Phosphate Removers

Discussion in 'Water Chemistry' started by Arana, 19 Nov 2007.

  1. Arana

    Arana Member

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    Does anyone use Phosphate removers alongside EI without any problems?

    I'm dosing Phosphates at NutriCalcs reccommended dose but have just discovered my tapwater has a po4 reading of 10, other than a few minor algae problems it doesn't seem to be causing any ill effects, do you think i should be using something to remove it or just stop dosing the extra? as usual i'm confused :?
     
  2. Matt Holbrook-Bull

    Matt Holbrook-Bull Founder

    Messages:
    963
    Location:
    Dorset, UK
    dont trust your water report.. act as if its got nothing in it. you wont need to remove any, just add like you have been.
     
  3. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,951
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Hi Arana,
    Just to clarify what Matt said. I know we were just discussing water reports and were trying to decided, based on the water reports, whether to dose magnesium or not. This could appear conflicting if we now say ignore the water reports regarding phosphates.

    The difference, as you may recall, is the quantity of the nutrient that the plant requires. Because plants use relatively massive quantities of NPK it's advisable to ignore either water reports or test kit results for these nutrients because a miscalculation of NPK has immediate and dire consequences. PO4 and NO3 Test kits are very inaccurate and they can give you a false high reading causing you to underdose. On the other hand, if they give you a false low reading and you add more than necessary this is not a problem since you would be merely wasting extra nutrients. The problem here is that you never know which side of the line the test results are. The water reports are normally a year old and they are a system-wide tests. The reports may not reflect what's actually in your tap at any given moment. The nitrate and phosphate values can therefore change at any given moment without your knowledge. If you depend on these values you can unknowingly underdose at any time.

    For calcium and magnesium, the effects of underdosing are less severe and are more easily correctable. I believe also that GH values in the tap are also less variable so we can, in general, use the water reports, at least for calcium.

    We are convinced that It is a myth regarding the claim that high phosphates or high nitrates cause algae and that in fact quite the reverse is true. Algae is induced when there is a lack of these salts.

    Because of the importance of NPK, and because of the variability in test kit measurements/water reports, the only strategy that can be trusted is that you know absolutely how much phosphate and nitrate you have added to the tank. Our recommendation therefore is to save yourself money and trouble by NOT buying a phosphate remover and NOT buying a phosphate or nitrate test kit. Dose NPK "as if" you knew that there were zero nitrate and zero phosphate in the water supply and let it go at that.

    Hope this clarifies for you.
    ;)

    Cheers,
     
  4. Arana

    Arana Member

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    Location:
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    Thanks Matt, i don't know why i worry when it's all working so well :) i guess thats 2 beers i owe you... 1 for Phosphates and one for Magnesium, Oh and 1 for NuriCalc :lol:
     
  5. Arana

    Arana Member

    Messages:
    1,054
    Location:
    London
    Thank you both, that's 3 beers each then :eek:
     
  6. Matt Holbrook-Bull

    Matt Holbrook-Bull Founder

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Dorset, UK
    hehe no worries.

    and dont worry, were all neurotic over our tanks :wideyed: even when things are going fine! as a test, ive been dosing double EI, so thats 8ppm phosphates, everythings going wild, I might well leave it at those levels, ive never seen my tank respond so well. I think the trick, is making sure your dosing is in balance with your light, and obviously CO2, if were providing high light systems, such as T5 lighting, you can really crank up the dosing to compensate.. if you had lower light, then excesses might exist in the system, which might cause problems.. but thats almost imposible in our systems using EI, because of the 50%+ water changes. I commonly change 70-80% a week, mainly cos everything responds so well to it.
     
  7. Arana

    Arana Member

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    1,054
    Location:
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    Yes the better it gets the more we seem to worry it's about to go pearshaped :lol:

    I guess thats why i love UKAPS so much, i always said the best teachers are the ones that can show you that you already have the answers .

    Thank again guys, as the Beautiful South said "Carry on Regardless" :)
     
  8. stevet

    stevet Member

    Messages:
    80
    Location:
    London
    Totally agree - this is why i use an RO unit to provide mywater - i KNOW what is in my water now!

