Cannot control phosphate

Discussion in 'General Reef Discussion' started by HouseofStark, Jan 9, 2019.

  1. HouseofStark

    HouseofStark Junior Member
    TCMAS Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2017
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Marshall, MN, United States
    Phosphate constantly rising. Quick recap....

    Tank
    age 5 months
    60 Gal Cube
    18 Gallon Sump
    Around 65 Gallons total water volume
    BRS 7 Stage RODI
    Red Sea Pro Salt

    Stock
    4 small clowns
    cleaner shrimp
    royal gramma
    flame angel
    tomini tang
    diamond goby (sand sifter)
    2 red legged hermits
    15 trochus snails
    2 narcissus snails

    Sump
    two skimz 300 micron sock swap out every 3 days
    Bubble Magus Curve 5, pulling about a full cup of skimmate a day (wet skimmate)
    Created 7 inch by 7inch fuge in the sump using egg crate; and Kessil H80 light

    I feed twice a day 8am and 6PM. I feed PE Mysis frozen shrimp as main food. Maybe a cube and a half total for the day. I do rotate in pellet food here and there. When feeding I scoop some tank water to defrost shrimp, and feed just shrimp not pouring any of the "melted liquid" into tank. But do not rinse shrimp.

    I can lower phos via dosing (phosphate Rx, and felt socks) but have been battling for over a month. I just started a fuge around 2 weeks ago to try to slow the increase.. The tank is populated with some corals, around 10 or so, all seem to be doing fine. Nothing dying off or retracting, but feel like slow overall growth of coral and little to no coralline. Water prams are:
    Temp 78.4-78.9
    Salinity 35ppt
    Ph 8.10
    Alk 10.2
    Cal 420
    Amm 0
    Nitrite 0
    Nitrate 10-20

    I dosed last night, and at 7am this am it was .04 I went home for lunch, 5hrs later it was .06
    I did test RODI off the unit, along with.. week old stored RODI water. Both came back at 0.0
    I am testing using a Hanna checker HI713

    Any suggestions would be great, I'm stumped. Thanks ahead of time!
     
    #1 HouseofStark, Jan 9, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
  2. patent

    patent Ok Moderator
    BOD Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2007
    Messages:
    4,137
    Likes Received:
    186
    Location:
    Eagan
    You could always feed less. Personally I try to feed my fish once per day. Probably feed them 4-5 times per week. Depends on the fish, they all have their own specific needs, but personally I think we have a tendency to way overfeed our fish.

    Also, was the rock phosphate free before you started? Not much to be done about it now, but a good acid bath can be useful.
     
  3. patent

    patent Ok Moderator
    BOD Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2007
    Messages:
    4,137
    Likes Received:
    186
    Location:
    Eagan
    Also, FWIW, I'm not sure what the margin of error is on the HI713, but the .02 difference is not significant. I'm kind of assuming from your post that long term it keeps going up and so if you don't dose tomorrow it will be .08 or something, and .10 after that, etc. If that wasn't the case, and it just fluctuates between .04 and .06, that would just be the tester's margin of error. 0.06 really isn't that high, so unless it does keep going up rapidly, don't worry too much about the number.
     
  4. jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
    Lifetime Member Event Committee

    Joined:
    May 8, 2010
    Messages:
    4,208
    Likes Received:
    946
    Location:
    New Richmond, WI
    Question... Did you start the system with dry rock?
    Dry rock can leach phosphates for a while after being re-"hydrated"; especially Pukani and other porous dry rocks. The dead organic matter inside the rock is breaking down and leaching the phosphates. Most people will give the rock a bleach/acid bath to help speed up the process. Over time, the phosphates will stop leaching and you'll be fine.

    If it's not coming from the rocks, then disregard the above comments.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  5. RSnodgrass

    RSnodgrass TCMAS President
    BOD Lifetime Member Event Committee Meeting Host 2018

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2007
    Messages:
    4,325
    Likes Received:
    580
    Location:
    Lynd, MN, United States
    The rock is from what I bought from you if that helps.
     
  6. RSnodgrass

    RSnodgrass TCMAS President
    BOD Lifetime Member Event Committee Meeting Host 2018

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2007
    Messages:
    4,325
    Likes Received:
    580
    Location:
    Lynd, MN, United States
    Would the diamond goby shoveling most of the sand around contribute to this or not really? It's been in there for awhile so it's not turning over sand that's been sitting for long.
     
