Zero nitrates with phosphates

Discussion in 'Reef Chemistry' started by Eugene, Jan 4, 2017.

  1. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    It is a tricky problem:
    With truly zero nitrate+phosphate, corals will starve.
    As zero nitrate/phosphate levels rise, corals are happy, but so is Algae.
    If you are nitrate limited (0 nitrate, but not 0 phosphate), you get Cyano problems.

    So generally:
    1: Lower phosphates with GFO/etc, so you are more phosphate limited than nitrate limited.
    2: Lower all nutrients in general. Carbon dosing, water changes, etc. Many methods.
    3: Manual removal of as much algae as you can.
    4: Snails, hermits, and perhaps a lawnmower blenny as herbivores.

    Yes, snails cannot keep up alone, but with 2+3+4, they should be able to.
  2. F6553066

    F6553066 Guest

    From my readings bryopsis is very hard to kill. In fact some of those posting on reef2reef have had to tear their aquariums apart and start over or they get out of the hobby. Limiting the nutrients is also difficult for most hobbyists because it is human nature to want to feed our fish and corals so they thrive. If your algae problem is indeed bryopsis I myself have not seen much success using the standard methods i.e.,skimming, snails etc. However, I have posted that Virbant seems to have worked for reefers who have posted on the web site reef2reef . No all, but many. It will take awhile to eliminate the algae, but there is a good chance it will, and for your small aquarium it will be very inexpensive. If you want more information you can call me at 510-655-3066. I have used Vibrant myself with positive results.
  3. OnTheReef

    OnTheReef OnTheReef (Eric) Supporting Member

    Eugene, so far no one has asked about your source water. If you are using house water to make your saltwater (especially if your home has a water softener!), you are going to have no end of intractable algae issues. Start using RO/DI water if you haven't already. Also, how you feed makes a difference to algae growth. If you are feeding frozen cubes of plankton such as Mysis, the "juice" surrounding the plankton is like rocket fuel for algae. You can test for this; just melt a cube of whatever you are feeding and test the meltwater for nitrates and phosphates. The solution is to thaw the food and use a brine shrimp net to drain off the juice. Algae problems are best eliminated at the source.
    Finally, I have tried most of the methods recommended for killing algae. Alas, manual removal has proven the most effective for me thus far. What I generally do is remove a rock from the tank and place it in a shallow, clear tupperware tray (with saltwater if there is anything growing on the rock that I don't want to stress). I have an old toothbrush and a wire brush that I use to get as much of the algae off as I can see. I wait a week and then repeat. I've had "problem rocks" that I have ended up replacing; the entire tank is algae-free except for this one rock that grows a miniature forest over and over again.
    Good Luck,
    Coral reefer likes this.
  4. Kmooresf

    Kmooresf Supporting Member

    With that much algae, it is very unlikely that you have zero phosphate. You mentioned that .1ppm of phosphate was "ok." That is actually pretty high..........corals will be fine at that, but algae will flourish. I try to keep my tank between .03ppm and .06ppm. You are correct that absolute zero is not good for corals, but anything over .06ppm for me will create significant algae. Some LPS and softies don't like it as low as .03 either, but I have to prioritize for my SPS. If you don't have SPS, then keep it at .05-.1. You may need to get a test kit that will be sensitive to the lower levels.

    Urchins are amazing!!! If you have a glass tank, then I highly suggest an Urchin. You might be surprised at how fast they can clean a rock. Unlike snails, they get all the way to the rock, and don't leave much to re-grow.
    If you have an acrylic tank.....probably not a good idea. They can chomp on the acrylic and create pretty bad scratches.

    Also, the corals might get pale if you are adding too much GFO, or running it too fast. I notice when I change the GFO, there is a shock factor initially. I have learned to replace the GFO and run the reactor very slowly for the first week. Just barely showing any movement at the top of the GFO. After a week, or if I am seeing signs of increased algae, I will turn up the reactor to tumble the top 1/2" of GFO. This seems to be ideal for the next month to 6 weeks before I change it again. I don't use much for my 300 gallon tank, but I do change it between 6 and 8 weeks.

    Lot's of good advice already given, so you might need to try a few things. However, try them one at a time. Shocking the tank is common from doing too much, too fast. I agree with many who already stated that water changes will help, as well as manual removal.

    Urchins are AWESOME!!!! Also fun to watch in the tank. Tuxedo urchins are the best and come in many colors and are usually in stock at the local stores. Good luck.

