High Phosphates low Nitrates.

jbholasingh

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
May 7, 2021
Messages
28
Reaction score
15
Location
Trinidad and Tobago
Due to the pandemic, I've been unable to do water changes in my new saltwater tank. I've been topping off with rainwater just to make up for evaporation. Parameters as seen below are in keeping with what they have been so far. Nitrates were initially stable at 5ppm but took a drop to nearly undetectable after some cyano and have remained low since. Phosphates have always been 0.25 since day 1 no matter what. Even after water changes they do not decrease. Strangely enough in the 2-3 week period I have done no water changes phosphates have not increased at all.

I just got a RODI system and did basically a 100% water change yesterday. HOWEVER, phosphates are still at 0.25ppm. Salt mix using rodi didn't have phosphates. Is there a magical phosphate fairy dosing my tank at night or something? Strangely enough my salt mixed to pH 8.4 Alk 8 but after 1 night pH dropped to 8.09 and Alk to 7.5. Considering I don't have SPS or LPS and only very small patch of coralline on a frag plug I find that strange as well.

By far the most worrying of all these parameters are the phosphates which will not rise or fall from 0.25. It's almost as if there is something trying to keep that level in equilibrium. It honestly is amazing after doing an almost 100% water change phosphate would re-stabilize to 0.25 in one night. So the million dollar question is... Why are my phosphates always high (but never increasing)??

Tank size 20 Gallons (15 accounting for rock and substrate)
Salinity 1.024
pH 8.09
Alk 7.5
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate <5
Phosphate 0.25
Salt mix Fritz pro mix

Tank is 2 months old. Started with dry rock. Stocked with 2 clowns, 1 royal gramma, 1 cleaner shrimp,1 feather duster. Only coral is pulsing Xenia. Protein skimmer and HOB filter (filter pad contains some carbon)
 
First Choice

dwest

2500 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
Feb 27, 2018
Messages
3,532
Reaction score
8,208
Location
Northern KY
Due to the pandemic, I've been unable to do water changes in my new saltwater tank. I've been topping off with rainwater just to make up for evaporation. Parameters as seen below are in keeping with what they have been so far. Nitrates were initially stable at 5ppm but took a drop to nearly undetectable after some cyano and have remained low since. Phosphates have always been 0.25 since day 1 no matter what. Even after water changes they do not decrease. Strangely enough in the 2-3 week period I have done no water changes phosphates have not increased at all.

I just got a RODI system and did basically a 100% water change yesterday. HOWEVER, phosphates are still at 0.25ppm. Salt mix using rodi didn't have phosphates. Is there a magical phosphate fairy dosing my tank at night or something? Strangely enough my salt mixed to pH 8.4 Alk 8 but after 1 night pH dropped to 8.09 and Alk to 7.5. Considering I don't have SPS or LPS and only very small patch of coralline on a frag plug I find that strange as well.

By far the most worrying of all these parameters are the phosphates which will not rise or fall from 0.25. It's almost as if there is something trying to keep that level in equilibrium. It honestly is amazing after doing an almost 100% water change phosphate would re-stabilize to 0.25 in one night. So the million dollar question is... Why are my phosphates always high (but never increasing)??

Tank size 20 Gallons (15 accounting for rock and substrate)
Salinity 1.024
pH 8.09
Alk 7.5
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate <5
Phosphate 0.25
Salt mix Fritz pro mix

Tank is 2 months old. Started with dry rock. Stocked with 2 clowns, 1 royal gramma, 1 cleaner shrimp,1 feather duster. Only coral is pulsing Xenia. Protein skimmer and HOB filter (filter pad contains some carbon)
My first thoughts are

1. What phosphate test kit are you using? The level of phosphates are likely changing but your test kit might not have the precision to pick up the change. If you really want to know phosphate levels, I would recommend the Hanna ULR phosphorus checker.
2. Are the levels of phosphates causing a problem? If not, you might not want to worry about it. My current phosphate level is about 0.2 ppm and I am not concerned.
3. The rock and sand in your tank will absorb phosphates that will get released with water changes. So, yes, there is a magical phosphate fairy:)
 
OP
jbholasingh

jbholasingh

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
May 7, 2021
Messages
28
Reaction score
15
Location
Trinidad and Tobago
My first thoughts are

