Dealing with High Phosphates in an Aquarium
High phosphates are not a desirable element any aquarium. Addressing high phosphate levels is very important in order to maintain a healthy aquarium. Aside from the fact that phosphates support the growth of undesirable algae in the aquarium, too much phosphate must be handled immediately because it affects the pH level. When the pH level of an aquarium is affected, the inhabitants are placed under high stress and pressure which, in turn, can lead to the death of some of the aquarium life.
Phosphates are usually produced from decaying organic and inorganic substances in the aquarium tank. This decomposing matter can be in the form of fish droppings, dead aquarium life, or left-over and discarded fish food. One seemingly obvious way of dealing with high phosphates would be to avoid over feeding your fish, even if they act in need of additional food (it is the nature of fish to appear hungry, regardless of how much food is provided). Give them just enough food so that not much is left uneaten. This will ensure that little to no decay exists to form harmful substances like phosphates. The factor of decomposing material contributing to high phosphates is also influenced by proper stocking of the tank. Neither an overstocked or understocked tank is ideal. Do not overstock your aquarium because this will result in increased fish droppings due to increased feedings. As a result, decomposition will be more prevalent, the pH level will rise, and your aquarium life will be in danger of harmful high phosphates. If you test the ammonia level and find it to be too high, you can perform frequent water changes to avoid this. You can change about 10% of your water every day and test the pH level on the following day. This routine can be performed until the ammonia level reaches reasonable or acceptable levels. Metal oxides are efficient phosphate-removing compounds. When placed in aquariums, metal oxides work by absorbing the phosphates. However, these will eventually become saturated and will need to be replaced at that time. The higher the amount of phosphate in the aquarium, the sooner the metal oxides need to be replaced. You can actually check the phosphate level as you do the process. You can cease this process once your tests yield low phosphate concentration levels. Aside from testing, there are also natural indicators of phosphate levels. The death of algae or discolouring of algae (algae losing their green colour) is an indication that the phosphate level is falling. However, it is highly recommended that you always test to be sure.