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Hi.

A few months back i tripped over a product which I've being trying to find out more about. Catch being, i can't remember the name, brand or where i found it, but i'm pretty sure it was a LFS. It was basically a live bacterial culture for freshwater, along the lines of API QuickStart. Rather than being to help cycle a tank though, it specifically included bacteria that target phosphates. Does anyone know what this might've been, or similar preparations suitable for fresh water? I know Red Sea do a phosphate/nitrate product for marine but i don't know about it's suitability for fresh water. And yes, i know there are a million synthetic phosphate absorbers. I've used a number of them. But i have ongoing phosphate issues steming from my source water so i'm looking for options more sustainable over the longer term.

Cheers.

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Okay, come on boys and girls,

Don't be hold outs!

I know i am a wishful thinker, but i'm

99.8% certain that i didn't just dream about these phosphate liquified bacteria because of one simple thing. Whenever i dream on anything algae related, there is never any sort of treatment or cure, there's just lots and lots of algae on things that can't be treated, followed by waking in a cold sweat and having to go check my tanks.

So that almost means it must be real, right?

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The sound of silence is deafening, particularly when somewhere where EVERYONE has an opinion on EVERYTHING. Given that, i am going to steal a central 'belief' from many a religion - the absence of proof is not proof of absence. I choose to believe so therefore it exists! Now who's going to help find it for me?

*mutters under breath* Starting a cult was so much easier in the old days... *pats a rock encrusted with a variety of algaes*

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I haven't heard of a bacterial control but I have heard of chemical control.

A few companies make lanthanum products that bind phosphate which renders it inert.

CSIRO have made a product called phosguard which is used to improve water quality in lakes, it uses lanthanum mixed with bentonite clay to remove phosphate from the water column and forms a thin layer on the substrate to stop phosphate leaching out.

Cheers mick

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Very interesting, thanks smicko! I'm guessing the CSIRO phosguard is unrelated to the Seachem phosguard? I'm intested in bacteria more as a long term thing. Definately going to have to keep hunting on it cause i'm positive i did see something along those lines. Well, gotta hope anyway!

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Okay, i just had a flash of inspiration and think i may have found the product i originally tripped over. I think it may be Pondcare (an API brand) Phos-Out - see http://www.apifishcare.com/product.php?sectionid=2&catid=0&subcatid=0&id=681#.VkQv98s_7qA It does seem to be available in Australia but there doesn't seem to be a lot of info on it. Has anyone come across it before or perhaps knows of any write ups?

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I think you are in a rare position if your source water is so high in phosphates that you need to resort to treatments.

I have the luxury of Melbourne water which is super clean (some water supply catchments are locked away from human access). Because of this I view all nitrate and phosphate reduction chemicals with the same suspicion as I do pH-up and ph-down. I don't think any of these sorts of products should be needed at all in a well balanced aquarium. I'd toss them in the bin.

Can you post the water parameters for your source water? Perhaps others will have a better idea but they need to know precisely what the problem is first. Which brand of test kit and what is the reading? Have you verified the test kit is working properly (e.g. with a second reading by the LFS).

If I was delt the hand of high phosphate water I'd set up a planted tank with lots of fast growing plants and I'd be dosing the water with nitrates and potassium to balance with the source phosphate (but I'm a planted tank guy so aware this isnt for everyone)

Edited by Grubs
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Thanks for your insights Grubs. I appreciate your caution when it comes to tinkering with water chemistry, even more so in relation to pH, given many products sold to adjust pH have phosphate bases. I have similar concerns with chemistry via chemicals, hence my interest in live biological cultures. While these doubtless would have their own drawbacks, i view them as potentially more viable and friendly than strictly chemical only options.

Unfortunately, i have little doubt as to the need for extra help in relation to phosphates. In contrast to your superior water, my mains water is less than ordinary. It is drawn directly from the Brisbane River, unfiltered and untreated. By unhappy coincidence, it is drawn not far down stream from some substantial cattle and agricultural properties. As much as we have laws in relation to dumping waste, storm water run off is significantly less controlled. And on that point, the numbers don't lie.

I have 2 API phosphate tests. Each has a different B reagent so their not directly comparable but do compare against their own colour charts. I have also had phosphates tested at various times by LFS, though again, only with API kits. I realise the API kits aren't likely to be as accurate as Sera or Red Sea kits, but i can only work with what i have.

As you might expect with such volitile mains water, test results vary substantially. On a good day, source water tests as 0.25 to 0.5ppm. Bad weather easily pushes that to between 0.75 and 1.0ppm. I haven't tested extensively after extreme weather however i would expect substantially higher levels. Given the source water, tanks will generally test at around 1.0 to 2.0ppm. Things like ponds which are subject to less routine maintainance and water changes easily show results of 3.0 to 4.0ppm+. I realise that phosphates come from an infinate number of sources including bioload, feeding, general waste breakdown and so on. Even outside more waste heavy areas like tanks and ponds, areas such as plant grow out pools and tanks, most with only enough rarely feed fish for mozzie control, if that, still show issues. And all without the use of ferts. I don't generally monitor phosphate levels of these, it is enough just to follow the algae growth. And yes, some of these grow out areas have even had established biofilters.

