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FAQs on Marine Water Quality involving Phosphates 2

Related Articles: Phosphates in Marine Aquarium Systems by Marco Lichtenberger, Phosphates in Carbon; An analysis of the phosphate content of activated Carbon by Steven Pro, Ammonia, Nitrates, Nitrites, SilicatesMarine Chemical Filtrants,

Related FAQs: Phosphates 1, & FAQs on Phosphate: Importance, Science, Measure, Sources, Control, Chemical Filtrants, Troubleshooting/Fixing, & Nitrates, NitritesAmmonia, Silicates, Avoiding Algae Problems in Marine System, Nutrient Control and Export, Algae Control, Marine Maintenance, AlkalinityChemical Filtrants

Soluble phosphate comes from many sources... including foods, wastes.  Canthigaster valentini.


Stubborn Nitrites... Another case of zip [HPO4]       5/8/17
Hello Crew! Thank you for all of the advice over the years. Your site has been an invaluable resource.
<Ah, good>
I'm having a problem with stubbornly high Nitrites after (during?) a cycle for a quarantine tank and I'm out of ideas.
<Well; quarantine systems tend to be unstable, disallowing establishment and ready metabolism of beneficial microbe populations... Do you have sufficient biomedia, circulation about it to sponsor nitrification?>
QT is 20g, HOB BioWheel filter with bagged carbon and GFO (there was a Phosphate issue from uncured dry rock in the display tank).
<Is there still "some" soluble phosphate present? You NEED some for microbial conversion of Nitrite to Nitrate... Re-read that last statement>
Also has a small skimmer as I intend to follow the mantra "Quarantine everything, corals and all" with this new display tank (150g). QT is bare bottom except for some pieces of pvc for hiding spots and tests at 0 Ammonia, 20 Nitrates, 2 Nitrites, 0 Po4,
<Bingo: Here's at least part of the problem. Remove most/all of the GFO>

480Ca, 9dkh, and 1250mg.
We use water from the display tank for water changes (was an attempt to seed, but also a way of acclimating the critters to heir eventual conditions. Currently the only inhabitants are 3 Scarlet Reef hermits.
Nitrates are coming down (artificially high from early on when the both tanks were showing 100+ Nitrates.... DT now shows zero after water changes and a little impatient Vinegar dosing).
<Won't help>
What is NOT moving however are the Nitrites. They've been floating between 2-3 for weeks. The QT has been running for almost 2 months and they just won't come down. I've tried everything. I've even added SeaChem stability to the area behind the Filter wheel in an effort to directly add <sic, aid?> the bacteria necessary. It just won't come down (but isn't going up either). We are doing water changes, but only @10% weekly. I know that a
bare bottom tank takes longer to cycle, but this just seems absurd. I would have expected a spike and then drop over a longer time. Not a constant 2-3ppm with no movement. The kit is Salifert, brand new, and tests fine at 0ppm on the DT as well. I'm completely out of ideas. Any thoughts? I know Nitrites are not as bad for marine organisms, but I'm not relishing the thought of subjecting a really cool frag to Nitrites just because I can't get this thing to fully cycle.
<Your situation is very commonly misunderstood. "Some" phosphate is absolutely necessary to all life... part of DNA, RNA, Phospholipids in every cell... ADP, ATP energy transfer molecules... AND conversion of NO2 to NO3... The (over) use of chemical filtrants has killed more livestock than pathogenic disease. Remove the rust and you will find your nitrite gone in short order>
Thanks again!!
<Glad to help Frank. Bob Fenner>

Too Much Uncured Live Rock: Phosphates Locked Up      11/25/16
<Please respond to this email instead. Also, I meant to say that my Phosphate levels are 3-5. not .5, which I fixed below. Mahalo Nui Loa!>
<Real good>
Aloha Friends, Looks like over the years I've put too much live rock, some of which was uncured from the ocean, in my 100gal tank with 20gal sump and seem to have phosphates locked up.
<Most all (natural marine carbonate-based rock) will... for a time>
Inhabitants: 2 clowns, 1 strawberry Basslet, 1 Anthias, 1 flame angel, 1 Christmas wrasse, 1 long nose Hawkfish, two seahorses, two coral banded shrimp and a few crabs. I just introduced some Zoas and a Shroom and am determined to lower the phosphates so they can grow- along with coralline. So far no coralline algae in 5 years+!
<Insufficient biomineral (alkaline earths mainly) and/or alkalinity, and/or more competition from other life forms/conditions favorable to them than corallines>
All water parameters are good, except very high phosphates of 3-5 and double the level of ALK- which remains a mystery.
<Check you test kit/gear and supplementation practices>
I’m sure the two must be related but I haven’t been able to find anything in all my searching. I just bought GFO in hopes of that helping.
<Mmm; lo dudo.... better to study, replace some substrate (rock, sand/gravel.... increase/install a deeper, finer DSB in the sump likely>
I also just took out about 5 pieces of new live rock coral rubble I recently placed in there. I am curing in a bucket with current and overnight phosphates are indeed leaching out as indicated by the test.
I just started using GFO in my sump bag, since the reactor didn’t make it in my last order. Will this work, or should I get some other phosphate absorption pads or something?
<See how what you're doing works for a few weeks is what I'd do... other fave filtrants are gone over and over on WWM. Boyd's Chemipure, Polyfilter....>
I know it’s probably better to get to the source. I started trying vinegar doing but stopped because I don’t want to throw things off balance. Am I at the point where I need to completely remove the rock and put new cured rock in?
<This is what I'd do; yes>
Any product you would recommend to use before I go THAT extreme?
<... You've gots to stop your mind darting off in directions....>
Today I’m vacuuming up the cinders I have in the first stage of my sump to try and reduce more phosphates. I’ve also re-added a filter bag with GFO and Carbon. I am running an Aqua-medic skimmer in the first chamber of the sump and in the second growing what looks like Caulerpa racemosa, long and skinny with tiny spherical bubbles. It gets messy and kind of floats but has been growing for years and still high phosphates.
<Are you in Hawaii? Look for better limu... Gracilaria species... Ogo>
It looks like in this pic I need another chamber to my sump, right?
<Up to you>
Or is this “natural” system fine like this if I’m careful so the pods go back to the display tank. The sump is plumbed outside to get direct sunlight for the Caulerpa growth.
I recently added an RO unit which may help with the ALK levels since I had 13PPM in that rain catchment water (3X filtered) to begin with. I really appreciate your help with this challenging situation. I don’t want to give up on this!!! Mahaloz!
<There are ways to decrease the natural alkalinity... gone over on WWM. For now, just mixing in more RO...
A hu'i hou! Bob Fenner>
In Radiant Health,
Sky Kubby

Re: Too Much Uncured Live Rock: Phosphates Locked Up      11/25/16
Your passion and dedication to this work is inspiring- burning the midnight oil answering my question.
<Am indeed enthusiastic re life, petfish, helping... and am out in Madagascar>
I feel blessed and you rock! Mahalo for confirming what my gut was telling me. So it seems curing a bunch more live rock and switching it out in a couple months is the path I’m on. A couple points: I already have a DSB of 3" in both my DT and my sump’s 2nd chamber. The first is cinders. There are different colors and bubbles in the DT and sump sand. Do you still recommend to change out all the sand and rock?
<Yes I would; and have no cinders... all sand as gone over on WWM. Do you need help searching, using the indices for?>
Just to be ultra clear, we’re talking about as porous of coral live rubble as I can find and harvesting dry sand of different textures. Larger grains first, then finer atop that? Or better to actually order some of the more porous, like Aragonite and seed it with some of my tank water and sand?
<Finer is better: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm
and the linked files above>
I have some cool rock now with awesome caves, but I guess all that may be trash now if too high phosphates locked up in them. So I can’t cure that, but I could acid bath it… I will indeed wait and see what happens for a little while I implement 1/4 to 1/3 RODI water changes 1-2X weekly. Sound good?
Also, as far as no coralline growth, you mentioned "Insufficient biomineral (alkaline earths mainly) and/or alkalinity, and/or more competition from other life forms/conditions favorable to them than corallines”. But ALK levels are off the charts, not insufficient.
<Need both; responses written for ALL, not just you, 30k folks a day use WWM... PLEASE: search and read on WWM ahead of writing>
I poured over everything over the years and asked many people- I can’t find out why the ALK levels would be so high.
<... gone over on the site: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alktrbfix.htm
PH is 8.0 so I’ll try raising it to see if that helps. I’m only dosing a little Mg., but no CA as levels were good or high, even.
<.... precipitated out by....>
I don’t really have any corals growing so nothing seems to be needing those nutrients I was dosing before in hopes of coralline growth. I’m thinking no coralline was just from extremely Phosphates levels (5). I’m using a brand new Salifert test kit.
<Ahh; this should be accurate, precise>
Two arrived so I’ll try the other one. Tap water tests 0, though. But it does say on the kit that extremely high ALK levels with throw the results. That’s me! Nothing I have read says how to decrease ALK levels except massive water changes. It always talks about the balance between ALK/Calcium but not ALK/Phosphates. I’ll keep researching, though!
I’m headed Kona side this weekend with my wife and daughter so I’ll hunt for better Limu and maybe some rock. Ogo seemed messy last time I tried to grow it- but I’ll try it again. I have the benefit of having my sump outside in the natural sunlight so I hope that can pay off!
<See Gerald Heslinga or others re the Ogo at NELHA, next to Keauhou>
Let me know next time you’re on the Island- we can free dive and I can give back to you some of my brand of super food chocolate (Medicinal-Foods.com). A hu'i hou!
<Oh! Will do. Mahalo. BobF>
In Gratitude,
Sky Kubby
Here's some pics for ya from my last message.      11/25/16

<Wow; even a seahorse! BobF>
Sky Kubby

Re: Too Much Uncured Live Rock: Phosphates Locked Up     11/26/16
Aloha Bob! I read more (another day's worth) and realize I am in between with my DSB. Seems better to siphon clean the 2-3" of sand, in sections, to help pull out some phosphates. Then, depending upon if my PO4 levels go down then remove sand or add another few inches after. I could also leave a shallow sand level and keep the DSB in the dump.
<I'd vacuum; add more fine material....>
I'm going to go with your suggestion of lights on during curing, however my curing tank will be outside in natural sunlight. In this case would you still suggest it?
I know you say algae comes and goes during cycling. But since there will be no doubt more algae to deal with curing in direct sunlight, I'm concerned about my nice rock being covered in the stuff and caked on the walls of the 30 gal glass aquarium I was thinking of using.
Also, if I used copper in the tank before is guess I shouldn't use that tank to cure, right?
<Not a worry... all Cu is gone; insolubilized>
Better to use a rubber made 50 gal shallow tub and let the algae grow on the sides?
<Either way>
I tried searching for issues with curing in an old copper treated tank several times to no avail. The issue with my searching is that only five or so semi-relevant posts come up in my iPhone. The rest are blocked off. I guess I have to wait until I get to my computer.
<Yikes! Thank you for this valuable information. I did not know this... Don't use my phone for such searches (D'oh!)>
Lastly, I only have a two-chamber sump so I'm going with removing those cinders from the first chamber - maybe why I have too high Alk? Someone suggested cinders who claimed to be an expert online. But I agree let's get rid of em! I was thinking more surface area but understand there may be bad metals in there. Perhaps some phosphates will come out as well!
<Don't think (volcanic?) cinders contribute much/anything to alkalinity... they're not carbonate based, but silicate mostly>
Another possibility for the 5 reading by my phosphate test was the few pieces of LR I added to the without curing (which are now). Strange, though, that reading came with 0 Nitrates, Nitrites and Ammonia- lending me to believe it was phosphate lock-up.
So my plan is to add LR and rubble pieces to the first chamber of the sump after removing the cinders. I'll remove my bag and let the flow from the DT fall directly onto this to keep movement going. Keep in mind the tank is off-grid solar powered so I can save adding another power head this way.
I can easily remove the rock and pump the detritus through a filter bad into the second chamber for periodic cleanings or siphon out into the ground when I do water changes.
I'll keep the second chamber DSB- with a twist. Since it's the only other place to return to the DT, I'll put coral rubble atop the sand and cover the return pump with rubble, to avoid the Limu (seaweed) also growing in there from getting sucked into the pump. Hopefully pods and such still make it through!
I know you don't suggest all that action in one chamber but I'm out of space in my 20 gal sump. Perhaps it's time for an upgrade, or can My system thrive with this setup for my 100g. DT?
<MUCH better; yes>
Keep in mind I have the whole side of my house, plenty of sun and my wife cool with it!
I guess I could drill into my acrylic sump and have a 2" pipe flow into a 10g tank, then pump out of there so I don't get a bunch of sand and stuff in the return. Would you suggest that?
<I'd use the larger sump/tote >
That should cover all my questions. I know it's a lot but Mahalo Nui Loa! Looking forward to donating when I get back to my computer!
<Cheers, BobF>
Sky Kubby
Re: Too Much Uncured Live Rock: Phosphates Locked Up     11/26/16

Bob, I almost forgot! I'm going to Keauhou today to hint for limu. Will the Ogo grow loose or does it need to be attached to a rock?
<See our prev. corr. I'd just buy from IPSF. B>
Sky Kubby  

Limu!     11/26/16
 Thanks for the inspiration Bob! I think I've tried growing these before.
Looks like Ogo on the left but I think not quite. I'll look on the WWM ID section. Do I just stick under some rock in my sump to see if it latches on?
<The Gracilaria species (there are a few in HI, many worldwide) are Reds/Rhodophytes, largely unattached...>
I'm pretty sure the one on the right is a type of Nori. Bless!
<Is an Ulva, Ulvales at least. B>
Sky Kubby

Hawaii Coral Sand at Home Depot for DSB?     11/26/16
Aloha Crew. Will this sand work for a DSB with the variety of size? I can harvest similar, but it will have a die off- I think this is just crushed coral but I'm not sure. Best to cure or just use natural sand? There's some. If 3mm Big chunks in here. Mahalo!
Ps. The chunks are bigger than they look in the pic...
<I would definitely use this... and NOT collect, clean my own. Bob Fenner>
Sky Kubby

Re: Why so many bubbles?  BGA... plus now HPO4,      6/13/13
Sorry to bother you once again....I had a question(ok, probably more than just one) about phosphates. What's acceptable levels?
<Mmm, depends... less than 1, or 2 ppm, depending on what livestock you have, what you're trying to do...>
 Mine tested between 0.25 and 0.5 ppm. Isn't it optimal to have 0?
<Ah no; not zero... you want/need "some", measurable HPO4 (and NO3) to sustain basal algal et al. photosynthate life in your system... in turn supports all else; even if you don't have larger photosynthetic life like "corals", endosymbiotic-containing life that needs such>
 The guy at my LFS recommend a phosphate removing poly filter, which I bought.
<A very good product>
This blasted algae remains stubborn!!! Even with all of my modifications to prevent Cyano and unwanted algae, it still persists.
<These "things" take time... have I had you read re such... Oh, I see this below. Let's make a specific rec. Read here:
and "tick off" the list of causes, what can be done to tip the balance against BGA in your system>
We will be doing another filtration mod next week. Upgrading filter media to a media basket, adding Chemipure Elite and Purigen. Also will be adding a ball of Chaeto in the back. I'm sure I will find the right balance and my tank will finally submit!!!!
<Ahh! Good>
What are your thoughts on the media?
<Mmm, I'd add something more permanent that will/does support anaerobiosis... like Ehfi-Mech, Siporax... there are others, knock-offs>
 Should I add something like Seachem PhosGuard?
<Mmm, not with the readings you give here, no>
Keep in mind all of my water tests are still in great range (except nitrates are still 10-20)
<This is okay for now as well>
 and I've read every inch of WWM on all of these topics. Fascinating, to say the least!
<Heeeee! Thanks>
Everyone in the tank is happy and eating well but it's quite the eyesore having green and red(slime) algae waving back at me from the other side!!!
<Will soon be a vague memory>
Thanks SO much once again for your helpful advice!!
<Ahh, thank you for sharing this part, your journey. BobF>

