Discussion: Managing Nutrient Levels

Discussion in 'Weekly Reef discussions' started by jlanger, Jun 4, 2016.

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Preferred Method(s) of Nutrient Control

  1. Water Changes

    69.7%
  2. Protein Skimmer

    60.6%
  3. Refugium

    24.2%
  4. Algae Turf Scrubber

    33.3%
  5. Deep Sand Bed

    9.1%
  6. Ceramic Media

    24.2%
  7. Carbon and/or GFO Reactor

    54.5%
  8. Nitrate (Sulfur) Reactor

    3.0%
  9. Biopellet Reactor

    12.1%
  10. Liquid Carbon Dosing: NO-POX, AZ-NO3, BioDigest, etc.

    21.2%
  11. ZEOvit System

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  12. Other: List and explain.

    3.0%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    TCMAS Weekly Discussion

    We would like to get more reef related discussions going on the forum. We will post a weekly topic to get the discussion started then let you all take it from there. The rules are simple, keep on topic and keep it positive.

    This weeks topic: Managing Nutrient Levels:

    What levels (nitrate/phosphate) are you keeping your system at?
    What method(s) have you used to keep your nitrates and phosphates in check?
    Which method(s) has worked the best in your system? Which method(s) hasn't worked?
    Which method(s) would you recommend or deter other reefers from implementing into their own systems?
    [SIZE=5][/SIZE]

    There has been an increase in thread discussions lately on various methods of lowering/controlling nutrient levels in saltwater systems. Let's bring all of these method specific threads into one discussion and collectively enlighten the club on nutrient level control.
    I will try to post a poll below with various methods of nutrient control for you to vote in.
    Additional comments concerning personal experience and results are highly encouraged.
     
    #1 jlanger, Jun 4, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2016
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  2. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    With my recent episode of elevated nutrient levels, I have been doing a lot of research and debating which method(s) I want to implement into my reef system to prevent that from happening again.
    I would like to hear from many of you about your methods and experiences of keeping your nutrient levels in check. What works. What hasn't worked.

    Currently my levels are: NO3 (16ppm) and PO4 (0.04ppm)
    I would like the nitrates to get down to 4ppm; at least.

    I have always been a big supporter of implementing a protein skimmer on any saltwater system. The amount of skimmate that my skimmer pulls out is incredible; downright nasty. I know that skimming alone cannot keep nutrient levels low enough for a reef system, but I cannot foresee myself not using one on my systems.
    I currently supplement the skimming with ceramic media. These have been recently added three months ago and discussions have stated that they should start showing some results soon.
    But foremost, I'm a believer in regular water changes. I perform a 20% water change weekly on my tanks. I siphon out my sump about every two months to remove detritus that collects in there; I don't have filter socks but I've thought about adding them. I do have a media basket placed before the return pump that I fill with filter floss and that gets changed out every few days.
    I also run carbon and a GFO reactor currently.

    I am currently dosing NO-POX manually; which isn't the most reliable on my part. When I stopped dosing the NO-POX, this is when my levels jumped. I would like to find an alternate method to reducing my nitrates so it doesn't rely on me adding some liquid every day.


    I am currently looking into adding an ATS or biopellet reactor to help with my nitrate levels.
    The ATS seem like it is working for a number of you in the club. I like the idea of using a natural method of consuming nitrates. My only holdback to implementing one is the placement of the scrubber in my sump/stand; OCD kicking in.
    The biopellet reactor has just recently piqued my interest in that I know some others are using one to great effects. I'm not very well versed in their use, but I would like to know more from those that are using them.


    Words of advice:
    If you are using a liquid carbon dosing regime to control your nutrients, keep diligent. If you lapse for a period of time or stop altogether, your levels will rise quickly; thus causing stress on your corals and possible RTN. The carbon dosing is feeding the bacteria that consumes the nitrate. When that carbon food source dissipates/disappears, so does the bacteria.
     