In relation to other parameters, ammonia, nitrites and nitrates are generally non-issues. QLD temperatures certainly do make a difference however, with some outdoor tanks easily passing 30c over summer. That said, water around 22c seems to be great encouragement for algae, with 24c+ gold in itself. Lighting is varied from natural, shaded to T8s and LEDs. In itself, it hasn't proven to be a significant recurring factor. The single biggest, most consistant and recurring factor is phosphates. I've proven that point to myself many times over experimenting with chemical phosphate absorbers in different environments. Add phosphate absorber, algae disappears. Absorber becomes saturated and hello old friend! Guess who's back... Even heavily planted tanks and ponds aren't immune, though they do generally show greater tollerance. So, given all that, i am back to contemplating biological phosphate controls. With most chemical phosphate absorbers being designed with marine in mind, they are often ridiculously expensive, not to mentioned often intended to be used fluidized. Hardly a practical option for every freshwater environment, let alone a limited budget.

It would be nice to not have to constantly play chemistry, but once again, i can only work with what i've got.

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I don't know Delapool though it's a very good question! As the only other ingedient listed though is water, by additive i'm inclined to think they mean 'secret sauce' rather than a specific outcome. Reading the data sheet again i did notice the pH was listed as 4 so i am wondering what is in there. I am 99.8% certain this is the product i'd been thinking of, except for one thing. I distinctly remember mention of live bacteria for phosphates. The descriptions online don't say that, *however* they do seem to descriptions for the US version and their labelling laws are different from ours. I've only seen a bottle on shelves here once, but now i know what it is and where i would've seen it i'm going to hunt down more info. Stay tuned! ;)

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Some people keep their planted tanks 1.0 to 2.0 ppm phosphorus but I have to admit I do not and I do get more algae when I do so I get where you're coming from. It is still true that that once plants are established dosing just N and K will allow the plants to use up the available P. If you think the agricultural inputs to the river are the P source you might find your N is also "up there". maybe you just need K and Mg and do lots of water changes. CO2 and high lighting to really push the plants along and drive the nutrients down might help - certainly a challenge even for experienced high tech plant keepers (and of course a curse if you want a bare cichlid tank and not a planted tank).

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I started having bba and string/hair algae problems in my planted tank so I got some no more bba from aquapics and added chemipure elite to the filter. I haven't had anymore algae issues but I am having some growth issues as the chemipure is taking too much phosphate out.

Just can't win either way.

Cheers mick

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Hi.

A few months back i tripped over a product which I've being trying to find out more about. Catch being, i can't remember the name, brand or where i found it, but i'm pretty sure it was a LFS. It was basically a live bacterial culture for freshwater, along the lines of API QuickStart. Rather than being to help cycle a tank though, it specifically included bacteria that target phosphates. Does anyone know what this might've been, or similar preparations suitable for fresh water? I know Red Sea do a phosphate/nitrate product for marine but i don't know about it's suitability for fresh water. And yes, i know there are a million synthetic phosphate absorbers. I've used a number of them. But i have ongoing phosphate issues steming from my source water so i'm looking for options more sustainable over the longer term.

Cheers.

Perhaps its best to approach this problem in a round about way?

Rather than adding an engineered microbe to remove phosphate, its likely more efficient to instead artificially inflate the populations of things already in the water that bio-accumulate phosphates.

2 main options spring to mind,

1) The addition of carbon (as in carbohydrates ) to exploit Redfields ratio, is proven and effective. The trick as it were, is removing the microbes once they have consumed the phosphate/nitrate/carbon.

2) The use of an algae scrubber. Algae is basically phosphate and nitrate made solid. Algae scrubbers have advanced a long way in the last few years, in many ways driven by the advances made by the carbon users.

Both approaches require feeding, the bacteria is fed carbon and the algae is fed light. So there is an investment to be made.

If you were chasing a zero cost solution, there is an interested low tech aquaponics method being employed to clean pig farm run off. The water is stored in ponds and duckweed is used to nutrient mine it. The duckweed is then harvested for use as nitrate and phosphate rich mulch. This strategy requires a sun lit pond, pumps and hosing to transport the water. Perhaps not feasible on a small scale.

Interesting though.

Theres another group of phosphate eating bacteria that require sulphur. Theres many others that are not suitable for aquarium use as the conditions they like are different to those fish require, other produce toxins that cause fish kills.

