Low Nitrates but high Phosphates

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Uzair Aiman

Uzair Aiman

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Don't worry too much about your phosphates. They have to be really high to start doing any harm at all, and the main harm they do is they can possibly make new growth on stony corals kind of brittle. They're at a very reasonable number right now for a lot of corals.

Dosing nitrates won't increase phosphates. Remember, your light and filter aren't natural, so there's no reason everything you do in your tank has to be.

Make sure you're feeding your fish well- as much as they'll eat in a few minutes, daily. Feed any LPS and any other corals that want food. Broadcast-feed a tiny pinch of Reef Roids, maybe.
Also, how much is TOO much phosphates?
 
Maxout

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Yes, feeding more food will increase nitrates and phosphates. However, it can lead to a decrease in phosphates, as the happy photosynthetic organisms use up nitrates and phosphates to grow.

The definition of "too much phosphate" depends on who you ask. Some people run tanks with 1-2ppm phosphate and are fine, some people barely go over 0.03. It's mostly SPS that are sensitive. Unless your corals are turning brown (which is reversible), assume your phosphates are fine for them. Twice what you currently have would probably be fine. LPS and softies love nutrients.
 

terraincognita

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From my understanding of how it all works much more nitrates will be made than Phosphates, as well as the process from Ammonia to Nitrate which takes a couple hours in an established tank where as nitrate to phosphate in an established tank takes longer. Meaning you'll have more nitrates than phosphates and the nitrate will be consumed with your existing phosphate faster than it's converted to phosphate from nitrates.

THIS WILL ONLY WORK AS LONG AS YOU HAVE SOMETHING DEMANDING THE NUTRIENTS.

Just shoving food in an empty tank will spike your nitrates and phosphates and make it worse.

This isn't a "Solve" all high phosphates situation, we're just talking about your specific situation.

Unless it spikes your phosphates are like >.3 you shouldn't have major issues.

To raise JUST nitrates you'd have to dose Nitrate. Which I've never done but I know other people have.

What are your current nitrate levels anyways?
 
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Uzair Aiman

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From my understanding of how it all works much more nitrates will be made than Phosphates, as well as the process from Ammonia to Nitrate which takes a couple hours in an established tank where as nitrate to phosphate in an established tank takes longer. Meaning you'll have more nitrates than phosphates and the nitrate will be consumed with your existing phosphate faster than it's converted to phosphate from nitrates.

THIS WILL ONLY WORK AS LONG AS YOU HAVE SOMETHING DEMANDING THE NUTRIENTS.

Just shoving food in an empty tank will spike your nitrates and phosphates and make it worse.

This isn't a "Solve" all high phosphates situation, we're just talking about your specific situation.

Unless it spikes your phosphates are like >.3 you shouldn't have major issues.

To raise JUST nitrates you'd have to dose Nitrate. Which I've never done but I know other people have.

What are your current nitrate levels anyways?
So it wouldnt harm anything if I were to feed more? All it does more is just add Nitrates faster than Phosphates is what youre trying to say? My nitrates are undetectable or literally 0 at my Salifert tester every week before I change waters
 
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Uzair Aiman

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Yes, feeding more food will increase nitrates and phosphates. However, it can lead to a decrease in phosphates, as the happy photosynthetic organisms use up nitrates and phosphates to grow.

The definition of "too much phosphate" depends on who you ask. Some people run tanks with 1-2ppm phosphate and are fine, some people barely go over 0.03. It's mostly SPS that are sensitive. Unless your corals are turning brown (which is reversible), assume your phosphates are fine for them. Twice what you currently have would probably be fine. LPS and softies love nutrients.
Well, Im not planning on SPS for now, I love the looks of LPS corals and keeping SPS brings fear to a beginner like me. I wont be worried with my phosphates for now and try to raise my Nitrates by feeding more, correct?
 
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So here’s my take on this issue and hopefully a solution for you? As mentioned, regardless of your current nutrient levels, feed your fish multiple times a day (with various food, frozen and pellets, quality matters here). It’s completely safe to dose 1ppm of sodium nitrate (nightly), use food or reagent grade, which can be purchased on Amazon. Use this calculator to find the ratio Jamie’s planted tank calculator, choose potassium nitrate, as it’s virtually the same as sodium nitrate and will work for this purpose. Slowly reduce your chemical filtration and use PNS Probio, to naturally reduce your phosphates and “fix” your nitrates as to not deplete them. It’s going to take a little time, but things will turn around. It’s really this simple. Once the bacteria has established itself, it will equal out and then you can utilize PNS Yello Sno, combined with Probio to feed your whole tank.
Also, slowly bring your alk up to NSW levels 7-8dkh.
 

youcallmenny1

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I wasnt talking about dosing nitrates in the above statements, as said by Terraincognita, feed more. Thats why I wonder if feeding food more will increase both nitrates AND phosphates?
I've learned that the type of food can help a lot too. Frozen food is typically high in nitrate but lower in phosphate compared to say pellet food. I feed frozen daily to help the nitrates and have my pellets in an autofeeder. I can adjust either up or down to change parameters as desired. I would definitely feed more before thinking about dosing, IF you have something that is going to consume it, as @terraincognita mentioned.
 
