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duncantse

Nitrate and Phosphate instability problem

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duncantse

Here's a little background of my tank 

 

37 gallon mixed reef 

Feeding half cube frozen , 1/8 tsp pellets , 1/8 tsp reef roids daily 

Reactor with 1 tbsp GFO 

PO4 : 0.02 

Nitrates : 25 

 

Would you say my nitrates are too high or are they at an acceptable levels? 

 

The problem is that I think my high nitrates are due to feeding reef roids daily but if I don't feed it , my phosphates would drop down to 0 the next day. I already turned down my reactor and am using a very small amount of GFO. 

 

Should I remove GFO and stop feeding reef roids to bring down nitrates and increase phosphates? 

 

Or carbon dose something like nopox to decrease nitrates? 

 

If you were in my situation, what would you do? Any feedback is appreciated. 

 

Here's a recent fts for reference

 

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Ratvan
1 hour ago, duncantse said:

37 gallon mixed reef 

Feeding half cube frozen , 1/8 tsp pellets , 1/8 tsp reef roids daily 

Reactor with 1 tbsp GFO 

PO4 : 0.02 

Nitrates : 25 

 

If you were in my situation, what would you do? Any feedback is appreciated. 

Whats wrong with the tank that's making you want changes? I would say that Nitrates are ok as they are, keep it stable and you shouldn't have an issue,

Personally I would remove the GFO and stop feeding and rely on water changes to get my numbers how and where I want

 

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Clown79

Remove the gfo. It's the reason for your phos problems. It's not a media that should be used regularly but rather when/if needed.

 

I wouldn't feed reef roids daily and the amount of food seems a lot for daily feeding.

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duncantse
9 hours ago, Ratvan said:

Whats wrong with the tank that's making you want changes? I would say that Nitrates are ok as they are, keep it stable and you shouldn't have an issue,

Personally I would remove the GFO and stop feeding and rely on water changes to get my numbers how and where I want

 

 

Corals are all looking healthy but it's just that I've been reading online that 20+ppm nitrates are a big no in the reef tank. 

 

2 hours ago, Clown79 said:

Remove the gfo. It's the reason for your phos problems. It's not a media that should be used regularly but rather when/if needed.

 

I wouldn't feed reef roids daily and the amount of food seems a lot for daily feeding.

 

I think the game plan for now would be if my nitrates are climbing up over 20ppm then I will for sure take off gfo and to decrease my feedings to help get my nutrients in range. 

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Clown79

Nitrates at 20 are not a huge deal, many hobbyists run high nitrates.

 

Gfo reduces phosphate and by continuing to use it when you have very little phos, will continue to strip your phosphate leading to lack of coral growth, coral coloration, pest algae, and is the leading cause of dino's. 

 

You currently have an imbalance in nutrients, 20 nitrates and very low phos, the phos is so low because of gfo.

 

The best way to deal with nitrates is waterchanges, proper maintenance, and macro algae, as well as a balance between phos and nitrates.

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duncantse
3 hours ago, Clown79 said:

Nitrates at 20 are not a huge deal, many hobbyists run high nitrates.

 

Gfo reduces phosphate and by continuing to use it when you have very little phos, will continue to strip your phosphate leading to lack of coral growth, coral coloration, pest algae, and is the leading cause of dino's. 

 

You currently have an imbalance in nutrients, 20 nitrates and very low phos, the phos is so low because of gfo.

 

The best way to deal with nitrates is waterchanges, proper maintenance, and macro algae, as well as a balance between phos and nitrates.

 

Let's say I take off GFO and cut out the daily reef roids and my phosphates rises to an acceptable range. Nitrates will still be at 20ppm. I don't have room for a fuge so would you recommend using something like nopox to decrease nitrates until I hit a lower number and stop? 

 

Or would a weekly water change currently of  10% help decrease nitrates in the long run? 

 

 

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Clown79
30 minutes ago, duncantse said:

 

Let's say I take off GFO and cut out the daily reef roids and my phosphates rises to an acceptable range. Nitrates will still be at 20ppm. I don't have room for a fuge so would you recommend using something like nopox to decrease nitrates until I hit a lower number and stop? 

