Nitrate and Phosphate issue

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jsc

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Hello R2R!

I am hoping I can get some advice on how to get my nitrates and phosphates down. I've attempted several different things without any luck.

To start, it is a 90 gallon system. I want to transition from more of a mixed reef to a dominate SPS tank. I've done a 25% water change, siphoned the sand bed, moved some rock work and siphoned behind that, completely cleaned sump / refugium and reduced feeding. Nothing changed.

Can rock hold nitrate? I don't believe this is the case but I am not sure what to think at the moment.

Testing with hanna checkers. Nitrate 75, Phosphate .9

Hoping I can get some feedback on potential solutions. I've starting reading on Red Sea NO3 PO4 X - Has anyone used this product?

Thanks in advance.
 
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Trouble1375

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Hello R2R!

I am hoping I can get some advice on how to get my nitrates and phosphates down. I've attempted several different things without any luck.

To start, it is a 90 gallon system. I want to transition from more of a mixed reef to a dominate SPS tank. I've done a 25% water change, siphoned the sand bed, moved some rock work and siphoned behind that, completely cleaned sump / refugium and reduced feeding. Nothing changed.

Can rock hold nitrate? I don't believe this is the case but I am not sure what to think at the moment.

Testing with hanna checkers. Nitrate 75, Phosphate .9

Hoping I can get some feedback on potential solutions. I've starting reading on Red Sea NO3 PO4 X - Has anyone used this product?

Thanks in advance.
Be very cautious with NoPox - I almost killed my tank with it. I had it on a doser and the head went out on the doser and turned the tank milky white. Had to pull everything and do 90% water change. I use Phosphate E and an ATS now to control nutrient export
 

GARRIGA

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The way I’ve recently dealt with high nitrates was by raising my phosphates with NeoPhos, adding NoPox as directed and adding microbactor 7. Water did turn cloudy but only persisted for a day or two. Fish weren’t gasping for air so I didn’t see it as a concern. Dropped nitrates from 180 ppm the first time and 160 ppm the next. Both to under 5 ppm. Both high points were due to some tinkering on my experimental tank. At the time it was still Fishless but I’ve reduced it from 40 ppm recently with a high stock load and where I didn’t notice fish gasping for air at the surface.

Caveate for me is the oversized filtration based on biological media that may assist seating the bacteria and quickly reducing the cloudiness. For those with skimmers they may want to run them wet. Otherwise just dose half the recommended on the NoPox until identifying the daily need. Plus nothing quick is often good in reefing. No need to panic if it takes a week or more.

In the past before knowing about carbon dosing I dealt with high nitrate through age of filter. As it matures the denitrification process increased until it stabilized around 20 ppm to 40 ppm. These were fish only but overstocked.

Rocks are known to hold phosphates but I’ve not found any research that it holds nitrates.

If making large drastic water changes then I’d suggest bringing that new water close to the parameters of the DT in alkalinity, salinity and PH. Last one wants is to shock the inhabitants. Why I’ve never been a fan of large water changes. Plus I’d rather fix the problem then the results otherwise it just repeats itself and one does is waste money and stress on salt.

Slow wins the race. Panic often leads other problems. Kind of like the side affects of medicine.
 

fishingchuck

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Following…

I’ve been battling high nitrates as well with no success yet. At the start nitrates >75 and phos at .67 (both Hanna). I started carbon dosing with nopox and added chemipure elite. My phos dropped as low as .07 so I removed the chemo pure and now it’s at .2. I’ve been dosing with nopox for 2months and still can’t get the nitrates below 75. Tried water 20 percent water change daily x 3 days as well. Going to try to add a bio pellet reactor next and see if that helps. Good luck
 
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jsc

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Can you post a picture of your setup? Tank and filtration?
Things to consider - how many fish do you have, how often do you change water, refugium, how old is the setup.

Why is this emergency?
I will get pictures tonight. I have about a dozen fish. I changed 10 gallons weekly and do have a refugium. Set up is 4 years old.
 

lost66

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The only option would be to restart the tank?
People spend fortune to achieve 4 years old stable tank. If you restart your tank and will have the same setup and the same habits you will have the same results. Moreover you will struggle to achieve a stable environment you worked so hard to achieve.

