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Phosphate Question

This is a discussion on Phosphate Question within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> From the advice I have received from many experienced aquariusts as well as the further research I have been doing it is my belief ...

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Old 12-22-2010, 06:57 AM   #11
 
From the advice I have received from many experienced aquariusts as well as the further research I have been doing it is my belief that adding nutrients in the form of Flourish (trio) is certainly not wasted without co2. I have been advised that co2 is not required. It isn't as though I have a planted tank and the plants I do have are all true aquatics.

There is definitely a huge difference with my plant growth and health when I fertilise and then don't fertilise. Due to the other issues that have been going on with my tank these past 8 weeks or so I haven't actually used any Flourish. I decided to scale back to absolute basics to hopefully work out where my Nitrates were coming from.

I am 100% positive that the high Nitrate levels were absolutely caused by too much waste being produced. Some will refer to this as overfeeding, I believe it to be the waste produced. Everyone in the tank is not happy with the new feeding arrangement. The Silver Dollars have become aggressive toward the Angels and for the very first time ever, they are nipping at their fins. The Silver Dollars have also wiped out 2 huge Anubias which, they have never previously touched. They have also destroyed what was once a huge, healthy Java Fern as well as the various grasses. The Clown Loaches have also begun showing signs of aggression when food is around and they never hesitate to push everyone else out of the way.

There is huge aggression at feeding time now which, I hate seeing. To me, these are not happy fish! However, I have a plan..............Tomorrow I am going to purchase 4 bunches of Alodea, a few more grasses and as many 'pest' snails as I can possibly get my hands on.

I am hoping that by providing plenty of plants for the Silver Dollars to eat will ease their frenzy when it is feed time. The snails are for the Clown Loaches, this should also help not only as a food source but as a boredom buster. It is obvious that these fish like to be kept stimulated as this is when their 'clicking' is loudest. They love picking up the snails and carrying them around the tank with them!

My Nitrate has remained stable at 20ppm and all other water parameters are good. Something I question is the advice regarding the PH. I have always kept my PH at 7.0 and have had no problems at all. What effect does too high/low PH have on the fish? Wouldn't they show signs of not being happy?

Oh, I almost forgot....the other HUGE change in the tank is o2. I had thought that there was insufficient o2 in the water as we I only had the standard spray bar attached from the Canister Filter. This broke the water however, didn't really appear to be putting much o2 into the water (minimal bubbles). I kept being told that this was sufficient as long as the fish weren't gasping for breathe or, their gills weren't going a million miles an hour. Neither of these things was happening however, I decided to finally just go with the air pump and air hose the length of the tank (5ft) and see what happened. It certainly is never a waste as the effect it creates is nice.

I believe that the extra o2 along with the reduced feeding is the key to my Nitrates being stable. Apart from the 'feed me I am starving' behaviour, all fish appear to be happy and healthy!
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Old 12-22-2010, 07:37 AM   #12
 
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Originally Posted by FishMad View Post
From the advice I have received from many experienced aquariusts as well as the further research I have been doing it is my belief that adding nutrients in the form of Flourish (trio) is certainly not wasted without co2. I have been advised that co2 is not required. It isn't as though I have a planted tank and the plants I do have are all true aquatics.

There is definitely a huge difference with my plant growth and health when I fertilise and then don't fertilise. Due to the other issues that have been going on with my tank these past 8 weeks or so I haven't actually used any Flourish. I decided to scale back to absolute basics to hopefully work out where my Nitrates were coming from.

I am 100% positive that the high Nitrate levels were absolutely caused by too much waste being produced. Some will refer to this as overfeeding, I believe it to be the waste produced. Everyone in the tank is not happy with the new feeding arrangement. The Silver Dollars have become aggressive toward the Angels and for the very first time ever, they are nipping at their fins. The Silver Dollars have also wiped out 2 huge Anubias which, they have never previously touched. They have also destroyed what was once a huge, healthy Java Fern as well as the various grasses. The Clown Loaches have also begun showing signs of aggression when food is around and they never hesitate to push everyone else out of the way.

There is huge aggression at feeding time now which, I hate seeing. To me, these are not happy fish! However, I have a plan..............Tomorrow I am going to purchase 4 bunches of Alodea, a few more grasses and as many 'pest' snails as I can possibly get my hands on.

I am hoping that by providing plenty of plants for the Silver Dollars to eat will ease their frenzy when it is feed time. The snails are for the Clown Loaches, this should also help not only as a food source but as a boredom buster. It is obvious that these fish like to be kept stimulated as this is when their 'clicking' is loudest. They love picking up the snails and carrying them around the tank with them!

