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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Even after these decades I know zip about plenums and his other ideas on that. BUT! What I agree with here 100% is that phosphates are our enemy. I say big water changes and constant filter cleaning will do it...but all my life when I read of natural waterways destroyed? Its phosphates...runoff from farms and factories. All others are secondary pollutants..metals,nitrates..or exotic things. Yet,numero uno is always phosphates.
 

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I’ve watched a bunch of different videos by this author and have struggled to agree with most, if not all, of his conclusions. I suspect that it is due to a limited sampling that is being studied and, by coincidence, the tanks(s) used just happen to respond well to the conclusions. It’s called curve fitting. He seems to have magic solutions (P is a trace element??!!) that contradict, at least, what my understanding and anecdotal experience allows.

If his conclusions were correct, would I have major BBA problems if my PO4 levels were persistently in the 5ppm area? I keep my PO4 levels in this area, far above his recommendation, yet I have no BBA. So, I think it is more complex than just saying low PO4 = low BBA. In a planted tank, there are probably other variables, e.g.; ratios to NO3, pH, etc, that are involved. In a non-planted or saltwater tank, then I agree that PO4 is a significant algae inducer.
 

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Man, I have to say, this doesn't track with my observations at all.

According to this, I should have all sorts of algae problems with significant phosphate dosing. As a newer hobbyist, it's really frustrating because there are so many loud voices with diametrically opposed positions on phosphates in the planted tank.

My read of the situation has been that the recommendation to eliminate phosphates in freshwater planted aquariums is either outdated thinking or misapplied thinking from saltwater tanks. I have chosen to listen to the voices that say to focus on plant health - including phosphate dosing - and that has worked out for me.
 

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Phosphates causing algae is an old wives tale and very outdated thinking. In my opinion, anyone promoting that theory is not someone I would be listening to.

In fact, exactly the opposite is true. You can easily induce algae by dosing too little PO4. Weak unhappy plants are the exactly what algae loves.

Amazing to me that someone is actually saying this, and the video is actually kind of funny. BBA has lots of causes, but having too much PO4 is not one of them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Phosphates cause algae blooms is no doubt. If your aquarium is thriving with high levels..congrats since the plants must be in good enough shape to handle them in EXCESS. Now,Novak might be saying that minor amounts cause big problems..I don't know about that. I haven't the chemistry set to tell you and you could post on his channel. But when algae does go wild you probably have high phosphates.
Back to my other post to lower that!..change water,etc,..ha.
 

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Phosphates cause algae blooms is no doubt. If your aquarium is thriving with high levels..congrats since the plants must be in good enough shape to handle them in EXCESS. Now,Novak might be saying that minor amounts cause big problems..I don't know about that. I haven't the chemistry set to tell you and you could post on his channel. But when algae does go wild you probably have high phosphates.
Back to my other post to lower that!..change water,etc,..ha.
I will have to respectfully disagree.

This has been disproven over and over again by some of the most successful people in the hobby. Old myths die hard, and folks love repeating what they have read, instead of relying on practical experience.
 

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Personal observations, for me, in plants tanks ratio imbalances have had way more impact on bba and other algae than solely high phosphates.

In non planted tanks target levels for most all of our ferts should be 0, ergo any amount of phosphates is a no no. Best way to get rid of it, definitely agree, is water changes.

Full disclosure- couldn't watch the video, my reception is not working well enough.
 

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I'm going to suggest a possible reason that this particular old wives' tale has some merit, but it is not applicable to dosed PO4. PO4 is the orthophosphate (inorganic phosphate) that plants use. If we don't dose PO4, the vast majority of the phosphate in our tanks is organic phosphate from the waste stream, and this cannot be measured by our phosphate test kits. As the name indicates, this is an organic.

So, if we have a high PO4 reading, and it is not the result of intentional PO4 dosing, this means that there is a very high level of unmeasurable organic phosphate and, therefore, general organics (waste) in our tanks and we do know that high organics cause algae to proliferate. It may be that, without realizing it, what used to be perceived as the enemy (a high PO4 reading), was actually just a proxy for the total organics, which is the true enemy.

If true, this lets everyone off the hook, but does point to the need to separate dosed PO4 from waste-sourced PO4. In any case, it still makes no sense to remove PO4 from our tanks but, as a proxy, will show that we need to remove/prevent the organics (waste) package.
 

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I'm going to suggest a possible reason that this particular old wives' tale has some merit, but it is not applicable to dosed PO4. PO4 is the orthophosphate (inorganic phosphate) that plants use. If we don't dose PO4, the vast majority of the phosphate in our tanks is organic phosphate from the waste stream, and this cannot be measured by our phosphate test kits. As the name indicates, this is an organic.

