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Dosing Phosphate and Nitrate With Algae Scrubber

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by trivodi, Apr 4, 2017.

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  1. trivodi

    trivodi Member

    47
    5
    USA
    Between my oversized Algae Scrubber and water cahnges I managed to get my nitrate and posphate down to zero, I even lost some SPS soral in the proces so now I am dosing Nitrate alost daily and Phosphate about once a week.

    I have a 40 breeder, bare bottom sps only tank with a good amount of fish, 2 cromis, 2 clowns and 2 butterflyes that i feed about 2 cubes of frozen and a pinch of flakes daily however, that doesnt seem to be enough to keep my nitrate and phosphate unless i dose.

    My scrubber is about 30 square inches lit on both sides, water fall about 70galons per inch flow, with 5 red and one purple Cree leds on each side at 750 mA that are on for 18 hours a day. No skimmer, no gfo, no carbon, bare bottom sump.

    I used to have problem with phosphates leeching out of my rocks that build up in them by not cleaning my send bed for over 2 years when i did the DSB thing so I got rid of it and went with the scrubber which I oversized so I can get rid of the phosphate faster.

    Anyhow my main concern with the dosing is that I want to keep my phosphate as low as posible but I am not sure if my scrubber will grow alage if my phosphate was say 0.01ppm, I am worried I might get a nitrate problem since my nitrate goes up if my phosphate test 0 for 2 days in a row.

    I use salifert test kits for the nitrarte and phosphate. I've ben keeping my nitarte around 0.5 -1 ppm and when the phosphate drops to 0 I've been raising it up to 0.01- 0.03 ppm

    I dose brightwell nitrate and seachem phosphate or food garde trisodium phosphate instead of trowing more food because I don't want to have a bunch of uneaten food floating around, my fish seem to struggle eating more than one cube of food at a feeding.

    On the other hand I like the dosing since I can control my levels to a precise level which is kind of nice, therefore I am not planing on down sizing my scruber.

    The only issue that i have with the doising is that i got about 1/16 of an inch hair algae on some of my rocks and some on the bottom and back glass of the tank. Hoping it will go away once my scrubber recovers completly from the lack of nutrients before i started to dose and I wont have algae in the tank.

    My new fargs are loking real good, keeping color and some have new growth so no complains about that.
     
  2. Turbo

    Turbo Does not really look like Johnny Carson Staff Member Site Owner Multiple Units! Customer

    Just FYI, to my knowledge, trisodium phosphate is about the worst thing that you want to put in your system. It is a preservative that is used in a lot of seafood and does not easily break down in the aquarium. Whenever I do DIY food, I avoid products that contain this like the plague.
     
  3. trivodi

    trivodi Member

    47
    5
    USA
    good to know, I found it locally and used it a few times but now I switched to seachem phosphate which is made for aquarium use.
     
  4. Garf

    Garf Member Trusted Member

    Get a yellow eye kole. They are voracious algae chompers.
     
  5. trivodi

    trivodi Member

    47
    5
    USA
    I porobably will need 5 of them, I am starting to get more hair algae in the display but its also growing like crazy in my scrubber as well. I am thimking of not dosing phosphate for a while and just let it be undetectable. Hopefully there is enough phosphate from feeding to keep the sps happy. I should probably post some pictures when I get to it
     
  6. trivodi

    trivodi Member

    47
    5
    USA
    here is a picture of what the tank looks like right now, I got abot half an inch of hair algae on my rocks and bottom of the tank and some on the back glass but shorter. I had to take all the fish out, actually only 3 are left. Somehow i got ich or velvet most likley came with a frag since I have not added any new fish, snails or anything esle in probably 3 months. I added some frags about a 2 weeks ago and 2 days ago some of the fish were not eating much and then they were covered in tiny white spots, by the time I got them out and treat them I lost 3. The rest seem fine I am treating them with copper safe, prazipro and maracyn plus so far they look like they will make it.

