Nitrate/phosphate testing question

Meloco14

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My tank has been running for 11 months now and that includes a tank move when we bought a new house in March. Since the cycle finished I have never tested over 5ppm Nitrate (API test kit) or over 0 phosphate (standard hanna checker not ULR). I have had and still do have algae outbreaks, went through diatoms, small hair algae outbreak, cyano came and went and now came again after moving the tank. I feed fairly heavy, pellets on an auto feeder 3 times a day, frozen when I get home at night. I have had chaeto in my fuge since day 1 which I think was a mistake, I think it takes up all the nutrients too quickly. I just bought the Nyos Nitrate kit to get a better number than the API, and the result is 1ppm. I plan to get the ULR hanna phosphate checker soon. But my question is should I feed more or dose Nitrate or phosphate to get my levels up? I still do have hair algae and cyano in the tank so I don't want to feed them. I also feel like I am feeding enough but the chaeto just pulls the nutrients out so quickly that I don't see the numbers on the test kits. As long as I have nuisance algae growing is it safe to assume I have enough nutrients and I shouldn't add more? I haven't had the best luck with my corals so I want to make sure the nutrients are enough for them. It's hard to understand what to do when I have bad algae growing but test kits show 0 and my corals aren't thriving. Not sure if this makes sense, but any advice with nitrate/phosphate is appreciated.
 
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Azedenkae

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My tank has been running for 11 months now and that includes a tank move when we bought a new house in March. Since the cycle finished I have never tested over 5ppm Nitrate (API test kit) or over 0 phosphate (standard hanna checker not ULR). I have had and still do have algae outbreaks, went through diatoms, small hair algae outbreak, cyano came and went and now came again after moving the tank. I feed fairly heavy, pellets on an auto feeder 3 times a day, frozen when I get home at night. I have had chaeto in my fuge since day 1 which I think was a mistake, I think it takes up all the nutrients too quickly. I just bought the Nyos Nitrate kit to get a better number than the API, and the result is 1ppm. I plan to get the ULR hanna phosphate checker soon. But my question is should I feed more or dose Nitrate or phosphate to get my levels up? I still do have hair algae and cyano in the tank so I don't want to feed them. I also feel like I am feeding enough but the chaeto just pulls the nutrients out so quickly that I don't see the numbers on the test kits. As long as I have nuisance algae growing is it safe to assume I have enough nutrients and I shouldn't add more? I haven't had the best luck with my corals so I want to make sure the nutrients are enough for them. It's hard to understand what to do when I have bad algae growing but test kits show 0 and my corals aren't thriving. Not sure if this makes sense, but any advice with nitrate/phosphate is appreciated.
Hi there!

Yes what you say does make sense.

So anyways, there's a few considerations here. Algae can and do outcompete corals for nutrients, and perhaps they just completely strip all phosphate from the water too quickly for your corals to utilize it, no matter how much you feed.

However, this is really more of an issue for those who feed lightly and/or don't spread out their feedings, the latter can result in a spike in nutrients that are immediately used up by algae, and then the rest of the day there's nothing for the corals.

But so yeah, if you feed heavy three times a day, it does not sound like the corals should be THAT starved, unless a. you have WAY too much algae compared to coral, and/or b. the algae is smothering the corals or something. The other possibility is that your corals are not doing well for other reasons.

So, questions.
1. How much algae do you have? Both chaeto and nuisance algae. A picture of the tank and your chaeto setup might be easiest.
2. What corals did you keep? Are there any that you seem to have more or less trouble with? Or do they all kinda just look sad?
 
