Using Nutrients to Control Nutrients

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sixty_reefer

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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).
Yes and it’s getting more and more common this days, although the dosing of carbon and nitrates simultaneously to reduce phosphates is not very well known in the hobby for some reason as a alternative to medias.
 
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sixty_reefer

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They're not pharmaceuticals,. they're chemicals
Pharmaceuticals grade chemicals, does it really matter the pronounce.
I for example don’t like to refer to it as chemicals as everything in our reefs is literally a chemical soup although the word seems to scare many, saying that they don’t like to use chemicals. Which is ironic in our hobby.
 

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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.
Simplicity is my middle name! While it's mostly intended as food in my tank, I thought some N&P was bound in tissues of the phytoplankton; that N&P was bound until it decayed; and that the bound N&P where exported with it via skimming. Does this same release of N & P occur in all plant based organisms?
 

gbroadbridge

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Pharmaceuticals grade chemicals, does it really matter the pronounce.
I for example don’t like to refer to it as chemicals as everything in our reefs is literally a chemical soup although the word seems to scare many, saying that they don’t like to use chemicals. Which is ironic in our hobby.
Well a pharmaceutical is by definition "a compound manufactured for use as a medicinal drug".

Just sayin :)
 
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Well a pharmaceutical is by definition "a compound manufactured for use as a medicinal drug".

Just sayin :)
And how many of the “chemicals” we use in the hobby are not used in pharmaceuticals?
 

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While phytoplanktons (live or dead) are excellent food for the reef aquarium, I'm not very convinced that decaying phyto is a general solution for nutrient balance of aquarium. The reason is this: phytos have fixed C-N-P-Fe-I... Ratio) in their cells. As they break down, the nutrient in the aquarium will be increased at a fixed proportion. Depending on the deficiency in the aquarium, the phyto may correct the deficiency, or it may make it worse.

Using phyto to increase bacteria population is an interesting idea. However it will be extremely difficult to know what is grown. It's also highly likely that different aquaria will have different dominant bacteria strains.
 
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I had high 40+ppm NO3 and PO4 was undetectable so I started dosing Phosphorous
This is a way to fix the ratio in the tank if nitrates don’t reduce after adding phosphorus you may also need to add carbon. If you wish to bring them down
 

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Simplicity is my middle name! While it's mostly intended as food in my tank, I thought some N&P was bound in tissues of the phytoplankton; that N&P was bound until it decayed; and that the bound N&P where exported with it via skimming. Does this same release of N & P occur in all plant based organisms?

Any organism that consumes organic matter for purposes of generating energy, from bacteria to people to whales, excrete the majority of the N and P taken in.
 
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PeterEde

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While phytoplanktons (live or dead) are excellent food for the reef aquarium, I'm not very convinced that decaying phyto is a general solution for nutrient balance of aquarium. The reason is this: phytos have fixed C-N-P-Fe-I... Ratio) in their cells. As they break down, the nutrient in the aquarium will be increased at a fixed proportion. Depending on the deficiency in the aquarium, the phyto may correct the deficiency, or it may make it worse.

Using phyto to increase bacteria population is an interesting idea. However it will be extremely difficult to know what is grown. It's also highly likely that different aquaria will have different dominant bacteria strains.
Been dosing phyto also but as food for pods.
 
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While phytoplanktons (live or dead) are excellent food for the reef aquarium, I'm not very convinced that decaying phyto is a general solution for nutrient balance of aquarium. The reason is this: phytos have fixed C-N-P-Fe-I... Ratio) in their cells. As they break down, the nutrient in the aquarium will be increased at a fixed proportion. Depending on the deficiency in the aquarium, the phyto may correct the deficiency, or it may make it worse.

Using phyto to increase bacteria population is an interesting idea. However it will be extremely difficult to know what is grown. It's also highly likely that different aquaria will have different dominant bacteria strains.
The tread just went off course as we were on the subject of phytoplankton, and I tough it was good to bring it up as it’s partially on the subject. At the moment most it’s still unknown how all works but regular phytoplankton dosing will reduce nutrients in a reef tank just not in balance as you mentioned as more factors including feeding and fish load will have a great impact on the overall C N P available in the system. there is a connection between phytoplankton and bacteria and if we look into redfield ratio we can see that most bacteria in our system will consume nutrients in a similar ratio to redfield ratio making phytoplankton a perfect food supplement for microbes imo.
 

