Nitrate and Phosphorus Control via Phytoplankton Additions?

sixty_reefer

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Innovations such as yours have made the hobby what it is today. I look back at some of the issues we faced in the late 80s/90s - problems that had to be resolved and are taken for granted today. Still a lot to learn though.
Tanks for the complement but it’s only a phytoplankton refugium nothing compared to the work done in the past and today to advance the hobby. Can I ask you why you chose f2 and not miracle grow? I will be following this thread with great interest, looking forward to what other finds you will see associate with the phytoplankton dosing.
 

Dr. Dendrostein

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Innovations such as yours have made the hobby what it is today. I look back at some of the issues we faced in the late 80s/90s - problems that had to be resolved and are taken for granted today. Still a lot to learn though.
I remember the black boxes to house anaerobic bacteria and you had to feed them, came with special food. If I remember right. 1983.
 
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Dana Riddle

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I remember the black boxes to house anaerobic bacteria and you had to feed them, came with special food. If I remember right. 1983.
"Marine Fish Monthly" says it all. ;) I built one of those anaerobic nitrogen-busting filters. Slowly fed DT water into it along with metered methanol additions. It worked of course but I could never get the flow rates, methanol additions, etc. balanced. This phytoplankton/nutrient removal system seems easy enough but maybe I've just stumbled on the sweet spot. Definitely needs more investigation. I've got a hemacytometer to count culture 'strength' and need to take some rigorous notes... I just looked at the DT. Lights are off but a flashlight beam shows the water just swarming with 'bugs.' I'll try to get a photo tomorrow night.
 

Dan_P

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The new 120-gallon reef tank is doing well and I've added all the fish I feel prudent for now (2-Yellow Tangs, 1-Lamarck's Angel, 2-Maroon Clowns, 2-Ocellaris clowns, 2-Neon Gobies - about 20 inches total length in all and growing.) These fishes are fed at least 3x daily with frozen mysis, live adult brine shrimp and nauplii, frozen 'meaty' fish foods, an algae-based frozen food, two types flake foods, two types pellet foods. Nori seaweed (attached to a clip) is added in the morning for the Tangs. About 25 coral fragments have been added. These are fed ReefRoids and a similar product from Germany (Fauna Marin). These are soaked in Selcon, coral feeding stimulator and amino acid supplement from Polyp Lab, and a VitaChem product. Since some of the corals I have are omnivores, I add at least 250 milliliters of phytoplankton daily as well. This is added several times a day. The Goniopora specimens are growing as are all others - there are also some feather-dusters that arrived on the live rock that are demonstrating good growth. Since the protein skimmer would remove the phytoplankton, it is on a timer and runs only at night. I was concerned that nitrate and phosphorus concentrations would spike using this routine but to my surprise their concentrations have dropped to the lowest levels seen in this tank. I speculate that the phytoplankton mops up nutrients during the day and those not consumed are removed by the protein skimmer at night. I should add that I use a Hach colorimeter and EPA-approved reagents. Nitrate is reported to a tenth of a part per million (presently 0.7 ppm); Phosphorus to a hundredth part per million (now 0.02 ppm.) I can't state absolutely that the phyto addition is responsible and it could be coincidental that nutrient concentrations began to drop when phyto additions began. But...
Has this system experienced cyanobacteria film or mat formation?
 
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Dana Riddle

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Can you elaborate on the "bugs" please. What source are they from? Living plankton that can carry out a life cycle in a reef tank is very interesting to me.
The 'bugs' are some sort of zooplankton. The larger ones are about 2mm in length. I'll try to get some photomicrographs when I have the time. The tank contains live rock from the Keys and packaged live sand where these were introduced as eggs. Whatever the case, the water swarms with them at night,
 
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Dana Riddle

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Has this system experienced cyanobacteria film or mat formation?
There is some cyanobacteria growing in the sump but not in the DT.
 

tripdad

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That is awesome. Could open up the possibility to house some very cool critters. You might even be able to keep a blueberry gorgonian alive long term,lol.
 
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Dana Riddle

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That is awesome. Could open up the possibility to house some very cool critters. You might even be able to keep a blueberry gorgonian alive long term,lol.
My observations are pretty much anecdotal at this point. Think I'll really investigate this and perhaps see if the 2020 MACNA is interested in a presentation. In the meantime, I'll keep R2R posted. All kinds of angles - PAM fluorometer readings v. hemacytometer, coral growth, etc.
 
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Dana Riddle

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Tanks for the complement but it’s only a phytoplankton refugium nothing compared to the work done in the past and today to advance the hobby. Can I ask you why you chose f2 and not miracle grow? I will be following this thread with great interest, looking forward to what other finds you will see associate with the phytoplankton dosing.
The original phytoplankton culture was grown with f2 and I simply followed suit.
 

Dan_P

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There is some cyanobacteria growing in the sump but not in the DT.
Thanks.