  7. OP
    HouseofStark

    HouseofStark Junior Member
    TCMAS Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2017
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Marshall, MN, United States
    Sorry guys, My email notifications must be turned off. Didn't see any replies... I got the rock via RSnodgrass. I personally did not bleach or acid bath any of the rock. Newbie miss, I now have been reading about "cooking" the dry rock, which does make sense. Correct Patent, I have been testing it via Hanna and it consistently gains around .10 a day. The only way I can stop or reset the climb is throw in 10 micron socks and dose overnight via Phosphate Rx. It instantly drops it. But over all trend is UP UP UP. What Ryan is speaking to is ….I have a diamond goby that ALL DAY EVERYDAY pulls sand to his cave. Started out with 1" sand bed, hes taken have the tank down to bare bottom and his cave to 4+" deep. After a week or 2, I will pull sand back down, and he will repeat. Pics of my setup (white spot on top of front rock is from recently moved coral plug)


     
    #7 HouseofStark, Jan 10, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
  8. patent

    patent Ok Moderator
    BOD Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2007
    Messages:
    4,137
    Likes Received:
    186
    Location:
    Eagan
    Did you acid wash it?
     
  9. OP
    HouseofStark

    HouseofStark Junior Member
    TCMAS Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2017
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Marshall, MN, United States

    No we did not acid wash it.

    PO4 readings
    ....dosed down to zero overnight
    Yesterday 7am. .04
    Yesterday noon. .06
    Today noon. .36
     
  10. patent

    patent Ok Moderator
    BOD Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2007
    Messages:
    4,137
    Likes Received:
    186
    Location:
    Eagan
    I have a couple thoughts. Keep in mind I'm hardly a guru. First, I think you have a very high bio load for the tank's age. The longer I've been doing this, the more patient I've gotten about how much to add and when. Just FWIW, between the rock not being acid washed (unless Ryan did it) and the high bio load, it may take some patience to get things where you want them. Did the phosphate start high before you were adding things? If so that's the rock. If it really only started going up when you started feeding fish, that's probably the fish food, or a combination of the rock and the food. I'd suggest spending some time studying your fish, learn what their belly looks like now, when they are full. I'd probably reduce how much you feed to one feeding a day, feeding enough that each fish usually gets some food, at least until you have the phosphate under control. So long as the fish don't have sunken belies or frayed fins, they are fine on what you are feeding the. Keep in mind that this change won't show up on your phosphate readings for awhile, it takes some time for all the crap in there to decompose and contribute to your current reading. I really feed quite sparingly compared to most people. I feed pellets most days, and try to be sure each fish gets at least 1 1mm pellet. Some days I forget to feed entirely. I've had clowns live a decade on this regimen.

    I also would not seek to add anything else for awhile.

    Second, seek stability in the readings. The fish won't care about the phosphate, so don't worry about them much. I've had fish in a breeding system with phosphates that were off the chart, laying healthy eggs I raised to adult fish.

    The corals will, depending. The key, in my mind, is stability. So even when your phos. gets way too high, don't panic and drop it too far to fast. Make changes as gradually as you can. If I were dosing phos Rx for example, I would seek to dose the same rough amount every night, and drop the reading .01 or .02 each night - that is dose enough to get rid of how much it rose that day, and an additional .01. So if on Sunday it started at .15, and rose to .18 during the day, I would seek to dose enough to drop it to .14. Then on Monday if it rose back to .16, I would want to dose enough to drop it to .13. On Tuesday, drop it to .12, etc. This is just a rough example, if you miss by a bit, no big deal. In my tanks, the sudden swing in phosphate seems worse than the rise in phosphates, so if you can dose consistently to drop it over time, that is usually better.

    I'd also seek to automate the process, both to smooth out the changes, and also to remove the nightly burden. I've used Lanathium chloride (same stuff, kind of) in an ATO to do this before, you could do the same with phos rx. I diluted the Lanathium into the ATO reservoir by estimating how much of the ATO went into the tank each day, and adding the amount of Phos Rx I'd want to go in. So if 1 gallon of ATO goes in each day, and the reservoir is 2 gallons, and I want 4 drops to go into the tank, I'd add 8 drops to the full reservoir and stir it. That spread it out so the changes weren't sudden. Its also more efficient at removing phosphate rather than alkalinity. However, I personally only do this if the ATO can go straight into a filter sock. (or preferably in my case), into the overflow, which empties into the filter sock. If the tank gets cloudy, I personally feel you are dosing too much or too fast, but I know some people do this and its fine. I just think the stuff can get into fish gills and on corals, and not really help them much.

    Also, keep a close eye on your alk when you are dosing phos Rx, it drops the alk, especially if you run out of phosphate.

