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Old 08-19-2005, 08:17 PM   #1
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Pat Battle with Phosphates

I've been fighting PO4 for a while now. Cyano and hair algae is starting to overrun my tank at this point. I added a HOB fuge and some chaeto in the last week that will hopefully help this problem a bit. Right now I'm testing at about PO4=1ppm (trates are about 10). I'm using RO/DI water and I've been feeding every 2-3 days with blender mush. Now, I WAS feeding EVERY day with the blender mush at first when I noticed the algae begin to get out of control so I cut back. It doesn't appear to help.

Question - the hair algae is noticably thicker on a particular rock that I bought at a lfs as "dead base rock". It was pinkish and felt much different than your average lr and I was never 100% sure it was salt water safe. Could this hair algae on THIS particular rock be a sign that it should be removed? Could it be leaking PO4? Also, PO4 would not naturally go down since I cut down my feeding, correct? Water changes will be the only thing to lower it?

If any other info is needed, let me know. My beautiful tank is really beginning to look not-so-beautiful over the past week or so, although the cyano seems to be getting slightly better since adding the chaeto and I plan on doing a blackout for 4 days while I'm out of town.

Thanks

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Old 08-19-2005, 10:54 PM   #2
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The rock could potentially be a source of PO4 but unfortunately once algaes get a foothold, it can be frustrating to get rid of them. The one driving force is typically the PO4 over the the nitrogens for the most part. The kicker is once established they need little to keep going.

The best overall control for these two algaes is removal and dilution. It will take some time for the chaeto to "out compete" the established nuisance algaes for the necessary nutrient. In the meantime, siphoning the cyano and yanking out the hair algae will help control it. The plus side to that is you will also be removing nutrient bound up in these algaes at the same time. I would highly recommend the use of a PO4 iron oxide granular sponge for a short time to "kick the algaes in the teeth" so to speak. Just be sure you are doing water changes to lower the NO3 as it will help with any stress to coral from the fast reduction of P. Just keep in mind as with your test kit, PO4 removing products do not deal with organic forms of PO4, just the inorganic so you need to find out how the levels are being maintained.

Test your tap water to see how high the PO4 is and check when you changed the DI last. Do you know your TDS out or the RO/DI?

As far as your food source, blender mush is a great thing but ingredients are not all created equally. Fresh, never frozen being a good choice. Better still wharf bought off the boat. A little known fact is seafood manufacturers add a chemical called tri-poly-phosphate to items that help retain freshness, color and texture. These are more commonly the culprit as can be freeze dried foods often fortified with organic substitutes for vitamin C.

Cheers
Steve
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Old 08-20-2005, 01:40 AM   #3
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Thanks, Steve. Excellent, informative reply (as usual).

My DI was purchased about 4 months ago and I have not changed it as of yet. How often should this be done? I was planning on replacing everything after 6 months, but I should probably be measuring by gallon not months I suppose. Not sure what the TDS out of the unit is, but I started the tank with tap water (at the suggestion of a lfs) and my PO4 has been 1ppm ever since even with top offs and water changes with RO/DI, which is why I'm thinking it might be the rock/overfeeding.

So, I will test the RO/DI water tomorrow, maybe run some phosphate sponge product?, cyphon out cyano and do weekly water changes to try and get it under control? Another factor is my recently demolished clean-up crew. Had a large 'hiker crab that had a feast on my snails/hermits - so they need to be replaced.

Thanks again.
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Old 08-20-2005, 03:09 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SkinnyPete
My DI was purchased about 4 months ago and I have not changed it as of yet. How often should this be done? I was planning on replacing everything after 6 months, but I should probably be measuring by gallon not months I suppose. Not sure what the TDS out of the unit is
You cannot accurately judge the performance of the unit by time or gallons processed. You need to get a TDS meter. When TDS starts to rise, it tells you when it's time to change the DI resin. As far as the RO membrane, it can last as long as 3 years or so but that greatly depends on the TDS of the water being filtered and the quality of the membrane itself/temp of the water going in.


