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A Few General Parameter Questions


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Hi all, been tracking my parameters for a few weeks, and a few things have me stumped and could use some input on.  Tank is a 40 breeder AIO with a Tunze skimmer - been running since June.  Inhabitants include pair of clowns, orchid dottyback, pistol shrimp/goby combo, and cuc.  Mixed reef.

Levels from this morning:

Salinity: 35ppt (refract)

pH: 7.72 (Apex - calibrated two weeks ago)

Ammonia: 0ppm (Red Sea)

Nitrate: Around .1ppm (Red Sea)

Phosphate: .48 (Hanna), .12 (Red Sea)

Alk: 8.2dkh (Red Sea)

Mag: 1200ppm (Red Sea)

Calc: 440ppm (Red Sea)

Questions:

1. The testing disparity between test kits for Phosphate is interesting.  I've got a Hanna checker (thanks to the raffle!), but I recently also got a red sea phosphate test kit.  I know that the Hanna is going to be the more accurate checker, but I'm surprised at the seemingly big difference between the two. 

2. The high phosphate level concerns me, but I'm not really sure the best way to lower and not "shock" the tank or introduce other issues (e.g. cyano, dinos).  I started dosing NoPox, but I stopped as I don't have a nitrate issue and I don't want to take them too low.  I picked up some Phosguard, but I'm worried it will drop levels too quickly.  I was thinking the next best option might be running some GFO?  I'm not sure what could be causing the high phosphates - I don't feel like I feed too heavily, and I do about a 10% water change weekly.  I do feed reef chili 1-2x weekly, and I sometimes mix in (sparingly) mix in some reef roids.  I did use dry rock to start the tank, but it was natural rock (vs. man made) and I "cooked" it for a few weeks initially.

3. I've been struggling with low pH, and I'm not sure exactly why.  I can't ever really get the pH higher than 7.9 or so.  The room the tank is in gets good air circulation and I've even tried keeping a window open during the day with little change.  I haven't tried taking some tank water outside and aerating to compare.  The tank isn't in a spot where I can easily run the skimmer air line outside, so I'm wondering if my next best bet is a scrubber?  I'm not really that concerned about the pH in general, but I thought I remember reading somewhere that low pH can sometimes affect phosphate levels?

4. I've been tracking my tank's weekly consumption, and typically my mag falls from 1280 (my target) to around 1200 in a week.  Alk usually drops from 8.5 (my target) to around 8.1-2.  Calc typically drops from around 450 (my target) to 430-440.  I test on Sundays and that's when I typically add BRS supplements to get the numbers up to the target.  Most of that seems like pretty typical usage, except I feel like that is a pretty decent drop in Mag.  Thoughts, or does this seem like a reasonable consumption?  I figured it could also be due to salt mix - currently am using Coralife.

Thanks for the help and input!

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Lanthium chloride dosing into a filter sock is a good way to do a controlled lowering of phosphates.  Go very very slow though and test every day.  You can calculate how much will be removed per dose.  Rocks may re-release po4, so keep dosing until it comes down and stays down.  Then running GFO as needed is a possible long term solution.  In short, just read up on the technique if interested.  Too much to describe in one short paragraph :)

As far as the testing disparities, that is tough.  It is either human error (easy to do, we all do it), expired test kits, bad test kit batch (it happens).  If you have a buddy or an LFS that can do a test to compare that would help.  Then go after the kit that is giving the bad results.

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IMHO, I think the first thing to consider is how is all your livestock doing?

It doesn't look like anything is too far out of whack, I'm not sure about chasing a 'perfect' pH.  Mine is running in the high 7's but was in the low 8's before the fires.. everything is still doing great and growing so I'm not going to make any major changes or try to 'fix' it.  My alk is dropping slightly but I've added a bit of livestock recently so it was to be expected and making slow minor adjustments to my 2 part dosing schedule.