Phosphate question    3/16/12
Hi Crew,
<Evening Jody>
Looking for some wisdom,
I have a 55 gal saltwater tank with fish, soft coral(leather) and about 50 lbs live rock. Previous to a three week vacation, out of the country, the tank water was pristine i.e....ammonia, nitrite--0, ph 8.2-8.4, CA 440 etc.
Coralline growth was good and  growth of algae on glass was minimal( about a week for small growth).So, It is hard to give someone a crash course in feeding a tank with fish such as a porcupine puffer, flame angel, Lunare wrasse <The Puffer and Wrasse can be messy eaters and in a 55g tank you have little room for error> and maroon clown in a few days I know but that is what I had to do. I put portions of shrimp and formula two in containers in the freezer and let him feed  with instructions to not feed more if the pieces of food just sit on the bottom of the tank. I don't know if he did that or the pieces just went to the bottom and rotted( I think that's what was going on)<Likely based off your comments below>Anyways, when I got back, everything was alive--I could barely see in the tank because of algae on the glass and the corals were somewhat shriveled and darker in color.
The nitrite level was .25 <Representative of a 'mini' cycle due likely to the excessive food> of a  and the ph was 7.6-7.8.<Were you or have you tested Nitrate?> This was three weeks ago. I did a water change immediately and every two days and included rigorous cleaning of the canister filter and changed phosphate absorbers<Please share what type of absorber you are using and how often it is changed>. I normally change 5-7 gallons per week and clean the filter every two weeks.  
All the normal water parameters are fine but I still believe phosphate is at high levels<Have you ever tested the Phosphate directly?> because the corals are doing okay but not thriving like before, I have to clean a fairly heavy layer of brownish maroon algae off the glass every two days and the algae on the rocks is all brown where it used to be bright green. I know at this point I have changed out more than all the water in the tank and have vacuumed the substrate.<If you have a deep sandbed, 3" or greater, do not disturb the deeper areas, you can release other, noxious nutrients>
The skimmer was producing an especially smelly liquid. <Pulling out the excessive nutrients, doing its job ;)> Any ideas? I have cut down a little on feeding. The tank used to be green and purple and red with a white substrate on the bottom and now the whole thing looks a bit brown all the way around. <Continue with the water changes, they certainly can help and be stingy with the feedings for now. These actions along with the skimmers efforts will help lower the nutrients that are feeding the algae. If you are able to provide specific readings for Nitrate and Phosphate, that can certainly help pinpoint the issue and allow for a more precise solution>
Thanks for any thoughts,
<You are Welcome>
Re: Phosphate question   3/17/12

Hi Bobby,
The phosphate remover I use is 2 Phos-Zorb <Aluminum Oxide> pouches which I change about every 2 months and rinse every two weeks. I also have a couple of phosphate pads<Not a huge fan of the pads or the above mentioned product as it is not as efficient as Granular Ferric Oxide (GFO).  Read this article http://wetwebmedia.com/phosphatemar.htm > in the canister. I tested the nitrate this morning and it was well between the 20 and 40 colors so say 30--doesn't seem too bad right <Easily enough to cause and fuel the Algae bloom.  Shoot for less than 10 to start with>? I don't have a phosphate test kit and prefer not to get one ,<I can understand, the useful ones are quite expensive> (really I barely ever test for ammonia, nitrate or nitrite since this is an established system that I do quite a bit of regular maintenance on) --typically when the algae growth has been strong I have found that changing the water and phosphate pouches slowed that down--hence my belief that I have a phosphate issue, however I am entirely knowledgeable in how long the high phosphate cycle lasts.<It is very likely that the excessive food over the course of the three weeks caused not only a mini cycle, but also an increase of the Nitrate as well as the Phosphate.  the Nitrate can be dealt with by doing regular water changes, this will help with the phosphate as well, but it is a more difficult beast to battle.  Change out your Phosphate remover more frequently over the course of the next month, perhaps every 10-14 days. 
The product you are using has an set amount of phosphate it can absorb before it is no longer useful.  Once it is 'full', it may very well leach back into your water column.  If you are able to provide pics of the type of algae you are experiencing I may be able to help more.  Water changes, and changing Phosphate remover more frequently for the next 30 days. Keep up with you other maintenance as normal.>
In case you were wondering the lights, two 96 watt 50/50 power compacts at about 5 hours per day are about 6 months old but since I was not having this stuff happening before I left I am ruling that out as far as an issue.
<Fair Enough>
I changed water yesterday and wiped the glass and today notice a new bit of reddish algae.<Possibly Cyanobacteria>
Thank you for your thoughts, Jody <welcome, Bobby>

Re: Phosphate question   3/18/12
Hi Bobby,
I've attached a couple of pics of the algae growth--this is in two days since I wiped it off. <That is pretty heavy growth for 2 days> When I said I am entirely knowledgeable of phosphate what I meant was I am not knowledgeable about how long the cycle lasts <Phosphate does not go through a cycle, at least not in the terms you are thinking like ammonia or Nitrite does>--that is why I asked for your ideas. <Phosphate is present in every food we feed, especially the frozen food you are feeding.  To that point, when overfed like happened in your case, it becomes available for Algae to feed upon and see rapid growth.  The same applies to Nitrate, which in this case you have both.  It must be 'exported' out of the system via dilution (water changes), chemical, or biological means.  My suggestion to you is to continue your water changes 10-15% weekly (Are you using RO/DI water?) as well as replace your Phosphate removing chemicals (Phos Zorb).  GFO is a more effective chemical, but it does cost more. 
(http://www.bulkreefsupply.com/store/products/carbon-and-gfo/bulk-gfo-granular-ferric-oxide-phosphate-remover/bulk-granular-gfo-phosphate-remover/1-pound-453-grams-bulk-gfo-granular-ferric-oxide.html ) .  The amount you need will vary depending on how much Phosphate is now bound up in your system. 
Accurately testing for phosphate is difficult and the test kits are rather expensive.  So, short of a $50 colorimeter to test for it, you will need to continue to change your phosphate removing media and do water changes until you see the algae subside.  The reason you have  not had the issue prior is because you had the system in balance with the amount of feeding you were doing versus your maintenance.  The overfeeding tipped the scales.  I hope that helps, please ask any specific questions you may have.  Bobby>
Anyways I will continue with maintenance,

Using commercially available Ferric Oxide, HPO4 control  12/18/11
<Hello there>
I live in Sri Lanka and have been in the Marine hobby for over a decade now. While livestock is easy to come about, naturally, equipment and supplies specific to Reefkeeping are somewhat more difficult. To date I haven't been able to find any Marine Aquarium Phosphate Adsorbing media.
The other day I was thinking, whether it would be possible to use commercially available Ferric Oxide in powder form (coarse powder) in an appropriately constructed reactor (I'm thinking of something along the lines of a fluidized bed)
<Mmm, yes; one could>
Would you advise such a set up
<I would not in most all cases... Better to rely on excluding excess soluble HPO4 and use biological take-up measures than rely on chemical filtrants>
 and would I be able to obtain the benefit I require. My aquarium is having a slight phosphate and silicate problem which is causing a Cyano Bacterial Bloom.
<Where are these nutrients coming from? Do you have biota to use them?>
Your website has been an immense support for me and I constantly turn to it for information I require, however I have been unable to find anything with regard to this particular matter and I would be very grateful if you could assist me.
Many thanks and warm regards.
<Certainly welcome. Bob Fenner>

Be Aggressive About Phosphate/Algae From The Start, Or Wait And See?/Algae Control/Nutrient Control 3/1/2011
<Hello Tim>
I'm at my next decision point, and after studying several books and spending the weekend on the Net reading advice to others, I've found more confusion than clarity. I hope someone wiser than I can provide some advice.
My live rock completed its cycle a month ago, I put in Arag-Alive substrate a week ago, and a pair of clowns are in QT. The DT looked dead until this weekend, at which time Diatoms (I assume) went wild with brown splotches all over the rock and streaking the substrate.
<Not uncommon for new systems.>
Also, green hair (I assume) algae is popping up. No livestock is in the tank yet, and phosphate is 0.1, all others zero. I am now wondering about phosphate and algae.
About half of the 'experts' say that at this stage one should just let nature take its course and watch as the diatom/Cyano/red/green sequence takes place. Much of the algae is actually good for the ecosystem. Take action only if an outbreak begins to look severe.
The other half of the experts say to be ruthless from the start. Use whatever means are necessary, including phosphate adsorbents like Phosban, to keep phosphate essentially zero so that algae never gets a foothold.
I need to make a decision on this, as livestock will be going in soon. Any thoughts?
<Mmm, would have helped to have a little more info as to tank size, flow rate, lighting, filtration, use of protein skimmer, cured/uncured rock, etc.
Please provide.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Be Aggressive About Phosphate/Algae From The Start, Or Wait And See?/Algae Control/Nutrient Control 3/1/2011- 3/2/2011

>> would have helped to have a little more info as to tank size, flow rate, lighting, filtration, use of protein skimmer, cured/uncured rock <<
<Hello Tim>
Sorry. It's a 65 gallon Red Sea Max 250. It has the two stock circulation pumps, a pair of Vortech MP10 powerheads on opposite ends of the tank, and a Marineland 220 canister filter with only sponge pad, carbon and some ceramic rings in it now. I got the canister filter mainly to drive the UV sterilizer, as well as to have a place to put PhosBan or other such things if the need ever arises.
<OK, no flow problem for sure.>
Lighting is the stock fluorescent bulbs, protein skimmer is their stock (producing no skimmate at all right now due to very low nutrient levels).
I dark-cured the live rock outside the tank and moved it into the tank when it was totally cured. That's why nutrients are all practically zero, except for about 0.1 ppm phosphate which must have come from the rock or the Arag-Alive substrate I put in a week ago. (I use RO/DI water only.)
<OK, sounds good.>
My plan is FOWLR + CUC for now, maybe forever. When I've had the tank and fish for six months or so, I'll make a decision if I want to try
photosynthetic inverts or anything relatively hard.
My big decision right now is this: Do I go with the 'let it be' experts and just watch the algae grow, and take action only if a serious outbreak threatens? Or do I go with the 'no holds barred' experts and start right out with PhosBan to keep phosphate down to essentially zero, thus theoretically never letting algae get a start. These are two totally opposite philosophies, and the voting seems to be split pretty evenly among the experts.
<Corals appreciate a little phosphate in the water but since your system is a FOWLR, I'd go ahead and use the Phosban as a preventive measure. Better yet, go with two units of Chemipure Elite which contains a high grade carbon, absorbing resins, and phosphate remover. I've been using Chemipure for many, many years and I have yet to find its equal.>
The little bits of algae on the rock are very pretty, and I don't even mind the brown streaks of diatoms on the substrate. The brown is starting to creep up the bottom of the glass, which is annoying, but no big deal.
<This is common with new systems and should go away soon. Give it some time and maintain good water quality.>
So I am inclined to just sit back and watch the algae grow. But I do have PhosBan ready, and a canister to put it in. So I can go that route, too.
<Patience my friend.>
One last issue in this regard... I read somewhere that suddenly using PhosBan or any phosphate adsorbent AFTER there is a lot of algae can cause a sudden die-off of the algae, resulting in a toxic nutrient explosion in the tank. That's a scary thought!
<I'm not aware of any toxic nutrient explosion caused by using the product.
Bob and/or other crew members may chime in so I suggest you read the daily FAQ's for the next few days.
James (Salty Dog)>
Re Be Aggressive About Phosphate/Algae From The Start, Or Wait And See?/Algae Control/Nutrient Control 3/1/2011- 3/2/2011 3/4/11

James -
Thank you!
<You're welcome.>
You folks are wonderful. Before embarking on this hobby, I spent $400 on marine aquarium books and studied them all, even taking notes. But there are so many 'practical' issues that they do not address, and you folks are my source for those.
<Keep reading/learning. James (Salty Dog)>

Subject: Tank Cycling - where are phosphates coming from?   2/15/11
Hi Crew,
I'm building up my 92 gallon corner aquarium. I've been taking my time and slowly making sure it is exactly how I want it. My aquascaping skills are lacking, but I finally got my rocks where I like them. I have about 100 pounds of rock in the tank/ sump. I have a CPR192 sump that I took out the bio balls and put rock rubble in. I added water about two weeks ago. I used oceanic salt. I tested my water before starting. Everything was perfect, including phosphates.
My return pump is only pushing 250 gph so I'm planning on replacing it (as soon as I do my taxes). SO the tank has been running for 2 weeks with nothing in it. The rock that is in there is the same rock I had about a year ago. It was dirty and had some spiders so I soaked them in tap water to kill any spiders.
<You should add some new... 10-20 pounds to boost "live rock" and soluble components here. See WWM re>
Then I hosed the rocks off. They were completely dry as I was aquascaping. (IT took a month to get the aquascape how I wanted) So two days ago I went out and BAM! Diatoms everywhere.
<No big... they come, go>
I broke out the test kit and tested everything. It looks like my tank is almost done cycling. My ammonia is at .1, Nitrites were 2.3,
<Mmm, not done>
and Nitrates are 50. I didn't realize it would cycle without fish waste.
A little research says it is normal. The
thing that has me perplexed though, is the phosphate level. It is at about
.25. Where could that have come from?
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/hpo4sources.htm
and the linked files above...>
My salt say "Phosphate Free". My water tested 0 phosphates. I used vending machine water. It is RO with some other processes done to it. I suppose I will test my tap water tonight and see if there is any trace there.
Oh, by the way, the skimmer in the CPR192 is producing a fair amount of light to med crud. I didn't think I'd get anything for a long time.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

PO4 "trapped" in LR & LS -- 02/12/10
Greetings Crew & thanks a million for this web site.
I have a 90g reef. Params are currently CA 400, Alk 3.2, NO3 <1, Ph 8.4, Amm Nitrite 0, SG 1.024, Temp 79. Have a 1200 gph pump, 2 Koralias, Turboflotor blue skimmer, 75g wet/dry filter & UV sterilizer. Lights are 520w PC's
LR & LS have been in tank 3 yrs.
<I'd be switching out, adding some new.>
There is about 80# LR & LS is 2-3" deep. 2 weeks ago I added some new LS & stirred up some of the compacted bed. 3-4 wks ago I changed PO4 media from PhosPure from Drs F&S to RowaPhos in a fluidized reactor. H2O changes are done 10g/wk. Green film algae & some red Cyano are growing on the glass, sand & small places on the LR. This seems to have started about 2 wks ago.
PO4 levels in the H20 column are <1.
<I hope so... better below 0.10 ppm>
Within the LS & LR however the PO4 levels are much more like 5.
<Zounds! How's that look? Sound?>
Why isn't the RowaPhos removing PO4 from the substrate & LR, or is it just a slow thing?
Doug from MI
<Can't tell from here. I'd first be checking your test kit against a standard, other reliable assay. Bob Fenner> 
Re: PO4 "trapped" in LR & LS -- 2/12/10

My mistake. PO4 in the water column is less than 0.10, i.e. no blue tinge w test reagent.
However, with a few small pieces of chipped of LR in the test vial w 10ml of tank water, PO4 is 1-2 ppm!!
<Mmm, not too much of a worry... unless there's a whole bunch of "chipping" going on in the system>
So, should I toss a few pieces of LR that don't have corals attached & replace w new cured LR, or is there something that the RowaPhos is not doing??
<Likely all is fine here. I would take a/the long-term approach... look into expanding/adding a live sump, large DSB, RDP macroalgal culture... As gone over and over on WWM. Cheers, BobF> 

Phosphate -- 09/29/09

<Hello Becky.>
I wrote a day ago about a PO4 problem. The tank is 155g. What is the best way to export PO4 from live rock that has been sitting in a tank with a PO4 level of 5 for a few years?
<If it has to happen fast (in less than a few months) I'd look into the use of iron (or aluminium) based phosphate adsorbing media. It's sold by many companies as Ultiphos, UltraPhos, Diakat, Rowaphos'¦ to name a few. The granular media can be put into a filter sock or in a specific filter with little flow. After the phosphate has been adsorbed (and is no longer decreasing) the media is removed and replaced. If you have more time skimming and export by algae growth can be sufficient depending on how much fish is in the system. This route is more natural, but will take much longer.>
It was a FOWLR and I've decided to keep coral. I'm having a problem. I've just added a fuge. I've cut down on feeding the fish.
<Don't make them starve.>
I'm very aggressive with water changes. I've also tried a PO4 removal product. Is PO4 in the substrate too?
Currently, the PO4 reading is at 0.5.
<Quite an improvement.>
Will it ever go away?
<Can, depending on future actions.>
Should I try to precipitate it out?
<I would not.>
Would that give me a head start until the Chaeto catches up with consumption?
<Maybe, but it will create another phosphate reservoir.>
<Cheers. Marco.>

