Reached Milestones of N:P 0-0, but miles to go

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Gogol_frag

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After 2 years of running my current 180 Gallon sumpless reef, I have finally hit the milestone of 0 Nitrates, and 0 Phosphates, well kinda. I should have added that i infrequently do water changes - last one was 5 months back.

PO4: 0.101 ppm

NO3: 0.43 ppm



So, I am still quite far from my goal of ULNS, but definitely getting there (ULNS ~ PO4: 0.03 ppm, NO3: 0.2 ppm)



The usual suspects in getting my N:p down, in decreasing order of suspicion are:

NoPox - Per instructions from RedSea
Fully saturated Kalkwasser - to maintain a pH of 8.1 and 8.3 (likely also caused in PO4 precipitation)
Lifereef skimmer - rated for 225 gallons.
Converting my 5 gallon Biopellet reactor to a 5 gallon macroalgae reactor.
Explosion of bristleworms and Sponges that likely helped in cleaning the substrate and water, respectively.
I have been very slow with my coral introduction, after burning through $1K on LPS/SPS within my first couple of months. The current plan is to get the fish-bioload finalized, and nutients/pH stabilized in approx. ULNS range, and then add corals.



Fingers crossed :)
 
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After 2 years of running my current 180 Gallon sumpless reef, I have finally hit the milestone of 0 Nitrates, and 0 Phosphates, well kinda. I should have added that i infrequently do water changes - last one was 5 months back.

PO4: 0.101 ppm

NO3: 0.43 ppm



So, I am still quite far from my goal of ULNS, but definitely getting there (ULNS ~ PO4: 0.03 ppm, NO3: 0.2 ppm)



The usual suspects in getting my N:p down, in decreasing order of suspicion are:

NoPox - Per instructions from RedSea
Fully saturated Kalkwasser - to maintain a pH of 8.1 and 8.3 (likely also caused in PO4 precipitation)
Lifereef skimmer - rated for 225 gallons.
Converting my 5 gallon Biopellet reactor to a 5 gallon macroalgae reactor.
Explosion of bristleworms and Sponges that likely helped in cleaning the substrate and water, respectively.
I have been very slow with my coral introduction, after burning through $1K on LPS/SPS within my first couple of months. The current plan is to get the fish-bioload finalized, and nutients/pH stabilized in approx. ULNS range, and then add corals.



Fingers crossed :)
You don't ever want zero Nitrate and Phosphate.

The coral will die, and you'll end up with opportunistic organisms taking over your tank.
 
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Gogol_frag

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Yeah totally agree. I intend to keep Phosphates at 0.03 ppm and Nitrates at 0.2ppm, while not going mad-scientist crazy.

I am fighting dinos as we speak. To keep them at bay (reefpun intended):

  1. I keep my pH close to high-end of the allowable range
  2. Run an over-powered 40W Aqua UV
  3. Dose home-brewed phytoplanktons
  4. Turkey-baste the rocks and export the dino-growth, daily
  5. Give out a silent prayer to God of Dinoflagellates.
My Fuzzy Chitons munch through cyanos, but they are slow and haven't yet entered Dino-territory yet. Fuzzy Chitons are the best rock-cleaner evva! I have only 8 fishes now, and want to up that number to 14-15, before calling it quits on fish-stocking. Then come the corals.

Currently, I have a some softies and one elegance in my reef - just for a visual gauge of how the future corals are likely to respond.
 
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Gogol_frag

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You don't ever want zero Nitrate and Phosphate.

The coral will die, and you'll end up with opportunistic organisms taking over your tank.
Yeah very true. So, not 0-0, but my current intention to keep Phosphate ane Nitrate at ULNS levels, with a hope that i am in control of introducing the nutrients in my tank - via fish/coral food, amino-acids, etc. and the tank can sequester whatever is not consumed.

I am quite far away from that level of sophistication.
 

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Yeah totally agree. I intend to keep Phosphates at 0.03 ppm and Nitrates at 0.2ppm, while not going mad-scientist crazy.

I am fighting dinos as we speak. To keep them at bay (reefpun intended):

  1. I keep my pH close to high-end of the allowable range
  2. Run an over-powered 40W Aqua UV
  3. Dose home-brewed phytoplanktons
  4. Turkey-baste the rocks and export the dino-growth, daily
  5. Give out a silent prayer to God of Dinoflagellates.
My Fuzzy Chitons munch through cyanos, but they are slow and haven't yet entered Dino-territory yet. Fuzzy Chitons are the best rock-cleaner evva! I have only 8 fishes now, and want to up that number to 14-15, before calling it quits on fish-stocking. Then come the corals.