 

Or would a weekly water change currently of  10% help decrease nitrates in the long run? 

 

 

No I recommend using no media. 

 

The biggest issues often arise from over media use, especially in nano's. 

 

20 nitrates is not high.

 

it is used up by corals and will get reduced with water changes. 

 

Take out the gfo, forget nopox, do a large waterchange if you are that concerned with 20 nitrates.

 

Let your phos get up, get the nutrients balanced, and do weekly normal size waterchanges

 

 

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duncantse
8 minutes ago, Clown79 said:

No I recommend using no media. 

 

The biggest issues often arise from over media use, especially in nano's. 

 

20 nitrates is not high.

 

it is used up by corals and will get reduced with water changes. 

 

Take out the gfo, forget nopox, do a large waterchange if you are that concerned with 20 nitrates.

 

Let your phos get up, get the nutrients balanced, and do weekly normal size waterchanges

 

 

 

Thanks for the advice! I will take off my gfo reactor and test daily to see where my levels are at. 

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DSA65PRO

I use a rounded 1/2 teaspoon of Reef-Roids every other day and my nitrates are very close to zero. ** My guess is it's the Frozen food. Do you have a sandbed? If so I'd add a couple Nassarius Snails and maybe four to six Ceriths. 

 

** taking in the limits of the API Test Kit. 

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Clown79
1 hour ago, DSA65PRO said:

I use a rounded 1/2 teaspoon of Reef-Roids every other day and my nitrates are very close to zero. ** My guess is it's the Frozen food. Do you have a sandbed? If so I'd add a couple Nassarius Snails and maybe four to six Ceriths. 

 

** taking in the limits of the API Test Kit. 

That's really not common to see low nutrients with feeding reef roids. How old is the tank?

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duncantse

  

5 hours ago, DSA65PRO said:

I use a rounded 1/2 teaspoon of Reef-Roids every other day and my nitrates are very close to zero. ** My guess is it's the Frozen food. Do you have a sandbed? If so I'd add a couple Nassarius Snails and maybe four to six Ceriths. 

 

** taking in the limits of the API Test Kit. 

 

I think one way to test for this is that I'll stop the feeding of reef roids and see if my nitrates will come down over time. 

 

How big is your tank? 

 

I'm using the salifert nitrate test kit right now and tbh it's hard to see if its at 25 or 50 

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DSA65PRO

Total water capacity is 62 gallons. Why don't you use the API Test kits? I did have them checked and they are accurate. If you don't know what your Nitrites and  Nitrates levels are, it's pretty useless to try solve a problem, that may not exist. I still say it's the frozen food. 

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duncantse

Just a quick update 

 

Acros are starting to look a little paler 

 

Currently at 0.02ppm PO4 using the ULR hanna checker and 25ppm nitrates using salifert. 

 

I have stopped using GFO and will cut out feeding daily reef roids. Hoping my nitrates will climb down with weekly 10% water changes. 

 

Will keep this thread updated 

 

Other than the acros, everything else seems to be doing well 

 

 

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mcarroll
On 2/27/2020 at 5:10 PM, duncantse said:

Let's say I take off GFO and cut out the daily reef roids and my phosphates rises to an acceptable range. Nitrates will still be at 20ppm.

I think that's a bad assumption.   Lack of phosphates is probably holding back growth of many organisms and maybe the tank's maturity overall.   Once there are available phosphates, IMO nitrates will start being consumed at a more rapid rate vs stagnating in the water as they are now.  Mature reefs are all about recycling nutrients.

 

Speaking of recycling nutrients, what algae have you had growing in the tank since it started?  Any green algae?  Coralline?

 

I wouldn't stress about the nitrate level anyway....the lack of PO4 is the only thing concerning about the situation to me.

7 hours ago, duncantse said:

I have stopped using GFO and will cut out feeding daily reef roids. Hoping my nitrates will climb down with weekly 10% water changes.