    I am going to keep the tank without fish for 6 weeks and dose nitrate and psosphate for the coral. I am going to try to dose just so my nitrate is 0.2 and my phosphate is 0.01 ppm. Will see if that helps clear up some of the algae in the tank. The interesting thing is that my alage in the tank gets to be about 1/2 inch and it does not grow any longer which makes me think that my scrubber cant quite outcompete it so maybe if i lower my dosing the algae will go away from the rocks. Dont want to mess around making the scrubber bigger. The sps so far look about the same, my purple digitata is actually growing a bit. I broke a pice off of it about a week ago and both sides are healed and there is a small point about 1/16 of an inch that has formed on one end.

    Anyhow it will be interesting to see how it goes without fish in the tank. I'll also post a picture of my scrubber screen when i clean it tomorrow.

    The picture of the tank is not the best since its a cellphone picture but its good enough to see whats going on.
     

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  7. Turbo

    Turbo Does not really look like Johnny Carson Staff Member Site Owner Multiple Units! Customer

    Not sure why you would dose nitrate and phosphate directly for the coral? Corals are animals and eat food, if anything, I would provide them an actual food source. Corals produce waste just like any other animal, just not in the volume that fish do. With respect to the fish + coral pairing, fish like people don't always fully digest their food - the unprocessed food that may be partially broken down is what corals feed off of, or I should say most corals. There are some corals that adsorb "waste" nutrients directly from the water column as well.

    I've seen where people dose N & P into a system to keep those levels detectable, the theory being that these slightly elevated levels are better than ULN levels, but I'm not completely sold on that. It's naturally biologically processed waste that you want, that's just a tougher road to go down. I would try target feeding a coral specific food before N/P dosing, personally. But, that can be a bit inconvenient I suppose
     
  8. trivodi

    trivodi Member

    47
    5
    USA
    I did strip the nutrient (N&P) down to true 0 and then all but one sps bleached completly. All dead nothing left but white skelton. They started going pale just like when you over do GFO and a few days later they all started to die. In about three days they were all dead.

    My scrubber sucks up all the nitrate and almost all the phosphate If i dont dose any same thing will happen, from what i've read they do "eat" nitrate and phosphate. There is plenty enough bacteria to feed them so I am not planing on feeding anything unless I really have to. A little nitrate also gives them a nice deep color that many people including me like.

    I am no expert but so far dosing nutrients so there is a trace of it seems to be working, I try to keep the nitrate around 0.25 ppm and the phosphate 0.01 ppm so we will see how it goes. I gues this could be my little experiment, hope it works out.

    Here sre some pictures of my scrubber and the screen before and after I clean it which is evrey 7 days.
     

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  9. trivodi

    trivodi Member

    47
    5
    USA
    It has been one week without fish, here is what the screen looks like this week.

    I did a short video of the tank whit my phone and apperantly you can't turn the phone sideways or the video turns around too so my appologies for the wiered video. It still shows the tank so its good enough to get the idea



    It has been a week without a fish in the tank and everything has been living off light and the ntrate and phosphate that I have been dosing. Haven't fed any food at all. The coral looks about the same, the alage in the tank looks a bit less on certain places and a bit thinner, about 1/2 an inch long however, my scrubber didin't grow much so i lowered the light to 16 hours from 18 for this week.

    I've been having hard time keeping my nitrate up, it seems to get consumed very fast so I've been upping the dose, I am up to 8 ml a day and I still get clear water when I test. The phosphate is easier to mainatin, I dose about every other day 0.3 ml so it gets to around 0.01ppm, Ive been trying to keep the nitrate at 0.2 ppm but as i said it doesn't want to saty there.

    I think the bacteria in the tank is eating up most of my nitrate because as I said the hair algae in the tank seem a bit less and my scrubber didn't grow much but I might be wrong about the bacteria, I guess we will see what happens this week.

    By the way I also dose brightwell iron - 5 drops a week, brightwell potasium - about half a tea spoon once or twice a week and 10 drops a day or so of brightwell replenish which is trace elements and about a drop or two of brightwell iodine once a week. ALk, Cal, Mag are on dosing pumps
     

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  10. trivodi

    trivodi Member

    47
    5
    USA
    Here is the screen this week, its been two weeks with no fish and I haven't fed the tank a single drop of food. Just dosing nitrate and phosphate. I got my rocks out and scrubbed them with a brush which got most of the alage off them and I 've been blowing them off daily, there seems to be a good amount of crud comming off them even without any fish in the tank. I also siphoned it out from the bototm of the tank and the sump so I guess you can say that I did a water change. The coral seems to be doing fine, I think i got some growth on my green slimer but I am not sure. I am going to do another short video at some point soon.
     