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Thanks Grubs. I have seen N and K suggested to enhance plant growth to try and out compete algaes. I know many plant people seem to favor around 0.2 nitrate but i've always been relucant to play with ferts, other than root tabs, given my issues. All that said, i have also seen EDTA chelated iron suggested for similar reasons. Evidentally is in a form not readily available to algaes. I know from unrelated issues that my Mg is already fairly high though K isn't something i've looked into. Ferts is an area i need to look more into. As much as i have no doubt my issues are in part from run off, i dare say its also as much, if not more so, from other organics on my water which would typically be killed and/or removed by typical chlorine/chloramine based mains water treatment facilities. The makes it more an ongoing challenge which i'd certainly like to incorporate plants in addressing. I have a planted tank so i know where your coming from in relation to light and co2. And certainly not a huge algae problem in that tank, just everywhere else! lol And pmsl @ cichlid tank! You don't count fluro plastic fantastic as not been a bare tank? Well at least that's more flattering than how i describe them! ;)

I'm familiar with no more black beard, thanks smicko. From what i could see of it, it's everyones good old friend, glutaraldehyde, AKA flourish excel aka API CO2 Booster, aka Easylife EasyCarbo and co. so i'm not surprised it would help over a longer period. Though i have seen some very good plant growth when experimenting with gluts, i'm not a fan of long term use. The chemical just has too many nasty properties. That aside, cost would very quickly add up. I haven't used chemipure before so it's interesting to see it leeches phosphates. If it helps you any, i'm sure i have some water around here somewhere that's at least 4.0ppm phosphate... How many liters woild you like? :D I have about 15 tanks and ponds though so might take me a little time testing first to find the sweetest juice! lol Sad, but true...

ageofaquariums - is that you Donny? It sounds like a Donny reply but i don't see mention of Donny! ;)

I'm all for round about and lateral approaches! Truth be told, i hadn't directly thought of artificially inflating existing populations, more so on supplimenting with new cultures. Very interesting idea! I'm not familiar with Redfields ratio (though i will read up) and my chemistry is a little rusty. By the addition of carbon, as in carbohydrates, i presume your not talking about activated carbon or carbon substitutes like gluts? That being the case, can you suggest something suitable? Hey now wait a second... *scratches head trying to dig out hazy recall* Are you talking vodka?? I vaugely remember reading something about it, algae and marine environments but the details elude me. As for the idea of an algae scrubber... I accidentally tripped over this first hand before i knew what an algae scrubber was! I had a tank heavily contaminated with BBA. I'd stopped using it entirely but then one day needed a holding tank. I stuck the critters in there along with some plant bits to munch. The plants brought green hair algae which took off. Being faster growing, it out competed the BBA which entirely died off, and then the green algaes after it. Eureka! I thought. Then i read up and found someone had already invented algae scrubbers! Doh! So much for the millions i would've made...! I did set up a refugium in the sump for one of my tanks with a view to exploring the algae scrubber idea more, but i had to remove the refugium for unrelated reasons. It's definately an idea i'd like to explore more. The duckweed approach is an interesting idea as far as scaling the idea up. I may have a little trouble digging a big enough areas for the pond unnoticed, but yes, very interesting idea none the less! :D Sulphur eatting bacteria eh? Also an interesting idea, though i'm thinking if i had sufficient sulphur in my tanks for the phosphate eatting bacteria... Well algae possibly wasn't going to be my biggest problem! lol Unfortunately also true with toxin producers and the like. All most interesting thought, cheers! :)

There are certainly some challenges to this, but also some great ideas. Thanks everyone! For me, a fair part of the challenge is not just what can and will work, but the scale of it. I have around 15 tanks and ponds holding together around 7000-8000 liters. They are scattered inside and out over a fair area, mostly plumbed separately. They're not all kept to the same standard and some in particular are very non-issues. But there's still a few that'd be nice to be less fur prone. Quantity and feasibility of any additives or system are always going to be issues. But comparatively speaking, it is still less of a challenge than finding options so once again, many thanks to all! :D

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Hey fishfriendzzz

I find bio-aide a wonderful product. All my tanks are started with bio culture and spiked once after with bio aid. I like to dose extra when i have too many fry, but apart from that i find my tanks remain very stable. Great for those who cant wait to cycle tank over 6weeks......oooopppz:blabla:

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Haha 6 weeks? Yeah... I could never wait that! lol Thanks for sharing your thoughts on bio-aide lillyshewolf! Outside my phosphate issues, i'm a great fan of preventative maintainance and more organic rather than chemical based strategies. Bio-aide sounds like it could be a useful contributor to that and i'm definately going to look more into it. Thanks for the suggestion! :D

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Oh sure... Now you guys go quiet [MENTION=204]mbunamad[/MENTION] [MENTION=16760]Wogboy[/MENTION] [MENTION=9246]Donny@ageofaquariums[/MENTION] ...

No fair! I live too far away from AOA to keep up on all the post-Ben news! There really should be a forum or something for that! Actually no, no, bad idea, very bad idea! That'd just end up helping to feed too many angry, hungry lawyers. And no one anywhere should EVER help feed them!

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Okay, i just have been reading on the Redfields ratio. Very, very interesting! Thanks for the suggestion mystery AOA person! :D I shall be investigating further! Not sure what the vodka dosing thing was... Though can't really hold it against the fish for wanting a good, stiff drink some days!

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