High levels of nitrates, phosphates and nutrients in aquarium but without measuring them

Test per acquari Colombo

This title says everything. We always measure the level of nitrates and phosphates, the we can have a value of zero but in the aquarium they are a lot. Why?

Amtra sabbie e decorativi

This article is also available in: italiano

This is the point of main misunderstanding in aquarium.

A beginner measures nitrates and phosphates, the values obtained are very low or almost zero, but in aquarium there are still algae. What does this mean?

It’s very easy: nitrates and phosphates aren’t “almost zero” at all, but present in a relevant quantity.

Let’s take a step back. If we didn’t have any nutrients in aquarium, both nitrates or phosphates, we wouldn’t have algae. That’s obvious. No nutrients, no organisms.

But we have algae, it’s the same for marine and fresh water aquariums, but when we measure the polluting elements – better call them “nutrients” – we don’t detect them. What happens?

I componenti del set Tropic Marin dedicati alla misurazione dei nitrati.
The members of the set Tropic Marin dedicated to the measurements of nitrates

The explanation is easy. All the nitrates and phosphates formed in aquarium because of our bad administration, the decomposition of substances, the food excess, the metabolic waste products of the fish, and so on, are immediately eaten by the algae.

That’s why the concentration in aquarium results very low, but not because this nutrients aren’t produced, but because they’re eaten right when they appear. The same destiny goes for the silicates as well. Hard to be found in aquarium, but it isn’t the same for their products.

Test fosfati
Phosphates test

What if there are both algae and nutrients?

This situation is worse than the previous case for sure, because some of nutrients produced are eaten by the algae, but they’re too much and tend to grow over time.

Algae in aquarium

So, and I’m speaking to the beginners, do a lot of test of your water, but don’t underestimate your low values, because you could have nutrients in your tank anyway.

So take a look at your aquarium and you can understand in a short time if you have a prodution of nitrates and phosphates higher than what your system can assimilate.

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