1. What phosphate test kit are you using? The level of phosphates are likely changing but your test kit might not have the precision to pick up the change. If you really want to know phosphate levels, I would recommend the Hanna ULR phosphorus checker.
2. Are the levels of phosphates causing a problem? If not, you might not want to worry about it. My current phosphate level is about 0.2 ppm and I am not concerned.
3. The rock and sand in your tank will absorb phosphates that will get released with water changes. So, yes, there is a magical phosphate fairy:)
I'm using the Salifert phosphate kit. As for problems, I'm getting some cyano still but it's not a bothersome amount especially for such a new tank.

I'm super interested to see how these readings level out over time as the tank matures. Every time I test it's like an emotional rollercoaster I swear.
 

dwest

2500 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
Feb 27, 2018
Messages
3,532
Reaction score
8,208
Location
Northern KY
I don’t use salifert phosphate kits but I use many of their other test kits. In general, I’m a big fan of their kits.
 

ncjeepguy75

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Jan 13, 2021
Messages
59
Reaction score
84
Location
Cary
Howdy...and welcome to the hobby...I use the Hanna ULR Phosphate checker and my Phosphate reading ranges between .2 -.34...I am not too terribly worried....they have been this way pretty much from day one...I just keep an eye on them...water changes do not even impact them at all, well maybe for 2 days they drop a little but not noticeably...I tried carbon dosing with Vodka and that just produced cyano as it bottomed out my nitrates...Cyano is way worse than .3 phosphates in my opinion...I carbon does sparingly with vinegar (supposedly won't produce cyano like vodka does) to bump down my nitrates if I notice them climbing after a heavy feeding but still the phosphates don't move....I am trying the whole not chasing numbers thing and spend more time enjoying my tank and its inhabitants!...Good luck and keep us posted!
 
Top Shelf Aquatics
OP
jbholasingh

jbholasingh

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
May 7, 2021
Messages
28
Reaction score
15
Location
Trinidad and Tobago
Update

After a wave of GHA, both my nitrates and phosphates are undetectable (at least o my eye). The GHA is now melting away. My pH seems to have increased also according to my pH meter but that's likely an error as my pH test kit is showing a normal value.
 

Heres_doe_

Community Member
View Badges
Marketplace Rating
Joined
May 29, 2021
Messages
56
Reaction score
45
Location
USA
Howdy...and welcome to the hobby...I use the Hanna ULR Phosphate checker and my Phosphate reading ranges between .2 -.34...I am not too terribly worried....they have been this way pretty much from day one...I just keep an eye on them...water changes do not even impact them at all, well maybe for 2 days they drop a little but not noticeably...I tried carbon dosing with Vodka and that just produced cyano as it bottomed out my nitrates...Cyano is way worse than .3 phosphates in my opinion...I carbon does sparingly with vinegar (supposedly won't produce cyano like vodka does) to bump down my nitrates if I notice them climbing after a heavy feeding but still the phosphates don't move....I am trying the whole not chasing numbers thing and spend more time enjoying my tank and its inhabitants!...Good luck and keep us posted!
Glad to see someone else with higher phosphates. Ppl were tryna rip me apart on Facebook saying imma fail lol mine are very high but the tank is doing great. I'm trying to bring them down feeding less and not tryna dose anything. Also water change.
 

Attachments

  • PXL_20210706_143401755.jpg
    PXL_20210706_143401755.jpg
    80.8 KB · Views: 4

ScottB

5000 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 5, 2018
Messages
5,295
Reaction score
8,132
Location
Fairfield County, CT
Update

After a wave of GHA,
That is a correct description for new tank "uglies" as it is just a wave that passes over. It could return but just keep some modest level of nutrient available and it will settle out. Gosh, I have troubles staying "in stock" with all my reefing needs and cannot imagine your challenges. Do you have an LFS there?
 