My Nitrate has remained stable at 20ppm and all other water parameters are good. Something I question is the advice regarding the PH. I have always kept my PH at 7.0 and have had no problems at all. What effect does too high/low PH have on the fish? Wouldn't they show signs of not being happy?

Oh, I almost forgot....the other HUGE change in the tank is o2. I had thought that there was insufficient o2 in the water as we I only had the standard spray bar attached from the Canister Filter. This broke the water however, didn't really appear to be putting much o2 into the water (minimal bubbles). I kept being told that this was sufficient as long as the fish weren't gasping for breathe or, their gills weren't going a million miles an hour. Neither of these things was happening however, I decided to finally just go with the air pump and air hose the length of the tank (5ft) and see what happened. It certainly is never a waste as the effect it creates is nice.

I believe that the extra o2 along with the reduced feeding is the key to my Nitrates being stable. Apart from the 'feed me I am starving' behaviour, all fish appear to be happy and healthy!
Overfeeding results in increased waste. What goes in,must come out.
With regards to CO2, Who ever told you it is not required for plant growth was/is mistaken.
CO2 injection is not needed but some form of carbon must be present such as the relatively small amount produced as by product of respiration by fishes,and bacterial breakdown of organics in the aquarium.
Plant's can adapt to these low levels of CO2 but cannot grow without some form of it.

Last edited by 1077; 12-22-2010 at 07:42 AM..
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Old 12-22-2010, 10:45 AM   #13
 
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If one is performing weekly water changes and isn't seriously overfeeding,overstocking,there should never be excess nitrates or phosphates at levels that would harm fishes.
Same with dosing nutrient's in dry form.Would take many many parts per million over extended periods to begin to harm fishes and if weekly water changes are taking place,and source water is not a contributer,then excessive levels should not become an issue . IMHO
Well that all depends on what is considered excess. I have 20ppm out of my tap, which is great IMO for the tanks I run. I dose EI method, except no KNO3 simply because I don't really need it. I can/have dose it before in full and never had a issue then either. My big tank pushes between 20-40ppm nitrate and I breed lots of fish in that. EI method calls for 20ppm NO3- ideally, unless you are raising some really sensitive fish. I still stand that 0 nitrates is no good for plants... especially with filtration. For below EI I still would not drop below 10ppm nitrate if you wanted to grow plants. If the tank wasn't relying on the cycle it might be different. However it is and now those plants have to fight with the filter for their food.
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Old 12-22-2010, 11:15 AM   #14
 
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Well that all depends on what is considered excess. I have 20ppm out of my tap, which is great IMO for the tanks I run. I dose EI method, except no KNO3 simply because I don't really need it. I can/have dose it before in full and never had a issue then either. My big tank pushes between 20-40ppm nitrate and I breed lots of fish in that. EI method calls for 20ppm NO3- ideally, unless you are raising some really sensitive fish. I still stand that 0 nitrates is no good for plants... especially with filtration. For below EI I still would not drop below 10ppm nitrate if you wanted to grow plants. If the tank wasn't relying on the cycle it might be different. However it is and now those plants have to fight with the filter for their food.
Full EI method calls for 50 percent weekly water change to re-set the tanks which would prevent build up of dangerous levels of anything in the way of dry fertz.
Weekly water changes in low tech tanks with 1/3 to 1/4 of EI dosing that high tech tanks with CO2 injection receive would accomplish same thing.
I agree with Byron that one may or may not need to add anything extra to a properly stocked tank with sufficient plant mass , and appropriate fish load for fish waste ,and fish food, along with CO2 which occurs naturally from fish respiration and bacteria breakdown of organics can sometimes provide all the plant's need With maybe some trace minerals.
If it ain't broke don't fix it. But to possibly grow some plant's which some say can't be grown without CO2 injection and all of the bells and whistles,,some such as myself ,, expieriment with providing unlimited nutrients to see what can be achieved. I'm no plant guru,just choosing to follow those with much more expierience and who have presented me with the info to achieve similar results that they have.(I hope)
My own tank's nitrate levels are twice what I am comfortable with but fishes are not responding negatively ,and I am pleased with growth of some very slow growing plants.
In a Non planted tank with Cichlids , I would not be comfortable with present readings but I can measure the rate that plant's are using the extra KNO3 and skip a week if needed .
I am using approx 1/4 tsp each of KNO3 and Pottasium once each week or two in 80 gallon tank. Way less than what those who dose full EI add to their tanks daily.
I can't add more for the rate of uptake in my low tech tank is not the same as High tech CO2 injected tanks with a gazillion watts of light resting above and adding more would be pointless.
For me,in my tank,with the plant's and fish I have,,I have found the balance to achieve my goals.