I agree with this move.  Hopefully your PO4 levels will start showing above zero....but IMO (as mentioned) there's probably pent up demand for phosphate...so it may continue to show zero (and continue to be limiting for organisms requiring it in the water) for a while.

 

Since you've noted that your Acro's are noticeably getting paler, I might even consider dosing phosphate additive for a few days to make things right for them.  It's a sign that they could be taking damage.....bleaching or RTN will be the next phases.  Phosphate additive is inexpensive and easy to dose with precision if you decide this sounds like a good idea.

 

Don't worry too much about nitrates....don't over-do the water changes as they will exacerbate the phosphate issue unless you can dose phosphates into your water change water.  (Which is a good idea if you want to do water changes.)  Again the nitrates aren't a real problem....only the lack of phosphates is.  👍

 

True that having high nitrates makes low phosphates potentially even more urgent to deal with though.  So you're on the right track.  Consider dosing some phosphates in the short term though.

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duncantse
2 hours ago, mcarroll said:

I think that's a bad assumption.   Lack of phosphates is probably holding back growth of many organisms and maybe the tank's maturity overall.   Once there are available phosphates, IMO nitrates will start being consumed at a more rapid rate vs stagnating in the water as they are now.  Mature reefs are all about recycling nutrients.

 

Speaking of recycling nutrients, what algae have you had growing in the tank since it started?  Any green algae?  Coralline?

 

I wouldn't stress about the nitrate level anyway....the lack of PO4 is the only thing concerning about the situation to me.

I agree with this move.  Hopefully your PO4 levels will start showing above zero....but IMO (as mentioned) there's probably pent up demand for phosphate...so it may continue to show zero (and continue to be limiting for organisms requiring it in the water) for a while.

 

Since you've noted that your Acro's are noticeably getting paler, I might even consider dosing phosphate additive for a few days to make things right for them.  It's a sign that they could be taking damage.....bleaching or RTN will be the next phases.  Phosphate additive is inexpensive and easy to dose with precision if you decide this sounds like a good idea.

 

Don't worry too much about nitrates....don't over-do the water changes as they will exacerbate the phosphate issue unless you can dose phosphates into your water change water.  (Which is a good idea if you want to do water changes.)  Again the nitrates aren't a real problem....only the lack of phosphates is.  👍

 

True that having high nitrates makes low phosphates potentially even more urgent to deal with though.  So you're on the right track.  Consider dosing some phosphates in the short term though.

 

Thanks so much for your feedback. 

 

Tank is a little over 2 years old and the only algae I have right now is patches of diatoms on the sandbed. Do you think the imbalance of nutrients could be causing this? Rocks , glass , powerheads, and everything else is all covered in purple coralline. 

 

I will monitor my phosphates daily and adjust with a phosphate addictive if necessary. 

 

Currently feeding half cube frozen with 1/8 pellets for 5 fish. If phosphates are not rising would it be a good idea to feeding more frozen/pellets to increase phosphates or a bad idea as it may also increase my nitrates too?

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duncantse

Real only concern right now is my acros are starting to pale so thats why I'm trying to change my nutrient parameters 

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SliceGolfer

You don't mention above, what are your target parameters? Where do you WANT your tank to be at?

 

For me, I shoot for:

Salinity: 35 PPT

Temp: 78f

Nitrate: 2ppm-5ppm

Phosphate: 0.10ppm

Alk: 8DKH

Calcium: 440ppm

Magnesium: 1440

 

I do not run any chemical filtration at all in my tanks. I run Pinkyfilter filter pad, then Marinepure Spheres. I use Microbacter 7 weekly to break down N and P into food for my corals. Running my tank in this fashion has allowed me to keep my parms where I want them to be. I have to dose N03 and P04 to keep up with demand.

 

If your corals are turning pale they could be in too bright of light, wrong spectrum, or likely starving of nutrients (looking dry with no polyp extension). I don't see anything specific in your photos so you'll have to be the judge here.

