Nitrate and Phosphorus Control via Phytoplankton Additions?

Mark Gray

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Hello from Dallas Georgia! If I recall correctly, Martin Moe published a photo of green water/rotifer cultures in kiddie pools outdoors in Florida. Worth a try.
Wow I didn't realize you were in Dallas. I am in Athens but the company I work for is in Dallas. Thanks Dana
 
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Breadman03

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I'll have to consider this as my newly rebooted system is now skimmerless. I wonder how phyto and an algae reactor may function together.

I use a continuous in tank culture, basically consists of a reservoir in the refugium area that pulls 3ml of tank water every 60 minutes by a doser and den it drops 3 ml of phytoplankton in the tank by gravity. Also got the doser set to drop 2ml of fertiliser every 7 days. Basically a full automated phytoplankton system the only labour I got to do is to is to adjust salinity every 14 days to compensate evaporation.

Looks a bit like this wend it was connected to a continuous rotifers culture.



I was able to go as high as 9ml per hour (216ml per 24h) but had to bring it down again due to not be able to increase nitrates and dinos were just setting in at 0 readings.

At the time I done this sketch I was using a reservoir with a lower salinity to make it all work.

I just find it stress free also don’t really have space in the apartment to have a normal culture going [emoji23]
That seems like a pretty neat idea.

Hello from Dallas Georgia! If I recall correctly, Martin Moe published a photo of green water/rotifer cultures in kiddie pools outdoors in Florida. Worth a try.
Wilkerson did the same during warmer months, as related in "Clownfishes."
 

sixty_reefer

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I'll have to consider this as my newly rebooted system is now skimmerless. I wonder how phyto and an algae reactor may function together.



That seems like a pretty neat idea.



Wilkerson did the same during warmer months, as related in "Clownfishes."
It does reduce a lot of work normally involved in culturing phyto the standard way. Also it allows a steady dose of phyto instead of a single daily dose.

There’s a thread on here running from late last year showing the advantage of a continuous culture.
 

shred5

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Hey @Dana Riddle. This brings me to a question I haven't asked yet because I thought it was just rubbish. With the findings of you adding phytoplankton to your build and seeing nitrate and phosphate lower brought me to ask. I recently started dosing algae Barn phytoplankton. After about a week I started noticing dinoflagellates in my sand bed. They are starting to spread to the rocks now. Do you think dosing the phyto could have brought this on. I thought I was crazy but if the phyto is lowering my nutrients and allowing the dinos to thrive ot makes more sense. Sorry if this isnt appropriate for this thread but I thought it fit.

Ok a couple things...

First off are you certain that it is dino's?

Matter of fact there is a thought that adding phyto actually reduces some Dino's by out competing dinos and adding to the biodiversity.

Also there really is not proof that phyto reduces nutrients in a reef yet.

Just because someone adds phyto and nutrients just happened to drop is anecdotal... It certainly could be but it could be something else.

Matter of fact there are some who think the opposite and phyto can actually increase nutrients.

There is no evidence really either way.

I am in the camp that it certainly is possible and I have been adding phyto since I talked with Dennis who started DT's..
I at least certainly think it is beneficial and certainly is possible to lower nutrients in certain instances...

There also plenty of tanks with low nutreint that do not have Dino's.. It is complete rubbish that just because you have low nutrients your going to have dino's.. Are lower nutrient tanks more susceptible to them? I have been saying for 20 years that is very possible.. I have seen high nutrient tanks with them too... I have had dinos several times and no issues getting rid of them. It is lack of biodiversity and nothing to compete against them in my opinion..Low nutrients can cut back on biodiversity by killing other algae and bacteria. But having high biodiversity and other organisms that can compete in low nutrients may help keep them at bay.. I think the use of dead rock has led to so many cases of dinos because the rock brings in no biodiversity.
 
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Dana Riddle

Dana Riddle

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Ok a couple things...

First off are you certain that it is dino's?

Matter of fact there is a thought that adding phyto actually reduces some Dino's by out competing dinos and adding to the biodiversity.

Also there really is not proof that phyto reduces nutrients in a reef yet.

Just because someone adds phyto and nutrients just happened to drop is anecdotal... It certainly could be but it could be something else.

Matter of fact there are some who think the opposite and phyto can actually increase nutrients.

There is no evidence really either way.

