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FAQs on Marine Water Quality involving Phosphates, Chemical Filtration

Related Articles: Phosphates in Marine Aquarium Systems by Marco Lichtenberger, Carbon Dosing; An Effective Means of Phosphate and Nitrate Control, by James Gasta, Phosphates in Carbon; An analysis of the phosphate content of activated Carbon by Steven Pro, Ammonia, Nitrates, Nitrites, SilicatesMarine Chemical Filtrants,

Related FAQs: Phosphates 1, Phosphates 2, & FAQs on Phosphate: Importance, Science, Measure, Sources, Control, Troubleshooting/Fixing, & Nitrates, NitritesAmmonia, Silicates, Avoiding Algae Problems in Marine System, Nutrient Control and Export, Algae Control, Marine Maintenance, AlkalinityChemical Filtrants

These can work.... in moderation As with all products, best to "cast ones net out far" and ask other hobbyists re specific brands... on BB's, at Clubs, LFS's. These can be toxic in their use... Best to avoid/prevent phosphate introduction, and otherwise deal with it biologically.

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Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Stubborn Nitrites... Another case of zip [HPO4]       5/8/17
Hello Crew! Thank you for all of the advice over the years. Your site has been an invaluable resource.
<Ah, good>
I'm having a problem with stubbornly high Nitrites after (during?) a cycle for a quarantine tank and I'm out of ideas.
<Well; quarantine systems tend to be unstable, disallowing establishment and ready metabolism of beneficial microbe populations... Do you have sufficient biomedia, circulation about it to sponsor nitrification?>
QT is 20g, HOB BioWheel filter with bagged carbon and GFO (there was a Phosphate issue from uncured dry rock in the display tank).
<Is there still "some" soluble phosphate present? You NEED some for microbial conversion of Nitrite to Nitrate... Re-read that last statement>
Also has a small skimmer as I intend to follow the mantra "Quarantine everything, corals and all" with this new display tank (150g). QT is bare bottom except for some pieces of pvc for hiding spots and tests at 0 Ammonia, 20 Nitrates, 2 Nitrites, 0 Po4,
<Bingo: Here's at least part of the problem. Remove most/all of the GFO>

480Ca, 9dkh, and 1250mg.
We use water from the display tank for water changes (was an attempt to seed, but also a way of acclimating the critters to heir eventual conditions. Currently the only inhabitants are 3 Scarlet Reef hermits.
Nitrates are coming down (artificially high from early on when the both tanks were showing 100+ Nitrates.... DT now shows zero after water changes and a little impatient Vinegar dosing).
<Won't help>
What is NOT moving however are the Nitrites. They've been floating between 2-3 for weeks. The QT has been running for almost 2 months and they just won't come down. I've tried everything. I've even added SeaChem stability to the area behind the Filter wheel in an effort to directly add <sic, aid?> the bacteria necessary. It just won't come down (but isn't going up either). We are doing water changes, but only @10% weekly. I know that a
bare bottom tank takes longer to cycle, but this just seems absurd. I would have expected a spike and then drop over a longer time. Not a constant 2-3ppm with no movement. The kit is Salifert, brand new, and tests fine at 0ppm on the DT as well. I'm completely out of ideas. Any thoughts? I know Nitrites are not as bad for marine organisms, but I'm not relishing the thought of subjecting a really cool frag to Nitrites just because I can't get this thing to fully cycle.
<Your situation is very commonly misunderstood. "Some" phosphate is absolutely necessary to all life... part of DNA, RNA, Phospholipids in every cell... ADP, ATP energy transfer molecules... AND conversion of NO2 to NO3... The (over) use of chemical filtrants has killed more livestock than pathogenic disease. Remove the rust and you will find your nitrite gone in short order>
Thanks again!!
<Glad to help Frank. Bob Fenner>

Phosban reactor... utility, mis-use     6/21/13
I have a 57 rimless saltwater aquarium. I have a 20 gal sump refugium with macro, a reef octopus 110 skimmer. Would a PhosBan reactor with biopellets do good for my system??
<Am not a fan of these chemical filtrants for most hobbyist systems... See WWM re... IF you're going to keep photo-, chemo-synthates they need measurable HPO4 (and NO3). Biopellets likewise are over-rated. Few systems
have trouble with carbon deficiency. Better to use other methods of control, provision... All gone over and over...
Bob Fenner> 

Can I remove too much PO4 from my marine aquarium?   5/5/13
It has been several years since I last felt the need ask a question, which I think is a good thing. I have a 35 gallon tall marine aquarium with a pair of reidi seahorses ( I will soon be adding another pair), 1 mandarin (I would like to add an opposite sex mandarin), 2 turbans and 3 Strombus alatus. These critters have been in the tank for a long time. I also have a variety of live rock with star polyps, mushroom polyps, and Kenya tree coral. There is a healthy (to my sense anyway) mix of calcareous algae and Bryopsis on some of the live rock. At least I think it's Bryopsis. It is a dark green short tough filament. I also get a very very light build up of diatoms on the tank sides which the turbans seem to like. I clean it off once a week or so.
I have a Remora hang on protein skimmer, a PhosBan 150 reactor
 and a Penguin 250 bio wheel. I use the activated carbon filters in the bio wheel. I have no other water movement because of the seahorses. I use Instant Ocean Reef Crystals mixed with RO water and I use straight RO water to top off. I also have a Coralife fixture with a 10k daylight and an actinic blue light. I change the bulbs once a year.
Finally, my water is, with very rare occasions, crystal clear. Specific gravity is 1.024, dKH is 7.8 and calcium is 350 ppm. There are no measurable nitrites or nitrates. I am religious about water changes and my chemistry is very stable at these readings. My question is phosphates, they also always measure 0 or at least below 0.03 ppm. (For alkalinity, calcium and phosphate, I use Salifert test kits and use the higher sensitivity procedures.)
Can I have too little phosphate?
<Is possible, yes... the soft coral (Kenya) needs some as a chemosynthate, and your snails need such indirectly in the algae they eat>
Do I really have little or no phosphate?
<Likely little in solution; most all is "bound up" in the life in your system, and/or insolubilized (precipitated) and not likely at all to become available/measurable in solution again>
 I know there must be some in the tank but it is not measurable. I recently added some Palythoas and a couple of different button polyps
<Do take care w/ these... toxic Zoanthids... to you, your other livestock if stressed, mis/handled>
each on fragments that I would like to train to the live rock. My goal is to create a rock wall up one side of the tank with soft corals. (These would be secured to PVC pipe with zip ties.) I know this will take a long time but I've read on WetWebMedia that too little PO4 is bad for corals. At one time, I had a very healthy growth of Halimeda but it suddenly died off and  I replaced it with the star polyp.
Is there anything I should be doing do to successfully grow the soft corals?
<Not likely, no... "just" feeding your fishes will add sufficient HPO4 for all here... I would ditch the reactor as mentioned>
The tank is 24 inches tall and I know less light reaches the bottom. But the star polyps have done well for over a year. Is the lighting sufficient?
 I'd prefer not to spend a lot of money on halogens.
<I wouldn't either>
Thanks for such a great site!
<Thank you. Bob Fenner>
-          David
Re: Can I remove too much PO4 from my marine aquarium?   5/5/13

Thank you sir! Thank you very much.
<Ahh! Welcome. BobF>

Lanthanum - chloride or carbonate?    1/7/13
When I was dealing with major phosphate issues for a previous live rock batch, you had suggested lanthanum. I had started my tank over long ago, tested no phosphates after curing newly ordered Fiji live rock (confirming undetectable), and never again tested until recently. I discovered a reading of 1ppm, Yowzah, where did that come from...
<... life>
I've done several other system changes recently (including RO/DI filtration changes), and am trying to eliminate introduction of this nutrient at its source.
I would like to try lanthanum to eliminate the phosphate currently in my system. I see there are alternatives - lanthanum chloride, lanthanum carbonate. Do you know which is the better to use?
<The Chloride... easier to search this vs. carboxylate. B>
Re: Lanthanum - chloride or carbonate?

Bob, thank you. Do you have any opinion on Blue Life Phosphate Rx?
<A good product in my estimation>
 Seems to
be touted by some reputable reef/bloggers out there, although I see that folks have not had success in getting the manufacturer to divulge the active ingredient(s).
<It's... what you think>
 That makes me leery, so thought I'd see if you have
thoughts. Dave
Re: Lanthanum - chloride or carbonate?     2/14/13

Bob, I've been using the Seaklear pool phosphate reduction product, at your suggestion that I research Lanthanum. I used to achieve short-term astounding reductions.
<Ah good>
 I may have taken an approach too aggressive for a reef tank, but as my tank is FOWLR and I have been using a 5 micron filter sock, I didn't believe cons would outweigh the benefits. To date, I haven't noticed any ill effects.
<Real good>
I hope to reuse the 5 micron socks, as these are expensive. Do you think that a soak/rinse in a diluted bleach solution will help remove the lanthanum precipitate?
<Mmm, am going to try to find this out via the Net: Well... the carbonate would be more soluble in acids... And chlorine bleach is a conjugate acid/base... but it's too caustic and problematic to humans to suit me...
I'd likely try a simple organic acid (try acetic/vinegar)... on the sleeves (Dacron likely)... at various concentrations, times soaking... and please report back. Bob Fenner>
Re: Lanthanum - chloride or carbonate?     2/14/13

Bob: thanks! Will do, and will give the full report!
<Ah, good>
Just FYI: In my 200G system, I went from 1.5mg/L to .05mg/L in about 1 week time...dosing straight into skimmer...~12mL per 24 hours (i.e., enough to clog the filter sock on the skimmer return)...repeating this amount/duration three times.
Your recommendation was golden. I can't count the $$, time, adverse impact saved by this protocol!
<Welcome. BobF>

Re: FOWLR Fish stocking... HPO4 contr.      6/13/12
Incredibly helpful, Bob and Jordan. In your view, would the Lanthanum dosing possibly effect a long-term reduction after it is discontinued?
<Perhaps... depends on what inputs, and outputs there are...>
Or will it only be effective while used? I had done some research on all measures recommended by Bob, as I had not given them much consideration for my FOWLR system plan. I had especially tried to investigate Lanthanum, but it appears that its use is not yet widespread - very surprising given its effectiveness in various tests described. Thanks.
<Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/phosphatemar.htm
plus the linked files above... for review and general input. BobF>

Deep Blue Professional Phosphate Reducer    1/30/12
Hey, there!  In an effort to reduce my phosphates, I purchased a "Deep Blue Professional Phosphate Reducer" from my Local Fish Store.
<Mmm, by and large am not a fan of such "pads"... soluble HPO4 can and should, if necessary, be handled in other ways. See WWM re>
 I cut it to size and put it in my sump.  Not long after, I noticed my protein skimmer over-bubbling.  I guess some of whatever was in the filter caused it to go nuts.
<Yes; happens>
 Trying to see what might be going on, I started researching some things online.  The only helpful hint I got was on Reef Central
(http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1968434) and it didn't actually address my foaming issue, but rather indicated that the product raised the pH quite a bit.
  I hadn't tested my pH since I put it in, so I went ahead and did that and found that it was over 8.5 (my kit only goes up to 8.5)(it doesn't go to 11).
<No need>
  My tank is FOWLR and a couple of mushroom thingies, and nobody seemed to be in any sort of discomfort, but I didn't like the reading and the extra foam, so I pulled the product out of my tank and did a 20% water change.
<Good moves>
 My pH returned to normal and nobody seemed adversely affected in the tank.  I did some reading and saw that one way to remove phosphates was to raise the pH so they'd precipitate out.
<Can work>
 Have you heard of this product before?  Is that what's going on here? 
<Not much and don't know>
I was unable to find ANY information on reaching the manufacturer via e-mail or phone,
<Me neither>
though the packaging does have an address where I can send mail.  I've seen this product and two of the three LFSs I frequent, and asking one of the clerks, he had no clue that this product behaved this way.  I ended up buying some PhosZorb to lower my phosphates (which works great, btw), but I wanted to ask about this product to see if anyone else had the same experience.  Isn't it a bad idea to raise pH quickly like that?
<If only a bit, in the right direction, not generally>
  Could it be that the pH wasn't actually raised, but that something released by these pads just reacted with the test reagents to produce a falsely high reading?
<Mmm, much more likely selective absorption led/leads to elevated pH here>
I would have to assume this product is safe for its intended use, or else it wouldn't be for sale, right?
<I would not make this assumption. Unfortunately; through all the decades of my involvement in the hobby/trade, there have been scam products; some benign (placebos) others potentially to actually harmful>
 Or is that naïve?  What are your thoughts on this, and what would you have done in my situation?
<Again, am not a fan of phosphate removers by and large. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/phosphatemar.htm
the linked files above>
Thanks in advance for your help.  You guys are awesome and I learn more and more every time I sit and read your site.
<Me too>
Darrel Owen
<Bob Fenner>

