So why do we dose phosphates and nitrates if they help algea grow? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-17-2006, 07:06 PM Thread Starter
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So why do we dose phosphates and nitrates if they help algea grow?

I was reading in "10 tips to control algea" and it says to try and keep the phosphates/nitrates out of the tank as they increase algea growth

here is a few quotes:

"In nature, rain and water currents refresh water conditions by diluting and carrying away nitrate (a.k.a. algae fertilizer) before it can build up to excessive levels."

"Overfeeding is the most common source of the algal nutrients ammonia and phosphate. Algae thrive on both the nutrients generated from uneaten food and fish waste."

Let me get this straight... nitrate and phosphate are algae fertilizers yet we dose it? Is it only a problem when it is in excessive levels?

I just started dosing KNO3, K2PO4, and KSO4 and algea seems to be increasing... am I just doing it excessively? I've been doing my weekly 50% water changes using the EI method...


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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-17-2006, 07:09 PM
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we need to know your lighting and photoperiod as well as plant/fish load.
They do not promote algae if you have good plant load and nitrifying bacteria. I suggest you read a bit on Tom Barr's site on ferts. www.barrreport.com. You can also do some searches on this site. A good ratio of NO3 and PO4 must be maintained, as well as K+ <more than what you get from KNO3 and KH2PO4> and traces too.. It is all about balance. You have to strike that balance, and in doing so, have enough nutrient absorbing plants to keep the growth on the plants and not for alge. An "outcompete" situation of you will.....
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-17-2006, 07:19 PM
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That's a myth that has pretty well been disproven, but continues to stick around! The trick is to make sure your plants have enough of what they need, and then algae won't grow. If your plants are happy, algae won't be. Plants NEED nitrate and phosphate (and CO2 and micros, and potassium, etc. etc.). Keeping these at optimal levels for plants, especially CO2, will drastically reduce algae growth.

Tom Barr has shown multiple times that in a healthy thriving planted tank, an excess of nutrients can be introduced without triggering algae growth, showing that just because high levels have been found in dirty algae filled tanks, they are not the cause.

The 100% biggest cause of algae is a lack of CO2, especially in connection with too much light. Get the plants happy and you'll get rid of the algae (barring extreme circumstances with silver-coated coasters and whatnot - ask Scolley).


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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-17-2006, 07:25 PM
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Taking a look at your bowfront tank, it seems like you are injecting but you might not have the most efficient method of dissolving the nutrients. If you don't mind building stuff yourself, consider a CO2 reactor to better dissolve the gas. I'd recommend something like this:
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/di...2-reactor.html

Also, keep your tank topped off. Splashing from the HOB filters tends to outgas some of the precious CO2, which is why many people prefer canister filters for planted tanks.

Another cause for algae might be your inert substrate. I see you've already switched it out once, so I won't recommend doing it again, but there has got to be SOMETHING down there for the plant roots to eat. The fert tabs you ordered should help. If you ever start up a new tank, try something like flourite, ecocomplete, soilmaster, or ADA substrates. These work much better than plain gravel.


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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-17-2006, 07:26 PM Thread Starter
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thanks for the quick responses! it was more of a general question because it seemed like i was reading conflicting information... so excess nutrients is not what causes algea? just being out of alignment in the amounts and not enough co2 is what usually causes it?

fresh newby: the information is all in my journal in my signature


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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-17-2006, 07:29 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JenThePlantGeek View Post
Taking a look at your bowfront tank, it seems like you are injecting but you might not have the most efficient method of dissolving the nutrients. If you don't mind building stuff yourself, consider a CO2 reactor to better dissolve the gas. I'd recommend something like this:
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/di...2-reactor.html

Also, keep your tank topped off. Splashing from the HOB filters tends to outgas some of the precious CO2, which is why many people prefer canister filters for planted tanks.

Another cause for algae might be your inert substrate. I see you've already switched it out once, so I won't recommend doing it again, but there has got to be SOMETHING down there for the plant roots to eat. The fert tabs you ordered should help. If you ever start up a new tank, try something like flourite, ecocomplete, soilmaster, or ADA substrates. These work much better than plain gravel.
i ordered a new bulb 6700k/10000k 65w (to replace my 50/50), flourish plant tabs, and a hagen bubble ladder/counter to run my co2 into (instead of the airstone), I have been trying to keep my water level topped off and turning the HOB filter down to minimum to stop any large surface waves, i was thinking of getting some onyx sand to try and mix with what i have in there now to get some more nutrients into the substrate would this help? or mess things up?


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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-17-2006, 07:30 PM
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I'm assuming you use DIY CO2? I didn't see a canister in the pictures. I also didn't see the airline, so I assume that it is just running along the bottom and situated so that the bubbles rise up under the filter intake?

If you can do something like this, to prevent yeasty yucky overflow into your tank:


... then you'd be able to run that CO2 line directly into your filter intake without worrying about a mess. I've actually cut the strainer just enough to wedge the airline in there, or alternatively zip ties or a sponge with a hole over the intake would work. This would improve your dissolved CO2 without you having to build a reactor.

Hope that helps.


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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-17-2006, 07:32 PM
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Where were you reading the--"10 tips to control algea"--? It sounds like a "Nature" or "Fish-Only" perspective........


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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-17-2006, 07:33 PM
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Quote:
so excess nutrients is not what causes algea? just being out of alignment in the amounts and not enough co2 is what usually causes it?
Exactly. The only exception to this rule is ammonia. It WILL cause algae. And sometimes, LACK of a certain nutrient causes algae. Zero nitrates is a common cause for blue green algae (also known as cyanobacteria).