Last edited by 1077; 12-22-2010 at 11:22 AM..
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Old 12-22-2010, 12:00 PM   #15
 
Yes I can agree with that. I dose 1/4 tsp K2SO4 every other day, along will slightly less phosphate, and about the same amount of CSM+B on opposite days, then magnesium is added as well. This works for me. I have IMO heavily stocked tanks. And yes 50% WC weekly. I must prune back plants weekly. Most of my tanks are kinda focused for growing plants quickly which is why I rely heavily on fertilizers in most of my tanks. I can't stand slow plant growth. I don't agree that any plant NEEDs CO2 injection, some certainly grow easier/better. But coming from someone who uses this, it is not needed as an absolute. I feel almost nothing in this hobby is set in stone. All that matters is that it is balanced in some manner.
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Old 12-22-2010, 01:44 PM   #16
 
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A couple observations on the question of whether or not nitrate is beneficial for plant growth.

Aquatic plants, unlike terrestrial, have a marked preference for ammonium as their source of nitrogen, not nitrates. Aquatic plants can utilize ammonium (they can and do convert this from ammonia in basic water), nitrite and nitrate; but tests have proven that they overwhelmingly prefer ammonium. Some believe this is because the process to assimilate nitrogen from nitrite and nitrate uses more energy, since the plants have to take up the nitrite and nitrate and then change it back into ammonium. It is "easier" for the plant to utilize ammonium if it is available.

And this brings us to the majority of natural habitats where nitrates are rare or totally absent. Ammonium predominates because almost all sediments (substrates) supporting aquatic plant growth are anaerobic. As the water in these habitats is usually soft and acidic, the ammonia produced by bacteria and other life immediately changes to ammonium. Ammonium, not nitrate, tends to accumulate because the anaerobic conditions discourage nitrification and encourage denitrification. Most aquatic plant species have consequently developed an ammonium-based nutrition. Studies show that most plants grow faster and better when ammonium is present compared to nitrates. Tables of all these studies are included in Diana Walstad's book if anyone wants to see them.

Another fact is that all photosynthesizing organisms (plants, algae) use ammonium, not nitrate, to produce their proteins. Thus, assimilation of nitrogen as ammonium is certainly going to result in increased plant growth with less energy used. This relates to my comments elsewhere about biological filtration being detrimental to plant growth. Plants use ammonium to produce protein, and the process they must use to change nitrates back into ammonium uses considerable energy, and slows their growth. Nitrifying bacteria gain their energy from oxidizing ammonium into nitrate. Plants use almost exactly the same amount of energy just to change nitrate back into ammonium which they must do in order to use the nitrogen for protein.

High nitrates may be considered detrimental to plant growth, depending of course upon the other conditions in the aquarium--the amount of ammonium (from ammonia) present, fish load, bacteria, plant load, etc., and of course the plant species. But as I mentioned previously, very few prefer nitrate over ammonium, so the greater benefit lies with ammonium and not nitrate if better plant growth is the goal.
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Old 12-22-2010, 02:13 PM   #17
 
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Originally Posted by FishMad View Post
From the advice I have received from many experienced aquariusts as well as the further research I have been doing it is my belief that adding nutrients in the form of Flourish (trio) is certainly not wasted without co2. I have been advised that co2 is not required. It isn't as though I have a planted tank and the plants I do have are all true aquatics.

There is definitely a huge difference with my plant growth and health when I fertilise and then don't fertilise. Due to the other issues that have been going on with my tank these past 8 weeks or so I haven't actually used any Flourish. I decided to scale back to absolute basics to hopefully work out where my Nitrates were coming from.

I am 100% positive that the high Nitrate levels were absolutely caused by too much waste being produced. Some will refer to this as overfeeding, I believe it to be the waste produced. Everyone in the tank is not happy with the new feeding arrangement. The Silver Dollars have become aggressive toward the Angels and for the very first time ever, they are nipping at their fins. The Silver Dollars have also wiped out 2 huge Anubias which, they have never previously touched. They have also destroyed what was once a huge, healthy Java Fern as well as the various grasses. The Clown Loaches have also begun showing signs of aggression when food is around and they never hesitate to push everyone else out of the way.

There is huge aggression at feeding time now which, I hate seeing. To me, these are not happy fish! However, I have a plan..............Tomorrow I am going to purchase 4 bunches of Alodea, a few more grasses and as many 'pest' snails as I can possibly get my hands on.

