At one time or another, it seems like all aquarists deal with excessive phosphates in their tank. Phosphates could be silently lurking in your aquarium causing unsightly algae blooms, and corals to look dull and brown.
There can be several culprits that increase phosphates in reef aquarium, but the biggest offender could be what you are feeding your tank. Phosphates, in particulate Polyphosphates, are often used as a preservative for foods, especially for flake, pelleted and ground (coral foods) products.
We tuned in to the Aquarium Partners Tuesday trivia live feed for an interesting discussion on phosphates in aquarium food.
Feeding your tank twice or more a day could be unknowingly adding extra phosphates into your tank. But on the other hand, if you want to have bright, colorful healthy corals it is important to feed coral every day.
Phosphates are removed from your tank with good export control. A good quality skimmer sized for your tank, and incorporating a refugium or chaetomorpha rector are common export systems.
But it can come to a point when your systems aren’t keeping up and you might start to notice a spike in your test results. If this happens the first place to look is at you food.
Switching out lower quality foods with premium foods like Elos SVC coral food or V2O frozen food can show a noticeable drop in phosphate levels. Tracking down and eliminating the source of excess phosphates is the difference between a nice aquarium and the best aquarium possible.
If you want to bring out the bright pinks, blues, and yellow colors in SPS or LPS corals you need to keep your phosphate levels low, around 0.020ppm or less. And if you’re keeping a soft coral tank you can have your phosphate levels go up to 0.050ppm.
But the ideal situation is to have a perfectly balanced system where the export systems are removing phosphates and your test readings are coming back zero. This way you can start dosing phosphates.
If all your life support and export systems are in place and your phosphates are still creeping higher have a look at your fish food. And if you want the best-looking corals always choose a premium quality food free of unnecessary phosphates.