High PO4 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-06-2019, 12:15 AM Thread Starter
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High PO4

Hi everyone,

I've been doing some reading and testing of my water and I noticed that my PO4 is very high (like >5 ppm, dark blue in the test vile). I have high phosphates coming out of the tap as well. I have nitrates in the 10-20 ppm range and I'm wondering if I need to lower the phosphates or increase my nitrogen dosing? I've had some algae issues crop up and I am thinking that this might be a contributing factor. some other specifics:

Tank is 55 gal
Planted plus 24 light
Pressurized CO2 working on a PH controller (I get a 7.2 - 6.2 drop) and nice green drop checker

Any help is appreciated!

Thanks!
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-06-2019, 12:37 AM
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Phosphates that high, that are not coming from your tap and are not being dosed, would indicate that organics are out of control. The source could be manifold: too much food or too many fish, rotting plants/debris, dirty filter, substrate, general cleanliness issues along with appropriate water change regimen. However, you mentioned that your tap is high in PO4. First thing would be to determine if PO4 levels in your tap are within a point or two of your tank. If it is, then your tap is the primary problem.

Having said that, phosphates, alone, don't cause algae and high levels can impede some types of algae, but there could be other issues with nutrients if they are out of balance, as you suspect. I happen to prefer my PO4 in the 1ppm area. However, given your high level, I would prefer to see if we can draw @Greggz, and others, in to work with you. In the past, he has preferred high levels of PO4 and may be able to sort out how to handle it since it is very difficult to reduce, given a persistent input. There are chemical media that can help and/or mixing your tap with RO or distilled water but, if you want to just play the cards you are being dealt, try to work out a program the will pivot on this restriction.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-06-2019, 01:29 AM
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Hey @Deanna , yes I do believe high phosphate in and of itself does not cause algae. I keep mine routinely at high levels, but that is just what works in my tank which is being driven pretty hard.

@rstewart8 it's really hard to help you much with the information you have provided.

In general, a single Planted Plus over a 55G is maybe medium light. What plants are you growing? How densely is tank planted? What else are you dosing? What is water change and maintenance schedule like? Clean filters often? Gravel vac? Pics of the tank?

Could be dozens of things that lead to algae, but very doubtful it's high PO4. That being said, more NO3 in relation to current PO4 levels might be helpful, but that's very hard to say without knowing more about the tank.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-07-2019, 01:36 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys,

Here is a little more information, I had started a journal on here and I am going to have to revive it.

Tank is 55 gal
Light - Just today changed to a Fluval Planted 3.0 Blue Tooth light 48-60 in. (replaced a Planted plus 24/7 and a dual t5HO). T5Ho was on for 4 hrs mid day and 24/7 was in 24/7 mode
Filter is a FX4
CO2 - Pressurized using a CO2 controller (degassed tank pH is 7.2 and controller is holding 6.2 constant) - Drop checker is lime green
CO2 uses a Seraflora reactor run off a secondary pump

Fertilizer

Dosing the following:

Monday-Wednesday-Friday
+/- 3/4 tsp KN03 3x a week
+/- tsp KH2P04 3x a week
+/- 3/4 tsk K2SO4

Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday
+/- tsp (20ml) Trace Elements 3x a week
11% DTPA Chelated Iron - I mixed the package with 500 ML of distilled water and I'll dose 2 ml for every 10 gallons - So a total of 10 ml
1 Cap full Flourish iron - Until it runs out and I can source a suitable dry replacement

Sunday
50% weekly water change
+1 Table spoon Seachem Equilibrium
+1 Table Spoon Epsom Salts

I'll get an updated picture up but plant species include:

Amazon Sword
Water Wisteria
Java Fern
Crypts
Needle sword
Corkscrew vals (just added these today)
Red Caomba

I had some BBA issues and I believe my CO2 was not as evenly distributed as well as it should be and I think I had too much light with the two lights going. I clean the filter monthly (by rinsing the pads in tank water) and the filter has 2 x 100 ml purigen pouches, one is changed and regened bi-weekely.

I'm just looking for some guidance to see if I'm on the right track.

Adding some pics:

IMG_1413 by Ryan Stewart, on Flickr

IMG_1412 by Ryan Stewart, on Flickr

IMG_1414 by Ryan Stewart, on Flickr
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Last edited by Darkblade48; 09-08-2019 at 01:47 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-07-2019, 07:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rstewart8 View Post
Amazon Sword
Water Wisteria
Java Fern
Crypts
Needle sword
Corkscrew vals (just added these today)
Red Caomba
These are all low light plants. They need very, very little light, and very little in the way of ferts.

You are dosing at EI levels, and really no need to.

I'd lower light levels, lower dosing levels, keep up with water changes and filter cleanings, and enjoy slow but steady growth.
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-08-2019, 12:27 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Greggz View Post
These are all low light plants. They need very, very little light, and very little in the way of ferts.

You are dosing at EI levels, and really no need to.

I'd lower light levels, lower dosing levels, keep up with water changes and filter cleanings, and enjoy slow but steady growth.
Awesome.

Thanks for the help!

So is the Planted 3.0 too much light? should I shorten the length of the photo period that the light is on the higher level?

Ohh and I almost forgot. I tested my PO4 in my tap and it is much lower (very light blue on the scale), so the PO4 is coming form my dosing or over feeding, I will cut my feeding back to once every other day (I was feeding a small amount in the am and then again at night).

Last edited by Darkblade48; 09-08-2019 at 01:48 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-08-2019, 10:14 AM
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What is your substrate and what kind of traces are you dosing. You might not need any of those separate FE products your dosing.