 

If you want more phosphate in your water, feed more pelleted food or Reef Roids. If you want more nitrate in your water, feed fish more or get additional fish. N comes from fish poop, P comes from food.

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mcarroll
37 minutes ago, duncantse said:

Real only concern right now is my acros are starting to pale so thats why I'm trying to change my nutrient parameters

You can hit this need directly by dosing some phosphates now.  Seachem Flourish Phosphates seem to be commonly available, but there are lots of options.  They have online dosage calculators too, which is nice.  (Apps are available from them as well.)

 

IMO do this now and take your time to sort out the rest.

 

43 minutes ago, duncantse said:

Tank is a little over 2 years old and the only algae I have right now is patches of diatoms on the sandbed. Do you think the imbalance of nutrients could be causing this? Rocks , glass , powerheads, and everything else is all covered in purple coralline.

A little strange to have diatoms in a tank that old.  Can you turn off flow, turn on white lights and get a closeup picture of a patch?

 

Do you make your own RODI water or buy?  Old filters in the RODI can let through silicates, which are relatively hard to filter AND a key nutrient for diatoms.

 

The purple coralline is perfect though...just not totally apparent from the photo.  👍

 

48 minutes ago, duncantse said:

Currently feeding half cube frozen with 1/8 pellets for 5 fish. If phosphates are not rising would it be a good idea to feeding more frozen/pellets to increase phosphates or a bad idea as it may also increase my nitrates too?

What fish and what foods are you feeding, exactly?  Hard for me to say too much without knowing that.

 

In general, I maximize live and frozen foods while minimizing dry foods, but I do use all of the above.

 

Five fish in a 37 Gallon (my first reef's size....lasted 10 years) sounds pretty dense.

 

For comparison, I'm feeding about 2 cubes a day from the Saltwater Multipack to 2 fish in a 125 Gallon.  (Along with one Cleaner and one Fire Shrimp.) 

 

I only drop in some pellets once in a while...but it's a pretty fair amount when I do...(I just measured a typical dose and it was 0.023 grams, if that helps.)

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duncantse

  

39 minutes ago, SliceGolfer said:

You don't mention above, what are your target parameters? Where do you WANT your tank to be at?

 

For me, I shoot for:

Salinity: 35 PPT

Temp: 78f

Nitrate: 2ppm-5ppm

Phosphate: 0.10ppm

Alk: 8DKH

Calcium: 440ppm

Magnesium: 1440

 

I do not run any chemical filtration at all in my tanks. I run Pinkyfilter filter pad, then Marinepure Spheres. I use Microbacter 7 weekly to break down N and P into food for my corals. Running my tank in this fashion has allowed me to keep my parms where I want them to be. I have to dose N03 and P04 to keep up with demand.

 

If your corals are turning pale they could be in too bright of light, wrong spectrum, or likely starving of nutrients (looking dry with no polyp extension). I don't see anything specific in your photos so you'll have to be the judge here.

 

If you want more phosphate in your water, feed more pelleted food or Reef Roids. If you want more nitrate in your water, feed fish more or get additional fish. N comes from fish poop, P comes from food.

 

RIght now I guess I'm trying to aim for the redfield's ratio of 1ppm nitrates and 0.1ppm phosphates. I find that with the GFO it messesup the balance of bacteria and nutrient ratios in my tank so hence why im going to be taking it offline. 

 

All other corals are doing great except for the majority of the acros. I have about 15 acros and probably maybe only 5 of them are holding onto their colors and the other 10 are starting to pale. 

 

Currently running a single hydra32hd on this 37 gallon tank at 75% intensity with my acros being at the top 8" of the tank. I feel like it may not be a lighting issue but I could be wrong as I don't have a par meter. 

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duncantse
10 minutes ago, mcarroll said:

You can hit this need directly by dosing some phosphates now.  Seachem Flourish Phosphates seem to be commonly available, but there are lots of options.  They have online dosage calculators too, which is nice.  (Apps are available from them as well.)

 

IMO do this now and take your time to sort out the rest.