Using commercially available Ferric Oxide, HPO4 control  12/18/11
<Hello there>
I live in Sri Lanka and have been in the Marine hobby for over a decade now. While livestock is easy to come about, naturally, equipment and supplies specific to Reefkeeping are somewhat more difficult. To date I haven't been able to find any Marine Aquarium Phosphate Adsorbing media.
The other day I was thinking, whether it would be possible to use commercially available Ferric Oxide in powder form (coarse powder) in an appropriately constructed reactor (I'm thinking of something along the lines of a fluidized bed)
<Mmm, yes; one could>
Would you advise such a set up
<I would not in most all cases... Better to rely on excluding excess soluble HPO4 and use biological take-up measures than rely on chemical filtrants>
 and would I be able to obtain the benefit I require. My aquarium is having a slight phosphate and silicate problem which is causing a Cyano Bacterial Bloom.
<Where are these nutrients coming from? Do you have biota to use them?>
Your website has been an immense support for me and I constantly turn to it for information I require, however I have been unable to find anything with regard to this particular matter and I would be very grateful if you could assist me.
Many thanks and warm regards.
<Certainly welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Using commercially available Ferric Oxide
Thank you so very much for your response... As for where the nutrients are coming from, I am suspecting it is the salt mix.
<Easy enough to test for... and your source water>
 I don't trust what is available here but am forced to use it as the salt water hobby is extremely small here and salt varieties even more extremely limited.  I have a diatom bloom every single time i perform a water change which is usually once every two to three weeks and I experience all out growth for a few days after which it reduces sharply until the next subsequent water change.
<I see>
I also use the city's tap water which I age and run activated carbon in for at least 48 hours prior to use and don't seem to have any problem. There doesn't seem to be a problem as the water is very clean and they use only chlorine here. The water is used for top off as well which is about a gallon a day and this does not seem to affect the growth rate of the diatoms. However there might be an input of silicates from the water supply as my tank parameters are as follows:
Ph: 8.2
Temperature: 28 C
Salinity: 1.025
Nitrates: less than 5 PPM
Phosphates: Undetectable (API Test Kit)
Calcium: 400 PPM
Hardness: 10
All livestock looks great, in fact better sometimes than the specimens at the holding facility (where I get my livestock from) and the local zoo.
And apart from a dancing shrimp which I lost nearly a year ago (likely from old age) I haven't had a single fatality. Reverse Osmosis systems are extremely cost prohibitive here costing nearly as much as the entire system excluding live rock. Just today I have got a new 55 gallon tank which will become the new display.
Thanks for your assistance. Your website has been invaluable. Glad there are chaps like y'all around.
Warm regards
<And you. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Maintaining a favorable level of nitrates and phosphates    8/9/11
Greetings again, Crew. I'm writing to you (again) with some questions over some information I've gleaned from your site over the last few days.
In particular, upon reading Bob Fenner's article on stony coral feeding posted to your site in February of last year, it has become abundantly clear that the "aggressive protein skimming" that magazines and LFS's endorse as the industry standard may, in fact, be robbing our system of DOC's completely in removing the still organic debris in our systems. I am currently seeking a way to allow an acceptable level of Nitrates and Phosphates to enter into my system, in order to promote better health/growth/color for my Cnidarians.
I have a Biocube 29, running a CPR SR3 skimmer which, in this lidded system, is the main method that I'm adding oxygen to the water (so I've been told, this is a great benefit of skimming).
<This is so>
I also run a bag of Chemi-Pure Elite, and a bag of Purigen. This is a direct result of trying to starve out a diatom and Cyano bloom that occurred in two separate instances. It was suggested to me prior to allow the chemical media to age, and not replace too frequently.
<Yes; a good idea/practice>
Would it be acceptable in a system of this size to only run one bag of chemical media?
Also, Mr. Fenner's article suggested running punctuated skimming (particularly to shut off the skimmer during feeding for a short while).
What is a recommended period for skimming, and will this have a large impact on the oxygen levels in my system?
<As long as the system is "not too crowded, overfed..." you should be fine to run the skimmer on/off every few hours; particularly off during nighttimes...>
(Unfortunately, testing for dissolved oxygen is still out of my reach at this point.) I am hoping that with a few minor tweaks I will be able to afford my underwater acquaintances with a more suitable environment.
On an unrelated note, I am eager to give back to the community in the only way I know how: observation and documentation. To do this, I have set up a personal page on a website that allows me to post pictures of my tank and write up my observations.
Would it be permissible for me to occasionally post links to articles on WWM?
I have learned so much through your helpful articles, and would like to be able to point others in the direction of your expert advice and care (while of course maintaining that I am in no way affiliated with those who operate WWM).
<Ahh, I hope in time you may join us, as a Crewmember, mentor... dive/adventure co-traveler>
Thank you for all you do!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: Maintaining a favorable level of nitrates and phosphates   8/10/11

Many thanks to Bob for his through and encouraging response. And hello to all on call today!
<Hey back Dustin>
Very quick question this morning: what are the optimal Nitrate and Phosphate levels, as the "zero across the board" approach is proving less and less affective in home aquaria?
<Really, any appreciable... measurable... Higher than 0.0, for hobbyist settings>
Thanks again!
<Welcome. BobF>

PhosBan Use and Alkalinity -- 12/20/10
Hello crew!
<<Hiya Gregg!>>
Thank you so much for providing such an invaluable service for us with all your information!
<<Is our pleasure to share>>
This question to you concerns my 50 gal reef tank's rapidly falling alkalinity. After reading many articles on your site and many of the FAQ's and articles regarding causes for alkalinity depletion in a reef tank, I saw one quick reference to the effect that use of PhosBan (Or would that be any ferric oxide hydroxide type of phosphate removers?) caused a depletion of alkalinity.
<<If true, it would apply to 'any' iron-based media I would think. But'¦ I don't recall anything to substantiate this claim>>
Does this really happen?
<<Not that I am aware'¦or at least, not to any great degree>>
Since there was only one brief mention out of all the other articles and questions, I would assume that it's not something that happens very often.
<<I don't think there has been any real 'science' performed to prove/disprove this, specifically. In fact, a quick search of the Net turns up claims that iron-based Phosphate media 'does not' deplete Alkalinity. But assuming for the sake of argument that it could, unless you are utilizing huge amounts of this media in relation to the water volume I don't think it is the source of any Alkalinity problems you may be having. In other words'¦I would look to 'other' causes re Alkalinity issues>>
Any info you could give about the chemistry of phosphate removers would be greatly appreciated. Is it possible that the PhosBan I use in a media bag that's layered together with Chemi-Pure, Poly-Filter, and Purigen in a power outside filter is either used up or is somehow competing with the other chemical filtration medias?
<<I don't think 'competing' is an issue. The use of differing methodologies (e.g. -- a DSB 'and' a vegetable refugium, or in your case, multiple filter media-types) only enhances water quality by bridging any 'gaps' in the performance of one methodology/media-type over another. But'¦these media will likely 'exhaust' at different rates -- it would be best to utilize them in media-specific reactors/filters, to be replenished as needed, for the differing media types>>
The tank water is currently tested weekly with a new (three month old) Salifert Phosphate test kit and the reading is consistently zero (or at least any color change is too faint to detect). The tank has been tested weekly since its startup 4 1/2 years ago and the Phosphate levels have tested out as essentially zero for the last three years. The tank receives 20-25% water changes weekly of Reef Crystals made up of RO/DI water that's been circulated and aerated for 12 to 24 hours before being mixed to a SG of 1.025 then aerated for 24 hours before being used. Despite the water changes, the tank's alkalinity falls by 1.0 meq of alkalinity weekly (tested with a Salifert KH/Alkalinity test kit), despite receiving daily doses of Seachem Reef Builder (1 tsp for a 50 gal tank). Is it possible that the main culprit is a high nutrient load in the tank, even though nitrites and nitrates test out at zero (The Seachem nitrite/nitrate test kit still tests OK whenever the reference sample supplied with it is used to see if the kit is still working).
<<Mmm, probably more an issue of the 'consumer' load in the tank'¦meaning that your salt mix and supplementation ratio are not sufficient to keep up with the tanks 'needs' re Alkaline materials. A simple increase in dosing is likely all that is needed here'¦especially so if this tank is heavily stocked>>
Is it possible that the tank's moderately heavy bioload,
<<Ah, a clue'¦>>
which includes too much red Cyanobacteria and other nuisance algae now, is extracting the nutrients faster than they can appear in the water column?
<<Almost assuredly this is so>>
The pH used to be steady at 8.2 for over three years until the bioload started getting heavier.
<<Indeed'¦and promoting an increase in acidifying molecules>>
Now it fluctuates from 7.9 in the morning to 8.2 in the afternoon.
<<Acceptable'¦in my opinion>>
The tank has pretty good circulation (about 2500 gph total with the power outside filter, sump pump, and two power heads all directed towards each other for some turbulence)
<<Do a Net search re 'Gyre' type flow for aquariums'¦seems much better/efficient than 'random turbulent' we are learning>>
so it's doubtful if there is a buildup of CO2 to erode the Alkalinity.
<<Not necessarily'¦ A high concentration of Carbon Dioxide in the house (due to being 'sealed up' for the winter, and especially so if using gas/propane fired heating) could contribute to higher CO2 loads in the tank water'¦even with a lot of 'flow'>>
Yet the alkalinity continues to fall at a rate that would be critically low in only a week or so if left unattended to.
<<1 meq/L of Alkalinity lost weekly is not exceptional in my experience, and should be easily adjusted with additional dosing (and cheaply, with simple Sodium Bicarbonate/Baking Soda)>>
Hopefully this short description of the system and some of its chemistry helps. I'll be happy to supply you with more info if you need it.
<<It really just sounds like your system has a bio-mineral demand that is higher than what is currently available. Perhaps your 'load' is such that the addition of a Kalkwasser or Calcium reactor is warranted. You could also swap out some 'old' live rock for 'new' live rock to boost bio-mineral content of the system. Or simply step-up dosing as suggested earlier>>
Thanks again for your help.
Gregg Voss
Buena Vista, Colorado
<<Happy to assist'¦ Eric Russell -- Columbia, SC>>

Phosphate Control 10/14/10
Hello Crew,
<Hi Steven>
Many thanks as always for your support, and dedication to the hobby / industry.
<You're welcome.>
It has been a while since I have written, however I have come across an interesting product to control/lower Phosphates. The main ingredient (I believe) in the product is lanthanum chloride. It is purported to precipitate (not remove or filter) phosphates out of water. I am interested to know if this is potentially harmful to a tank's inhabitants, biological filter, or Ph/Alkalinity in a marine system?
<I have heard reports of this product being used to control phosphates in marine aquariums with success. In it's non-diluted state, it is a very potent chemical and care must be taken to avoid overdosing.
A 11ml dose in 700 gallons of water is said to remove 1ppm of phosphate. I have read that Brightwell Aquatics uses lanthanum chloride (very diluted) in their Phosphat-E product and it's rather expensive, about 25 bucks for 500ml.>
While I know there are general good husbandry techniques to limit phosphate, sometimes despite limitation of organic input, frequent water changes, aggressive skimming, and chemical filtration, there seems to be thresholds of PO4 that just can't be lowered.....mainly with older/aged tanks. This product is sold in liquid form, and if one was trying to get a little lower than a media could get you, then it seemed intriguing at a minimum. Would this be recommended over an iron or alumina based phosphate remover?
<I personally have no experience using this chemical and will ask Bob and crew for their input here.
<<What little I presently know is archived on WWM. RMF>>
 You may also want to post this query on one of the forums and continue Googling. Our forum can be found here.
Your input is greatly appreciated.
Best regards,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Phosphate -- 09/29/09

<Hello Becky.>
I wrote a day ago about a PO4 problem. The tank is 155g. What is the best way to export PO4 from live rock that has been sitting in a tank with a PO4 level of 5 for a few years?
<If it has to happen fast (in less than a few months) I'd look into the use of iron (or aluminium) based phosphate adsorbing media. It's sold by many companies as Ultiphos, UltraPhos, Diakat, Rowaphos'¦ to name a few. The granular media can be put into a filter sock or in a specific filter with little flow. After the phosphate has been adsorbed (and is no longer decreasing) the media is removed and replaced. If you have more time skimming and export by algae growth can be sufficient depending on how much fish is in the system. This route is more natural, but will take much longer.>
It was a FOWLR and I've decided to keep coral. I'm having a problem. I've just added a fuge. I've cut down on feeding the fish.
<Don't make them starve.>
I'm very aggressive with water changes. I've also tried a PO4 removal product. Is PO4 in the substrate too?
Currently, the PO4 reading is at 0.5.
<Quite an improvement.>
Will it ever go away?
<Can, depending on future actions.>
Should I try to precipitate it out?
<I would not.>
Would that give me a head start until the Chaeto catches up with consumption?
<Maybe, but it will create another phosphate reservoir.>
<Cheers. Marco.>

Phosphate resin material, and O3 intro.  5/5/09
Hi Bob,
You recently gave a great talk to our club(CMAS) in Maryland. The topic was ozone and ozone generators. Do you recommend hooking the outlet up to the protein skimmer?
<Yes I do. This is the best place>
If so does it have any effect on the plastics that make up the skimmer?
<It should not... almost all skimmers are made with "good enough" materials to preclude such>
I have two air input tubes. Do you feed it directly into one of the tubes?
<Yes... whichever leads into the main mixing area, the contact chamber, of your skimmer>
Do you think it is possible to run two tanks off of the same unit. I am looking at the Ozotech unit?
<Mmm... I do think this might be possible, though metering could prove problematical>
I also asked you about phosphate removal and you said that the best material now is lamison (not sure of the spelling). Could you please give me the correct name and who makes this product?
<Yes. Lanthanide>
Thanks again for the great presentation.
Mark Strohman
<Welcome Mark. Bob Fenner>

