QUESTION OF THE DAY Phosphates: Do you even EXPORT bro?

What method do you use to export phosphates? Choose all that apply

  • Chemically

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  • Naturally

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  • Mechanically

    Votes: 284 43.8%
  • Nothing

    Votes: 76 11.7%

  • Total voters
    648
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Marie7

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Phosphates can be a pain the ole sump! Zero phosphates are no good but too much and you have a problem! Ewww algae! So let's talk today about how the masses are keeping phosphates under control!

1. Do you keep a steady eye on your phosphate levels?

2. What plan do you have in place, chemically, naturally or mechanically to export phosphates?

export phosphates.jpg
I’ m battling phosphates now and its been a huge trouble for a while, I list a lot of corals as its been a combination between alkalinity and nitrates and keeping a good level of PH, once something gets out if control it affects many things on the water quality, right now I hire some one to help me point at the problem and to get things back to control again, I’m using a combination of things such as phos reactor, phos minus and some other things to help bring down the levels of phos and nitrates, so far my corals start to looks better and mostly my blue clam.... checking parameters daily to make sure phos don’t go down to quick as having to much is bad but also trying to bring down levels to quick can be harmful as well.

B9FA4002-496E-4CA4-B64E-F91746019196.jpeg F74B3EFB-5727-48E6-9D99-92354BE53967.jpeg
 

TVV

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biocube 32: 1. Phosgard Chemical
2. In-Tank Refugium
3. 25% bi-weekly water change
 

BeejReef

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Phosphates have been a struggle. Fuge does all I need for N and P.
Generally, I have to dose P, but can't find the happy place between dinos and bubble algae. I think it's a testing prob more than anything. My tester will read .14 and I'll be seeing the beginnings of dino. If I dose it up to stupid high .2, they recede and the BA comes on strong.
 

living_tribunal

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Check out info about the Redfield Ratio. You should have 106:16:1 C/N/P.
They have tested the efficacy of the redfield ratio on various corals. While growth was still strong, it wasn’t as strong as the lower N/P levels of natural reefs which hover between 4-7x N/P.

The redfield ratio is a bit of an arbitrary dart thrown at the coral growing optimization wall based on a loose correlation. The logic is sound, and it’s a good place to start, but not the answer.
 
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ScottB

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I don't fully understand why, but my challenge with phosphates (and nitrates) is keeping them high enough! Admittedly my tank is just under a year old, but I am having to dose ~80ml/day of Brightwell NeoPhos to keep my phosphates in an acceptable range. Like the poster above, I use a ReefBot to measure phosphate levels- twice daily. If I let them get to 0.02ppm of below, corals start visibly suffering and dinoflagellates return.

I feed 5 cubes a day in my 175 gallon system, and had expected phosphate reduction to become an issue by now. My best guess is that the ~100lbs of CaribSea LifeRock is absorbing the phosphates- essentially the opposite of what other people have experienced where old live rock leaches phosphates.
You are probably right about the CaribSea rock storing some of your PO4. I believe it will accumulate there over time until the rock saturation level exceeds that of your water. At which point PO4 will leach back into the water until equalized. I think it is kinda cool as a natural stability feature of a mature system.
 

living_tribunal

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You are probably right about the CaribSea rock storing some of your PO4. I believe it will accumulate there over time until the rock saturation level exceeds that of your water. At which point PO4 will leach back into the water until equalized. I think it is kinda cool as a natural stability feature of a mature system.
New dry rock can bind a massive amount of phosphate. It acts as a buffer basically.

While it is a cool system, it can be a massive pain in the beginning and lead to phosphate deficiency.
 

Belgian Anthias

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Phosphates can be a pain the ole sump! Zero phosphates are no good but too much and you have a problem! Ewww algae! So let's talk today about how the masses are keeping phosphates under control!

This assumes phosphate will cause problems! Phosphates or phosphorus availability? What are the problems which may be caused by "too much" inorganic phosphates?
What is "too much"?
What is the effect of the phosphate level on algae growth compared with the nitrogen source used? May phosphorus be the limiting factor for algae growth?
I think it will be a combination of all parameters and not only phosphorus. What may be the effect of removing phosphate without taking into account all other essential nutrients?

It has been shown coral bleaching is caused due to phosphorus starvation during a period of increased growth ( temp?) supported by high nitrogen availability. (high N/P ratio?)
It has been shown increased phosphorus availability supports coral calcification and influences coral density but is not harmful to coral growth. ref: http://www.baharini.eu/baharini/doku.php?id=nl:makazi:chemie:calcificatie

Phosphate is produced by heterotrophic remineralization.

Removing phosphorus by assimilation, by harvesting slow-growing algae, prevents nutrient starvation as heterotrophic remineralization is faster as autotrophic assimilation and is my favorite. The removal can be estimated.

Chemical phosphorus removal may cause nutrients to unbalance and is only advisable if active controllable, in a reactor or refuge. It may create phosphorus starvation if not active-controlled.