 

A little strange to have diatoms in a tank that old.  Can you turn off flow, turn on white lights and get a closeup picture of a patch?

 

Do you make your own RODI water or buy?  Old filters in the RODI can let through silicates, which are relatively hard to filter AND a key nutrient for diatoms.

 

The purple coralline is perfect though...just not totally apparent from the photo.  👍

 

What fish and what foods are you feeding, exactly?  Hard for me to say too much without knowing that.

 

In general, I maximize live and frozen foods while minimizing dry foods, but I do use all of the above.

 

Five fish in a 37 Gallon (my first reef's size....lasted 10 years) sounds pretty dense.

 

For comparison, I'm feeding about 2 cubes a day from the Saltwater Multipack to 2 fish in a 125 Gallon.  (Along with one Cleaner and one Fire Shrimp.) 

 

I only drop in some pellets once in a while...but it's a pretty fair amount when I do...(I just measured a typical dose and it was 0.023 grams, if that helps.)

 

Thanks for the advice. I will buy some today and probably dose at half or 1/4 of the recommended amount just so I don't shock the system. 

 

For the past 2 years I have actually been running just on tap water as I was told that Vancouver tap water is clean at only 13 tds. I have then installed a 4 stage RODI unit 2 months ago when I started getting into acros. Do you think this would be cause of dinos? I will take a pic of it when I'm home later. 

 

Feeding half cube hikari mysis with 1/8 tbsp NLS pellets. And I totally agree with you on having too many fish in my tank as they are now showing signs of aggression. I've had these fish for the past 2 years 2 clowns, wrasse, 2 firefish goby and it would be a pain to try and take them out now. 

 

Wow only 2 fish in a 120 gallon tank? Are you planning to stock up more later? 

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Clown79

I don't think lighting is an issue. Acro's love light but a lack of nutrients and unstable alk would be a likely cause for the paling of the corals.

 

Diatoms in an established tank is not a likely thing unless you are somehow introducing silicate into the tank, example by water source.

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mcarroll
23 minutes ago, duncantse said:

Thanks for the advice. I will buy some today and probably dose at half or 1/4 of the recommended amount just so I don't shock the system.

There is no recommended dose.....but thankfully there are also no chances of shocking the system.  PO4 just isn't like that. 

 

So just calculate a target dose for at least 0.10 ppm (or more) and test 30 min later to make sure you achieved it. 

 

(If your test kit doesn't read under 0.25 ppm, then dose up to that level to facilitate test verification.)

 

29 minutes ago, duncantse said:

For the past 2 years I have actually been running just on tap water as I was told that Vancouver tap water is clean at only 13 tds.

Wow - always cool to hear of folks using tap water. 

 

Easy enough to verify that TDS level on a TDS meter.  (Get one if you don't have one....can't really operate an RODI system very well without one.)

 

31 minutes ago, duncantse said:

I have then installed a 4 stage RODI unit 2 months ago when I started getting into acros. Do you think this would be cause of dinos? I will take a pic of it when I'm home later. 

So using RODI is new.  And the stocking of Acro's is new.

 

Were the PO4 levels low and NO3 levels high like the are now for that whole two years prior, or did that start with the RODI filter?   When did you start running GFO?

 

34 minutes ago, duncantse said:

Feeding half cube hikari mysis with 1/8 tbsp NLS pellets. And I totally agree with you on having too many fish in my tank as they are now showing signs of aggression. I've had these fish for the past 2 years 2 clowns, wrasse, 2 firefish goby and it would be a pain to try and take them out now.

Feeding more might attenuate aggression a little....that doesn't sound like a lot of food for quite a few fish.  I'd lean harder on your frozen food, and try not to feed any more pellets.  Maybe add some different kinds of frozen.....the Saltwater Variety Pack is very nice, but there are tons of options.  Something with plankton, reef plankton or similar (ie orange) would be a great compliment to the mysis.

 

What wrasse?

 

If you can rearrange your rocks to break up existing territories that can also help.

