Phosphate testing and dosing should be part of the tank cycle process.

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happyhourhero

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When a new hobbyist asks how to cycle their tank, we should be encouraging them to test and if needed, dose for phosphates during their initial cycling process. This is especially true if they are using mined dry rock and sand.

After doing everything I could possibly think of as I started up my current tank to prevent dinos, I still got dinos. I still got them because, in large part, I ignored phosphate testing during the cycle and early stages of the tank because I thought that heavy feeding would be enough to keep my P04 up.

Once I really dug in for my fight against the dinos and realized it was not easy to keep p04 detectable in my 25 gallon, skimmer less tank, I started to see a common theme with others fighting dinos. We all had partially or all dry rock. I dosed phosphate daily per the instructions to keep my p04 at or close to .10 and it ended up taking a little over 500ml of neophos before my tank could keep a steady p04 reading without dosing.

I had ostreopsis which was quickly beaten back with UV and dosing phosphate and nitrate and it was only visible for a couple of weeks and with the exception of some cyano that followed the dinos, I did not have any algae that would have been consuming the phosphate so I believe my rock and possibly sand was absorbing or binding the phosphate.

In the past when we used dry rock, it was mostly dried live rock which was usually loaded with p04 to the point it was always suggested to cure the rock with some GFO running to get all the phosphate out before adding it to the display. Now days, the majority of the rock is either manufactured or mined in south Florida.

My rock was the mined Marco rock and I am interested in if what I encountered is common and if folks who shave started tanks with the other dry rock options today ran into dinos and if bottomed out nutrients were a factor.
 
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ajnies

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Fascinating. I've had my tank setup (used all Marco rock) for about 6 months now, but am going through an extended ugly stage with dinos, cyano, the works... I'm still having issues maintaining any level of PO4 for more than a couple days without dosing. Certainly could be the rock soaking it up! I wonder at what point it will hit it's saturation point. I've only gone through about half a 500ml bottle of neophos so far.
 
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Fascinating. I've had my tank setup (used all Marco rock) for about 6 months now, but am going through an extended ugly stage with dinos, cyano, the works... I'm still having issues maintaining any level of PO4 for more than a couple days without dosing. Certainly could be the rock soaking it up! I wonder at what point it will hit it's saturation point. I've only gone through about half a 500ml bottle of neophos so far.
Fwiw, I started dosing p04 in mid April and stopped in mid July.
 

F i s h y

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I think this is a brilliant idea. We often talk about the nitrogen cycle but fail to recognize the importance that a good NO3 PO4 ratio has on the ecosystem in our reef tanks. Phosphates are a fundamental building block. I agree this should def be a part of the initial conversation.
 

MnFish1

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When a new hobbyist asks how to cycle their tank, we should be encouraging them to test and if needed, dose for phosphates during their initial cycling process. This is especially true if they are using mined dry rock and sand.

After doing everything I could possibly think of as I started up my current tank to prevent dinos, I still got dinos. I still got them because, in large part, I ignored phosphate testing during the cycle and early stages of the tank because I thought that heavy feeding would be enough to keep my P04 up.

Once I really dug in for my fight against the dinos and realized it was not easy to keep p04 detectable in my 25 gallon, skimmer less tank, I started to see a common theme with others fighting dinos. We all had partially or all dry rock. I dosed phosphate daily per the instructions to keep my p04 at or close to .10 and it ended up taking a little over 500ml of neophos before my tank could keep a steady p04 reading without dosing.

I had ostreopsis which was quickly beaten back with UV and dosing phosphate and nitrate and it was only visible for a couple of weeks and with the exception of some cyano that followed the dinos, I did not have any algae that would have been consuming the phosphate so I believe my rock and possibly sand was absorbing or binding the phosphate.

In the past when we used dry rock, it was mostly dried live rock which was usually loaded with p04 to the point it was always suggested to cure the rock with some GFO running to get all the phosphate out before adding it to the display. Now days, the majority of the rock is either manufactured or mined in south Florida.

My rock was the mined Marco rock and I am interested in if what I encountered is common and if folks who shave started tanks with the other dry rock options today ran into dinos and if bottomed out nutrients were a factor.
I used dry rock (see my build thread) - bottled bacteria - and a small amount of live rock from another tank. I did not do anything to 'remove phosphate' from the dry rock. Nor did I have a rising phosphate - nor did I ever have Dinos. I have had Dinos, though, but as far as I can tell there is no relationship to specific parameters. The one thing I have found to help any of the 'ugly phases' is less surface area on which they will grow. (i.e. more coral less uncovered rock)
 

brandon429

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I want the focus aimed on fish disease due to rampant outbreaks...there are also rampant outbreaks of dinos too so if someone wants to curb that problem with focus I get it. its a great idea to get several active examples on file of live tanks doing it, carry the patterns out to page 20 with dinos control and the catch: no tradeoff invasions. can't produce fields of gha tanks in order to battle dinos. gotta produce clean reefs.


the reason my cycling threads Chip don't use phosphate testing is because we go about things with physical removal vs chemical. but, as you know that uses up water in siphon extractions. if anyone can tune nutrients to prevent the need, it will be good for the hobby and less water wasted.

this thread needs to become a place where brand new cyclers are recruited to apply recurring setup details and then by page 20 you know something about the method. pics and testimony are worth gold on anyone's page 20 work thread.
 

brandon429

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I'm 100% for someone building a work thread with multiple tank entries who really agree to stay dedicated to the process being inspected, its the fastest way to evolve reefing practice from cause to cause. start selling participation in the new tanks forum, they post by the minute folks willing to try new trends.

why would I detest nitrite factoring in cycles for hundreds of pages but fully want to see phosphate control testing? because phosphate is an impactful parameter. it really has strong ties to various outcomes in reefing, plant selection if not careful that's for sure. and, I believe based on phosphate tuning threads it can be wielded to battle dinos and cyano when done correctly and with x factor skill.
 