Bacterial phosphorus assimilation due to organic carbon addition completely messes up the nutrient availability in the system and does not remove a thing. It may be back as fast as it is used. The influence on the normal remineralization rate, based on the natural demand for organic carbon, and the availability of essential nutrients for slower-growing organisms? The effect on the total carrying capacity based on the ammonia removal rate? And a lot more.
If dosing is based on the nitrate level the cure may become a lot worse as any problem which may be caused by the presence of phosphate. The same can be said for nitrate.
The production and reuse or harvesting bio floc in a refuge, without influencing the C/N ratio in the main system, is another application of biological nutrient management. ref: http://www.baharini.eu/baharini/doku.php?id=nl:makazi:het_water:filtratie:biofloc&rev=1578596964

A skimmer removes only max +- 35% DOC and TOC, and does this very selective, leaving the same kind of waste behind. It may prevent phosphate production due to preventing remineralization but will not prevent nitrogen and phosphorus accumulation as it constantly removes building materials needed to prevent the accumulation of inorganic nutrients.

When phosphate becomes a problem? A problem needing action? Normal biological nutrient management does not restore imbalances created by filtration. Often the method used to correct nutrient levels has a lot bigger impact on the system as the nutrient level ever will.
Increased phosphate and nitrate levels show something is preventing growth or and abnormal high remineralization has or is taking place. The content of a dead fish may lead to a lot of algae growth. If the fish is not removed in time one must harvest algae. As the remineralization rate of heterotrophs may be a lot higher as the assimilation rate of photo-autotrophs, nitrate and phosphate will accumulate. Must this phosphate be removed or do we wait until nature does what it has planned? Will nature be able to act as planned in a system with a skimmer?
Often increased phosphate availability is the result and not the cause and correcting the availability without looking any further may increase the problem instead of solving it. Of course, when it is really going wrong due to messing with natural processes, the phosphate level will always be there to take the blame.
Phosphate levels as present in a reef aquarium do not kill, exempt if phosphorus is not sufficiently available.
What is the relation between inorganic phosphate measured in the water column and the availability of usable phosphorus?
 

MnFish1

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They have tested the efficacy of the redfield ratio on various corals. While growth was still strong, it wasn’t as strong as the lower N/P levels of natural reefs which hover between 4-7x N/P.

The redfield ratio is a bit of an arbitrary dart thrown at the coral growing optimization wall based on a loose correlation. The logic is sound, and it’s a good place to start, but not the answer.
Never understood why people would think the 'Redfield ratio' has anything to do with coral growth, etc - on its own. The red field ratio first of all is not a measurement of 'nitrate and phosphate' in the water - its a measure of Nitrogen and Phosphorous in phytoplankton. The other problem with using it is that lets say my PO4 is 100 my nitrate is 1000 (totally arbitrary) - Nitrate:phosphate = 10:1. That is the same ratio as if the PO4 was 0.1 and the Nitrate was 1.0 Ie 10:1
 

Hemmdog

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I use a bag of chemipure elite to lower PO4, placed in my sump baffle. I feed extra reef roids to raise PO4. It’s worked very well for me for years this way.
I keep it at 0.03ppm, when the media bag needs replaced it will climb to 0.1ppm. I overfed reef roids once and got it to 1.0ppm :(
Nothing a bag of chemipure elite couldn’t solve, it was back down to 0.03 within a week.
 
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living_tribunal

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Phosphates can be a pain the ole sump! Zero phosphates are no good but too much and you have a problem! Ewww algae! So let's talk today about how the masses are keeping phosphates under control!

This assumes phosphate will cause problems! Phosphates or phosphorus availability? What are the problems which may be caused by "too much" inorganic phosphates?
What is "too much"?
What is the effect of the phosphate level on algae growth compared with the nitrogen source used? May phosphorus be the limiting factor for algae growth?
I think it will be a combination of all parameters and not only phosphorus. What may be the effect of removing phosphate without taking into account all other essential nutrients?

It has been shown coral bleaching is caused due to phosphorus starvation during a period of increased growth ( temp?) supported by high nitrogen availability. (high N/P ratio?)
It has been shown increased phosphorus availability supports coral calcification and influences coral density but is not harmful to coral growth. ref: http://www.baharini.eu/baharini/doku.php?id=nl:makazi:chemie:calcificatie

Phosphate is produced by heterotrophic remineralization.

Removing phosphorus by assimilation, by harvesting slow-growing algae, prevents nutrient starvation as heterotrophic remineralization is faster as autotrophic assimilation and is my favorite. The removal can be estimated.

Chemical phosphorus removal may cause nutrients to unbalance and is only advisable if active controllable, in a reactor or refuge. It may create phosphorus starvation if not active-controlled.

