Phosphate,what is it,how to get rid of it and what does it mean to a marine aquarium?

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Phosphate,what is it,how to get rid of it and what does it mean to a marine aquarium?

Post  liquidg on 29th July 2012, 2:13 am

How do you get phosphates in a reef aquarium that are not from tap water.

The nitrogen cycle is, fermentation onto ammonium/ammonia onto oxidation resulting in nitrite-an ester nitrous acid onto nitrate-salt or an ester of nitric acid onto the separation of the ions that make up nitrate of which is nitrogen and unavailable oxygen.
At the oxidation part orthophosphate and phosphorus are now out of the cells and organic soon to be separated and then become inorganic.

If you do not use a skimmer that removes some of all that is organic, then there is lots of organic phos left over to become inorganic phos in the waters! After these, via live rock or far better, an external bio filter of multi clean media, any of these as a bio filter should have enormous clean anoxic zones, these separate the nitrate ions to leave only nitrogen, that's the nitrate issue gone!

So phos and nitrogen are the inorganic results at the end of a successful nitrogen cycle!

When to attack Phosphates!

As soon as the nitrogen cycle is producing inorganics like nitrates that are at levels showing in tests, then you should be using some manner of phosphate reduction by removing it or importing/exporting it.
If it remains it will begin permeating your live rock and sand beds to potentially leach out later.
This will impair anaerobes functions.
Then you will see hair algae or diatoms or cyano bacteria in the places that phos is leaching from, let alone anywhere else.

The end of the nitrogen cycle comprises of nitrate and phosphate, hopefully reefers have enough oxygen-depleted areas for anaerobes to reduce nitrate by using the oxygen leaving pure nitrogen, but what about phosphates?
This bind of orthophosphate and phosphorus needs to be accounted for from their first showing.

GFOh or nitra guard are the go or algae or water changes, though water changes slows the cycling of a new aquarium and only reduce it a little and with algae, you need to know what you are doing.

Get on top of phos from day one of it existing in your waters!

Dissolution of phosphate-
When phosphates precipitate as calcium, it becomes insoluble in the reef aquarium. This is achieved by dosing to allow higher alkalinity levels then you would normally find in salt water.

Phosphates in live rock or substrates-
Inside live rock, the anaerobes in the rock, many will lay down in their bed of nitric acid and break down a very tiny amount of your rock, most corals skeleton is made up of not just calcium carbonate, but also calcium phosphate, you work it out! Rock does not leach back phos, it was already there!!!!! Its nature.
When tiny amounts of phosphates enter live rock or substrates, they can only re enter the waters by dissolution, if there are quite low PH levels.
There is another way that precipitated phosphate can be come available, that is by algae’s phosphatase enzyme. Algae will excrete these and can break down organically bound phosphate, releasing usable orthophosphate in order to provide food for them selves; also symbiotic algae can secrete these enzymes as well.

Orthophosphate other wise known as phosphoric acid, is the phosphate molecule on its own and it’s not an issue with a PH above 7.2 to 7.5,above this it becomes a bonding and facilitating agent, below this it falls out of suspension to be taken on by phosphorus.

For human day-to-day use, orthophosphate is widely used as a corrosion inhibitor.

Phosphorus for us marine aquarium hobbyists exists in two forms, organic and inorganic.

Organic means it is associated with and part of living or dead plant and animal tissue.
So the waste produced by the animals or once the animal or plants die, the phosphorus gets passed on via bacterial decomposition becoming inorganic.

Inorganic means it is on its own and falls to the oceans floor as it is not contained in living tissue.

From this decomposition-oxidation comes nitrogen and phosphorus as the bi products of bacterial oxidation and represent the completed nitrite cycle.

These are essential substances for all plant and animal life.

Nitrogen and phosphorus for plants, onto the phosphorus from consumed plants for all of us animals, so we all need each other!

The original inorganic phosphorus is taken up by plant life converted back to an organic form then animals consume the plants.
Once it has been passed on by waste or death, it goes into the soil or falls to the rivers, lakes or oceans floor and is converted by decomposition-oxidation by bacteria to inorganic phosphate-phosphorus and it all starts again.

Plants consume and need inorganic phosphorus, not organic forms.

We need phosphorus to utilise calcium, acheive tissue repair, synthesise energy from fats, proteins and carbohydrates and take up vitamin B for emotional stability to name just a few of what phosphorus gives to us.

With out phosphorus there is a greater chance of diabetese, developing weak bones, pain, fatique, general weaknesses and susceptibility to diseases.

Most phosphorus in animals is found in our teeth and bones.

In small amounts, it keeps us alive, in abundance phosphorus is toxic, not just to us as a poison, but in the environment it creates algae blooms which takes out available oxygen killing all dependant creatures!

Nothing reduces phosphorus to the extent of good caulerpa algae.

Some products that will reduce phosphate readings,at a cost.

Phos Zorb by API to be used in a reactor.

Phosphate reactor with granulated ferrick oxide.

Phosguard by SeaChem

Poly-Bio Filter Pad by Poly-Bio-Marine

PhosBan by Two Little Fishies.

Chemi-Mat by Boyd Enterprises

Phosphate Sponge by Kent Marine,this is the one I use to use before algae.

Phosphate & Silicate Magnet by Marc Weiss

The phos products usually come with contaminates and most are iron oxide hydroxide.
These products can affect PH in detrimental ways, usually with out due care after some days while in use including aluminium oxide-phosphate sponge!
These bind up inorganic phosphates, also they bind up silicates and some organic materials as well and the media used for these products can dissolve into the water releasing either its aluminium or iron make up and the primary impurities incorporated with in them as well.

I have found that under certain conditions as many reefers will endure, the media holding on to the phosphate, will release it back into the water.
You have to be very careful and monitor PH and adjust as needed!

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