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Very low to undetectable Nitrates, but high Phosphates

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  • Very low to undetectable Nitrates, but high Phosphates

    So have a slightly over 3 month old nano reef that has had pretty decent water parameters so far. Nitrates recently dropped down to undetectable (<0.25 ppm) on my Red Sea pro kit, but interestingly my Phosphates, which were previously in the 0.02-0.03 ppm range, have shot up to 0.11 ppm on my Hanna checker.

    Looking to see if anyone has had a similar situation, or knows if this is normal sometimes and an expected relationship somehow between seeing decreases in Nitrates and increases in Phosphates.

    Not sure if bad practice for water testing, but I've been sampling the water just prior to the weekly water changes, but AFTER I clean all the glass which usually has had a good portion in the back covered by brown film algae (diatoms I think still). I'm wondering if the recently scrubbed off film algae could influence the test results, and result in non-representative steady state conditions of the tank.

    Any insight appreciated as usual...thanks!
    Last edited by CarlosM; 03-18-2019, 03:10:49 PM.

  • #2
    Following. Maybe wait a day or two and test again?

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    • #3
      Yeah, my plan is to test again on Friday before I clean or disturb anything...but still curious to see if anyoneís experienced this. On a Nano Reef forum, some ppl believe this happens when bacteria runs out of Nitrate and they can no longer digest as much Phosphate as a result.

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      • #4
        Good evening, by chance are you using ro/di water for your salt water mix? Also it seems like your tank is still cycling with the brown algae, just my thoughts.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by mookie63 View Post
          Good evening, by chance are you using ro/di water for your salt water mix? Also it seems like your tank is still cycling with the brown algae, just my thoughts.
          Hi Mookie. For my small tank, Ive been using distilled water from the store, which Ive tested and consistently alway found TDS to be at 0. Not sure if everybody agrees, but as I understand properly distilled water is as good, or sometimes better than RO/DI water, so I donít suspect its an issue with the water source.

          Is Brown or Diatom algae on glass usually not an issue with a fully cycled tank? I was under impression that you could still get that kind of algae even in a well-established tank.

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          • #6
            Cant remember if you have fish or inverts but fish food can be a source of phosphates. Whatever the source is, Phosban works pretty well. I have it in bulk if you want to try some. Golden algaes (diatoms) are more common in newer tanks but it is true that they can still happen in established tanks. I notice them more on surfaces that do not have an already established biofilm. Such as on rock and sand that started out dry. I think once the higher algaes establish they outcompete the diatoms.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by WindowReefs View Post
              Cant remember if you have fish or inverts but fish food can be a source of phosphates. Whatever the source is, Phosban works pretty well. I have it in bulk if you want to try some. Golden algaes (diatoms) are more common in newer tanks but it is true that they can still happen in established tanks. I notice them more on surfaces that do not have an already established biofilm. Such as on rock and sand that started out dry. I think once the higher algaes establish they outcompete the diatoms.
              Iíve got fish and inverts. Thanks, Iíll let you know about the Phosban. Is assume GFO is often preferred over Aluminum Oxide for PO4 removal due to potential to irritate corals, right?

              Ive got nano packs of Chemipure Blue which although probably not as effective as straight up GFO, I will try first and see if I can reduce PO4 to sustained acceptable levels.

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              • #8
                Not sure about the iritation from personal experience but i know people have opinions aboit which is best. I have personally only used phosban. I also have some phosguard though. I think they do work a little differently.

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