Zeovit system with 25ppm nitrates and 0 phoshate

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Kamers

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Hello all.

I have been running a zeovit 100 gallon tank since Aug 2020.

Despite using the zeo guidelines I still cannot get my nitrates down 25ppm. and all my corals are pale and dull with zero growth. There is way too much Algae film on rocks and glass for a zeovit tank and rock are filled with detritus despite turkey basting it daily!

I have been noticing zero reading on my salifert phosphate kit for some time and suspecting I have nitrate phosphate imbalance in the tank, which is resulting in corals not having any phosphate to utilize and despite heavy feeding all I seem to do is to add more and more nitrate. Nitrates have been steadily going up every time I take the reading.

As it is a new tank I am very cautious but would you recommed adding phosphate to bring the nitrate down and have some level of phosphates for corals to feed on?

Please advise.
 
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nereefpat

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Bump. I know there are a few Zeo folks out there.

To start, it would help to use an ULR phosphorous or phosphate checker from Hanna to see if you are actually that close to zero. If the tank really does have less than 0.02 or so, then dosing a little phosphate probably couldn't hurt...but I'm not a Zeo guy.
 
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Bump. I know there are a few Zeo folks out there.

To start, it would help to use an ULR phosphorous or phosphate checker from Hanna to see if you are actually that close to zero. If the tank really does have less than 0.02 or so, then dosing a little phosphate probably couldn't hurt...but I'm not a Zeo guy.
I checked again and again and I am getting absolute flat white of phosphate reading on Salifert.

I am just curious that what is the point of running and aiming for ULNS when I need to dose the nutrients back in, it defeats the purpose doesn't it?!?

Is it actually lack of phosphates that is hurting my corals or is the imbalance between the phosphate and nitrate consumption which is making the corals unhappy and raising the nitrates?
 

nereefpat

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I checked again and again and I am getting absolute flat white of phosphate reading on Salifert.
Personally, I don't believe zeros on a phosphate kit unless it is an Ultra Low Range colorimeter. Now, that doesn't mean you don't have zero phosphate. It's just that other test kits aren't sensitive enough to tell the difference between 0.03 and 0.00. My Salifert kit will be completely clear, while my Hanna can detect a couple parts per billion phosphorous.

I am just curious that what is the point of running and aiming for ULNS when I need to dose the nutrients back in, it defeats the purpose doesn't it?!?
That is logical. I'm not familiar enough with Zeo to answer that. I do suspect that most people that dose N and/or P don't need to. But, I do see how high-ish nitrates with zero phosphate could be hard on corals.

Is it actually lack of phosphates that is hurting my corals or is the imbalance between the phosphate and nitrate consumption which is making the corals unhappy and raising the nitrates?
I don't believe in thinking that both need to be in balance, per se. I do think that they both need to be in an acceptable range, individually. Some people may disagree with that.

Whether you need to dose: I would check P with a more sensitive kit first. If you go really slow, though - as in dosing to .03 or so at a time - it probably couldn't cause much harm.

There are other factors than N & P too, and a 4 month old tank is still really new in terms of corals.

We'll also wait for the Zeo practitioners to chime in.
 
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Personally, I don't believe zeros on a phosphate kit unless it is an Ultra Low Range colorimeter. Now, that doesn't mean you don't have zero phosphate. It's just that other test kits aren't sensitive enough to tell the difference between 0.03 and 0.00. My Salifert kit will be completely clear, while my Hanna can detect a couple parts per billion phosphorous.


That is logical. I'm not familiar enough with Zeo to answer that. I do suspect that most people that dose N and/or P don't need to. But, I do see how high-ish nitrates with zero phosphate could be hard on corals.


I don't believe in thinking that both need to be in balance, per se. I do think that they both need to be in an acceptable range, individually. Some people may disagree with that.

Whether you need to dose: I would check P with a more sensitive kit first. If you go really slow, though - as in dosing to .03 or so at a time - it probably couldn't cause much harm.

There are other factors than N & P too, and a 4 month old tank is still really new in terms of corals.