Re: Phosphate resin material 5/5/09
Bob, thanks for the info. Can you tell me the name of Lanthanide product and where to purchase them?
<Mmm, nope. Best for you to try the hobby bb's. B>

Nitrate Sponge & Phosban Don't Mix! 1/29/09 Hi Crew, <Hello BC> This is more a commentary than a question. Hopefully it might prevent some other person from making the same mistake. I have a 90g Reef Tank with a 40g sump with circulation pumps, heaters and a Turboflotor 1000 Multi Skimmer (which I love and highly recommend). I like to be able to run a little Polyfilter or other media without going full canister filter, so I also have a Aquaclear 110 hooked on the back of the sump. I've run Kent Marine Nitrate Sponge in a twin setup on my FOWLR 90g for years. Where's the problem? I added Phosban to the mix. I've never used the products but was having a problem with hair algae and figured it might help with the phosphates I assume are feeding them even though tests kits read zero across the board for phosphates, ammonia, nitrite & nitrates. <Likely> Anyway, I added both the Kent Marine Nitrate Sponge and the Phosban at the same time. Wince. In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have, but there you go. The skimmer immediately started having a fit-- producing copious amounts of super wet foam. I removed both the Nitrate Sponge and the Phosban (once I narrowed down the cause) and slipped in some Polyfilter hoping it might help. I'd just performed a water change so I didn't have any more aged water on hand. The corals and fish looked fine--perky, so I crossed my fingers, disconnected the frothing skimmer and waited until the next day hoping things would "right" themselves. They didn't--although the corals and fish looked no worse for wear. I performed another 20 gallon water change. The skimmer improved marginally--it took 30 seconds to fill the cup instead of 10. I decided a huge water change was in order. The following evening I changed 50 gallons. It seems to have worked. The foam is still a little wet, but its gradually improving. The only thing I can figure out is that there was a reaction between the Nitrate Sponge and the Phosban that effected the water. At first I figured an airline on the skimmer was clogged, but it wasn't. I also tested the unit in my FOWLR tank. It produced normal, dry foam there. I tested the skimmer on the new patch of water, to see if their was something funny coming in through the tap. Again, no problem. I don't use any water conditioner since I always let my water age for at least 24 hours. I'd added nothing else to the tank. Unless it was the Phosban alone (which I doubt), then it had to be the combination of the two. Have you ever heard of this? Do you know of anyone who runs both these medias together? It was a real pain in the rear. Thankfully I didn't loose any live stock to it, in fact, my corals seem happier than I've ever seen them--must be all that nice new water! Anyway, I saw nothing on your site about a possible conflict between the two, so I thought I'd put this out there. <Wondering if the Phosban should have been rinsed out thoroughly before use. As far as the Nitrate Sponge, it's just a porous zeolite that fosters anaerobic bacteria aiding your denitrification system in converting nitrate to nitrogen. It has no properties that directly remove nitrate from saltwater. This product should cause no reactions with Phosban. Might be something else going on here. Bob may have some input here.><<Nope. Nothing new. RMF>> Cheers! <Good day to you. James (Salty Dog)> BC

Clearmax aka Phos-X: why the cautionary warning re inverts?   1/6/09 I have a 50 g reef tank, loaded with live rock and a good, deep (4 to 6 inches) live sandbed, with 25 g sump/refugium in which I have more live rock and sand in the refugium, and in the sump an Urchin protein skimmer and a phosphate reactor where I have been using Rowaphos. While my phosphate levels remain below 0.5 and my nitrate is about the same, I prefer to have the phosphate reactor there to deal with any excess in case of occasional overfeeding-- it's backup protection "Just in Case". <I see> I did have Chaeto in the refugium, but I wasn't paying close attention to it and it melted on me, and the resulting toxin killed a couple of corals before I figured out the problem. <Unusual... Do you mean the genus Caulerpa?> Livestock is: one six-line wrasse, one flame angel, two percula clowns, one Firefish, two cleaner shrimp, half-a-dozen blue-legged crabs, one Foxface (which I will sell when he gets too big), and a mural goby. Coral includes Duncan coral, frogspawn, hammer coral, torch coral, bubble coral, brain coral, plenty of mushrooms of varying sorts, white star polyp, and some xenia. I use distilled water for WCs, but I do use Prime-treated tap water to top up the tank, having checked it out for bad juju. My city's system is fresh water straight piped from Canada's unpolluted Precambrian Shield. Its only problem is the chlorine and chloramine the Prime removes, and in summer, we do get some algae bloom in the lake the water comes from, along with higher than I'd like phosphate (one reason for the reactor). My nearby LFS doesn't carry RowaPhos so I picked up Clearmax (which used to be Phos-X). The product insert says to use with caution on marine invertebrates, but offers no further explanation, nor can I find one at the Hagen/Fluval site. <Mmm> Have you any knowledge of why this caution would be there? <My foremost guess is the identification of a need for "some" soluble phosphate... is an essential nutrient... Think back to H.S. chemistry... ADP, ATP... of all life... You don't want to remove all... for fear of chemically starving chemoautotrophs. Fishes and most mobile invertebrates should be fine via feeding...> I can always put the stuff in the HOB filter I have dedicated to phosphate removal in my discus tank if there any doubt whatsoever about the wisdom of using it in the reef tank. Judy Waytiuk <I would not be worried if you have any measurable HPO4 presence. Bob Fenner>

Re: Clearmax aka Phos-X: why the cautionary warning re inverts?   1/6/09 Thank you for such a quick response!!! It's much appreciated, especially knowing how busy you WetWebbers are!! <Am barely keeping my head above water! Wait! What am I saying? I'd rather that it be underwater! Cheers, BobF>

Aquafuge vs. Rowaphos  12/7/08 Hey Guys, <Gals too, hello there Steve.> I have been reading your site for information about Refugiums. I am going to add one on my 55 gallon reef. <Good move that you will not regret.> Currently I am using an Aqua C Remora Pro and 90 lbs of live rock with a lot of water movement for my filtration. I also have an Aquaclear 70 HOT filter running with some Rowaphos and filter floss to keep the phosphates down. After reading your site I am left with two questions. 1. If I add an Aquafuge refugium would you recommend removing the Aquaclear filter? <I would, it is of little use with your LR, skimmer and refugium. It just becomes a maintenance burden at this point.> I would no longer need to purchase that expensive Rowaphos. At the same time I need to get the phosphates a bit lower than they are now so I want to make sure that I am actually making headway. I don't want to buy an expensive toy if it isn't going to be any better than the Rowaphos. <These media can actually strip the water of too much phosphate. Do test your levels, but if water changes and the refugium do not keep them in check then it is time to look at the source/problem rather than treating the symptom.> 2. Would any of the 3 Aquafuge models be large enough to produce enough food for a Mandarin Goby? <Not with a 55 gallon display.> I know that refugiums can produce enough food for theses fish but even the largest Aquafuge model is pretty small. <This is one of those cases where many claim it works, with having the fish doing "fine" for 6 months...the same fish in another 6 months will be dead and gone.> Steve <Scott V.>

Large Green Hairy Mushroom Problem, Tropical Sciences, et al. HPO4 filtrant products  12/02/08 Greetings, <Salutations> I've had a large green hairy mushroom for about a year now and it has been doing great. However, I recently used a phosphate pad <... all life needs some phosphate...> from a company called Tropical Science and had very poor results that I think have affected the mushroom. The pad came sealed in bag, but saturated with a ferric hydroxide solution and who knows what else. I should have known better, but I placed the pad in the filter stream of the tank. The water began to immediately cloud up and the mushroom and other corals began closing. I ignorantly left the pad in and after a few hours the water cleared somewhat and corals began opening partially. I left the pad in for a day and then removed it, followed by activated carbon and a 25% water change. Ever since then the large hairy mushroom will not open fully like it did previously. It will open about halfway, but that's it. Today I saw filaments coming from its mouth which I know is not a good sign. I lost one other coral after using the phosphate pad, but all others have recovered fully (open brain, some polyps, some other mushrooms, and a plate coral). Is the large mushroom doomed? <No... that it is opening at all... is still alive, is a good sign> Don't know what else to do here, but I don't want the mushroom to begin melting and polluting the tank. <Mmm, do you have another system to move it to?> I used to feed this guy every week and it seemed like a very hardy species. I'm not sure now after the phosphate pad incident. By the way, the Tropical Science phosphate pads are a complete joke. <Mmm, don't know much re this particular product. Was at a hobbyist pitch years back where someone... (Steve?) gave a talk re their (he worked for the company), and he seemed quite knowledgeable. But, if you take a read through WWM, my public writings, you'll find I am not a fan of these sorts of chemical filtrants period> They are sold on many websites. It's basically a kitchen sponge soaked in ferric chloride and some type of hydroxide to supposedly yield ferric hydroxide. It's a messy product and damages corals. I confirmed it raises pH dramatically by soaking a pad in a bucket of tank water and seeing the pH go from 8.2 to 9.0. <Yikes!> A truly useless and dangerous product. I have switched to Rowaphos pads with no problems. <This product/line/manufacturer is highly regarded internationally> It really irks me to see a vendor package and market a dysfunctional product. <Have you written them (Tropical Science)? I would> Ah, enough ranting, any advice on the hairy mushroom? Thanks, Greg <Just to provide stable, optimized circumstances... keep offering it food... and stay away from chemical filtrants... i.e, re the last, look to other means to limit nutrient. Please read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Sick anemone? BTA rdg.   10/14/08 Hello guys, I was wondering if you could have a look at this rose bubble anemone. I have had it for a couple weeks. It seems to be losing color and getting more spotty looking. Also, the "bubble" tips don't really bubble much. <This last is a clue, but not evidence of diminished health per se> It is open most of the day, but seems to close up into a ball at least a couple times per day. <Mmm> It doesn't move very far from this area. I have fed it small chunks of krill <How small?> a couple times per week. My water parameters are logged, and average at the following: SG: 1.023 <Too low> ph 8.4 Alk 10 dKH ammonia 0 nitrites 0 nitrates 4.0 (steadily decreasing) <Not an issue> po4 0 <Might be an issue... how, why is soluble phosphate zero? IS a necessary component of this (and other) animal's health/nutrition> calcium 420 temp 80 I dose with iodide (half recommended dose) daily. <... I would not do this... Maybe full dose... on days/occasions when you change out water> water changes 15% every other week Any ideas as to why this guy looks so sad? Any input would be appreciated. Thank you. <All the speculations above. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/bubbletipanemones.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: sick anemone? reading... BTA  10/14/08 Perhaps I am incorrect about the po4 level. I just started testing for it with the Salifert test. It is the first time I have used their products. I will retest in case of an error. What is the best result for po4 that I should shoot for? <Mmm... a "trace"... actually, as I vaguely hinted at "IF" you're not doing something to absolutely exclude HPO4, then you're likely fine here... That is, enough will be supplied "incidentally" through all foods, cycling of same...> In the test kit it says that .1 is critically high. <Mmm, I disagree> As for the krill feeding, I cut the frozen krill into pieces about the size of a match stick head. Thanks so much for your help. Jason <Please do read where you were referred. BobF>

Marine, dinos and hair algae... Reading, understanding the appropriate use of chemical filtrants, HPO4  -- 09/08/08 Hi guys <Mmm, inclusive of women I take it/trust> About a month ago I had a dino out break (my Cerith snails weren't as active as usual, some moved onto live rocks and some not moving at all). I increase water change, 10% 3 times a week. I started using carbon, changed every week. Change Rowa phos every week. <Mmm, am not a fan of chemical filtration for soluble Phosphate/s... see WWM re... this could, likely is, part of the "issue" here> I also placed a mechanical filter, using floss, which I change daily. I did this for 2 week but still struggled, I decided to raise my pH to 8.5 over 2 week period. To my surprise this was quite effective. <... Yes> Recently I notice my Euphyllia didn't expand as well as it use to, my clam were half open and all my Zoanthids haven't been open for a while. Would this be the result of carbon absorbing all the nutrient, <Along with the Ferrous use, yes> I really want to keep the carbon operating until all dinos are gone for good. Are there any chemicals or methods to rid this once and for all, Please help. <All posted... see WWM re methods, approaches...> Besides the dinos I have been battling with hair algae for a while, physically pulling them out. I have a golden angel and others are very placid. Can I introduce a baby yellow tang? <Likely so> 180 litre / 40 gallons <Oh! Not likely then... this system is too small> ammonia / nitrite 0 nitrate 10 ppm phosphate 0 (TMC test kit) <... Please do read a bit re... the life you list NEEDS some Phosphate...> salinity 1.026 4 x T5s (12 hours on) I should reduce but I got some Acros, birds nest and stylos. Thanks ever so much. Kindest regards, Alex <... Keep reading. Bob Fenner>

