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Refugium as phosphate remover


idiosyncraticee
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Hey All,

 

I am having a problem with phosphates. Currently phosphates are running around 0.7 and nitrates are at 20. I believe this is causing my problem with cyano. I don't have a phosphate reactor but I do have a sump setup with a refugium section (about 10 gallons). In the refugium is a little bit of caluerpa and a little bit of chaeto. I just (tonight) hooked up a 100w equivalent CF 6500K daylight bulb over the refugium on at opposite times as the main 90 gallon tank.

 

My question is, if I can get the chaeto to grow out, will it reduce my phosphate problems or will I need a phosphate reactor? Thanks in advance for any help.

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Like Lowman said, your water should be the first step you take.

 

If you still have it with good water, then a heavy load in the refugium will help, but may not completely solve it. If you have to resort to an additive, Seahorse has a few products that have helped me out a lot. One is a small eye drop type bottle of meds. The other is if you still have phosphates after that. It is used best in a reactor, but it isn't 100% needed to use it.

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There are also a couple RO/DI filters for sale used here or on craigs list. If it is putting out 0 tds, then it is worth the investment.

 

I have chaeto in my system, and have had it since the beginning. I also had high phosphates for a long time. I used the little drops. They help, but they are a band-aid, they don't fix the problem. A phosphate reactor may be your best option. They are less than $100 for the reactor and enough media to last a long time. It is an investment that is well worth it.

 

Another thing that you can try is to dose a carbon source (sugar is one method). It will feed the bacteria that will use up the nitrate and phosphate in your system. There is a lot of information on sugar dosing if you want it.

 

dsoz

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RO/DI I feel is a must. The fuge helps to pull some out. Keep it trimmed to keep it growing. cut the underside that will get shaded when it thickens. I don't like additives. Give us more information. Tank size. total water volume, age livestock and feeding habits.

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I experimented with chaeto as a nutrient export method, and didn't have much luck. I had a 5gal refugium, and it didn't make a dent in my 55gal tank. I suspect you need to be closer to 1:1 tank to refugium size to make much difference. I had good luck with GFO, and sugar dosing like Dsoz suggests also works well in my experience.

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RO/DI I feel is a must. The fuge helps to pull some out. Keep it trimmed to keep it growing. cut the underside that will get shaded when it thickens. I don't like additives. Give us more information. Tank size. total water volume' date=' age livestock and feeding habits.[/quote']

 

I have a 90 gallon display tank and a 30 gallon sump with a fuge in the middle compartment. TWV is ~110 gallons. Tank has been setup for about 3 mos and almost everything in it was ported over from a 55 gallon I had for 9 mos. I think I have ~75lbs of LR and a 2-3 inch sandbed. The only fish are 2 false percs and a recently acquired leopard wrasse. I have a reef devil protein skimmer that I'm still playing around with to get a decent volume of skimmate. I feed pellets once a day and half a cube of frozen mysis or reef mix.

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I have about 25% fuge size (area for chaeto) to tank size and get excellent results. I think any amount of fuge helps. I think it is important to keep everything else in check also. Over-stocking, over-feeding, bad top off water, or chemicals killing your bio-filter, to name a few, can be other problems that you may need to take care of. My chaeto more than doubles every month, maybe it quadruples. Each of my fuges have a 23 watt light bulb, the cheap energy saving kind, that's about 100 watt equivalent.

I've never had to use a different method so I'm unfamiliar with them.

I don't have skimmers on these setups, or mechanical filtration,, it's basically just live rock and chaeto, with small amounts of other macro and corals also eating up phosphates and nitrates. I also don't do water changes very often and still have zero nitrates. I do run carbon for a few day a month.

Just my 2 cents that works for me.

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Hey All,

 

I am having a problem with phosphates. Currently phosphates are running around 0.7 and nitrates are at 20. I believe this is causing my problem with cyano. I don't have a phosphate reactor but I do have a sump setup with a refugium section (about 10 gallons). In the refugium is a little bit of caluerpa and a little bit of chaeto. I just (tonight) hooked up a 100w equivalent CF 6500K daylight bulb over the refugium on at opposite times as the main 90 gallon tank.

 

My question is, if I can get the chaeto to grow out, will it reduce my phosphate problems or will I need a phosphate reactor? Thanks in advance for any help.

 

Good R/O unit for sale on this site... by "Reefhut" well worth the investment and very handy to have your own.... no traveling and less lugging and you know when filter changes were made.

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When you upgraded your tank, did you add more rock or sand? How long was the rock out of the one, before putting it in the new setup? How deep was the old sand bed and how thick is the new. Did you keep readings from the old setup? Have you checked ammonia?

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Once you find how phosphates got into your system, and eliminate that problem,(with RODI or less feeding, etc/) I think a refugium will help. I wouldnt rely on chaeto to eliminate phosphates, but once at a reasonable level, the fuge should help maintain your levels.