We'll also wait for the Zeo practitioners to chime in.
All valid points, thanks.

But I am quite keen to get an input from any zeo user we have on this forum.

In the meantime I will order Hannah for ultra low phosphate testing.
 
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All valid points, thanks.

But I am quite keen to get an input from any zeo user we have on this forum.

In the meantime I will order Hannah for ultra low phosphate testing.
So the question is if I end up dosing phosphates, do I go with zeovit routines as usual which is to add zeostart each day and zeobak and zeofood aa per guidelines or do I cut down on these to get the nutrients to rise until.I get the desired reading?
 

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Hello all.

I have been running a zeovit 100 gallon tank since Aug 2020.

Despite using the zeo guidelines I still cannot get my nitrates down 25ppm. and all my corals are pale and dull with zero growth. There is way too much Algae film on rocks and glass for a zeovit tank and rock are filled with detritus despite turkey basting it daily!

I have been noticing zero reading on my salifert phosphate kit for some time and suspecting I have nitrate phosphate imbalance in the tank, which is resulting in corals not having any phosphate to utilize and despite heavy feeding all I seem to do is to add more and more nitrate. Nitrates have been steadily going up every time I take the reading.

As it is a new tank I am very cautious but would you recommed adding phosphate to bring the nitrate down and have some level of phosphates for corals to feed on?

Please advise.
Welcome to Reef2Reef.

To help others provide an answer, where are Calcium, Magnesium, and dKh measurements. Nitrate 25ppm with Phosphate 0 sounds like you need P, but zeo isn't my routine, sorry.

How many fish, coral, and other life are present? How much & how often are you feeding the critters?
 
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Kamers

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Thank you.

Calcium 450, Alk 7.5, Mg 1310, NO3: 25ppm, PO4: Zero on Salifert.

8 small fishes and 2 x medium sized butterflies.

3 x monti frags, 2 x acro frags, 3 x zoa frags, 1 x clove frag, 1 x elegance coral, 1 x forest fire frag.

Tank is fed on spectrum and frozen twice or thrice a day, running zeovit system.

Tank is reefer 425XL.
 

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If your tank was new in August, then you don't yet have the populations of anoxic bacteria to help your nitrate be where most Zeo folks want it. It takes time.

If you are going to do Zeo, then you have to divorce yourself from the typical message board parrot-type thinker who only looks at residual levels of N and P. Zeo is about availability - availability of nitrogen through ammonia/ammonium and availability of phosphate/phosphorous in all the forms (organic and inorganic) and not just the one that a test kit can read. The feedings and supplements keep availability high. Zeo is not about residual levels, although they will be low once your tank matures.

All of this said, a four month old tank is not good for stability and you likely just need more time. There is no way to cheat this and anything that you do jump start it will set you back many-fold later.

The Zeo forum is better than this one for Zeo specific stuff. They will likely tell you to wait too. You might encounter some things that you need to work out beyond Zeo if you used dead/dry rock for the setup.

As others have said, the only thing to use if you are going to watch phosphate is a Hannah Ultra Low - the rest are not even a good swag.
 
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Brad Beckham

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I have been running a zeovit tank for about 6 months now that was converted from a Triton system. Agree with above post about availability and not testable amounts of N and P. The point of the zeovit system is to lock up the P in biomass (bacteria) that the corals can filter feed out of the water column. Corals are proficient in absorbing N straight from water but uptake P better as a food source in bacteria. So I would not worry about your phosphate levels being unreadable. For the higher N, you most likely need to change out your zeolite rocks more frequently. This will help bring down your N, as they directly absorb ammonia/ammonium from the water column before it can be converted to nitrite or nitrates.
 

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IMO the idea of ULNS systems is one of the worst misconceptions introduced to reef aquarists. Here's 2 qoutes from scientists who should have been listened to a long time ago:

"When I see the colors of some of these low nutrient tanks, I can't help but be reminded of bleached coral reefs. It should therefore not come as a surprise that feeding corals in such systems becomes a very important component in these systems. Though reefs are often catagorized as nutrient "deserts" the influx of nutrients in the form of particulates and plankton is quite high when the total volume of water passing over a reef is taken into consideration.