I am hoping that by providing plenty of plants for the Silver Dollars to eat will ease their frenzy when it is feed time. The snails are for the Clown Loaches, this should also help not only as a food source but as a boredom buster. It is obvious that these fish like to be kept stimulated as this is when their 'clicking' is loudest. They love picking up the snails and carrying them around the tank with them!

My Nitrate has remained stable at 20ppm and all other water parameters are good. Something I question is the advice regarding the PH. I have always kept my PH at 7.0 and have had no problems at all. What effect does too high/low PH have on the fish? Wouldn't they show signs of not being happy?

Oh, I almost forgot....the other HUGE change in the tank is o2. I had thought that there was insufficient o2 in the water as we I only had the standard spray bar attached from the Canister Filter. This broke the water however, didn't really appear to be putting much o2 into the water (minimal bubbles). I kept being told that this was sufficient as long as the fish weren't gasping for breathe or, their gills weren't going a million miles an hour. Neither of these things was happening however, I decided to finally just go with the air pump and air hose the length of the tank (5ft) and see what happened. It certainly is never a waste as the effect it creates is nice.

I believe that the extra o2 along with the reduced feeding is the key to my Nitrates being stable. Apart from the 'feed me I am starving' behaviour, all fish appear to be happy and healthy!
I would like to comment on a couple of things from this post.

First on the pH. It is almost impossible to have a pH of exactly 7, since this "pure" state cannot exist if there are influences (organics, minerals, life...) present. So while the API pH test kit may indicate a pH of 7, I would suggest it is either above or below. Secondly, as noted previously, any "adjustment" done un-naturally--by which I mean with any chemical substance or any biological process specifically increased solely for this purpose--is going to take a toll on the biological equilibrium in the aquarium which after all is a closed system. Such "adjustments" of any sort in a closed system must be very carefully considered since the impact can alter suddenly and significantly. Such changes are detrimental to fish, first through additional stress (which weakens the immune system at the very least) but beyond that, if significant, causing other internal problems. I do not advise doing this. It is preferable by far to allow the aquarium's biological system to come to its own state of balance. Live plants and regular partial water changes can assist this to occur. But it can be impacted to varying degrees through increasing nutrients, which brings me to the second item.

Oxygen. Increasing oxygen in a planted tank is detrimental to the plants. First, the amount of oxygen produced during the day (during photosynthesis) by plants [and here assuming a reasonably well-planted and balanced system] is considerable and far greater than the fish and bacteria require, even during the night. Second, an increase of oxygen causes plants to slow their growth in two ways. First, increasing oxygen must of necessity reduce CO2. This is removing an essential nutrient, carbon, from the system. Second, oxygen binds with micro-nutrients, making them inaccessible to plants; iron is one obvious example. This further reduces the nutrient availability, and plant growth must slow correspondingly. At the same time, algae will likely increase as it can utilize the light when the plants cannot due to insufficient nutrients; remember, plants will/can only grow to the point at which something is no longer available--the law of minimum--and any excess of light or other nutrients when one essential nutrient is unavailable will not benefit the plants but will benefit algae.

The other issue of dosing ad hoc nutrients is not far removed from my comments on oxygen. Things have to be balanced or the plants cannot benefit. But there can be various levels of balance. You may have sufficient CO2, nitrogen, etc. to balance the added nutrients. But the risk is always there, that this can suddenly get un-balanced, and various problems may occur as a result. Also, there is the issue of acceptable plant growth. Increased growth may not be essential; it depends upon what you expect/want from your system. Just remember that any input you make, whatever it may be, is having an effect on the biological system. This can be good or it can be the opposite.

Last edited by Byron; 12-22-2010 at 02:17 PM..
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Old 12-22-2010, 02:33 PM   #18
 
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A couple observations on the question of whether or not nitrate is beneficial for plant growth.

Aquatic plants, unlike terrestrial, have a marked preference for ammonium as their source of nitrogen, not nitrates. Aquatic plants can utilize ammonium (they can and do convert this from ammonia in basic water), nitrite and nitrate; but tests have proven that they overwhelmingly prefer ammonium. Some believe this is because the process to assimilate nitrogen from nitrite and nitrate uses more energy, since the plants have to take up the nitrite and nitrate and then change it back into ammonium. It is "easier" for the plant to utilize ammonium if it is available.