Since you have the lighting for it, how about adding some xenia to the sump? Has worked for me in the past, along with various macros.

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I have a 90 gallon display tank and a 30 gallon sump with a fuge in the middle compartment. TWV is ~110 gallons. Tank has been setup for about 3 mos and almost everything in it was ported over from a 55 gallon I had for 9 mos. I think I have ~75lbs of LR and a 2-3 inch sandbed. The only fish are 2 false percs and a recently acquired leopard wrasse. I have a reef devil protein skimmer that I'm still playing around with to get a decent volume of skimmate. I feed pellets once a day and half a cube of frozen mysis or reef mix.

 

 

Ok, a few things.

  1. you feed to often. you should take your feeding down to once every 2 days at the most. my fish only get fed twice a week. that will help with your nutrient import
  2. I got rid of the refugium a long time ago. seaweeds will take nutrients out of the water but they also put nutrients back in the water. it is not the most effective method and there are iissues associated with seaweeds releasing other problematic stuff into the tank water
  3. If you brought the sand over from your last tank i would recommend replacing your sand bed. sand will soak up nutrients over time and when it is full it will not take any more, additionally if you have a fluctuation in your tank chemistry the sandbed can release all of those nutrients back into the water causing a disaster. use caution with sand. i recommend going bare bottom or keeping to a lighter sandbed.
  4. get a decent UV and set it up so your skimmer intake is next to your UV output. UV breaks down the organics and makes it possible for you to remove phosphate by skimming.
  5. Water changes, this is the best and fastest way to remove phosphate. if you have a big problem you need to do a big change, just keep it 50% or less. if you need to do a big change do it all at once instead of a series of small changes. big change will remove a lot, small changes means your removing less and less each time as the new water dilutes the nasty you're pulling out.

good luck.

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I will say this from some experience testing phosphate levels using a REAL Hanna phosphate meter not some waste of money test kit...

People way under estimate phosphates they have. Here is a simple breakdown of some things I've learned.

- Don't leave your filter socks in more than a few days

- RUN YOUR CA REACTOR EFFLUENT THROUGH PHOSPHATE MEDIA. High in phosphates.... test your effluent people....I don't care what people say the negative effects of this are....

- Do your water changes with zero tds water

- run phosphate removing media all the time

- USE FRESH FILTERS AND MAKE SURE YOUR WATER IS ZERO TDS.

- You don't need a fuge to have zero phosphates. Don't get me wrong I have nothing against a good fuge but you don't need one to rid phosphates

 

I have an very nice colorimeter or what ever you want to call it that measures phosphates. If you want a real idea of how much phosphate your water has bring me a sample I'll test it for you.

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I think the most frustrating part of this is the algae associated with phosphates/nitrates. I have an RO/DI unit, but the water is so bad here, I can't keep up on the filter changes. A newly refeshed cartrige of resin lasts about 2 weeks...less with filters greater then 3 months old.

 

I am guilty of over feeding...I feed a bit of hikari pellets every day. I feed mysis 2 times a week and frozen rotifers 2 times a week. My new tank is overgrown with gross brown-red slim, presumably cyano.

 

I am on my second round of chem-clean, my lights just got shut down for 36 hours as did the feeding. I will cover the tank tomorrow to ensure complete lack of photosynthesis. I have a minimal sand bed, and a small bio load (livestock). I use polyfill as a mechanical filter (changed every 2-3 days) and my skimmer pumps out the nastiest skimmate in the world. I also run carbon and a few other buffer packets.

 

I have a good size ball of cheato in the sump with low flow and a few pieces of LR in the sump as well....

 

The battle rages on. Perhaps a UV is on the list next.

 

Kris

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I would like to know what phosphates I have. I hope to bring a sample for testing. I know that not all tests are able to test for all phosphates, so I don't even test for phosphates even though I have the test kit.

I feel better tests are looking for what is growing. If you have hair algae, you have excess phosphates.

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IME it is very possible to control phosphates with a refugium. If you have nitrate and phosphate present and your caulerpa is not growing like mad, then you have a lack of iron or lack of light. Both are limiting factors for growth. Some species of caulerpa can grow by more then 10x in a day given the right conditions, so if it's not, check your iron or light.

 

There are many of the spiral bulbs out there, but not all are good for growing macro IME. I have had the best luck in growth with getting bulbs that are spiral, but incased in glass with an internal reflector. Personally I would recommend getting two or three of these for over your refugium.

 

http://www.lightbulbsdirect.com/page/001/PROD/Reflectors/1P381951

 

Increasing the flow in the refugium is also good IME. You want it in the 30x range IME.

 

I have kept quite a few nice tanks over the years using only a refugium for filtration. I wouldn't recommend it for an SPS tank so far based on my experience, but for softies, LPS, or variations, it has shown to be successful for me. I did get a skimmer about 7 months ago for my reef, but my other tank is only run off a refugium. I have had some type of setup that uses refugiums only for the last 8 years.

 

JME

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