Phosphate & Stocking question: Phosphate\nutrient\algae control and stocking SW 8/30/3009
Dear WWM Crew,
<Hi Jan.>
As always, thank you for your great site. Over the 4 years that we have had our reef tank your help and advice has been invaluable!
<Thank you for the kind words.>
Our tank setup is as follows:
- 75 G Oceanic reef ready bow front with a 20 G Eco Systems refugium, about 80 lbs. of live rock.
- Water quality: 77.5 degrees F, 1.025 SG, 8.3 pH, 5 ppm Nitrate, 0 ppm Ammonia & Nitrite, 420 ppm Ca, 1470 ppm Mg, 7.0 dKH and 1 ppm PO4.
<High phosphate, but you already knew that...:) >
- 15% water change every Friday using RO/DI water with 0 ppm readings on the meter.
- 3 feedings per day with a mixture of liquid, frozen & dry foods.
<Ding! we have a winner.>
- Livestock: 2 clownfish (A. ocellaris), mated and spawning
1 Yellow Tang (Z. flavescens)
3 Blue-Green Chromis (Chromis viridis)
3 Peppermint Shrimp (L. wurdemanni)
2 Cleaner Shrimp (L. amboinensis)
2 Fire Cleaner Shrimp (L. debelius)
5 blue legged hermit crabs
Various corals.
<A reasonably stocked tank.>
I have two areas where I need your advice (without which, I am reluctant to do anything in this tank).
<Fair enough.>
1. High phosphate level. Due to ???.
I'm getting a PO4 reading of 1 ppm (confirmed with 2 different test kits) which I understand to be very high. I am experiencing some hair algae growth and CBA (CBA mainly in the refugium). I use RO/DI water (which I have tested a 0 ppm PO4) and I have tested the new salt water before the water change at 0 ppm PO4. The substrate is about 2 to 3 inches deep.
All of the corals are healthy and growing. I do not now where the PO4 is coming from (the substrate?) or how big a problem this is. So, I'm confused and could use some advice.
<Two possible causes - 1st, how much are you skimming out of this tank?
Your skimmer could be undersized. 2nd: Three feedings a day is excessive, especially with liquid foods - those should be used no more than once or twice a week.
we tend to overfeed these because it is a liquid.>
2. Stocking question. Should we add a "Lawnmower" Blenny (S. Fasciatus), or not.
<I wouldn't, you are reasonably stocked now, adding anything else will be pushing the limits.>
Recently, after 3 years of healthy living, our Mandarinfish (Synchiropus splendidus) died. We intend to replace him with another Mandarinfish.
<Do give the pod population time to replenish itself before adding another.
75 gallons is on the edge of being too small for a Mandarin. They need a large tank with a healthy pod population.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandfdgfaqs.htm >
We would also like to add a "Lawnmower" Blenny (S. Fasciatus) but have some concerns. In researching this fish I understand that they can be quite territorial, even belligerent.
<Yes they can: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/blencompfaqs.htm >
Given that we are going to have a Mandarinfish and that our clownfish have taken up residence in a Zoanthid coral on the bottom, right corner of the tank, should we add the Blenny? The thought of a bullying Blenny bothering the clownfish in their little home is untenable. But we need an algae eater and I love the way these crazy looking "Lawnmower" Blennies look.
<You already have a voracious algae eater in the Yellow Tang. Between phosphate control. removing any that is in danger of covering\damaging any corals, and the tang, the hair algae will quickly be under control. Adding a phosphate reactor or just using some Polyfilters can help speed the process up.>
Thanks for your thoughts!!
<My pleasure.>
Re: Phosphate & Stocking question: Phosphate\nutrient\algae control and stocking SW 8/30/3009

Hi Mike,
<Hi Jan.>
Thanks so much for your quick response! However, I have a couple of follow up questions.
1. Are you saying that the PO4 is in the food or that we're putting too much
food in the tank, or both?
The liquid foods we use are made by Reef Nutrition.
<A good brand.>
We use their Phyto-Feast, Oyster Feast & Arcti-Pods. The first two are for the corals. The frozen foods are made by Bio-Pure and we vary the types between feedings. Also, it was my understanding that 3 light feedings per day was ideal. Wrong? If so, what would you recommend?
<Unless you have a fish with a very particular diet, once or twice a day is fine. The fish will graze the rest of the day.>
By the way, the skimmer that we use is the one that came with the Eco-Systems refugium that was specified for this size tank, so I hope that's not undersized.
<Should be fine - are yo getting a lot of skimmate?>
2. Regarding the stocking question, if we decided not to replace the Mandarinfish, would the Lawnmower Blenny be OK? Our Tang, while it does peck at the rock, couldn't be described as a voracious algae eater (at this my wife says maybe because we're overfeeding!).
<Perhaps - tangs love hair algae - at least mine did.>
There seems to be plenty of algae on the rock (not hair algae!). My initial concern about adding this fish was potential aggression towards the clownfish. Or is six fish enough
for a 75G tank?
<6 is about the limit for a 75.>
Once again, thanks for all of your help!!
<My pleasure.>

High Phosphate! LR Curing, H2O quality  7/12/09
Hi there.
Great site and advice!
<Thank you.>
I have searched your site but can't seem to find the answers to my problem.
I have just begun a new set-up. It is a 5ftx2ftx2ft tank with a 3ft sump underneath. I am running an Octopus skimmer, which is doing a great job!.
This will be a FOWLR and I am in the process of curing about 50kgs of LR in the tank. There is no substrate yet. It's been running for about a week and have noticed high phosphate levels; around 1.5! Nitrate is 0. Nitrite is 0.
Ammonia is 0. Although I'm expecting this to spike?
<Possibly, but you should see ammonia at the very least by now.>
Is this a "normal" level of phosphate for a new setup?
<Not abnormal.>
I am waiting for everything to be close to perfect before introducing my first fish. Do I need to minimise the phosphate at this stage via adding Caulerpa in my sump of buying sponges?
<If you have a place to put a macroalgae such as a refugium it is a great addition to any system. Do look into Chaetomorpha instead though, much less of a headache.>
I haven't done a water change yet as I was told it's not necessary when curing.
<I do disagree with that advice. See:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i3/Live_Rock/live_rock.htm on
the ins and outs of curing live rock. Water changes are not life and death right now, but I would probably start (it is good practice to get into) after testing your source water you are using for phosphate.>
Thanks again.
John Catanzariti
<Welcome, Scott V.>

Unofficial copy of test report, HPO4 reading    6/13/09
hi there.
<... Claude>
please I have a big problem concerning the quality of my salt water aquarium that is 1000l with a refusion of 250l, I have huge quantity of phosphate in my salt aquarium that is 2.86mg/l
<I see this in your scant report attached>
and this even after a change of water of 25% every 2 weeks for 4 times and even the phosphate is still 2,86mg/l, knowing that I even used phosphate remover. but everybody advice me to start again from zero here in Lebanon, start again with new live rock and sand and refusion and....because they are saying that the phosphate is in the stone of Tufa and the live rock and coral sand.. that there is nothing that can be done. I have some old fish that are living well 10 clowns 4 yellow tang nothing much. my aquarium used to be overloaded from fish and corals. and lots of fish died inside the aquarium that couldn't remove.
the food I am using is Hikari dry food only. I sent u the result here in attachment of the quality of my water from an international laboratory for the quality of my water. so if you please can give me clue due to what I
have al
<There are a few approaches to limiting soluble phosphate... Read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Carbon, Phos, Nitrate reactor. 5/12/08 Hello, hope all is well. <Is on my end for the most part.> I have an off the wall question for you guys. Is there and such thing as over cleaning and Saltwater tank. <Hee, can be.> I have recently put a Phosban, Nitrate, and carbon reactor on my 140 and was wondering if there was a issue with doing such. <Again, can be!> In addition there is a Aqua C 180 and a Cal reactor as well. The reactors are all Two Little Fishes and all are set to a low flow. I've seen many tanks with Phos and carbon, but very few with Nitrate. I figured it couldn't hurt, but now have wondered if it is a little much. Any help would be great. <Do be aware that life forms do require some soluble phosphate and many of the phosphate removing media are too effective! Do test your levels and use only when they are getting too high. For the nitrate reactor, you will honestly be better served with a DSB and/or macroalgae refugium. These units can work, I just like to let the system naturally work for you!> Thanks Matthew. <Welcome.> Life Is A Reef ><((((º>`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸.·´¯`·...¸><((((º> <Love the signature, Scott V.>

Phosphat-e, Phosphate Remover 5/12/08 Dear Crew, <Hello> I have heard a lot lately about a product by Brightwell Aquatics called Phosphat-E, which is a liquid phosphate remover that is apparently safe for reef systems. The owner of my LFS uses it in his SPS tank and told me he notices an immediate difference in coral health after dosing. I know nothing of this product other than as stated above, but thought you might be interested/have some use for the attached. Also, if any of the Crew members uses this product, I'd love to hear any feedback. Andy <I have not used this product and would be extremely hesitant to add it to my tank without knowing what the "proprietary phosphate removers" are. As to whether it works or not I do not know, but I strongly recommend against adding unknown substances to your tank.> <Chris> Sent: Sunday, May 11, 2008 5:23 PM To: 'Andy Subject: RE: Phosphat-e Hello Andy, Thank you for contacting us. We are in the process of updating our website to feature the most recently-released supplements; Phosphat-E is among these. I have attached an informational document for Phosphat-E to this message; please review it at your convenience and let me know if you have any questions. Thank you for your interest in Brightwell Aquatics; I sincerely appreciate it. Kindest regards, Chris Brightwell President Brightwell Aquatics

Question on phosphates & hairy algae -- 4/11/08 Hello again <Hello Sam>- I have been fighting hairy algae for a while now. I have taken the following steps: 1) replace my light bulbs (have 2x 96w compact fluorescent for a 40BR); 2) got PhosBan 150 and put maybe 40% of it into a tray in my wet dry trickle filter; 3) bought more snails (now have 2 Mexican Turbos and maybe 8 smaller ones, I think, Astrea (?); also have about 8 sand-sifting snails and 9 or so hermit crabs and 3 emerald crabs. My water parameters are: Alkalinity: 3 (or 8.4dkh) Calcium: looks to be between 430 and 475 (I find the Calcium tests hard to read, both the Instant Ocean and Salifert one - am not sure 100% when the water becomes 'clear blue' ph: 8.4 (evening) phosphates: appear to be 0.03 (Salifert kit) salinity: approx. 1.025 Temp: approx. 78 Mag: 1320 ammonia, nitrites, nitrates: test kit says 0 <So good so far!> I dose approx. 10ml per day of ESV B-Ionic Alkalinity and Calcium. I have a Aqua C protein skimmer, keep 3 fish (2 clowns and a royal Gramma) and several (mainly soft) corals. Tank is approx. 8 months old now. Do you have any suggestion as to what I should do to get rid of the hairy algae (would getting a phosphate reactor improve the situation a lot?)<Yes, a reactor does improve the removal capabilities> Also, it appears that whenever I am gone for a few days (4 last time) and thus do not dose alkalinity/calcium the algae has a new outbreak (could this be the case?) <Nuisance algaes have a better/stronger chance of competing when alkalinity is lower. What I see being the problem here is your phosphate reading is far too high. .03ppm will indeed grow nuisance algaes. You want this reading to be undetectable.(0ppm)What I recommend is that you check your source water for evaporation and new salt mixes and make sure the TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) is 0ppm. To get to this level you need to be using RO/DI water. If you are not already using RO/DI water I suggest that you begin to. It will help greatly. If you do not have a digital TDS meter, then I suggest you purchase one as these are inexpensive handheld units that help you understand if your source water is OK or not. (nutrient/mineral free) Finally, I would continue the use of the Phosban, but would change the media every 7 days until the PO4 level reaches 0ppm. Then you could use it longer. You may go thru several(3)jars of the 150g size before you see progress. Just remember to check your source water with the TDS meter.> Thanks tons in advance for any advice.<no problem, Rich> Best Regards, Sam

Hi Rich, here's an update on my phosphate problem: 5/6/08 <Hello, and sorry for the delayed response!> I received a TDS meter yesterday and measured the following: tap water: 49 RODI water: 5 (btw, stupid question: can I measure the salty tank water? the TDS gave an error message when I tried?)<Yes, but the reading will be higher than the tester reads.> Is 5 good enough? How can I get it to zero? My RODI unit (Water General) is pretty new and it was said that the filters last for a year (given that I only have a 40BR)..<You will need to add another DI cartridge to your unit or change the DI resins to new ones in your existing unit.> Btw, had started to increase the B-Ionic dosage a bit and now alkalinity is still 3, PH was closer to 8.4 and calcium 450. Looks like PH and calcium is pretty much at the upper level, whilst it seems to be difficult to increase alkalinity (btw, I have also used the same dosage for alkalinity and calcium, as that'd what the B-Ionic instructions say; would it make sense to increase alkalinity and reduce calcium to try to get alkalinity closer to 4?)<You can skip a few doses of the Calcium additive and add only the alkalinity additive until things balance out and then go back to dosing both.> I also got the Phosban reactor and will install it this week-end and will be getting some more turbo snails. Hopefully this will get rid of phosphates/hairy algae completely (it seems a bit better already)...What do you think?<This is a good sign, but get the TDS to 0ppm as a priority and I would change the PO4 resin by now and add new. I would change it once every 2 weeks for the first 2 months and then change it once a month after that. You will see a better performance out of the product that way as it is stripping the nutrients from the tank faster.> Thanks, Sam-- <HTH, Rich>

Snow storm... Phosphate removal rxn on Cnid.s    1/3/08 Hi Crew, Small 10 gallon saltwater tank. I bought a filter pad that is made for reducing phosphates. I was able to cut out two pieces to match my filter. I put in the first one almost 8 weeks ago and it did a good job. I hardly have any hair algae left. The water was not going through so easily so I just replaced it with the second pad and I noticed white flecks coming out of the filter. By morning I had what looked like the aftermath of a snow storm. The part of the tank directly in front of the filter was covered in white. Sand and mushrooms and candy canes. <Mmm, these need some soluble phosphate...> The mushrooms were closing up. I contacted the seller and after convincing them it was not pods they said it may be some of the phosphate remover from the pad. <Maybe> How important is it to remove from the tank. <I would> They did not think it was much of an issue other than to remove from the corals. I rinsed it well before I put it in the tank so I do not know why this pad was different than the first being that they both are from one big pad. <I don't think "it" is the pad per se, but a reaction/series from the pad... the life...> Anyway the main concern is will it harm anything by staying on the sand. Thanks <I would remove the new pad. Bob Fenner>