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Meloco14

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My chaeto grows pretty well. I will take a picture but it's hard to judge size. My fuge is 10% of my DT volume (about 10 gallons) because I set this up to follow the triton method. My fuge lights are 12hrs on a reverse cycle. The GHA in the display is coming out of the holes in a piece of shelf rock. It's persisting but not spreading too much. The cyano spread a lot over the last week. I did a big WC and manually removed as much as I could yesterday, including scrubbing the rocks, cleaning all pumps, socks, and rinsing the chaeto and vacuuming out the fuge. Also did a big WC with manual algae removal a month ago. Since that time cyano has been the primary offender.
The corals I struggled with early on were favia/favites and acans. I lost 4 frags and had given up on another that has come back remarkably since I had to move the tank. After researching I thought it was my low nutrients that caused their decline, along with not feeding them enough. The fact that the one came back after moving the tank supports this theory, as I'm sure a ton of nutrients were stirred up from the rock and sand during the move. I have since added more frags and after about a month I have 2 leptos that are starting to lose tissue, one cyphastrea that went from perfect to probably dead over a weekend, my ricordeas and mushrooms survive but stay pretty small and dont fully extend, and one chalice after a month has started to have spots of lost tissue. On the positive side my blasto, one of my first corals, is doing great, along with the favia that came back from the dead, hammer, couple alveapora, goni, other cyphastrea, acan, Duncan, trumpets, and rfa all doing well.
At one point I did reduce my photoperiod on my fuge and also reduced skimming to try to raise nutrients, but it didn't last long because of cyano and gha outbreak, I went back to normal operation. Maybe I should commit to it for some time and see what happens. The cyano and gha might eventually die off on its own, right?
Maybe I should commit to 3 or 4 weeks of heavy feeding and reduced nutrient export to see if it helps to corals, regardless of the algae growth.
 
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Meloco14

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Meloco14

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The pictures aren't too clear but the last one shows cyano that came back in less than 24hrs after a deep cleaning yesterday. The middle pic is the chalice with white spots of no flesh. The frags on the racks are mixed, some I've had for months, some I just got at RAP. Most are fine except the one cyphastrea and 2 leptos.
 
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The pictures aren't too clear but the last one shows cyano that came back in less than 24hrs after a deep cleaning yesterday. The middle pic is the chalice with white spots of no flesh. The frags on the racks are mixed, some I've had for months, some I just got at RAP. Most are fine except the one cyphastrea and 2 leptos.
In my experience, cyano does this a lot. It’s whole metabolic strategy is based around creating these biofilm mats, and it can be very resilient. I think breaking up the rafts and then immediately treating with an erythromycin product (red slime remover) works best for long term results.
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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I don’t want to hijack this thread but I was just about to post the same. I am at a constant 0 nitrate and 0 phosphate.

Are you looking for advice on how to solve a problem? What problem exactly?
 
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Are you looking for advice on how to solve a problem? What problem exactly?
Thank you. A little background on my tank.. I have had my 120 gallon tank up and running for about 22 months so it’s an established system. It’s a mixed reef tank with 8 fish. I don’t have the greatest color in my sps as well as semi slow growth. I don’t know if my system is too efficient for its own good since there is 0 nitrate and 0 phosphate and I believe that may be starving my corals. I don’t dose carbon nor do I run any reactors. It’s simply the sump which contains filter socks, cheato and a skimmer which only runs about 2 hours a day in order to help keep my ph stable when lights are off. In order to try to increase phos and nitrate I’ve tried a few things over the past few weeks. I’ve gone without filter socks as well as small doses every other day of neophos and neo-nitro. I feel as though I am starving my corals since I have some color but it could be better.
 

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Randy Holmes-Farley

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Thank you. A little background on my tank.. I have had my 120 gallon tank up and running for about 22 months so it’s an established system. It’s a mixed reef tank with 8 fish. I don’t have the greatest color in my sps as well as semi slow growth. I don’t know if my system is too efficient for its own good since there is 0 nitrate and 0 phosphate and I believe that may be starving my corals. I don’t dose carbon nor do I run any reactors. It’s simply the sump which contains filter socks, cheato and a skimmer which only runs about 2 hours a day in order to help keep my ph stable when lights are off. In order to try to increase phos and nitrate I’ve tried a few things over the past few weeks. I’ve gone without filter socks as well as small doses every other day of neophos and neo-nitro. I feel as though I am starving my corals since I have some color but it could be better.

For reasons of preventing dinos and not starving corals, I'd either feed more or dose sodium nitrate and sodium phosphate (which is cheap and pretty easy).
 

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