I am in the camp that it certainly is possible and I have been adding phyto since I talked with Dennis who started DT's..
I at least certainly think it is beneficial and certainly is possible to lower nutrients in certain instances...

There also plenty of tanks with low nutreint that do not have Dino's.. It is complete rubbish that just because you have low nutrients your going to have dino's.. Are lower nutrient tanks more susceptible to them? I have been saying for 20 years that is very possible.. I have seen high nutrient tanks with them too... I have had dinos several times and no issues getting rid of them. It is lack of biodiversity and nothing to compete against them in my opinion..Low nutrients can cut back on biodiversity by killing other algae and bacteria. But having high biodiversity and other organisms that can compete in low nutrients may help keep them at bay.. I think the use of dead rock has led to so many cases of dinos because the rock brings in no biodiversity.
I ordered a Hach DRB 200 block heater/digester in order to analyze for Total P, Acid Hydrolyzable P, and Total N. It should be here Friday and I'll wait to receive it before dropping the coins on reagents. Hach never cuts their prices through distributors, but I found a new one on Amazon for $300 less than Hach's list price. It's fulfilled by Amazon. We'll see. For the record, this thread's title is a question, and my observations are anecdotal. It will take a lot of lab work to arrive at a conclusion. But for now, the tank's nitrate dropped to an all time low, while P was up a 0.01 ppm or two.
 

shred5

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I ordered a Hach DRB 200 block heater/digester in order to analyze for Total P, Acid Hydrolyzable P, and Total N. It should be here Friday and I'll wait to receive it before dropping the coins on reagents. Hach never cuts their prices through distributors, but I found a new one on Amazon for $300 less than Hach's list price. It's fulfilled by Amazon. We'll see. For the record, this thread's title is a question, and my observations are anecdotal. It will take a lot of lab work to arrive at a conclusion. But for now, the tank's nitrate dropped to an all time low, while P was up a 0.01 ppm or two.

My post was not directed at you at all or anything you may find out..
Like I said I think it is totally possible.
It is was being assumed that phtyo may be causing the dino outbreak and I think in most cases it would be the opposite.

Something of note.. I had a 100 gallon vat I used to hold live rock. I also would add dead rock to it to help get some biodiversity on it.. I do not like the shapes and the weight of allot of the aqaucultured rock but it does come in with lost of life. Basically I was trying to make live rock out of dead rock. This vat was not skimmed at all.. I added phyto to help increase life like tunicates, sponges, pods etc. One day phyto overtook the whole thing, water was green and it was settling on the sides and floating on the surface.. I wish I would have measures phosphate levels before and after. It eventually balanced itself out. I think it really depends though? What happened to the phyto? if not removed it did maybe did nothing and just died out? Now skimmed out it certainly would have brought down nutrients.. I have heard of others having phyto blooms in their reefs before. For nutrient to remain constant in a closed system the same amount of nutrients need to be removed that goes in. Phyto contains nutrients and if left there it will add nutrients to the system unless it ends up as mass in the animals, algae etc of our reefs or it is removed?

Hach are very good test kits and expensive. I didn't even know they had test kits that tests for total phosphate?
I think hobby kits only test orthophosphates which mean people really do not know how much phosphates they actually have which is another issue.. What does icp test for? I am guessing ortho too.
 
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erk

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@Dana Riddle can you detail your process for adding phyto to the tank? I know you said 250mL per day for a 120 gal tank, is that total system volume or just DT. I want to recreate what you are doing and would like to follow your procedure as closely as possible.
 
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Dana Riddle

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My post was not directed at you at all or anything you may find out..
Like I said I think it is totally possible.
It is was being assumed that phtyo may be causing the dino outbreak and I think in most cases it would be the opposite.

Something of note.. I had a 100 gallon vat I used to hold live rock. I also would add dead rock to it to help get some biodiversity on it.. I do not like the shapes and the weight of allot of the aqaucultured rock but it does come in with lost of life. Basically I was trying to make live rock out of dead rock. This vat was not skimmed at all.. I added phyto to help increase life like tunicates, sponges, pods etc. One day phyto overtook the whole thing, water was green and it was settling on the sides and floating on the surface.. I wish I would have measures phosphate levels before and after. It eventually balanced itself out. I think it really depends though? What happened to the phyto? if not removed it did nothing? Now skimmed out it certainly would have. I have heard of others having phyto blooms in their reefs before.