R2: High pH And Hair Algae -- 11/17/07 Hi there again! <<Hello Kerstin>> Well, I hope we're making progress on her tank...I want to keep you updated, and I want to ask some questions as well. <<Cool 'okay>> I think I may have figured out where the phosphates come from - tell me if you think I might be right. <<Alrighty>> I have made several batches of coral/reef food, using Eric Borneman's recipe as a base. Included with the fresh seafood and ground up flake food and other assorted stuff are also frozen Mysis shrimps, daphnia, etc...all aquarium packs. <<Okay>> If I am supposed to rinse them before feeding them on an individual cube basis to get rid of the packaged water (I read it's a good source of phosphates), and I did not even thaw them before integrating them into the new mixture, then could that be the source of the phosphates? <<Is probable, yes>> Just a thought, because I can't see where else they might come from. <<Let's test and see to be sure, shall we? Thaw a chunk of the food preparation in a small container of tank water (just like you do when you feed) and then test that water for Phosphate. If there's a chance a chance the tank water will skew the test, then test 'before and after' adding the food stuff>> re the new skimmer - she started running my AquaC skimmer -- <<Excellent!>> collected 1/2 of a cup of "guck" the first night alone...she is absolutely happy that it's pulling this stuff out. <<Is helping 'that is a certainty>> Between that, having a Poly-Filter pad in her little AquaClear filter, and the fact that she pulled quite a bit of the hair algae wherever she could, we'll see how her tank does...she really appreciates all the suggestions and is happier about her tank already. <<Very good to know>> Although, interestingly enough, when she tested her water in the evening after lights had been on all day (has done 3 5-gallon water changes in the last week), her pH is still running 8.8 - but it is staying stable, so is it something to worry about, or will it drop as the skimmer removes stuff from the water (don't know how that would happen)? <<The skimmer is not going to drop her pH'¦and yes, this reading if accurate is too high/worrisome. I seem to recall you stated before that you have validated this reading with more than one brand of test kit'¦if not please do so. Else 'it is important to find and remedy the source/reason for this high pH reading (source water is prefiltered, yes?). Do revalidate the salt mix used 'and stop adding any buffers if using these. And do make sure there isn't an unusual item/tank decoration that has been added to the tank that may be leaching/causing this spike in pH>> Thanks again for all your tremendous help, and we'll let you know what happens. <<Happy to assist 'please do fix/let me know how things progress re the pH issue>> One positive thing <<Hey'¦I counted more than one! [grin]>> - I gave her a copy of CMA, and am loaning her fish books - she is going to research more on her new tank inhabitants once this problem is solved, since she has already decided to return the lawnmower blenny to the LFS to trade against something else. <<Very good 'and do lead her here/to this site and teach her how to do keyword searches using the Google search tool>> Thanks, and I hope you're having a lovely weekend, Kerstin:-) <<Weekends are 'always' good, mate. Eric Russell>>

PO4... -- 11/13/07 Thanks Bob! <Welcome David> One of the retailers mentioned that if I just started using my RO/DI... I should still cycle in some sort of phosphate removing media as skimming and water changes won't remove phosphate that is currently in the tank. <Will go in time, some small amount re-added through feeding mostly. Necessary> With the use of my RO/DI unit I can assume now that my water quality input should be under control... I know my feeding is under control. I shouldn't really be introducing any troublesome quantities of phosphate knowingly... Are you in agreement with his statement to use PhosBan or RowaPhos. He also suggest Kalkwasser (sp?)... But I happen to have both PhosBan and RowaPhos in my inventory of goodies. <Both are good products... Kalk has its place> Of note, the small bits of Cyano in my 200g tank have pretty much disappeared since using my RO/DI water... And portions of that green/brown hair algae are starting to look more greyish... Dying off very very slowly perhaps? <Oh yes> On a side note, I had asked your advice about stocking my 200gallon tank. If I happen to abandon my idea of a medium to larger angel, would a Lemon Peel and a Flame Angel be an appropriate choice together in my 200g tank? <Yes> Stock would be with: Snowflake Moray, 2xBannerfish, Harlequin Tusk, Hippo Tang, Longnose Hawk, Magnificent Foxface, Picasso Trigger. <Sounds like a nice mix... the Trigger may be a wild card. B>
Re: Mushroom Life Span--Turned into a Phosphate Question 10/1/07
Mich, <Andy> Sorry to pound you with emails, <No worries Andy> but I was hoping to update before you responded to my email below. <Ahh, appreciated!> So . .. odd . . . I bought a Salifert phosphate test kit today . . . which showed 0 phosphates in both my display water and my tap water. <Good.> Of course, the "place on the color chart and read from above" tests are also hard to read, but the water was clear--no hint of blue. <Good!> Is the Seachem test wrong/bad, or just hard to read?? <I would tend to trust the Salifert test kit over the Seachem. Mich> Andy
Re: Mushroom Life Span--Turned into a Phosphate Question 10/1/07
Thanks Mich (or whoever is filling in for Mich). <Nope ya still got me!> I'm glad I e-mailed you my wacky Shroom question, because your response got me thinking about phosphates, which I was previously ignoring. <OK.> I have a 6-stage 100gpd RO/DI unit that is about 3 months old and my TDS meter shows 0 ppm, so I assumed that it was working great. <Sounds like it.> I have, however, been battling a bit of a BGA problem over the past few months--covering my substrate and some of my LR. I've e-mailed Bob about this, who opined that it was probably just normal cycling that a young tank (7 months old) goes through and instructed me to keep the lights on in my fuge a little longer. <OK.> As background, I have a 30g refugium with DSB and Chaeto, and have been really careful about my feeding, but things have actually gotten progressively worse (which is why I decided to check phosphates last night). My tank is not overstocked--it's a 110g with 80lbs live rock, a small Sailfin Tang (I know, it will need to be moved), a Brown Combtooth Blenny, a Royal Gramma, a Filament Flasher Wrasse, a Gold Stripe Maroon, and a Citron Goby, along with about 20 mushrooms, 2 tree corals, a Lemnalia, and a BTA, <Yikes! Hope all you intakes and overflows are well covered.> 24 or so hermits and a few snails, and 2 Sally Lightfoots. <Does not sound overstocked.> I run activated carbon in the sump (change every 4 weeks), <Excellent.> and filtration is via the aforementioned fuge (flow-through is 150 gph), LR, Coral Life Super Skimmer, and wet-dry tickle filter. <You're Wet-dry filter? Will increase you nitrates...> Circulation is via 1425gph return pump, 2 MaxiJet 1200s and 1 MaxiJet 900. I do 10% water changes every Sunday. I dose with B-Ionic two-part calcium buffer and test calcium and Alk weekly. Calcium is 300-400 and Alk stays between 3-4 mEq/L. My other parameters are as previously mentioned. Based on the foregoing, I think I'm doing just about everything ok. <Sounds like it.> So I decided to test what I was putting into my tank rather than what's in my tank. First, I'm using a Seachem test kit, which I find hard to read--0 phosphates are bright yellow and then it gradually changes to a wacky shade of dark blue-green. When I test my water, my result color isn't really a shade that matches any of the yellow-to-blue colors but rather is a light shade of yellow-green, so I'm sort of guessing at the results. <Colorimetric tests can be a challenge... especially for some of the people out there with varying degrees of color blindness! (which is primarily observed in males, thought it can also be expressed in females as well, but is extraordinarily rare.) > Best I can tell, my pre-mixed water (mix and let circulate for 5-7 days in a Rubbermaid) and my RO/DI water coming straight from the unit actually shows phosphates somewhere around 0.1, which is slightly higher than the .05 that my display water shows (which makes sense, given the macro algae in my fuge and the decent amount of feather Caulerpa that's growing on some LR in my display). My tap water shows phosphate of 0.15. The instructions state that anything under 0.2 is fine, but I've read on WWM that it should be 0. <Zero is best.> It would seem that my RO/DI unit isn't doing a good job at removing phosphates, do you agree? <I suspect you test kit may be off. Your DI unit should remove the phosphate provided your media is not exhausted. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i4/RO_systems/reverse_osmosis.htm > The TDS reading of 0 coming out (128 coming in) proves that it's working in part, but what can I do about these phosphates? I know I can buy a PolyFilter or other phosphate remover, but isn't that just a band-aid? I've searched WWM and there's nothing on-point (in fact, some answers suggest that RO/DI units don't do a good job at removing phosphates and other answers suggest that RO should do the trick, so I'm a bit confused). As a first step, I'm going to buy a Salifert test kit to see if I get different results. <A good idea.> Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. <Ahh, try a fresh test kit. Mich>
Re: Mushroom Life Span--Turned into a Phosphate Question 10/1/07
Mich, <Hello again Andy> First, thanks for all your helpful responses. <You are welcome as always!> I'm glad you guys don't charge on a "per question" basis or I'd be poor (hee hee). <Heehee! No charge here... All is given for the love of the hobby.> Second, a comment about one of your comments. <OK.> I set up my tank using some equipment I've had for 20 years (was a hobbyist in a younger life). One of the pieces I recycled was a very nice wet-dry trickle filter. I did not find WWM until after set-up and, thus, did not learn about the issue surrounding wet-dry filters and nitrates until mine was up and running. I have always planned to replace the bioballs with LR but I have (and have always had) 0 nitrates. I don't know whether it's the my LR, my Chaeto fuge, my light stocking, my weekly water changes, a combination of the foregoing, or what, but, given that wet-dry filters are very efficient, my view is why mess with something/a system that's working until you have evidence that it's not working? If I can maintain 0 nitrates, shouldn't I keep things as is? <If it's working for you now and you don't have any algae issue I wouldn't touch a thing! Sometimes is best to leave well enough alone! Mich> Andy

Nitrates, Phosphates, and Macro-algae question  3/6/07 Greetings, Crew! Hope everything is going well! <Hello Mina, sorry for the long wait.  This is the fifth time I have tried to reply, let's see if it works.> We are writing to you with hope of getting some of our questions answered.    Basically it has to do with nitrates.  Yes, we have read most of the Nitrate FAQ's, but we're still having some difficulty piecing things together, and hoping you would be able to shed some light on the right path to follow.  So, here goes: We have always understood that the goal is to reduce nitrates and phosphates as much as possible in a reef aquarium, but we can't seem to keep the nitrates down. System: 55 gallon tank (set up since August '06) 80 lbs live rock 25 lbs live sand 50 lbs crushed coral 500w Halide 220w PC (110w Actinic - always on, 110w 10K - off when halides on) 40 gallon sump (25 gallons of which is refugium) 50 lbs live sand small skimmer 110w PC (55 10K & 55 Blue) Parameters: pH 8.2 salinity 1.023 temp 78 deg F Alkalinity 10 dKH calcium 420 ammonium/nitrite 0 ppm phosphate 0 ppm nitrate 20 ppm and climbing Livestock:  Yellow Tang, Coral Beauty Angel, Diamond Goby, Copperband Butterfly <Fragile.  Watch this guy.  Beware of hunger strikes.>, Yellowtail Damsel, two Clarkii clowns (one in the main tank watching the corals, and one in the refuge (banished for stealing food and abusing other fish), chocolate chip star (refuge), black brittle star (main tank), coral banded shrimp (main tank), and arrow crab <Watch him with the clown.> (refuge).  Chaetomorpha in the refugium (medium sized piece). The corals have all been growing well (zoos, mushrooms, SPS, LPS, xenia). They had been dull in color under the PC lights, but now are showing intense colors since we added the halides and put in new actinic bulbs. We try not to overfeed the fish or the corals (0-2 times per day), in fact our sand sifting starfish just died (most likely from starvation). The orange diamond goby digs like crazy looking for food and the sand is very clean. The water looks clear as crystal, though removed water during water changes looks yellow. I've typically changed 15 gallons once a week, though last week I changed 40 gallons in an attempt to reduce the nitrates from 20 ppm. It only dropped to around 15. A week later it is back up to 20 again. <This is due to the activity of bacteria.> The algae in our tank grow very slowly (a small amount of hair algae   in the main tank, the Chaeto <Chaeto> in the refugium) except for the corraline <Coralline> (red and purple) which has been increasing on the live rock quite well. It is my understanding that green algaes <algae> require both phosphates, and nitrates to grow. The fact that our phosphate level is near zero (due to RODI water use?)<Possibly, more likely your Alk, and Ca levels, and the fact that the algae are using what is left.> probably explains the slow growth. Here is the question . . . if nitrate export through Chaeto <Chaeto>   growth is desired, isn't SOME phosphate required? <Yes, and the algae are using it.> Am I not fighting a losing battle with the nitrates <You said that you only had one piece.  How much damage can you do by yourself at a buffet?  Add more.> if the alge <algae> can't consume them due to a lack of phosphate? <The two are not interrelated.  The algae are fixing the NO3, you just have more NO3 than the algae can consume.> I know it sounds crazy to think about   deliberately adding phosphate to the system, <You do every time that you feed your fish.> but it almost seems that that's what I would need to do to get the Chaeto to grow and thus reduce the nitrates. What do you guys think? Does the tank need more time to mature? (The majority of the live rock came out of a matured tank) Do we need more rock? Or maybe we need to change the ground   medium (from crushed coral mix to all-sand bed?) <Adding enough sugar fine sand around the live rock to bring the sand bed to about four inches will help out with the NO3 consuming bacteria.  Clostridium I think?>  We're not looking  forward to breaking down the tank (nor do we want to) <Nor do you have to.>, but the corals need the nitrate level to stabilize below 10. <Corals use NO3 too.>  Any ideas?  <If you are using media like bio-balls, or bio-wheels slowly remove them, as they are NO3 reactors, also clean all filter media weekly.  Wash out the pads well with tank water.  This will preserve the bacteria on them.  Also use activated carbon, and PolyFilters.  Rinse these out weekly with tap water.  The Carbon two to three ounces changed weekly, and the PolyFilters can be replaced after three months.  This should help.> Appreciate the help! <Any time.  Brandon> Regards, Rich & Nina

Any info on Tropic Marin's Elimi Phos?   2/4/07 Dear crew, I have been searching your archives for any information on Elimi Phos by Tropic Marin and have not found any mention of it. <Mmm, no experience: http://www.tropic-marin.com/web/english/produkte/elimi-phos-ll.htm Yet another candidate in the ferric oxide hydroxide biz...> I was wondering if any of you at WWM have used or know anything about it. <Many similar products...> My LFS owner and friend of 20 years has used it and suggested it for my tank.  I feel my phosphate problem is from overfeeding; <Likely so... without other means, avenues for use> however, if I cut back on the food my sleeper gobies start to get too thin.  Other fish in the tank have nice, healthy body weight.  Before I spend $$$ for Elimi Phos for my 210 FOWLR I wanted to know if anyone has had any experience with it.   Thank you much for your great advice. Jeff <I'd look into growing photosynthetic life... likely a hearty macroalgae here... Please read on WWM re HPO4... BobF>

Kalk skimmer injection / Phosphate removal? 1/18/07 Crew- <Craig.> Just doing some reading in the Marine Reef Aquarium Handbook by Dr. Robert J. Goldstein < http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-url/002-2180612-6836823?%5Fencoding=UTF8&search-type=ss&index=books&field-author=Dr.%20Robert%20J.%20Goldstein> : http://www.amazon.com/Marine-Aquarium-Handbook-Complete-Owners/dp/0812095987. Excellent book. The author suggests running the Kalk drip line directly into the skimmer injector, as this process precipitates phosphate in the skimmer effluent. <This is talked about in circles every now and then, and usually results in someone reminding the others that there is no direct removal of phosphates. Phosphates themselves aren't surfactants. They are the eventual result of dissolved organic compounds that eventually form the in-organic phosphates that algae and other forms of life utilize.> The author claims this method is several hundred times more effective than other methods. <Have not read this one... Maybe Bob would like to add a double-bracket to this one... but I think the normal dosing of Kalk is still very beneficial to skimmate production.> <<Agreed on this last. RMF. I don't think the mixing here can/will result in the stated "hundred times" improvement in PO4 precipitation... but would experiment re>> This book has largely been mostly dead-on in its material and independently verified by a triangulation of numerous other sources. Can we verify this tactic? <We? ...or you? I think that would be a great experiment for you. I am currently involved in the development stages of a very exciting project with biotelemetry supplementation with Rick Oellers that takes most of my critical thinking time. I recommend it!> Additionally, can anyone describe the precipitated phosphate? Running the drip line into my skimmer does produce considerably more skimmate, but the effluent appears white and I am wondering if I am just skimming particulate calcium carbonate suspended in the solution. Need/want pictures of what I am talking about? <No need, I know exactly what you are referring to. Am not sure about actual composition of skimmate with this characteristic, but if you do some searching on "saponification" you will better understand how Kalk and skimmers work together. HTH -Graham T.> cj

Rowaphos or PhosBan   1/15/07 I am currently using PhosBan in a phosphate reactor. I was wondering which product was better for phosphate removal and which product, if any, will not effect the PH or release aluminum back into the system. I have heard that PhosBan will effect the PH. Don't know if ROWAphos will effect PH. Please help!!! Thanks, Jeromy <I have heard the same anecdotal information on PhosBan affecting pH as well, though I have heard the effect is minimal. I think that the ROWAphos would be worth trying here, though it is all likely personal preference. Hope this helps! -JustinN>

