"Rocks" that will not absorb any phosphate

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KleineVampir

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So yeah...my battle to go water change free and rely almost completely on an algae scrubber is getting me to think about taking some drastic steps. I'm now thinking that the rocks are the biggest problem. The fact that they absorb phosphate and then grow a bunch of algae is just too problematic to deal with. I literally bought a 600 dollar algae scrubber, the Santa Monica HOG 3xx. It still isn't solving the problem. So at first I thought the problem was that the display was out-competing the scrubber, so I needed more power. But that isn't true. I think it's the rocks. They always have a huge rebound after the scrubber finally starts working. The scrubber works for a little while, then it stops working, then the rocks grow a bunch of algae.

So that brings me here, to this dark and desperate place! I'm gonna go bare-bottom and rockless. I'm wondering if anybody out there knows of any rocks that absolutely 100% will not absorb phosphate. Could even be plastic! But I wonder if there isn't another solution like ceramic. Something that's almost like a rock but doesn't absorb any phosphate. The rocks I have now just won't cut it for the method I'm trying to do. I want all the phosphate and nitrate to just be in the water until the scrubber can take them out. Also I will still have bio-blocks in the sump so there will still be areas for the beneficial bacteria to live. But they won't be under light!

So...about those artificial rocks. Or I was thinking even plastic frag racks. The fish are going to want some kind of cover that preferably looks natural. Or do they even really care? I've seen fish living in systems mostly meant for frags and they seem fine! Should I just go bare-bottom frag rack only? Probably a lot less cheesy than artificial rocks. Not entirely sure if I could live with myself if I got some cheesy plastic rocks meant for freshwater. Lol. Might have to say goodbye to keeping firefish since they really like having a dart hole.

I wanted to grow GSP though, that's what makes me think of plastic rocks. Just something that the gsp can grow over anyways. Any recommendations?
 

landlubber

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So yeah...my battle to go water change free and rely almost completely on an algae scrubber is getting me to think about taking some drastic steps. I'm now thinking that the rocks are the biggest problem. The fact that they absorb phosphate and then grow a bunch of algae is just too problematic to deal with. I literally bought a 600 dollar algae scrubber, the Santa Monica HOG 3xx. It still isn't solving the problem. So at first I thought the problem was that the display was out-competing the scrubber, so I needed more power. But that isn't true. I think it's the rocks. They always have a huge rebound after the scrubber finally starts working. The scrubber works for a little while, then it stops working, then the rocks grow a bunch of algae.

So that brings me here, to this dark and desperate place! I'm gonna go bare-bottom and rockless. I'm wondering if anybody out there knows of any rocks that absolutely 100% will not absorb phosphate. Could even be plastic! But I wonder if there isn't another solution like ceramic. Something that's almost like a rock but doesn't absorb any phosphate. The rocks I have now just won't cut it for the method I'm trying to do. I want all the phosphate and nitrate to just be in the water until the scrubber can take them out. Also I will still have bio-blocks in the sump so there will still be areas for the beneficial bacteria to live. But they won't be under light!

So...about those artificial rocks. Or I was thinking even plastic frag racks. The fish are going to want some kind of cover that preferably looks natural. Or do they even really care? I've seen fish living in systems mostly meant for frags and they seem fine! Should I just go bare-bottom frag rack only? Probably a lot less cheesy than artificial rocks. Not entirely sure if I could live with myself if I got some cheesy plastic rocks meant for freshwater. Lol. Might have to say goodbye to keeping firefish since they really like having a dart hole.

I wanted to grow GSP though, that's what makes me think of plastic rocks. Just something that the gsp can grow over anyways. Any recommendations?
the reason we use the rock we do is because it is porous and has tons of surface area and represents a viable spot for bacteria to colonize. plastic doesn't have that capability. bio-blocks are a good solution for aiding this but over time they plug up lose efficiency.
aside from that, i understand you want a water change free maintenance schedule but what isn't mentioned a lot is that the people that have success doing that have multi-year, established systems. even despite a mature system it seems the other shoe drops eventually as no amount of skimming or turf scrubbing will resolve buildups of metals and non-organics that would otherwise get pulled slowly via water change. bare bottom adds yet another wrinkle to the stability issue.
there is likely a way to do what you're hoping to accomplish but its going to be a nasty battle that really opens the door to a crash.
 
