Phosphat-E by Brightwell

jcook54

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Brightwell's Phosphat-E is a lanthanum chloride (LaCl3) based product. There are quite a few different options on the market using LaCl3 but the one I've been using is Phosphat-E. In a tank that has phosphates (PO4), the LaCl3 reacts with them and forms a precipitate that locks up the PO4 and allows it to be removed with a protein skimmer or other mechanical filtration methods. I've read several experiences where this precipitate clouds the water and causes livestock distress but I've never had any issues. In the past I've used GFO for the same purpose but I don't think I'll ever be going back to it. LaCl3 is just so simple and easy to use. If you're thinking about going this route, please start by checking out this calculator:

http://larryl.emailplus.org/fish/dosing-instructions-phosphate-removers.html

If you mess around with the calculator, you'll begin to see that it does not take much at all to bring down PO4 levels. This can be dangerous to a tank when the levels are low. For my system, lowering the PO4 levels from the high of 0.20 ppm to 0.03 ppm only takes 3.1mL of the Phosphat-E or 15 drop of Blue Life's Phosphate Rx. Powerful stuff! There's not a huge danger in lowering PO4 from 0.2 ppm to 0.1 ppm but once you start getting below 0.1 ppm, a small amount can really drop the PO4 levels and have an adverse effect on corals. Be careful with this stuff especially when the PO4 levels towards the bottom of the scale. Here are the steps I take when using it in my system:
  • Test PO4 with a low level & accurate test kit. This may be the most important part of the whole program. I would only attempt this if you have one of the Hanna ULN Phosphate or Phosphorous test kit. In my experience, titration tests just aren't accurate enough.
  • I dose the Phosphat-E into the overflow chamber on my reef-ready tank, 2mL.
  • The overflow goes into a 100 micron filter sock. If you're concerned about precipitate, you could swap out for a 50 micron sock and get more of it.
  • The next chamber is the protein skimmer. The directions on the bottle say to dose the product by the intake of a mechanical filter or by the intake of a protein skimmer. Both of these steps remove the precipitate according to the instructions.
  • Test again after a few hours to get a feel for how much PO4 is actually being removed by the dose. Calculators are good as a guideline but actual results are better.
The most important tool when considering a lanthanum chloride product is testing, testing and testing with a really good kit. Corals need some PO4 and stripping too much from the water can be a serious issue. The other danger is killing fish. I've never had any of my fish show any signs of distress but there are some horror stories lurking around on various forums. I mitigate both of these issues by dosing in small amounts followed up by rounds of testing. I've been having a heck of a time getting my PO4 levels below 0.15 ppm but I'm not willing to increase the dose because I like going really, really slow for most things in this wonderful hobby.
 

mapleredta

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Great information and thanks for sharing this. My PO4 levels are .36 according to my brand new Hanna tester.
 

jcook54

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Well that's pretty high. The first thing I'd do it test it again just to make sure. I've seen levels that high in the past but I'd double check. If there are no apparent issues caused by these high PO4 levels, I'd start with a small dose of Phosphat-E or similar lanthanum chloride product and bring the levels down over time. The highest level I testing in the tank I've been talking about was 0.236 ppm. Since there are no obvious issues (algae, reduced coral growth, etc.) from the levels in my tank, I decided to take things nice a slow and am currently sitting at 0.114ppm.
 

mapleredta

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I've got a sand bed currently covered in cyano, so I'm guessing it's pretty accurate. I just did a 30 gallon water change and am running more RODI water now to do another big 30 gallon change. I just got extremely lazy with the tank and it pissed me off every time that I looked at it.
 

Steve Burton

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Very good review. I used this product also, sometime in the first few months when the tank was new and phosphates were high. I dosed in the skimmer section of the sump. Noticed no precipitation. I do not run socks. I forget how much I wanted to lower, but used my own math and cut the dose in half so as to not lower too quickly. It worked for me with no noticeable bad effects to fish, probably had no coral in the tank at that time
 
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