Toxicity in sps reef -- 07/16/08 Hey guys, just had a quick question regarding a vexing issue I have been having. Long story short, the phosphate remover I was using <Mmmm, am compelled (by myself natch) to make a comment that by and large I'm not a fan of hobbyist use of such... unnecessary, better means...> caused an issue with the water's supersaturation point (despite mg of 1400 and frequent water changes, the max at which I could keep alk and ca kept dropping to the point where I could only get alk of 7 and ca of 360. I did extensive reading, and through much trial and error, finally determined it must be GFO (other reefers have reported the same) <Mmm, for browsers... iron oxide hydroxide: A nice piece here re: http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2004-11/rhf/index.php> , I removed it, did a few large water changes and my sps started coloring in colonies I hadn't seen color in over a year! <Ah, yes... some HPO4 is absolutely essential to all life we're interested in> My issue is that the low alk levels brought on the onslaught of Cyano, I run a very clean system, let frozen foods thaw first before use, have a killer skimmer, no sand beds, very little detritus, heavy oxygenation, run ozone, change carbon weekly, use Purigen. My ph is 8.4, alk 12, ca 400, salinity 1.026, no ammonia, trites, or trates but I cant seem to kick the Cyano. It built up over a week so I put a filter sock on the output of that tank and cleaned the tank up. <Good> Within the next few days, sps that had been coloring started losing color again, but have good polyp extension. Some zoas are not opening up either. I have read posts by people saying that when they removed Cyano it caused problems for them even killed fish! <Mmm... one must proceed... cautiously here... BGAs can cause havoc... coming and going> Is it possible the removal of Cyano is stressing out the sps, <Yes> or is it more likely they are just stressed from the changes in alk, ca, mg. <Could be both, either> I have made changes slowly, and use baked baking soda (that's why ph is 8.4). <Mmm, not by itself... sodium bicarbonate> My alk has been over 10 for a week and yet I am not seeing coralline growth. Outside of a few water changes, do you have any recommendations? <Mmmm, "punt"... keep changing water, stop using iron hydroxide... All else reads as fine, should be fine in time. Bob Fenner>

Question For the WWM Team. SPS RTN and Diatom growth... cause/s? Allowance/s?   6/11/08 Dear WWM Staff, <Justin> Your website has been a great resource too me and would like to thank you for your contribution to the hobby through this website, it is invaluable. <Glad you find it useful> I started in the hobby one and a half ago with a 12 gallon nano that was very successful. Six months into it I did my research and upgraded to a 70 gallon system. My current system setup is as follows: Equipment 50g Clear for life pentagon corner acrylic tank with a back corner overflow box. The top front corners are drilled for the two returns, which is powered buy an in sump Eheim 1260 generating a 10x. I installed a closed loop by drilled the bottom right hand side of the tank for intake and the bottom right for the split returns. (see attached illustration 1). <None of these came through. Must be attached...> An external Poseidon PS3, generating an estimated 18x turnover, powers the closed loop creating a circular closed loop flow. I run a VorTech pump in an opposite position to the closed loop at half speed in reef crest mode creating turbulence and an additional 35x. I have a JBJ 1/10th Titanium chiller running in the well ventilated attic directly above the tank that is powered by an external Poseidon PS1, generating an estimated 8x turnover, and returns to the main tank. The lighting is a PFO mini pendant 250 MH running a 14,000K phoenix bulb, replaced last month. I run a 24' 65W, retro fit SunPaq PC actinic bulb and a set of two Current USA moon lights. I recently switched from an ASM G1 skimmer to a Tunze 9010. My sump is a custom built 20 gallon with a built in 3g refuge where I keep 5 lbs of miracle mud and Chaeto under a low watt bulb 24/7. <Stop! I would not have the lighting on continuously here. Chaetomorpha needs a dark phase... I'd arrange the light to overlap, be on when the main display lighting is cycled off> The overflow splits into two where 75% of the flow ends up in the skimmer side of the sump and 25% ends up in the refuge. I run a PhosBan reactor with Eco-Phos connected to a Maxijet 400 that pulls from the skimmer side of the sump and returns to the return side of the sump. I do not run a heater as the house is maintained at 74º and in combination with the MH I have been very successful in maintaining a stable temp of 77º. Current Parameters -- Very stable. Temp 77º Salinity 1.025 pH 8.3 Calcium 450 Alkalinity 10 Magnesium 1350 Nitrates 0 Nitrites 0 Phosphates 0 <Mmm... I'd read a bit re the need for soluble phosphate... your system, with the reactor, may be too "clean" for the livestock's good> Ammonia 0 Maintenance Schedule I change 10% weekly using Reef Crystals, but recently switched to Reefer's Best. <The ZEOvit product> All sponges are removed from the skimmer, pumps, PhosBan reactors and cleaned out, to ensure no phosphate built up. I dose B-Ionic and or DT's new CA/Alk/Mag chemical additives. I dose a little Potassium (explanation later on) and Eco-Systems trace minerals. I run carbon for 5 days a month. I test all water parameters every Sunday at 8pm using Salifert test kits. Feeding Schedule I feed sparingly once a day and or every other day. I feed with Rod's Food (http://www.rodsfood.com/). Bio Load 1 Med. Yellow Tang 1 Dusky Jaw 1 Blue Chromis 2 small Clown fish 1 Royal Blue Tang 1 Small Six-line Wrasse 1 Peppermint Shrimp 1 Emerald crab Large cleanup crew (no stars), snails, (Hawaiian Trochus Grazers, Hawaiian Turbo Grazer, Micro Hermits, Blue hermits, Strombus Grazers conch, ninja, Pinky Cuke, Hawaiian Littorinid Grazers, Astraea, Nassarius) Natural Filtration I have about 50 lbs of live rock and 30lbs of live sand. Light Cycle Moonlights off 7am Actinic on 11am MH on noon MH off 9 pm Actinic off 10 pm Moonlights on 11pm Issues I have two ongoing issues that I cannot seem to resolve. 1) Diatoms -- (one year later) 2) SPS RTN/STN <This both may well be due to the lack/absence of HP04...> I went through a very patient cycle and waited and waited. However I still to this day suffer from Diatoms. I have done everything listed on WWM site and more I have done two days of darkness, however they always return and are very prominent on the sand bed. They are densest by my Dusky Jaw, as assume it's because the snails get used in the construction of his burrow and hence they stay away from him and the sand does not get mixed up in that area, however the rest of tank still suffers from bad diatom blooms. I can keep pink and green Birdsnest that grow thick branches and have wonderful plop extension and color. However, I cannot keep any other SPS. Monti's die by STN/RTN within weeks and never show signs of growth. I started adding potassium as the ZEOvit system promotes it and I had run out of options. I acclimate slowly via the drip method and place the coral low in the tank and slowly raise up towards the light as to not light shock the coral. All other forms of corals start to loose their tissue and then the diatoms start to attach and I inevitably loose the coral. (See illustration 2) I have recently increased the weekly water changes to 15% and switched salts from reef crystals to Reefer's Best to address the low potassium issue as tested by a ZEOvit user. <K presence/concentration is rarely a rate limiting factor> Other Info The only piece of equipment that I did not buy new was the tank and it was used as a freshwater system. My build thread on sdreefs : http://www.sdreefs.com/forums/showthread.php?t=25429&highlight=50g+build Illustration 1 Illustration 2 Illustration 3 <Again, these graphics didn't make it> Kind regards, -- Justin A. Hai <I'd pull the Phosban out... run this system for a few weeks... see what happens. Bob Fenner>

Black Diamond Activated Carbon and Phosphates - 06/08/2007 Dear Crew, <Andy> I have been battling Cyanobacteria for a few months in my 110g reef tank that has been running a little over a year. I have read and tried everything to eliminate the BGA, but to no avail. I siphon off all the BGA from my rocks each week when I do my water changes, but it grows back full force by the next week's water change. I have limited my photoperiod, I have been very careful about feeding, I upgraded my skimmer to an AquaC EV-180, I employ a 30g fuge with Chaeto, I run a PhosBan reactor with media, I removed my bio-balls, I use RO/DI water for all my water changes/top-offs . . . you get the picture. The one variable that I have not eliminated is the use of activated carbon. <Mmmm, the Chaetomorpha and Phosban material should remove all soluble phosphate> In fact, I believe I can trace the start of my problem to a switch from ESV activated carbon to Black Diamond activated carbon. <Both are fine products in my experience> It seems that since I made that switch, the BGA went from being here and there to being everywhere. I switched because I was thinking the ESV was leaching phosphates and causing the small amount of BGA I had, but this switch seems to have only made matters worse. I've read Steven Pro's article on phosphates in activated carbon, and see that Black Diamond leached 1 ppm of phosphates in the sample, and I'm thinking this must be my problem. My water parameters check out fine--0 ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, silicates and phosphates; pH is a steady 8.3; alk is a steady 3.5 meq/L; specific gravity is 1.026; temp is 78-80. So, today I replaced all my carbon with Purigen and am hoping that this solves my mystery. Has anyone had similar experiences with Black Diamond (or other carbons) and do you think the switch to Purigen was a good one? The guy at the LFS convinced me to try it over Chemi-Pure, as you can regenerate Purigen and it was about the same price. Thanks for your help! Andy <The API product has been known to pose excess HPO4 issues, but again, as stated, this should not be a problem here. In fact, I propose removing the contactor (Phosban) as your real issue may well be a lack of this essential nutrient... that is fueling the BGA, which can exist at much lower levels than is healthy for true algae/thallophytes and other purposeful photosynthetic livestock (e.g. "corals"). Put in another ways SOME phosphate is absolutely essential... the Cyano may well be being favored by its exclusion here. Bob Fenner>  

Question on phosphates & hairy algae -- 4/11/08 Hello again <Hello Sam>- I have been fighting hairy algae for a while now. I have taken the following steps: 1) replace my light bulbs (have 2x 96w compact fluorescent for a 40BR); 2) got PhosBan 150 and put maybe 40% of it into a tray in my wet dry trickle filter; 3) bought more snails (now have 2 Mexican Turbos and maybe 8 smaller ones, I think, Astrea (?); also have about 8 sand-sifting snails and 9 or so hermit crabs and 3 emerald crabs. My water parameters are: Alkalinity: 3 (or 8.4dkh) Calcium: looks to be between 430 and 475 (I find the Calcium tests hard to read, both the Instant Ocean and Salifert one - am not sure 100% when the water becomes 'clear blue' ph: 8.4 (evening) phosphates: appear to be 0.03 (Salifert kit) salinity: approx. 1.025 Temp: approx. 78 mag: 1320 ammonia, nitrites, nitrates: test kit says 0 <So good so far!> I dose approx. 10ml per day of ESV B-Ionic Alkalinity and Calcium. I have a Aqua C protein skimmer, keep 3 fish (2 clowns and a royal Gramma) and several (mainly soft) corals. Tank is approx. 8 months old now. Do you have any suggestion as to what I should do to get rid of the hairy algae (would getting a phosphate reactor improve the situation a lot?)<Yes, a reactor does improve the removal capabilities> Also, it appears that whenever I am gone for a few days (4 last time) and thus do not dose alkalinity/calcium the algae has a new outbreak (could this be the case?) <Nuisance algaes have a better/stronger chance of competing when alkalinity is lower. What I see being the problem here is your phosphate reading is far too high. .03ppm will indeed grow nuisance algaes. You want this reading to be undetectable.(0ppm)What I recommend is that you check your source water for evaporation and new salt mixes and make sure the TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) is 0ppm. To get to this level you need to be using RO/DI water. If you are not already using RO/DI water I suggest that you begin to. It will help greatly. If you do not have a digital TDS meter, then I suggest you purchase one as these are inexpensive handheld units that help you understand if your source water is OK or not. (nutrient/mineral free) Finally, I would continue the use of the Phosban, but would change the media every 7 days until the PO4 level reaches 0ppm. Then you could use it longer. You may go thru several(3)jars of the 150g size before you see progress. Just remember to check your source water with the TDS meter.> Thanks tons in advance for any advice.<no problem, Rich> Best Regards, Sam

Re: question on phosphates & hairy algae 4/13/08 Thanks Rich. I have a RODI unit and have been planning to get a TDS meter. Now I certainly will get one. ok, will test continuously for phosphates and continue to use PhosBan. I also have started to increase the Alkalinity dosage to 15ml. Maybe this will increase alkalinity a bit. Will write you in a while to report on (hopefully) progress. <Good to hear! I would also like to add that if this system is less than a year old it is part of the cycling/maturing process of the tank and some patience will be needed as the hair algae uses up the nutrients. Rich> Thanks, Sam

Re: question on phosphates & hairy algae Thanks again Rich. Good to hear that the system may get better with time (I have patience). Btw, I tested new RODI water and tank water for phosphates and doubled the sensitivity scale. In both cases the water was almost clear (one might argue for zero on the scale, but I'd conservatively say that it was 0.03, or 0.015 when halved given the double sensitivity). Nevertheless there must be phosphates as I have all the algae. I will take your advice and go through some PhosBans to get them down further. Thanks and regards, Sam<Sounds good let us know how it works out, Remember to check the RO/DI water for TDS.- Rich>

Clam troubles... no data of use, not reading...   2/21/08 Hi! <Howzit?> I have a newly setup 330g main tank and 70g sump setup in December. As a part of the new tank I migrated from a well established 46 gallon reef tank. I had a maxima clam and a Crocea clam I have kept for over 2 years in my 46g tank. However, last week I lost my Crocea clam and my maxima is fading quickly (clam not opening very wide, sinking mantle, bleaching of mantle). The new tank water quality is kept very clean, stable pH, temp, water parameters are great, salinity 1.025, calcium is a bit low but climbing 350-380. <Alkalinity, Magnesium?> I am dosing every other day w/ DT phyto. <... of not much use in this setting> After the Crocea perished I dosed the maxima in a separate container with tank water and heavy dose of DT phyto, despite this the maxima is still declining quickly. The tank is kept under 1600 watts of (4 x 400w HQI halides). The clam is kept on a flat rock laying in the sand substrate. <... may well need to be elevated...> Given the new tank would you suspect: The maxima clam size is about 4". 1.) The tank is to new and does not contain enough natural phyto and other items in water column needed for health of this clam. <...> 2.) A water quality or chemistry problem. <Possibly> 3.) A light problem <Likely> Thanks for all of your help as always! Bryan <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/tridcacdisf5.htm and the linked files above... You need to know a bunch more... and provide more data... For now, read. Bob Fenner>

