Using Nutrients to Control Nutrients

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sixty_reefer

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Never really understood why this is not a common practice in our hobby to use pharmaceuticals to balance carbon, nitrogen and phosphates in our reefs.
Most in the reefing community at some point used carbon to balance nitrogen why not use the same method to control phosphates also?

I’m a strong believer that every closed system got a ratio and how well they perform is mainly depending on factors that we intrude to the system as fish keepers.
 
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Lividfanatica

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I am a big fan of carbon dosing (vodka in my small tank and ZeoStart 3 in my large). PO4 gets too high, dump in some NO3. PO4 is too low - more pellet food. I don't try to chase the Redfield ration, but I do try to get close-ish.
 
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You mean GFO?
No GFO is a common media used for phosphates, I mean using Carbon and Nitrates.
If the phosphates are rising it means a tank is carbon and nitrogen limited, by increasing both the phosphates will decrease.
 
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I am a big fan of carbon dosing (vodka in my small tank and ZeoStart 3 in my large). PO4 gets too high, dump in some NO3. PO4 is too low - more pellet food. I don't try to chase the Redfield ration, but I do try to get close-ish.
This is part of what I mean if someone has a set food regime for a system, adding more food or less food it’s always guess work the tank inhabitants shouldn’t be eating less because we want to keep nutrients to a certain level. A simple dosing head could control nutrients fairly easily without having to feed less a system. Redfield ratio is not important for our reef although if this was more discussed there would be other ratios that would improve the microbiology of the system.
 

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I’m actually doing this right now. I carbon dose to keep things down but my phos is a little high right now so I’m dosing extra nitrates. The nitrates stay low because of the carbon dosing but it brings the phosphates down as the bacteria consumes the extra nitrates.
 
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Yes, but won't this increase my nitrates?
No, and that’s the thing by increasing carbon and nitrates you can keep the desired level of nitrates wile lowering phosphates. Bacteria in our system uses carbon nitrogen and phosphates in a ratio very similar to redfield. Sometimes we just need to figure out which one is being limited to re install the balance.
 
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Never really understood why this is not a common practice in our hobby to use pharmaceuticals to balance carbon, nitrogen and phosphates in our reefs.
Most in the reefing community at some point used carbon to balance nitrogen why not use the same method to control phosphates also?

I’m a strong believer that every closed system got a ratio and how well they perform is mainly depending on factors that we intrude to the system as fish keepers.
I thought I could manage the numbers and everything would be great. I carbon dosed, used Lanthanum Chloride, dosed nitrate and phosphate stock solutions to put N & P exactly where I wanted them, and dosed bottled bacteria said to reduce detritus and algae. That didn't work well for me. Corals didn't look great or grow quickly, I struggled with algae and pest bacteria outbreaks, and Coralline didn't grow well. The tank just would not mature even after more than a year. That changed rather quickly when I considered all the pathways and food webs involved and took steps to ensure they were all operating properly. I'm not claiming all is perfect, but things have definitely improved.

I certainly use DIY stock solutions to make short term adjustments if nitrate or phosphates test too low. However, my go-to will always be to increase the bioload and/or food input, or reduce export to maintain nutrients at a higher level. In the same manner, reducing food input, increasing live phytoplankton dosing, and/or increasing the photo period on the refugium is my go-to method of lowering nutrients. This all hinges of quick response to small changes though. It won't work if nutrients get out of hand in either direction. It is also easier to do as the tank get closer to that magic maturity mark.
 
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I thought I could manage the numbers and everything would be great. I carbon dosed, used Lanthanum Chloride, dosed nitrate and phosphate stock solutions to put N & P exactly where I wanted them, and dosed bottled bacteria said to reduce detritus and algae. That didn't work well for me. Corals didn't look great or grow quickly, I struggled with algae and pest bacteria outbreaks, and Coralline didn't grow well. The tank just would not mature even after more than a year. That changed rather quickly when I considered all the pathways and food webs involved and took steps to ensure they were all operating properly. I'm not claiming all is perfect, but things have definitely improved.

