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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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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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.."
 

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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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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
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!!!:thumbsup:
thanks
 

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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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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?
 

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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.....:angel::angel:)
 

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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?
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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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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Sorry, Steve. I misspoke with your example. I thought you had a basically planted tank.
No apology required, I was merely clarifying my setup.

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. :icon_roll
 

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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.
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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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
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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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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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!:biggrin:
 

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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?
Because there are such things as indirect effects.
Not everything is a simple add this= this effect.

If you had poor CO2, limiting PO4 reduces the CO2 demand of the plants(not algae), so you end up with with stronger PO4 limitation than CO2 limitation.
PMDD folks believed it was PO4 limitation that was the key to algae. clearly, it was not the case, but indirect effects led many to think so.

If you tested things the right way and the careful way, you'd see that CO2, not limiting PO4, was the issue in the experimental design.

Going back and making sure CO2 was good, now we can add both high or lower PO4 and have the same outcome without algae. If fact, lower PO4 will lead to more algae over time where CO2 is non limiting.

Also, the limitations are not these simple on/off toggle switches, they are continuous and go from strong to moderate to mild to non limiting etc.

This applies to light, to CO2 certainly.


You can use concentration in the water on the lower X axis also and O2 gas evolution on the Y axis if you so chose, the shape and response is the same.

Have you spent much time testing and measuring light?
If you want to manage CO2 better, and cannot control it effectively, reduction in lighting is a better approach, you will get less algae and if you seek to also use limiting PO4, this method will work even better:proud:

Less light= less PO4 demand and less CO2 demand.
Also, good CO2 use is the bane of many planted hobbyist.


So careful, patient, adjustments, observations, good flow and routine cleaning of the filters, current adjustment, light is wise to master CO2.
Many aquarist are not patient. They rush, gas their fish, do not wait, expect immediate results, add too much excess light.

Twain said:
"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."

So confirm if the PO4 test is accurate before running off messing with managing the PO4 with removers, water changes and dosing adjustments.

CO2 is much harder to manage than any nutrient. Light is the most stable, and correlation does not imply cause, nor are causes a factor of a (one or many) direct relationship/s. so many frustrated with their own issues with poor CO2, stumble on PO4 limitation to better stabilize CO2 indirectly.

But then you live with GSA and waste a good amount of the light energy to get the same rates of growth, and if you dose any PO4, then issues come about.

There's a trade off certainly.

But if it's about better in control of all things, then CO2 is the one to really master along with light, nutrients are much easier thereafter and you have less dependencies and can see what is really occurring.

You cannot test anything if you have other dependent variables going on you assume are not present.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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Let me see if I can wrap my head around this. Between mistergreen's comments to me about lowering lighting, and Hoppy and Tom's conversation here, I think I am understanding it a bit.

There are three main components needed for a successfully planted tank: Co2, Nutrients and Lighting. These three components are each dependant on one other. Raise one, you should raise the other two to compensate.

So the Estimative Index (or any type of fertilization) is virtually a piece of the puzzle. It is our job to raise/lower the lighting and raise/lower the co2 to make the puzzle complete.

Kind of like this:


So really, limiting one particular nutrient could in reality, change the growth pattern. The problem is when I lower too much of one nutrient, I may be blocking the ability of other nutrients to do their job. Not having a great background in science, I may screw things up or get lucky. But I cannot really understand why unless I study how each nutrient is related to one another.

But it is MUCH easier to understand the relationship of nutrients to lighting to co2. So as a hobbyist I decide to stay with the EI method. I know the nutrients are being provided, I just need to tweak the lighting and co2 to meet the nutrients.

Say I dose EI and have 30 ppm of co2. At this rate; my fish are fine, but if I raise it even a bit more, my fish gasp for air and some of the more sensitive species die. But I am still getting algae. I know I can't raise the Co2 for the sake of the fish, and the nutrient level is taken care of, so I simply need to lower the lighting levels.

Therefore, I decide to raise my lights one inch. In a few weeks, the algae is less but there still is some. I decide to raise my lights one more inch. And observe. I continue to raise the lighting and observe in a few weeks. Finally, my algae is gone, the plants are growing with know signs of deficiencies and the fish are not gasping/dying on co2.

It really doesn't matter if I choose EI, PPS, PMDD, Pfertz or SeaChem fertilizers. What really matters is getting the ratio of Nutrients to Lighting to Co2 correct.

Am I finally getting it? :icon_eek:
 

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...So the Estimative Index (or any type of fertilization) is virtually a piece of the puzzle. It is our job to raise/lower the lighting and raise/lower the co2 to make the puzzle complete....
It really doesn't matter if I choose EI, PPS, PMDD, Pfertz or SeaChem fertilizers. What really matters is getting the ratio of Nutrients to Lighting to Co2 correct.:
That is what has finally settled into my brain and since that point I've had the best tank in my planted years.
 

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..... What really matters is getting the ratio of Nutrients to Lighting to Co2 correct.

Am I finally getting it? :icon_eek:
I don't think that is quite correct. The ratio of nutrients to lighting isn't important for avoiding algae. Nor is the ratio of nutrients to CO2. What is important is having good CO2 in concentration in the water, in circulation all over the tank, and with good O2 available also, and this is more and more important as the amount of light is increased. As the light is increased it becomes more important to be sure none of the nutrients is limiting the plant growth, because some plants are more competitive for nutrients than others, and the less competitive ones may be starved if the nutrients are too low. Plants in bad health attract algae.

If the light is low intensity, having near maximum CO2 does not lead to algae, but instead, leads to faster plant growth. Having more nutrients than necessary does nothing to increase algae problems, but eventually will be at a toxic level for the fish if you don't "reset" the levels by doing big water changes periodically.

Having more light than is needed for whatever your goal is, and more than you are willing or able to do the ever more important routine tank maintenance, will lead to increased algae problems. It is the only one of those variables which, in excess, will lead to algae problems.

At least I think those statements are all correct.
 

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When I think of the right ratio of ferts to CO2 and light, unlimited nutrients is what comes to mind. I don't think all of the old ratio's we've read about are important, it's just having enough of what the plants need and I do agree that adequate, well distributed CO2 is the most key.
 
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