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    Coral reefer likes this.
  5. Eugene

    Eugene Supporting Member

    Thank you! I do use RODI water, make it myself and test for 0 TDS - so it should not cause problems. I don't use frozen food too much - maybe once a week, 1/4-1/2 cube but will thaw it next time.
    It's interesting - I dosed about .5ppm nitrates and test kit still showed 0 - I even tried a different kit (Have two red sea pro kit on hands). Also spot treat algae with fresh peroxide - works like charm - bryopsis and HA dying after first dose.
    Unfortunately can't take rocks out - it's glued together as a large structure.
    OnTheReef likes this.
  6. Eugene

    Eugene Supporting Member

    Thank you guys, so many good advises!
  7. Vhuang168

    Vhuang168 Supporting Member

    Your nitrate test kit show 0 because the algae is using it up. Stop dosing nitrates! You are fueling the algae.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Coral reefer and Kmooresf like this.
  8. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Officer at large

    Coral reefer likes this.
  9. BSAJim

    BSAJim Guest

    I have occasionally taken a sample in to Neptune, to check a result. They are happy to do so on non-weekend days.
  10. Eugene

    Eugene Supporting Member

    Things are much better now (besides one shrimp lost due to hydrogen overdose). I put back gfo, raised no3 to approx 0.5ppm and used fluconazole to kill bryopsis. This thing is a magic - most of hair algae and bryopsis slowly disappeared.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  11. Vincerama2

    Vincerama2 Evil Overlord

    Get this, my Phosphate is 8.2 mg/L, which is 32 times the max safe level of .25 mg/L.
    My Nitrates are 219, which is almost 10 times the max safe level of 25 mg/L

    So of course I'm doing a massive water change, which even though massive at 40g is only about 20%... and I'm thinking of buying a biopellet reactor.

    My feeding is already fairly sparse. I'm thinking that the nitrates have just built up over a year or two of completely inadequate water changes (like 1% every 4 months).

  12. RandyC

    RandyC Supporting Member

    Biopellet reactor has worked for me, but it WILL strip your nutrients out of the water once it kicks in about 2-3 weeks after the bacteria gets multiplying like crazy. I went too fast and added too much media. Definitely recommend using 1/2 or even a 1/4 of what they recommend and build up slowly so that you don't have an immediate change too fast to your water chemistry and also to avoid a bacterial bloom since your nutrients are already so high.

    I'd agree with the lack of WC being a problem especially if you didn't have any other mechanism of nitrate and phosphate export in your system.
    Coral reefer likes this.
  13. Vhuang168

    Vhuang168 Supporting Member

    This. If WC is your sole method of nutrient export then, yes you would need to do more.

    But if not then it points to your methods are not up to par.

    My last WC in my 40b was 2g in early Nov. nitrates are 1, phosphates are 0.03.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  14. Vincerama2

    Vincerama2 Evil Overlord

    Well a 40g water change requires an entire bag of salt! (I keep salinity at 1.026 as a target).

    Sorry for the thread jack! Back to our normally scheduled thread!
  15. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Officer at large

    You need to get a bigger bag of salt.
    Gablami likes this.
  16. Vincerama2

    Vincerama2 Evil Overlord

    My garage is stacked with buckets and bags of salt! Don't tell my wife about "bigger bags of salt", the two 44 gallon Brutes are already making steam emerge from her head.

    I didn't name the tank "Wifebane" for no reason ...

  17. roostertech

    roostertech reef noob

    Sounds like you need new mixing container.

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  18. Vincerama2

    Vincerama2 Evil Overlord

    By the way, back in the day, a dose of "Tech M" magnesium was known to kill of briopsis. It wasn't the magnesium that did it, as other supplements didn't work, but there was some impurity or specific ingredient of Tech M that would kill it off. Not sure if that is still true (if they changed the formula).

  19. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member


    You need 55G Brute's. Then simply buy and mix a single bucket as needed. No half used bags lying around solidifying.
  20. Vincerama2

    Vincerama2 Evil Overlord

    Actually the 44g Brutes, when filled almost to the top, can take a single bag in its entirety. The bags are measured to provide 50g of water with salt enough to bring it to 1.023 specific gravity of salinity and I run my tank at 1.026. (although, my lab test result was 1.028 ... so might be time to calibrate my refractometer).

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