  3. Leicester56

    Leicester56 I contributed!
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    My management system:
    1. skimmer- vertex omega 180
    2. filter sock- self made and replaced every other day
    3. GFO and Carbon dual reactor- media replaced every 2 weeks
    4. Chaeto fuge- chaeto has slow but steady growth suggesting at least some nutrients are being absorbed. Chaeto ball is kept to a working size of about 8-10 inches in diameter.
    5. Weekly 6-7% water changes
    6. Moderate stocking levels (about 1 inch of fish per 4 gallons of system water when all current fish reach maximum size. Several of my fish are juveniles, so right now I am at about 1 inch if fish per 5.5 gallons.
    7. 140lbs live rock.
    8. Once daily feeding of 2 cubes (alternate/mix of Fish Frenzy, Mysis shrimp, Spirulina enriched brine shrimp, and Rod's Food). One evening a week I also feed the corals Nutricell or Phyto feast.

    My nitrate levels are always under 5ppm (API) and my phos around 0.1 (according to Hanna checker)


    It it should be noted that my current tank is only 7 months old, so the build up of debris in hard to reach places is minimal at this time. I have yet to clean my sump, but I probably should in the near future.
     
    #3 Leicester56, Jun 4, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2016
  4. Leicester56

    Leicester56 I contributed!
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    Another note- My last system (58 gallon) did use an L2 ATS from turbo aquatics. I really liked the system but it did not fit under my new stand so I switched to GFO/Carbon and sold the scrubber.
     
  5. David Grigor

    David Grigor TCMAS Old Timer
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    No water changes only supplement major/minor & trace elements just about to hit the 18month mark on no water change ( well not technically, I still do have accidents that accounted for at least 20g and loose sw when trading/selling corals ).
    Algae Scrubber ( over 4 years ) + 1 cup or .8 rox carbon per week.
    Only other export is approx 1 per month siphon the substrate into a filter sock.

    Keeps nitrate near undetectable ( just a very slight tint but < than .1ppm on the salifert color chart ) and phoshate levels between .06-.08ppm. If starts to rise above that range I just simply back off on feeding a little ( I still feed 3-5 times a day ).

    If I add 2 tablespoons of GFO weekly to Carbon, I can get it at consitantly below .04ppm. Still trying to decide it worth it the recurring GFO costs ( even though its a very small amount ) or just let it naturally hover around .06-.08ppm. I do get some fuzzy algae in areas where there are no predators like frag/sump area but nothing in the show tank. It blows off easy with a turkey baster.
     
    #5 David Grigor, Jun 4, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2016
  6. rlinusc

    rlinusc I contributed!
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    i use an L2 Turbo Algae Scrubber, filter socks (changed 2x a week), water change about 5% 1x week, GFO/Carbon, and i intermittently use a remora HOB skimmer.

    I so far have undetectable nitrate or phosphate, though i am still battling cyano (i suspect low flow is the culprit and added another Wav pump).

    I am betting that as my tank gets bigger (fish and corals) that my nitrate and phosphate will likely go up.

    I have considered - 1) upping my skimmer, 2) trying one method of carbon dosing- either biopellets or straight vinegar, 3) and am now intrigued as sulphur nitrate reactor.
     
  7. csb123

    csb123 Senior Member
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    I went thru a period of heavy green string algae with my previous tank. What got me out of that long battle was an oversized skimmer, diligent water changes, and GFO. There weren't the sensitive phosphate tests then, so I hope I can detect an issue before a problem really becomes entrenched.

    The next thing that goes on my new system will be an ATS. I feel that it will respond to subtle nutrient fluctuations that may not be revealed with our test kits. Same thing with biopellets which I instituted as soon as I got dead live rock.

    Good topic, I'll be following along.
     
  8. Leicester56

    Leicester56 I contributed!
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    I have been considering a bio pellet reactor for my tank. Would love to hear how people like this system.
     
  9. David Grigor

    David Grigor TCMAS Old Timer
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    I ran for about 18months. I personally didn't care for it. I will preface by saying I didn't have the ability for the effluent to go straight to the skimmer becuase the skimmer was external and gravity feed from the herbie overflow. I constantly had cyanobacteria issues the entire time, my guess is that the of the slowly dissolving material was getting into the water column and feeding it. Never had cyano issue before or after using the bio-pellets.
     
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  10. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    I had just asked about adding a biopellet reactor to my system and I learned a couple of things that I hadn't thought of before.

