Phosphates : the good, the bad, the evil

Discussion in 'Beginner Discussions' started by VicZA, 10 Jun 2014.

  1. VicZA

    VicZA

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    Hi All,

    I have been reading about how flakes and frozens contain phosphates and how people try straining their food and all kinds of other steps so I have been thinking of a few things around phosphates:

    1 - Are phosphates the primary reason for nuisance algae ? So if we get rid of phosphates do we get rid of the algae ?

    2 - Is there any "wanted" organism that feeds on phosphates - I am thinking of coral and filter feeders here ?

    3 - What external processes can be put in place to reduce or illiminate phosphates (I use Bio Cubes Titanium but still have large clumps of GHA)
     
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  3. Clowning

    Clowning

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  4. viper357

    viper357 Admin MASA Contributor

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    Different types of algae require different 'food' to grow, but generally speaking, yes, sometimes combined with elevated levels of Nitrates, old lighting/incorrect lighting spectrum, overfeeding, detritus on and in rockwork etc.
    Not sure, but Chaeto and Caulerpa are good at nutrient removal, although caulerpa has it's own risks.
    Phosphate reactor, carbon, keeping on top of your maintenance regime will all help. GHA generally needs manual removal if it's large, then snails, hermits and fish can take care of it when it is short.
     
  5. gMAN

    gMAN with the plan

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    On my 5ft I had exceptional growth on my GSP, pulsing xenia & chaeto, never tested for phosphate but suspected it was high. Didn't have algae issues but could have been because the gsp, chaeto and xenia was using up the excess phos not giving any algae a chance to grow...
     
  6. JohanB

    JohanB

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    My 2 cents:
    Yes, with low phosphates GHA should be less of a problem. Sometimes your phosphate reading might be artificially low though because the GHA in the system uses it. So you can have GHA and still test low phosphates.

    I think most corals still need a little bit of phosphate, especially softies. But only a little, maybe 0.01 ppm. Some people have undetectable phosphates though and it is fine too as long as you dont have softies or maybe some LPS. And even if you do they probably will still get some nutrients from feeding before it is all absorbed. But if you have GHA you shouldnt worry about too little phosphates, you can start thinking about that when your GHA is gone.

    Feed less;
    I think the titanium cubes wont reduce phosphates, but only the normal cubes. Titanium reduces nitrates without the need for phosphates.
    Get a phosphate reactor with media in it.
    Ensure your light bulbs are not too old.
     
  7. VicZA

    VicZA Thread Starter

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    What is involved in a Phosphate Reactor and how does it work ?
     
  8. irie ivan

    irie ivan MASA Contributor

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    So much misinformation about phosphate, phosphorous... Orthophosphate, organic and inorganic.
    Yes, all organisms need it in minute quantities, undetectable is a myth, as it refers to undetectable on our hobby grade kits ;).
    It is required for metabolic processes, energy budgets, ATP, taken up in skeletal mass by humans and yes, scleractinians too.
    However, most is taken up by means of food, not just from its dissolved form in the water column.
    Where there is life, there is phosphate and it is very much needed.
     
  9. irie ivan

    irie ivan MASA Contributor

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    All that is involved in a phosphate reactor is water passed over a medium which binds dissolved phosphate such as Granular Ferric Oxide or Hydroxide or Aluminum Oxide.
    The most common being a fluidized reactor where water is fed into a chamber in a reverse flow (from below the media) fashion.
    This is to ensure that:
    1. Media is kept in suspension and water does not flow only past some granules of media (i.e. chanelling) but rather water is exposed to as many granules of the phosphate binding media as possible.
    2. In the case of Granular Ferric Oxide Hydroxide, the constant abrasion of particles by each other causes the exposure of new surfaces for more PO4 binding.
     
  10. VicZA

    VicZA Thread Starter

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    @irie ivan thanks for the detailed info - appreciate it
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 26 Nov 2015
  11. Riaanv

    Riaanv

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    From my experience, but please take into account that various chapters are missing from my reefkeeping handbook (not all that experineced when looking at SPS):

    - I have tried to understand phosphate, phosphorous... Orthophosphate, organic and inorganic and also what can be detected with a test and what not, with little success
    - I had a dynoflagellates problem which made me pursue PO4 reduction to 0 on a hanna agressively
    - Landed up with bleeched out corals that did not seem resillient and growing at a slow pace and also dying. The dynos disappeared at least
    - At the moment I run PO4 at 0.03 to 0.16 (currently a bit high, aiming for <0.10). Agree you should not let this get out of control totally
    - This is the only thing I changed. Some of the pink colour changed to a bit more brown and other colours are darker, but corals are growing. Some that were virtually stagnent for 6 months developed 12+ growth tips

    If you look at the latest tank of the month of reefkeeping.com, it is also not run at 0 levels of phos and nitrate
     
  12. butcherman

    butcherman Moderator MASA Contributor

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    When chasing low po4 numbers one has to look at low nutrient system water parameters and how they correlate to everything else else you just end up with bleached coral, especially sps

    a good example is Alk, when running po4 and no3 low you also need to reduce alk to below 10dkh or you will have an issue
     
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