchman goby type fish. I read often but just still quite haven't been able to figure out this ongoing discrepancy on my tank and I'm finally posting to hopefully get some clarity.

I am really good about 10% water changes every week. My tank has finally been algae free for several months now. I have a turbo and 3 trochus that are doing an amazing and consistent job. The only thing that I have is what I think is diatoms - I forgot to change my RODI filters. Since changing my filters, the diatoms have been receding and the snails chow down on them, holding them back.

Here's my question.... when I had an algae issue, my nitrates were ~25ppm, phosphates ~0.5-1ppm per the color chart and instructions. When I don't have an algae problem, similar numbers. I measure right after water changes, numbers go down to 10ppm and .2ppm very temporarily, but never go down to the 2ppm and 0.1ppm ranges that I keep reading about. I am using Salifert. This phenomenon has happened with both of my tanks that were in different homes. I measure my RODI (not even sure if I can use the test on that but I did anyway) and it's undetectable levels.

Throughout the years, I've gotten the bug here and there to try to resolve the problem by buying chemicals, etc. The numbers go down (temporarily) but corals suffer greatly - of course this isn't surprising since I have no idea what the source is. I'm over trying to bring the numbers down because everything looks good. HOWEVER, I would love to know if i'm reading my numbers wrong and I can't follow instructions or if it's my salt (Red sea blue and black), or if we just don't know.

Second question - which really inspired this post - Will/can nitrates and phosphates stay this high and sustain no algae growth?

Thanks in advance for the help and insights!
 
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Pistondog

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Ok. I have had a tank for some years now. This newest tank has been up for about 1.5 yrs. I travel(ed) a lot for work and have always kept my tank as low maintenance as possible. Only LPS with clowns and watchman goby type fish. I read often but just still quite haven't been able to figure out this ongoing discrepancy on my tank and I'm finally posting to hopefully get some clarity.

I am really good about 10% water changes every week. My tank has finally been algae free for several months now. I have a turbo and 3 trochus that are doing an amazing and consistent job. The only thing that I have is what I think is diatoms - I forgot to change my RODI filters. Since changing my filters, the diatoms have been receding and the snails chow down on them, holding them back.

Here's my question.... when I had an algae issue, my nitrates were ~25ppm, phosphates ~0.5-1ppm per the color chart and instructions. When I don't have an algae problem, similar numbers. I measure right after water changes, numbers go down to 10ppm and .2ppm very temporarily, but never go down to the 2ppm and 0.1ppm ranges that I keep reading about. I am using Salifert. This phenomenon has happened with both of my tanks that were in different homes. I measure my RODI (not even sure if I can use the test on that but I did anyway) and it's undetectable levels.

Throughout the years, I've gotten the bug here and there to try to resolve the problem by buying chemicals, etc. The numbers go down (temporarily) but corals suffer greatly - of course this isn't surprising since I have no idea what the source is. I'm over trying to bring the numbers down because everything looks good. HOWEVER, I would love to know if i'm reading my numbers wrong and I can't follow instructions or if it's my salt (Red sea blue and black), or if we just don't know.

Second question - which really inspired this post - Will/can nitrates and phosphates stay this high and sustain no algae growth?

Thanks in advance for the help and insights!
Do you run a protein skimmer?
Do you run a refugium with chaeto and good light?
These help export nutrients , reducing the need for water changes.
 
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lynncgo

lynncgo

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Do you run a protein skimmer?
Do you run a refugium with chaeto and good light?
These help export nutrients , reducing the need for water changes.
I have an over-sized skimmer. I used to have a chaeto reactor set up too but my chaeto died from GHA taking over and i didn't replace it because it didn't change my numbers at all and I got tired of rinsing out the canister from detritus and GHA.

Of course I will put the reactor back in if the levels start badly affecting my corals and/or algae comes back.
 

mike550

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Ok. I have had a tank for some years now. This newest tank has been up for about 1.5 yrs. I travel(ed) a lot for work and have always kept my tank as low maintenance as possible. Only LPS with clowns and watchman goby type fish. I read often but just still quite haven't been able to figure out this ongoing discrepancy on my tank and I'm finally posting to hopefully get some clarity.

I am really good about 10% water changes every week. My tank has finally been algae free for several months now. I have a turbo and 3 trochus that are doing an amazing and consistent job. The only thing that I have is what I think is diatoms - I forgot to change my RODI filters. Since changing my filters, the diatoms have been receding and the snails chow down on them, holding them back.