Our crystal-clear aquaria do not come close to the nutrient loads that swirl around natural reefs. And so when we create low-nutrient water conditions, we still have to deal with the rest of a much more complex puzzle. Much like those who run their aquarium water temperature close to the thermal maximums of corals walk a narrow tight rope, I can't help but think that low-nutrient aquariums may be headed down a similar path." Charles Delbeck, Coral Nov/Dec 2010, pg 127

"Imported nutrients are usually transported to reefs from rivers; but if there are no rivers, as with reefs remote from land masses, nutrients can only come from surface ocean circulation. Often this supply is poor, and thus the vast ocean expanses have been refered to as "nutrient deserts". The Indo-Pacific has many huge atolls in these supposed deserts which testify to the resilience of reefs, but the corals themselves may lack the lush appearance of those of more fertile waters. Many reefs have another major supply of inorganic nutrients as, under certain conditions, surface currents moving against a reef face may cause deep ocean water to be drawn to the surface. This "upwelled" water is often rich in phosphorus (~.2 mg/l) and other essential chemicals." J. E. N. Veron "Corals of Austrailia and the Indo-Pacific" pg 30

To elaborate on some of the above post the nitrogen cycle on reefs includes N2 (free nitrogen) which is processed by diazotrophs in the coral holobiont, Particulate Organic Nitrogen (PON, which we can't test for), Dissolved Organic Nitrogen (DON, which we can't test for) which includes amino acids and urea and Disolved Inorganic Nitrogen (DIN which we can test for) which includes ammonia/ammonium, nitrite and nitrate.

Phosphorus includes Particulate Organic Phosphorus (POP, which we can't test for), Dissolved Organic Phosphorus (DOP, which we can't test for) and Dissolved Inorganic Phosphorus (DIP, which we can test for) aka PO4, SRP, orthophosphate, phosphate. There's also Particualte Inorganic Phosphorus (PIP) or minerlaized phosphorus but it does not seem to be used by any corals. It is formed by some sponges but this there's no research I've found yet looking at what happens to it long term in a reef system.


Here's a chart from researchers looking at nitrates and phosphates effect on coral calcification:
Effects of Nitrate.jpg


Here's a figure by researchers looking at POP, DOP and DIP in the coral holobiont:
DIP DOP POP.jpg

Regarding the roles of microbes in reef systems I would highly recomment Forest Rohwer's "COral Reefs in the Microbial Seas" (kindle ~$10, paperback is ~$20) It is an excellent intrduction to how Dissolved Organci Carbon (DOC) influences the microbial processes to the detriment or benefit of corals.

Here's some videos

Forest Rohwer "Coral Reefs in the Microbial Seas"

Changing Seas - Mysterious Microbes

Richard Ross What's up with phosphate"

Nitrogen cycling in hte coral holobiont


And if you like digging around in research papers here's a bunch of links:

Ammonium Uptake by Symbiotic and Aposymbiotic Reef Corals

An Experimental Mesocosm for Longterm Studies of Reef Corals

Phosphate Deficiency:
Nutrient enrichment can increase the susceptibility of reef corals to bleaching:

Ultrastructural Biomarkers in Symbiotic Algae Reflect the Availability of Dissolved Inorganic Nutrients and Particulate Food to the Reef Coral Holobiont:

Phosphate deficiency promotes coral bleaching and is reflected by the ultrastructure of symbiotic dinoflagellates

Effects of phosphate on growth and skeletal density in the scleractinian coral Acropora muricata: A controlled experimental approach

High phosphate uptake requirements of the scleractinian coral Stylophora pistillata

Phosphorus metabolism of reef organisms with algal symbionts


Sponge symbionts and the marine P cycle

Phosphorus sequestration in the form of polyphosphate by microbial symbionts in marine sponges