So, if we have a high PO4 reading, and it is not the result of intentional PO4 dosing, this means that there is a very high level of unmeasurable organic phosphate and, therefore, general organics (waste) in our tanks and we do know that high organics cause algae to proliferate. It may be that, without realizing it, what used to be perceived as the enemy (a high PO4 reading), was actually just a proxy for the total organics, which is the true enemy.

If true, this lets everyone off the hook, but does point to the need to separate dosed PO4 from waste-sourced PO4. In any case, it still makes no sense to remove PO4 from our tanks but, as a proxy, will show that we need to remove/prevent the organics (waste) package.
This is a good point.

IMO, there is a difference between nutrients generated from tank neglect than those from dosing.

If you recall, we have had this discussion a few times over the years.

It has to do with the manner in which it was generated. In general, if NO3/PO4 is high because of lack of water changes and poor maintenance, that is recipe for BBA and many other algae. But in my experience, an uber clean tank that is dosed to high level of ferts is completely different.
 

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This is a good point.

IMO, there is a difference between nutrients generated from tank neglect than those from dosing.

If you recall, we have had this discussion a few times over the years.

It has to do with the manner in which it was generated. In general, if NO3/PO4 is high because of lack of water changes and poor maintenance, that is recipe for BBA and many other algae. But in my experience, an uber clean tank that is dosed to high level of ferts is completely different.
Yes, but I still maintain that an ionic compound is an ionic compound, e.g.; NO3, no matter the source is identical to NO3 from any other source. It can’t be different, other than the way in which it was created. However, I agree that high NO3, PO4, NH3/NH4 readings (the only things in the waste stream that we can measure with our hobby-grade testing) that are not the result of dosing, do indicate an overall detrimental waste problem. In this case, algae won’t be the only problem.

If I could, I would eliminate all nitrogenous and phosphorus sources in the tank, other than what I dose. This would mean an ultra-clean environment, unfortunately it would also have to be a sterile environment.
 
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Greggz, You are one of my idols here. I read your posts a lot and have great success with your recommendations. Thanks for making a difference in my tank!
I think we might of missed a key point on the article posted by Stan510. Brush algae is what? BBA or Staghorn or ? I fight staghorn in a grossly over populated and over fed High tech 165 gal with large fish. PO4 reduction works magic on hair and staghorn. Not so much on all other algae, exactly as you say. This nasty staghorn is an animal of its own. I change the PO4 bags in my sump when I do my monthly sump cleaning and 50% water change. In a month my anacharas has filled my refugium and has happy staghorn on it. I remove half of the plant material without regard to the staghorn and the staghorn vanishes in a week and stays gone until the anacharus over grows and has to be trimmed again. I can tell you...My fish food gives a lot of PO4 to the point the refugiums and the plants you see below cannot consume it all.

The Pleco is 18" long. Fish live for 15 year or more in my tank. The Blue ones were born in the tank. Plants have been there 4 years. Yes that is an air curtain in a CO2 fed tank. TABOO! I know! But the CO2 is actually pulled across the top and down the front of the tank before it disappears. Shrug It works.
1031751
 

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Greggz, You are one of my idols here. I read your posts a lot and have great success with your recommendations. Thanks for making a difference in my tank!
I think we might of missed a key point on the article posted by Stan510. Brush algae is what? BBA or Staghorn or ? I fight staghorn in a grossly over populated and over fed High tech 165 gal with large fish. PO4 reduction works magic on hair and staghorn. Not so much on all other algae, exactly as you say. This nasty staghorn is an animal of its own. I change the PO4 bags in my sump when I do my monthly sump cleaning and 50% water change. In a month my anacharas has filled my refugium and has happy staghorn on it. I remove half of the plant material without regard to the staghorn and the staghorn vanishes in a week and stays gone until the anacharus over grows and has to be trimmed again. I can tell you...My fish food gives a lot of PO4 to the point the refugiums and the plants you see below cannot consume it all.

The Pleco is 18" long. Fish live for 15 year or more in my tank. The Blue ones were born in the tank. Plants have been there 4 years. Yes that is an air curtain in a CO2 fed tank. TABOO! I know! But the CO2 is actually pulled across the top and down the front of the tank before it disappears. Shrug It works. View attachment 1031751
Interesting. You have got some fish that really create some waste in there, along with plants that mostly don't need a great deal of fertilization. Just saying that is a unique ecosystem. Not the usual high tech tank, but I have to say I like what I see and it looks like it would be a pleasure to watch.