Water chemistry will change, it does in nature.. I personally think keeping reefs is about managing large swings in chemistry and not overcorrecting, creating even more problems that will need to be corrected again.  Slow and steady wins the race :) 

https://www.melevsreef.com/articles/dont-chase-the-ph

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1 hour ago, TheClark said:

Lanthium chloride dosing into a filter sock is a good way to do a controlled lowering of phosphates.  Go very very slow though and test every day.  You can calculate how much will be removed per dose.  Rocks may re-release po4, so keep dosing until it comes down and stays down.  Then running GFO as needed is a possible long term solution.  In short, just read up on the technique if interested.  Too much to describe in one short paragraph :)

As far as the testing disparities, that is tough.  It is either human error (easy to do, we all do it), expired test kits, bad test kit batch (it happens).  If you have a buddy or an LFS that can do a test to compare that would help.  Then go after the kit that is giving the bad results.

Thanks - I'll look into it.  It very well could be human error 🙂, but I've tested multiple times and gotten similar results.  I hadn't thought about potentially bad kits, so I suppose that is a possibility.  Like I said, I tend to trust the Hanna - that number just seemed really high.  May be time to go for an ICP test. 

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1 hour ago, bler said:

IMHO, I think the first thing to consider is how is all your livestock doing?

It doesn't look like anything is too far out of whack, I'm not sure about chasing a 'perfect' pH.  Mine is running in the high 7's but was in the low 8's before the fires.. everything is still doing great and growing so I'm not going to make any major changes or try to 'fix' it.  My alk is dropping slightly but I've added a bit of livestock recently so it was to be expected and making slow minor adjustments to my 2 part dosing schedule.

Water chemistry will change, it does in nature.. I personally think keeping reefs is about managing large swings in chemistry and not overcorrecting, creating even more problems that will need to be corrected again.  Slow and steady wins the race :) 

https://www.melevsreef.com/articles/dont-chase-the-ph

Everyone's doing great.  Agree that chasing numbers can be dangerous - I more so started watching it once I started thinking that could be affecting phosphate.

Totally agree, whatever I do I don't want to do anything too drastically - and I'd like to stay away from chemicals as much as possible.

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I would if you decide to tweak numbers try to go for one at a time. It is easier on your tank and easier to find what works best and what doesn't. For your PH for a test run see if you can open some windows for a couple of hours. If your ph raises than you know that co2 is part of the problem. My tank is down in the basement with not a lot of windows. I ran a 1/4" refrigeration line over 30' from the nearest window to my skimmer. I was able to raise .15. Going to put get some houseplants. Going to add algae to refugium. Trying soda lime also. Testing to see one at a time which one will work best for consistency and highest PH.

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13 hours ago, Gumby said:

I would if you decide to tweak numbers try to go for one at a time. It is easier on your tank and easier to find what works best and what doesn't. For your PH for a test run see if you can open some windows for a couple of hours. If your ph raises than you know that co2 is part of the problem. My tank is down in the basement with not a lot of windows. I ran a 1/4" refrigeration line over 30' from the nearest window to my skimmer. I was able to raise .15. Going to put get some houseplants. Going to add algae to refugium. Trying soda lime also. Testing to see one at a time which one will work best for consistency and highest PH.

That's good advice and thanks for the tips on the pH - I think I'd like to work on the phosphate first for now as I don't like how high it is.

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I got a used tank and have been battling phosphates since the day I got it. Did 20% water changes weekly for a couple months and then finally got phosguard (brand name GFO). Worked great until it worked too great and saw some things suffering.

 

In my tank I have a "canary in the coal mine" that alerts me to low phosphates - a cynarina that shrivels up when phosphates get too low. 

 

So now I run phosguard one hour a day during the night cycle and everything is very happy.

 

Also you might want to consider High Capacity GFO. It can absorb twice as much phosphate but at 50% the rate of normal GFO; it's a slower removal like you want. Also a very nice side benefit is that HC GFO won't leech aluminum into your system if left in there too long. Phosguard/GFO can leech aluminum if left in the system after its useful life.

 

reef2reef has a great thread on the topic.