    "I would not suggest adding biopellets to an established tank because a bacterial bloom will usually happen dropping dO2 levels. On a new tank biopellets work great, but you will see a small amount of cyano coming and going in cycles. For an existing tank I would look into a Sulphur reactor, I haven't heard of many issues with bacterial blooms with them."

    I've spent the last hour or so looking into the sulfur/nitrate reactors online.
    There are some nice ones out there and some simple DIY reactors also.
    With the space limitations in my cabinet, I was looking for an internal model that could fit within the corner chamber of my sump; not much luck. A solution to that issue would be to revamp my sump (or build a new one) that could incorporate the equipment and filtration methods I am currently considering.
    I am intrigued with the possiblity of a DIY model, but finding the time and components to build a quality reactor would probably equal out to buying a manufactured reactor. My OCD would want the reactor to match my skimmer; clear and red acrylic with sch80 plumbing.
     
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  11. leviburns89

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    At the first of every month I change out rox 0.8 carbon, and phosban gfo.

    I vacuum the gravel and do 10% wc weekly, or bi-weekly, never less then once per week.

    I don't see how you could have nutrient issues if you follow this procedure.

    It's written in stone by now, and trying to maintain nutrients, or lack there of, by any other means is just a waste of time and money.

    Do it right, do it the way every other successful reef keeper does.

    Sent from my SM-G900T using Tapatalk
     
  12. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    ^^^^ Where do I start?
     
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  13. David Grigor

    David Grigor TCMAS Old Timer
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  14. David Grigor

    David Grigor TCMAS Old Timer
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    The best answer is to gain knowledge, know what all the possible options are, the pros/cons for each then apply what makes the most sense for YOUR application.

    If everyone had the same tank, the same equipment, the same corals, the same fish. Then yes, I for sure would do what is proven to work for other successful reefkeepers.

    Unfortunately, everyone has a different budget, different livestock, different amount of food they feed, the amount of time that can set aside for maintenance, the list goes on and on. Rox .8 carbon, GFO, salt, ro/di all have recurring costs. While a smaller tank the costs may not be a big deal but they do can get exponential. 10% Water change on a 500g system is a much bigger deal than just a 5g water change in a 50g system.


    Other methods for keeping nutrient down may have less recurring costs ( gfo, carbon, salt in your case ) and be a savings. Your method could actually be the waste of time and money for some setups.
     
    #14 David Grigor, Jun 5, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2016
  15. leviburns89

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    Other methods rarely work as well as the one I stated. And many reefers have lost their entire investment by not doing what I stated.

    If you are worried about the cost of salt, carbon, and gfo, maybe this hobby isn't for you.

    It is a well known fact that keeping a reef is costly. Anyone who says otherwise needs to study reefcentral some more. Thousands and thousands of threads on just how much it takes to keep a reef.

    I stand by my original statement, alongside "most" successful reefkeepers.

    Sent from my SM-G900T using Tapatalk
     
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  16. David Grigor

    David Grigor TCMAS Old Timer
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    I'll remember that statement if you ever have a tank crash. No method is fool proof and no method works best for all.
     
  17. leviburns89

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    It wont, because I am proactive.

    Unless an act of god, such as a long term power outage, or the tank breaks, it will be fine.

    I have had my fare share of mishaps, but it was never able to crash because I followed my fool proof practices.

    All in regards to your statement about the 500g system.... if you can afford to run a 500g system, you can afford maintenance. If you cant, you've spent a lot of money that you won't get back.

    Sent from my SM-G900T using Tapatalk
     
  18. David Grigor

    David Grigor TCMAS Old Timer
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    Your the one that stated " by any other means is just a waste of time and money."

    I'm just pointing out that your method may not be scalable for larger systems ( in both time and money ) and the method you point out ( which by no means is wrong or bad ) could be the waste of money. Wasting money and what you can afford are two different things.
     
    #18 David Grigor, Jun 5, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2016
  19. leviburns89

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    Fair enough

    Sent from my SM-G900T using Tapatalk
     
  20. ArstenA

    ArstenA I contributed!
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    I have an ATS on my 75 with 25 fish. No algae problems.

    I run a very small amount of carbon and change it when it gets plugged.

    I also run UV.

    I do about a 1/10th water change every 3 months.

    Dose calk/alk/mag and recently added trace elements (perhaps I can stop water changes?)

    No skimmer.
     

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