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post #1 of 31 (permalink) Old 12-17-2009, 01:05 AM Thread Starter
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high phosphate levels

i do not currently dose phosphate but have just used an API phosphate test and got a reading between 5 and 10 ppm. my tap water is at 0.25ppm.
do water change 50% on sundays.

i do not over feed an have not recently fed the fish

what are other causes of high phosphate ?
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post #2 of 31 (permalink) Old 12-17-2009, 03:32 AM
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Phosphate sources include:

* uneaten food
* plant decay
* dying algae
* fish feces
* dead fish
* carbon filter media
* aquarium salts
* pH buffers
* kH buffers

and the water supply itself.


I had the same problem when our city water supply changed. Tap water was .78ppm (as it leaves the plant, I called and asked). I had a beautiful algae farm (when you could see through the glass).

I got tired of trying to figure out where it was coming from and fighting it.

Bought a Phosban reactor and media. Been running it for 3 weeks now. Levels are down to .25 and algae is no longer a problem.

One of my better investments. Wifeeee even approved.... "Geee, you can see the fish now.."

Steve

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post #3 of 31 (permalink) Old 12-17-2009, 03:46 AM
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The primary source of high phosphate readings is the test kit not being accurate. That is one kit that absolutely has to be calibrated before you can trust the readings at all. But, even if the reading happened to be accurate it isn't a problem, since phosphate doesn't cause algae problems in a planted tank. Instead, it helps to avoid algae problems.

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post #4 of 31 (permalink) Old 12-17-2009, 03:52 AM Thread Starter
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The primary source of high phosphate readings is the test kit not being accurate. That is one kit that absolutely has to be calibrated before you can trust the readings at all. But, even if the reading happened to be accurate it isn't a problem, since phosphate doesn't cause algae problems in a planted tank. Instead, it helps to avoid algae problems.
thank the maker (aka you) for your posting of how to calibrate tests!!!
thanks
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post #5 of 31 (permalink) Old 12-17-2009, 03:13 PM
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If you indeed have high phosphate levels, I would just make sure you are supplying enough KNO3 and micros to balance it out and call it a day. I tend to be lean in phosphates and GSA will remind me to add more. I used Aquatic Soil (Fullers earth) from Home Depot a few years back and it would register 6 ppm of Phosphate so, I had to be religious in adding the other ferts or string algae city. I wouldn't use anything to remove phosphate, it's much easier to add the other stuff. Its a balancing act.

By the way, other than PH, I don't use test kits anymore because they lie!!!
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post #6 of 31 (permalink) Old 12-17-2009, 04:49 PM
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Hoppy,

This is where I get confused. I can buy that a nutrient doesn't cause algae. However, in smp's case, after he reduced the phosphates in his water, the algae went away. Why is this?

Also, when I tried to add phosphates in my tank, algae increased. Currently, I am using a combined method of Chuck Gaad's calculator for and a phosphorus test to determine the amount of N&K to add. Between the amount of fish food and water supply, I feel I have more than enough phosphorus and do not add it at this point.

As a result, the algae is disappearing. In addition, the plants are growing nicely. So why does the addition of phosphorus seem to coincide with algae growth in many instances?

Without Algae, death of mankind would be inevitable.

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post #7 of 31 (permalink) Old 12-17-2009, 08:11 PM
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Hoppy,

This is where I get confused. I can buy that a nutrient doesn't cause algae. However, in smp's case, after he reduced the phosphates in his water, the algae went away. Why is this?

I did not have a FULLY planted aquarium at the time.

My tank is now fully planted, I've started EI Dosing (using Seachem Liquids until my dry ferts get here). (I got them for $0.00 from my LFS.... I needed to get rid of some unruly occupants in the tank, so we traded.)

C02 will be up and running tomorrow night.

I've turned the phosphate reactor off but I plan to keep a watch on the levels. If they get too high again, I'll turn it back on.

I'm starting to learn something very very quickly...... It's all a juggling/balancing act and no 2 tanks are the same.

There are basics (which the wonderful people here have pointed out and helped me with) but it takes some trial/error/experimenting to see what works best for a given tank.

I'm a woodworker and I know that not all woods finish the same, but I've learn to deal and work with that unchanging fact.

Same is true in our tanks, we learn to work WITH them, not against.

(Isn't this fun.....)

Steve

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post #8 of 31 (permalink) Old 12-17-2009, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by sewingalot View Post
Hoppy,

This is where I get confused. I can buy that a nutrient doesn't cause algae. However, in smp's case, after he reduced the phosphates in his water, the algae went away. Why is this?

