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RE: NO3 & PO4

>My suggested limit of 20 ppm of nitrate AND phosphate >1 ppm has proven
>for me a set of long term operating conditions where I don't need to
>scrape the glass and there is no algae visible on the plants.  Lighting
>is sunlight (southern exposure in Texas) plus 6 hours artificial on
>timer ending at 10 PM.  Alga control was one 6" pleco in 135 gallons.

Try lowering just one of these.
Lower your PO4 by adding some PO4 remover to your tank.
Then don't feed your fish etc till your NO3 goes way down or do big water
changes to lower it etc.
What do you get?

Try the soil approach or nutrients just in the substrate method. Then limit
the water column.
You can give the plants a level in the column or the substrate or my
personal preference, both.
You'll get the same results using this method(nothing in the column but a
good substrate) on your tank also. There's something to be said for using
this one. Less maintenance and slower plant growth and less algae on the
glass. Not every plant will thrive but most will do fine.

>I believe the key is coupling "high" nitrate and "high" phosphate.  I am
>very intersted in finding out other peoples thresholds  for  NO3/PO4
>levels based on algae (or ich) problems.  

I was talking with some Europeans some years ago. They said that their tap
waters often have........ guess what? High NO3 and PO4. 55ppm and a bunch of
PO4 (1.0 or more). Time to fertilize......do a water change and voila! Claus
of Tropica verified this for me when he was here also. N-P-K grow plants.
Now why does algae appear in some tanks with high PO4 ands NO3 and not

My levels probably represent
>the extreme low end.  On the other hand, I have never run into any BGA,
>blooms, filamentous algae, etc.  For that matter, I havent had an
>observed case of Ich in any of my tanks in over 14 years (could it be
>the NO3 consistently less than 20ppm?).

I wouldn't change if it's working! Your system and balance is not causing
you a problem. Adding extra PO4 and NO3 to your set up may cause you
problems but they may not cause problems for others.

Why would this be? Different methods and many paths to the promised land.
Saying PO4 and NO3 in and of themselves cause algae is a blatant myth. 

I use and have used several different methods over the years. I have a tank
like yours that I maintain. Fish breed, plants grow, owner is happy, low
maintenance, natural sunlight with a little FL's lighting added, old mulmy
sand, almost no algae on the glass. Looks decent. Other tanks have been done
like this one. I also have very high tech tanks with serious lighting and a
very nutrient poor substrate. My tanks at home I tend to keep in very rich
nutrient laden water and a rich flourite + jobes soil. I do get some algae
on the glass which gets scraped every two weeks if I'm lucky but the plants
are growing like mad and healthy. Another interesting thing out here is my
tap water has lots of good stuff in it while my sisters and brothers across
the Golden Gate have almost RO water. They have to add everything to their
water to get decent plant growth while I have it all added. Dealing with two
different types of tap water teaches you a lot about levels! It all goes
back to a balance.
Tom Barr