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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.
Filling the aquarium with saltwater might be the only truly common practice in this hobby :)

Lots of ways to be successful probably explains the diversity of methods. For example, I keep nitrate and phosphate under control by growing macro algae. I have dosed nitrate and vinegar before and it worked. I like growing macro algae better and settled on that approach.
 
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Filling the aquarium with saltwater might be the only truly common practice in this hobby :)

Lots of ways to be successful probably explains the diversity of methods. For example, I keep nitrate and phosphate under control by growing macro algae. I have dosed nitrate and vinegar before and it worked. I like growing macro algae better and settled on that approach.
Totally right, I’ve always had algae somewhere in my tanks, but even algaes have fixed ratios to consume nutrients and every now and then will need some adjustments to keep the overall balance of a system and the algae thriving if N or P gets limited.
 

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Any organism that consumes organic matter for purposes of generating energy, from bacteria to people to whales, excrete the majority of the N and P taken in.
Interesting. Help me out then. How do Cheato and Turf algae control N & P?
 
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Personally, problem algaes haven't been an issue in my tank (I do have this hitchhiker macroaglae which is kinda annoying that spreads really easily if I don't pick it off where it starts spreading to though) and I attribute most of this to starting with live rock from the ocean which I think gave me a big headstart by already having this balance established as I'm sure it had pretty much every pest algae on it possible as well as pretty much all the bacterial diversity that could be desired
 

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Interesting. Help me out then. How do Cheato and Turf algae control N & P?
You prune the chaeto and turf algae rather than let it die and decompose.
(Pruning=removing/exporting the N/P from your system)
 

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Interesting. Help me out then. How do Cheato and Turf algae control N & P?

Most photosynthetic organisms and certainly all types of macro and micro algae are net sinks for N and P as they build tissue and don't eat a lot of food.

But many organisms that eat chunks of food will be sources, whether those chunks are flakes of fish food or phytoplankton.

I show the math for that issue here:


Impact of Foods on the Aquarium Phosphate Balance
Now we come to the heart of the issue. The actual amount of phosphorus present in foods and what it means. In order to understand the effects of foods, we need to understand what happens to them when added to an aquarium. Some aquarists are under the misconception that eaten foods do not contribute to the free phosphate in the water. Many aquarists are told the mantra of feeding only as much as is eaten, and they confound this idea with the assumption that when doing so, one minimizes the phosphate release. That idea is simply untrue.

A fish or other organism that eats foods takes in substantial phosphate, as shown above. But what happens to it? If the organism is not actually expanding in size (such as an adult green chromis, or a person), the phosphate that is taken in is almost entirely excreted back into the water. The only exception to that process is the very small amount of phosphorus that goes into eggs or sperm, and since in most aquaria those items are rapidly consumed by other organisms, the phosphorus will ultimately get into the water.

Growing organisms do take up a small amount of phosphorus from the diet and retain it in their growing tissues, but the emphasis is on small. A study of a fish farm with rapidly growing rainbow trout in the ocean showed that 78-82% of the phosphorus feed to the fish was lost to the environment. A second aquaculture study using normal fish foods showed that 62% of the fed phosphate was released to the environment, with 35% being released as soluble phosphate available directly to algae, and 27% as phosphorus in fecal pellets (which if not removed, will break down in an aquarium releasing the phosphate again). Another study showed that 81.5% of commercial diet phosphate was released to the environment, but that with a “special” diet with low phosphate and low fish meal this could be reduced to 64% lost. A fourth study showed that growing fish fed slightly less phosphate than they need (to optimize theoretical uptake) take up and retain different phosphate sources differently. Using a purified protein diet, they observed retention of 72% of the phosphorus, 51% retention of phosphorus from added fish bone meal, and higher levels of uptake and retention for inorganic phosphate supplements (such as sodium phosphate).

