CAUTION: High Phosphate Levels in corrupted Eco-Complete
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Old 05-03-2005, 04:22 AM   #1
crshadow
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CAUTION: High Phosphate Levels in corrupted Eco-Complete


I recently posted in another thread about my experience with the milky/cloudiness issue of eco-complete bags as of late.
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...t=15791&page=3

Well today I discovered another issue with contaminated eco-complete that could pose severe problems to people who use it, especially those who are new to planted tanks. I recently set up a 125 Gallon tank using eco-complete in which 4 of 12 total bags were contaminated with the milky white substance. I was getting ready to fertilize this tank for the first time and decided to test Nitrate and Phosphate levels first. Nitrate was normal for what normally comes out of the tap. However, upon testing for phosphate, the test showed levels of phosphate that were off the scale. I immediately tested water out of the tap to rule that out and it showed about 0.5ppm of phosphate. My next suspicion was the eco-complete. I still had two unopened bags of contaminated eco-complete, so I opened one and drained about 16oz of the milky liquid into a dixie cup. I then filled a bucket with 1 gallon of tap water and tested it for phosphate as a control. Phosphate, as predicted showed about 0.5ppm in the control. I then used a syringe to extract 5ml of the milky liquid from the dixie cup and added it to the 1 gallon bucket. I tested the mixture, and sure enough the phosphate level was through the roof. (Past the top 10ppm limit of the test kit) I rinsed the bucket and repeated the experiment, first with the control test which again showed 0.5ppm of phosphate. However, this time I had filled the bucket with 2 gallons in hopes of getting a more dilute sample. This time around I added only 1 ml of the milky liquid to the bucket and tested. Finally I could get a reading within the range of the test kit which read at about 5.0 ppm. So basically a mere 1 ml in 2 gallons of water can raise phosphate levels to fairly high level. Imagine adding an entire bag which probably has at least 32oz or so of this stuff to your tank.

Here's another thread which may provide some answers to this: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...ad.php?t=17035

This thread mentions that at some point calcium carbonate had gotten into several lots of eco-complete resulting in customers having high GH and KH readings. I found this to be odd because in my case, as I mentioned in the first thread, I ended up with a large drop in pH which is basically the opposite of what the others had experienced. Later in the thread, Del points out that after Caribsea learned of the high GH/KH problem they started adding a clarifier to fix the problem. Based on all this information I'm led to conclude that in addition to the "clarifier" or perhaps as part of the "clarifier", Caribsea added a large amount of Phosphate based pH Down/Buffer type product to counteract the effect of the Calcium Carbonate....

I'm sure they meant well in doing so, but the side effects could have major impact on people who are new to fertilizing. Faltering with other ferts with this level of phosphate could definitely lead to some major algae problems. I'm sure this would also invalidate the pH/KH CO2 chart. Don't get me wrong, I love eco-complete and highly recommend it. I just wanted to let everyone know to be wary and to avoid using the contaminated bags unless you rinse them really well. Caribsea seems to have shown great customer service as evidenced in these threads and I'm sure they'll resolve the problem in the near future.

PS: If anyone else has contaminated bags right now, it would be great if you could test your bags to see if you get similar results.

-Jeremiah

Here's a pic of the test done on my tank water that prompted all of this.
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Last edited by crshadow; 05-03-2005 at 02:39 PM..
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Old 05-03-2005, 04:27 AM   #2
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Here's a pic of the milky fluid from the eco-complete bag.
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Old 05-03-2005, 04:35 AM   #3
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This shows the control test of 1 gallon of tap water and the test of the same water with 5 ml of the milky fluid added.
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Old 05-03-2005, 04:42 AM   #4
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This shows the second set of tests and the final result of 5ppm phosphate derived from adding 1 ml of the milky fluid to 2 gallons of water.
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Old 05-04-2005, 08:51 AM   #5
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Thanks a ton for this info + the pics, this is really important to know.

