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Phosphate "flow out of rocks" and what not

Discussion in 'Advanced Topics' started by Turbo, Dec 12, 2013.

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  1. Turbo

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

    I just had to copy and paste this post because this exchange is great. I politely prompted this response from Boomer on Reef Frontiers in this thread:


    Because of the repeated posts by SM about this issue. In particular, this one which he has blasted across the internet in typical fashion:

    (edit: in this thread starting at post #114) www.reeffrontiers.com/threads/64356-Lowest-cost-and-easiest-way-to-eliminate-green-hair-bubble-turf-and-slime-algae

    Here is the relevant exchange after that:

    The reply from Boomer is just great.

    -----Boomer on Reef Frontiers said-------

    Says who ? Please show proof of this via ref article with some merit to it. That ^ is just silly gibberish nonsense. There are what we call PSB (Phosphate Soluble Bacteria), which can bring about " rock" dissolution, releasing P.

    Well, of course it does, which has NOTHING to do with Maxx question, which are trying to allude. The P goes down in the WC, not P chemically bound to the rock. NOTHING cause bound P release from a rock unless there is a chemical break down freeing the P from its Calcium binder = dissolution.

    A plant/ algae can not remove P unless there is a means to bring about dissolution of that rock releasing P.

    It is P, says who ? How do you know it is not some other limited nutrient, such as Iron "bound" to the rock ?

    About all I see is a bunch of gibberish nonsense and claims to try an BS people to buy a scrubber.

    Alott of unbound P can be found in the biomass / film that coats rocks surface/pores, etc., which has nothing to do with P bound to the rock chemically. P is bound to Calcium giving Calcium phosphate, similar to Calcium carbonate. So, that means your scrubber should work for adding to our Calcium demand also by releasing Calcium. Proof in point: you take some old media, sand, gravel, rock that has been in a system for a while and it gets coated with organics, making the rock non- reactive. You take that Rock put it in some new seawater not much of anything happens. Now, you take some nice fresh " rocks"' gravel, sand and do the same. And WHAT the pH, Alk and Calcium drop. And that pH can drop almost ~ 0.5 pH with some carbonate media in a few days. Why ? As the fresh surface is still active and not in equilibrium with the WC. Meaning, you get a Ca-Mg precip on that fresh surface. Once this all stops there is no more binding to the "rock" and P is NO DIFFERENT. So, the only P available is the surface coating/ film of unbound P. Take out coated rock, soak over night in 100% bleach and WHAT plants don't grow on it for P as they can not remove chemically bound P, which is all that is there now.

    The End.

    ------- End of Boomer's post ------
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2013
  2. Ace25

    Ace25 Member Trusted Member

    This may or may not have anything to do with the topic, but I just tested for organic phosphates. I grabbed a Hach Phosphate test kit from work, the $150 test kit that does organic phosphates. At first I thought it would be of no help for several reasons, 1. my tank is empty except for fish and sand right now, and 2. the test kits lowest phosphate reading is 1.0 up to 5.0. So I thought it wouldn't help, boy was I wrong.

    Inorganic phosphates via Hanna Meter (not checker) : .001
    Organic phosphates via Hach test kit : 2.5 !!!

    Since we don't normally test for organic phosphates, I have no idea if that is a high number or not, but it seems really high to me, and could explain why I have always had algae issues.
  3. Garf

    Garf Member Trusted Member

    Yep. That's what I'm thinking. So what if it's low inorganics, the ability of algae to transform/assimilate organics is a major factor. Your the only person I've heard of to actually test organic P.
  4. Ace25

    Ace25 Member Trusted Member

    I just took my algae scrubber off line. I am very curious to test over the next few days to see if indeed it is the algae causing the issue by releasing organic phosphates into the water. I have nothing else on the system that would cause high phosphates other than the sand. I am feeding extremely light these days (1 pinch of pellets every 2 days). Since it was easier to take the algae scrubber out of the equation vs the sand I went that route. I will let you all know over the next few days if it seemed to make any difference in readings.
  5. Garf

    Garf Member Trusted Member

    There's a fair bit of research which would suggest that both N and P are transformed into organic forms (not usually tested) so its plausible. You gotta run a skimmer though to get rid? On the other hand, my scrubber shows no such organic build up, yet.
  6. Ace25

    Ace25 Member Trusted Member

    I have been running a skimmer 24/7 for the past year on that tank, obviously a skimmer doesn't remove organic phosphates unless it is bound to something the skimmer can remove. I wish I would have tested BEFORE I removed all my rocks, just to see if the rocks/bacteria were keeping organic phosphates in check and then I got a big spike once I removed them, or if I have always had high organic phosphates. Too late now to test, although I could test the tank the rocks and corals are in to see what the organic phosphates are in that. At least that would prove one way or another if rocks can leach phosphates, organic or inorganic. If the tank with rocks/corals is lower than my display, that tells me I am on the right track that the issue is either sand or algae screen.
  7. Ace25

    Ace25 Member Trusted Member

    Ran a couple more tests right now.

    Organic phosphates in tank with rock/corals : >1.0
    Organic phosphates in display 24 hrs after screen removal : 2.3

    To early to say anything yet, I will do another test tonight and 2 tests a day for the next few days to see if I can see a trend.
  8. Ace25

    Ace25 Member Trusted Member

    So after 5 days of testing, I am seeing a pattern. Organic phosphates dropped fast once I removed 95% the algae from my system. It dropped about .2-.3 a day and the test I just ran is now showing less than 1.0 for organic phosphates. It appears algae contributes quite a bit of organic phosphates to the water, but I still don't have any clue what is considered 'good' levels for organic phosphates. I also no longer have any algae growing on my returns nor have I had to clean the glass in 3 days (before I removed the algae/screen I literally had to clean the glass 4 times a day, and each time it was so thick you could barely see in the tank, this was due to me removing all the rock which meant much less filtration in the tank.)

