Phosphate level - The Reef Tank

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Old 12-17-2000, 10:38 PM   #1
Little Fishy
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Sunnyvale, CA, USA
Posts: 58
Phosphate level

I have recently purchased an established (about 1 year) 29 gallon nano reef. I used mostly the water that was already in the tank and have done one 5 gallon change so farwith Corallife salt. The previous owner used Corallife salt and so I did too for the first water change. Here's my problem ...
I tested the water for phosphates (I have 2 kits a Seachem and a Seatest both of which I read aren't great). For the first 4 days I noticed great readings on both kits < .2 ppm
I top off with RO water from Galcier water machine outside grocery store (I don't have RO/DI unit yet and nobody seems to sell RO AND DI bottled here) daily. Since day 5 the phosphate levels steadily climb and are now at @1.5 ppm. Easy enough right? Must be the RO water used for top offs. I test that water and it is <.2.
I test the fresh salt mix water and it is < .2. I have no sign off hair algae, yet but I do have 2 mithrax crabs, several types of hermits and several types of snails. I have no fish and only a leather coral, a bubble coral and some green button polyps for corals. I have a couple types of Caulerpa that are growing at what I consider normal rates. I am seeing some very slight signs of green algae growth on substrate and empty shells, etc. My other parameters are:

pH 8.0 - 8.1
alk 3.5
dKH 9.8
salinity 1.027
temp 80 - 81
calcium 430 - 480 (depending on test kit used)

The only thing I add is DT phytoplankton every other day at recommended dosage.
So what else can cause such high phosphate levels that seem to be climbing?
The reason I mention the Corallife salt is I have read it is notoriously high in phosphates but I don't get bad readings from mix that I aereate for 3-5 days before water change.
I also tried a Poly Filter for about a week. It turned brown but the phosphate level didn't drop at all.
Sorry for the long post. Thank you!
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Old 12-18-2000, 02:45 PM   #2
Little Fishy
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Sunnyvale, CA, USA
Posts: 58

I add about 1/4 - 1/3 gallon every other day of RO water from machine. I have tested it for phosphates but it shows none on my 2 kits. I have heard that since i don't have anything that really "needs" to phytoplankton that perhaps it is just rotting in my tank and increasing phosphates. I think it does help "feed" the minute sand creatures. I do feed some shrimp or scallps twice a week but very little.
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Old 12-18-2000, 05:19 PM   #3
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: bridgewater,nj,USA
Posts: 14

is 1ppm of phosphate considered alot? i know it isn`t a little by all the hair and red slime algie i have now
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Old 12-18-2000, 07:29 PM   #4
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This is a different twist, hi PO4 but no horrible algae bloom. If your RO and source water test OK its either coming from the LR or sand bed or coming in with feeding. I think at this point I would take a gallon of new ready to go SW and test it, then dose it with a proportional amount of DT's, wait till next day and test it again. FWIW I thought the recommended amount were quite high, I fed my 55 about 2 Nyquil cups dailey.
Phosphate is always gonna be in the system, the trick is to keep the consumers and export in balance with the amount that comes in. A common complaint in the midst of a scream algae bloom is NO3 and PO4 are undetectable.
Obviously thats the goal to strive for but wwith that much rampant growth the high levels are being used as nutrients by algae as fast produced, since they are bound up in the plants the readings are misleadingly low

I thought I was me, but we were wrong
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Old 12-19-2000, 12:41 AM   #5
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Oak Ridge, NC
Posts: 5

How much make-up are you adding? The effect of the phosphate in the make-up water is cumulative.

The tank is not manufacturing phosphate. It is either coming in with the make-up or the food. Are you sure you're not adding anything else to the tank?

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algae bloom , algae growth , bubble coral , button polyp , button polyps , green algae , green button polyp , green button polyps , high phosphate levels , leather coral , mithrax crabs , nano reef , poly filter , red slime

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