Nitrate:Phosphate ratio? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-01-2014, 12:54 AM Thread Starter
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Nitrate:Phosphate ratio?

I have a planted community aquarium and use all Seachem Products, Macro and Micro. A while back I stopped dosing phosphorus due to the phosphate level being above my goal range of .15-1.0 always at 2.5. I reckoned that this was due to the by-products of the fish food contributing phosphate. Since I stopped dosing the phosphorus my phosphate levels have been fairly steady from .25 - 1.0 Somewhere I got the information that there is an ideal ratio of nitrate to phosphate ratio of 5:1. Typically my nitrate runs at about 5. My aquarium is a 46G bowfront with a sump type filter that holds +/- 10gal so I figure less gravel, rocks and decor I have a net of 45gal water. I am dosing 8mL of nitrogen four times over a two week cycle. How critical is that ratio and does it have a direct affect on algae growth?
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-01-2014, 01:34 AM
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Ratios are only guidelines, don't take them literally. There is some science behind them, but it's too complex to boil down to one universal ratio. Many folks find that a particular tank works best at something substantially different than typical ratios. It's fine to start with a ratio, but in the end, let your plants and algae be your guide instead.

Excessive GSA accumulation when light isn't excessive may be a sign P is too low. So is stalled plant growth. I had one odd case where Ludwigia repens stopped growing completely for three months, while all other plants were fine. Phosphate levels appeared to be more than sufficient, but finally I tried increasing P anyway, and the Ludwigia immediately started growing.

Excess phosphates alone don't cause algae unless they're out of proportion to a massive degree. But they can sometimes make other problems worse. And in that case, limiting phosphates can reduce algae by reducing their food supply (which also reduces plant growth), but the phosphate is not what's making the algae want to grow in the first place. Look for another problem and you will certainly find it.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-01-2014, 03:13 AM
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I need to keep my phosphate level at least 5ppm to fight out GSA. My NO3 is about 15+ppm. I always try to keep it under 10ppm but not lower than 5ppm. Of course, I have a high tech tank with medium to high light.


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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-01-2014, 03:27 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tetra73 View Post
I have a high tech tank with medium to high light.
Not sure if I am high tech with medium or high light could use a little help on distinguishing.
Pretty heavily planted with mostly swords a cabomba and a pennywort. I feel that I have a heavy fish load but is okay with the extra filtration and water capacity of the sump.
Here are the current specs.
Aquarium-
46 gallon bow front
Net 45 gallons water (includes sump)
Natural gravel, rocks and Ironwood

Filtration-
Pro-flex Model 1 wet/dry sump filter with bio-media pack and seasoned EHEIM Substrat pro bio filter media.
Mag Drive supreme 950 gph pump on custom suction stand/header to keep pump above water level.
CPR CS-100 siphon overflow

Lighting-
Fixture +/- 20” from substrate
Glass hinged top on tank
Plastic lens on fixture
Fixture on factory stands
Chrome reflector
Coralife Lunar Aqualights Compact Fluorescent Strip Lights
Two 4-watt Lunar Blue-Moon-Glow LED lamps
Two SunPaq Dual Daylight 6,700*K/10,000*K 96W lamps
Coralife Aqualight Power Center Timer
Schedule-
8am – 8pm single light
12pm – 4pm both lights
8pm – 8am LEDs only

Fertilizer products-
Seachem
Excel 18mL /wk
Iron 55mL /2wks
Phosphorus not dosing anymore
Nitrogen 32mL /2wks
Trace 18mL /wk
Potassium 24mL /2wks
Prime with water change

CO2/pH control-
Set point maintained 6.8-7.0 pH
AquaticLife P/N 9000005 pH Controller
Milwaukee MA957 CO2 Regulator w/solenoid
10# CO2 cylinder

Water parameters (last test)
Temp 76* F
Phosphate 0.25 mg/l
Calcium don’t test anymore
Nitrate 10 ppm
Ammonia 0.6 ppm
pH 7.04
K hardness 40 ppm
G hardness 20 ppm
Nitrite 0.1 ppm
Free Iron 0.0 mg/l
Chelated Iron 0.0 mg/l

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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-01-2014, 03:31 PM Thread Starter
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How does a higher Phosphate level choke out the GSA?

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-01-2014, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by ccar2000 View Post
How does a higher Phosphate level choke out the GSA?
I think we would have to know exactly why algae, including GSA, grow in our tanks before we could know how extra phosphate reduces its prevalence in the tank. What we do know is that it does inhibit GSA, but why it does is largely going to just be conjecture. Similarly, I think we know that extra nitrates tend to inhibit BGA, and extra CO2 tends to inhibit BBA.

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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-01-2014, 03:50 PM
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I like to use the ratio of "more than I need : more than I need".

This way you always have enough.


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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-01-2014, 03:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ccar2000 View Post
How does a higher Phosphate level choke out the GSA?
To be perfectly honest, algae appear to need the exact same raw materials to grow that plants need - light, carbon, macros/micros. And though there are many hypothesis on it, nobody truly understands how it's possible to selectively grow plants without growing algae, especially when nutrients are rich. Yet it works. Once someone finally and definitively figures why, the whole hobby is going to change.

Until then, we merely poke at the tank with this or that parameter and see what happens. And when something works, that information is spread and repeated. Though increasing phosphate typically decreases GSA, I can't actually tell you why.

Afraid I'm not familiar enough with your type of lighting to venture an estimate, either. Hopefully one of the light experts will chime in, if not try reposting tank specs in the Lighting forum and that will get their attention.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-01-2014, 05:56 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks all

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