Unusually high phosphates

https://www.triton.de/en/

DrewBR

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 17, 2020
Messages
43
Reaction score
43
Location
Brazil
Hey everyone.

My reef tank has been up for a few years ad the nutrients were usually low. Recently my phosphates have climbed up to over 1ppm. Nitrates firmly planted at 0. I didn't have the phophate test for a while there so my bad.

I thought this could be because of the heavy feeding I was doing to get some fish up to breeding condition. In sight of this I stopped the heavy feeding, now I'm down to once every 3 days, and I added phosguard as per the instructions. I use chaeto as a form of nutrient control in general and never used phosphate removers before since levels were always low. It's been a week now and I see no significant reduction on the phosphate levels (if the nyos test kit is to be believed).

Also quite a bit of algae has sprung up on the past month or so. I'm asuming the combination of high phos and high temp due to summer.

Corals are doing fine for the most part except for an acro frag I lost and a meteor shower chyphastrea that is not doing so well. There is alo a really upset goniopora but I believe it's like that from it's recent encounter with a large mushroom colony.

What could I do?
 
SWEET 17 Live Sale!

Macbalacano

Recovering Reef Addict
View Badges
Joined
Dec 29, 2019
Messages
1,036
Reaction score
2,808
Location
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
It sounds like you're doing all the right things!

Aside from the algae coming up recently were there any other 'bad' signs in the tank? How are the corals/fish/inverts?

1ppm is very high, especially with the methods you have already employed. It makes me feel like there is a possible testing error. Are you able to use another test kit or have LFS check it for you?

Also, are you using RODI water? If yes, have filters been changed?

I don't think feeding a lot could completely account for 1ppm, seems a bit exessive!
 
OP
DrewBR

DrewBR

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 17, 2020
Messages
43
Reaction score
43
Location
Brazil
It sounds like you're doing all the right things!

Aside from the algae coming up recently were there any other 'bad' signs in the tank? How are the corals/fish/inverts?

1ppm is very high, especially with the methods you have already employed. It makes me feel like there is a possible testing error. Are you able to use another test kit or have LFS check it for you?

Also, are you using RODI water? If yes, have filters been changed?

I don't think feeding a lot could completely account for 1ppm, seems a bit exessive!
Everything living is doing perfectly well. With the exceptions I listed above.

It was actually my routine check up with the lfs's tests that pointed me towards this issue.

I usually buy my water. But this has prompted me to look into an RO/DI unit. I assume that I or someone in the family could have contaminated the carrying vessels and that the water could be going in the tank at some ridiculously high concentration of phosphate.
 

Macbalacano

Recovering Reef Addict
View Badges
Joined
Dec 29, 2019
Messages
1,036
Reaction score
2,808
Location
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Everything living is doing perfectly well. With the exceptions I listed above.

It was actually my routine check up with the lfs's tests that pointed me towards this issue.

I usually buy my water. But this has prompted me to look into an RO/DI unit. I assume that I or someone in the family could have contaminated the carrying vessels and that the water could be going in the tank at some ridiculously high concentration of phosphate.
It is quite possible. One thing you could do is test your new water (before mixing salt) with a TDS meter to see if there is anything else in there, but we should always aim to get TDS down to 0. It does not directly address the Phosphate issue, but just another thing to check into.

I wouldn't be trying to do anything too drastic to drop the phosphate if everything seems healthy, it might be too much of a shock the other way if you drop the phosphate level too quick.
 
Last edited:
Lazys Coral House
OP
DrewBR

DrewBR

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 17, 2020
Messages
43
Reaction score
43
Location
Brazil
Nitrates at zero will starve corals.
Both N and P must be maintained in trace amounts and in proportion to each other.
To be fair. 0 only means undetectable on the tests. There certainly is organic matter on the tank. A lot of it even. It's just that the consumption on high enough so it doesn't show diluted in the water.
 