Do you have a bag of "non" corrupted Eco Complete, without the milky white fluid? It would be interesting to see what the phospate test would reveal on that.
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Old 05-05-2005, 08:19 AM   #6
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Yeah, this is very interesting. Luckily, I didn't have any clarifier in my bags. Finally, a month later and lots of water changes, it seems my GH has stabalized to decent levels. I'll prolly end up with 9 extra bags of Eco to trade or start another tank. The phosphate test on that clarifier is alarming to be sure. Thanks for your research. I think you're right about the pH down using some sort of phosphate buffer. You would think Caribsea would know better (I imagine they actually do) and alert their suppliers and customers to do a major rinsing. I think they made a serious mistake not approaching this problem more proactively. Thanks again. Bob
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Old 05-05-2005, 08:40 AM   #7
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^ I agree, it was a big mistake. Even though they've been great about replacing or refunding for people, I find myself really reluctant to ever use the product again.
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Old 05-05-2005, 02:39 PM   #8
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Yes, was debating between eco and Flourite...

Since hearing all these quality control problems with eco I'm definitely going Flourite.

It's too bad because I had heard good things about eco.
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Old 05-05-2005, 03:07 PM   #9
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It really should be fine if you rinse it.

Go buy a big spaghetti strainer at WalMart or Bed Bath & Beyond and rinse it either in the sink or outside with a garden hose.

Flourite will need rinsed anyway.
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Old 05-05-2005, 03:08 PM   #10
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Has anyone actually received their replacement bags yet? I am wondering how long it will take. I got an email from carib-sea yesterday saying they would replace my contaminated eco, and I sent an email back with my address. I hope it won't take too long, I am anxious to set up my new tank!

I really hope this all works out. I have flourite in my other tank and I really don't like the color. I also had to rinse each bag for like 30 minutes (rinse and dump bucket, rinse and dump bucket, ad nauseum) to get rid of the thick pasty goo.

Tina
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Old 05-05-2005, 03:27 PM   #11
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Nope I havent recieved my replacements yet. its been about a week since i recieved the email from them. I was wondering the same thing. I have a new 20g with all the equipment sitting here waiting to get setup..its killing me lol
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Old 05-05-2005, 04:08 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hypancistrus
It really should be fine if you rinse it.

Go buy a big spaghetti strainer at WalMart or Bed Bath & Beyond and rinse it either in the sink or outside with a garden hose.

Flourite will need rinsed anyway.
You'll be rinsing it a long time if you get a contaminated bag that didn't have the clarifier added to it like I did. You'd have to leave it soaking and rinse periodically for an extended period. That being said, if I could be assured contaminated product had been removed from the shelves, I'd love to use EC on my next tank. Had they not let so much get out into the marketplace and had they pulled it off the market, I'd feel much more confident. A costly mistake on their part.
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Old 05-06-2005, 05:54 AM   #13
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The clarifier and Ph buffer is phosphate based I believe.

Caribsea's contractor, which mines the stuff for them, really created a disaster for the company and they are purging all of their remaining stock and replacing it with new. They will not be shipping out the new substrate until the Th week of May. I will not be shipping any out until then too when I have all of mine replaced.

You would not believe how frustrated they are right now. If you do call or send an email to them please give them a few days to respond. They are literally overwhelmed right now.
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Old 05-06-2005, 07:33 AM   #14
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I was told by CaribSea that I would recieve my new substrate by the end of this week. But it sounds like it might be a little longer. It takes a truck about a week from Florida to the west coast anyhow. FWIW, I imagine anyone buying Eco in the not too distant future needn't worry about a contaminated batch. If in doubt, just soak it for a week and check the pH and GH. I still wonder if hurricanes had anything to do with it... I feel bad for them, but I feel worse for my dead fish and plants that got burned and new tank which got off to a pathetic start. bob
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Old 05-06-2005, 03:52 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hypancistrus
Thanks a ton for this info + the pics, this is really important to know.

Do you have a bag of "non" corrupted Eco Complete, without the milky white fluid? It would be interesting to see what the phospate test would reveal on that.
Unfortunately I don't have any more of the non-contaminated bags. However, like everyone else with this problem, Caribsea as been kind enough to send me replacements. I will test them when they arrive.

Again, I want to mention that despite the situation, I still will use eco-complete in the future. Its unfortunate that Caribsea let this batch get out, but I'm sure they will be more cautious in the future. No doubt that has been a costly accident for them thus far, and may potentially impact future sales as well. As Del pointed out, I'm sure they are very frustrated about situation. As a business owner, I know I'd be kicking myself...

-Jeremiah
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