Re: clam troubles... lack of nutrient...  2/21/08 Thanks, I did some reading on that URL. <Okay> The maxima perished. Alk is 11 dKH, calc is about 390. ammonia: 0 nitrites: 0: nitrates: barely detectable. I had always thought under halides keeping a clam on the substrate was doable, <Mmmm> I have seen several healthy looking clams in other tanks like this. The tank is 30" tall and the halides are about 7" off the top of the aquarium. I obviously want to figure out what went wrong before buying anything else. <This depth... the light would have to be directly above...> Given the slow decline I didn't speculate it was a pest. <Agreed> The only thing recently I have changed in the tank was the addition of PhosBan media per your teams recommendation. <...! Clams (actually all life... e.g. ADP, ATP...) absolutely require "some" soluble phosphate... This sudden removal may well have been a factor> Within 2 weeks, both clams are gone. Coincidence? <Not likely> I have not tested phosphate prior to this, and I had no reason to believe I had a phosphate problem, I simply added it as a precaution for long term health. <... I would not have done this... there are other, easier means of phosphate limitation, control... Posted on WWM> Is your bet still on light? <Partly... but am hedging/spreading my bets more and more. How about you?> Best Bryan <Bob Fenner>

Unattractive Sand Bed, Lack of Coralline and Green Live Rock   2/5/08 Dear Crew: <Hello Alesha> Well, here goes. It turns out I had more questions than I thought. I run a 26g DSB FOWLR system. However, I desperately want corals (to survive). I have some accompanying issues, as well. My tank has been up and running for a year. I have conquered most algaes in the first months (diatom, Cyano, hair) but my tank water remains clear with proper parameters at this time. <You should be testing for Calcium, Alkalinity (preferably in DKH), Magnesium, Nitrates, and Phosphates. Ca=400-480ppm, Alk=8-10DKH, Mg=1,350ppm, Nitrates less than 10ppm, and 0ppm Phosphates. ZERO!) However, there are still things which are wrong (and/or annoying) with my tank and I was hoping you can offer some sage advice: My live rock and some larger pieces of substrate (seashells, etc.) have a green tint to them. I have scrubbed/siphoned, but the rock seems to remain/return to algal green. It seems that this may be a lighting issue - since the portions of the rock which are mostly hidden from the light are not green! Seems simple enough - but that's not my luck! I also get a slight greenish film on some of the glass approximately every 2 days, which I magnet-scrape off. Clearly, this is a green algae problem, but my parameters are fine (so it says). What do I do? I'd really like to have purple/pink rocks and crisp white sand - and despite constant reading on the subject (and $2000 into a virtually barren 26g) - my tank looks nothing like the ones in my LFS. I have: 2 false percula clowns 1 green chromis damsel 1 feather duster 1 small (about 1 in.) pincushion urchin (see explanation below) 1 small Turbo snail (not Mexican) (just added) Several clumps of Gracilaria (just added) A few bumble bee snails A few Nassarius snails 1 blue leg hermit. Other detritivores have died intermittently over the last few months. Shall I add more? Hard to tell if they are already "old" when I get them or what - but I do drip acclimate for 2 hours. They survived, then died off over a period of months - is this the average life span of these detritivores? Seems like I had a lot more at one time! I run an Aqua C Remora HOT skimmer, a Magnum Canister filter with carbon and (sometimes) Phosban, a UV sterilizer and 2 wavemakers - and a small fan in the summer. <The Phosban should always be used and the carbon and PhosBan should be changed every 3 weeks> Temperature and salinity are always in the appropriate range. <Temp=77F-82F and Salinity=1.025 s.g.> But as I indicated, I have been unable to keep corals. Each has died early on (after a few weeks): Frogspawn, xenia, blue-green mushrooms, clove polyps - though the mushrooms lasted the longest. I don't want to give up on corals - they make the saltwater hobby what it is, but I am at wit's end as to how to allow them to survive. I've added, a few days ago - giving it ONE MORE TRY - a very small frag of a zoanthid - my first zoo. It opened right away and seems happy - so far. However, I am concerned that this photosynthetic creature needs too much light, as to allow green algae to grow even more. <I did not see where your light was listed, but a Power Compact, T5, or 150w Metal Halide should be used. PC should be at least 130w dual strip> Is there a simple test for TDS? A dip strip? Could this be my problem? I recently started using a liquid phosphate remover (according to the directions), when I ran out of PhosBan. However, even without these removers, my phosphates were never above 1. So why the green scourge? <TDS meters are less than $30 US and should be used at the output of the source water. I recommend RO/DI water with a TDS reading of Zero ppm. Anything more will grow algae. As far as PO4 goes, any reading above 0ppm(ZERO) will grow algae and is too high. 1.0ppm is very high for a reef tank. Anything above .025ppm will grow algae and inhibit coralline and coral growth.> I must have something that is creating this green ugliness. Also, no coralline after one year. Actually a small patch on the skeleton of the frogspawn (as well as little tiny feather dusters!) - but the coralline has not spread - at all. I have just seeded the tank with a another rock (with coralline) from a fellow hobbyist and the new zoanthid has some on its rock - so we'll see what happens. <This is due to PO4, and Alk/Ca levels being off. Once the PO4 is eliminated and the proper Alk/Ca/Mg levels are maintained coralline algae will be everywhere!> I never impulse purchase but I wanted some interesting inverts recently - SOMETHING to make my tank look better - and it seems most stars would strip my sand bed, so I thought the little pincushion would do OK, after being assured by the LFS it was a GREEN algae eater and would be largely indifferent to my coralline. However, I now see conflicting posts online. I am monitoring what little coralline I have. Shall my pincushion (my niece named him "Stewie") go back? <No. I have 7 sea urchins in my 180g and they can't keep up with coralline growth. Proper levels mentioned above will give your urchin plenty to eat.> What kinds of safe inverts/sand stirrers can I get (I think serpent stars are creepy) in a tank this size? I never see Fromias (I like the red kind) in stores and realize the mortality rate of Linckias. What to do? I do love stars. But other interesting invert suggestions are appreciated. <Use Nassarius Snails. They will do the job you seek.> Additionally, I have run the gamut from adding every additive under the sun to this tank in proper amounts (essential elements, etc.) to getting frustrated and adding nothing at all. <Stop adding anything. In a 26g system just do weekly 5g water changes with good clean source water. Check with a TDS meter and make sure it is RO/DI.> I've also used properly filtered tap water both as top off, and for water changes - to not doing anything at all but top off of straight tap water. Still -- green tint. So, at that point, water changes seemed a waste of time - as there was no difference. I am starting them again, however, - in earnest. <Tap water is very unstable as the pollutants from the water company are always changing. Please look into RO/DI water for all your water needs for the tank> My light fixture bulbs are one year old - could this be causing the green? Or are 6 month changes just a way for retailers to make money? <It is a general recommendation to replace bulbs after 8 months> I have resumed B-Ionic and starting using Purple Up, in a renewed effort to keep coralline. Do you think this will help it to grow and combat the green algae while I figure out what is causing it? <No. The PO4 will inhibit the growth> My LFS says they use only tap (same municipal water system) and B-Ionic - what am I doing wrong? They have loads of coralline and NO green anything! I don't have room for a reactor (of any kind), or a refugium, and Kalkwasser seems quite complex. But, as I indicated, I am adding B-Ionic and Purple Up daily. Shall I also add Liquid Calcium? This would be too much, I think - but I have it, if I need it. <Your LFS is using B-ionic which is a 2-part additive. Buffer/Calcium. It is quite possible if their doses are high enough they are precipitating PO4 out of solution and exporting it via water changes and a strong skimmer. Their advise is not good advise. You must test for Alk/Ca to see if it is needed before dosing is done so as not to overdose one product over the other.> Further, I was told by a fellow hobbyist that certain salts - even though very popular - are less than desirable, and to use Tropic Marin. Any thoughts? I believe you may have recommended a brand of carbon, as well - can you restate that, if so? Even carbon can be of low quality, apparently. Tropic Marin is expensive, so I want to get more informed opinions as to this salt before I buy. <Instant Ocean is fine for a 26g. Reef Crystals is better for your application, but if your system was larger I would just stick with the IO.> Additionally, many say GARF Grunge is the way to go - others say it's just ugly rubble with a fancy name. I already have many copepods and amphipods - no need for these - so any opinion as to Grunge helping with any other good critters AND more coralline spores, would be appreciated. However, I like a smooth sand bed - will Grunge give me unattractive rubble? <Yes. Grunge will add surface area for more undesirable algae to grow on. PO4 needs to be eliminated first and then Alk/Ca/Mg maintained.> Also, I have little circular white crusty deposits on the powerheads and back glass - and even on the bumblebee snails' shells! I scrape them off the glass. But there are zillions of them. Do these crusties mean I am doing something wrong - or something right? <These are small tube worms. Harmless.> If I can "grow" these obviously calcareous things (what are they?!) - why no coralline? <Because of PO4 and continually adding TDS from Tap water.> My lights are: 2 of T5HO 24W 10000K 2 of T5HO 24W 400nm actinic Moonlights I have no set light cycle (anymore) - because this too has frustrated me: too much light and I get algae - but not enough and nothing else will grow - UGH! <Lights need to be maintained at a minimum of 8 hrs per day with 12 hr cycle preferred.> Also, toward the goal of getting white shimmering sand (a myth?), can I add some find grain aragonite (or Southdown) to the top of my DSB without damaging any organisms or biological processes? My sand sometimes has a green cast to certain spots on the top of it. I'd like to avoid this in the future. It seems that when surface vacuuming the DSB - the smooth sand (if I add any) will get overturned with the rubble sand and defeat my purpose? True? <The finer sands will always settle to the bottom of the tank and the larger pieces or grains will rise.> Thank you for taking time to read this gargantuan post, and for any answers you maybe able to provide. Aleasha in Baltimore, MD P.S. The clowns and chromis are very happy - at least I am doing something right. <PO4 will not harm the fish. There is plenty of phytoplankton in your system which will help feed your copepods which will feed your fish. Nice food web for FOWLR.> <HTH, Please try to get some RO/DI with TDS 0ppm. Then please test for Alk/CA/Mg and adjust. Then I believe you will see great improvements! Rich...aka...Mr. Firemouth>

Phosban Use 2/3/08 Hey there! <Dean> I have been battling an algae problem that I can't seem to eradicate though I have been following your advice, and I have an odd question. I have a 55 gallon tank, with 3 Zebra Bar dartfish, two Ocellaris clowns, and one lawnmower blenny. The tank has a 5 inch sugar sized sand DSB; nitrates are <5. I try to make watch my feedings so that all the food is eaten. Do about 10% a week water changes. <I would increase the water changes this to further combat nitrate.> Euro Reef RS80 Skimmer. I have done PO4 tests and it is always 0, but I know that the test only shows organic phosphate. <Or it is being consumed as fast as it is produced.> So today I hooked up a Phosban Reactor. General plan, was to clean out the PO4 from the system then use the reactor for chemical filtration if need be. Long term plan is to hook up a Nielsen Reactor via a Tunze Osmolator I just won off eBay cheap. <OK> Following the directions for Phosban, I added water to the container to eliminate the dust when handling. I took the water out of my water change mixing tank. When I added it to the container of Phosban, it sizzled and smoked. To me, this is an indication of a chemical reaction. My question - does this indicate the presence of PO4 in my water change water? <No, Phosban usually makes a sizzling noise when you hydrate it. As far as smoke, I would bet it was dust already in the container, it is very fine and appears smoke-like when you add water. I would carefully rinse all of the dust out before adding it to the reactor.> I use a RO unit to filter the water before mixing. Is my salt in question then? Or am I all wet? <Test both your RO water and mixed salt water if you want to see if there is any phosphate in either. What you describe above is normal, not an indication of phosphate.> Thanks for the help - hope this isn't a dumb question. <Welcome, not a dumb question, Scott V.> Dean

Snow storm... Phosphate removal rxn on Cnid.s    1/3/08 Hi Crew, Small 10 gallon saltwater tank. I bought a filter pad that is made for reducing phosphates. I was able to cut out two pieces to match my filter. I put in the first one almost 8 weeks ago and it did a good job. I hardly have any hair algae left. The water was not going through so easily so I just replaced it with the second pad and I noticed white flecks coming out of the filter. By morning I had what looked like the aftermath of a snow storm. The part of the tank directly in front of the filter was covered in white. Sand and mushrooms and candy canes. <Mmm, these need some soluble phosphate...> The mushrooms were closing up. I contacted the seller and after convincing them it was not pods they said it may be some of the phosphate remover from the pad. <Maybe> How important is it to remove from the tank. <I would> They did not think it was much of an issue other than to remove from the corals. I rinsed it well before I put it in the tank so I do not know why this pad was different than the first being that they both are from one big pad. <I don't think "it" is the pad per se, but a reaction/series from the pad... the life...> Anyway the main concern is will it harm anything by staying on the sand. Thanks <I would remove the new pad. Bob Fenner>