Here's my question.... when I had an algae issue, my nitrates were ~25ppm, phosphates ~0.5-1ppm per the color chart and instructions. When I don't have an algae problem, similar numbers. I measure right after water changes, numbers go down to 10ppm and .2ppm very temporarily, but never go down to the 2ppm and 0.1ppm ranges that I keep reading about. I am using Salifert. This phenomenon has happened with both of my tanks that were in different homes. I measure my RODI (not even sure if I can use the test on that but I did anyway) and it's undetectable levels.

Throughout the years, I've gotten the bug here and there to try to resolve the problem by buying chemicals, etc. The numbers go down (temporarily) but corals suffer greatly - of course this isn't surprising since I have no idea what the source is. I'm over trying to bring the numbers down because everything looks good. HOWEVER, I would love to know if i'm reading my numbers wrong and I can't follow instructions or if it's my salt (Red sea blue and black), or if we just don't know.

Second question - which really inspired this post - Will/can nitrates and phosphates stay this high and sustain no algae growth?

Thanks in advance for the help and insights!
My tank is around 10 months or so, and early on my nitrates jumped from 10-ish to mid-20s. Phosphates jumped too. I just couldn’t get them back down so I ended up doing big water changes (30% each day for four days) to really reduce the levels. Nitrates went to around 10 and phosphates we’re close to 0. Now I’m dosing NoPox more as a security blanket. Also making 10% weekly water changes and vacuuming sand. Fingers crossed. So far so good.
 

Dan_P

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Ok. I have had a tank for some years now. This newest tank has been up for about 1.5 yrs. I travel(ed) a lot for work and have always kept my tank as low maintenance as possible. Only LPS with clowns and watchman goby type fish. I read often but just still quite haven't been able to figure out this ongoing discrepancy on my tank and I'm finally posting to hopefully get some clarity.

I am really good about 10% water changes every week. My tank has finally been algae free for several months now. I have a turbo and 3 trochus that are doing an amazing and consistent job. The only thing that I have is what I think is diatoms - I forgot to change my RODI filters. Since changing my filters, the diatoms have been receding and the snails chow down on them, holding them back.

Here's my question.... when I had an algae issue, my nitrates were ~25ppm, phosphates ~0.5-1ppm per the color chart and instructions. When I don't have an algae problem, similar numbers. I measure right after water changes, numbers go down to 10ppm and .2ppm very temporarily, but never go down to the 2ppm and 0.1ppm ranges that I keep reading about. I am using Salifert. This phenomenon has happened with both of my tanks that were in different homes. I measure my RODI (not even sure if I can use the test on that but I did anyway) and it's undetectable levels.

Throughout the years, I've gotten the bug here and there to try to resolve the problem by buying chemicals, etc. The numbers go down (temporarily) but corals suffer greatly - of course this isn't surprising since I have no idea what the source is. I'm over trying to bring the numbers down because everything looks good. HOWEVER, I would love to know if i'm reading my numbers wrong and I can't follow instructions or if it's my salt (Red sea blue and black), or if we just don't know.

Second question - which really inspired this post - Will/can nitrates and phosphates stay this high and sustain no algae growth?

Thanks in advance for the help and insights!
Four conditions exist across the aquarium landscape: high or low nitrate and algae growth or no algae growth. There are many narratives on why this is and rules to avoid some of the situations, e.g., algae growth. The aquarium maintenance rules we follow about nutrient levels are not based on controlled experiments but anecdotal data. As a consequence, our rules are imperfect and we continue to be mystified why all four situations exist. Treat nutrient level rules like guard rails on a road. You will find quite a bit of room between those barriers.
 
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lynncgo

lynncgo

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Four conditions exist across the aquarium landscape: high or low nitrate and algae growth or no algae growth. There are many narratives on why this is and rules to avoid some of the situations, e.g., algae growth. The aquarium maintenance rules we follow about nutrient levels are not based on controlled experiments but anecdotal data. As a consequence, our rules are imperfect and we continue to be mystified why all four situations exist. Treat nutrient level rules like guard rails on a road. You will find quite a bit of room between those barriers.
That's what I'm starting to believe after all of my experiences with the "numbers". I went through a pretty big roller coaster ride with "ideal" alkalinity as well.

Anyone thinking that I'm just not understanding my test numbers correctly? When you all are using the test kit, are you defaulting to the higher sensitivity range?
 
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