Do you have any idea of the concentration of phytoplankton in the water over time? Never had a reason to add phytoplankton and was wondering if the population grew everyday or declined exponentially after each dose. Also wonder about their life expectancy in the aquarium.
 
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Dana Riddle

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Thanks.

Do you have any idea of the concentration of phytoplankton in the water over time? Never had a reason to add phytoplankton and was wondering if the population grew everyday or declined exponentially after each dose. Also wonder about their life expectancy in the aquarium.
Let me find the hemacytometer and I can get a count. I think the population declines rapidly through consumption by all the filter feeders in the tank. The protein skimmer runs only at night and the skimmate has a greenish tint to it, which I assume is due to the presence of the skimmed micro-algae.
 

Dan_P

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Let me find the hemacytometer and I can get a count. I think the population declines rapidly through consumption by all the filter feeders in the tank. The protein skimmer runs only at night and the skimmate has a greenish tint to it, which I assume is due to the presence of the skimmed micro-algae.
And I thought I was the only one with a hemocytometer!

I had to centrifuge my system’s water to get enough things to count. Good luck and thanks for the closer look.
 

Proteus Meep

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I do enjoy the nitrate and phosphate control that adding phyto to my well fed nano gives... nevermind the more rounded ecosystem that it helps support and feed
 

sixty_reefer

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The original phytoplankton culture was grown with f2 and I simply followed suit.
would you consider the miracle grow formula, as it got less tendency to crash. Just curious if you also have a cryptic section in your tank.
 

taricha

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Cool observations. I would have guessed this would only work to keep tank nutrients down if the phyto was centrifuged and purged of the growth media first.
When I fed brown (t-iso) and a little green (nanno) the skimmate also was reflective of the phyto additions. I should've put the skimmer on a timer to give the system some extended phyto time.
I stopped feeding the tank phyto and fed copepod cultures instead, then filtered the pods and fed the tank that way.
I wouldn't do miracle grow for this. The phyto will change composition to reflect the fertilizer and if the fertilizer is imbalanced, the imbalance will move up the food chain in the system. F/2 seems a healthier option.
 

sixty_reefer

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Cool observations. I would have guessed this would only work to keep tank nutrients down if the phyto was centrifuged and purged of the growth media first.
When I fed brown (t-iso) and a little green (nanno) the skimmate also was reflective of the phyto additions. I should've put the skimmer on a timer to give the system some extended phyto time.
I stopped feeding the tank phyto and fed copepod cultures instead, then filtered the pods and fed the tank that way.
I wouldn't do miracle grow for this. The phyto will change composition to reflect the fertilizer and if the fertilizer is imbalanced, the imbalance will move up the food chain in the system. F/2 seems a healthier option.
It could be, but this would also depend on if you know the formula used for a specific f2 fertiliser, there’s a few different formulas being currently sold as f2. Some of them will have high silica some the same level of N and P, different copper concentrations etc... As long as it’s know what’s in the specific f2 that’s being used it should be fine.
 
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Dana Riddle

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would you consider the miracle grow formula, as it got less tendency to crash. Just curious if you also have a cryptic section in your tank.
I would have to educate myself on the use of Miracle Grow, in the meantime I have two quarts of f/2 to use. No cryptic zone in the sump.
 
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Dana Riddle

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Cool observations. I would have guessed this would only work to keep tank nutrients down if the phyto was centrifuged and purged of the growth media first.
When I fed brown (t-iso) and a little green (nanno) the skimmate also was reflective of the phyto additions. I should've put the skimmer on a timer to give the system some extended phyto time.
I stopped feeding the tank phyto and fed copepod cultures instead, then filtered the pods and fed the tank that way.
I wouldn't do miracle grow for this. The phyto will change composition to reflect the fertilizer and if the fertilizer is imbalanced, the imbalance will move up the food chain in the system. F/2 seems a healthier option.
I would like to look at the fates of N and P in the tank, but will have to judge the return on investment when sinking $1,000 into a heat block digester and Total N and Total P reagents.
 

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"Marine Fish Monthly" says it all. ;) I built one of those anaerobic nitrogen-busting filters. Slowly fed DT water into it along with metered methanol additions. It worked of course but I could never get the flow rates, methanol additions, etc. balanced. This phytoplankton/nutrient removal system seems easy enough but maybe I've just stumbled on the sweet spot. Definitely needs more investigation. I've got a hemacytometer to count culture 'strength' and need to take some rigorous notes... I just looked at the DT. Lights are off but a flashlight beam shows the water just swarming with 'bugs.' I'll try to get a photo tomorrow night.

Marine fish monthly. That is some history right there. The best Saltwater publication ever. I Threw mine out several years ago when I moved and only kept the anniversary issues.. I kick myself now because that is history. I remember some of your articles from that publication..

The old denitrators..
 
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