I am not an expert but I read in few places that phosphates bind with rocks/sand, nitrates are diluted by water changes. That being said I think you just have a higher input than output of nitrates.
To check that theory you can do a simple experiments. Check nitrates before water change, do a 20% or so water change and check nitrate level again. Is it the same or lower?
Second experiment - remove 1 rock and put it to a bucket with fresh batch of water. Put the rock there, wait few hours and check the water. Is it super high or low?
I would focus on your sump, increase nutrition export by chateo/turf scrubber, roller matt, filter socks etc.

People chase numbers but do you really have to lower nitrates? If you introduce drastic changes you may do more bad than good. There are people with a lot of sps corals with high nitrates. I have some basic sps corals and I don't even measure nitrates anymore.
 
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jsc

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People spend fortune to achieve 4 years old stable tank. If you restart your tank and will have the same setup and the same habits you will have the same results. Moreover you will struggle to achieve a stable environment you worked so hard to achieve.

I am not an expert but I read in few places that phosphates bind with rocks/sand, nitrates are diluted by water changes. That being said I think you just have a higher input than output of nitrates.
To check that theory you can do a simple experiments. Check nitrates before water change, do a 20% or so water change and check nitrate level again. Is it the same or lower?
Second experiment - remove 1 rock and put it to a bucket with fresh batch of water. Put the rock there, wait few hours and check the water. Is it super high or low?
I would focus on your sump, increase nutrition export by chateo/turf scrubber, roller matt, filter socks etc.

People chase numbers but do you really have to lower nitrates? If you introduce drastic changes you may do more bad than good. There are people with a lot of sps corals with high nitrates. I have some basic sps corals and I don't even measure nitrates anymore.
You make a good point here. I am not as much concerned with the nitrates as I am the phosphates.
 
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My tank is 4 years old and I went through the same thing. The math is simple, inputs must be outputs at some point. Food in fishes mouths comes out as poop. It has to be processed and go somewhere. Water changes are not efficient export mechanisms on larger tanks. Nano tanks (under 50-60 gallons) sure. change out 5-10 gallons easy peasy and move on.

Be careful what you do. It sounds like you're trying to change a lot fast.. As proven by this post being an "emergency". STOP doing things fast. Even labels on nopox and other denitrators says allow 5-8 weeks for best results.

You can't lower nitrates overnight! Nor is it healthy for your tank! Do slow methodical changes proven to work.

Algae turf scrubbers are amazing at removing phosphate and nitrate! I use one on my 340 gallon system that's 4 years old. I have 27-28 fish. I feed heavy proteins for my fish and a whole sheet of nori daily.

I have nitrates of 30 and phosphates of .05 to .1. My SPS are all doing amazing. Seeing all the algae that comes off my scrubber weekly... I can't imagine the algae that would be in my display without it.

If you prefer chemicals. then other options include vodka dosing, vinegar dosing, nopox, and other things like that. They're good denitration however, watch the label. You're growing new bacteria that take weeks, if not months to populate in your rockwork. Even reactors will take time to have long term impacts.

All methods will aid in bringing things down, you have to find what's right for you and start slow and wait 3-4 months and test while you wait. Then try adding something else if you still don't like where things are at...
 
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jsc

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My tank is 4 years old and I went through the same thing. The math is simple, inputs must be outputs at some point. Food in fishes mouths comes out as poop. It has to be processed and go somewhere. Water changes are not efficient export mechanisms on larger tanks. Nano tanks (under 50-60 gallons) sure. change out 5-10 gallons easy peasy and move on.

Be careful what you do. It sounds like you're trying to change a lot fast.. As proven by this post being an "emergency". STOP doing things fast. Even labels on nopox and other denitrators says allow 5-8 weeks for best results.

You can't lower nitrates overnight! Nor is it healthy for your tank! Do slow methodical changes proven to work.

Algae turf scrubbers are amazing at removing phosphate and nitrate! I use one on my 340 gallon system that's 4 years old. I have 27-28 fish. I feed heavy proteins for my fish and a whole sheet of nori daily.

I have nitrates of 30 and phosphates of .05 to .1. My SPS are all doing amazing. Seeing all the algae that comes off my scrubber weekly... I can't imagine the algae that would be in my display without it.

If you prefer chemicals. then other options include vodka dosing, vinegar dosing, nopox, and other things like that. They're good denitration however, watch the label. You're growing new bacteria that take weeks, if not months to populate in your rockwork. Even reactors will take time to have long term impacts.

All methods will aid in bringing things down, you have to find what's right for you and start slow and wait 3-4 months and test while you wait. Then try adding something else if you still don't like where things are at...
Do you have any pictures of your algae turf scrubber?
 

