Improving Water Parameters: Seeking Tips and Advice

RickvDam

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Hello,
I'd like to seek advice on improving my water parameters. Over the past 6-7 months since starting my tank, I've struggled to achieve stability.
I perform 10% weekly water changes using the Red Sea Blue bucket. While my parameters are generally not bad, most nutrients are on the low side, and I'm struggling to lower my nitrate levels. Some corals are thriving, while others are merely surviving.
Parameters one hour after a water change:
  • Alkalinity: 8.8
  • Magnesium: 1230
  • pH: 8.3
  • Calcium: 435
  • Nitrate: 25-50 (Salifert)
  • Ammonia: Not detected
  • Phosphate: 0.061 (Hanna ULR)

Nitrate:
I can't seem to bring my nitrates down despite various attempts. I've tried feeding less, changing filter floss more frequently, dosing phosphates, and cleaning all AIO chambers regularly. Nitrates drop after a water change but bounce back within a day. Before water changes, I sift the sand, use a skimmer, and have ample rock. I've tried different types of food. Considering trying the bag of bio balls that came with the tank. Is it worth a shot?

Phosphate:
I've posted about this before, but I can't pinpoint the issue. My tank suffered when phosphates were at zero. I bought a Hanna checker and phosphate dosing, testing daily for the first two months and dosing up to 0.1. After calculating the average, I started dosing accordingly. However, my tank's phosphate usage fluctuates, resulting in levels ranging from 0.01 to 0.2. I want to automate dosing as I'm not home daily, and daily testing with the Hanna is becoming costly. Tried dosing 0.02 daily, and it kept rising until it reached 0.1 after a week. Stopped for two days, and it dropped back to 0.02. Can't find a stable average to dose without it skyrocketing when I stop. Need help figuring this out.
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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For the phosphate, 0.1 ppm is better than none, and when what time of day you measure (in relation to feeding) may impact the values. I'd stick with a steady dose and not try to keep jiggering it. If 0.02 ppm per day raises phosphate to 0.1 ppm, then try a bit less (say, 0.15 ppm) each day, and don't measure again for a week, and when doing so, measure at the same time of day.

i wouldn't agonize over the nitrate, but organic carbon dosing may be a fine plan if you want to lower it.
 
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