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  11. sempsis101

    sempsis101 New Member

    Hello Trivodi,

    My first post on the forums, but I have been in the hobby for over half my life. I was simply perusing the forum when I saw your issue and felt compelled to reply. Please take my advise for what it is, just my experience and nothing more. I am only trying to help you. The issues you describe above sounds like one of two problems to me, neither of which is Nitrate or ATS specific.

    Your corals dying will leech nitrate/phosphate into your tank and cause Bryopsis or Red Bubble Algae. Even if you have no detectable levels of either, a dying coral can cause localized hair algae. Normally when people are reading 0 Nitrate, but they have tons of algae, it simply means the hair algae is eating it all and continuing to grow. The fish getting sick tells me your water chemistry needs improvement. My first thought would be you had an Alkalinity Spike that fried a few of your corals and lead to your algae issue. This spike could be caused by a multitude of factors. The most common issue is incorrect salinity (1.025/26 is normal) being added to the tank which crippled your PH swings and caused your ALK to change. Incorrect salinity is usually caused when reefers don't bring their new salt water to tank temperature (normally around ~78F) before testing for salinity (or an incorrect salt reading due to calibration or if you are using an hydrometer), then when the temperature of the new water is adjusted to tank temperature inside the aquarium the salinity changes, thus causing a PH swing. This PH swing can cause Osmotic Shock and make your lovely pets ill. Keeping PH, Calcium, and Alkalinity constant is the key to to a successful reef tank, especially when SPS is involved. If you are not currently monitoring the PH of your tank, please start now...

    Another factor could be water temp changes that cause your salt levels to change, thus leading to wide PH swings. Common issues include a faulty heater, not running a chiller, or too much water loss between top-offs causing salinity to drop.

    I have witnessed what you are going through first hand, and it may be none of what I described. But I promise, 90% of the issues people have with Hair Algae is due to either detritus export (your ATS looks like it is working so I doubt this is it), or Alkalinity issues (usually caused by PH fluctuations) or improper two-part dosing, or calcium reactor un-calibrated.

    My guts tells me your "husbandry" needs to be tweaked. I used to be lackadaisical when it came to water changes, adding two-part, or dialing in a calcium reactor. After many failures that all seemed to happen for no apparent reason, I would check Nitrate and phosphate because that is what all my fish buddies told me to do. Unfortunately, Nitrate and Phosphate are lagging indicators. PH is the most current indicator, followed by Alkalinity, followed by Salinity, followed by Calcium.

    My two-cents: Any additives you are adding to your tank other than Fish Food, Calcium, Alkalinity, and saltwater needs to stop until you figure out what is causing your corals/fish to decline. You don't need expensive chemicals to get growth, all you need is consistency and proper lighting.

    Respectfully,
    Sempsis101
     
  12. trivodi

    trivodi Member

    47
    5
    USA
    Thanks sempsis 101
     
  13. trivodi

    trivodi Member

    47
    5
    USA
    here is the video, its not the best, I did it with my phone. Its hard to tell but the lagae on the rocks is shorter this time, blowing stuff off the rocks seems to help and the color of the color seems to be the same. The only one that made it is the red(brown now) digitata and the sea fan. Everything else is new, about a month old frags that came from reefcorner.com and Ken gets them from Bali I think.

     
  14. trivodi

    trivodi Member

    47
    5
    USA
    Its been about 4 weeks without fish and here is the screen this time. No food at all just dosing nitrate and phosphate

    It did not fill all the way so I am thinking the algae on my rocks is probably eating up nutrients faster then my scrubber. The scrubber is in the sump and my turn over is not the gartest but I would have to drill a seccond hole and add a second bulkhead to improve it which I am not really excited about.

    I did scrubbe my rocks so we will see how it goes, last time I scrubbed them my screen filled all the way.