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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-08-2019, 02:20 PM Thread Starter
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What is your substrate and what kind of traces are you dosing. You might not need any of those separate FE products your dosing.
Hey,

The substrate is Seachem flourite dark, trace product is CSM-B from "The Plant Guy"
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-08-2019, 02:47 PM
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Hey,

The substrate is Seachem flourite dark, trace product is CSM-B from "The Plant Guy"
Hi, with your setup and those plants I doubt you need anything more than the iron provided in the CSM+B.


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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-08-2019, 06:52 PM Thread Starter
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I took some pre-water change measurements and pictures today and came up with the following:

pH - 6.1
Temp 70 F
Ammonia - 0 ppm
Nitrite - 0 ppm
Nitrate - 20 ppm
Phosphate - > 5 ppm
GH - 13 drops (260 mg/l)
KH - 3 drops - 30 ppm
Calcium - 3 drops 60 ppm
Non-chelated Iron - 0 ppm
Chelated Iron - 1.0 ppm

Before I started the water change I think I spotted some pearling as well.

IMG_1415 by Ryan Stewart, on Flickr

IMG_1416 by Ryan Stewart, on Flickr

Did a 50% water change, cleaned the filter, vacuumed the gravel and pruned out a bunch of leaves that had algae on them.
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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-13-2019, 01:41 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the help with this everyone.

I noticed something interesting today. I decided to get my levels under control and into the proper levels for optimal plant growth. Before I did a 75% water change today. I took my Nitrate and Phosphate readings and noticed that the phosphate reading didn't change at all. It remained at dark blue <5 ppm on the scale. My nitrate levels decreased slightly from 20 to approximately 10 ppm.

I'm looking for some direction on what to do next. I was thinking of the following plan of action:

1. Cease dosing of the K2HPO4, and I'll cut the dosing of K2SO4 and KNO3 in half while monitoring the levels in the water daily.
2. Increase my weekly water change from 50% to 70% to try and get the phosphate levels into the appropriate range.
3. Weekly gravel vac and bi-weekly filter cleanings need to continue.
4. It has also been suggested to me that the lighting is too intense for my current plant stocking so I raised it up 3" and am cutting the intensity down to 50% and will adjust from there.
5. Gonna leave my CO2 as is with the approximately 1.1 drop.

A question, should I be looking at something like Phosguard in the filter to get the levels down quickly? and is there anything else that I should consider.

Thanks!
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-13-2019, 03:56 AM
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Saw some of your posts after I backed out and noticed that you are dosing "+/- tsp KH2P04 3x a week". That means that you are adding 15ppm PO4 every week, plus what the fish may be contributing. Am I missing something here?

If it were me, I'd suspend KH2PO4 dosing and do a 30% water change every day until PO4 read 2ppm. Then I'd measure PO4 every other day to see how it might change over a week and then add KH2PO4 if needed and, once I had control, would make my final PO4 target 1ppm as a function of a ~10:1 ratio of NO3:PO4. If you can't hold your nitrates to 10ppm, then raise the PO4 target to 10% of the minimum NO3 you can achieve.
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-13-2019, 07:05 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Deanna View Post
Saw some of your posts after I backed out and noticed that you are dosing "+/- tsp KH2P04 3x a week". That means that you are adding 15ppm PO4 every week, plus what the fish may be contributing. Am I missing something here?

If it were me, I'd suspend KH2PO4 dosing and do a 30% water change every day until PO4 read 2ppm. Then I'd measure PO4 every other day to see how it might change over a week and then add KH2PO4 if needed and, once I had control, would make my final PO4 target 1ppm as a function of a ~10:1 ratio of NO3:PO4. If you can't hold your nitrates to 10ppm, then raise the PO4 target to 10% of the minimum NO3 you can achieve.
You aren't wrong. I must have mis-written down the original instructions when I started doing the EI dosing awhile back. So I have been putting a ton of extra PO4 that wasn't necessary. I'm going to keep doing the daily water changes as suggested and monitor the PO4 and Nitrate to see when I am at. I am guessing that this coupled with too much light and CO2 that was inconsistent (I've got it dialed in now I think.....) and I had a tank that was completely out of balance.

I do have some phosguard laying around and a filter sock, would it be a bad thing to toss it into the filter to help soak up some of the PO4?
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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-13-2019, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by rstewart8 View Post
You aren't wrong. I must have mis-written down the original instructions when I started doing the EI dosing awhile back. So I have been putting a ton of extra PO4 that wasn't necessary. I'm going to keep doing the daily water changes as suggested and monitor the PO4 and Nitrate to see when I am at. I am guessing that this coupled with too much light and CO2 that was inconsistent (I've got it dialed in now I think.....) and I had a tank that was completely out of balance.

I do have some phosguard laying around and a filter sock, would it be a bad thing to toss it into the filter to help soak up some of the PO4?
You can use the Phosguard, if you want, but the water changes will bring it down just as well.

I think that you would find the calculators here: Rotala Butterfly | Planted Aquarium Calculators & Information, to be very useful, if you aren't already using them. Most of us use these type of calculators when determining how much to add/subtract.
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-13-2019, 08:35 PM
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Yep, use calculator there and do both EI and EI low light weekly dosing and figure that your proper dosing will be somewhere in between those 2 dosing rates for the lower demand plants you have. Id always start low end, give it couple weeks, testing and observing plants. Then go up a bit if needed and lather/rinse/repeat till you get results you want.

As @Deanna said 1st get your levels down where they should be before you start this process of observing and measuring uptake.
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