Phosphates and the Algae War  12/8/06 Hello Crew, <Hi> Hope I'm not bothering you, but I've got some questions about my algae struggles. I think, but I'm not sure, I've tracked down my algae problem to phosphates in my source water, so I'm considering buying the Kent Maxxima Hi-S RO/DI unit. <Ok>  Before I spend more money that I don't have, I want to make sure that this is the best course of action and that I'm not missing something.  Hours of reading through posts has left my brain hurting!  <Ouch> Since the very first day I've been battling algae in my 55 gallon tank with no success.  I'll spend 3 hours cleaning the tank and doing a water change, but within a day, the algae is back. After 2 days, everything is completely covered again.  There is brown hair algae as well as sections of green, and sections of brown algae diatoms?) over the glass.  Tank is a FOWLR running for 3 years with 40lbs of LR, a Remora Skimmer, and a hang on refugium full of Caulerpa.   Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0, Nitrates < 10 ppm.   My phosphate test is hard to read, but it looks like phosphate reads around .6 ppm. <That probably a good part of your problem.> Testing the source water reveals the same level of phosphate, so I'm thinking that's the problem.  However, shouldn't the tank read higher levels than the source?  <Not necessarily, the algae takes up the phosphate, making it seem like there is less than there is.> Reading through other posts, it seems that most people having phosphate problems have levels significantly higher than mine. <Sometimes they show 0 too, depends on how quickly the algae is using it.>  I'm guessing/hoping that this is because my test only tests for the one type of phosphate.  <Possibly a factor.> My one doubt is that I also have a 10 gallon tank which has absolutely no algae, but is overrun with Aiptasia as well as what I think are some type calcareous tube worms.  The phosphate level in that tank reads slightly higher maybe .8ppm).  Ammonia, Nitrates, and Nitrites are the same as the main tank.  Does the Aiptasia out compete the algae?  <Possibly> Do you think the RO/DI unit would be the cure?  <Cure, no.  But very very helpful.>  I know I need one, but if it won't solve the problem, I can use the money on something that might have a better chance of working. Maybe I should ask Santa!  <Heehee> Thanks so much for your time. Jeff <Quality source water is one of the most important aspects of a successful tank.  I think a good RO/DI unit will be quite helpful, but it will take a while to see significant result.  Continued good husbandry will go a long way too.> <Chris>
Re: Too much MH lighting?
  11/26/07 Dear Justin, <Hello again, George> Thanks for the fast response. <No problem, glad to help> A quick follow up to my lighting questions. <Ok> You got me thinking about phosphates! I've noticed that slight hair algae has started, and I'm using mechanical as well as maintenance measures to control. But I wonder if recent increase in feeding frozen marine mix and krill mashed up to a bubble coral and some brains, in addition to the zooplankton and rotifers may be overpowering. <It very well could be> So if you would be so kind, set me straight. How much invert feeding, for say 200 gal. should I be doing. I use a combo. of phyto-feast, and sometimes Roti-feast, and Arcti-pods. This doesn't include the meaty bits I mentioned. The instructions say "1-2 teaspoons per 100 gallons. I think I may have been feeding too much because I was worried about   the bubble. <How often are you adding the liquid phyto/zooplankton mixture? I would recommend dosing the tank with this 2-3 times a week, 2-3 teaspoons total should be enough.> All the reading on the site indicates that unless the bubble coral eats daily, it will starve to death in a year. <Mmm, I don't believe this to be the case. 2-3 meaty feedings a week should be fine> And if so, is just a small portion for it sufficient. <Should be> Any insight you can provide on control of phosphates, with a focus on the feeding side of things would be great. Thanks again. George <Hope this info helps you out, George. Feel free to drop another line if you've got further questions! -JustinN>
Re: Too much MH lighting?
  11/26/07 Thanks, Justin. I will scale feeding down a bit along with lights and let you know what happens. Regards, George <Sounds good, George. Keep us posted, shoot a line back if you've got anymore questions. We're here to help. -JustinN>

High Phosphate Levels  10/23/06 <Hello Andy> Hi Ladies and Gents! I'm not sure how to classify this email really. It's a bit of a 'symptom' with a 'problem' with a question for a 'solution'... I think... I have a 30g tank with around 60lbs of Fiji Live Rock. It's about a year old. I have a small internal filter containing wool only, for mechanical filtration, a couple of MaxiJet powerheads and a thin (less and an inch) layer of aragonite and crushed coral substrate. <First question.  Are you changing the floss weekly?  If not, do so.> My levels are pretty good on the whole: Ammonia: 0, Nitrite: 0, Nitrate: 0, pH: 8.3, Salinity: 1.024. I do a 20% water change each week and use RO water which I have tested for Phosphate. I use Tropic Marin Pro Reef Salt. <OK> My livestock is about 30 Turbo Snails, about 20 - 25 Red Leg Dwarf Hermits, 4 small Feather Dusters and a pair of Clarkii Clownfish (female is around 3" and the male is around 1.5"). All the livestock seems active, happy, healthy and feeds well. <Don't believe you need 30 Turbo Snails in there, 10 would be more than enough.  Eventually, some of these may die due to starvation, causing more problems.> Recently I have had a problem with algae. My lovely rockwork has grown a thin film of very bright green algae (not the usual dark green I've seen before) and there are signs of algae on the glass and the substrate. I have a very high level of Phosphate in the tank (1ppm!) and I'm struggling to work out where it's come from (me, I know!) I have 96w of T5 fluorescent lighting which is one actinic and one 10000k bulb. These have an 11 hour photo period per day. <May want to cut that down to 8 hours and see if you have a reduction of algae growth.  If there is indirect lighting (outside light) hitting the tank, 10 hours isn't necessary with the animals you presently have.> I realize (through reading on here and books etc) that Phosphate is caused by - amongst other things - over-feeding and over-supplementing. I never supplemented much (the occasional 5 - 10 drops of Salifert All-in-One, Salifert Coral Food for the feather dusters and a couple of drops (literally) of Salifert Coral Calcium every week or so) but have now cut that out completely since about 3 weeks ago. I have always done my water changes religiously but am at a loss how my Phosphate got so high (I don't use carbon anywhere which I believe CAN leech Phosphate). <Cheaper brands of carbon are known for this.  You may want to try a Poly Filter in your system.  Just hanging it in the tank will help if you have no filter to use.> I have tried suspending a filter-sock with Tropic Marin Elimi-Phos in the tank, but that lowered my pH overnight (down to 7.9 the following day - even by midday it hadn't risen!). I then tried Salifert Phosphate Killer in the sock and even though it didn't lower my pH, it didn't lower the Phosphate either! So now my levels all look great again, apart from the Phosphate... <I like the RowaPhos product myself.  Might want to try this.> I am planning on doing a 75% water change this weekend - are there any potential problems with doing that? <I would do no more than 50%.> I guess my main question is, what do you think I can do to lower the Phosphate in my tank? I am very short of space, so a sump or refugium with Caulerpa is out of the question I'm afraid. <Just rubberbanding a hunk of Chaeto to a small piece of live rock in the tank will aid in phosphate removal.> My other question is: how much/often should I feed the Clarkiis? I'm worried about starving them, but am always careful not to 'overfeed'. The trouble is, they're so greedy, they'll just eat and eat. <Many people eat more than they need to.  A couple of small feeding twice a day is plenty.  The clowns should look full without bulging stomachs.  Keep in mind that fish do not have large stomachs.> I've heard the usual "as much as they'll take in 5 minutes" but that's so vague it doesn't really help me. I could probably get half a tub of food in there in that time and they'd scoff it all I expect. I feed them a mixture of Tetra Prima and the occasional bit of chopped Mysis! Given that Tetra Prima comes in granule-form, is there a rough amount of granules I should be feeding?  1ml of granules in a test-kit-measurer? That's actually quite a lot of granules! Random question I know, but I'm struggling here! <Feed sparingly twice daily.  If the fish seem to lose interest in the food, do not feed anymore.  I would put repetitive small amounts in the tank, if they consume all, add another small amount.  Not good to put all the food in at once with a couple of fish present.  I'm not saying to go buy more fish either, as your tank will become too small for the clowns in the near future as the clarkii's can attain a length of up to six inches.  When buying food, also look at the phosphate content of the food.  There are dry foods that contain quite a bit of phosphate in them.  You did not mention use of a protein skimmer.  Using one will definitely help your phosphate problem.  There are good hang-on models such as AquaC that are very efficient and trouble free.> Anyway - sorry to ramble on - any help/advice would be much appreciated! Many thanks! <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Andy

Eheim For Rowaphos   9/4/06 Dear James Hope you are well. <Not bad, thank you.> A further question or two. At the moment I run 2 Eheim filters on my 37g reef tank : 1 mechanical and  1 wet and dry. There would seem to be enough space in the bottom basket of the mechanical filter to add an inch or so of Rowaphos which I would like to use to eliminate phosphate.  Maybe I could mix Rowaphos with the Eheim media, or replace the whole bottom basketful with the Rowaphos. <I'd do the whole basket.> Does this sound like a fair idea and/or would it ruin the efficiency of the filter? <Should be fine.> If you think I should keep the filters as they are (I know you guys are not great fans of Eheim always, <I've never had problems with the Eheim line.> but I am 'afraid' to take them out of action)  are you acquainted with the Deltec MCE600 skimmer which has a space for adding Rowaphos.  Is that a good option perhaps? <If you are not presently using a skimmer, this would be a very good option. Not familiar with Deltec, but understand they are a efficient skimmer.> Many thanks for your time. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> All the best. Peter Hosier

Phosphates in tap water   9/2/06 Hi again, I've been trying to get to the bottom of my phosphate problem and have narrowed it down to my tap water. What is weird is that when tested as fresh water it tests at about .03 on the Salifert Kit but when mixed with IO it tests only as traces of PO4 as saltwater. Does this make sense? Also, I do use a DI and results are pretty much the same. Do you think that using Polyfilter or phosphate sponge in one of the DI chambers would be useful? Thanks for all your help, past and present. Mordy Mordy Eisenberg <<Mordy:  If your RO/DI unit is working properly and you have a TDS meter, you TDS reading should be 000.  At that point, you shouldn't have phosphates.  If you have too much phosphates in your tank, growing Chaetomorpha algae in the sump, can help. Best of luck, Roy>>  

Protein Skimming Power/Phosphate/DSB removal  7/15/06 Hello, Thanks for running such a great site.  I've learned so much from reading your Q&A's. < Bob and the others do a wonderful job! > I have a 55g reef tank with about 50 lbs of live rock and a 4" deep sand bed.  It's about 15 months old and so far everything has been working very well, except for a recent, steep phosphate spike.  Is that typical for a DSB? < No, that is not typical at all. >   (I don't believe it is from overfeeding.) < Are you feeding frozen foods? If you are not rinsing the foods well, the phosphate from the juices could be encouraging the spike. Another thing to consider, if the prepared foods have fish meal in the first five ingredients, the phosphates could be coming from that! >   Is an extremely high level of phosphate a possible cause for my losing a number of fish recently, a day or two after acclimation (which I normally do gradually over about 1-1/2 hours)? (It's not due to a mantis shrimp;  there is no clicking, and no sightings at night.) < I seriously doubt the phosphates would cause that kind of reaction. I would look more at temperature fluctuations, or the possibility of airborne pollutants. > After talking to a couple of LFS, I'm becoming convinced that the DSB will eventually crash, and I am planning to remove it soon.  How gradually do I have to do that? < A four inch sand bed is not deep enough to really cause a serious problem, but if you must remove some, only remove an inch or so. Remember, the sand under the first inch layer is horribly toxic. Don't stir up too much! > My main question has to do with skimming.  I have an Aqua C Remora (not Pro) with the MaxiJet 1200 powerhead and overflow box (I have no room for a sump).  One LFS is saying that that is not enough skimming capacity for a 55 g tank.  Currently I have four small fish, a cleanup crew of 20 hermit crabs and 15 snails, four small colonies of mushroom polyps and two small frogspawns, but I hope to add a few more fish and many more corals.  How much skimming power do I really need with this setup, once the DSB is gone? < That is directly related to the amount of food you feed, and the frequency of partial water changes. To place exacting limitations, or requirements on such is difficult. > < Yet another thing to consider is the possibility of your source water or supplements containing phosphates. Be careful when adding anything to buffer the pH, for nearly all related products use phosphate buffering agents! > Many thanks for all your help < I hope I was indeed helpful! > Bob < RichardB > "Sponges grow in the ocean. I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be if that didn't happen." ~Steven Wright

Cyano problems and problematic stars 6/14/06 Dear Crew <Hi> I'm having a pretty big problem with Cyanobacteria.  My phosphates are high, so I'm currently using PhosGuard to try to bring it down.  <Check for the source as well, better to never have it in the tank than try to remove it later.>  Other than phosphates, ammonia and nitrites were 0, nitrates were 15, and ph was 8.0. <PH is a little low, but not to bad.>  A marine biologist at a local fish store said to put a dose of erythromycin in the tank to kill the Cyano and then to vacuum it out along with a water change.  She also told me to put snails and a sandsifter starfish in the tank to eat the organics and detritus in the substrate, and to help aerate it.  Unfortunately, I woke up the next day to find all of the snails and the starfish dead.  This brings me to my first question: Are there any flaws in my plan of attack against this Cyano?  <Oh yeah.  Erythromycin, along with killing the Cyano, will also kill most of your biological filtration, leading to a whole bunch of problems.>  I don't want to do anything harmful to my fish or not do enough so that it comes back.  <Will come back as long as it has a food source and PO4 as fertilizer.> I also want to know, what does a starfish look like when it is dead?  I heard they get soft and jelly-like.  <Sometimes> My starfish definitely is not soft.  It is quite hard actually.  I believe it is dead because it did not move once since I purchased it last night.  This morning, when I lifted it up to see if there was any movement from its structures underneath, I noticed a lime green/yellow on the sand where it was laying. <Not good.> The starfish did not bury itself at all or move to a new location.  Even though it is not soft, is my starfish dead? <Could be, if it has not moved at all and you see no tube feet moving, likely dead.> Thank you, Mike <Find the source of the phosphates and manually remove as much Cyano as you can.  With time/effort can be overcome.  Stay away from quick fixes like antibiotic, nothing good every happens fast in aquariums.  Also few creatures consume Cyano so don't overdo it snails and other cleaner.> <Chris>
Cyano and stars Part II   6/16/06
Chris, <Hi> How can I find the source of the phosphates? <PO4 test kits.> What are common sources? <Tap water, food.> I don't overfeed the fish.  <Frozen food often can pollute the tank quickly.  Also some pellets/flakes contain phosphate.>  Also, when I do find the source, how will I remove it. <Ro/Di unit for tap water.  Switching food and feeding in a different manner.> Thought I'd let you know.  The starfish is without a doubt dead.  Got home today and now its a pale white/yellow.  So much for him.  <Sorry to hear.> Thanks, Mike <Anytime> <Chris>

Re: Algae Control   6/1/06 Thanx for the info. One more question.  Could a phosphate problem be causing the Cyanobacteria outbreak?   <Yes> Does activated carbon work well with a reef tank? <Yes, as long as weekly water changes are carried out.  I'd use Chemi-Pure or a Poly-Filter before carbon, works much better in helping to remove excess nutrients.  James (Salty Dog)>

Phosguard and SPS coral  - 5/18/2006 Hey everyone, <Hello Marc> Just a question about some information I received from a local LFS. The guy told me that the continued use of Phosguard (by SeaChem) will slow the rate of growth of my SPS corals. Have you heard this before or had any experience with it and have you found any other 'chemical' absorption media or the like that can be an issue with corals??? <Marc, the SeaChem Phosguard is aluminum based and extended use can release potentially toxic aluminum into your tank.  There are phosphate removing products that are not aluminum based and safe to use.  One such product is ROWA Phos.> Thanks <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Marc

