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Results 1 to 5 of 5

Thread: high phosphates

  1. Unhappy high phosphates

    0 Not allowed!
    Hi this is my first. I have had a fresh water tank for the last 5 to 6 years. In Dec 2011 my fish started to die. I have been taking my water to a pet store to be tested. They figured out that my phosphate levels are off the chart. I have tried everything. About 3 weeks ago we decided to reset the tank. I drained all water and replaced it with reverse osmosis water. After 1 week my phosphate level was mid range. Now it is again off the charts. What can I do? Would this kill the fish? I did change my gravel within the past month. PLEASE CAN SOMEONE HELP ME!!!

  2. #2


    0 Not allowed!
    Phosphates won't go straight to your fishes and kill them. It's what they can make happen within your tank that can have some bad effects on your fishes. Phosphates and silicates can cause various algea blooms, and some of those algea blooms can lower the oxygen levels in the tank.

    What we have to work out is where the phosphates are coming from?
    You said that you have filled the tank with RO water, so I'm guessing that pretty much takes the tap water out of the equation, so we'll move on to some other stuff.

    Here's a bit of a list of things that can bring on high phosphates.

    uneaten food (Lots of flake foods contain phosphates, so there could be an over feeding issue)
    plant decay
    dying algae
    fish poo
    dead fish

    All of the above phosphate causes are basically started by lack of maintenance and over feeding. Most tank owners will do anything from a 30%-%75 water change each week, with a good substrate vacuume every second week, sometimes half a tank one week, half a tank the next. And thier filters are rinsed out in some siphoned tank water to remove anything that can cause a phophate spike that gets trapped in them. They will also feed thier fishes three times a day - a little bit each time, not a lot all at once, once a day. This way you can make sure that most of the food is being eaten.

    carbon (some carbons that make up part of your filter media can leach phosphates into the water)
    aquarium salts
    pH buffers
    kH buffers
    some substrates (some kinds of sand can contain silicates and phosphates, so be careful of what you choose. Have a good look at the bag that it comes in, or do some reseach about it).

    I hope this gives you an idea of what to look for, and maybe you can make a few little adjustments here and there to try and get those phosphates down. There are quite a few different products on the market, like Phosban or Rowaphos that will clear up the problem quite quickly, if none of the other things that I have mentioned seem to fall into your situation.
    Last edited by escamosa; 05-05-2012 at 10:42 PM.
    Three-fourths of the Earth's surface is water, and one-fourth is land. It is quite clear that the good Lord intended us to spend triple the amount of time fishing as taking care of the lawn. ~Chuck Clark

  3. #3


    0 Not allowed!
    I'd actually like to know what "off the charts" were. My phosphates are 2 from the tap, high but not off the charts. Phosphates are also in the food. Perhaps you are feeding too much or it's not getting eaten soon enough?

    I'm surprised you haven't an abundance of algae......phosphate being it's favorite food. I would check into a phosphate sponge but since it's "off the charts", I'm thinking a phosphate remove and a reactor.
    Last edited by Lady Hobbs; 05-06-2012 at 12:11 AM.

  4. #4


    0 Not allowed!
    PS....Is that tank planted? Are you over dosing with ferts?

  5. #5


    0 Not allowed!
    Escamosa has said it all - also, Lady Hobbs has some important points - if your tank is a few years old, the sand can store vast amounts of phosphates and even nitrates - so be careful if you decided to stir the substrate to vacuum - a lot of bad stuff can be released. Do a little area and test for both nitrates and phosphates. Seachem sells a good phosphate kit. Also, check your tap water for phosphates.

    I too had a very high phosphate even after 90% water changes. For me, sand was the main issue (storage of waste phosphates from the fish) and I changed out the sand. This got my numbers to a better level (but still too high.) Cutting back on food was not possible since the discus ate everything and my corys were starving. Tried a chemical absorb of the phosphates but again, little help. Finally, add a lot of plants and my phosphates dropped down to under 1 ppm (hopefully, will remain there.)

    Keep up with the water changes (since we don't know your nitrate levels and these can kill fish, too.) Phosphates occur from fish waste and food but so too can nitrates. Get test kits and consider these options.

    Best of luck!
    Knowledge is fun(damental)

    A 75 gal with eight Discus, fake plants, and a lot of wood also with sand substrate. Clean up crew is down to just two Sterba's Corys. Filters: continuous new water flow; canister w/UV, in-tank algae scrubber!! Finally, junked the nitrate removal unit from hell.

    For Fishless cycling:

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