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Help deciding to start phosphate removal

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As the title states I am trying to decide whether to start lowering my phosphates. Sorry for the novel.


I had a 29g tank for years no problems super low bioload just a few fish and some softies. I moved to NoVa and transferred everything from that to a jbj 45. I made sure to keep all the rock wet and I just got new dry sand. I got a few new pieces of live rock from established tanks. My phosphates have been "high" living around .10 on a few test kits. And thats what the GHA hasnt bound so I know its higher. I dosed fluconazole because it got a little bit crazy but now I need to decide whether to treat the problem or not. My coral list will be below. Everything looks pretty healthy. LPS are growing and look happy. Zoas extend mushrooms extend. Softies are unkillable. Acro has some color loss but montipora is fine. Growth for all of them is slower than I would expect after reading online and GHA lingers but no where near as bad. So I have a couple ways Phosguard or GFO in a reactor I can start is it going to shock a relatively stable system and is it worth it given my tank isnt really jacked up?

Maybe toadstool toxins slowing growth other things who knows.


Params (I dont really check this stuff that often since its been stable for so long so I forget the measurements number)


Nitrate 10ppm

Phosphate .10

Alk 10

Ca 410

Mg 1250? Was over a month ago I last checked

Ph 8 - 8.1 (over a month ago)

Temp 78

Ammonia and nitrite is zero.

I used only rodi water and weekly 10% water change I dont dose.



Jbj 45

Some Jbj sk 45 skimmer works alright to be honest will get a new one eventually.


Stock media basket with seachem pond matrix.

Orion lt 120 light (I think)

Livestock (never enough)

Egg laying evil clown pair

1 chromis



Coral- like a dozen ricordea

Few rhodactis




1 chalice

Zoas in a bunch of places


Kenya tree


Purple monti

1 acropora


Thanks if anyone has any input on starting to lower phosphates on an established system (or not) Id love to hear. Thabks!

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I like the KISS method (aka keep it simple...) Do water changes and add a good clean up crew. If you have to scrub the rock or pull it out.  When I started my tank, I had bad hair algae, but it eventually went away with water changes and a good clean up crew. Make sure you are not over feeding and make sure you have good water flow.  If your tank is doing well, why mess with anything trying to achieve a magic number?  I don't test for phosphates.  Only Alk.

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Thanks! Thats sort of where Ive been at for years I never really chase numbers everythings been doing well enough but could be a little better but Ive just let it be. How long would you say of just good husbandry until your GHA went away over time? I understand it wont go away completely but at least to where it doesnt look bad.

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As far as the phosphates. You could bump up water changes (just a little in your case), use filter sock changed regularly, Check frequency of changing rodi filters, checking tds meter, remove anything that traps detritus.


As acros and lps have different requirements. One acro and some lps likely will do okay in your case. However, if you start into more should think more about dosing. Otherwise you could have a tank crash. Conversely improper dosing could be worse. However valuable lessons if you stay in the hobby.


Browning corals etc could be an indication of a light issue.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Edited by ReefBum

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Yeah I have tried to avoid dosing hence why I am trying to keep an amount of stony corals where I can keep my trace elements in a good place with just water changes. I will probably just up the water changes until I get the phosphates down. It seems like an area where people approach it from totally different ends if the spectrum with success which is interesting.

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Nothing drops phosphate as fast as lanthanum chloride.  If you really want to drop it, that would be the way to go.  


However, maybe you could drop PO4 and NO3 more naturally by setting up some way to grow algae?  I have a really simple arrangement like that which just takes a little bit of water off my return manifold and drains it out a hole in the side of the bucket back into the sump through a screen that I clean every couple of weeks.  I was previously growing chaeto in it, but now grow prodigious amounts of hair algae that seems to serve the same purpose.  Mine just sits on the edge of my sump.  


You're more limited by space in your all-in-one, I think. I don't know what the situation is around your tank, but others have found creative ways to grow algae with an all-in-one.

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If you do decide to bring it down with something like Phosguard (my preference for my 24g) or any other synthetic additive, you might want to start out with 1/2 or even 1/4 the of recommended amount.  Other than slow growth and a bit of GHA, it sounds like your tank happy and doing well.  Better to go slow and let it adapt than risk shocking the corals with a sudden change.


An algae turf scrubber, such as Alan mentioned, wouldn't present the danger of such a sudden shock.


Either would work for helping with phosphates, just start out easy if you choose synthetic measures.

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Yeah I was basically down to three options so Im glad that it seems like all 3 local reefers have tried to. I was either going to up water changes and wait and see. Get a ATS theres a few that could go behind the false wall in the tank. Or just go like 1/4 strength on the phosguard in the reactor. For now I'm just gona do about a 10% water change every 5 days or so. So far the phosphates are down after 2 and the GHA isnt growing near as fast. I have a feeling something just kicked up alot of junk in the tank or I did on accident and it spiked phosphates. Hopefully I can keep the phosphates pretty stable there and see what happens before I try anything else. Thanks everyone for the sanity check!

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