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duncantse
30 minutes ago, Clown79 said:

I don't think lighting is an issue. Acro's love light but a lack of nutrients and unstable alk would be a likely cause for the paling of the corals.

 

Diatoms in an established tank is not a likely thing unless you are somehow introducing silicate into the tank, example by water source.

 

Yea I have always just ignored it since it wasn't that bad but I think it may have to do with the tap water. Installed  rodi 2 months ago so we'll see if the diatoms will go away. 

 

26 minutes ago, mcarroll said:

There is no recommended dose.....but thankfully there are also no chances of shocking the system.  PO4 just isn't like that. 

 

So just calculate a target dose for at least 0.10 ppm (or more) and test 30 min later to make sure you achieved it. 

 

(If your test kit doesn't read under 0.25 ppm, then dose up to that level to facilitate test verification.)

 

Wow - always cool to hear of folks using tap water. 

 

Easy enough to verify that TDS level on a TDS meter.  (Get one if you don't have one....can't really operate an RODI system very well without one.)

 

So using RODI is new.  And the stocking of Acro's is new.

 

Were the PO4 levels low and NO3 levels high like the are now for that whole two years prior, or did that start with the RODI filter?   When did you start running GFO?

 

Feeding more might attenuate aggression a little....that doesn't sound like a lot of food for quite a few fish.  I'd lean harder on your frozen food, and try not to feed any more pellets.  Maybe add some different kinds of frozen.....the Saltwater Variety Pack is very nice, but there are tons of options.  Something with plankton, reef plankton or similar (ie orange) would be a great compliment to the mysis.

 

What wrasse?

 

If you can rearrange your rocks to break up existing territories that can also help.

 

Oh wow I always thought that a spike in phosphates will impact the corals. So I can just dose the amount that will hit right up to 0.1 ppm phosphates using online calculators? 

 

Yup have an inline tds meter installed on the RODI and tap water is 13 tds coming in and 0 coming out. 

 

For some reason I've always been using GFO since the beginning of the setup as I had GHA and as a beginner i wanted a quick fix. Been running it ever since at a low quantity of 1 tbsp in a reactor. 

 

It wasn't until maybe 2 months ago when I got a ulr hanna phosphate checker that I started testing for phosphates. I tested at 0ppm phosphates and 1ppm nitrates. After knowing this I was adding reef roids daily in hopes to increase my phosphates. But up until now, my phosphates is at 0.02ppm and nitrates are high at 20ppm. May be because GFO is working too well even at such a low amount. 

 

It's a yellow coris wrasse that is showing signs of aggression towards my firefish gobies. 

 

How much would you recommend to feed for 5 fish? 2 firefish gobies, 2 clowns, and a yellow coris wrasse

 

 

 

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mcarroll

Well, a wrasse is a constant forager, so it may be more the frequency of feeding than the quantity.  This is something that an auto-feeder is great for.....spreading out those pellets you're feeding throughout the day.  An Eheim feeder (which I recommend) will give you up to 8 feedings per day and it can be dialed in for VERY small feedings, depending on the food you're putting in it.  (I like NLS flakes.)

 

He's also probably wanting a MUCH larger territory now that he's grown too though....so it's possible that his personality is just outgrowing the tank....so whatever you do, keep an eye on him vs the Firefish.   If aggression doesn't let up or gets worse, then get either the wrasse or the firefish OUT before something terrible happens.   (Alternately, any chance it's time for a tank upgrade?  I think a 4' tank would be plenty.)

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mcarroll
1 hour ago, duncantse said:

It wasn't until maybe 2 months ago when I got a ulr hanna phosphate checker that I started testing for phosphates. I tested at 0ppm phosphates and 1ppm nitrates. After knowing this I was adding reef roids daily in hopes to increase my phosphates. But up until now, my phosphates is at 0.02ppm and nitrates are high at 20ppm. May be because GFO is working too well even at such a low amount. 

This is undoubtedly what's causing whatever algae you're seeing.

 

IMO just stop the extra feeding (and the GFO) and see how things settle out with the plan you have now.

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