Also, when I tried to add phosphates in my tank, algae increased. Currently, I am using a combined method of Chuck Gaad's calculator for and a phosphorus test to determine the amount of N&K to add. Between the amount of fish food and water supply, I feel I have more than enough phosphorus and do not add it at this point.

As a result, the algae is disappearing. In addition, the plants are growing nicely. So why does the addition of phosphorus seem to coincide with algae growth in many instances?
It is always very difficult for one of us non experts to determine what causes an algae problem. I suspect it is no picnic for experts either. One problem we all run into is that we change something, and something bad or good happens, so we make what seems to be the logical conclusion that what we changed was what caused that effect. The experts tell us that that isn't necessarily true. One reason it may not be true is the difficulty of actually keeping everything else the same and changing only one thing at a time.

The experts determine their results by doing repeated tests, using a "control", an identical tank, with an identical setup, but without making the change in that tank. Then they compare what happens in the two tanks. After many repetitions of this, often with varying starting conditions, if they get the same result every time, more algae, for example, only then do they conclude that the one thing they changed is what caused that result. Even then, they realize that their conclusion is highly tentative until many others duplicate their testing, and get the same result.

I don't know why algae became worse when someone dosed more phosphate. I do know that several experts have determined that adding even 10X more phosphate to an otherwise well maintained planted tank does not cause algae. Those same folks also determined that the ratio or balance of phosphate with other nutrients, CO2 and light, is not a requirement for avoiding algae.

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post #9 of 31 (permalink) Old 12-17-2009, 11:33 PM
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Sorry, Steve. I misspoke with your example. I thought you had a basically planted tank. So, our tanks are not that similar, except less phosphates did reduce algae. But putting plants into the equation changes things as well.

Hoppy -

Why does it have to be so difficult for a non expert to learn what causes an algae problem in our tank? I understand the scientific method should be considered and a control tank should be established. Also, others should be able to repeat the experiment and get the same results each time for a theory to become more factual.

So what if I don't have two tanks, but I go for a certain period of time with a certain amount of plants and dose x number of nutrients? I then record the results in one month and see that I have GSA. In addition, the plants look great.

Therefore, I decide to keep everything consistent, but decide to decrease the amount of nitrates by 1 gram weekly. After a month, I record the results. Let's just say this tank's GSA disappears and the plants look great.

Can't I logically say my tank doesn't like the first amount of nitrates, but the second amount is just right? My way of thinking is there are more than one solution to a problem, not that there is a definite right or definite wrong.

I hope this is not off topic to the OP's original question, if it is I am sorry and I'll take the conversation to a new thread. Just let me know, HungrySpleen.

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post #10 of 31 (permalink) Old 12-18-2009, 12:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sewingalot View Post
Sorry, Steve. I misspoke with your example. I thought you had a basically planted tank.
No apology required, I was merely clarifying my setup.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sewingalot View Post

Why does it have to be so difficult for a non expert to learn what causes an algae problem in our tank?
Probably because even the "experts" don't understand it.

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post #11 of 31 (permalink) Old 12-18-2009, 02:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sewingalot View Post
Sorry, Steve. I misspoke with your example. I thought you had a basically planted tank. So, our tanks are not that similar, except less phosphates did reduce algae. But putting plants into the equation changes things as well.

Hoppy -

Why does it have to be so difficult for a non expert to learn what causes an algae problem in our tank? I understand the scientific method should be considered and a control tank should be established. Also, others should be able to repeat the experiment and get the same results each time for a theory to become more factual.

So what if I don't have two tanks, but I go for a certain period of time with a certain amount of plants and dose x number of nutrients? I then record the results in one month and see that I have GSA. In addition, the plants look great.

Therefore, I decide to keep everything consistent, but decide to decrease the amount of nitrates by 1 gram weekly. After a month, I record the results. Let's just say this tank's GSA disappears and the plants look great.

Can't I logically say my tank doesn't like the first amount of nitrates, but the second amount is just right? My way of thinking is there are more than one solution to a problem, not that there is a definite right or definite wrong.

I hope this is not off topic to the OP's original question, if it is I am sorry and I'll take the conversation to a new thread. Just let me know, HungrySpleen.
This is what comes to my mind. Im assuming your going with a EI method since you said you reduced by 1 gram. EI is estimative. Even though there are recommended amounts to add per X gallon amount tank(thats just the starting reference point), those numbers are to be juggled with for your particular tank. As a 20 gallon with 7 plants will need less than a full blown planted 20 gallon, even though you would follow the same recommended starting point. Then adjust accordingly. So it very well could be that the 1 gram less is what your tank needs at that particular phase of it's life. If your algea dissappeared and your plants still look healthy then keep doing what your doing. Saves you a gram of ferts to.