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KleineVampir

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the reason we use the rock we do is because it is porous and has tons of surface area and represents a viable spot for bacteria to colonize. plastic doesn't have that capability. bio-blocks are a good solution for aiding this but over time they plug up lose efficiency.
aside from that, i understand you want a water change free maintenance schedule but what isn't mentioned a lot is that the people that have success doing that have multi-year, established systems. even despite a mature system it seems the other shoe drops eventually as no amount of skimming or turf scrubbing will resolve buildups of metals and non-organics that would otherwise get pulled slowly via water change. bare bottom adds yet another wrinkle to the stability issue.
there is likely a way to do what you're hoping to accomplish but its going to be a nasty battle that really opens the door to a crash.
About opening up the tank to a crash, you're right. It does. With the bio-blocks I believe it shouldn't. Where did you get the idea that bio-blocks clog over time? Can you back that statement up?

I just think the rocks are more trouble than they're worth. You don't know any good alternatives?
 

rlamos1

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If one of your goals is no water changes, have you looked into the Triton method? I haven't tried it myself but there are some success stories out there.

Regarding the rock, I have 20 year old rock and faced a similar battle. I solved it by removing as much as possible from the tank, scrubbing the usual growth spots with a brush and directly treating same with 3% hydrogen peroxide followed by vigorous rinsing in RODI and siphoning under the rock while it was out of the tank. Maintenance afterwards includes blasting it with a turkey baster before a water change.

I ran a Chaeto refugium with a powerful grow light during all of this. I wasn't able to declare victory until the above manual steps. You may just be a couple hours of work over a few weekends away from turning the tide.
 
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KleineVampir

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Maybe. But honestly when something is this problematic I lose respect and interest for it. I'm more interested to see if there is a better solution than I am messing with this rock.

Thinking about getting raw obsidian...Pretty sure it's completely inert, and kinda cool. But I wonder if the fish will cut themselves on it.
 
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landlubber

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About opening up the tank to a crash, you're right. It does. With the bio-blocks I believe it shouldn't. Where did you get the idea that bio-blocks clog over time? Can you back that statement up?

I just think the rocks are more trouble than they're worth. You don't know any good alternatives?
can i back that up with a quote or a video? not at the moment nor do i plan on researching for one. however, ive seen an old one removed from a sump and it basically fell apart in solid clumps.
the only alternative to rock in my opinion is marco rock which is essentially the same thing.
you're cutting a new trail here so chances are the road will be expensive and lessons will be learned.
 
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KleineVampir

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Hey man, you know me. I'm all about blazing trails! Obsidian seems to be a good contender, because it's inert and also it's black, meaning it doesn't reflect a bunch of light for algae to be absorbing. Maybe that's a small thing but then again maybe not.

And yeah, I have 250 dollars worth of raw obsidian sitting in a cart in etsy right now. Lol. Pretty sold on it though so I'll probably buy it soon! Not even sure if it's enough but I think it is. If it doesn't work at all for some unforseen reason I could concievably resell it all locally.

Bare-bottom with pure obsidian on one side and a frag tank on the other side. Totally inviting, right? Lol. I dunno, might be really cool and work really well.
 

landlubber

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Hey man, you know me. I'm all about blazing trails! Obsidian seems to be a good contender, because it's inert and also it's black, meaning it doesn't reflect a bunch of light for algae to be absorbing. Maybe that's a small thing but then again maybe not.

And yeah, I have 250 dollars worth of raw obsidian sitting in a cart in etsy right now. Lol. Pretty sold on it though so I'll probably buy it soon! Not even sure if it's enough but I think it is. If it doesn't work at all for some unforseen reason I could concievably resell it all locally.

Bare-bottom with pure obsidian on one side and a frag tank on the other side. Totally inviting, right? Lol. I dunno, might be really cool and work really well.
we never learn what is and isn't possible without experimentation. good luck bud!
 
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