PO4... -- 11/13/07 Thanks Bob! <Welcome David> One of the retailers mentioned that if I just started using my RO/DI... I should still cycle in some sort of phosphate removing media as skimming and water changes won't remove phosphate that is currently in the tank. <Will go in time, some small amount re-added through feeding mostly. Necessary> With the use of my RO/DI unit I can assume now that my water quality input should be under control... I know my feeding is under control. I shouldn't really be introducing any troublesome quantities of phosphate knowingly... Are you in agreement with his statement to use PhosBan or RowaPhos. He also suggest Kalkwasser (sp?)... But I happen to have both PhosBan and RowaPhos in my inventory of goodies. <Both are good products... Kalk has its place> Of note, the small bits of cyano in my 200g tank have pretty much disappeared since using my RO/DI water... And portions of that green/brown hair algae are starting to look more greyish... Dying off very very slowly perhaps? <Oh yes> On a sidenote, I had asked your advice about stocking my 200gallon tank. If I happen to abandon my idea of a medium to larger angel, would a Lemon Peel and a Flame Angel be an appropriate choice together in my 200g tank? <Yes> Stock would be with: Snowflake Moray, 2xBannerfish, Harlequin Tusk, Hippo Tang, Longnose Hawk, Magnificent Foxface, Picasso Trigger. <Sounds like a nice mix... the Trigger may be a wild card. B>

Chemistry lovers...  ferric oxide hydroxide color, Phosphate contactor   4/14/07 Dear Crew, I have used Phos-Ban in my system and recently tried Tropic Marin's Elimi-phos.  My understanding is both are ferric oxide hydroxide.  The Phos-Ban is small rust colored pellets.  The Elimi-Phos has white pellets.  I don't understand how they could be white.  Any ideas what else could be in the Elimi-Phos? Thanks, Jeff <Mmm, well the TLF product is touted as being "synthetic"... Say what? Whereas the TM product is what it states... is white in its oxidized state... Perhaps the Two Little Squishies go is just not as moisture and air-exposed from the containers its shipped in by the real manufacturer. Bob Fenner>

Replacing Aluminum-Based Phosphate Remover -- 03/17/07 Hey Eric -- <<Hello Linda>> Am emailing you from my personal email address now, not the one from work that reads "freedomrealtorsga". <<Ah yes...and now you won't have to wait until Monday to see my reply [grin]>> Anyway, I just ordered some Rowaphos from Marine Depot - should be here mid of next week. <<A good brand of iron-based phosphate remover'¦and other (less expensive) brands available as well>> Can't wait to use it. <<Please keep me posted on its efficacy>> Going home to remove the PhosGuard. <<Good>> Since you pointed out the PhosGuard could be the problem I tapped into WetWeb site on Phosphates and PhosGuard and come to find out, a LOT of people have been having the same troubles I have due to using PhosGuard or having high phosphates. <<Yes indeed>> I never would have dreamed that such a small amount of Phosphate could do so much to a tank! <<Not so small when you consider these organisms can be sensitive to/mal-affected by fluctuations in water chemistry in the parts-per-billion range>> Will certainly keep you posted. <<Excellent!>>    Is it against the WetWeb "rules" to give out a personal email address, especially since you are "next door" to GA...a good, ol' southern gentleman"?  hahaha <<Not against the rules'¦but we prefer to keep the queries/exchanges coming through WWM for the benefit of the public>> It sure would be great to communicate with just one knowledgeable person rather than many, since so many have different opinions. <<Indeed'¦and my opinions are not necessarily better than the next person's.  But you are always welcome to ask for me (or someone else for that matter) when writing in>> Thanks for responding...it really means a lot. <<Quite welcome'¦is what we do>> Take care and I will keep you posted on my results.  Linda in GA <<I look forward to our next exchange.  EricR>>
Re: Replacing Aluminum-Based Phosphate Remover -- 03/17/07
Been thinking too much, <<Never!>> but....I have just one more little concern...(ha-ha, yeah right!)...my gph in the tank. <<Let's hear it>> I believe I have a 10 gal sump (well, wet/dry filter) with a Rio 2100 (695gph) with a 6" wide overflow box incl. 1" U tube. <<Ah yes'¦and after head-loss this pump is likely giving you closer to 350gph'¦and about all that 1' tube can handle>> I have 5 powerheads in the tank...3 Maxi Jet 1200, and 2 Hagen 70's.  I know I have enough flow in the tank with all these powerheads, but am wondering if I have enough filtration for my 100 gal tank? <<Do you mean the flow through the sump?...yes, you have enough (can't really 'handle' more)>> Today, I was going to purchase a more powerful pump from Marine Depot, like a Mag Drive 9.5 (950gph) to increase the flow, but am concerned over whether that would fit my system or not. <<Nope'¦is way too much for your overflow box.  I would get a better pump though, and a Mag-Drive 5 would be fine'¦plumbed with a gate-valve on the output side to temper flow if necessary>> The guy I bought the system from owns his own fish store in Albany (and an old hand in the field) put together my system. <<Understood'¦but the RIO products are quite dodgy>> I remember him stating that it was important to have the right overflow box for the size wet/dry. <<Mmm, more accurately put would be the right pump/overflow combination'¦in my opinion.  Doesn't matter what size wet/dry you have if the pump overwhelms the overflow and puts water on your floor>> He said if I had a 125 gal. I would need the dual overflow, but since it is a 100 gal, he said the single overflow box would be the correct one.  (He had both to offer, so it wasn't like he couldn't have made more money off of me selling me the dual.) <<I disagree'¦the dual overflow would have been the better choice'¦if only for the redundancy>> He said if I were to hook up a dual overflow box with a powerful pump on a 100 gal, it will blow my fish out of the water (?). <<Hmm, a surprising and ridiculous statement from an 'old hand''¦considering the flow limitations of even two 1' overflow tubes.  But I suspect you already realize this>> Now should I be concerned with the size sump I have, size tank OR the size overflow box I have to increase the power of a pump? <<While a bigger sump would be a good thing'¦your limiting factor here is definitely your overflow>> If I had a dual overflow box with a Mag Drive 1200, would it be too much for the size wet/dry (sump) I have and size tank I have? <<Not so much a matter of too much for the sump (though I think you would find the noise/resulting plumbing issues a problem), but definitely more than you 'need'>> You may answer this after the weekend...I will give you a weekend break from all my questions!!!  lol!!!  Linda in GA    <<No worries my dear'¦is my pleasure to assist.  Eric Russell>>
R2: Replacing Aluminum-Based Phosphate Remover - 03/18/07
Hey - having a nice Saturday Eric? <<I did, yes>> I planted my tomato plants last night, but since it's turned a little cool, having to cover them up at night. <<Mmm yes, cool here as well...but back in to the 70s next week>> Anyway, back to our discussion.:  You guessed it right, I am not so sure what was recommended at purchase is the best setup since I am having some trouble.  Would purchasing a dual overflow box with a Mag pump be better for my overall tank? <<More reliable/more margin for safety, yes (though you could simply add another "single" along with the one you already have)...just don't get too large a pump/try to max-out the tubes (something like a Mag-7 maybe)>> It would be comfortable to know I've got it setup properly so that when "things" go wrong, at least I know the equipment is correct. Ya know? <<Indeed I do>> The more I learn the more I question what I purchased from the old guy at the fish store. <<Always best to do your own research and rely on your own good judgment>> And, I laugh when I say this, and you will, too, but when I asked him about an AquaC skimmer and he stated that he had never heard of that brand before...well, that was the moment I started to question the guy. <<Hmm...does seem odd...>> Anyway, that was how I ended up with a Coralife Super Skimmer...he knew ALL about those! <<Unfortunate...perhaps you can upgrade to an AquaC or Euro-Reef>> Yet, he sold me one that fits up to a 65 gal. tank!  I reminded him I have a 100 gal. and he said that the smaller one would be plenty.  (Geez...sounds like the guy is afraid to go "bigger" on everything.) <<Mmmm...>> So sad that we have to learn things the hard way.  I have to say that the skimmer seems to work really well, though. <<Ok>> I have an AquaC Urchin in a small 46 gal. that I still can't get "tweaked" just right. <<Do contact Jason Kim (owner), I have no doubt he will be able to help>> So-o-o, Eric, would you recommend or suggest my getting a dual overflow box with a Mag pump (that fits) OR should I just stick with what I have and buy the Mag 5 pump? <<I like the idea of some redundancy with siphon overflows...either the double or an additional single would work...along with a Mag 5/7 pump (you want to leave some "room" in case of a stoppage)>> And possibly get a nicer skimmer??? <<Something to consider...>> A-h-h-h...something else in the picture now....(smiling)...Linda in GA   <<Be chatting my friend.  EricR in SC>>

Phosphate reduction   3/11/07 Hello crew, and thank for all of the great information.   <Hello Susan, Brandon here, and thank you for the kind words.> After searching the FAQs I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for on the following questions: 1) Is the Marc Weiss phosphate reduction agent an effective and safe additive? <Not really sure.  All of the Marc Weiss products make astounding claims without much data to back them up.  I would toss it.> I use it prophylactic, but maybe I should reconsider.   <Since you did not say, I will assume that we are discussing a marine system here.  If your Ca, and Alk parameters are in line, then there should not any useable PO4 in your system.> What chemical agents are safe and effective for phosphate reduction as its hard to tell given all the marketing.   <Rowaphos and Boyd's Chemipure are two highly recommended  products.> Thanks again and I appreciate all of your experienced advice. <You are welcome.  In the future please remember to send us your tank size, lighting, filtration, and water parameters.  This information helps us help you.  Brandon.>

Ocean's Blend Phosphate remover 8/19/05 Is this NON synthetic Ferric Oxide media safe to use on reef tanks? I can't find anything bad about it on the Internet and some people have had good experiences.  My concern is that it is real Ferric Oxide.  I found this definition: A dark red compound, Fe2O3, occurring naturally as hematite ore and rust and used in pigments and metal polishes and on magnetic tapes. And from it I'm a bit concerned about the rust part.  The product essentially looks like rust.  I know synthetic products like Rowaphos and Phosban have received much praise for their effectiveness and "safeness" but the Ocean's Blend product is about 1/2 the price and can be purchased @ my LFS.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated. <Raul, I did some checking on the company and as far as I can see, I would feel comfortable trying this product.  Their products are tried in their own aquariums and they welcome feedback for continuous improvement.  James (Salty Dog)>