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Uzair Aiman

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So here’s my take on this issue and hopefully a solution for you? As mentioned, regardless of your current nutrient levels, feed your fish multiple times a day (with various food, frozen and pellets, quality matters here). It’s completely safe to dose 1ppm of sodium nitrate (nightly), use food or reagent grade, which can be purchased on Amazon. Use this calculator to find the ratio Jamie’s planted tank calculator, choose potassium nitrate, as it’s virtually the same as sodium nitrate and will work for this purpose. Slowly reduce your chemical filtration and use PNS Probio, to naturally reduce your phosphates and “fix” your nitrates as to not deplete them. It’s going to take a little time, but things will turn around. It’s really this simple. Once the bacteria has established itself, it will equal out and then you can utilize PNS Yello Sno, combined with Probio to feed your whole tank.
Also, slowly bring your alk up to NSW levels 7-8dkh.
Ill look into it if feeding more doesnt solve the issue.

How would you bring your alk up other than water changes?
 
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Uzair Aiman

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I've learned that the type of food can help a lot too. Frozen food is typically high in nitrate but lower in phosphate compared to say pellet food. I feed frozen daily to help the nitrates and have my pellets in an autofeeder. I can adjust either up or down to change parameters as desired. I would definitely feed more before thinking about dosing, IF you have something that is going to consume it, as @terraincognita mentioned.
What if I dont have the stockings to consume my food? As I said, I only have 2 clowns a six line and a hermit with 3 corals that can be fed (which I think is quite a low stocking to feed alot).

Is feeding alot until some food is left at the bottom of the tank considered bad? Cause from what I know, having uneaten food will promote more Nitrates.
 
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What if I dont have the stockings to consume my food? As I said, I only have 2 clowns a six line and a hermit with 3 corals that can be fed (which I think is quite a low stocking to feed alot).

Is feeding alot until some food is left at the bottom of the tank considered bad? Cause from what I know, having uneaten food will promote more Nitrates.
Same as not having a refugium. For me I added a bunch of fish when I made the move to daily feedings. Uneaten food is a bad thing, yes. My point ultimately is your bioload is too low and thus you are not feeding enough to trigger appropriate uptake of both nitrate and phosphate which causes your situation of low nitrates and high phosphates. You can either add livestock, feed smaller amounts more frequently or overfeed and wait for all your filter feeders to catch up. Two of these aren't exactly great options.
 
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Uzair Aiman

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Same as not having a refugium. For me I added a bunch of fish when I made the move to daily feedings. Uneaten food is a bad thing, yes. My point ultimately is your bioload is too low and thus you are not feeding enough to trigger appropriate uptake of both nitrate and phosphate which causes your situation of low nitrates and high phosphates. You can either add livestock, feed smaller amounts more frequently or overfeed and wait for all your filter feeders to catch up. Two of these aren't exactly great options.
I mean, since I NEED to increase my nitrates, shouldnt overfeeding be a good thing for now? To increase my Nitrate levels to a detectable state.
 

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You don't need to increase your nitrate. Microalgae (think dinos/zoox in the corals) mostly cannot use nitrate to get nitrogen - they need to get it from ammonia/ammonium. This is a generalization and some hosts can use energy to convert nitrate back to a usable form at the cost of 30-50% energy. In any case, residual nitrate levels are fools gold, but they are easy to latch on to since people can measure then and retype the wrong stuff that they read online.

The key is heavy import and heavy export of fish food. Nitrate can get devoured by anoxic bacteria in the rock and sand. Dosing it probably will just make these colonies exand. You would be better off dosing ammonium, but you don't need to. Just feed your fish more.

.10 P is fine. I would not go much higher, and as low as .01 is fine too, but can be walking a line for some folks. Keep in mind that your test kit likely tests one form and there are many organic/inorganic/phosphorous/phosphate, etc. Again, feeding the fish will get this in all forms for all corals. The rock/sand will bind it and act as a buffer when low, but a reservoir when high. It is good to keep it low, but detectable. GFO needs a reactor to be effective - keep in mind that it can unbind just like rock/sand can, so change it when you do water changes.

My tanks have undetectable nitrate for decades and .01 to .03 phosphate. Thriving. I skim heavy and use lots of chaeto to keep the levels low. Photos in my re-build thread. I do have high availability with heavy import of food along with the heavy export.
 
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