Although I will say that I started added more phosphate to my tank to rid of the green dust algae that would grow on a few leaves and on the tank glass. It did work. I tested my phosphate with a seachem test that only read to 3.0. Well I maxed that scale before I even started adding more phosphate. So who knows what my phosphate levels are. I have read before that you want your phosphate around the 1.0 range......I don't think that "idea" should be aimed for personally. That is my experience with phosphate so far.


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post #12 of 31 (permalink) Old 12-18-2009, 03:48 AM Thread Starter
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Sorry, Steve. I misspoke with your example. I thought you had a basically planted tank. So, our tanks are not that similar, except less phosphates did reduce algae. But putting plants into the equation changes things as well.

Hoppy -

Why does it have to be so difficult for a non expert to learn what causes an algae problem in our tank? I understand the scientific method should be considered and a control tank should be established. Also, others should be able to repeat the experiment and get the same results each time for a theory to become more factual.

So what if I don't have two tanks, but I go for a certain period of time with a certain amount of plants and dose x number of nutrients? I then record the results in one month and see that I have GSA. In addition, the plants look great.

Therefore, I decide to keep everything consistent, but decide to decrease the amount of nitrates by 1 gram weekly. After a month, I record the results. Let's just say this tank's GSA disappears and the plants look great.

Can't I logically say my tank doesn't like the first amount of nitrates, but the second amount is just right? My way of thinking is there are more than one solution to a problem, not that there is a definite right or definite wrong.

I hope this is not off topic to the OP's original question, if it is I am sorry and I'll take the conversation to a new thread. Just let me know, HungrySpleen.
im learnin here so every question , statement, and answer is good to me
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post #13 of 31 (permalink) Old 12-18-2009, 04:02 AM
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im learnin here so every question , statement, and answer is good to me
Every day you learn something is a GOOD day.

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post #14 of 31 (permalink) Old 12-18-2009, 04:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HungrySpleen View Post
i do not currently dose phosphate but have just used an API phosphate test and got a reading between 5 and 10 ppm. my tap water is at 0.25ppm.
do water change 50% on sundays.

i do not over feed an have not recently fed the fish

what are other causes of high phosphate ?
Are you using any water buffer? Neutral regulator? (I did it myself! Neutral regulator sky rocket phosphate level in my aquariwm)
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post #15 of 31 (permalink) Old 12-18-2009, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by sewingalot View Post

Hoppy -

Why does it have to be so difficult for a non expert to learn what causes an algae problem in our tank? I understand the scientific method should be considered and a control tank should be established. Also, others should be able to repeat the experiment and get the same results each time for a theory to become more factual.

So what if I don't have two tanks, but I go for a certain period of time with a certain amount of plants and dose x number of nutrients? I then record the results in one month and see that I have GSA. In addition, the plants look great.

Therefore, I decide to keep everything consistent, but decide to decrease the amount of nitrates by 1 gram weekly. After a month, I record the results. Let's just say this tank's GSA disappears and the plants look great.

Can't I logically say my tank doesn't like the first amount of nitrates, but the second amount is just right? My way of thinking is there are more than one solution to a problem, not that there is a definite right or definite wrong.

I hope this is not off topic to the OP's original question, if it is I am sorry and I'll take the conversation to a new thread. Just let me know, HungrySpleen.
Obviously when you make a change and your aquarium looks better, grows plants better, etc. you would want to continue doing whatever you did. The only problem is when you try to determine exactly why it did better. I think algae problems are complex and still not well understood. I'm sure that it is agreed that high light encourages algae to bloom and persist. And, I'm pretty sure that it is agreed that unstable conditions in the tank, especially when CO2 injection is involved, encourages algae to bloom and persist. Beyond that it appears to me that there is still a lot to learn.

Tom Barr has always said that before you can do meaningful research with algae you first have to be able to grow the particular algae you are interested in and do it or not do it by choice. Then you have to be able to keep a tank or tanks algae free whenever you want to. Only then, when you are in charge of whether or not you grow a particular algae, can you experiment with that algae and trust your results. My opinion is that for most types of algae we run into that can be done by many people, but I often doubt that BBA is that well understood yet. And, I am definitely not one of the many people who can grow or not grow any algae by choice!

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