Bad experience with PhosGuard - Example of Good Husbandry w/Bioballs 10/12/05 First of all I wanted to say I have found the information on your site to be very informative. Good Job! Anyway, this isn't a question, just wanted to add my recent bad experience with Seachem's PhosGuard to the others I have read on your site. <I see> I had a 75 gallon reef tank that I ran back in the bare bottom tank days from 1989-1995. I gave all of the rock and livestock away and tore down the tank when I got laid off from my job.  The tank was stored in my Grandmother's garage. I finally got off my butt and set it up again this July. I really missed it.  My 75 Gallon reef has been up for 3 months and my water parameters are very stable so I won't waste space with the details. I majored in Organic Chemistry, <My arms' are starting to ache with memories of Morrison & Boyd's bicep breaker> so I can assure you my params are fine. Although I have a heavy Chemistry background, I ended up an IBM Mainframe Systems Programmer (Dinosaur!). <Could've been pet-fish...> Some tank details: Filtration consists of 140 lbs fine grain Arag-Alive live sand, 120 lbs live rock, Poly-Filters, Miracle Mud hang on refugium w/Chaeto, EV-180 skimmer, Iwaki pumps, RO/DI system for all water that goes in the tank of course. I still use my bio balls and have no plans to remove them for reasons I outline in the last paragraph. Bought some nice cured Kaelini <One of Walt Smith's daughters Fijian names BTW...> live rock from Premium Aquatics and I added a couple of "Detritivore Kits" <Detritivore...> as well for good measure. The tank has never tested positive for NH3 so I guess the sand and rock must have been active since day one. The highest the NO2 ever got during the first 2 weeks was 5ppm. I guess it was from the rock or maybe that is what Carib-Sea puts in the bags to keep the bacteria culture alive. <The rock> 2ppm is the highest NO3 reading I have ever seen which was in the first 2 weeks as the NO2 cycled through. It was less than 0.5 ppm by the 3rd week. So I put in a Centropyge loricula <A fave species, but would wait a few to several months to place dwarf angels> and the Plerogyra sinuosa after 3 weeks and all has gone well since. NO3 has only been trace amounts for the past month (just a slight tinge of purple in the vial viewed from the side). I have seen worms in the sand when viewed from the side since the 3rd week before I even added the Detritivore kits. I use Salifert test kits and really like the Ca and Alk kits as they give precise readings via titration from a syringe instead of counting drops. There are Two 175 6500k Halides, 1 VHO Actinic and 1 VHO 50/.50 in the canopy. I have a solenoid operated water top off system and add Seachem Ca and buffer as needed according to the Salifert test results. Minimal algae blooms, everything is going very well so far. I used Seachem Marine Buffer, Reef Builder and Reef Advantage Calcium with success in the past so I continue to use them now. I only have 3 fish, a Flame Angel, Copperband Butterfly and a Fire Fish all doing well so far. Will add a Mandarin after maybe 6 more months or so, but that is all I plan to have as far as fish go. After all it's only a 75! I am a firm believer in having only a few fish even in my freshwater tanks.  I only feed 1 cube of frozen Mysis when I get home from work and another in later in the evening. Unfortunately the butterfly won't even look at anything else, so that's what I've ended up feeding the fish as a staple to avoid polluting the water with uneaten food. Every few days I feed some Mega-Angel for the Flame and to see if the Copperband will try it but no luck so far. It will only go for whole Mysis and ignores anything that isn't a whole shrimp that looks alive. I clean the filter pads every night before going to bed and I do a 6 gallon water change every Wednesday and Saturday. I've been thinking about going to a 3 gallon a day routine instead.  I was really into Discus years ago and back then I learned that there is no amount of filtration that can substitute for routine water changes. I did large daily water changes for them which is no big deal in a freshwater tank. I have read that Discus don't appreciate NO3 and so it must be kept to a minimum just like a in a reef tank. The Discus really loved the new water and would usually swim right into the stream from the bucket as I poured it in. <I am in strong agreement with your synopsis> Two weeks ago PO4 was approaching 0.1 ppm so I bought some PhosGuard at the LFS just to insure that PO4 stays low. I rinsed it according to the directions, put it in a filter bag and added it to the chemical chamber in my sump along with the Poly-Filters. After a few days the Pachyclavularia violacea no longer emerged. One of my Actinodiscus Red Mushrooms detached from it's rock and the rest weren't fully extending. The Lavender Rock polyps (they may be a type of Ricordea. I bought Borneman's book and still not really sure what they are, but I've always liked them) started looking sick and one of them detached as well. My Zoanthids quit emerging too. The Plerogyra sinuosa, Goniopora, Carport, a Cauliflower Coral I can't identify and some other type of Tree Coral I can't identify that came on a piece of live rock seem unaffected. The PhosGuard doesn't seem to have affected the Blastomussa Merleti, Xenia or the Crocea Clam either.  I've read some things on this site and others about mixing some types of soft and hard corals, but I kept most of these same species together successfully for 6 years in the past and everything has looked healthy this time around until the recent PhosGuard incident. I pulled out the PhosGuard 5 days ago and stuck with my routine 6 gallon Wed/Sat water changes. The organisms that were affected are finally doing better today. <Ah, good> The Pachyclavularia violacea came out for the first time in a week this afternoon. Unfortunately I bought a 1 liter jar of it, so I still have a bunch that I will never use. I ordered some RowaPhos and will give it a try in a week or so as I have read the iron based phosphate removal products are safer to use with the types of organisms I have in my tank. I just want to insure that phosphates stay low.  <0.1 ppm should be no problem... phosphate is a "critical compound", needed (in low concentration... though not "free" in solution"...> In my tank at least, it seems that PhosGuard only affected certain types of Cnidarians and very quickly. I am unwilling to continue the experiment by using it long term to see if affects any of my other tank inhabitants. My wife was really upset when it made some of our corals sick. About the bio balls. I still use my Bi-Ox media with 4 air pumps blowing into it and rinse my pre-filters and 100 micron filter pad in the drip tray daily just like I did 10 years ago. The chemist in me refuses to give up the surface area for gas exchange they have. I never had a problem with NO3 back then, so I will continue to use them. I never saw much NO3 after running this setup for 6 years, so I really don't comprehend why people have problems with them. I basically had the same inhabitants/ bio load in the tank that I have now.  I just happen to like keeping these particular species since I had good luck with them in the past.  When I tore down the tank I didn't find any detritus build up on the Bi-Ox which I assume is due to the daily cleaning of the filter pads. The only thing I am doing different these days is I've added the sand bed, a hang on refugium and a modern, more efficient skimmer than the one that was built into my US Aquarium wet/dry. As I ran this setup a successfully as a bare bottomed tank for years, the only thing I really worry about this time around is that the sand bed will end up packed with detritus and become a NO3 sink and that I will end up having to tear it out. I just don't trust it yet. I spent many sleepless nights debating with myself on whether or not to have a substrate on the bottom or not when I was in planning stages. I hope I don't end up regretting this addition to what was a very successful setup in the past. Bryan  <Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Re: Bad experience with PhosGuard 10/13/05 Hi, This response goes back to Bob Fenner.  Yes, I also hauled a copy of Morrison and Boyd around campus from 1976-1979 while attending classes at the University of Southern Colorado and at CU -Boulder. Now I live in St. Louis, MO and I really miss Colorado of course. The tap water here in STL maxes out my ph and PO4 test kits and NO3 looks to be between 30-50 ppm. <Not good... for human consumption or pet-fish use> This is nasty stuff indeed for use in an aquarium. Not at all like the freshly melted snow that makes up the water supply in Colorado Springs. Hmm, maybe I really don't need to fertilize my lawn this fall after all with all of this free fertilizer coming right out of the tap. <Likely just a bit of potash needed> Once again, I really enjoy the site and look through the new postings every day. Take care, Bryan Gatewood  <Will do. Bob Fenner>  

Skimming and Rowaphos 10/01/05 Hi WWM crew. The most valuable web site... I learn & enjoy and thanks to you all. I am setting up a 210 gal FOWLR system in my office with 75 gal refugium under the cabinet. Its been set up and running for 10 weeks. I am trying to reduce any chance of algae problem in the beginning for future and my set up is follows. It has ozonizer and controller that is set to 350 mv and is in working order,  6" DSB in the refugium (36" X 18" X 6" in volume with 9 bags of 30lbs Aragamax Sugar-Sized Sand). The main display has 1/2" of the same kind of substrate with 175 lbs of live rock. AquaMedic 29" protein skimmer with Mag Drive 5. Iwaki MD100RLT motor for circulation between refugium and main display. Aqua Medic NitrAte reductor that release 0 nitrate and 0 nitrite after filtration. 3 bags of Chemi pure in the refugium before the return motor. Lighting with 2 XM 15000k 175W metal halide and 4 60" VHO 140w each (2-AquaSun 10000k and 2-Super Actinic 420 nm peak Bulbs). Total of 910 Watts. Turns on 7 hours a day with timers in sequence. I have a little more lighting in case I change to a reef later but not now.  I do not turn on  metal halide bulbs at this time. I only have one 12" Golden Moray Eel that I added 3 weeks ago and feeding is done twice a  week as you recommend and doing very fine. I filled the system with RO/DI water from the start. Water test are done daily with Salifert test kits.  Ammonia 0 ppm,  Nitrite 0 ppm, KH 9.6 dKH, Ph 8.2, Nitrate 10 ppm, Silicate 3 ppm, Phosphate 1.5 ppm, Temperature 80 F., ORP 350 mv with 24 hours monitor & controlled with ozonizer. I was worried about the nitrate, phosphate, and silicate test reading and I read about Rowaphos PO4 & Si02 Absorber on the website and I added 700 ml of them in Fluval 404 Canister filter with 2 sheet of Poly Filter that cut in small pieces with 1 qt of E.S.V. Granular Activated Carbon. I used a cut to fit filter pads in between them to have maximum water contact time for the materials. They recommend to run the filter for 24/7 for maximum removal of unwanted algae problem caused by phosphate and silicate from the beginning. The skimmer removed at least 1.5 to 2.0 cups of waste every day and the water was crystal clear. Now here is the problem. After I installed and run this Fluval 404 Canister filter with all of the filtering things inside my skimmer produced a small amount of black waste and stopped producing anything for 2 weeks . The water is cloudy now. The Nitrate level is still around 10 ppm, phosphate dropped to 0.4ppm, silicate dropped to .05 ppm after the canister filter ran for 3 days. I turned  off the canister filter, adjusted the skimmer, vacuumed the substrate, performed a 20% water change, turned off the ozonizer, adjusted lighting time more and less, but still no skimming. My knowledge is ran out of idea and I could not find related FAQ's on your web site about this problem I have. Please HELP me and Thank You in advance.<<Rowaphos is effective at removing phosphate and silicate from water. Phosphate contributes to algae growth while silica contributes to diatom blooms. A properly functioning skimmer removes organic waste from the water. These are two different things. From your description, it sounds like the Rowaphos was working in that the phosphate and silicate levels were dropping. Removing phosphate and silicate is not removing protein waste. While the tank rock is cycling, the skimmate production will be higher. After cycling, fluctuations in production will be related to the amount of waste available. This is a function of the number of fish in the system and the amount of food you are introducing. Ozone will also affect skimmate production and generally enhances the skimmer performance. If the skimmer production diminished it could be because the skimmer needs adjustment or it might be because there is not a lot of waste to remove. A lack of waste could be caused by a combination of things including: the system has completed the initial cycle, you have a large water volume with only one eel and you have stopped the ozone. Additionally, Chemi-Pure removes waste. The cloudy water could be caused by a bacterial bloom, sediment in the water column or micro bubbles. Sediment will settle out and a filter sock will help. If it's micro bubbles, you will need to find the source of the bubbles. If the cloudy water us related to a bloom of some kind, fixing and increasing the skimmate production will help clear it. At this point, I would check the skimmer adjustment, continue with the water changes and monitor the system. Good luck - Ted>>

Chemical Filter Media - 02/26/06 Hello all, thanks in advance for your help ;)  I was wondering if any of you would recommend any products to keep my Nitrates/Phosphates down. <<Poly-Filter, PhosBan, ROWAphos>> I've stumbled upon several choices (Poly Filters <your thoughts on these?>, resins, etc), but was wondering if you had any experience/thoughts on these. <<Poly-Filter is an excellent product which I use myself.  The exchange resins available are also good scavengers though a bit more costly, but many can be "renewed" if you're willing to go to a bit of trouble.>> I've also heard of a Seachem made NO3/PO4 remover in one, have you heard anything about this? <<Hmm...I am a fan of Seachem products...is likely HyperSorb or Purigen you refer to.>> I know frequent water changes/not overfeeding/RO are the best way to cut down on Nitrates/PO4, but I'm exploring additional options ;) <<Understood...some authors advocate keeping a phosphate removal media in your filter flow path at all times.>> Thanks all, Alan Gray <<Regards, EricR>>

PO4 Removal 5/16/06 Hello!  <Hi> I was browsing the net for a filter pad that would remove phosphates.  I came upon a product named Pura filtration pad.  Have u heard of this product and how well does it work?<Unfamiliar with this product> It says that the pads need to be replaced only once a month.  Is this true?   <Would depend on amount of phosphate in the water.>  Besides removing phosphates, it claims to remove ammonia.  Now, why would I want to remove ammonia? <Most likely developed for application other than aquariums> If ammonia is removed, then the bacteria would not have anything to feed on which would lead to a die off of beneficial bacteria am I correct? <Would be unable to remove all ammonia, most likely a negligible amount.  I use and recommend Poly Filters, available through most online retailers> Thank you <Anytime> <Chris>

Phosphate Remover/Rowaphos    4/4/06 Greetings from California!  <And greetings to you from yucky Michigan.> A quick question for you.  If RowaPhos is an iron based media, what would you think of running the outgoing effluent through activated carbon before it returns to the sump?  <For what reason?> Thanks  <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Richard

Re: RowaPhos  - 04/05/2006   I believe in activated carbon.  And the thought of 500 ml of iron based product in a fluidized reactor in my sump goes against the grain with me.  Iron is not something I normally test for, so my thoughts were that if it does leach some iron into the water, <Not these products, no> and I am running carbon anyway, why not let the effluent pass through the carbon, in hopes of adsorbing any excess iron that may leach from the RowaPhos.  If nothing else, it's one less pump to run, and test kit to buy.     Any reason not to do this? <None that I can tell here>   Richard     Any reason not to do this? <...? Rich... pls send prev. corr.... I/we have no idea what you're referring to. BobF>
Re: RowaPhos    4/6/06
Att Bob Fenner     Bob you asked that I send the original message.       Bob... Loved your talk to the Seabay Aquarium club in the Bay Area last year!        Here is the original question.............                                                                                         Greetings from California!  A quick question for you.  If RowaPhos is an iron based media.  What would you think of running the outgoing effluent through activated carbon before it returns to the sump?   Thanks   Richard James (salty dog) replied with.... For what reason? <Ahh! Thank you for this. There are variable qualities in such ferrous based Phosphate filtrants, but the ROWA line are consistently high quality... Leach little to no iron of consequence. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Eheim For Rowaphos   9/4/06 Dear James Hope you are well. <Not bad, thank you.> A further question or two. At the moment I run 2 Eheim filters on my 37g reef tank : 1 mechanical and  1 wet and dry. There would seem to be enough space in the bottom basket of the mechanical filter to add an inch or so of Rowaphos which I would like to use to eliminate phosphate.  Maybe I could mix Rowaphos with the Eheim media, or replace the whole bottom basketful with the Rowaphos. <I'd do the whole basket.> Does this sound like a fair idea and/or would it ruin the efficiency of the filter? <Should be fine.> If you think I should keep the filters as they are (I know you guys are not great fans of Eheim always, <I've never had problems with the Eheim line.> but I am 'afraid' to take them out of action)  are you acquainted with the Deltec MCE600 skimmer which has a space for adding Rowaphos.  Is that a good option perhaps? <If you are not presently using a skimmer, this would be a very good option. Not familiar with Deltec, but understand they are a efficient skimmer.> Many thanks for your time. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> All the best. Peter Hosier

