Removing Aluminum from System

ClutchCityReefer

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Hello all,

I wanted a little advice on properly removing Aluminum from my aquarium. I just got my ICP results back yesterday and I am too high - .318ppm. After discussing with some friends I think I've found the culprit - some cheap ceramic media in my sump.

Now that I have that out of my sump, I would like to start bringing my aluminum levels down. I know this will slowly come down via water changes, but I am looking to also do things a little quicker (if possible and more importantly safe). I've recently ordered some metabsord which will arrive soon, but I am curious if I should try to use some poly-filter in the meantime while I wait for it to arrive?

My quandary is this - my phosphates are pretty darn low and I know that the poly-filter will also pull out some phosphates. My phosphates zeroed out about a week ago and I registered 0.05 yesterday using my Hanna checker. Should I just add the poly-filter and monitor phosphates? I have some neophos on hand so I can always dose phosphates if necessary. Another tidbit to note: I am flying blind re: my nitrate level. I ordered the new Hanna checker forever ago from BRS but it still has not arrived so unfortunately I don't know my nitrate levels and thus I fear doing too much that could artificially/chemically change it.

Thanks everyone!
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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Water changes are probably the most generally useful way.

Polyfilters don't remove much phosphate, but I do not believe a polyfilter is likely useful anyway.

It is not clear whether the aluminum is dissolved or particulate. A polyfilter won't remove particulates.

As to dissolved aluminum, Boyd's claims about aluminum turning a polyfilter red are chemical nonsense. There is no form of aluminum known to man that is red. Not sure what they were thinking. Maybe they tested impure aluminum and bound a red impurity.
 
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ClutchCityReefer

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Thanks Randy! Someone I trust said the same thing about the polyfilter not really doing anything but did not have the chemical understanding to explain why - I think you just did really well!

If you were me would you try using the poly-filter or metabsorb from two little fishes or should I just keep it moving and step up the water changes?
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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Thanks Randy! Someone I trust said the same thing about the polyfilter not really doing anything but did not have the chemical understanding to explain why - I think you just did really well!

If you were me would you try using the poly-filter or metabsorb from two little fishes or should I just keep it moving and step up the water changes?

Are leather corals closed up or do you otherwise detect a problem?

If not, I'd just remove the suspected source and continue with your normal water changes.
 

hhaase

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I'm with Randy, unless there is some kind of problem with the system, I'd just remove the offending material and continue as normal. If you've already ordered the metasorb, I'd use it, but otherwise I don't see any more significant action needed.

Over-reaction often causes more issues than the original problem.

What ceramic media was it? I've heard this before with some medias being suspected of leeching aluminum over time.

-Hans
 
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ClutchCityReefer

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One of my photosynthetic gorgonians has been closed up the past 2 days (this is beginning of day 3) but I understand that isn't too uncommon with gorgonians so I wasn't sweating it.

As for the ID for the ceramic media, I can't remember the brand for sure but will follow up with an image shortly. This was a total mistake on my part and a learning lesson. I was preparing to get my skimmer dialed in after cycling then a short break in/run period left all the way open. I wanted to get a ceramic block or plate to use as a stand in case I needed to raise the skimmer (which I didn't), but I figured I would use the media anyway. The mistake is I didn't go to my regular LFS and just went somewhere closer and bought what they suggested. I'm thinking something cheap that is leeching the aluminum...
 
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ClutchCityReefer

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Here it is - wish I could actually remember the brand
 

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ClutchCityReefer

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FWIW I had two of those blocks in my sump and I also run some Seachem Pond Matrix in filter cups. However, from what I've researched and from talking to people I don't think the Seachem is the culprit but I figured I would mention just in case
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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FWIW I had two of those blocks in my sump and I also run some Seachem Pond Matrix in filter cups. However, from what I've researched and from talking to people I don't think the Seachem is the culprit but I figured I would mention just in case

I don't know about Pond matrix, but Seachem phosguard can release aluminum.
 

hhaase

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That particular block is a MaxSpect nano-tech bio-block. Not the brand I was suspecting, I have no knowledge of the max-spect one way or the other on what it contains.
 
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ClutchCityReefer

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Weird. I was able to find another thread where someone says the were able to fix their aluminum problem by removing their Marine Pure and going with the MaxSpec...the mystery continues
 

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Going through some of your other posts, I'd remove the magnet scraper when not using it. Or at least inspect it to make sure the magnet isn't exposed to tank water. Magnets that aren't properly sealed are known to sometimes leach metals. Some early MP40 pumps had issues too that caused rusting impellers and metals in the water column.

Otherwise the common sources are often phosphate removers.

-Hans
 
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ClutchCityReefer

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Thanks Hans. I removed the scraper as well to be safe but one of my friends uses the same one, leaves it in his tank, and doesn't have aluminum issues with his ICP Results. Totally anecdotal (like too much in this hobby unfortunately) and I removed it to be safe but I suspect it may be something else.
 
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ClutchCityReefer

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I'm also using this as filter floss. Any chance this could leach aluminum?

EDIT: I am unable to post Amazon link for some reason so I included a screenshot

poly-fil.JPG
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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I'm also using this as filter floss. Any chance this could leach aluminum?

EDIT: I am unable to post Amazon link for some reason so I included a screenshot

poly-fil.JPG

I strongly doubt it.
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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ClutchCityReefer

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Right, I understand it's really hard to get anything to bind with aluminum. @Randy Holmes-Farley you discussed earlier dissolved v. particulate aluminum. Can you describe the difference/significance of the difference to a novice such as myself?
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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Right, I understand it's really hard to get anything to bind with aluminum. @Randy Holmes-Farley you discussed earlier dissolved v. particulate aluminum. Can you describe the difference/significance of the difference to a novice such as myself?

Sure. Both can potentially be toxic or irritate corals, although more people would be concerned about dissolved aluminum, I think. Beyond that, its gets into detailed chemical and biological issues.

Particulate aluminum oxide is essentially alumina dust. It can vary from tiny (submicron) to large (1 inch chunks). It may irritate things by getting lodged in filter feeders, in gills, etc. It is mostly unlikely to be absorbed internally into a fish. Too big for that. Some of these can be washed away before the source media is used in the tank.

Dissolved aluminum exists as an independent Al+++ ion, or one that may be attached to a small number of other ions in the water. it could bind to organism surfaces such as gills, and may also get absorbed internally.

I discuss aluminum in more detail here, and do some tox tests on dissolved aluminum and corals:

 

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