Why be skeptical of the need to match NSW levels of trace elements?

jda

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I guess my question is why do these low levels of phosphate work for Acropora in the ocean but not in our aquariums? We have created a more optimal environment for Acropora than wild coral reefs?

The easy answer is that they get phosphorous from other sources like poly/meta phosphate, organically bound phosphates or they can assimilate things and use their phosphates either with polyps or through the slime coat.

I would argue that they can do all of these same things in captivity save for using polyps to catch food (mostly). In captivity the orthophosphate levels might be higher, but some corals just tolerate them... they don't actually use them in lieu of polyphosphates, organically bound phosphorous or catching bacteria in their slime coats.

There are many tanks with very nice corals that have ocean level residual po4 levels yet I doubt that they are phosphorous limited at all.

Remember that we can only test for one kind of phosphorous - orthophoshate. There are many other kinds out there. There is also all kinds of research that ortho is the least desirable form for many things in our tanks to use.

I think that since ortho can be tested for, it gets credit where it is not due for supplying coral with phosphorous. IMO, it is better categorized as a waste product that could indicate that if you have a trace you might not be phosphorous starved further up the food chain, but it might not mean this at all...
 

GARRIGA

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If I may add my opinion: Because there are forms of phosphate, especially particulate phosphate from fish feces that snow down on corals, that are not measured by the usual water phosphate analyses.
Tropic Marin now offering particulate phosphate/phosphorous and recall the interviewer basically pointing out that's just as easily accomplish by fish pooping and why perhaps we should overfeed our inhabitants yet seeking zero nutrients via proper export versus walking a fine line that I know I can't accomplish and have concluded I won't try accomplishing. I've proven several times to myself that hitting zero on both nitrates and phosphates not impossible and only reason dino and cyano appeared was post upgrading my light for which no clue why it happened but have since solved albeit might just be temporarily.

Keep reading. Heavy in. Heavy out. Seems the most logical to me but haven't tried that with corals so I just don't know yet in my little world it works.
 

djf91

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If I may add my opinion: Because there are forms of phosphate, especially particulate phosphate from fish feces that snow down on corals, that are not measured by the usual water phosphate analyses.

The easy answer is that they get phosphorous from other sources like poly/meta phosphate, organically bound phosphates or they can assimilate things and use their phosphates either with polyps or through the slime coat.

I would argue that they can do all of these same things in captivity save for using polyps to catch food (mostly). In captivity the orthophosphate levels might be higher, but some corals just tolerate them... they don't actually use them in lieu of polyphosphates, organically bound phosphorous or catching bacteria in their slime coats.

There are many tanks with very nice corals that have ocean level residual po4 levels yet I doubt that they are phosphorous limited at all.

Remember that we can only test for one kind of phosphorous - orthophoshate. There are many other kinds out there. There is also all kinds of research that ortho is the least desirable form for many things in our tanks to use.

I think that since ortho can be tested for, it gets credit where it is not due for supplying coral with phosphorous. IMO, it is better categorized as a waste product that could indicate that if you have a trace you might not be phosphorous starved further up the food chain, but it might not mean this at all...
Thank you both. This is what I was getting at. I feel that ideally in a reef tank the goal should be low residual, dissolved N and P and then assure that the corals are getting particulate forms (detritus, plankton, etc.) of each for their food source…..coupled with intense, full spectrum lighting.
 

djf91

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Tropic Marin now offering particulate phosphate/phosphorous and recall the interviewer basically pointing out that's just as easily accomplish by fish pooping and why perhaps we should overfeed our inhabitants yet seeking zero nutrients via proper export versus walking a fine line that I know I can't accomplish and have concluded I won't try accomplishing. I've proven several times to myself that hitting zero on both nitrates and phosphates not impossible and only reason dino and cyano appeared was post upgrading my light for which no clue why it happened but have since solved albeit might just be temporarily.

Keep reading. Heavy in. Heavy out. Seems the most logical to me but haven't tried that with corals so I just don't know yet in my little world it works.
Heavy in/ heavy out seems to make the most sense.