PO4 Removal 5/16/06 Hello!  <Hi> I was browsing the net for a filter pad that would remove phosphates.  I came upon a product named Pura filtration pad.  Have u heard of this product and how well does it work?<Unfamiliar with this product> It says that the pads need to be replaced only once a month.  Is this true?   <Would depend on amount of phosphate in the water.>  Besides removing phosphates, it claims to remove ammonia.  Now, why would I want to remove ammonia? <Most likely developed for application other than aquariums> If ammonia is removed, then the bacteria would not have anything to feed on which would lead to a die off of beneficial bacteria am I correct? <Would be unable to remove all ammonia, most likely a negligible amount.  I use and recommend Poly Filters, available through most online retailers> Thank you <Anytime> <Chris> Phosphate Remover/Rowaphos    4/4/06 Greetings from California!  <And greetings to you from yucky Michigan.> A quick question for you.  If RowaPhos is an iron based media, what would you think of running the outgoing effluent through activated carbon before it returns to the sump?  <For what reason?> Thanks  <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Richard

Re: RowaPhos  - 04/05/2006   I believe in activated carbon.  And the thought of 500 ml of iron based product in a fluidized reactor in my sump goes against the grain with me.  Iron is not something I normally test for, so my thoughts were that if it does leach some iron into the water, <Not these products, no> and I am running carbon anyway, why not let the effluent pass through the carbon, in hopes of adsorbing any excess iron that may leach from the RowaPhos.  If nothing else, it's one less pump to run, and test kit to buy.     Any reason not to do this? <None that I can tell here>   Richard     Any reason not to do this? <...? Rich... pls send prev. corr.... I/we have no idea what you're referring to. BobF>
Re: RowaPhos    4/6/06
Att Bob Fenner     Bob you asked that I send the original message.       Bob... Loved your talk to the Seabay Aquarium club in the Bay Area last year!        Here is the original question.............                                                                                         Greetings from California!  A quick question for you.  If RowaPhos is an iron based media.  What would you think of running the outgoing effluent through activated carbon before it returns to the sump?   Thanks   Richard James (salty dog) replied with.... For what reason? <Ahh! Thank you for this. There are variable qualities in such ferrous based Phosphate filtrants, but the ROWA line are consistently high quality... Leach little to no iron of consequence. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Phosphate removal  - 03/11/2006 Hi Crew,      I have a 180g FOWLR, the tank has been in existence for 5 years but I recently added 150 lbs of LR in Sept 2005.  I have a large emperor angel, majestic angel, <I would stick with just one large pomacanthid in this size system... even it will outgrow a 180> Foxface, Heniochus angel, <Butterfly> a damsel, and three medium size clowns.  About 20-30 snails, 4 skunk cleaner shrimp, 20-30 hermits and one neon goby.  I have various anemone mushrooms all doing great and dividing.  Lighting 320 w actinic white and 60 w actinic 12 hrs daily.  Two skimmers one EuroReef RS 135 and AquaC EV180.  Nitrates 25 ppm. <Mmm, would be better to get/keep this lower>   I have 2 wet dry filters and between the main pumps and the powerheads in the tank I move ~ 2200 gal/ hour.  ( For those wondering why 2 skimmers, these were the largest skimmers that I could fit under this tank, and the addition of the Euroreef to the existing Aqua C DID make a huge difference... Nitrates now stay at 25 PPM even with once monthly 25% water change ) <Please read on WWM re nitrate avoidance...> I also run a 57w UV.    When I initially added the rock I noted that the tank went thru a period of time where it was growing some Cyanobacteria. <Very common> Now that the coralline algae has gone a long way to establish itself the amount of Cyano is minimal.  I initially used PhosBan and brought my phosphates down to barely detectable.  Over the past month my third batch of PhosBan has exhausted and my phosphates are again on the rise.  Should I continue using the PhosBan ? <One approach... where might you read re others?> It would be no problem for me to do so, but is it really necessary, or better ?  The system is really humming at this point. Thanks Jimmy <Keep reading Jimmy. Bob Fenner>

Phosphate question   3/10/06 Hi all.  I have been reading about phosphates at wetwebmedia.com.  One of the suggested ways to reduce phosphates is to :  "Raising pH like with Kalkwasser... to 8.4-8.5 to precipitate out the phosphates for good." <Can be employed, yes> Now, I have very high phosphates (off scale with Salifert test kit) but I wanted to test your suggestion.  I took a water sample (about 40 mL), starting pH was 8.15 and added 1 drop of 1.0 M NaOH. <I would not use sodium hydroxide (except to clean dirty ovens)> the pH raised to about 8.75.  Maybe there were a couple of small crystals formed, but no major precipitation.  I tested the water and the phosphates are at about the same level.  I them lowered the pH back to 8.08 by adding 0.02 M HCl, retested and got the same results. Questions: 1) Have you done this and have it work in a tank? <Have not used the chemicals listed... well, have used Hydrochloric in other applications. The reference refers to Kalk...> 2) What is the insoluble phosphate species that is supposed to form? <Calcium phosphate [Ca3(PO4)2].> 3) Wouldn't this be a reversible process? <All processes are reversible... but the energetics, chemical species in a marine aquarium discount this> 4) Is the precipitation supposed to be a slow process (i.e. hours?) <Nope... almost instantaneous> Thanks for your time. R., Romero <Please try the Kalk, Calcium Hydroxide... Bob Fenner>
Re: Phosphate question Thank you  - 03/11/2006
I was trying to do the experiments with reagents I have prepared in the lab.  I will prepare some saturated Kalk and try to repeat this.  In the interest of science, I may try it next time I also do a water change on the 'old' water, before I attempt the live tank.  Thanks for your time Romulo <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Enhancing Nutrient Export Processes  - 03/05/06 Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I currently have a 90 gallon salt water tank. We have live sand and about 70lbs of live rock in our tank. We have an Eel, Trigger Fish, Grouper, Lionfish, and an Angel. <Quite a crowd for a modest sized tank. I hope larger quarters are in the near future for this bunch?> We are having a serious problem of phosphates. <Ahh...that can be solved.> We are getting a reading of 4-6 depending on the week.  We been doing a 20 gallon water change every week, we cut back on food and made sure it was all being eaten.  We feed them flake and frozen silversides. We have a skimmer along with bio balls.  I am trying to find out the cause of my phosphate problem. I been told many different things and I don't know where to start. I was told live rock can cause phosphates then someone told me that since it is cured it can not.  Somebody then told me it was my sand, but I have 4 inches of live sand.  I am getting frustrated because I can not figure out what my cause of phosphates is. Can you please help me? I would appreciate it.  Thanks Karrie <Well, Karrie- you are embracing some aspects of nutrient control/export, which will serve you well in reducing the phosphate, but you need to continue with some other steps. First, in my opinion, your aquarium is quite overcrowded. Even though you are maintaining a commendable water change schedule, the fact is that these fish are producing copious amounts of metabolic wastes that can severely compromise water quality. One of the first things you should do is to substantially reduce the bioload in this tank. Feeding of just about any kind of food will add some phosphates to the water. When you feed foods like Silversides, they are pretty "messy", and can release lots of processing and other "juices" into the water, which are very rich in phosphate. Pre-rinsing frozen foods before feeding, and avoiding simply dumping the foods in the tank can go a long way towards reducing phosphates. Live rock can have materials in it that become (or more correctly, accumulate) phosphate sources over time. However, live rock in and of itself is not your likely source. Do be careful to siphon visible detritus from the rock and other parts of the substrate. Finally, keep at it with the skimming and utilize chemical filtration media (activated carbon/PolyFilter) as a supplement to you other efforts. Reducing the population, continued water changes, aggressive protein skimming, and good feeding habits will all contribute to the defeat of this problem. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Hi alk and hi calcium   3/4/06 A chemical mess Hi- <High> I have a 109 gallon reef tank with many mushrooms, SPS corrals, <Yee hah! Head 'em up little doggies!> two clowns, two wrasses, a large anemone and lots of reef janitors. <Union or no?> It is an established tank (over 2 years).  Everything is doing fine, but I notice limited growth in coralline and all corals. I had a smaller tank previously with no substrate and always had issues maintaining alk, ph and calcium levels but had extensive coralline and coral growth so I talked with many experienced aquarists and they recommended a plenum system for my new tank in order to help maintain ionic balance. <... Mmm, better to go with no substrate rather...> Since I had the plenum all tests have been relatively normal as you will see below except my alk is always hi at 18dkh plus and the calcium is always around 480-500.   <... define normal> I read all of your articles and summarized that not too many aquarists have this issue and have not had the "snowfall" issue that some others had.  Here are my readings. 18 dKH, calcium 500ppm, phosphates have always been hi-over 5mg/l, salinity at 1.021, <... should be near/er 1.025> Ph is 8.4 during day and 8.3 at night, ammonia and nitrite are zero, non chelated iron is zero, chelated is also around zero but I have been adding iron weekly so I am thinking my test kit is too old. Nitrate is around 40ppm <Way too high> and the r/o water is at 10ppm <Your unit needs maintenance, cartridge replacement> (but I use Seachem Prime to detoxify).  All of my other test kits are new (Salifert test kits for alk, ph and calcium) I noticed that since the alk and calcium were hi the amount of skimming debris has been reduced.   <Ahh! Yes> I use a Rena Filstar Xp3 canister filter, a sand bed filter hang on filter, 2x250 metal halide lights with two Marine-Glo actinics, an Aquarium systems hang on protein skimmer and two powerheads on a aquarium systems wave timer.  I use a five stage r/o system and the water alk level tested from it is 2.6dkh <What should this be?> with a ph of 7.0. I have little algae growth (coralline or green/red) and the only additives I have been using to try and increase coralline algae growth is Purple Up from CaribSea and Kent Marine Iron/Manganese. Other additives are Seachem Prime (only with water changes), Red sea Salt (again only with water changes) and Wardley's sodium biphosphate <... not a good idea... among other things, a source of your phosphate...> to lower ph/alk.  The hi calcium levels spike when I use Purple Up but otherwise maintain at 500ppm. I perform a 5 gallon water change every 3-4 weeks and change filter media every 2 months. With my old system (without plenum) I would have to change 20-25% water every week and dose heavily with calcium and buffers to keep my ph, alk and calcium normal.  I have been told by other aquarists to not change the water as frequently and this will lower my alk/calcium levels, but this is not the case-I actually find my ph and alk with rise while calcium stays the same. The only answers I can think of is either my liverock, base rock (I have over 200lbs) or the substrate of over 2" thick of crushed coral maybe producing the hi levels of alk and calcium and therefore may have to be reduced or start with more water changes and or adding Wardley's sodium biphosphate.  In the past I tried this but had only a temporary reduction in alk.  What about using acid or vinegar?  What are the dangers of this? Does coralline algae grow better in lower alkalinity tanks? I was hoping there would be a safe additive that I could use-can you help? thanks in advance, Al Standaert <Where to start here? You have a sort of "Dead Sea" effect going with the mix of chemical species present... If this were our only correspondence, I'd encourage you to re-read what books you have, worthwhile (accurate, significant, meaningful) parts of the Net... on marine water chemistry en toto... You can/could do a few things... but don't know you well enough to gauge whether you have the wherewithal to look into (sufficiently), stick with a given plan... I'll grant you a clue though: Simply adding more of anything won't help you here. What do you want to do... change out the substrate (entirely or almost), large consecutive water changes to get you (back) to somewhere you can grow corallines? Read and think this over... Bob Fenner> Chemical Filter Media - 02/26/06 Hello all, thanks in advance for your help ;)  I was wondering if any of you would recommend any products to keep my Nitrates/Phosphates down. <<Poly-Filter, PhosBan, ROWAphos>> I've stumbled upon several choices (Poly Filters <your thoughts on these?>, resins, etc), but was wondering if you had any experience/thoughts on these. <<Poly-Filter is an excellent product which I use myself.  The exchange resins available are also good scavengers though a bit more costly, but many can be "renewed" if you're willing to go to a bit of trouble.>> I've also heard of a Seachem made NO3/PO4 remover in one, have you heard anything about this? <<Hmm...I am a fan of Seachem products...is likely HyperSorb or Purigen you refer to.>> I know frequent water changes/not overfeeding/RO are the best way to cut down on Nitrates/PO4, but I'm exploring additional options ;) <<Understood...some authors advocate keeping a phosphate removal media in your filter flow path at all times.>> Thanks all, Alan Gray <<Regards, EricR>>

HPO4? Sky high? and light placement  2/14/06 Hi I enjoy your site its top notch. I do have some questions to ask that I did not clearly find from other peoples questions in the forums. I have 2 lighting systems. one with power compacts with 6- 96 watt actinic bulbs in the back that are   3 inches above the water and another unit has that has 3- 250 watt 20k metal halides and 2- 160 watt VHOs that are 11 inches from the water and are in the front. is this placement ok. <Okay? Sounds fine...> I keep a clam and anemone that stay in the front and plan on adding coral to the back top where the actinics would shine, will the actinics be enough light for hammer coral, xenia, Wellsophyllia, toadstool, and zooanthids or do the need to be in front under the halides. <The actinics actually "do" very little for photosynthetic life... they're more for your visual/aesthetic appreciation. I'd move the MH's toward the middle if it were my system> Also I have checked my water and i have 0 nitrates, 0 ammonia, 8.2 for ph, alkalinity is good, so is salinity, but i have high phosphates. <Numbers please> I use a rodi unit and check the water before putting it in for water changes and notice even with the rodi unit i still have .5-1.0 phosphate level. <These should not be present... but should go... with the addition of other photosynthetic life> The tank now is 10.0 high in phosphates although i do not see a lot of algae. <... something is awry here... Most likely your test kits, or your results reading> What should i do to remove the phosphates. <Read on WWM: http://wetwebmedia.com/po4faqs.htm> Should i feed the fish less? i have 4 tangs, 1 watanabei angel and 13 small fish. I feed spiraling in the morning which i found out today contains phosphates from the pet store, pellet food in the afternoon, and 3 cubes of shrimp. I was told by the pet store to cut the shrimp to 1/2 cube, but i have a lot of fish. what should i do. Harry <Read my friend, read. Bob Fenner>

Phosphates   2/6/06 Hello, What do you think of Pura PhosLock to remove phosphates? <Not familiar with it.> Any other product you recommend?  <I like Poly Filters, serves more than one purpose.  Removes phosphates, nitrates, organic waste, etc.> Right now we were using Purigen.  It is working fine, but just looking for other products.  Thanks <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Chris

Phosphate - the basics  - 2/4/2006 Good Morning, Bob here. <Here too>   I am sorry to trouble you today on a very common problem and one that I am sure you have answered but in perusing the site for an hour, haven't found it.  (the questions are listed at the end of the preamble if you want to skip it). I have a 100 gal set up that has been trouble free for three years.  Then on a whim, and just a feeling that things didn't seem right (my mushrooms are getting smaller yet another soft coral is thriving), took a water sample in to the store.  Everything fine with the exception that the phosphate was off the chart.  This surprised me because I have zero algae growth although the red slime is pronounced.  Since I have a 20 y/o Plexiglas tank, I have been wanting to get rid of the scratches for some time, and this seemed like a good opportunity.  I put my 4 fish and a couple of soft corals and some of the live rock in my hospital tank and completely broke down the system.  Now I have the system up, rinsed all the live rock (enough to make a nice reef) and the live sand, 100% new water etc.  After three days, took a water sample in for a complete check, every thing was fine except the phosphates were off the chart (same tech). <Yes... re-released... from the change/drop in pH mostly> Okay, so I bought a phosphate sponge (PhosBan) only because I don't want the algae to get hold of this tank (really need to figure out where the source of the phosphate).  But, I really questioned this reading and when I got home, sure enough, the phosphate reading was 0.4 ml/L (Aquarium Systems test kit) and not the >8.0 the guy from the store had reported. <Can, does change... soluble phosphate is a dynamic species...> So anyway, I have these fish in my and they are getting really upset (it is crowded).  Okay now the questions: 1.  Is phosphate harmful to crustaceans? <Can be... in high and/or widely vacillating concentration. 2.  Is phosphate harmful to soft corals?. <Same answer> 3. Is phosphate harmful to fish?.   <Yes> 4  If so, at what levels (ml/L) will we expect to see these effects?. <Approaching or exceeding about 1.0 mg/l (or ppm, the same)> (the tech says yes to all the above, but his credibility is in question at* the moment ;-)   5. What level of phosphate is permissible?.   <Lower the better... zip ideally> 6, Should I use the phosphate sponge?   Thanks, Bob <Mmm, as a stop-gap measure only (IMO of course). Better by far to seek a sort of balance in inputs/outputs here... with replenished live rock, substrate (per WWM), careful feeding, use of refugiums, DSBs, macroalgae culture... Bob Fenner>