OP
DrewBR

DrewBR

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 17, 2020
Messages
43
Reaction score
43
Location
Brazil
It is quite possible. One thing you could do is test your new water (before mixing salt) with a TDS meter to see if there is anything else in there, but we should always aim to get TDS down to 0. It does not directly address the Phosphate issue, but just another thing to check into.

I wouldn't be trying to do anything too drastic to drop the phosphate if everything seems healthy, it might be too much of a shock the other way if you drop the phosphate level too quick.
I usually count the LFSs reading as reliable but I guess if I contaminated the water it wouldn't show until later.

I have a question about RO/DI units. Could the membrane be damaged by using it in a pressure inferior of what it's designed for?

The real complete RO/DI units with booster pump, in-line TDS and pressure gage is a little out of my price range at the moment.
 

rkpetersen

walked the sand with the crustaceans
View Badges
Joined
Sep 14, 2017
Messages
4,519
Reaction score
8,757
Location
Near Seattle
Check your phosphate level with a different test. I recommend a Hanna Checker.
If confirmed high, check your source water. It could be coming in there.
Agree with decreasing feeding and adding phosguard (preferably to a reactor in a sump.)
Monitor phosphate level and replace Phosguard as needed.
Low pressure won't damage an RO membrane, but it will make it function inefficiently, which means letting more stuff through and more water wasted.
Most RO systems do best with a pressure of 50-90 psi. At the higher range of this is better. You do need a gauge though.
A pen-type TDS meter works fine, you don't necessarily need inline to start out. My initial RODI system didn't have them. Very easy to add later.
 
Last edited:

rkpetersen

walked the sand with the crustaceans
View Badges
Joined
Sep 14, 2017
Messages
4,519
Reaction score
8,757
Location
Near Seattle
To be fair. 0 only means undetectable on the tests. There certainly is organic matter on the tank. A lot of it even. It's just that the consumption on high enough so it doesn't show diluted in the water.

Nitrate is not the same as organic matter. You're right though that '0' is only as 'zero' as the accuracy and precision of the test. However if you're getting no color change with a quality nitrate test, your level really is likely too low.

For example, the Hanna low range nitrate test gives a nitrate level of around 0.2-0.3 ppm for a couple of my tanks. That's not zero, but some test kits might show it as such.
 
Last edited:
OP
DrewBR

DrewBR

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 17, 2020
Messages
43
Reaction score
43
Location
Brazil
Check your phosphate level with a different test. I recommend a Hanna Checker.
If confirmed high, check your source water. It could be coming in there.
Agree with decreasing feeding and adding phosguard (preferably to a reactor in a sump.)
Monitor phosphate level and replace Phosguard as needed.
Low pressure won't damage a RO membrane, but it will make it function inefficiently, which means letting more stuff through.
Most RO systems do best with a pressure of 50-90 psi. At the higher range of this is better. You do need a gauge though.
A pen-type TDS meter works fine, you don't necessarily need inline to start out. My initial RODI system didn't have them.
Thanks. I'll see if someone I know has the hanna checker. They are quite expensive here in Brasil so I can't get one atm.

And as for the RO. I don't mind it letting more stuff through even if I have to replace the resin prematurely. Right now fixing the issue is more important than optimizing.
 
Orphek OR3 reef aquarium LED lighting

rkpetersen

walked the sand with the crustaceans
View Badges
Joined
Sep 14, 2017
Messages
4,519
Reaction score
8,757
Location
Near Seattle
Oh, Brazil! Sorry I didn't notice, yes that may change availability and options considerably.
 
OP
DrewBR

DrewBR

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 17, 2020
Messages
43
Reaction score
43
Location
Brazil
Nitrate is not the same as organic matter. You're right though that '0' is only as 'zero' as the accuracy and precision of the test. However if you're getting no color change with a quality nitrate test, your level really is likely too low.