Here's something that might be helpful:



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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-17-2006, 07:37 PM
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Quote:
i ordered a new bulb 6700k/10000k 65w (to replace my 50/50), flourish plant tabs, and a hagen bubble ladder/counter to run my co2 into (instead of the airstone), I have been trying to keep my water level topped off and turning the HOB filter down to minimum to stop any large surface waves, i was thinking of getting some onyx sand to try and mix with what i have in there now to get some more nutrients into the substrate would this help? or mess things up?
Definately sounds like you're on the right track! I'd avoid the onyx sand though, unless you're going to add something else in with it. By itself it is completely inert and doesn't add any nutrients for the plants. If, however, you put a layer of laterite, a dusting of peat, or something to that effect underneath it then it would work... but I would also avoid this method as those tend to cause a big nasty mess when you pull up roots. The best solution for a good substrate is to get an all-in-one. My favorite right now is the Soilmaster Pro Select Charcoal, which is available from Lesco stores (their website is helpful in finding locations). Soilmaster is a product sold for baseball diamonds and grows plants VERY well. It also has the dark color that you seem to like since you wanted the onyx sand. The best thing about Soilmaster is the price. Locally I can find it for $11-$17 for a 50 lb bag - now THAT is a bargain considering ecoComplete and others generally go for $30 for a 20 lb bag!


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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-17-2006, 07:42 PM
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As far as the substrate goes though, again I don't mean you should switch it out. That was just for future reference when you set up another one (you will... everyone around here has MTS, multiple tank syndrome). For now, see if those root tabs perk up your plants. No need to fix something that isn't broken just yet - root tabs may be just what you needed!

Another thing you're going to want is MORE plants! What do you have in mind for this scape? Is there a particular plant you've been looking for? I have a ton of fast-growing stems that will definately help in outcompeting some of that algae. If you're interested, PM me your shipping address and I'll send them along for cost of shipping (~$4.05).


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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-17-2006, 07:48 PM
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Well, it started back around the 1960's and 1970's in Limnology sicences, then got transferred over to this hobby.

The problem was that Phillips et al 1978 suggested that plants will slowly be replaced by algae when there is a high PO4.
This was a suggestion/based on correlation, not a causual relationship.

But.........Phillips did not do a fair comparison in the correlation with lakes with plants vs algae etc.

They measured the algae in their water smaples, but not the macrophtyes/plants.

Algae have high concentrations of PO4 in them, more than the water.

So do plants.

But they did not add the plant fraction when they made the comparison.
so it skewed the data to suggest that algae likes and does better at higher PO4 in lakes.

when the plant PO4 fraction was later added to the data, there was no relationship in their study

310 citations by subsequent researchers later...........the myht has be engrained into science. Whittling myths out of science is tough, as tough as the hobby.

Well another question is....what type of lakes?
Warm shallow well plants lakes or the type that feeeze yearly and are deep in the middle and cold?

I've shown numerous good research papers that show that if you have lots of weeds ina lake, and add more nutrients, NO3/PO4 etc, you'll get what?
More weeds!!!

Most aquatic plants are weeds and limited by a few things: nutrients/light/being blasted washed out flooded so deep no light makes it/desiccation/water levels changes/CO2.

So we have stable water levels in our tank, CO2, light, nutrients, so they grow well and no algae.

When you louse up say CO2...then you get algae, when you neglect the plant nutrients: you get algae and so on.........

Those folks in the hobby from the past where just going off the best info they had at the time back then.

I figured this out before I found any research for support and why and who started it.

I knew adding PO4 did not cause algae.
I added it and had only intense plant growth.

So why would adding progressively more and more fish cause algae though?
NH4.

We do not dose that(well, very very very few might consider it), because even low levels are bad for fish and it's very good to induce algae, whereas NO3 from KNO3, does not.

Most miss the NH4 and by the time they measure the NH4, it's already converted into NO3.

With active fast growing pklants and high O2 from their growth, there's no NH4 detected in a well run plant tank, why? They remove the NH4 directly as do the well fed bacteria who have lots of O2 to respire the oxidize the NH4 into NO3, which leaves none of that NH4 for the algae spores to bloom.

CO2 variation causes lots of variation for NH4 uptake, O2 levels and plant growth algae, so it's the more critical parameter in our tanks.

Many blamed PO4/NO3 rather than their CO2 levels for issues with alage.

Regards,
Tom Barr




Regards,
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-17-2006, 08:02 PM
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Thanks Tom! I just knew you'd jump in on this one... Tom has a valiant mission to rid this hobby of yucky myths like this with his blazing EI sword of doom


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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-17-2006, 08:36 PM Thread Starter
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thanks for the awesome replies, it looks like my problem is co2 then, i've heard good things about the hagen bubble ladder (even rex grigg likes it) so I hope this will help me get more co2 desolved in the tank, it will be here tomorrow (i'm going to get rid of some of the tubing too just in case there are any small leaks, i don't think there are though)

i found the article here

Aquarium Algae Control: Top 10 Algae-Busting Tips


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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-17-2006, 08:59 PM
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part of your problem was those 50/50 bulbs, they're really for saltwater tanks. The half of the bulb with actinic does nothing for freshwater plants so it's like they're only getting half the wattage. Once you get the replacement bulbs in, you'll notice your plants perk up and start growing like gangbusters. In the meantime, try to manually remove as much algae as possible so the plants don't get overwhelmed.
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