And this brings us to the majority of natural habitats where nitrates are rare or totally absent. Ammonium predominates because almost all sediments (substrates) supporting aquatic plant growth are anaerobic. As the water in these habitats is usually soft and acidic, the ammonia produced by bacteria and other life immediately changes to ammonium. Ammonium, not nitrate, tends to accumulate because the anaerobic conditions discourage nitrification and encourage denitrification. Most aquatic plant species have consequently developed an ammonium-based nutrition. Studies show that most plants grow faster and better when ammonium is present compared to nitrates. Tables of all these studies are included in Diana Walstad's book if anyone wants to see them.

Another fact is that all photosynthesizing organisms (plants, algae) use ammonium, not nitrate, to produce their proteins. Thus, assimilation of nitrogen as ammonium is certainly going to result in increased plant growth with less energy used. This relates to my comments elsewhere about biological filtration being detrimental to plant growth. Plants use ammonium to produce protein, and the process they must use to change nitrates back into ammonium uses considerable energy, and slows their growth. Nitrifying bacteria gain their energy from oxidizing ammonium into nitrate. Plants use almost exactly the same amount of energy just to change nitrate back into ammonium which they must do in order to use the nitrogen for protein.

High nitrates may be considered detrimental to plant growth, depending of course upon the other conditions in the aquarium--the amount of ammonium (from ammonia) present, fish load, bacteria, plant load, etc., and of course the plant species. But as I mentioned previously, very few prefer nitrate over ammonium, so the greater benefit lies with ammonium and not nitrate if better plant growth is the goal.
Still comes down to the fact any cycled tank is not going to have ammonium/ ammonia present for any period of time. Adding it doesn't work as long as you are filtering obviously. This is why we use nitrates unless you are not using any filtration. Your not going to find any fertilizer that adds ammonium to the water, which is why it always comes back to nitrates. I don't see IMO any way for a plant to grow in a normal filtered tank with 0 nitrates....
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Old 12-22-2010, 04:56 PM   #19
 
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Still comes down to the fact any cycled tank is not going to have ammonium/ ammonia present for any period of time. Adding it doesn't work as long as you are filtering obviously. This is why we use nitrates unless you are not using any filtration. Your not going to find any fertilizer that adds ammonium to the water, which is why it always comes back to nitrates. I don't see IMO any way for a plant to grow in a normal filtered tank with 0 nitrates....
To clarify, I wasn't suggesting one should add ammonium. The fact is that it is present naturally in reasonable amounts. The plants are faster than nitrosomonas bacteria at grabbing it. This is why in a fully-planted tank (planted from day 1) fish can be added and there will be no cycle that we can detect. The plants use the ammonia (converting it to ammonium if basic water, otherwise in acidic directly) and the nitrosomonas bacteria will be present but in significantly less numbers than in non-planted tanks. As there are much fewer nitrosomonas bacteria, there is obviously less nitrite being produced so nitrospira bacteria are fewer as well. And therefore nitrates are fewer. Many with planted tanks have zero nitrates; I have 5ppm in mine, but I stock more heavily and I suspect the bacteria thus has opportunity to establish more than otherwise. If there was a balance between fish and plants such that no filtration was necessary, you would see zero nitrates in a planted tank.

Plants compete with bacteria for the prized ammonia/ammonium, and they tend to ignore the nitrates due to the extra energy required to make use of it. Plants can accumulate more nitrogen in their tissue when it is given to them as ammonium than when it is given as nitrate.

That brings us to adding nitrogen to increase plant growth beyond what is possible from the available ammonium. Diana Walstad does not suggest adding ammonium; the fact that plants certainly prefer assimilating ammonium to nitrate does not mean they would grow better with more ammonium, although the very few studies she is aware of do suggest that a few plants might benefit [Elodea nuttallii has been shown to grow much better (faster) with ammonium than with nitrate]. However, the down side is the poisoning effect of ammonia toxicity and media acidification, since plants release acids when they use ammonium.
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Old 12-22-2010, 07:28 PM   #20
 
.......Ok, this has become extremely scientifically serious. Forget about the plant issues here, I care more about the health of my fish! The plants are there for the fish to eat as well as adding a balance to the tank. At the end of the day I am less concerned about sustaining plant life and more focussed on sustaining happy lives for my fish. I really couldn't care less if my plants growth is minimal, as long as the tanks balance is right.

I am still confused about the PH issue. As I mentioned in my previous post my tap water parameters are ok except the PH. For the most part, reflecting on the water tests that have been carried out over the past 6 months, my PH seems to sit between 7.0 and 7.6. There has only been the odd ocassion that I have used the PH buffer to regulate the PH.

I am not sure I understand the reason too much o2 is detrimental to the fish........I didn't think that it was possible for them to have too much o2.

Any comments regarding the changes to the feeding schedule and behavioural changes?
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