FYI: DOC can be roughly seperated into three catagories, Labile, Semirefractory and Refractory. Most of the following papaers are looking mainly at Labile DOC. This will raise the hackles on some reefers but keep in mind Labile DOC and Carbon Dosing are synonamous. Jasper deGeoij's work shows cryptic sponges remove labile DOC about a thousand times faster than bacterioplankton. Included are links to some of the research showing what cryptic sponges are doing as well. Also, researchers seem to use DOM (Dissolved Organic Matter) and DOC (Dissolved Organic Carbon) interchangebly but I understand the purist may object to this.

long-term stony coral survival in the Coral Reef Exhibit at Reef HQ Aquarium, Townsville, Australia with the use of an ATS was measured in days, not years. (See figure 3)

Indirect effects of algae on coral: algae‐mediated, microbe‐induced coral mortality
Coral seperated from algae with a .02 µm filter die. Treatment with aampicillan prevents death.

Influence of coral and algal exudates on microbially mediated reef metabolism.
Coral DOC improves oxygen (autotrophy), algae DOC reduces oxygen (heterotrophy).

Role of elevated organic carbon levels and microbial activity in coral mortality

Effects of Coral Reef Benthic Primary Producers on Dissolved Organic Carbon and Microbial Activity
Algae releases significantly more DOC into the water than coral.

Pathologies and mortality rates caused by organic carbon and nutrient stressors in three Caribbean coral species.
Starch and sugars (doc) caused coral death but not high nitrates, phosphates or ammonium.

Visualization of oxygen distribution patterns caused by coral and algae

Biological oxygen demand optode analysis of coral reef-associated microbial communities exposed to algal exudates
Exposure to exudates derived from turf algae stimulated higher oxygen drawdown by the coral-associated bacteria.

Microbial ecology: Algae feed a shift on coral reefs

Coral and macroalgal exudates vary in neutral sugar composition and differentially enrich reef bacterioplankton lineages.

Sugar enrichment provides evidence for a role of nitrogen fixation in coral bleaching

Elevated ammonium delays the impairment of the coral-dinoflagellate symbiosis during labile carbon pollution
(here's an argument for maintaining heavy fish loads if you're carbon dosing)

Excess labile carbon promotes the expression of virulence factors in coral reef bacterioplankton

Unseen players shape benthic competition on coral reefs.

Allelochemicals Produced by Brown Macroalgae of the Lobophora Genus Are Active against Coral Larvae and Associated Bacteria, Supporting Pathogenic Shifts to Vibrio Dominance.

Macroalgae decrease growth and alter microbial community structure of the reef-building coral, Porites astreoides.

Macroalgal extracts induce bacterial assemblage shifts and sublethal tissue stress in Caribbean corals.

Biophysical and physiological processes causing oxygen loss from coral reefs.

Global microbialization of coral reefs
DDAM Proven

Coral Reef Microorganisms in a Changing Climate, Fig 3

Ecosystem Microbiology of Coral Reefs: Linking Genomic, Metabolomic, and Biogeochemical Dynamics from Animal Symbioses to Reefscape Processes


Because sponges are essential players in the carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycle(s) on reefs here's some links to research done with them.

Element cycling on tropical coral reefs.
This is Jasper de Geoij's ground breaking research on reef sponges. (The introduction is in Dutch but the content is in English.)

Sponge symbionts and the marine P cycle

Phosphorus sequestration in the form of polyphosphate by microbial symbionts in marine sponges
(Chris Kenndall had a problem with low PO4 and had problems raising it with Neophos. Samples sent off showed phosphorus crystals developing in some of the sponges in his system accounting for at least some of his systems consumption.)

Differential recycling of coral and algal dissolved organic matter via the sponge loop.
Sponges treat DOC from algae differently than DOC from corals

Surviving in a Marine Desert The Sponge Loop Retains Resources Within Coral Reefs
Dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen are quickly processed by sponges and released back into the reef food web in hours as carbon and nitrogen rich detritus.

Natural Diet of Coral-Excavating Sponges Consists Mainly of Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC)

The Role of Marine Sponges in Carbon and Nitrogen Cycles of COral Reefs and Nearshore Environments.