Hach are very good test kits and expensive. I didn't even know they had test kits that tests for total phosphate?
I think hobby kits only test orthophosphates which mean people really do not know how much phosphates they actually have which is another issue.. What does icp test for? I am guessing ortho too.
Oh, I didn't think the post was directed towards me. I understand not all people will read through this entire thread and I had stated previously that my observations are anecdotal. Just re-stating my previous statement. If I knew the answers here, I wouldn't have just dropped $850 on a block heater. LOL. All labs I've worked in during my career used Hach equipment and I've grown accustomed to their equipment. These, combined with their reagents and procedures, are generally accepted by the EPA.
ICP = Inductively coupled plasma spectrometry. A beast of a piece of equipment. Out of the range of my lab's budget but my gear will do the trick when looking at organic/inorganic N and P concentrations. I suspect that ortho-P is the major portion of phosphorus in an aquarium.
 
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Dana Riddle

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@Dana Riddle can you detail your process for adding phyto to the tank? I know you said 250mL per day for a 120 gal tank, is that total system volume or just DT. I want to recreate what you are doing and would like to follow your procedure as closely as possible.
Total system volume. I found my hemacytometer and need to count algal cells in the culture and figure out a way to let you replicate what I'm doing.
 
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Dana Riddle

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@Dana Riddle can you detail your process for adding phyto to the tank? I know you said 250mL per day for a 120 gal tank, is that total system volume or just DT. I want to recreate what you are doing and would like to follow your procedure as closely as possible.
Forgot to answer part of your question. I thaw the frozen foods in green water and feed this several times a day. In addition, I dump a 100-125 milliliters in twice a day. Recall the protein skimmer is off during the day and exports what alga is left in the water column at night. I've got to tighten up on the dosing and take copious notes once I start the organic/inorganic N and P testing.
 

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Dana,

I find this fascinating, thanks!.

All,

What are your opinions of off the shelf phyto blends, like this one:


I dose per their instructions (for a 30G total system volume, half a cap about twice a week). I'm going to start turning off my skimmer, at least during the day I dose. I'm not in a position to seperately culture phyto, so this may be the best I can economically do.

I might think of emulating Dana, dosing x amount a day, and turning off the skimmer while dosing.
 

Da8

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I'm not sure of understanding the main hypothesis Mr Riddle.

Do you think

a) the phyto consumes the N and P directly when added to the tank?

b) is that the consume of phyto by the ecosystem what promotes the consume of more N and P as the populations of inhabitants is stimulated and growing thanks to the natural feeding?

Or maybe both? O none?

I believe is b) but as I mentioned earlier, have no clue or any paper to support my opinion.
 
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Dana Riddle

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I'm not sure of understanding the main hypothesis Mr Riddle.

Do you think

a) the phyto consumes the N and P directly when added to the tank?

b) is that the consume of phyto by the ecosystem what promotes the consume of more N and P as the populations of inhabitants is stimulated and growing thanks to the natural feeding?

Or maybe both? O none?

I believe is b) but as I mentioned earlier, have no clue or any paper to support my opinion.
I tend to think (b)….
Here's the block heater I just purchased - with proper reagents and the DR890 colorimeter I can test for Total Nitrogen, Total Phosphorus and Acid Hydrolyzable Phosphorus. Combined with testing for ortho-P and inorganic nitrogen, I can determine what is going on in the tank.
Here's a photo of the block heater/digester I just received. Awaiting delivery of reagents.

DRB.jpg
 
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Dana Riddle

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Dana,

I find this fascinating, thanks!.

All,

What are your opinions of off the shelf phyto blends, like this one:


I dose per their instructions (for a 30G total system volume, half a cap about twice a week). I'm going to start turning off my skimmer, at least during the day I dose. I'm not in a position to seperately culture phyto, so this may be the best I can economically do.

I might think of emulating Dana, dosing x amount a day, and turning off the skimmer while dosing.
I'm not familiar with these packaged phyto/zooplankton products but will say I've known Jack Kent (Kent Marine) and Jim Rogers (SeaChem) for years and have seen their research aquaria. IMHO, they wouldn't market a product without proper background research.
 

MadTownFess

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Ok a couple things...

First off are you certain that it is dino's?

Matter of fact there is a thought that adding phyto actually reduces some Dino's by out competing dinos and adding to the biodiversity.

Also there really is not proof that phyto reduces nutrients in a reef yet.

Just because someone adds phyto and nutrients just happened to drop is anecdotal... It certainly could be but it could be something else.