    Ryan asked if the diamond goby moving sand could contribute, and long term I'd say no. He could of course accelerate or delay the standard decomposition of organic matter in the sand which could contribute to phosphate readings, but long term I'd think this is a wash. Phosphate can also bind to calcium carbonate surfaces, and so its possible that his stirring could release some, but I'd think its pretty minimal, and again over the long term a wash.
     
  11. patent

    patent Ok Moderator
    BOD Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2007
    Messages:
    4,137
    Likes Received:
    186
    Location:
    Eagan
    Well, that's a really fast jump for one day. Be careful about swinging things so dramatically. JMHO, I would never dose down to zero, the corals need some phosphate to grow. Also, FWIW, corals often take some time to establish themselves in a stable system before they take off.
     
  12. OP
    HouseofStark

    HouseofStark Junior Member
    TCMAS Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2017
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Marshall, MN, United States
    I believe it’s in the rock, I would also agree I have a high bioload. I haven’t added anything for a while because of this issue. but I agree it’s a high load. I admit I had no idea about acid washing even measuring phos when tank first started. This is my first tank. I guess I’m I have to dose nopox or phos rx so be it. The ball is rolling and I am just trying to keep my water specs as good as I can. I do water changes every 2 weeks, so that’s helping keep elements up.

    Don’t normally dose to zero. I know corals need it, but I wanted to get down.

    Will dose less and keep water changes and moving forward.
     
  13. patent

    patent Ok Moderator
    BOD Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2007
    Messages:
    4,137
    Likes Received:
    186
    Location:
    Eagan
    Probably at least partially true, but I've got 2 tanks going with more or less the same rock. Everytime we feed, we add phosphate. I know that for some people feeding the fish is fun, and there is nothing wrong with that, you just have to accept the downside and have a plan for removing the waste.

    I wasn't any better with my first tank, I just bought a used setup, scrubbed the algae off, and put everything back up as it was. I didn't even have a phosphate test, but I can guarantee it was really high.
     
  14. OP
    HouseofStark

    HouseofStark Junior Member
    TCMAS Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2017
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Marshall, MN, United States
    Does it start to level out/exhaust, the phos in the rock, at some point? You see how fast it rises...... it will rise like that without me feeding or doing anything...just tank running. Pull socks, have swabbie on skimmer, to keep skimmer maximized, added fuge, looking to add more coral to help combat/use up the phos, and do 1/3 water changes every 2 weeks
     
  15. patent

    patent Ok Moderator
    BOD Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2007
    Messages:
    4,137
    Likes Received:
    186
    Location:
    Eagan
    Yes, if no other phosphate is added, or if your removal methods exceed the amount being added.

    If your fish are still alive, you've been feeding. It takes some time for all the food you've added to break down from an organic phosphate form to an inorganic form. Your hanna tester only tests for inorganic, I believe. FWIW, I have no way to test this, but I really doubt Phos Rx will bind the organic phosphates, so those are still sitting in your water column after you've added phos rx, and after your test kit reads zero. Of course, once you've removed the inorganic with phos rx, the balance is off and the reaction moves quickly, so your inorganic phos will replenish from the rock or the waste in your tank.

    I'd just suggest you keep doing what you are doing, its a reasonable path forward. Just aim for balance and the long term.
     
  16. OP
    HouseofStark

    HouseofStark Junior Member
    TCMAS Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2017
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Marshall, MN, United States
    Gotcha, I can lessen my feedings to once a day, rinse my food, not over feed and water changes. Do everything I can to not add phos to tank. By deduction the rock is the ONLY place I cannot test and or eliminate as a source, a very plausible source of phos. Well I will keep on doing what I have been. I believe we have found a possible cause. Is there any long term issue I would have not cooking the LR, besides the increased phos? Everything else water parameters seem to be where they should be. I was concerned that the high phos was inhibiting corraline growth and slowing sps growth.
     
  17. DarkSky

    DarkSky Administrator
    Site Admin Lifetime Member Event Committee Meeting Host 2018

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2016
    Messages:
    1,125
    Likes Received:
    338
    Location:
    Eden Prairie
    Adjust feeding and do your watcher changes. It'll drop on its own. I used too much GFO to bring mine down and I nuked all of my SPS. Whoops.
     
  18. patent

    patent Ok Moderator
    BOD Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2007
    Messages:
    4,137
    Likes Received:
    186
    Location:
    Eagan
    I would have expected them to show up by now, if so. Sometimes rock can have pests on them, though that was worse in the days where we took still living rock from the ocean and put it in the tank. At this point you are far more likely to get pests on the frags you've added.


    Its possible, but its often the swings in parameters that prevent the SPS from basing. There are some high phos tanks that are growing fine.
     

Share This Page