I think significantly changing the lighting or any other change to the ecosystem causes the die off of bacteria/surface algae, thus allowing a gap in the ecosystem for another occupier to take hold. Any significant irregularity in my lighting or water parameters will cause a bleaching of my corraline algae and then sometimes a pest to show up.
 
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Randy Holmes-Farley

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I guess my question is why do these low levels of phosphate work for Acropora in the ocean but not in our aquariums? We have created a more optimal environment for Acropora than wild coral reefs?

I believe it relates primarily to particulate foods available in the ocean but less so in reef aquaria. Same for nitrate and N availability.
 

jda

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Thank you both. This is what I was getting at. I feel that ideally in a reef tank the goal should be low residual, dissolved N and P and then assure that the corals are getting particulate forms (detritus, plankton, etc.) of each for their food source…..coupled with intense, full spectrum lighting.

I do feel that assimilation of small living things through slime coats is overlooked. When this happens, the corals can get nearly all of the energy and building blocks where as a food capture through a polyp might be a negative event. This takes a mature tank and also there is the math of surface area. This is also why flow can be so important and also yet such a detriment - too little and nothing gets to the surfaces, too much and the corals can form a sort of protective vortex where the water goes around... so just right has to happen. With the lack of a real diverse ecosystem when starting with bottled bacteria and dry/dead aragonite, it can take some time for the right kinds of bacteria to have good populations in the tank - typical AOB and NOB that come in a bottle are not right for this, IMO.

Outside of the above for nitrogen, ammoni[a,um] is going to be the best source for nitrogen.

Keep in mind that most hosts recycle building blocks for their symbionts. While this process is not 100% efficient, it helps to explain why such low levels of nitrogen and phosphorus are needed for corals to thive... they just need enough to make new organic tissue. It also explains why an expel even can be so disastrous... some corals literally spend a lifetime collecting those building blocks and might not ever recapture that amount again. @Lasse has posted some evidence lately that some hosts can digest/consume some of their symbionts for nutrition of all sorts, but I have not processed what this means to the coral as a whole and need to think about it more.

All of this said, I like to phrase it as available > residual. Heavy in and heavy out is the best way to achieve this.

In the end, we can give our coral much more fish waste than the ocean can provide. I have NEVER seen fish on a reef as concentrated as in my tanks. :) We should not have to do more than have a good amount of fish and feed them, IMO. Removing the end waste is not so easy.
 

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"Heavy in, heavy out" in my eyes is a phrase for creating a dynamic equilibrium. Since dynamic equilibria are more stable and tend to be more balanced than thermodynamic equilibria in closed systems this approach makes sense.

This is also true for trace elements. Not dosing trace elements at all means corals must get their trace elements from sources we don't know and can't control exactly, i. e. foods.

In my eyes it is especially hard to estimate what the net supply of a certain element by a certain foodstuff is. Net supply means after all have taken their share, the fish, which of course also needs and tries to take up the trace elements from the food, polychaets and bacteria that digest the remains of the food, the skimmer and so on. I guess some foods may in fact rather create a net deficit than a net supply of certain trace elements. This is the reason why some "waste products" like shells, husks or algae are used for removal of trace elements in bioremediation.
 
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danimal1211

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"Heavy in, heavy out" in my eyes is a phrase for creating a dynamic equilibrium. Since dynamic equilibria are more stable and tend to be more balanced than thermodynamic equilibria in closed systems this approach makes sense.

This is also true for trace elements. Not dosing trace elements at all means corals must get their trace elements from sources we don't know and can't control exactly, i. e. foods.

In my eyes it is especially hard to estimate what the net supply of a certain element by a certain foodstuff is. Net supply means after all have taken their share, the fish, which of course also needs and tries to take up the trace elements from the food, polychaets and bacteria that digest the remains of the food, the skimmer and so on. I guess some foods may in fact rather create a net deficit than a net supply of certain trace elements. This is the reason why some "waste products" like shells, husks or algae are used for removal of trace elements in bioremediation.
Agreed, without a list of ingredients and nutritional facts from manufacturers it is quite difficult for consumers to know what we’re dumping in our tanks.
 