One thing about this hobby is that is very difficult to pinpoint causal effects. Take hair algae. You see more of it when PO4 gets too high.

On the other hand, when starting out with fresh active soil, myself and many others have seen hair algae crop up when PO4 gets too low. Very repeatable in that situation. PO4 bottoms out, hair algae sprouts up. Dose PO4, it subsides.

One of the many mysteries of the planted tank!

I also use a bubbler in my tank. I only run it 10 minutes per hour, but it is very vigorous and helps keep oxygen levels high.

And I have to say, I am fortunate I have never dealt with Staghorn. I hear it's a tough one to beat.
 

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Dr. Kevin Novak, PhD is always recommended for me on Youtube and I honestly can't stand him. Why? His solution to EVERYTHING is a plenum. It reminds me of some diet supplements I've seen (Dr. Gundry's Vital Reds anyone?). Whatever your ill, what he's selling will cure it.

Is it hucksterism? Probably not. I would guess that he has based his life and Youtube personality so wholly around anoxic filters and plenums that he genuinely sees that as the solution to all your aquarium ailments. The people I trust are more likely to say that these are complex problems with complex solutions, and you can't ascribe one general solution to every situation.

Another thing about the problems we encounter in aquariums: Time heals many wounds. Let's say you have an aquarium with algae and you try a bunch of things to get rid of it. Eventually, the microbial and macrophytic ecosystem balances out and the algae is outcompeted by the plants and it goes away. You might think it was something you did, but the algae may have gone away on its own without intervention.

This happens with folk remedies all the time. For example, my mom always tells me to take oregano oil when I have a cold (disgusting stuff, btw). I take it to make her happy, and two weeks later I no longer have a cold. She takes it as evidence that oregano oil works, when in reality the cold would have gone away on its own if I did nothing at all!

That seems to be the exact situation with the plenum/anoxic filtration. You do something that by design has very minimal impact, wait a long time, and your problems are solved. So did the anoxic filter solve the problem? Or was it time?

That's it for my rant. I'm sure he is a very knowledgeable and pleasant man, I just disagree with his ideas.
 

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Dr. Kevin Novak, PhD is always recommended for me on Youtube and I honestly can't stand him. Why? His solution to EVERYTHING is a plenum. It reminds me of some diet supplements I've seen (Dr. Gundry's Vital Reds anyone?). Whatever your ill, what he's selling will cure it.

Is it hucksterism? Probably not. I would guess that he has based his life and Youtube personality so wholly around anoxic filters and plenums that he genuinely sees that as the solution to all your aquarium ailments. The people I trust are more likely to say that these are complex problems with complex solutions, and you can't ascribe one general solution to every situation.

Another thing about the problems we encounter in aquariums: Time heals many wounds. Let's say you have an aquarium with algae and you try a bunch of things to get rid of it. Eventually, the microbial and macrophytic ecosystem balances out and the algae is outcompeted by the plants and it goes away. You might think it was something you did, but the algae may have gone away on its own without intervention.

This happens with folk remedies all the time. For example, my mom always tells me to take oregano oil when I have a cold (disgusting stuff, btw). I take it to make her happy, and two weeks later I no longer have a cold. She takes it as evidence that oregano oil works, when in reality the cold would have gone away on its own if I did nothing at all!

That seems to be the exact situation with the plenum/anoxic filtration. You do something that by design has very minimal impact, wait a long time, and your problems are solved. So did the anoxic filter solve the problem? Or was it time?

That's it for my rant. I'm sure he is a very knowledgeable and pleasant man, I just disagree with his ideas.
Great post.

And yes, time heals many wounds.

But few have the patience to stick with something for any length of time. One of the problems many have is inconsistency and changing things wildy over and over again. Plants love stabilty and hate change, and it takes weeks not days to fully understand the effect of any change.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
He seems to be the expert nobody agrees with. I'm not into plenums and anoxic filters. Amano and a million others have done fine without them. His tanks are pretty much lightly populated and THAT goes farther into reducing algae than almost anything else.
I do like to feed my fish..and the sun with that is a combo that's been a real challenge. But weekly water changes and weekly filter cleaning has really made a difference. Especially since the Rainbows have grown to about 5" heavy bodied beasts..peaceful and fun beasts-ha. So,I think the excess phosphates are just pure algae fertilizer.

I've learned over the years- fish tank water is potent if you use it on houseplants. Don't listen to those who say "Great for plants!"..It is in occasional use..but steady use will cause salt burn and then you need to remove soils and replant. FWIW.

I'm close to where I need to be algae wise..but not there exactly.
 
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