Phosphate: How much is too much and do you even worry about it?

BRS

Do you try to keep your phosphates at a certain level besides zero?

  • Yes (please tell us what in the thread)

    Votes: 275 56.8%
  • No I try to keep mine at zero

    Votes: 47 9.7%
  • I don't worry about phosphate levels

    Votes: 145 30.0%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 17 3.5%

  • Total voters
    484

jenniferreichardt

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I have constantly high phosphates. .3-.4. I’m feeding less (brought them down from .7!!) probably can feed even less. What are other methods for decreasing phosphates? Wetter skim? I use full zeovit system so no fuge. My nitrates are constantly 5, which is good, but I’m concerned for the imbalance. I have zero algae, have to feed my urchin! Help please!
 

305Reefer

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My battle with keeping phosphates in an ideal range was always difficult using GFO and/or Rowaphos. It wasnt until I found Lanthanum Chloride products like PhosRX that it became super easy to handle and more precise. Once a week I just dose 10 drops... I usually test before I dose, but 95% of the time its between 9-11 drops to bring me from .01 to .05...

Refugium and water changes handles my nitrates. They hover around 10. When I see them starting to creep, I just feed less for a couple weeks.
 

ClownWrangler

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I eat match heads when my phosphates are low (kidding). Lol. However I think that Chaeto does a good job at absorbing excess so I don't worry about it. The tank gets phosphates from coral food and fish food, and the chaeto absorbs what's not needed. In the end, it balances itself out. I think calcium is a bigger concern because our tanks don't have the buffer capacity the ocean has.
 

ReefGeezer

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My current tank is about 10 months old and still very immature. It's really a fish only with dry rock system right now. Bioload is low. Algae is gone except for a few stubborn patches of Cyano that pop up every once in a while.

I want to add more fish then corals so I've started monitoring phosphate on a somewhat irregular basis. It has stayed under .1 ppm for the last month, usually around .06 to .08. As I'm not planning on housing any super sensitive SPS corals, it would be great if it stayed that way.
 

AVVITT

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Being a noob to this I guess chasing numbers is what is noobs do because we think that's what we should be doing?!
Now my tank is just over 6 months and I started adding corals about 2 months ago, I started chasing phosphate.
When I first tested, I had something like 1.0 so I was dosing nopox which brought it down but it crept back up a little.
I let it run a while because I thought it may settle but then I started getting GHA and so started dosing nopox again which then brought my phosphate nicely down to 0.03 (if my tests are accurate?)
I'm still seeing GHA spread like wildfire BUT my corals are very happy and flourishing and have been the whole time regardless of my phosphate levels so I'm going to start being more relaxed about the actual value and more worried about a sudden swing which I guess is most of our worries with more parameters right?
 

AVVITT

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I agree with Tracy in Tampa - I don't worry about Phosphate Levels unless I see GHA. I was told along time ago not to chase numbers. Of Course I test for it, but don't really worry about it.

But what if (like me) you have gha and phosphate levels are tested as 0.03?
 

RDaber

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Same here! I'm returning after a decade absence. My phosphate is 0.03 according to my Hanna checker. What are you doing to maintain 0.07 and keeping it in the range you stated?
I am running skimmer fairly wet and using some Cheato in a refugium to try to keep it in line. So far it seems to be working however it is causing my nitrates to run on the low side. Tank is still only 3.5 months old so time will tell if this works or if I need to add other measures.
 

blasterman

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I try to keep mine at between .03 to .1 and have found through experimentation with many tanks this is an ideal range.

I've found that rapidly growing montipora and birdsnests consume phosphate at an astonishing rate and have been able to turn off / on growth in birdsnests and monti caps like a light switch via phosphate bottoming out.

Higher levels of phosphate also fuels algae in younger tanks. Can't help that.
 

TanksJB

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I don't have a phosphate goal except to grow macro algae for nutrient export.

I have struggled to get it going. Please look at my phosphate numbers and give advice if you have an opinion. Too high phosphate may be the problem or something else.

According to Hanna, Phosphate is at .18 (It was at .16 last month.)
Nitrates are in the high range at about 8 according to the Pro test kit.
Mg 1425
Alk 9.1
Cal 680
My tank is 8 months old with lots of rock and some direct from the ocean. I feed light for a few small fish. I have some hair algae in the sump that looks like grass on the gravel but not in the display tank. DT occasionally has some brown algae on the gravel that comes and goes.
Sea lettuce just sits there and will not grow, but at least it doesn't die. I just added Chaeto in the sump last week but so far it doesn't seem to be taking off. Perhaps it is too soon.
I took my LPS out of the main tank because of my nitrate numbers and because some of them didn't look good. You would think my coralline algae would be growing like crazy but at least it is also not dying.
I have sent a sample to ATI for analysis to see what else is going on.
My theory is the tank will grow out of this as it matures but I am just guessing right now. I have a lot of rock and the biological filter should be able to handle the small biological load I currently have at this stage, IMHO. But that's why I am asking because some of you can diagnose better than me. Thanks for any input.
 

Cantusaurus

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For a while my phosphates were as high as 2.7...... VERY HIGH. Due to several reasons that all sort of magnified the issue. I didn't notice for a while since no crazy algae took control at all. Surprisingly my corals looked alright, but most lost some coloration (some barely and some dramatically). But my purple Goni survived, as well as most of my other corals. Over time I began getting it down. I feel the key is making sure TDS is zero or very close to zero on RODI units, and making sure filtration is staying efficient, and feeding isn't crazy. I feel as long as they are below 0.15 (preferably 0.05 or lower) but I feel like the coloraton might be slightly better with really low phosphates, but if they're in the 0.15 ish area I think it should be fine as long as it doesn't get worse and Phosphate media can be replaced to help it.
 

TanksJB

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For a while my phosphates were as high as 2.7...... VERY HIGH. Due to several reasons that all sort of magnified the issue. I didn't notice for a while since no crazy algae took control at all. Surprisingly my corals looked alright, but most lost some coloration (some barely and some dramatically). But my purple Goni survived, as well as most of my other corals. Over time I began getting it down. I feel the key is making sure TDS is zero or very close to zero on RODI units, and making sure filtration is staying efficient, and feeding isn't crazy. I feel as long as they are below 0.15 (preferably 0.05 or lower) but I feel like the coloraton might be slightly better with really low phosphates, but if they're in the 0.15 ish area I think it should be fine as long as it doesn't get worse and Phosphate media can be replaced to help it.
Thanks for your reply.
After I get the ATI results I may find some trace elements or something that are depleted. I plan on using the Moonshiner method of additives when I have the information I need. Mueller says:

"If certain Trace elements are below a particular range, the entire growth cycle is impacted and not just the coloration. A few elements that can’t even be measured with home test kits will cause the entire calcification process to stop and cause other elements such as Calcium, Potassium and Strontium for example to creep up into ranges that they will then bleach corals, makes them more sensitive to light burn or even contribute to Tissue Necrosis (RTN/STN)."

We will see I guess...
 
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