Currently, I have a some softies and one elegance in my reef - just for a visual gauge of how the future corals are likely to respond.
As you stated you are currently fighting dino’s , You might also consider cutting back your lighting as they are photosynthetic and increase water flow
 

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Yeah very true. So, not 0-0, but my current intention to keep Phosphate ane Nitrate at ULNS levels, with a hope that i am in control of introducing the nutrients in my tank - via fish/coral food, amino-acids, etc. and the tank can sequester whatever is not consumed.

I am quite far away from that level of sophistication.
I run my mixed reef at around 2ppm Nitrate and 0.05 Phosphate.

Keeping it steady is difficult and I'm tempted to increase Nitrate to avoid any nasty surprises if it suddenly drops.
 
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You don't ever want zero Nitrate and Phosphate.

The coral will die, and you'll end up with opportunistic organisms taking over your tank.
gbroadbridge - this is music to my ears. Do those nutrient-levels - 2ppm and .05, restrict you from keeping any SPS or Chalices? I am guessing that all non-chalice LPS are happy campers.
 
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gbroadbridge - This is music to my ears. Do you have any restriction on the kind of SPS corals. that you have tried keeping, but didnt work out?

everything will die if you try to run a system with zero nutrients.

Think of terrestrial plants. They require nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium to grow, right? Coral aren't so different -- they're just animals that use a symbiotic relationship with simple plants (algae) to survive. So the same thing applies -- we need to give them access to N-P-K.

In our tanks, nitrate = nitrogen, phosphate = phosphorous (and K, but the K in salt mix is usually sufficient).


That said, 0-0 can be done. But it requires massive amounts of food, and massive amounts of filtration/export. And even then, you're running on the razor's edge. There's no room for margin.



Michael Paletta profiled a few industry leaders back in 2017 (Sprung, Joshi, WWC, Jason Fox) and averaged their tank parameters. Notice that they're running what was once considered extremely high values of No3 and Po4:
When I averaged out all of the numbers the values were pretty close to those of NSW. Alk was 8.19, Ca 419. Mg 1361, NO3 18.77, PO4 .18, Sr 8.6 and temp 77.


The article is a good read. Check it out here: https://www.reef2reef.com/ams/tank-parameters-of-some-masters.263/
 
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As you stated you are currently fighting dino’s , You might also consider cutting back your lighting as they are photosynthetic and increase water flow
Thanks CoralB! I am certain that my flow needs some work. For lights, i run a 12 hour Actinic only lighting that starts at 12 PM, peaks (100%) at 6PM and shuts out at 12AM. Like an Actinic only Sun. My tank also gets the actual sun for 2 hours in the morning, and the corals go bananas when sunlight hits them. Actually the entire reef does.

I found an article by Randy Holmes Farley abour lowering chances of Dino infestation with low nutrients and high pH. That's where i was thinking of heading. It's only been week 2 between the Dinos and I. So the jury is still out there berween who's winning.
 

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gbroadbridge - This is music to my ears. Do you have any restriction on the kind of SPS corals. that you have tried keeping, but didnt work out?
Well, this tank is only 18 months old but has been running 2/0.05 ever since I got it dialled in.

Everything seems to be happy at those levels. Not dosing any Aminos, just feeding the fish lots.

 
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everything will die if you try to run a system with zero nutrients.

Think of terrestrial plants. They require nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium to grow, right? Coral aren't so different -- they're just animals that use a symbiotic relationship with simple plants (algae) to survive. So the same thing applies -- we need to give them access to N-P-K.

In our tanks, nitrate = nitrogen, phosphate = phosphorous (and K, but the K in salt mix is usually sufficient).


That said, 0-0 can be done. But it requires massive amounts of food, and massive amounts of filtration/export. And even then, you're running on the razor's edge. There's no room for margin.



Michael Paletta profiled a few industry leaders back in 2017 (Sprung, Joshi, WWC, Jason Fox) and averaged their tank parameters. Notice that they're running what was once considered extremely high values of No3 and Po4:



The article is a good read. Check it out here: https://www.reef2reef.com/ams/tank-parameters-of-some-masters.263/
Thank you so much gbru317. Sounds my Nitrates are already wayy too low. My bioload will shoot up, as I double my fish load ( to about 15 fishes in a 180 Gallon). I will for sure be mindful of not lowering my Nitrates too much.