OP
jbholasingh

jbholasingh

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
May 7, 2021
Messages
28
Reaction score
15
Location
Trinidad and Tobago
That is a correct description for new tank "uglies" as it is just a wave that passes over. It could return but just keep some modest level of nutrient available and it will settle out. Gosh, I have troubles staying "in stock" with all my reefing needs and cannot imagine your challenges. Do you have an LFS there?
We don't have much in the way of saltwater LFS here. Everything I have had to be imported. Hopefully I can get some calibration powder for my pH meter in a few weeks off amazon.
 

reefingaz

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
May 22, 2021
Messages
35
Reaction score
54
Location
Scottsdale
Ok don’t mean to be rude but I just have to ask since no one has! :)
Due to pandemic you are using rainwater for top off???
How bad was the pandemic in your area, was water turned off???
If anything My tanks got extra attention and water changes during the peak of the pandemic from me being home all day.
sorry that part just puzzled me
 

((FORDTECH))

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
2,146
Reaction score
1,554
Location
Chicago
Due to the pandemic, I've been unable to do water changes in my new saltwater tank. I've been topping off with rainwater just to make up for evaporation. Parameters as seen below are in keeping with what they have been so far. Nitrates were initially stable at 5ppm but took a drop to nearly undetectable after some cyano and have remained low since. Phosphates have always been 0.25 since day 1 no matter what. Even after water changes they do not decrease. Strangely enough in the 2-3 week period I have done no water changes phosphates have not increased at all.

I just got a RODI system and did basically a 100% water change yesterday. HOWEVER, phosphates are still at 0.25ppm. Salt mix using rodi didn't have phosphates. Is there a magical phosphate fairy dosing my tank at night or something? Strangely enough my salt mixed to pH 8.4 Alk 8 but after 1 night pH dropped to 8.09 and Alk to 7.5. Considering I don't have SPS or LPS and only very small patch of coralline on a frag plug I find that strange as well.

By far the most worrying of all these parameters are the phosphates which will not rise or fall from 0.25. It's almost as if there is something trying to keep that level in equilibrium. It honestly is amazing after doing an almost 100% water change phosphate would re-stabilize to 0.25 in one night. So the million dollar question is... Why are my phosphates always high (but never increasing)??

Tank size 20 Gallons (15 accounting for rock and substrate)
Salinity 1.024
pH 8.09
Alk 7.5
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate <5
Phosphate 0.25
Salt mix Fritz pro mix

Tank is 2 months old. Started with dry rock. Stocked with 2 clowns, 1 royal gramma, 1 cleaner shrimp,1 feather duster. Only coral is pulsing Xenia. Protein skimmer and HOB filter (filter pad contains some carbon)
It sure if this has been said but a tank will not consume phosphates if it is nitrate deficient. All the animals and things that use these 2 nutrients need both at same time available. Normally when someone has 0 or low nitrate and high phosphates they must dose nitrates for the phosphates to start to come down
 

((FORDTECH))

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
2,146
Reaction score
1,554
Location
Chicago
Lots Of organisms in a reef tank do not use nitrates and phosphates equally so this is how it happens one ending up lower than the other
 
OP
jbholasingh

jbholasingh

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
May 7, 2021
Messages
28
Reaction score
15
Location
Trinidad and Tobago
Ok don’t mean to be rude but I just have to ask since no one has! :)
Due to pandemic you are using rainwater for top off???
How bad was the pandemic in your area, was water turned off???
If anything My tanks got extra attention and water changes during the peak of the pandemic from me being home all day.
sorry that part just puzzled me
We only just came out of state of emergency July 4th and the curfews (I think) are lifted now. Basically everywhere was closed unless it was a grocery/gas station for a long time so I couldn't buy water and the water in this country is literally mud so rain water is the next best option. I also really didn't want to go anywhere either because to be honest it's kinda scary. Here in the third world if you get sick you just die so its not really worth taking risks.

I've gotten an RODI system since then (took 3 weeks to get into the country lol) and the water supply is consistent now. We get water at least once a week usually but between the dry season and covid outbreaks at water stations, water and electricity were on and off. Now it is better with the rainy season.

I got to agree with you with the extra attention tho. I'm able to pick up at anything that goes on in the tank and test more often.
 

Have you ever had a reef tank with no sump and how did it go?

  • YES and it was just fine

    Votes: 223 59.0%
  • YES but it was difficult

    Votes: 69 18.3%
  • NO

    Votes: 76 20.1%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 10 2.6%
Coral-vault.com
Top