Treefer32

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Do you have any pictures of your algae turf scrubber?
Yup. This is just now. It's about ready for a cleaning. This is about 6 days of growth. It's a Turbo Aquatics L4 Algae turf scrubber. I just talked to Bud, the owner on the phone last week and he has some scratch and dent ones for a lot cheaper than what I paid for it. He's a good guy and can hook you up with everything you need. I plumbed mine off my return pump, so it's probably somewhat inefficient, but I have it draining into the return chamber now. So, clean water should be making it's way back to the tank eventually.


PXL_20220128_174014852.jpg PXL_20220128_174050909.jpg PXL_20220128_174108314.jpg PXL_20220128_174116234.jpg
 

ColoredRock

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Covid house here.. Was actually an amazing opportunity todo a hands off approach 1 week in covid brain. 2nd week in .. left the tank alone. I did clean the glass every couple days.

DEAD STOP (for 2 weeks)

no dosing

ALk drop from 10 to 9.2
Phos -- actually stabilized.. was at .23... now at .04
pH... ugh 7,8 ish
Nitrate.. 38... was 20 iish
 
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jda

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Take an hour and read Dr. Holmes-Farley's articles on nitrate and phosphate. At least understand that the chemistry and we can help with biology.

Effective rock and sand can turn no3 into nitrogen gas in mature tanks - this is the actual end of the nitrogen cycle.

Rock and sand (aragonite) can bind phosphate to equilibrium with the water and can become quite a reservoir of phosphate that could take 5 gallon buckets of GFO to remove completely.

What is really important is to understand that super high levels of N and P are going to inhibit growth of macro algae - cruel joke to us humans by nature... so you might have to lower them to have a fuge or ATS work as well as it can.

Figure out what levels that you want to achieve and we can help you get there.
 
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jsc

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Take an hour and read Dr. Holmes-Farley's articles on nitrate and phosphate. At least understand that the chemistry and we can help with biology.

Effective rock and sand can turn no3 into nitrogen gas in mature tanks - this is the actual end of the nitrogen cycle.

Rock and sand (aragonite) can bind phosphate to equilibrium with the water and can become quite a reservoir of phosphate that could take 5 gallon buckets of GFO to remove completely.

What is really important is to understand that super high levels of N and P are going to inhibit growth of macro algae - cruel joke to us humans by nature... so you might have to lower them to have a fuge or ATS work as well as it can.

Figure out what levels that you want to achieve and we can help you get there.
Makes sense. I would like to achieve .05 phosphate and 15-20 nitrate.
 

jda

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Leave your sandbed alone. If it is not 2-3 inches, add some more. It will eventually (months), get anoxic areas that will turn no3 into nitrogen gas.

Leave your rocks alone too.

If you started with dead and dry rock, they could still be bound with massive amounts of phosphate. I strongly recommend using Lanthanum Chloride with your values this high. Read about using it and do it SLOWLY to lower your phosphate levels - understand the aragonite binding as described above. Lan Chloride is cheaper than GFO. Both GFO and LC will take work, every day, to do their jobs.

Once you get your N and P down, then get some real live rock to seed everything else and maybe a sand cleaner like a cucumber - these will die/suffer with high N and P levels, so you have to wait.
 
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jsc

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Leave your sandbed alone. If it is not 2-3 inches, add some more. It will eventually (months), get anoxic areas that will turn no3 into nitrogen gas.

Leave your rocks alone too.

If you started with dead and dry rock, they could still be bound with massive amounts of phosphate. I strongly recommend using Lanthanum Chloride with your values this high. Read about using it and do it SLOWLY to lower your phosphate levels - understand the aragonite binding as described above. Lan Chloride is cheaper than GFO. Both GFO and LC will take work, every day, to do their jobs.

Once you get your N and P down, then get some real live rock to seed everything else and maybe a sand cleaner like a cucumber - these will die/suffer with high N and P levels, so you have to wait.
Thank you. I have a cucumber now. I’ve had him for about 3 years.
 

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I will get pictures tonight. I have about a dozen fish. I changed 10 gallons weekly and do have a refugium. Set up is 4 years old.

Weekly water changes should be 20%. 10% of a 90 gallon tank would be 9 gallons, so 20% would be 18 gallons.

You should be doing 20 gallon water changes weekly.

Do 20 gallons weekly for a month and the numbers will likely come down.
 
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