    I also put some blue filter pad material at the baffle before the return pump the day I removed the algae screen. There was still a little algae in that chamber of my sump on the baffle and walls. This is a picture after 5 days. To me it proves what I thought all along, algae is being released from the ATS chamber and making it back into the display.

  9. Turbo

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

    I would be interested to hear about what would be considered normal organic phosphate levels as well.
  10. Ace25

    Ace25 Member Trusted Member

    Very old study, but it shows P levels for the ocean for organic and inorganic. Short answer, organic phosphates seem to be about 1/10th the levels of inorganic phosphates. I am starting to now wonder if utilizing methods like GFO can actually cause more harm than we normally associate with it (slight drop in Alk), the problem being that GFO puts the natural phosphorous cycle severely out of balance. From the article below it seems I should be seeing reverse numbers, 1.0 for inorganic phosphates and .1 for organic, but I have them reversed due to (I believe) the use of GFO.

  11. Turbo

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

    Post #17 here:

  12. Ace25

    Ace25 Member Trusted Member

    That's exactly why I said I thought GFO was skewing the phosphate balance in the tank from 'natural' levels to very unnatural levels. I have been running a skimmer the whole time and GAC up to the day I started dosing copper for ich.

    Skimmer = obviously does very little at removing any type of phosphates, they have to be bound to other things (food particles. detritus, lipids/oils, etc) for them to be removed.
    GAC = probably does much more, but I suspect you will need to replace GAC every 48 to 72 hours because it will be 'full' in that short of time.
  13. Ace25

    Ace25 Member Trusted Member

    So from Boomer's response, it seems organic phosphate levels are not a concern by themselves, but depending on other variables, they could be. Organic phosphates eventually break down into inorganic if they are not removed from the system. I can see this as potentially being a major issue.

    Say you are like me, and have a badly designed ATS, meaning algae escapes and flows through the entire system. If the system is saturated with organic phosphates, the moment they break down into PO4, the algae in the system will immediately sequester it, which explains why no matter how much lanthanum or GFO I used I still always had massive algae growth in my display. I was stripping as much inorganic phosphates I could during contact with the media, the problem is, inorganic phosphates are being 'created' in every available space in the system and only 1% of the water is being filtered quickly enough by media to remove it before algae can take it.

    This goes back to my thinking of requiring mechanical media to prevent any algae from being able to enter the display from the sump. I am thinking that has been the missing puzzle piece in my ATS systems from day one.
  14. Turbo

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

  15. Ace25

    Ace25 Member Trusted Member

    All I see is more double talk from SM's latest response. Still not one link to any study to back up what he is saying. Also, WTF are the 'field reports' he is speaking of? If he has some type of report that is scientific that validates what he is saying, why not post them? Oh, that's right, his 'field reports' are mostly from newbies who bought his product and really have no idea what is really happening in their tanks, they just correlate one thing to another without any proof of it actually happening. It is one thing to theorize what is happening, we all do that here, but we also make sure it is clear none of us are experts and we are all looking for the truth, no matter what the truth is. SM doesn't seem to care about truth, he only cares about what instances fit into his theory, and the ones that don't he ignores. Critical thinking escapes him.

    As an example, say I am a newbie, just got to 6 months on my new reef tank. Since I am new, I believe my tank is completely cycled and perfect from here on out. All of the sudden at months 8-9 I have a huge algae outbreak and some cyano. I buy a SM scrubber and install it, by the 1 year mark my tank is clean again and no algae in the display. YEAH! The algae scrubber has worked like stated, I put it in the system, algae went away.

    Here is the problem with that story. I have setup dozens of reef tanks in my time. I can't think of one tank that has not gone through what seems like a 'second cycle' at around the 1 year mark. It seems to be a natural process to a reef tank maturing. As long as you have proper filtration, it always seems to subside on its own if you keep up on maintenance. I have seen it happen under every type of setup.. AIOs, Skimmer/GFO/Carbon/Socks, Skimmer/Biopellets, ATS only, and every combination you can think of. So at best, it is ignorant to state an ATS solves anything, at worst it is down right deceiving if you keep going around claiming it does without any proof. Like every type of filtration, there are positives and negatives. Bud/Floyd obviously understands that perfectly, and the claims he makes about what his product can do are spot on.
  16. Ricky

    Ricky Member Trusted Member Multiple Units! Customer

    Yes. But thats because he can read minds. ;)
  17. Wow, I like the recent stuff on RF. You'd think SM was elevating Boomer's blood pressure, but maybe that's just how he posts.

    Ace, how bad is the HACH total phosphate kit as far as pain in the butt to run? I hate doing the long, drag out ones like Mg with the titration syringe and all. I think I found the instructions on-line for this HACH one and it looked like serious work... Oh, and SM mentioned dissolving organic solids during the test, I think there is a 1 micron filter disk you can put on the syringe to remove those so it just reads total dissolved Phosphorous (not the solids which would be total P I guess).

    If you pull two samples from your system that is measuring 2.5 P, measure one raw and measure the other after swirling in some DI rinsed GAC, I wonder if the P is drastically different...
  18. Ace25

    Ace25 Member Trusted Member

    Make no mistake, it is a PAIN in the butt to run, and you have to check it several times over a 30 minute period. Probably the second biggest pain in the butt test I have done.. other one was either salifert strontium or iodine. The magnesium test would be a #3 for pain to run for me.
  19. Turbo

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

    If it's a bigger pain than Salifert Strontium, man, I didn't think you could beat that one.
  20. Ace25

    Ace25 Member Trusted Member

    No, second to that one. ;) I agree that one is just stupid hard.

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