Nitrate/Phosphate Imbalance

Discussion in 'Reef Chemistry by Randy Holmes-Farley' started by goldenhurricane2, Jun 18, 2017.

  1. goldenhurricane2

    goldenhurricane2 Well-Known Member

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    So I'm a little stumped: my Po4 has gone up a smidge (from 0.08ppm to about 0.1ppm). My sps are showing the change (lightening up in color a little). I'm also starting to see a little hair algae and lingbya (brown algae) too. But here's the weird part - my bio load has been cut by 60% or so. I used to have 7 fish and now I only have 3 (two clowns and a damsel) in a 55 gallon.

    I do a 6 gallon water change every two weeks religiously where I replace my carbon and add a chemi pure blue packet every other water change.

    Further, the chaeto in my refugium isn't growing like it was, but a ton of other algae is growing inside the refugium.

    Any ideas on why the rise in Po4 when nothing but a decrease in bio load has changed in quite some time?

    Is this due to an imbalance between nitrate and phosphate? If so how do I fix this?
     
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  2. Fishfinder

    Fishfinder Well-Known Member

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    have you tested your nitrate?
     
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  3. chipmunkofdoom2

    chipmunkofdoom2 Well-Known Member

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    Have you checked out your RO/DI system? Is the DI resin getting close to exhaustion? It's possible that more phosphates are making it into the tank from your source water.
     
  4. jsker

    jsker Reefing is all about the adventure R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    I would say that you have phosphates leaching from you rock/scape. I would suggest using a product with lanthanum chloride to bring down your phosphates. link
     
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  5. Randy Holmes-Farley

    Randy Holmes-Farley Reef Chemist Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Expert Contributor Article Contributor

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    An imbalance between N and P nutrients isn't causing hair algae and stunting macroalgae. Lack of sufficient iron might, but a rise of 0.08 to 0.1 ppm phosphate isn't something that most kits can reproducibly show anyway.
     
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  6. goldenhurricane2

    goldenhurricane2 Well-Known Member

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    Yes - nitrate is undetectable and has been for months.
     
  7. goldenhurricane2

    goldenhurricane2 Well-Known Member

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    I get my rodi water from a reputable lfs.
     
  8. goldenhurricane2

    goldenhurricane2 Well-Known Member

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    I don't have an iron test kit but I use the Red Sea kit for checking nitrate, phosphate, alk, calcium, and magnesium.
     
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  9. Randy Holmes-Farley

    Randy Holmes-Farley Reef Chemist Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Expert Contributor Article Contributor

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    If you like Chemipure products, you might switch to Chemipure elite to export some of that phosphate. :)
     
  10. marke

    marke Well-Known Member

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    Just to offer a different opinion than Dr Randy. Iron may be beneficial to algae like chaeto if your truly depleted. I doubt it! Reducing your Po4 will increase coloration in sps corals so the use of GFO or HC GFO is the way to go!!! Not sure why Dr R would suggest a specific product like chemipure (whats in it R?) which is not a pure GFO product? Just ME opinion here, this is a place to discuss and share opinions without getting upset!! Your problem if you are truly at zero nitrates is a nitrate starved system. The addition of a blended nitrate product of high quality (low impurities) will help your system. Why? Let ME try! If your at zero NO3 your corals cant eat!! For a few months you said? They need significantly more No3 than Po4 explains Dr Redfield and Dr R. Much of your bacteria, algae, pods. and other beneficial microbials all need No3 to grow and multiply, just like your corals. If they are starved they deplete in quantity or even disappear; hence, they cant perform their beneficial role. That of consuming TONs of NO3 and a little Po4. Meaning if you raise your No3 to detectable levels, give bacteria some time to grow and multiply, you will then see a reduction on PO4 if you are supplementing No3. You described paleness in corals? This is a clear symptom of No3 deprivation, not browning of corals which is the result we get from high Po4. This is not much different than a carbon deprived system and is why some dose vinegar,vodka,sugar, biopellets, etc to increase bacteria population. Problem is they consume much more no3 than Po4? So add No3 and they will reduce po4. Oh--Did you say "I will just add a ton of food to increase No3"? Sound logical but....... Food will increase Po4 faster than No3. Read Dr R's article on the make up of fish food. So whats the risk of adding No3? First its adding to fast. The bacteria needs to grow over weeks not hours! Take it increases slow. Second risk is totally stopping after dosing for some time. This leads to quick deprivation and paleness in sps. Lastly is the risk of using a low quality product that is full of toxic trace metals. Use a product designed for aquariums! Not stumps and carrots in the garden.