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On 10/13/2020 at 9:40 AM, Gumby said:

I would if you decide to tweak numbers try to go for one at a time. It is easier on your tank and easier to find what works best and what doesn't. For your PH for a test run see if you can open some windows for a couple of hours. If your ph raises than you know that co2 is part of the problem. My tank is down in the basement with not a lot of windows. I ran a 1/4" refrigeration line over 30' from the nearest window to my skimmer. I was able to raise .15. Going to put get some houseplants. Going to add algae to refugium. Trying soda lime also. Testing to see one at a time which one will work best for consistency and highest PH.

Fwiw the houseplant theory seems like a good idea but unless your doing wall to wall plants all over the house they will not have a noticeable effect. 

https://www.gardenmyths.com/houseplants-increase-oxygen-levels/

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I would be most worried about your phos numbers.  I would not be carbon dosing as that will drop nitrates as well and yours are low enough. 

New rocks leach phosphate. There is a conctratiin gradient between the water and rocks and the rocks will leach into the water until they are exhausted.  I have about 400lbs of rock in my system and have gone through 4 bottles of lanthium chloride in 5 months. 

Given how quick, easy and effective lanthium is i really have no idea why people run gfo.  Its a PIA.  Its messy, there is no way to tell when its exhausted, it clogs, and if you use too much it can kill everything. 

Awesome!! 

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18 minutes ago, pdxmonkeyboy said:

And BTW.. house plants give off co2 at night....  so go write your highschool biology teacher an apology letter. 

Evapotransporation during the day -co2

Respiration at night + co2

You are correct, here I'll rephrase my original post. 

 

And BTW.. house plants give off co2 at night....  so go write your highschool biology teacher an apology letter. 

 

Evapotransporation during the day -co2

 

Respiration at night + co2

 

Fwiw the houseplant theory seems like a good idea but unless your doing wall to wall plants all over the house they will not have a noticeable effect. 

 

https://www.gardenmyths.com/houseplants-increase-oxygen-levels/

 

There, is that better professor? 

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I am going to say B-

They reference article you cited does provide an elementary outline of o2 and co2 production but the statement that plants produce co2 all the time is factually incorrect.  

While SOME plants alternately cycle through transpiration and respiration, there are other plants that only complete each cycle depending on the time of day.  CAM plants        such as cactus actually open there stomata to absorb Co2 at night. 

:)

 

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17 hours ago, pdxmonkeyboy said:

I would be most worried about your phos numbers.  I would not be carbon dosing as that will drop nitrates as well and yours are low enough. 

New rocks leach phosphate. There is a conctratiin gradient between the water and rocks and the rocks will leach into the water until they are exhausted.  I have about 400lbs of rock in my system and have gone through 4 bottles of lanthium chloride in 5 months. 

Given how quick, easy and effective lanthium is i really have no idea why people run gfo.  Its a PIA.  Its messy, there is no way to tell when its exhausted, it clogs, and if you use too much it can kill everything. 

Awesome!! 

Doesn’t GFO absorb some degree of metals as well? I think that would be it’s only advantage. I don’t personally run it...but I also haven’t done an ICP yet so...ignorance is bliss for now 🤣 My phos is fine but my rocks were from prior generations of tanks not new.

 

That is a ton of lanthium...but that is also a ton of rock LOL

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5 hours ago, pdxmonkeyboy said:

I am going to say B-

They reference article you cited does provide an elementary outline of o2 and co2 production but the statement that plants produce co2 all the time is factually incorrect.  

While SOME plants alternately cycle through transpiration and respiration, there are other plants that only complete each cycle depending on the time of day.  CAM plants        such as cactus actually open there stomata to absorb Co2 at night. 

:)

 

B- hey I'll take it! To be honest I read a really good article a while back on  this subject but I couldn't find it now so I just did a Google search and linked that one (which i only skimmed through quickly) 

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It IS a ton of lanthium.  A would say 1/3 of my rocks were cycled when I put them in the system.  The other ones though.. I acid etched them which I think melts off the outer "skin" and exposes more phos?   Who knows, I have it down to 0.08 for now.  I have been dosing 5mm of LC daily.  

 

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