    The sps look about the same, no change in color, the green slimer deffently got a bit of growth and my purple digitata as well however, I lost one frag. It has been slowly dying from the base and after I scrubbed my rocks yestarday its aslmost completly gone today.

    Its been a bit easier to maintain the 0.2 ppm nitrate but my phosphate seems to be up and down a bunch, mainly close to 0 .

    I am going to try and get rid of as much algae in the tank as I can and see what that does this week to the scrubber.

     

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  15. Turbo

    Turbo Does not really look like Johnny Carson Staff Member Site Owner Multiple Units! Customer

    I looked briefly and didn't see that you had posted a pic of your light fixture / LED arrangement. The bare spot in the middle is indicative of photoinhibition, which can happen if your grouping of LEDs results in too much light in the center. My Rev 1 units had that issue, it eventually fills in, but when you harvest there is very little attachment right in the center. In the case of the Rev 1, I had 6 Deep Reds in a 2" on-center rectangle pattern with a royal blue right in the center of that rectangle, all at 700mA. That's too much for the blue, then putting a red 1" on either side of it made it worse.

    The next iteration was 2 blues (center of each red "square") and putting them at 50%, that mostly got rid of the center bare spot - but some still had it, slightly larger area of inhibition but not as severe.

    Switching to violets at 50% of the reds eliminated the spot for most everyone. Adding dimming completely eliminated it.
     
  16. trivodi

    trivodi Member

    47
    5
    USA
    The middle does get a lot of light but it used to grow without having a bare spot in the middle, you can see it on the very first post with pictures. All my leds are at 700 mA including the Violets. I probbaly should make them dimable but I dont have the time to mess with it right now. I would have to take the scrubber a part to take a picture of them which I dont want to do. They are two rowls per side 1st row r-r-r 2nd row r-v-r, on the other side 1st row r-v-r 2nd row r-r-r. Basicaly I have roughly a Violet on top and bottom for the center.

    I really think the alage in the tank is eating up the nutrients faster than the scrubber but after this week I'll know for sure.

    thanks turbo
     
  17. trivodi

    trivodi Member

    47
    5
    USA
    Here is the screen this week, still no fish in the tank and also no food, just dosing nitrate and phosphate. I still got the hole but its a bit smaller and i have a bit less hair algae in the display. Mainly on two rocks, about 1/2 inch long, and a bit here and there on the other rocks. It grows pretty fast after i scrub the rocks but it doesn't get longer than 1/2 inch. Blowing off the rocks daily seems to help a lot.

    I did lower my light period by 2 hours so I'll see what it does. Going to keep the fish out of the tank for a few more weeks. The coral all looks the same.

    Its interesting that i had very little hair algae in the display when I had fish in it and the nutrients were quite higher then now. Also my screen grew a lot brighter algae compare to the darker stuff I've been getting with dosing.
     

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  18. trivodi

    trivodi Member

    47
    5
    USA
    Also I think Turbo is right about the too much purple, the two bare spots are roughly where my purple Leds are however, I didn't used to have this problem wehn I had fish but then again my levels were higher with fish.
     
  19. trivodi

    trivodi Member

    47
    5
    USA
    Another week without fish, just dosing, zero food of any kind in the tank. Here is the screen this week, about the same as last time, I did scrube my rocks and the only difference is that a few of my sps have a better color. I can tell now that the algae in the tank eats up the nutrients pretty fast beacuse it grows back fairly quickly.

    I am going to redo my drain pipe, I'll be replacing it with a solid pvc pipe instead of the flexible one that is on now and bump up my flow from the sump so hoipefully my scubber outcompetes the alage in the tank. Going to be putting back the fish in a few weeks and then I am going to stop dosing phosphate unless I have to. I am going to keep on dosing the nitrate. Also I think I am going to repalce one of the purple leds with a red one since diming them is harder to do.

    Here is a video of the tank, the rocks were scrubbed 4 days ago

     

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  20. trivodi

    trivodi Member

    47
    5
    USA
    I forgot to say that the green slimer and the purple dogitata are still growing and maybe that red/orange frag that is on the big rock infront of the blue frag.
     

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