    Also another interesting test i did a while back concerns phosphates. I was testing for phosphates in one of my tanks and was getting some very high readings, even after using Rowaphos. Something didnt seem right to me so i looked at the ingredients on the tetra prima food i was using and sure enough there was a form of phosphate listed. I then re-did the test on pure RO water just to ensure the kit was ok. Reading 0. I then added one granule of the food to the vial of RO water and re-tested. The readings were off the chart. Was this really telling me my tank was stuffed full of excess phosphate? Is this bio available phosphate? All unanswered questions. One thing is certain - reagant test kits should be used cautiously.
     
  9. Matt Holbrook-Bull

    Matt Holbrook-Bull Founder

    Messages:
    963
    Location:
    Dorset, UK
    be careful on using RO units, they take out everything.. the amounts of toxins/excess nutrients in our tap water is extremely small, simply ignoring them is usually all that is needed. Plants are able to use most of what we have to cope with, and infact, find them benificial.

    Quite a few tests have been carried out by various members of this forum, and Barr report, that show that plants actually grow much better in tap water, than RO. It might be worth reconsidering this extremely expensive and wasteful work-around.
     
  10. stevet

    stevet Member

    Messages:
    80
    Location:
    London
    I keep discus in my tanks too - i dont think i need go into why i feel remineralised RO water is best for them. All sorts of reasons really, added to which my plants seem perfectly 'happy'.

    My Amazon is throwing off plantlets like nobodies business, so they must like the water too.

    In a plant only tank - no problem using tapwater.

    As an aside i thought all plants preferred slightly acidic softer water? Also not sure i would want 39ppm of N in my water from the tap (if the water company is to be believed!!) It certainly isnt that good for the discus?
     
  11. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi stevet,
    It's probably more accurate to say that most aquatic plants are found in soft acidic waters and that many of their adaptations allow them to survive in these waters. It's not a certainty that the majority of these plants are optimized for, or that they prefer these waters. After all, they have no choice in where they are, they merely do the best they can in the conditions present. The problem with RO as Matt pointed out is that it contains virtually nothing and has to be reconstituted. If reconstituted correctly it's fine but there is very little room for error. Tap water has an abundance of all sorts of nutrients which all plants, regardless of origin require. We therefore have a much wider margin for error with tap. There are a few species which do better in soft water, Tonina comes to mind immediately.

    There is another thread somewhere on the board discussing high nitrates and discus. I believe it was Ivan who is also a discus enthusiast. High nitrates in tap water normally occur in agricultural zones due to runoff from the surrounding farms. I guess I'm not really convinced that 40ppm nitrate levels has any effect on discus growth because they certainly don't have any effect on growth of dwarf chiclids in my experience. Effects on growth can be found more in NH4, nitrite, organic waste, foul water, high TDS and poor feeding.

    If one is trying to grow out discus fry it might be better to use a non planted tank if max growth is the goal certainly, but it seems to me that would be more because of practical concerns such as cleaning, feeding etc. than nitrates.

    It also seems to me that one of the other benefits of RO is that it filters out viruses and bacteria as well as toxins so the risk of pathogens to the fish is minimized.

    In any case plants can be grown in a wide variety of conditions but the optimum conditions for maximum growth are without a doubt water with very high concentrations of NPK and high but non-toxic levels of minerals and metals, which, again, is true for all but the most specialized type of plant. ;)

    Cheers,
     
  12. Ed Seeley

    Ed Seeley Member

    Messages:
    3,262
    Location:
    Nottingham
    I agree with most what you said and use RO water in all my tanks. I found that my breeding success with fish, especially my killies and wild dwarf cichlids, went up drastically when I switched.

    As Clive says not all plants may prefer soft water, but I found mine did so much better after I switched. However I do mainly keep plants that are said to prefer softer water, certainly no Vallis! My swords love the soft water, and I run my tanks at very low mineral levels. I'm a firm believer in keeping water as natural as possible, certainly as far as mineral and nutrient levels go, but this almost certainly not optimum for plant growth.

    I only found problems with RO water when I started re-mineralising with Seachem Equilibrium. Now I've switched back to RO Right, or use nothing, no stunting
    By the way using nothing to re-mineralise has been very successful! I reckon that as I'm adding "an EI quantity" of Trace elements that is more than making up for it. Have to see how it goes!
     