    PS: My concern is your not truly at zero NO3? I make this assumption because if you were at zero No3 you would not have excessive algae growth? They would also starve not proliferate?
     
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  11. Randy Holmes-Farley

    Randy Holmes-Farley Reef Chemist Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Expert Contributor Article Contributor

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    Because it adds GFO to his current product, which presumably he likes.

    When my refugium began to become overrun by hair algae on macroalgae, someone suggested iron to me 15 years ago or more. It worked! It seemed to spur the macro and the microalgae declined.

    If he has a hair algae problem, I do not think he can be starving corals for nitrogen since they can generally get enough nitrate in situations where algae cannot (hence eutrophication resulting in algae).

    It's a fine experiment to add nitrate and see what happens, I just don't see evidence that it is the problem here. :)
     
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  12. goldenhurricane2

    goldenhurricane2 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for all the helpful advice everyone!

    I am currently running gfo in a reactor to help with phosphate issues (phosban), but I still get a Po4 reading of 0.08-0.1ppm when I test. And yes nitrate has held steady around 0-1ppm for months now.

    Someone I know suggested adding some bacteria into the system and stopping with carbon and chemi pure all together. This seemed scary since it goes against everything I thought I knew about nutrient exports.
     
  13. saltyfilmfolks

    saltyfilmfolks Lights! Camera! Reef! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Photo of the Month Award Reef Squad

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    Not sur I would pull it altogether either.
    I'm one to suggest good aggressive bacterial supplements as well. The theory is, over time a single bacteria may become slightly more dominant than others and processing is reduced.
    So it just a bolster or sublime the to the biofilter to speed natural reduction with bacteria.
    How true this is is a bit speculative it seems as I'm not a biologist.
    I generally reccomend dr Tims one and only as waste away. Probidio has a god maintenance program as well and MB7 is the last on that list.
    As I recall probidio also contains a slight carbon dose as does MB7.
     
  14. Randy Holmes-Farley

    Randy Holmes-Farley Reef Chemist Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Expert Contributor Article Contributor

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    I can't see how adding bacteria will reduce phosphate. The phosphate may not be a problem, but if you want to lower it you may need to use more GFO or replace it more often.
     
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  15. goldenhurricane2

    goldenhurricane2 Well-Known Member

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    How often would you suggest changing gfo?

    If phosphate may not be the problem, what do you think would be?
     
  16. Randy Holmes-Farley

    Randy Holmes-Farley Reef Chemist Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Expert Contributor Article Contributor

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    How often are you changing it now? Ever measure the phosphate in the effluent? At high levels it can deplete in a day.

    Which problem specifically?
     
  17. bif24701

    bif24701 Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Well that's why your corals are bleaching and macro algae isn't growing too well.
     
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  18. Randy Holmes-Farley

    Randy Holmes-Farley Reef Chemist Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Expert Contributor Article Contributor

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    Why not suggest this "The theory is, over time a single bacteria which is most efficient may become slightly more dominant than others and processing is increased. "
     
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  19. Randy Holmes-Farley

    Randy Holmes-Farley Reef Chemist Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Expert Contributor Article Contributor

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    Even with hair algae starting to grow?

    "starting to see a little hair algae and lingbya (brown algae) too. "

    It's easy to test by dosing nitrate, but I wouldn't assume it is the issue.
     
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  20. saltyfilmfolks

    saltyfilmfolks Lights! Camera! Reef! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Photo of the Month Award Reef Squad

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    I will. Thank you.
     

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