I certainly use DIY stock solutions to make short term adjustments if nitrate or phosphates test too low. However, my go-to will always be to increase the bioload and/or food input, or reduce export to maintain nutrients at a higher level. In the same manner, reducing food input, increasing live phytoplankton dosing, and/or increasing the photo period on the refugium is my go-to method of lowering nutrients. This all hinges of quick response to small changes though. It won't work if nutrients get out of hand in either direction. It is also easier to do as the tank get closer to that magic maturity mark.
Let me start by saying that I have read your article and I support the ideology behind it, although I feel that is missing more to it.
For example you mentioned dosing lanthanum chloride this tells me that your tank had a deficiency on the microbe level. Not enough carbon available to keep the microbe population in balance, you noticed improvement after dosing phytoplankton, most don’t understand how phytoplankton works in a closed system, imo live phytoplankton is not the key, phytoplankton becomes helpful after it decays and all the carbon and nitrogen is released back into the water column improving the the microbiology of the closed system.

edit: in addition you mentioned pest algaes also, pest algaes are not related to nutrients issues, all it means is that at some point they hitchhiked to the tank, they need the same conditions as coral to grow ( nutrients and a light source )
 
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I’m actually doing this right now. I carbon dose to keep things down but my phos is a little high right now so I’m dosing extra nitrates. The nitrates stay low because of the carbon dosing but it brings the phosphates down as the bacteria consumes the extra nitrates.
This has to be the way forward:)
 

Lividfanatica

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This is part of what I mean if someone has a set food regime for a system, adding more food or less food it’s always guess work the tank inhabitants shouldn’t be eating less because we want to keep nutrients to a certain level. A simple dosing head could control nutrients fairly easily without having to feed less a system. Redfield ratio is not important for our reef although if this was more discussed there would be other ratios that would improve the microbiology of the system.
I guess in my scenario, I have not really had the need to add PO4 as it has always been quite high and adding NO3 seems to do the trick (to your point).

If I had a trident style device that would give me NO3 and PO4 readings consistently, your proposition would be really easy to automate. The ION director gets a little closer but is still not there yet.
 
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I guess in my scenario, I have not really had the need to add PO4 as it has always been quite high and adding NO3 seems to do the trick (to your point).

If I had a trident style device that would give me NO3 and PO4 readings consistently, your proposition would be really easy to automate. The ION director gets a little closer but is still not there yet.
I would guess for a company that big wouldn’t be difficult to create something like that in no time, although what am talking about is not new it’s been known in the hobby for a long time i just wondering why the method to reduce phosphates is not as widely known and discussed. Knowing all the ins and outs you can easily feed 6 cubes a day on a nano tank and still have low nutrients. High import and high export using mainly bacteria.
 
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Let me start by saying that I have read your article and I support the ideology behind it, although I feel that is missing more to it.
Thanks, I will stipulate that much is missing in the article. It is more of an operating theory than a all inclusive description of the processes. I even admitted in the article that my knowledge is limited. I have responded to continue this discussion.
For example you mentioned dosing lanthanum chloride this tells me that your tank had a deficiency on the microbe level.
My article was all about how my tank was out of balance and had a lot of deficiencies. It is about how I decided to promote a better balance. Before taking steps to attain that "balance", I did many things, including carbon dosing, adding DIY nitrate and phosphate stock solutions, and dosing Lanthanum Chloride to try to battle the results of the imbalance.

Not enough carbon available to keep the microbe population in balance...
Do you believe that carbon dosing provides the carbon in the form needed to create that microbial balance?

you noticed improvement after dosing phytoplankton, most don’t understand how phytoplankton works in a closed system, imo live phytoplankton is not the key, phytoplankton becomes helpful after it decays and all the carbon and nitrogen is released back into the water column improving the the microbiology of the closed system.
I disagree. IMO... Live phytoplankton... real live phyto... not a bottle of mostly dead stuff... does not get to stay around long enough to decay. The phyto binds inorganic N & P; then cryptic organisms, clams, and copepods and etc. consume it thus binding it if their tissues; and finally, the skimmer exports the phyto that doesn't get consumed. This is a "Pathway" as described in the article.

edit: in addition you mentioned pest algaes also, pest algaes are not related to nutrients issues, all it means is that at some point they hitchhiked to the tank, they need the same conditions as coral to grow ( nutrients and a light source )
Algae might need a start i.e. a coral frag or a snail shell, maybe not, but microbes (cyanobacteria, dinoflagellates, etc.) are pervasive. If given the proper conditions, to include nutrient levels, one or more of these pests are likely to show up. They do have the same basic needs as some corals, but don't seem to compete well when the population of other organisms is sufficient. That is the goal of the method my article describes.