Quote:
, but I started the tank with tap water (at the suggestion of a lfs) and my PO4 has been 1ppm ever since even with top offs and water changes with RO/DI, which is why I'm thinking it might be the rock/overfeeding.
One thing to note about PO4 is that it's an endless cycle being converted from inorganic to organic in an endless circle. Once in the system it's PITA to be rid of. Starting with tap water is not always bad but again depends on the TDS of the tap water. The higher it is the worse. CC is also a great contributor depending on the % of snail shells in the mix. PO4 can easily end up bound up in the rock through bacteria. If it's one piece of rock you suspect, just remove it to a pail with a powerhead for a month or so. It will eventually burn itself out without further introduction of nutrient fueling it.

Quote:
So, I will test the RO/DI water tomorrow, maybe run some phosphate sponge product?, cyphon out cyano and do weekly water changes to try and get it under control? Another factor is my recently demolished clean-up crew. Had a large 'hiker crab that had a feast on my snails/hermits - so they need to be replaced.
Test the tap and RO/DI with a TDS if possible. You can also test the rock for PO4 easily enough and eliminate which one (if any) are a problem. Simpley place your syringe against the largest rocks and take a sample one by one testing the results. The "offender" should be easily spotted. PO4 removal products work well if the right type, be sure it's iron oxide based and you should be fine.

As far as your clean up crew, yes they will help but be sure the hair algae is well pruned. They will ignore it otherwise. Tuxedo urchins are really the best means of control there IMO. As for the cyano, the best and only (IME) animal control there are strombus snails.

Cheers
Steve
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Old 08-21-2005, 03:37 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SkinnyPete
Had a large 'hiker crab that had a feast on my snails/hermits - so they need to be replaced.
Hey, do the hermits need to be able to get above the water, or can they stay below water at all times?
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Old 08-21-2005, 01:33 PM   #6
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The hermits live below water.

So, I tested the water using a turkey baster right near the rock as you suggested, Steve, and WOW was that quite telling . PO4 looked like it was close to 2.0ppm, so the rock was removed today. But, I'm a tool because I broke up a similar looking rock and used as rubble in some of my caves - there's no way I'm getting those out at this point - hopefully, ithe rubble doesn't leak that much. Thanks so much for your help.

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Old 08-22-2005, 10:11 PM   #7
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If the rubble used was from the same batch, there is still a good possibility it will hamper your efforts. Hopefully it will be to a small extent. Knowing that though I'm sure will help you in controlling it to some degree. I would suggest you keep some Rowa phos (or similar iron oxide product) going on a regular basis. If you have a powerfilter of somekind it would allow for this very efficiently.

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Old 08-27-2005, 05:59 PM   #8
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Well, I kept lights off for 4 days straight, removed that suspect rock, fed only once every 3 days, and ran a fuge light on the chaeto for 12 hours/day.

The hair algae is still there although seems much more under control. The cyano is pretty much gone but seems to be coming back a little - not as bad as before at all. The big thing though is my readings. In 6 days my PO4 went from 1ppm to about 0.4ppm and my NO3 has gone from 10 to 5.0. I'm assuming the chaeto is doing its job, and the rock was leaking PO4. All this without a wc yet.

I don't have a powerfilter, but there is room in my fuge, in the return chamber to run a phosphate sponge - for now I'm going to keep an eye on it and hopefully watch it go down naturally. For the time being, I'm going to keep the lighting cut back to keep cyano at bay until PO4 is 0. But, the tank looks much better.

Thanks, Steve-s.

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Old 08-28-2005, 02:36 PM   #9
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Great news

I think you'll find the chaeto will be your biggest asset. Keep up the maintenance and allow the rock you removed to age without nutrient for a while and it should be okay. Just remember to change the water it's in every so often to allow for dilution.

As far as the lights are concerned, keep in mind this isn't a cause/catalyst to algae growth only a component of growth if you get my meaning. Shutting down the light for any period of time only removes a requirement, not what actually caused it in the first place.

Cheers
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Old 08-28-2005, 02:46 PM   #10
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Would Red-sea Pom-Pom Xenia help in reducing the PO4 and the NO3? Also would having a seahare help in the control of hair algae's until they are gone? Wouldn't clam's as well as other bi-valves come in as a good filter for these nutrients to? How about a Scallop fuge?

I don't mean to hijack here.......... Just curious.
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