Yellow patches on toadstool mushroom    1/25/06 Mr. Fenner I've noticed this problem several years ago while using phosphate binding media, and have noticed it again under the same condition.  Is this at all related to the phosphate binders (Kent media and sponge)? <Too likely so, yes> It's not a waxy film.  The best I can describe it is that is looks like patches of thick brown-yellow adherent paste, usually no bigger than the tip of a pencil eraser, numerous and not localized to any one part of the leather.  All water parameters are in normal range. Thanks L.splitter <I'd pre-mix, add these sorts of supplements to new water to be mixed in slowly during water changes. Bob Fenner>

Phosphate chemistry. . .  1/8/06 Hi gang: <Chuck> Having (thanks to WWM info) successfully 'starved' out my green hair algae about a year ago. . . I've been mildly plagued by a soft, puffy, cotton-ball-like red filamentous algae (species ID unknown. . . it prompted a marine biologist to ask 'What ocean did this stuff COME from?) <Mmm, likely a blue-green... Cyanophyte/bacteria> which thrives as epiphytic (sic?) growth in my macroalgae display tank despite phosphate levels being undetectable by my Salifert test kit. Nitrites and nitrates similarly undetectable, thanks to extremely large quantity of live rock and active DSB's. Any scraps of this 'red junk' which make it into the main reef are eaten -- albeit somewhat less than enthusiastically -- by my tangs which live there). Effectively, this red stuff seems to be working as a 'sponge' for phosphates before they reach detectable levels. <Another clue... a rhodophyte would not be able to compete... would very likely be more palatable> My other macros can't fully outcompete this stuff despite plenty of available iron in the system for this 'seaweed tank' and nearly ten gallons of Chaeto in a fishless refugium. I've purchased some ROWAPHOS phosphate removal medium a kilo of it is 'rated' for absorption of 25 grams of phosphate. Prompting my question: Does anybody have a quick-and-dirty estimate of how much phosphate is generated by an ounce/pound/kilo/whatever measure of Nori (unfertilized at the growth source) and/or, by 'meaty' foods (I use limited amounts of Formula One with gel binder and occasional frozen Mysis for my clowns and large-ish red BTA. <Good question... and no... but can likely either be "looked up" in printed works detailing nutritional values, calculated to some degree by reading labels on the foods, or (best) measured by digestion and testing in samples...> My overall stocking levels are moderately light, and I've become a miser with feeding. . . to the point where I can't cut back on the 'rations' any further. Skimming is aggressive with a DIY downdraft skimmer. . . and I get half a cup or more of 'green stuff' every day. Thanks in advance for any help with the 'math' on this. . . Chuck <Mmm, we can go through this with more detail if you'd like. Entrenched colonies of many types of BGAs are difficult to entirely eradicate... they modify their worlds to their benefit. Bob Fenner>

Phosphate problems 10/28/05 Hi Crew, <Steven> Like a lot of people I have been fighting a problem with Red Cyano, not overwhelming but nuisance nonetheless. I found after a test that my phosphates went up, not huge but higher than before (probably overfeeding). I recently introduced a new fish into the system and I probably overfeed when I add new fish to try to get them eating and established.  Anyway, I have a 220 gallon tank with 250 lbs. of Tonga live rock, live aragonite (very fine) DSB, 40 watt UV sterilizer, 50 gallon wet/dry plus a refugium with mini PC's and Caulerpa. I also do aggressive skimming via a Turbo flotor 1000 and filter through media in a trickle filter box. What I did after seeing higher phosphates, was added a sock of what I think is called PhosGuard or PhosBan (tiny white granules). The directions were very clear to rinse the filter sock with granules in them very well with tap water. As I did this the filter sock became very warm for a short period of time and then it cooled off. <Yes... normal> I shook the excess water after rinsing and even tried to roll the sock on a towel to remove any additional tap water.  Shortly after I added this (next day) I have had a slight ammonia spike of .5 ppm <Not slight> and the same with nitrites. Previously both were 0. Do you think what I did with the filter sock caused this and should it go away relatively soon? <Might be related, should go soon> Your comments are greatly appreciated. So far the fish do not seem stressed, although I lost a hermit crab last night and do not want to lose anymore livestock. Thank you very much for this resource and your commitment to this hobby. <Welcome> Regards, Steven <Bob Fenner> 

Bad experience with PhosGuard - Example of Good Husbandry w/Bioballs 10/12/05 First of all I wanted to say I have found the information on your site to be very informative. Good Job! Anyway, this isn't a question, just wanted to add my recent bad experience with Seachem's PhosGuard to the others I have read on your site. <I see> I had a 75 gallon reef tank that I ran back in the bare bottom tank days from 1989-1995. I gave all of the rock and livestock away and tore down the tank when I got laid off from my job.  The tank was stored in my Grandmother's garage. I finally got off my butt and set it up again this July. I really missed it.  My 75 Gallon reef has been up for 3 months and my water parameters are very stable so I won't waste space with the details. I majored in Organic Chemistry, <My arms' are starting to ache with memories of Morrison & Boyd's bicep breaker> so I can assure you my params are fine. Although I have a heavy Chemistry background, I ended up an IBM Mainframe Systems Programmer (Dinosaur!). <Could've been pet-fish...> Some tank details: Filtration consists of 140 lbs fine grain Arag-Alive live sand, 120 lbs live rock, Poly-Filters, Miracle Mud hang on refugium w/Chaeto, EV-180 skimmer, Iwaki pumps, RO/DI system for all water that goes in the tank of course. I still use my bio balls and have no plans to remove them for reasons I outline in the last paragraph. Bought some nice cured Kaelini <One of Walt Smith's daughters Fijian names BTW...> live rock from Premium Aquatics and I added a couple of "Detritivore Kits" <Detritivore...> as well for good measure. The tank has never tested positive for NH3 so I guess the sand and rock must have been active since day one. The highest the NO2 ever got during the first 2 weeks was 5ppm. I guess it was from the rock or maybe that is what Carib-Sea puts in the bags to keep the bacteria culture alive. <The rock> 2ppm is the highest NO3 reading I have ever seen which was in the first 2 weeks as the NO2 cycled through. It was less than 0.5 ppm by the 3rd week. So I put in a Centropyge loricula <A fave species, but would wait a few to several months to place dwarf angels> and the Plerogyra sinuosa after 3 weeks and all has gone well since. NO3 has only been trace amounts for the past month (just a slight tinge of purple in the vial viewed from the side). I have seen worms in the sand when viewed from the side since the 3rd week before I even added the Detritivore kits. I use Salifert test kits and really like the Ca and Alk kits as they give precise readings via titration from a syringe instead of counting drops. There are Two 175 6500k Halides, 1 VHO Actinic and 1 VHO 50/.50 in the canopy. I have a solenoid operated water top off system and add Seachem Ca and buffer as needed according to the Salifert test results. Minimal algae blooms, everything is going very well so far. I used Seachem Marine Buffer, Reef Builder and Reef Advantage Calcium with success in the past so I continue to use them now. I only have 3 fish, a Flame Angel, Copperband Butterfly and a Fire Fish all doing well so far. Will add a Mandarin after maybe 6 more months or so, but that is all I plan to have as far as fish go. After all it's only a 75! I am a firm believer in having only a few fish even in my freshwater tanks.  I only feed 1 cube of frozen Mysis when I get home from work and another in later in the evening. Unfortunately the butterfly won't even look at anything else, so that's what I've ended up feeding the fish as a staple to avoid polluting the water with uneaten food. Every few days I feed some Mega-Angel for the Flame and to see if the Copperband will try it but no luck so far. It will only go for whole Mysis and ignores anything that isn't a whole shrimp that looks alive. I clean the filter pads every night before going to bed and I do a 6 gallon water change every Wednesday and Saturday. I've been thinking about going to a 3 gallon a day routine instead.  I was really into Discus years ago and back then I learned that there is no amount of filtration that can substitute for routine water changes. I did large daily water changes for them which is no big deal in a freshwater tank. I have read that Discus don't appreciate NO3 and so it must be kept to a minimum just like a in a reef tank. The Discus really loved the new water and would usually swim right into the stream from the bucket as I poured it in. <I am in strong agreement with your synopsis> Two weeks ago PO4 was approaching 0.1 ppm so I bought some PhosGuard at the LFS just to insure that PO4 stays low. I rinsed it according to the directions, put it in a filter bag and added it to the chemical chamber in my sump along with the Poly-Filters. After a few days the Pachyclavularia violacea no longer emerged. One of my Actinodiscus Red Mushrooms detached from it's rock and the rest weren't fully extending. The Lavender Rock polyps (they may be a type of Ricordea. I bought Borneman's book and still not really sure what they are, but I've always liked them) started looking sick and one of them detached as well. My Zoanthids quit emerging too. The Plerogyra sinuosa, Goniopora, Carport, a Cauliflower Coral I can't identify and some other type of Tree Coral I can't identify that came on a piece of live rock seem unaffected. The PhosGuard doesn't seem to have affected the Blastomussa Merleti, Xenia or the Crocea Clam either.  I've read some things on this site and others about mixing some types of soft and hard corals, but I kept most of these same species together successfully for 6 years in the past and everything has looked healthy this time around until the recent PhosGuard incident. I pulled out the PhosGuard 5 days ago and stuck with my routine 6 gallon Wed/Sat water changes. The organisms that were affected are finally doing better today. <Ah, good> The Pachyclavularia violacea came out for the first time in a week this afternoon. Unfortunately I bought a 1 liter jar of it, so I still have a bunch that I will never use. I ordered some RowaPhos and will give it a try in a week or so as I have read the iron based phosphate removal products are safer to use with the types of organisms I have in my tank. I just want to insure that phosphates stay low.  <0.1 ppm should be no problem... phosphate is a "critical compound", needed (in low concentration... though not "free" in solution"...> In my tank at least, it seems that PhosGuard only affected certain types of Cnidarians and very quickly. I am unwilling to continue the experiment by using it long term to see if affects any of my other tank inhabitants. My wife was really upset when it made some of our corals sick. About the bio balls. I still use my Bi-Ox media with 4 air pumps blowing into it and rinse my pre-filters and 100 micron filter pad in the drip tray daily just like I did 10 years ago. The chemist in me refuses to give up the surface area for gas exchange they have. I never had a problem with NO3 back then, so I will continue to use them. I never saw much NO3 after running this setup for 6 years, so I really don't comprehend why people have problems with them. I basically had the same inhabitants/ bio load in the tank that I have now.  I just happen to like keeping these particular species since I had good luck with them in the past.  When I tore down the tank I didn't find any detritus build up on the Bi-Ox which I assume is due to the daily cleaning of the filter pads. The only thing I am doing different these days is I've added the sand bed, a hang on refugium and a modern, more efficient skimmer than the one that was built into my US Aquarium wet/dry. As I ran this setup a successfully as a bare bottomed tank for years, the only thing I really worry about this time around is that the sand bed will end up packed with detritus and become a NO3 sink and that I will end up having to tear it out. I just don't trust it yet. I spent many sleepless nights debating with myself on whether or not to have a substrate on the bottom or not when I was in planning stages. I hope I don't end up regretting this addition to what was a very successful setup in the past. Bryan  <Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>
Re: Bad experience with PhosGuard 10/13/05
Hi, This response goes back to Bob Fenner.  Yes, I also hauled a copy of Morrison and Boyd around campus from 1976-1979 while attending classes at the University of Southern Colorado and at CU -Boulder. Now I live in St. Louis, MO and I really miss Colorado of course. The tap water here in STL maxes out my ph and PO4 test kits and NO3 looks to be between 30-50 ppm. <Not good... for human consumption or pet-fish use> This is nasty stuff indeed for use in an aquarium. Not at all like the freshly melted snow that makes up the water supply in Colorado Springs. Hmm, maybe I really don't need to fertilize my lawn this fall after all with all of this free fertilizer coming right out of the tap. <Likely just a bit of potash needed> Once again, I really enjoy the site and look through the new postings every day. Take care, Bryan Gatewood  <Will do. Bob Fenner>  

Skimming and Rowaphos 10/01/05 Hi WWM crew. The most valuable web site... I learn & enjoy and thanks to you all. I am setting up a 210 gal FOWLR system in my office with 75 gal refugium under the cabinet. Its been set up and running for 10 weeks. I am trying to reduce any chance of algae problem in the beginning for future and my set up is follows. It has ozonizer and controller that is set to 350 mv and is in working order,  6" DSB in the refugium (36" X 18" X 6" in volume with 9 bags of 30lbs Aragamax Sugar-Sized Sand). The main display has 1/2" of the same kind of substrate with 175 lbs of live rock. AquaMedic 29" protein skimmer with Mag Drive 5. Iwaki MD100RLT motor for circulation between refugium and main display. Aqua Medic NitrAte reductor that release 0 nitrate and 0 nitrite after filtration. 3 bags of Chemi pure in the refugium before the return motor. Lighting with 2 XM 15000k 175W metal halide and 4 60" VHO 140w each (2-AquaSun 10000k and 2-Super Actinic 420 nm peak Bulbs). Total of 910 Watts. Turns on 7 hours a day with timers in sequence. I have a little more lighting in case I change to a reef later but not now.  I do not turn on  metal halide bulbs at this time. I only have one 12" Golden Moray Eel that I added 3 weeks ago and feeding is done twice a  week as you recommend and doing very fine. I filled the system with RO/DI water from the start. Water test are done daily with Salifert test kits.  Ammonia 0 ppm,  Nitrite 0 ppm, KH 9.6 dKH, Ph 8.2, Nitrate 10 ppm, Silicate 3 ppm, Phosphate 1.5 ppm, Temperature 80 F., ORP 350 mv with 24 hours monitor & controlled with ozonizer. I was worried about the nitrate, phosphate, and silicate test reading and I read about Rowaphos PO4 & Si02 Absorber on the website and I added 700 ml of them in Fluval 404 Canister filter with 2 sheet of Poly Filter that cut in small pieces with 1 qt of E.S.V. Granular Activated Carbon. I used a cut to fit filter pads in between them to have maximum water contact time for the materials. They recommend to run the filter for 24/7 for maximum removal of unwanted algae problem caused by phosphate and silicate from the beginning. The skimmer removed at least 1.5 to 2.0 cups of waste every day and the water was crystal clear. Now here is the problem. After I installed and run this Fluval 404 Canister filter with all of the filtering things inside my skimmer produced a small amount of black waste and stopped producing anything for 2 weeks . The water is cloudy now. The Nitrate level is still around 10 ppm, phosphate dropped to 0.4ppm, silicate dropped to .05 ppm after the canister filter ran for 3 days. I turned  off the canister filter, adjusted the skimmer, vacuumed the substrate, performed a 20% water change, turned off the ozonizer, adjusted lighting time more and less, but still no skimming. My knowledge is ran out of idea and I could not find related FAQ's on your web site about this problem I have. Please HELP me and Thank You in advance.<<Rowaphos is effective at removing phosphate and silicate from water. Phosphate contributes to algae growth while silica contributes to diatom blooms. A properly functioning skimmer removes organic waste from the water. These are two different things. From your description, it sounds like the Rowaphos was working in that the phosphate and silicate levels were dropping. Removing phosphate and silicate is not removing protein waste. While the tank rock is cycling, the skimmate production will be higher. After cycling, fluctuations in production will be related to the amount of waste available. This is a function of the number of fish in the system and the amount of food you are introducing. Ozone will also affect skimmate production and generally enhances the skimmer performance. If the skimmer production diminished it could be because the skimmer needs adjustment or it might be because there is not a lot of waste to remove. A lack of waste could be caused by a combination of things including: the system has completed the initial cycle, you have a large water volume with only one eel and you have stopped the ozone. Additionally, Chemi-Pure removes waste. The cloudy water could be caused by a bacterial bloom, sediment in the water column or micro bubbles. Sediment will settle out and a filter sock will help. If it's micro bubbles, you will need to find the source of the bubbles. If the cloudy water us related to a bloom of some kind, fixing and increasing the skimmate production will help clear it. At this point, I would check the skimmer adjustment, continue with the water changes and monitor the system. Good luck - Ted>>