And since we're discussing favorable and not so favorable bacteria here's a paper looking at how different corals and polyps are influencing the bacteria in the water column.
Aura-biomes are present in the water layer above coral reef benthic macro-organisms

And if you want to get your systems microbial populations tested aquabiomics.com can test it.
 
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jda

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A well run Zeo tank is anything by low "nutrient." Why do people parrot what they have seen other people post without actually knowing or doing it themselves? Is this laziness or just lack of understanding? There are more "nutrients" in a Zeo tank that probably most tanks on this board. Are people too simple to see that residual testing levels of "nutrients" are not a true sign of what is going on?

If you don't believe me, check out the BRS video on their Zeovit tank. I don't like to mention their videos much since they are usually just infomercials, but they nail this one.

I agree that starving a tank by not feeding it, or by using too many chemicals and media is a bad idea. However, this does not apply here. Most of the "low nutrient" posts should be added to threads where people want to cut back on feeding, or lower their N and P in a week, not a Zeo post where this method, if used correctly, can yield some of the best results ever seen in the history of reefing. Besides, basic Berlin, is there any that has more success than Zeo?
 

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A well run Zeo tank is anything by low "nutrient." Why do people parrot what they have seen other people post without actually knowing or doing it themselves? Is this laziness or just lack of understanding? There are more "nutrients" in a Zeo tank that probably most tanks on this board. Are people too simple to see that residual testing levels of "nutrients" are not a true sign of what is going on?

If you don't believe me, check out the BRS video on their Zeovit tank. I don't like to mention their videos much since they are usually just infomercials, but they nail this one.

I agree that starving a tank by not feeding it, or by using too many chemicals and media is a bad idea. However, this does not apply here. Most of the "low nutrient" posts should be added to threads where people want to cut back on feeding, or lower their N and P in a week, not a Zeo post where this method, if used correctly, can yield some of the best results ever seen in the history of reefing. Besides, basic Berlin, is there any that has more success than Zeo?
Couldn't agree more on this... Zeovit as a "system" results in very low residual N & P, but the input of nutrition is equally impressive. There is a reason many of the hardcore Zeovit users recommend that people who are not well experienced using Zeovit just stick with the guidebook method instead of trying to do some fancy hybrid. For example, if I just did the carbon dosing part of the zeovit and that was it, then yeah N & P will drop and things will not do well.
 
Tommy's Phyto
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A well run Zeo tank is anything by low "nutrient." Why do people parrot what they have seen other people post without actually knowing or doing it themselves? Is this laziness or just lack of understanding? There are more "nutrients" in a Zeo tank that probably most tanks on this board. Are people too simple to see that residual testing levels of "nutrients" are not a true sign of what is going on?

If you don't believe me, check out the BRS video on their Zeovit tank. I don't like to mention their videos much since they are usually just infomercials, but they nail this one.

I agree that starving a tank by not feeding it, or by using too many chemicals and media is a bad idea. However, this does not apply here. Most of the "low nutrient" posts should be added to threads where people want to cut back on feeding, or lower their N and P in a week, not a Zeo post where this method, if used correctly, can yield some of the best results ever seen in the history of reefing. Besides, basic Berlin, is there any that has more success than Zeo?
I agree, there is a difference between residual value of phosphates and nitrates and the beneficial nutritions that the zeovit system offers.

Zeovit tanks are full of nutritions for the corals with minimal amount PO4 and NO3.

but things are tricky in first 6 months, specially in a bare bottom tank started with dry rock (like mine)
 
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Couldn't agree more on this... Zeovit as a "system" results in very low residual N & P, but the input of nutrition is equally impressive. There is a reason many of the hardcore Zeovit users recommend that people who are not well experienced using Zeovit just stick with the guidebook method instead of trying to do some fancy hybrid. For example, if I just did the carbon dosing part of the zeovit and that was it, then yeah N & P will drop and things will not do well.
very important to stick with guideline (if you are new to zeovit) or else all one will end up with is issues like Dinoflagellates or bleached corals as the method is aggresive with nutirent stripping.
 
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So what do you think about running carbon as a filter for your aquariums?

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