Bacterial phosphorus assimilation due to organic carbon addition completely messes up the nutrient availability in the system and does not remove a thing. It may be back as fast as it is used. The influence on the normal remineralization rate, based on the natural demand for organic carbon, and the availability of essential nutrients for slower-growing organisms? The effect on the total carrying capacity based on the ammonia removal rate? And a lot more.
If dosing is based on the nitrate level the cure may become a lot worse as any problem which may be caused by the presence of phosphate. The same can be said for nitrate.
The production and reuse or harvesting bio floc in a refuge, without influencing the C/N ratio in the main system, is another application of biological nutrient management. ref: http://www.baharini.eu/baharini/doku.php?id=nl:makazi:het_water:filtratie:biofloc&rev=1578596964

A skimmer removes only max +- 35% DOC and TOC, and does this very selective, leaving the same kind of waste behind. It may prevent phosphate production due to preventing remineralization but will not prevent nitrogen and phosphorus accumulation as it constantly removes building materials needed to prevent the accumulation of inorganic nutrients.

When phosphate becomes a problem? A problem needing action? Normal biological nutrient management does not restore imbalances created by filtration. Often the method used to correct nutrient levels has a lot bigger impact on the system as the nutrient level ever will.
Increased phosphate and nitrate levels show something is preventing growth or and abnormal high remineralization has or is taking place. The content of a dead fish may lead to a lot of algae growth. If the fish is not removed in time one must harvest algae. As the remineralization rate of heterotrophs may be a lot higher as the assimilation rate of photo-autotrophs, nitrate and phosphate will accumulate. Must this phosphate be removed or do we wait until nature does what it has planned? Will nature be able to act as planned in a system with a skimmer?
Often increased phosphate availability is the result and not the cause and correcting the availability without looking any further may increase the problem instead of solving it. Of course, when it is really going wrong due to messing with natural processes, the phosphate level will always be there to take the blame.
Phosphate levels as present in a reef aquarium do not kill, exempt if phosphorus is not sufficiently available.
What is the relation between inorganic phosphate measured in the water column and the availability of usable phosphorus?
Amen! This has been what I have been communicating to others and utilizing in my own reef.

The new research on how phosphates impact coral growth is unmistakeable and easily replicated in our tanks.

There are now hundreds of studies on this but then one I refer to is here:


Another study tested calcification, tissue growth, and polyp extension at various phosphate ranges from 0 to .5. The fastest coral growth occurred at .5.

People should be less concerned about their phosphates and more concerned about their nitrate.
 

living_tribunal

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Never understood why people would think the 'Redfield ratio' has anything to do with coral growth, etc - on its own. The red field ratio first of all is not a measurement of 'nitrate and phosphate' in the water - its a measure of Nitrogen and Phosphorous in phytoplankton. The other problem with using it is that lets say my PO4 is 100 my nitrate is 1000 (totally arbitrary) - Nitrate:phosphate = 10:1. That is the same ratio as if the PO4 was 0.1 and the Nitrate was 1.0 Ie 10:1
I couldn’t agree more.
 

Scrubber_steve

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the approximate range I want which is always ~5x N/P. In absolute terms, I maintain nitrate at .5 and phosphate at .1.
I’ve found the research to indeed be very impactful in my reef and maintaining a low N/P has led to much faster growth than I witnessed before.
[URLunfurl="true"]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5441187/[/URL]
Your magical 5x N/P ratio doesn't appear to be supported by your linked paper?
The paper clearly states the following;

In our experiments, a phosphate concentration of ~ 0.3 μM (0.0285ppm) at a N/P ratio of 22:1 yielded an overall healthy phenotype.

*Accordingly, it is likely that the absolute N/P ratio becomes also less critical for the proper functioning of the symbionts when phosphate concentrations exceed a vital supply threshold (> 0.3 μM)
(0.0285ppm), even when the symbionts are rapidly proliferating.*

so if PO4 is maintained at 0.03 ppm or above, which is typically advised, a low N to P ratio becomes unimportant. It seems to me that suggesting an extreme low N to P ratio of 5x as optimal is misguided.

Perhaps the increase coral growth in your 7 month old system was just the result of the system maturing?
 

biophilia

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There are too many examples of successful tanks all over the phosphate spectrum to have me convinced of any particular ideal number — but I like to at least strive to keep measurable PO4 relatively stable (and present in some quantity) just to try and eliminate it is a variable when chasing issues. For that I like lanthanum chloride when necessary because it's easy to control. For me, nuisance algae usually seems to be a function of too few of grazers or something really off w/ husbandry habits...

The studies pointing to optimal P/N ratios are really interesting, but the ones I've skimmed seem to be controlling for PO4 flux in a way that makes them almost irrelevant for the average reefer -- since the test kits we're using often aren't really that accurate to begin with and also don't give us much insight into daily P flux. And, presumably, none of us are going to stop feeding our fish or corals for any meaningful length of time to really measure what we'd need to to establish the actual P/N ratio the corals are having access to. Not to mention huge differences tank-to-tank in nutrient cycling related to biomass of sponges, aquarist feeding habits, specific clades of zooxanthellae, etc.

I’d probably be more concerned about the specific numbers if aqua-culturing stony corals in a vessel with only light and simple biofilter and no fish, benthic crustaceans, porifera, or whatever.
 
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