This sort of study is of concern in aquaculture settings due to environmental contamination due to the released phosphorus and nitrogen. To my knowledge, however, it has never been done in a reef aquarium. Such phosphorus balance studies have also been performed in people for many years. In adults it is clear that nearly all phosphate taken up is excreted, mostly in the urine and some in the feces. Even in young growing children, the amount of phosphorus retained from the diet is only 5-20% of that consumed, with 80-95% excreted in the urine and feces. While such studies are fairly far removed from reef aquaria, they do supporting the idea that organisms take in a lot more phosphorus than they retain, even when growing.

Consequently, reef aquarists should expect that much of the phosphorus added to a reef aquarium in the form of foods ultimately ends up in the water as phosphate. Whether that portion getting into the water is 95% or 35% won’t substantially impact the conclusions below that foods add a very large amount of phosphate.
 

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Most photosynthetic organisms and certainly all types of macro and micro algae are net sinks for N and P as they build tissue and don't eat a lot of food. Hi

But many organisms that eat chunks of food will be sources, whether those chunks are flakes of fish food or phytoplankton.

I show the math for that issue here:


Impact of Foods on the Aquarium Phosphate Balance
Now we come to the heart of the issue. The actual amount of phosphorus present in foods and what it means. In order to understand the effects of foods, we need to understand what happens to them when added to an aquarium. Some aquarists are under the misconception that eaten foods do not contribute to the free phosphate in the water. Many aquarists are told the mantra of feeding only as much as is eaten, and they confound this idea with the assumption that when doing so, one minimizes the phosphate release. That idea is simply untrue.

A fish or other organism that eats foods takes in substantial phosphate, as shown above. But what happens to it? If the organism is not actually expanding in size (such as an adult green chromis, or a person), the phosphate that is taken in is almost entirely excreted back into the water. The only exception to that process is the very small amount of phosphorus that goes into eggs or sperm, and since in most aquaria those items are rapidly consumed by other organisms, the phosphorus will ultimately get into the water.

Growing organisms do take up a small amount of phosphorus from the diet and retain it in their growing tissues, but the emphasis is on small. A study of a fish farm with rapidly growing rainbow trout in the ocean showed that 78-82% of the phosphorus feed to the fish was lost to the environment. A second aquaculture study using normal fish foods showed that 62% of the fed phosphate was released to the environment, with 35% being released as soluble phosphate available directly to algae, and 27% as phosphorus in fecal pellets (which if not removed, will break down in an aquarium releasing the phosphate again). Another study showed that 81.5% of commercial diet phosphate was released to the environment, but that with a “special” diet with low phosphate and low fish meal this could be reduced to 64% lost. A fourth study showed that growing fish fed slightly less phosphate than they need (to optimize theoretical uptake) take up and retain different phosphate sources differently. Using a purified protein diet, they observed retention of 72% of the phosphorus, 51% retention of phosphorus from added fish bone meal, and higher levels of uptake and retention for inorganic phosphate supplements (such as sodium phosphate).

This sort of study is of concern in aquaculture settings due to environmental contamination due to the released phosphorus and nitrogen. To my knowledge, however, it has never been done in a reef aquarium. Such phosphorus balance studies have also been performed in people for many years. In adults it is clear that nearly all phosphate taken up is excreted, mostly in the urine and some in the feces. Even in young growing children, the amount of phosphorus retained from the diet is only 5-20% of that consumed, with 80-95% excreted in the urine and feces. While such studies are fairly far removed from reef aquaria, they do supporting the idea that organisms take in a lot more phosphorus than they retain, even when growing.

Consequently, reef aquarists should expect that much of the phosphorus added to a reef aquarium in the form of foods ultimately ends up in the water as phosphate. Whether that portion getting into the water is 95% or 35% won’t substantially impact the conclusions below that foods add a very large amount of phosphate.
Thanks Randy. I really thought phytoplankton was photosynthetic.
 

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Interesting. Help me out then. How do Cheato and Turf algae control N & P?
All plants absorbs CO2, NO3 and Po4 for food
Once decomposing they are released again.
If it dies you will get a nutrient spike as the algae dies. that's my understanding
 
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