Schism: A little more background...
Water - I use tap water conditioned with Prime. I realize that I should probably be using RO
water. I will do tests on my tap water to find out if it's contributing to the phosphate issue.
Filtration - I use about 250 lbs of live rock for my biological filtration. Just last night I saw my protein skimmer wasn't producing any skimmate so I took it apart and found the problem (there was a clog in the airline). Since then it's been going crazy collecting skimmate.
Livestock/feeding - 5 damsels, 3 tangs, 2 cardinals, maybe 20 snails in the sand. I'm planning to get a couple more fish as well. They get fed once every day what they'll eat in two minutes, pellet food and various kinds of frozen food, plus algae for the tangs. I realize that this probably contributes to the high nitrates/phosphates, especially since I don't strain out my food before putting it in the tank.
The nitrates are probably that high mostly because I'm still recovering from a nitrate spike earlier. I've never measured the phosphates in this tank before. My goal is to make the levels stable before I get them down to acceptable reef levels. I mainly want to find out what all the tricks in my arsenal are for getting the levels down and keeping them down. I understand how these products work -- they soak up nitrates/phosphates until they are "full" of them, and then the media must be changed. I just wanted to see how effective these products are, and if they're better used regularly to help maintain appropriate levels or to get the levels down to where they need to be (or both, or neither).
Tank Specs | Adam's Flog
<--link to all the details on this tank in case you need it.