What are the appropriate levels of nitrates and phosphates in a LPS and softie tank?

Jamie Allbritton

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Looking for answers of what everyone else runs their nitrates and phosphates at in a Lps softie dominant tank. I have struggled with this for a while and getting very frustrated with it all. I'm not getting very much coral growth but algae is growing like crazy. Thanks.
 
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naterealbig

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Yes, this can be very frustrating indeed. Every person who reads this thread will respond with a different optimum level for nitrate and phosphate.

In general, it is best to keep nitrate and phosphate low for a new tank - say less than 18 months old. I would call "low" levels: NO3 < 5 and PO4 < 0.07.

For a more mature system, higher levels become more acceptable, but it will be a balance of many factors, such as; coral load, fish load, nutrient import, and nutrient export.

My thought behind this, is until the surface area of the rock, sand, and glass are populated with bacteria, Coraline, and other plants and animals that can compete with nuisance algae for real estate, you want to make it hard for the nuisance algae to grow (low NO3 and PO4).

Perhaps just as important as keeping nutrients low for the first several months, is keeping your system stable with regards to parameters, maintenance, nutrient import, nutrient export, fish load, etc. If many changes are being made quickly, the system will become (or continue to be) unstable- both chemically and biologically.

1. What are your nitrate, phosphate, alkalinity levels?
2. Size of tank, sump?
3. Filtration used (skimmer, reactors, etc)
4. Age of system?
5. How many, and which, corals, fish, invertebrates?
6. Water change schedule and fresh water source?

With some more info, we can help you come up with a systematic plan for both stability and algae reduction. For now, something you can do to help immediately is getting in there with a tooth brush and putting in some manual labor. Scrubbing the algae off the rocks and glass (and subsequently removing them from the system - this is important) will help reduce the nuisance algae, give other organisms a chance to populate that space, export some nitrate and phosphate, and not cause a major destabilization event.
 

naterealbig

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One last thought also, that I think most would agree with :. Just like any other parameter, perhaps more important than the nitrate and phosphate levels themselves is keeping them stable. Assuming they are not very high to begin with. For reference, I think most would agree that high levels would be around:. NO3 > 10 ppm , PO4 > 0.1 ppm.

I keep my frag tank (100 gal - loaded to brim with SPS, softies, LPS) PO4 ~ 0.03, NO3 ~ 2. Even at these levels I have some nuisance algae growth because the system is not fully mature. I just overcame a nuisance algae outbreak. Solved with elbow grease, and algae kept at bay with ~ 15 Trocus, and 4 Astrea . Corals are doing very well.
 
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Jamie Allbritton

Jamie Allbritton

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Yes, this can be very frustrating indeed. Every person who reads this thread will respond with a different optimum level for nitrate and phosphate.

In general, it is best to keep nitrate and phosphate low for a new tank - say less than 18 months old. I would call "low" levels: NO3 < 5 and PO4 < 0.07.

For a more mature system, higher levels become more acceptable, but it will be a balance of many factors, such as; coral load, fish load, nutrient import, and nutrient export.

My thought behind this, is until the surface area of the rock, sand, and glass are populated with bacteria, Coraline, and other plants and animals that can compete with nuisance algae for real estate, you want to make it hard for the nuisance algae to grow (low NO3 and PO4).

Perhaps just as important as keeping nutrients low for the first several months, is keeping your system stable with regards to parameters, maintenance, nutrient import, nutrient export, fish load, etc. If many changes are being made quickly, the system will become (or continue to be) unstable- both chemically and biologically.

1. What are your nitrate, phosphate, alkalinity levels?
2. Size of tank, sump?
3. Filtration used (skimmer, reactors, etc)
4. Age of system?
5. How many, and which, corals, fish, invertebrates?
6. Water change schedule and fresh water source?

With some more info, we can help you come up with a systematic plan for both stability and algae reduction. For now, something you can do to help immediately is getting in there with a tooth brush and putting in some manual labor. Scrubbing the algae off the rocks and glass (and subsequently removing them from the system - this is important) will help reduce the nuisance algae, give other organisms a chance to populate that space, export some nitrate and phosphate, and not cause a major destabilization event.
My levels are:

Alk 11.5
Cal 450
Mag 1350
Phos 0.06
Nitrates 3.50

75 gallon display
30 gallon sump
Reef octopus essence s130 protein skimmer
2 mp40
Refugium
Reef has been running 1 year mostly acans, zoas, and mushrooms
2 clownfish
2 honey damsels
1 small yellow tang
1 purple fire fish
1 cleaner shrimp
Assortment of snails and crabs.
Water changes 30% once a month, trying to get away from them by dosing.
 