Matter of fact there are some who think the opposite and phyto can actually increase nutrients.

There is no evidence really either way.

I am in the camp that it certainly is possible and I have been adding phyto since I talked with Dennis who started DT's..
I at least certainly think it is beneficial and certainly is possible to lower nutrients in certain instances...

There also plenty of tanks with low nutreint that do not have Dino's.. It is complete rubbish that just because you have low nutrients your going to have dino's.. Are lower nutrient tanks more susceptible to them? I have been saying for 20 years that is very possible.. I have seen high nutrient tanks with them too... I have had dinos several times and no issues getting rid of them. It is lack of biodiversity and nothing to compete against them in my opinion..Low nutrients can cut back on biodiversity by killing other algae and bacteria. But having high biodiversity and other organisms that can compete in low nutrients may help keep them at bay.. I think the use of dead rock has led to so many cases of dinos because the rock brings in no biodiversity.
I think you are spot on with your dino statements. I am currently in a 7 month battle with Dino, and I think I might of finally overcome it. What was the difference maker? Adding Copepods and dosing Phytoplankton. I started my tank out of with dead dry rock, I also made a stupid mistake of running GFO. Bottomed out my phosphate which led to a dino outbreak. Got my levels back to desired levels, which helped reduce them, along with adding a UV sterilizer. Even after 6 months with non zero N and P and a UV....still had dino's. Decided to do a 3 day blackout followed by adding 16,000 pods and dosing Phytoplankton daily....been looking at samples under a microscope for months. Yesterday was the first day I actually thought I might be winning the battle. Dino numbers seem to have greatly reduced, and pods seem to actually be eating the dino under the microscrope. I am 100% convinced, its lack of biodivisity that causes dino, once they have competitor, they seem to die off/be consumed. Fingers crossed this is the case as I have lost 100s of dollars in corals, and have been nothing but depressed since starting this hobby. Its only been 5 days since adding the pods/dosing phytoplankton....but it seems to be working already.
 
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@Dana Riddle did you ever get around to count your cells? I've counted mine twice now, once the day I started the culture, 8/26/2019, the second is 8/31/2019. Starting culture was 486,250 cells/mL and after 5 days the culture has reached 505,625 cells/mL. I'm using the Mercer Nanno kit and started with 32 oz of Nanno cultures. Not sure if this concentration is good or not, but I guess since it isn't reducing that is a positive.
 

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What is the specific gravity of your phyto culture water? And that of your tank?
 
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Dana Riddle

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@Dana Riddle did you ever get around to count your cells? I've counted mine twice now, once the day I started the culture, 8/26/2019, the second is 8/31/2019. Starting culture was 486,250 cells/mL and after 5 days the culture has reached 505,625 cells/mL. I'm using the Mercer Nanno kit and started with 32 oz of Nanno cultures. Not sure if this concentration is good or not, but I guess since it isn't reducing that is a positive.
Please excuse an old man's failing memory. I have not counted, but I did locate my hemocytometer and clicker. I'll put it on the agenda... if I don't forget. :)
 

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I think you are spot on with your dino statements. I am currently in a 7 month battle with Dino, and I think I might of finally overcome it. What was the difference maker? Adding Copepods and dosing Phytoplankton. I started my tank out of with dead dry rock, I also made a stupid mistake of running GFO. Bottomed out my phosphate which led to a dino outbreak. Got my levels back to desired levels, which helped reduce them, along with adding a UV sterilizer. Even after 6 months with non zero N and P and a UV....still had dino's. Decided to do a 3 day blackout followed by adding 16,000 pods and dosing Phytoplankton daily....been looking at samples under a microscope for months. Yesterday was the first day I actually thought I might be winning the battle. Dino numbers seem to have greatly reduced, and pods seem to actually be eating the dino under the microscrope. I am 100% convinced, its lack of biodivisity that causes dino, once they have competitor, they seem to die off/be consumed. Fingers crossed this is the case as I have lost 100s of dollars in corals, and have been nothing but depressed since starting this hobby. Its only been 5 days since adding the pods/dosing phytoplankton....but it seems to be working already.
Keep us posted on your results
 

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Any updates on this ? I'm very curious about this as I would like to a create greater food web and bio-diversity in my mixed reef and wonder if this could help with that. My end goal would be to keep scleractinian (?) corals and sea fans long term.
 
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