For example, the Hanna low range nitrate test gives a nitrate level of around 0.2-0.3 ppm for a couple of my tanks. That's not zero, but some test kits might show it as such

Nitrate is not the same as organic matter. You're right though that '0' is only as 'zero' as the accuracy and precision of the test. However if you're getting no color change with a quality nitrate test, your level really is likely too low.

For example, the Hanna low range nitrate test gives a nitrate level of around 0.2-0.3 ppm for a couple of my tanks. That's not zero, but some test kits might show it as such.
That's what I meant. Both mine and my LFSs tests only read 1 as the first reading. So the reading is usually between 0 and 1. Closer to 0. So as the minimum reading I do some rounding.
 
OP
DrewBR

DrewBR

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 17, 2020
Messages
43
Reaction score
43
Location
Brazil
Oh, Brazil! Sorry I didn't notice, yes that may change availability and options considerably.
We can get most stuff but everything at a higher pricepoint. So the full RO/DI unit will set me back nearly triple what I would like. The bare bone, four stage one is ok. I asked a friend to see if he has any spare parts from his old reef so I can add on top of the cheaper unit
 
OP
DrewBR

DrewBR

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 17, 2020
Messages
43
Reaction score
43
Location
Brazil
Update time. I have been using phosguard for a couple weeks now. There was some interruption in the middle due to local unavailability. Things seem to be clearing up a bit. Algae seems to be on a steady decrease although test results are still pretty shocking. I'm assuming there will be a lot of phosphate that is weakly bonded to the calcium carbonate and the Phoguard is soacking that up and test resulsts are somewhat skewed.

I lost some more coral, 2 alveoporas and a goni, they went very fast after initial decline. A hammer coral had a polyp bailout but I believe it was due to some flatworms.

On the bright side the montis are doing better than ever.

Tomorrow I'll be adding some temporary cleanup crew to cut down on some algae and hopefully the chaeto will get better opportunity.
 

Hans-Werner

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
Aug 24, 2016
Messages
796
Reaction score
959
Thank you for the response. My suspect is always that the "treatment" is doing more harm than the "disease".

In my experience corals react much more negative to dropping phosphate concentrations than to high phosphate concentrations and also algae frequently do not behave as told and also grow better with low or sinking phosphate concentrations because they suck phosphate from the substrate and rocks.
 
OP
DrewBR

DrewBR

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 17, 2020
Messages
43
Reaction score
43
Location
Brazil
Thank you for the response. My suspect is always that the "treatment" is doing more harm than the "disease".

In my experience corals react much more negative to dropping phosphate concentrations than to high phosphate concentrations and also algae frequently do not behave as told and also grow better with low or sinking phosphate concentrations because they suck phosphate from the substrate and rocks.
I figured the corals would suffer in the process. I only started treatment because the algae was starting to get out of hand , giving the tank that ugly unkept appearance besides my best efforts to manually remove it.
 

Arabyps

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
Sep 18, 2019
Messages
811
Reaction score
4,521
Location
Palm Springs, CA
Perhaps you have already looked at this, but if not Melev gives a pretty good commentary on effectiveness and use.

 
OP
DrewBR

DrewBR

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 17, 2020
Messages
43
Reaction score
43
Location
Brazil
Perhaps you have already looked at this, but if not Melev gives a pretty good commentary on effectiveness and use.

I knew about the product but it did not come into considerstion for me. It's not easy to find here
 
Fritz
https://www.triton.de/en/

How healthy are your fish?

  • All of them are Healthy

    Votes: 298 81.2%
  • Most of them are Healthy

    Votes: 45 12.3%
  • Half of them are Healthy

    Votes: 3 0.8%
  • Most are Unhealthy

    Votes: 4 1.1%
  • All are Unhealthy

    Votes: 5 1.4%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 12 3.3%

Online statistics

Members online
1,912
Guests online
4,897
Total visitors
6,809
Aqua SD
Top