I think that dosing carbon, nitrate, and phosphate is an attempt to control the end products of a complex and intertwined process. It does not provide the input needed to make the process yield the correct levels of those end products. In addition, many required organisms live in the process somewhere between the input of food and the resulting inorganic nitrate and phosphate levels. I do believe there is a place for dosing N & P solutions, but just for a short term band-aid. On the other hand, I'm no longer a fan of carbon dosing. I think it limits ammonia and affects all the down stream processes that use nitrogen compounds.
 
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Thanks, I will stipulate that much is missing in the article. It is more of an operating theory than a all inclusive description of the processes. I even admitted in the article that my knowledge is limited. I have responded to continue this discussion.

My article was all about how my tank was out of balance and had a lot of deficiencies. It is about how I decided to promote a better balance. Before taking steps to attain that "balance", I did many things, including carbon dosing, adding DIY nitrate and phosphate stock solutions, and dosing Lanthanum Chloride to try to battle the results of the imbalance.
lanthanum chloride can kill many tank inhabitants if it escapes into the water column

Do you believe that carbon dosing provides the carbon in the form needed to create that microbial balance?

I do, there many forms of carbon available in the hobby right now and bacteria reacts well with them. my preferred one is in the form of phytoplankton as it’s a more natural form.

I disagree. IMO... Live phytoplankton... real live phyto... not a bottle of mostly dead stuff... does not get to stay around long enough to decay. The phyto binds inorganic N & P; then cryptic organisms, clams, and copepods and etc. consume it thus binding it if their tissues; and finally, the skimmer exports the phyto that doesn't get consumed. This is a "Pathway" as described in the article.

that would be correct if phytoplankton stayed in the water column long enough for that to happen. Once phytoplankton is added to a reef most will settle in the sand bed and rock work and then it is consumed/broken down by bacteria, it doesn’t stay alive enough time in the tank to consume N and P. it’s the process of decaying that reduces the N and P from the water column by microbes. If phytoplankton was indeed consuming N and P in a tank a bloom had to be observed, it’s unheard of a phytoplankton bloom in a reef tank. I have been researching phytoplankton at the hobby level for some time now.






I don’t expect you to go trough all the information on those threads but on this video you can observe bacteria breaking down the phytoplankton. This happens in less than 24 hours, you can observe the nitrogen bubbles forming.



Algae might need a start i.e. a coral frag or a snail shell, maybe not, but microbes (cyanobacteria, dinoflagellates, etc.) are pervasive. If given the proper conditions, to include nutrient levels, one or more of these pests are likely to show up. They do have the same basic needs as some corals, but don't seem to compete well when the population of other organisms is sufficient. That is the goal of the method my article describes.
Dinoflagellates mainly appear wend we mess with the microbiology of the tank, mainly due to soooooo many bad advice regarding pest algae that most people think that they need to eliminate phosphates and nitrates completely out of a tank to kill the algae, if a tank is deprived from nutrients will cause most of your beneficial bacteria to go dormant leaving enough room for dinoflagellates to bloom. Hence why you can get rid of most non photosynthetic dinoflagellates by simply increase the nutrients again, giving the bacteria food again to outcompete the dinoflagellates.
I think that dosing carbon, nitrate, and phosphate is an attempt to control the end products of a complex and intertwined process. It does not provide the input needed to make the process yield the correct levels of those end products. In addition, many required organisms live in the process somewhere between the input of food and the resulting inorganic nitrate and phosphate levels. I do believe there is a place for dosing N & P solutions, but just for a short term band-aid. On the other hand, I'm no longer a fan of carbon dosing. I think it limits ammonia and affects all the down stream processes that use nitrogen compounds.

It only limits ammonia if not done correctly.

I have been working on this for a wile, i still think that the key to keep the NPS that cant be kept alive at the moment lays on the relationship between phytoplankton and microbes.
 
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Randy Holmes-Farley

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Lots of people dose nitrate or phosphate, and that can help boost export of the other one of the N/P pair, but it’s not a magic bullet to keep other nutrients in check.

It only works if one of them is currently limiting export of the other. In many cases, something else is limiting (iron, manganese, light, space, etc).
 

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“ Live phytoplankton... real live phyto... not a bottle of mostly dead stuff... does not get to stay around long enough to decay. The phyto binds inorganic N & P; then cryptic organisms, clams, and copepods and etc. consume it thus binding it if their tissues; and finally, the skimmer exports the phyto that doesn't get consumed. This is a "Pathway" as described in the article.”

I would challenge the simplicity of that assertion since the majority of N and P in foods is not retained by most organisms. Most is released back to the water after each consumption and digestion cycle.
 
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