Phosphate Foes...  9/10/05 Dear Crew, <Josh>     I have written you in the past (Thank You Sabrina)  with extraordinary results. The amount of information that I have learned on your web site has facilitated my successes thus far in our complex hobby. I am  again faced with a dilemma that I am not sure how to solve. I have been battling  a breakout of phosphates (which in return has fueled a diatom breakout that I  just got under control). I have changed 20% of the water and stocked my canister  with phosphate removal and see a change from the prior record setting readings.  My readings were so off the charts I thought It was going to go platinum. <Heee!> Here  are a brief overview of my specs:          Outside the Tank                 Tank  Size: 60 Gal (48 inches long)                 Filtration  Methods: Fluval 404 Canister Filter w/ Aqua C Remora Protein Skimmer                 Lighting  System: Hamilton 400w MH Pendant ReefSun System (Do you think this is enough for  my tank? <For? Likely most any...> It seems that light may not reach the left and right sides. <No worries>         Inside the Tank:                 65  lbs of Live Rock                 40  lbs of Sand                 Two  powerheads                 Lawnmower  Blenny                 Sandsifter  Goby                 Four  Blue Damsels                 Various  Snails                 Hermit  Crab (Whom believes it his duty to eradicate all snail life forms from the tank  by consumption) <Is>                 AMM:  0                 Nitrites:  0                 Nitrates:  2                 PH:  8.2                 KH:  140-160                 SG:  1.025     Of course I am building my tank to facilitate a possible reef environment and I am a little worried that my lighting is not  enough and that I will not be able to reduce the phosphate levels so that various reef inhabitants will thrive and flourish. I have read your notes and  thoughts regarding phosphate reduction and have taken all the measures that you  so suggest, <Mmm, adding a refugium sump, DSB, macroalgae...> but there is so much information I am afraid that I am missing them.  The source of the phosphates I believe was from the addition of "peat" media  into the canister filter... don't ask.     Please let me know if I can provide you any further  information that may help you make a determination in this matter. <A determination of what?> Yet, most  importantly, allow me to thank each of you, whom, day after day, shine a  ray of hope in what otherwise would be a dark dark sea. Fair Winds and Favoring Seas,   Josh <Following seas? All looks good thus far Josh... I take it you've read the posed FAQs on Phosphates? Your source water checks out as phosphate-free? Do consider adding the living sump... Bob Fenner>

Salifert Phosphate Test Dry Regent Consistency 8/23/05 Hello WWM Crew, I recently purchased a Salifert Phosphate test kit from my LFS. The dry regent in it does not seem totally dry or at least it seems to clump together a little.  I am wondering if this is what you have experienced? Other dry Salifert regents have been bone dry as in the Ca test.  If your experience has found it to be sugar smooth I am going to take mine back.  I am concerned because my LFS's air conditioner has been out all summer and the store has had it's share of 90 degree days with 70% humidity.  I'm just wondering if the regent has been compromised.  Sorry to ask you guys but the Salifert website doesn't have any contact information. <Peter, the reagent should be free flowing as sugar.  I've used Salifert Phosphate Test Kits and the reagents were dry and not clogged as you say.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks Peter Williams

Ocean's Blend Phosphate remover 8/19/05 Is this NON synthetic Ferric Oxide media safe to use on reef tanks? I can't find anything bad about it on the Internet and some people have had good experiences.  My concern is that it is real Ferric Oxide.  I found this definition: A dark red compound, Fe2O3, occurring naturally as hematite ore and rust and used in pigments and metal polishes and on magnetic tapes. And from it I'm a bit concerned about the rust part.  The product essentially looks like rust.  I know synthetic products like Rowaphos and Phosban have received much praise for their effectiveness and "safeness" but the Ocean's Blend product is about 1/2 the price and can be purchased @ my LFS.  Any advise would be greatly appreciated. <Raul, I did some checking on the company and as far as I can see, I would feel comfortable trying this product.  Their products are tried in their own aquariums and they welcome feedback for continuous improvement.  James (Salty Dog)>

High Phosphate in RO water 8/12/05 Hello everyone, I'm a newbie to saltwater and I recently set up a 155 gallon reef tank.  In this time I've had trouble controlling my phosphate levels.  Here are my specs: 1.  155 gal tank 2.  Lightly stocked tank with 1 purple tang, 1 six line wrasse, 1 clown, 1 lawnmower blenny, 2 cleaner shrimps. 3.  2 mushrooms, 2 rocks of yellow polyps, 1 green star polyp. 4.  Two overflow boxes, aqua C ev-180 skimmer which produces lots of crap daily.  I use RO/DI water weekly and perform a 10 % water change every week. My RO system is from Coralife-pure-flo. 4.All water parameters are normal except the phosphate level which is a whopping 1 ppm with the Salifert test! I thought for the last three months that the levels were high because I was feeding too much but I wasn't.  Sometimes I would actually skip a day so my fish could graze on the little hair algae I have in the tank.  I then thought that my test kit was wrong, so I bought a new Salifert test kit.  Anyways, I decided to test my RO/DI water without salt straight from the tube and the phosphate levels measured 1ppm!  I then checked my TAP water from my faucet and it tested only 0.1 ppm.  I retested all my different waters and the results were the same.   I came to the conclusion that it seems like my unit is leaching out phosphate, is this possible?   The RO/DI unit is very new, I bought it 5 months ago and according to the instructions, the pre-filter needs to be changed in a months time and the membrane should last another 6 months.  So I still have time for change.  Any thoughts?  Nilesh <This is an easy one!  Activated carbon is made porous in the manufacturing process by exposing it to phosphoric acid.  If the carbon is not rinsed, it will leach phosphates in high concentration, much of which will pass through the RO membrane.  If you really want a shock, test the water coming directly out of the carbon block pre-filter!  The simplest option is to replace the pre-filters with good quality aquarium brand (something other than Coralife!).  Prefilters should be changed every six months to a year, but the membrane itself should last several years.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Proper PH 8.2- Raises my phosphate levels... something screwy re AP product, water test/ing... alternatives 8/9/05 I have a 54 gallon 6 week old FOWLR tank. I cycled the tank with live rock. My PH is a consistent 7.8 in the A.M and 8.0 in the P.M. Maybe my lighting is off or I need glasses when I check against the color chart. <Nope... does drop during dark periods> Once I  started a consistent water change schedule (3 gal. every week with instant ocean) my ph is now close to 8.2. and my phosphates are 0.5 or less. <Lower the better> Before achieving a higher stabilized pH  I tried Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Proper PH 8.2. I added 2 capfuls of this product to my tank, per instructions, over a 2 day period.( 2 capfuls is only enough to treat 20 gallons). I noticed my in tank phosphate level rose to 2.0 afterward introducing this product. <Mmm> My well water has Zero phosphates as did my FOWLR before the addition of this product. I then tested a 10 gal. bucket of tap water for phosphates. It read zero for phosphates. ( I used Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Phosphate test kit). I then added 1 capful of proper PH 8.2 <I see on AP's website that they state this product contains no phosphates> and let it cycle over night with a heater and pump. The next morning the phosphate levels were 2.0. I called AP'S Tech support who returned my call the next day to state that Proper PH 8.2 contains no phosphates and something is wrong with my water. <Really?> They also stated that their Phosphate test kit is not affected by the addition of Proper Ph 8.2 and the results are not skewed . <... I'd try another test kit... and press them to tell you what material this product is made of... or better still, let me "cut to the proverbial chase" and tell you that I would not use this in a marine setting...> I then retested with demineralized water  and also took it to the shop where I purchased. They were surprised to find that it also instantly raised the Phosphate levels in their water. Aquarium Pharmaceutical never returned my 2nd call in which I stated the results of these further tests and  gave them the lot # of my product thinking their may be a problem with it. Has anyone else ever arbitrarily tested this product. Can someone shed some light on this. I can not figure out why Proper PH 8.2 raises my Phosphate levels of my tap/tank water unless it contains Phosphates. Thanks. Sincerely Wayne <I wish the old owners wouldn't have sold... I would call them for you and check on all this... Instead, please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm and the linked files above... till you understand the concepts of pH, alkalinity, your options... Bob Fenner>

Soluble phosphates? 7/7/05 Hi, I was impressed by your article on dissolution of phosphates in water. I therefore request for ways of dissolving phosphates in rock (P2O5), to obtain free phosphorus ion. I will be grateful for your assistance. Sincerely, Sally <Ahh, mmm, am wondering what it is you're after here. A means of "getting rid" of phosphate? Detection of same? Best to avoid this material through avoidance. If it is present there is no practical manner to extract it... other than removing the rock/source. If you're desirous of actually procuring phosphorus... we can talk. What is your desire? If analytical chemistry, there are acidic methods. Bob Fenner>

Phosphate extraction... with fluorite. 7/7/05 Thanks for your mail. You got my point!!. I want to get rid of phosphates in fluorite by chelation, which necessitates the breakage of p2o5 into free PO4- ion. Your assistance please! Sally <Please see here: http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rls=GGLD,GGLD:2004-27,GGLD:en&q=fluorite+phosphate+extraction Bob Fenner>

- Phosphates and Silicates - hey Mr. Fenner. <Mr. Fenner is in Chicago, attending IMAC. JasonC here in his stead.> mike here, I was looking on the site and notice there isn't much info on phosphate levels and silicates. my reef tank has been up for about 2 years now and I've managed to keep things looking good up till now without worrying about phosphates or silicates. (I only keep track of calcium and alkalinity).  I've read some articles on how important it is to keep phosphate levels low so I've decided to invest in some test kits and phosphate remover products. any recommendations on which brands. <I've been told that Rowaphos is the best product out there, but I'm sure there are several that do a fine job.> a friend of mines recommended iron based and not aluminum based products for whatever reasons. could you fill me in on some basic phosphate and silicate info? <Start reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/po4faqs.htm and here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/silicatefaqs.htm > links to pages are cool also. thanks Mr. Fenner. mike <Cheers, J -- >

Which Product Brand is Work Efficient to Remove Phosphate? Dear Crew, <The Rowa products are best, though the SeaChem is also to be recommended> based on the statement, my friends also using SeaChem to remove phosphate. but unfortunately, it say that this product will leak the PO4 back into the tank when it was exhausted, it that true?? thanks a lot again!! <Mmm, not much or at all in reality. Bob Fenner> regards, Chee

Which product brand is work efficient to remove phosphate? good morning Crew, <Man, tempus fugit... it's zooming past> kindly ask that which product brand is good for removing phosphate inside my reef tank? <Mmm, depends...> currently, i didn't use anything yet to remove the phosphate (in the range of 0.5 to 1ppm) inside my saltwater. i already make some analysis on the product from my country (Malaysia) and Singapore. found out that Coralife Phosphate remover, Seachem Phosguard and Kent Marine phosphate sponge is not good enough as Rowa Phos and PurePhos brand. any idea with this? <The Rowa products are best, though the SeaChem is also to be recommended> and also, can a reef tank water parameter, the PO4 always undetectable? <Oh no... definitely not... in fact, there are types of systems, organisms where soluble phosphate is to be encouraged> i heard that a reef must a least have some low quantity of phosphate in the range between 0.03 to 0.5ppm. <This is a generalized statement re most types of systems... Best to use passive methods to restrict the amount of PO4... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/po4faqs.htm hope to hear from you soon. thanks and regards, Chee Seng, Loo West Malaysia. <Welcome my friend. Bob Fenner>
Re: which product brand is work efficient to remove phosphate? 6/29/05
Dear handsome crew, <Okay...> it's me again. sorry to interrupt you again, excuse for my stupidness. kindly ask that do you hear this product, Aquaz PurePhos Premium (www.aquaz.org)? it is also efficient in removing phosphate as same level as Rowa or Seachem? thanks a lot. regards, Chee Seng <Have no experience with this product, or company for that matter... but the product is iron oxide... treats about the right amount of gallons... Bob Fenner>

Fighting Off Phosphates! Hi, <Hey there! Scott F. here tonight!> I have a 10 gallon saltwater tank that is 2 years old and has a hair algae problem for the past couple months. It has improved now that I got nitrates down to zero via Chaetomorpha but the glass clouds over very quickly and the hair algae is still growing but at a slower pace. I finally got a test for phosphates and it may explain my algae problem which started a couple months ago. It registers between the 2 highest numbers on my test kit - between 1-2. I also tested my tap water and it is the same. <Not good to hear, but at least you found one of the prime culprits in your algae problem.> Since I use only 1 gallon per week, what is the best way to handle this? Do the various products, such as PhosBan or pads, work well enough for my numbers or am I better off using another source of water? Thanks <Well, since you're using a small amount of water, I think that you could use some RO/DI water from a "water store" or other trusted source. Otherwise, for the long term, it might be wise to invest in an RO/DI unit, which will provide you with virtually pure water for a modest cost. Either way, I'd rather see you spend the money on better source water, rather than expensive filter media. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> Re: dying fish I understand about the water issue. Our water test out find (ammonia 0) (PH 6.8) (nitrite 0) (nitrate 0). Last month we were having trouble with green water. So we bought a filter that takes care of phosphate. Do you think that filter could have poison the water? <Yes, a possibility> Sorry for bother you again. Thanks for your help. Cody <Cody, please scan over the disease areas of WWM... possibly something there will become obvious to you, your circumstances. Bob Fenner> 

Phosphate and nitrate removal Hi,  <Hello> I understand there is a filter available for treating new water and goes by the name of NITRAGON or similar can you please tell me where I can buy. Thank You  <I haven't heard of it, doesn't mean it's not out there. Personally I think you would be wasting your money. I'm assuming "treating new water" means your top of water or water for water changes. In that case, you would be further ahead buying a R/O unit. James (Salty Dog)> <<... http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rls=GGLD,GGLD:2004-27,GGLD:en&q=nitragon+filter RMF>>

Use of chemical filtrants, phosphate, WWM Hello, A simple question I think. I have a sixty gallon - six month old SW reef tank with bout 80 lbs. LR.. Several fish and corals with 440 watts of lighting (VHO). About three months ago I added a 29 gallon refugium with about an inch and a half of miracle mud. At the same time I had an extreme problem with hair algae and added a treatment called PhosBan to the system. Since then the corals have not been coming out like they were. <Mmm, you do realize phosphate is an essential nutrient?> The fish are doing fine. The corals come out about ten percent only. I have added Caulerpa to the refugium twice and both times it died. <HP04 is an essential nutrient for all life...> Now my refugium runs without any plant life and the corals are not healthy. The fish are thriving though. All water tests I have been advised to do turn out ok. I don't test for iodine, magnesium, or strontium. Calcium at 400, alkalinity at 3.0, ammonia, nitrite, and phosphate at 0, nitrate at 20. I would greatly appreciate and input, thank you. Jon <Study my friend... less chemicals, more biology. Bob Fenner> 

High Phosphates Hi crew! I want to thank you for all the good information you have given me in the past. I have a questions regarding high phosphates.  I have a 29g nano reef with about 2" of crushed coral substrate. My phosphate tested out at .75ppm. <A bit high> I feed very sparingly and I vacuum the substrate as best I can when doing water changes. Is it possible that my crushed coral bed is just too deep to vacuum effectively when doing a 15% water change? <Mmm, no> If it is, how do I go about reducing it? <Water changes, use of Kalk, finding, discounting the source/s, use of live macroalgae, chemical filtrants...> I'm pretty sure my phosphate problem is due to detritus buildup in the substrate. Thanks for your help Larry <Please see WWM re. Bob Fenner> 

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