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I used dry rock (see my build thread) - bottled bacteria - and a small amount of live rock from another tank. I did not do anything to 'remove phosphate' from the dry rock. Nor did I have a rising phosphate - nor did I ever have Dinos. I have had Dinos, though, but as far as I can tell there is no relationship to specific parameters. The one thing I have found to help any of the 'ugly phases' is less surface area on which they will grow. (i.e. more coral less uncovered rock)
Which dry rock? My hypothesis extends to mined rock (like Marco) only after digging into this more. I got shot down pretty good elsewhere with “it’s well documented that phosphate binds to aragonite” and I concur after looking into it more so I would amend my first post to say “if you started a mined dry rock tank, be sure to keep your phosphates above zero so you maybe miss out on dinos”.
 

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This sounds like something for a more advanced person than a newbie. Cycling seems simple but when you’ve never done it before it’s daunting enough without having to dose something you may never really need to dose. Keep it simple is what I’d say unless you know what you’re doing and really you might want to dose phosphates.
 

takitaj

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Idunno, there could be some merit to P04 (maybe even N03?) dosing during tank cycling with dead virgin rock. Creating a N03/P04 balance at "proper" levels during or before cycling maybe?

If it's fact that all living things need phosphates, why not the nitrifying bacteria we're trying to introduce/grow in our tanks? Perhaps it might improve cycling and/or some of the common issues that so many experience after? I would love to hear a true biologist's take on it. Even better to run some kind of experiment. @brandon429 ?

Just thinking out loud to continue the discussion. Not an argument, I'm no scientist, but a genuine question. :)
 

brandon429

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folks in the chemistry forum tell us there's great movement of phosphate in and out of new rock surfaces, new sand surfaces in exchange with the water. once that stabilizes it would be neat to see how 20 or so tanks using careful tuning turn out. how the public wields their phosphate test kits will matter, color interpretation kits are hard to wrangle among twenty reporters.
 
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MnFish1

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Which dry rock? My hypothesis extends to mined rock (like Marco) only after digging into this more. I got shot down pretty good elsewhere with “it’s well documented that phosphate binds to aragonite” and I concur after looking into it more so I would amend my first post to say “if you started a mined dry rock tank, be sure to keep your phosphates above zero so you maybe miss out on dinos”.
It was "BRS Tonga Large 20+” Shelf Dry Live Rock"
 

MnFish1

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PS - I don't know who said it - yes - every living thing needs Phosphorous to grow. So - in theory - you're correct. The issue with 'cycling' is that obligate autotrophs (nitrifiers) need more ammonia that phosphorous. Maybe this is in part why they grow a lot more slowly than other heterotrophs. What is an interesting thought - its whether VERY SMALL doses of PO4 - will help speed up nitrifying bacteria. My guess is that whether we can measure it or not - there is enough for them to grow without it.
 

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folks in the chemistry forum tell us there's great movement of phosphate in and out of new rock surfaces, new sand surfaces in exchange with the water. once that stabilizes it would be neat to see how 20 or so tanks using careful tuning turn out. how the public wields their phosphate test kits will matter, color interpretation kits are hard to wrangle among twenty reporters.

Actually I don't think it needs to be super accurate, just that P04 (or N03) is in there and kept at a minimal "proper", balanced level. "Proper" as we present it now (in our tanks not the ocean) would be 0.03-0.1 for PO4 and around 3-10 for NO3 for the golden 1:100 ratio.

PS - I don't know who said it - yes - every living thing needs Phosphorous to grow. So - in theory - you're correct. The issue with 'cycling' is that obligate autotrophs (nitrifiers) need more ammonia that phosphorous. Maybe this is in part why they grow a lot more slowly than other heterotrophs. What is an interesting thought - its whether VERY SMALL doses of PO4 - will help speed up nitrifying bacteria. My guess is that whether we can measure it or not - there is enough for them to grow without it.

Exactly! Just keeping the minimum but balanced amounts. May speed up the cycle, may not. May also help to bolster other good organisms during the cycle as well. So at the end of the cycle we could be starting off in a much better condition than one that used nothing but NH3/4. Maybe the "ugly phase" could be shortened? Maybe dinos would be less prevalent because they can't get the advantage they can when nothing else is present yet and nutrients are balanced where it normally takes months to get to that point?
 

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If it's fact that all living things need phosphates, why not the nitrifying bacteria we're trying to introduce/grow in our tanks? Perhaps it might improve cycling and/or some of the common issues that so many experience after? I would love to hear a true biologist's take on it.
Exactly - people that still measure nitrite during a startup have noted that a stalled process before step 2 sometimes can be reactivated again with a small addition of phosphate. I have always stated my aquariums this way . and never seen the ugly phases at all with an exception of some diatoms day 5-7. My CUC takes care of that and when I get some PO4 in the system - other algae take over. IMO - diatoms is not because of silicate - it is because of very low PO4 concentrations. diatoms are very good in using low concentrations of PO4 - so low that normal green algae not can compete.

Sincerely Lasse
 

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This might sound stupid, and there might also be something on the market like this, but as a new reefer I would like to see less emphasis on "instant tank bacteria" and more on "instant life mix" - including *nicer* strains of diatoms, dinos, micro-algaes etc. AND starting the nutrient cycle up at some non-trivial scale immediately.

As far as I can see we're all playing roulette when starting a tank regarding which cyano, which sort of dino (ooh you got the toxic one, bad luck etc.) and which hair algae we're going to come up against; why not tip the table so that it's more predictable?

edit: obviously I'm talking about a dry rock start here. I've had live rock before in the 90's, was a fun and wild ride.
 
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