Nanoreefer4ever

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LPS can tolerate high level of nutrients, but N around 10 to 15 , P around 0.03 is good for everything in the tank. SPS dominant can have N around 5 tend to have better coloration
 

gotmesalty77

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This is something I've been recently struggling with his well I currently running my tank at 20ppm nitrate, 0.04 phosphate, alkalinity 10.2 and for whatever reason calcium is really high at around 500 PPM. My nitrates were Sky High for a couple of months after I purchased the tank. It was an already established reef tank 3 yeRs and I bought it off a guy who is moving across the country I made the mistake of keeping the sand in the tank and a ton of nitrates I believe leaching of that. Have a 40-gallon breeder sump and fairly large refugium with Cato and dragons breath I think finally I've got everything under control and things. Are looking happy blasto frag I had that I thought had died even started making a comeback. After ton of water changes and dosing small amounts nopox I believe everything is finally in check I kept the dosage of nopox low so that it wouldn't throw a bunch of other things out of whack. I didn't really want to use nopox but I was so frustrated with the lack of progress had to give it a shot. I'm going to drop the nitrate to 5 or so if I can
 

Nanoreefer4ever

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This is something I've been recently struggling with his well I currently running my tank at 20ppm nitrate, 0.04 phosphate, alkalinity 10.2 and for whatever reason calcium is really high at around 500 PPM. My nitrates were Sky High for a couple of months after I purchased the tank. It was an already established reef tank 3 yeRs and I bought it off a guy who is moving across the country I made the mistake of keeping the sand in the tank and a ton of nitrates I believe leaching of that. Have a 40-gallon breeder sump and fairly large refugium with Cato and dragons breath I think finally I've got everything under control and things. Are looking happy blasto frag I had that I thought had died even started making a comeback. After ton of water changes and dosing small amounts nopox I believe everything is finally in check I kept the dosage of nopox low so that it wouldn't throw a bunch of other things out of whack. I didn't really want to use nopox but I was so frustrated with the lack of progress had to give it a shot. I'm going to drop the nitrate to 5 or so if I can
Don't waste money on those product, just get either bio pellets reactor or dose white vinegar
 

Tamberav

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Depends on the age of the tank....I let my LPS tank Nitrate drift to as high as 30 and PO4 0.8 with the only effect of zoas growing faster. If I let it continue higher than this I will get some cyano but I just do a water change and the cyano dissappears so I am right on the edge at that point.
 

canadianeh

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My less than 5 months old tank has 2 ppm Nitrate and 10 phosphate. Is this acceptable for 65 gallons system LPS dominant tank?

I noticed that my phosphate got higher since I have been feeding frozen food everyday. Last week my phosphate was only 3 ppm.
 

Scorpius

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I run around 10-25 nitrate and around .15ppm phosphates. I think my last Hanna Phosphorus test came back at 50ppb. Come at me bro.
 

nano reef

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My levels are:

Alk 11.5
Cal 450
Mag 1350
Phos 0.06
Nitrates 3.50

75 gallon display
30 gallon sump
Reef octopus essence s130 protein skimmer
2 mp40
Refugium
Reef has been running 1 year mostly acans, zoas, and mushrooms
2 clownfish
2 honey damsels
1 small yellow tang
1 purple fire fish
1 cleaner shrimp
Assortment of snails and crabs.
Water changes 30% once a month, trying to get away from them by dosing.
How are you able to pinpoint nirates to that? Salifert has 2 ways and they dont match so not sure which to go by and my api has ) 5 then 10. I know that the hanna nitrate wasnt out at the time of this post and hear its a pain. I would love to pick up one thatis easy to read color change. Salifert only uses 1 ml of water so being such a small amount makes it hard the it says you can use it sideways against the card, and like I said the numbers dont match. Thinking of trying red sea next but I think thats a 3 part and takes 9 minutes! Just wondering if you dont mind sharing what you use?
 

19frank90

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Can low nitrates cause LPS to close up/extend less? My tank tested 0.96 ppm nitrates and 0.064 ppm phosphate (both with Hanna checkers) and my Duncan and trumpets are a bit retracted. I’ve cut out the nopox hopefully to bring up nitrates but I have some brown algae (Dino?) in the sand? Someone mentioned to me that too low of nitrates can cause dinos.
 

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