Rowaphos or PhosBan   1/15/07 I am currently using PhosBan in a phosphate reactor. I was wondering which product was better for phosphate removal and which product, if any, will not effect the PH or release aluminum back into the system. I have heard that PhosBan will effect the PH. Don't know if ROWAphos will effect PH. Please help!!! Thanks, Jeromy <I have heard the same anecdotal information on PhosBan affecting pH as well, though I have heard the effect is minimal. I think that the ROWAphos would be worth trying here, though it is all likely personal preference. Hope this helps! -JustinN>

Any info on Tropic Marin's Elimi phos?   2/4/07 Dear crew, I have been searching your archives for any information on Elimi Phos by Tropic Marin and have not found any mention of it. <Mmm, no experience: http://www.tropic-marin.com/web/english/produkte/elimi-phos-ll.htm Yet another candidate in the ferric oxide hydroxide biz...> I was wondering if any of you at WWM have used or know anything about it. <Many similar products...> My LFS owner and friend of 20 years has used it and suggested it for my tank.  I feel my phosphate problem is from overfeeding; <Likely so... without other means, avenues for use> however, if I cut back on the food my sleeper gobies start to get too thin.  Other fish in the tank have nice, healthy body weight.  Before I spend $$$ for Elimi phos for my 210 FOWLR I wanted to know if anyone has had any experience with it.   Thank you much for your great advice. Jeff <I'd look into growing photosynthetic life... likely a hearty macroalgae here... Please read on WWM re HPO4... BobF> Phosphate Export Bob, I was wondering if you know anything about a product called PO4 Minus. Composition ? Efficacy ? Detrimental Effects ? Thanks ! Chuck Spyropulos <Do know the product... how to say this... you can check the MSDS sheets on the composition (don't think a good idea to post on the Net)... does/can work on some systems... a few possible removal of desirable materials issues... Much better, safer, less money to run/use marine macrophytes (algae) for export of soluble phosphates and more... Bob Fenner>

Phosphate Export Sorry to bother you again, but what are MSDS sheets ? <Hmm, another cursed acronym: Material Safety Data Sheets... a requirement of manufacturers to test and give reference to the proper handling, use, disposal and steps to take in the event of spillage, contact, ingestion of said materials... Available from poison centers as well as the distributor, maker> thanks, cts <Bob Fenner, in Cabo San Lucas... with the slowest connections on the planet>

Nitrate/Phosphate Removers Was recently looking at two products PO4-Minus and AZ-NO3 sold by Marine Monsters and several mail order places. They claim to reduce Nitrates and Phosphates by bringing them into a form that can be taken out by the protein skimmer. The chemical process by which this happens is somewhat vague, but the product seems to be endorsed by several seemingly reputable places. Sounds almost to good to be true!  <Agreed... don't know the chemistry, physics behind/which are these products, but do know the two young men who are MMM... they are honest, hard-working> I am not a big fan of additives beyond recognized supplements but was curious if your or any of your associates have had any experience with this product. <Only know what I have read, heard second or more hand... Am much more a fan of "nutrient transport" mechanisms for consolidating, making unavailable such nutrients in closed systems. Various general attempts at making this known can be found on WetWebMedia.com under the terms named. Bob Fenner> Thanks Randy Carothers-Las Vegas

Phosphate Removal I am using Sea Chem Phos-Guard, changing it monthly. Am I wasting my money? I have a FOWLR using RO water. I get the impression that chemical phosphate removers are not really effective. Thanks, Michael <This product, like many phosphate removing media, does have a limited degree of effectiveness. It certainly can remove some phosphate, if used according to the manufacturer's directions. On a personal note, I have never found most phosphate removal media to be as effective as we'd like them to be! IMO, it's far better to eliminate the source of the phosphate that you are encountering, rather than removing it once it's in the system. A good RO/DI unit should yield product water with virtually undetectable levels of phosphate. If you are experiencing high levels of phosphates in your system, re-examine your husbandry techniques. Allowing the juices from frozen foods to get into your tank is a common, and major, source of additional phosphate in a closed system. Be sure to execute regular, small water changes (like weekly or more often, if possible), and employ aggressive protein skimming, with attention paid to cleaning the  skimmer often. If you are already employing these techniques and are still experiencing high phosphate levels, do look into the source water and your RO unit's membranes (perhaps they need replacing?). Good luck with your efforts!>

Phosphate/Silicate Good evening all, <Howdy Kevin, Don here tonight> Quickie, Marc Weiss Phosphate and silicate magnet. Garbage or useful? Harmful? 30 gal reef tank with softies. Worried sponge material will affect iodine and other trace elements. <I wouldn't use it. Better to make sure these (silicate/phosphate> are a problem with a proper test kit and then find the source, not treat the symptom> Kevin
Re: Phosphate/Silicate
True and thanks for quick response, am setting up refugium in about three weeks, do you think this product is safe (ish) until then? think my seafood puree is the culprit despite rinsing first and only feeding what they will eat once a day. <I used to follow the same "rule of thumb". Since then I have cut the amount down by 75% and my fishies are still fat and sassy. Remember, what goes in must come out (mostly)<G> PO2 is only at .5 <still too high, so I see your concern> but is consistent and have tested the test. <Always wise to get a second opinion on the tests. Again, I would not use the Weiss product. While I have not needed it myself, lots of good remarks for SeaChem PhosGuard on the WWM forum at http://www.wetwebfotos.com/talk. Kudos on the refuge, excellent addition, keep in touch, Don>

Phosphate Can you recommend a good phosphate remover?  Can you overdose on this or is it like Amquel, Novaqua. . . not harmful if overdosed.  Thanks for your advice. <Kalkwasser use is best with RO/DI water, moderate feeding of phosphate containing foods. These other products tend to be media type products that replace or are used with carbon in a filter. There is no danger of overdosing with these, although they need to be changed out as recommended to keep from leaching phosphates back into system.  I wouldn't recommend "additives" that sequester phosphates. Better to filter out or precipitate with Kalk use.  Craig>

Salifert Phosphate Eliminator Has Anyone Tried Salifert Phosphate Eliminator, I Heard It Works Great For A reef tank. Thanks Woody <Well, Woody- I do not personally have experience with this product- but Salifert does have a reputation for quality products. I'd post a message on the WWM discussion board to see what other hobbyists have to say about the product. Regards, Scott F>

The Kalk Trick Bob, <Rich>   Just wanted to drop a note to say thank you again for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit the MARS group in Sacramento.  Your presentations are always animated and informative to all levels of the marine hobby. <Always a pleasure and a privilege. Thank you>   In your algae talk, you mentioned dosing calcium hydroxide to raise the pH, thus causing phosphate to precipitate out of solution rendering it unusable to nuisance algae growth.  I was wondering if you could provide me additional details as to this application (what pH, how long, etc.).  I'm most likely experiencing some amount of undetectable phosphate in my reef, as even with the addition of new rock and substrate, I'm noticing the start of hairy green patches.  If a little neglected maintenance in years past resulted in the binding of phosphate to calcified surfaces, I'm certainly paying for it now. <Sure... involves addition of Kalkwasser solution toward nighttime (lights out) with testing (for pH) to a point of about 8.5... this will drop over night likely... and your "testable" phosphate will also go to zip. Bob Fenner> Thank you again, Rich VanDusen President Marine Aquarist Roundtable of Sacramento

Filtration Conundrum (3/29/04)  Hi,<Hi. Steve Allen here.>  46 gallon bow/Aqua C Remora/Live Rock/Live sand/Power heads. Want to know about mechanical filtration. You talk about adding a canister filter best option, but then people say that is attracts phosphates? <Actually, nitrates if detritus is allowed to build up in it.> They say to remove the bio stuff, but if I add a Phosphate remover stuff (Roha phos??) In the filter, can I just leave everything alone. <Phosphate removers have to be taken out frequently. Again, it's nitrates that are the main issue with a canister. You can test for phosphates and use a remover if needed.>  They have lots of options to add to the filter (Eheim 2217):  http://www.marinedepot.com/IMD/fl_classic_media.jpg > 2217  http://www.marinedepot.com/aquarium_filter_media_eheim.asp?ast=  Should I use all of this with a phosphate remover. should I remove any of these? Should I use a canister filter at all? <Not sure who told you a canister is best. My personal preference is a HOT power filter such as an AquaClear. It's so quick to change the media. If you don't have space for one, then a canister is a viable option, but you will need to clean it out frequently. Test for phosphate and remove as needed. Carbon also needs to be changed a lot an you need a brand that does not leech phosphate.>  Also, instead of adding this, I was looking at the little Berlin sump (BS1) under my tank, is that a better choice, will that do the filtering? <Sumps are always nice, but not if you have to use a siphon overflow. Only drilled overflows are safe from floods. You use a floss bag on the pile leading to the sump for mechanical filtration and can put bags of carbon of phosphate remover into that bag.> Can I add the phosphate remover there? <Yes> Wow, choices are tough! <Indeed, no one way is clearly best for all. I'd really choose a HOT power filter over a cartridge or a sump that relies on J-tube siphons.> Mark <Hope this helps.>

Phosphate problems and curing live rock Hi- << Hi. >> I hope you can help with some answers on my issues and concerns.  Here they are: I have a 55 gallon tank up and running about 10 months.  I have about 40 lbs of live rock, about 40 lbs of live sand, a BakPak 2 protein skimmer with baling removed and the following: 1 firefish goby 2 damsels about 3 inches 2 damsels about 1 inch 1 yellow tang 1 large seahorse (yes I know that she should be in a separate tank, but she is doing fine.  I hand feed her so she gets plenty to eat) 3 feather dusters 2 peppermint shrimp 2 fighting conch assorted snails and small hermits 1 greenstar polyp about 5 inches round 1 Florida Ricordea about 6 polyps 1 Sarcophyton, small Sounds like a lot but really isn't. I get about 3/4 cup of skimmate from the skimmer once per week.  My water quality is pretty much zero across the board (nitrates run under 10 most of the time) with calcium at 450 and here is one of my problems, phosphate at 0.07.   I do 15% water changes weekly and also polish the water with a diatomaceous earth filter weekly. I have been experiencing both diatom and green film algae.  The snails do a decent job of controlling the green, but the diatom still covers much of the sand each day.  I realize this is the phosphate and what I have done is added a deionizer to clean the make up water (about 60% of the tank water is now from the deionizer which was done over the past three weeks).   I do try to limit the amount of food I put in the tank and I do clean up the uneaten food as best I can.  What else can I do to get the phosphate down? << Here you go, try this new product called something like Rowaphos?  I've heard some really good things about it from some great authors.  Supposedly the way to go. >> I am in the process of curing another 30 lbs of live rock, which I bought from Dr's Foster and Smith (Lalo rock-great quality by the way) which should be ready to go into the tank in about 2-3 weeks.  I noticed that the "smell" has gotten slightly better (still there) and after 6 days of curing, there still is no measurable nitrite in the water.  The rock sits in a plastic curing bin with two power heads, an airstone and a heater (don't have an extra protein skimmer) Am I doing something wrong? << Nope, sounds good.  I would have had all the rock in the tank months before adding fish, so you are taking a chance there. >> Shouldn't the nitrite be increasing? << Yes, but then quickly falling.  Your nitrate should be rising. >> Last question.  I am seriously thinking of going to a larger tank, at least 90 gallon.  Since it has to go into the same spot where my 55 is sitting, I'm not sure of the best way to empty one so I can move it but not quite fill the other. << Many friends, and many buckets. >> Do you have anything I can read up on regarding that? Many Thanks for your help. Larry Joachim <<  Blundell  >>

Phosphate reactor Hi guys! I am interested in this new PhosBan reactor. Do guys use such a device on your tanks? Or do you use phosphate media?<Stephan, PhosBan is basically a phosphate remover same as PhosGuard.  There is alumina present in PhosGuard where PhosBan has some iron oxide present. You can get the same effect just by putting PhosGuard or PhosBan in a nylon mesh bag and hang it in your sump, although it would work quicker in a canister type filter where there would be no water bypass.>Is worth it in terms of prevention of algae bloom?<The best prevention for algae blooms is not to overcrowd or feed, do 10% weekly water changes, and clean skimmer and filter weekly. I would not use it until the problem arises. You may never need to.> Still under construction my 180 gal. reef will have a downstream refugium with DSB for NNR and an upstream refugium without sand and Chaetomorpha. I will be using an R/O DI unit. The tank will also  have a DSB. How will I know when to replace the media?<By "media" you must mean the PhosBan.  Generally these are good for up to one month depending on the phosphate level in the tank.  When you can measure phosphate in a tank your in trouble since low levels of phosphate are quickly used up by the algae(s) present.> Thank you again. <Your welcome, and good luck with your 180.  James (Salty Dog)> Sincerely Stephan Gaudreau

"Phosphate Out"- Anyone Used It? Crew: <Scott F. at the keyboard today> I did a search on the web site but found no hits. Do you have any experience with "Phosphate-Out!" from CellPharm Bio? I assume this soluble product reacts with the PO4 in the aquarium and forms an insoluble phosphate salt. I'm leery of trying this without some reference. Thanks! Ken Baker <Sorry, Ken- this is a product I have not heard of, and have no experience with it. I'd try the WWM Chat Forum, or other message boards like Reef Central, etc. to see if your fellow hobbyists have experience with this product. Sorry I couldn't be of further help on this one! Regards, Scott F.> 

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