  13. stevet

    stevet Member

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    80
    Location:
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    It behoves me to say before answering Clives thread that i tend to want to see spawning behaviour from my discus, so an RO unit is a necessity for me (i feel) given my tapwaters resemblance to soluble chalk. Buffers and other chemical solutions to softer water just arent viable for me. Certainly if i lived in Cumbria or Wales i would not use an RO unit. Added to this is that, as George pointed out in another thread, 'waste' RO water can be re-used in other applications thus minimising its 'wastefullness'. As to its expense - this is certainly relative. The maintenance of such units certainly arent any more than buying ferts over a year (Id say much less of a year period) and the initial price can be less than £100 for a bare bones unit.

    More accurate to say i would have thought that plants growing in softer more acidic water will be 'naturally selected' to live in this environment and therefore be more suited to this environment in the tank. I shouldnt have used the anthropomorphism of 'happy' really.

    Reconstituting RO isnt some form of complicated art form... its quite simple when following the instructions on most manufacturers products. I have certainly never had an issue with this - even as a beginner to RO.


    I have to disagree with this with all due respect. Any look on any of the discus fora out there and there is a wealth of opinion from breeders about how high nitrate levels are ONE OF the major reasons for stunted growth. I have also bred discus in my tap water and in reconstituted RO and the survival rate is better in the latter. This is my personal experience.
    Different species also have differing tolerances and so different rules apply i would have thought. Breeding convicts is a far easier task than breeding discus and i have done both.

    Certainly all these are undesirable...

    Certainly an ideal and i dont try to grow out any discus from fry stage in a planted tank. Though having said this i dont see why it CANT be done. I would imagine survival rates would be lower.

    Absolutely. Better imo to get the rubbish out and then build the water back up than risk £100's of stock fish?
    ...and this is easily done following EI in reconstituted RO water. Especially when using the powdered form of ferts.

    My point really is that I personally prefer to get H2O to a position of purity that cant be achieved from tap water and then work to a usable ‘base’ water from there which will be typically low in Nitrate, KH and GH. It will also be free of pesticides, other toxins and pathogens. This is just my method of doing it and for the sake of my expensive fish stocks sake I will continue to do so. The issue being can plants also survive in this water – I believe they can with just as much careful maintenance as most of the forum members here display toward their planted tanks. If you go into anything without researching properly and consulting sites like this then you invite a certain level of risk.

    Yes i guess as a beginner you can de-risk under-dosing ferts in planted tanks by using tapwater but not imo when keeping discus. I personally feel the trade off in terms potentially stressing my discus isnt worth it. There is no substitute for researching your topic i would say.
     
  14. daniel19831123

    daniel19831123 Member

    Messages:
    736
    Location:
    Blackpool
    I had a friend who deals with loads of discus. He had 500 tanks of discus at one point! Apparently RO water is not really needed for discus if you don't intend to breed them. They are perfectly happy with moderate to hard water if they are accustomized to the water parameter slowly. This friend of mine didn't even bother using antichlorine since he knew that they don't use chloramine for his water supply. He also suggested some really bizzarre treatment for discus which many of the breeder and discus keeper out there disapproved, but in the end of the day he did say that this is all down to personal preference and experience. For those who had never tried it, they will be reluctant to believe so (FYI, he suggested that I dosed cuprazin and octozin at half marine strength to treat my discus).

    Tap water according to him is perfectly fine for growing discus even if it's moderately hard water. In fact the breeder that he deals with in malaysia raise the GH in his water to promote faster growth in the discus fry. Nitrate is not much an issue to him as with daily large amount of water changes and appropriate amount of discus stoking in a tank, nitrate level will remain pretty much similar to what it was coming out from the tap which is about 5-10ppm.

    Just what I've learn from this discus guru :p
     
  15. Ed Seeley

    Ed Seeley Member

    Messages:
    3,262
    Location:
    Nottingham
    If your tap water's not too bad then I'm sure it'd be fine for discus. I've had times when the TDS of my tap water has been well over 350 and the nitrate was over 50. I wouldn't put any fish in that! Recently it's been much better (pretty much since I switched to RO actually! Think that's called Murphy's Law!) but I really noticed improved growth, activity, feeding and breeding when I switched. I won't go back on my tanks at home but am experimenting with tap water in the tanks at school so I don't have take RO water to school fortnightly!
     

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