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This is also true for trace elements. Not dosing trace elements at all means corals must get their trace elements from sources we don't know and can't control exactly, i. e. foods.

What types of things do you suggest that allow the kind of information so that somebody might be able to control things? Nearly everybody just sells you "trust me" in a bottle.
 

michealprater

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I am not a so called “shiner”. But following the process, would there be negative effects because of the program? Other than the pocket book being a bit lighter, I don’t see how it could hurt a reef tank. What are others opinions?
 
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Randy Holmes-Farley

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I am not a so called “shiner”. But following the process, would there be negative effects because of the program? Other than the pocket book being a bit lighter, I don’t see how it could hurt a reef tank. What are others opinions?

Assuming the the chemical forms being dosed match the chemical forms present naturally in seawater, I cannot see any downside to maintaining natural levels of each element.

That means, for example, not using a chemical form such as Lugols to boost iodine since a substantial part of the iodine in it is present as I2, and that form will be far above natural levels when dosed. That does not mean that Lugols is necessarily bad, but just that it does not meet the criteria for assuming it is ok to use.
 

michealprater

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Assuming the the chemical forms being dosed match the chemical forms present naturally in seawater, I cannot see any downside to maintaining natural levels of each element.

That means, for example, not using a chemical form such as Lugols to boost iodine since a substantial part of the iodine in it is present as I2, and that form will be far above natural levels when dosed. That does not mean that Lugols is necessarily bad, but just that it does not meet the criteria for assuming it is ok to use.
That makes perfect sense. I am still excited to see your list of most important trace elements. I have thought about doing the moonshiner method, but I want to modify it and only dose essentials, and ignore the elements that make negligible difference in a reef aquarium. More or less, the tinkering side of me wants to tinker, but not go full blown crazy with monitoring every single tiny element.
 
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Randy Holmes-Farley

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That makes perfect sense. I am still excited to see your list of most important trace elements. I have thought about doing the moonshiner method, but I want to modify it and only dose essentials, and ignore the elements that make negligible difference in a reef aquarium. More or less, the tinkering side of me wants to tinker, but not go full blown crazy with monitoring every single tiny element.

Hopefully I'll get it finished this weekend. :)
 
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Randy Holmes-Farley

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Kind of shocked at how much the article is against iodine dosing. Bring the article is 16 years old, I wonder how much that has changed.

I wrote the article and while many folks believe iodine is useful for them, others find it to not be. I dosed it for years, then stopped and saw no difference. I do not believe the scientific community has noted any requirement for iodine by hard corals, and some of the myths are clearly that, such as shrimp needing iodine. There’s not a single mention of iodine needs in the water in any of the many articles relating to shrimp aquaculture.

Despite macroalgae being high in iodine, my experiments did not show a statistical difference in growth rates between dosed and very low iodine seawater.
 

michealprater

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I wrote the article and while many folks believe iodine is useful for them, others find it to not be. I dosed it for years, then stopped and saw no difference. I do not believe the scientific community has noted any requirement for iodine by hard corals, and some of the myths are clearly that, such as shrimp needing iodine. There’s not a single mention of iodine needs in the water in any of the many articles relating to shrimp aquaculture.

Despite macroalgae being high in iodine, my experiments did not show a statistical difference in growth rates between dosed and very low iodine seawater.
I only see people that swear by it, keeping zoas and claiming it increases growth. I have never seen any scientific backing, so I am assuming its simple anecdotal.
 
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Randy Holmes-Farley

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I only see people that swear by it, keeping zoas and claiming it increases growth. I have never seen any scientific backing, so I am assuming its simple anecdotal.

Well, I don’t swear by it, but I recognize that many people believe it useful so my recommendation these days is for folks to experimentally dose it and decide for themselves for their particular system.
 

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