For my current target of 0.03 ppm Phosphate and 0.2 ppm Nitrate, I was just going by the following guidance from Randy Holmes Farley:
http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2004-05/rhf/index.htm
 

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Well, this tank is only 18 months old but has been running 2/0.05 ever since I got it dialled in.

Everything seems to be happy at those levels. Not dosing any Aminos, just feeding the fish lots.

Yeah i will be thrilled to be able to keep a setup like that.
 
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Here's some of the recommendations on paramaters... ReefBuilders, LiveAquaria, BulkReefSupply and WorldWideCorals ... seems like folks like Nitrates but hate Phosphates.

BulkReefSupply
Screenshot_20220814-222947_Chrome.jpg


LiveAquaria
Screenshot_20220814-221608_Chrome.jpg


ReefBuilders

Screenshot_20220814-221954_Kindle.jpg

WorldWideCorals
Screenshot_20220814-220916_Chrome.jpg
 

Reefahholic

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Yeah totally agree. I intend to keep Phosphates at 0.03 ppm and Nitrates at 0.2ppm, while not going mad-scientist crazy.

I am fighting dinos as we speak. To keep them at bay (reefpun intended):

  1. I keep my pH close to high-end of the allowable range
  2. Run an over-powered 40W Aqua UV
  3. Dose home-brewed phytoplanktons
  4. Turkey-baste the rocks and export the dino-growth, daily
  5. Give out a silent prayer to God of Dinoflagellates.
My Fuzzy Chitons munch through cyanos, but they are slow and haven't yet entered Dino-territory yet. Fuzzy Chitons are the best rock-cleaner evva! I have only 8 fishes now, and want to up that number to 14-15, before calling it quits on fish-stocking. Then come the corals.

Currently, I have a some softies and one elegance in my reef - just for a visual gauge of how the future corals are likely to respond.

Some reefers don’t realize just how low .03 ppm of PO4 actually is. I’ll illustrate just how low it is with a video. This was when my tank was only a few months old, and it was quite obvious corals we’re fixing to check out. I couldn’t get the phosphate up manually and my pump wasn’t online yet. I did loose two Acro’s in .03 ppm PO4, but was able to save the others.

Every tank is different and in older established systems corals can survive on residual’s at depleted levels, but it’s not ideal. There’s so many variables that dictate how well the corals will do at lower levels. Most of it depends on the age of the system and nutrition available to the corals.

If you have massive Acro colonies in active growth spurt’s, you will almost always see the nutrients dip very low or even at zero levels on home test kits. In many situations that is not the case. Our test kits can only detect inorganic Phosphate. If that reefer sends off an ICP… you’ll always see some nutrients available in the system. Corals cannot live without phosphate.

Don’t give yourself headaches especially in the beginning. Give the corals what they want and need.

Target at least 3-10 NO3 and .03-0.1 PO4. Your corals will thank you later.

 
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Billys_reef

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+1 to the above posters. I would not try to run a ULNS. Speaking from experience with an ULNS, you are very likely to get dinos if the nutrients bottom out. Once dinos start, it is very hard to get rid of and can wipe our all your corals

I maintain at 0.1 PO4 and 5-10 NO3. Reduce your lighting schedule to 6-8 hours, raise your nutrients, and dose some hydrogen peroxide. This helped me get rid of my dinos without the use of an UV sterilizer
 
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Some reefers don’t realize just how low .03 ppm of PO4 actually is. I’ll illustrate just how low it is with a video. This was when my tank was only a few months old, and it was quite obvious corals we’re fixing to check out. I couldn’t get the phosphate up manually and my pump wasn’t online yet. I did loose two Acro’s in .03 ppm PO4, but was able to save the others.

Every tank is different and in older established systems corals can survive on residual’s at depleted levels, but it’s not ideal. There’s so many variables that dictate how well the corals will do at lower levels. Most of it depends on the age of the system and nutrition available to the corals.

If you have massive Acro colonies in active growth spurt’s, you will almost always see the nutrients dip very low or even at zero levels on home test kits. In many situations that is not the case. Our test kits can only detect inorganic Phosphate. If that reefer sends off an ICP… you’ll always see some nutrients available in the system. Corals cannot live without phosphate.

Don’t give yourself headaches especially in the beginning. Give the corals what they want and need.

Target at least 3-10 NO3 and .03-0.1 PO4. Your corals will thank you later.

I can't thank y'all enough, for pitching in with your experiences. Here's hoping that increased bioload, and not dosing NoPoX will increase my Nitrates.

For what its worth, even at my current levels of 0.1 PO4, and 0.4 NO3 the corals in my tank look happy. But I only have the easy to maintain ones.
 
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