how to reduce phosphates in saltwater aquarium

Last updated: September 28, 2022

Phosphate Control

All saltwater aquarists really need to master the techniques that control the growth of phosphates in their aquarium. Continued increases in phosphate levels in the tank will provide an excess of nutrients that feed and promote the growth of algae, and that inhibit the calcification of invertebrates and corals in the aquarium.

Controlling phosphate levels can be a great means to control or reduce the amount of algae that grows in an aquarium. Algae rely heavily on phosphate minerals for growth. By maintaining low phosphate levels, algae growth is significantly reduced.

New or beginner aquarists may not initially appreciate the need to monitor and control the growth of phosphates. One obvious indicator that phosphate levels are too high in your aquarium is an influx of algae.

How to prevent High Phosphate Levels

An important step in controlling the growth of phosphates in the aquarium is to prevent their growth in the first place. The prevention of high phosphates is better than trying to remedy the effects or the aftermaths.

Purified water that has undergone reverse osmosis can be used to reduce phosphate levels in the water. A reverse osmosis water purifier can be purchased and used to purify the aquarium’s water.

As an alternative to the acquisition or utilization of a reverse osmosis water purifier, aquarists can choose to purchase bottled purified water for use in the tank. This purified water is very easy to find and buy from most grocery stores, and oftentimes from pet stores that sell fish and/or aquarium equipment.

How to Reduce High Phosphate Levels

Some phosphate removal products will need to be installed in your aquarium to filter out all of the phosphate impurities. There are plenty of phosphate removal media options, some of which can be found by browsing online aquarium shops and dealers. The phosphate removal media is usually found in the same category as other chemical removal media, such as activated carbon.

Do not forget to check the specifications of the brand you are using when purchasing phosphate removal media for your aquarium. Be sure to get the right product that will work for you and your aquarium’s specific needs. You will find that some phosphate removal media needs to be replaced or removed from the aquarium within a few days to avoid the leaching back of the phosphates into the aquarium. Other media may not need to be replaced so quickly and some not at all.

Ways of Implementing Phosphate Removal Media

There are different ways in which one can implement the phosphate removal media into their saltwater aquarium.

One option is to buy and install a phosphate reactor. A phosphate reactor is basically a chamber with an intake and outtake that sits in the water filtration flow of your aquarium. Phosphate removal media is fed into the chamber, where the water flow from the aquarium passes through it, continuously resulting in purified phosphates. You can also install the phosphate reactor in the existing water flow plumbing of your aquarium.

The second option is to acquire some mesh media bags that can be used by placing them in your current sump filter or canister filter. The mesh bags are filled with phosphate removal media and once placed inside the canister or sump filter, begin to remove phosphates. The purpose of the mesh bags is to stop the pieces of the media from getting everywhere in your filtration system, which makes maintenance of the phosphate removal media much easier to handle.

You will begin to notice a decline of the growth of algae in your tank once the phosphate removal media techniques outlined above have been used for some time. The quality of your aquarium water will also improve, and even the health of your aquarium life.