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Thread: Phosphates are the food stuff of algae

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    Phosphates are the food stuff of algae

    Split off of No Chlorine / Phosphates. JasonLion

    Quote Originally Posted by ewilliams
    Ok...My wife got the water tested again today and to my dismay has brought some more chemicals home that the pool store sold her so that we could swim. Apparently they think thta we should put approx. 12-16oz of Sodium Dichloro-s-triazinetrione in the pool approx half hour before we want to swim (which is every day). they also sold her some Potassium Monopersulfate to put in the pool weekly. From what she says there are still phosphates and nitrates in the pool (2500 now up from 1500 dur to 2 days of rain) and they dont think that the chlorine issue will be or can be resolved. Apparently they say others are having the same problem. I personally think its moe beneficail for them if i have to keep buying these chemicals every week ($$$$. Afetr hearing that I went and had another water test done at another pool store ( just for a peace of mind). Same results but they suggested trying to add 6 bags (2 @ a time) of shock to the pool premixed in water. the stated thatthey may fix my problem. Apparently someone has the same issue (they also tried the liquid chlorine in a large amount) and this seemed to fix it. Oh yea I have not had a chance totest for ammonia yet, will try and do it later today.
    OK SO HERE ARE MY NUMBERS AND WHAT SHOULD I DO? I READ pOOL SCHOOL AND STILL AM A LITTLE CONFUSED WITH HOW MUCH SHOCK TO USE AND HOW TO DO IT! (NEVER WAS GOOD WITH MATH AND CHARTS AND THINGS)

    Free Chlor- 0
    Total Chlor- .4
    PH- 7.6
    Total Alk- 150
    CYA- 45
    Total Hard- 230
    Phosphates- 2500
    Despite what you are being told on this forum your phospate levels are way way too high. Phosphates are the food stuff of algae if you shock the pool you will kill most of the algae but when you return to normal levels the abundance of food (phosphates) will bring it right back.
    and so the cycle will continue until you run out of money or change something.

    If you don't belive me then Google algae and phosphates and read as many of the documents as you wish.
    I realise that by posting this I risk being tried as a heretic but it's the truth and that is what this is about.

    Treat the problem not the symptom.

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    Re: No Chlorine / Phosphates

    IMHO, you should not listen to the advice given in the post above this one! Besides having a lot of experience with phosphate removers professionally my own pool has phosphate levels in excess of 3000 ppm and I have never had an algae outbreak in 5 years.
    Phosphates are not the only factor in algae growth. Nitrogen compounds are also algae food, Removing phosphates can only control algae when they are the limiting factor in algae growth and they usually are not.
    Interestingly enough, so called "natural pools" that do not use chemicals (really large planted ponds) use algae to remove ammonia compounds and nitrates from the water! Algae harvesting is part of the process to get these compounds out of the water. The exact same technique is also used in aquaria.
    Limiting phosphates with nitrogeneous compounds in the water will not limit algae growth.

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    dmanb2b's Avatar
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    Re: No Chlorine / Phosphates

    Quote Originally Posted by teapot

    Despite what you are being told on this forum your phospate levels are way way too high. Phosphates are the food stuff of algae if you shock the pool you will kill most of the algae but when you return to normal levels the abundance of food (phosphates) will bring it right back.
    and so the cycle will continue until you run out of money or change something.

    If you don't belive me then Google algae and phosphates and read as many of the documents as you wish.
    I realise that by posting this I risk being tried as a heretic but it's the truth and that is what this is about.

    Treat the problem not the symptom.
    Teapot, although your comment about phospates being a "food" is correct, it is not the problem. The problem is inadequate chlorine levels that have allowed the algae to bloom.

    Please define what you mean by "normal levels" because as waterbear mentioned above, if you properly maintain your FC level according to the chlorine/cya chart in pool school, you will likely not encounter algae issues...is it possible, yes, but most of us go an entire season without shocking regardless of phospate levels. Chlorine prevents algae growth. Even if you reduce your phospate level to let's say 500...there is still "food" available for algae to thrive...they'll just be skinnier
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    Re: No Chlorine / Phosphates

    Quote Originally Posted by dmanb2b
    if you properly maintain your FC level according to the chlorine/cya chart in pool school, you will likely not encounter algae issues...is it possible, yes
    this is what I understand: the only way you will get algae if you follow the chlorine/cya chart exactly is if you have poor circulation, poor filtration and/or no brushing. it seems like you're saying the chart isn't a 100% algae free guarantee (assuming those three things I listed) and I believe it is. is there something I'm not getting or is that what you were talking about?
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    Re: No Chlorine / Phosphates

    that's my point reebok...we're human and with that comes human error, mechanical failure or mother nature. There are no guarantees "something" won't go wrong, but if you do your best to follow the recommended levels, you will likely avoid algae issues.
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    Re: No Chlorine / Phosphates

    Teapot is experimenting with an ionizer and MPS for sanitation so in his case he very possibly does need phosphate removers. If he maintained normal chlorine levels he would find that phosphates are of no consequence in the vast majority of cases (I will admit there are those very few cases with persistant, REOCCURRING algae where phosphate removers can be beneficial. However, the ones I have seen have been in agricultural areas that had a lof of fertilizer runoff into the pool so phosphates were extremely high.)
    Also, with copper in the water there should be no need for phosphate removers since copper is a very effective algae killer at the levels used for water sanitation (usually in the neighborhood of .6-1 ppm.) It is much more efficient as an algaecide than as a sanitizer, however. Also, these are also levels high enough to cause staining on pools and people.

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    Re: No Chlorine / Phosphates

    Quote Originally Posted by reebok
    Quote Originally Posted by dmanb2b
    if you properly maintain your FC level according to the chlorine/cya chart in pool school, you will likely not encounter algae issues...is it possible, yes
    this is what I understand: the only way you will get algae if you follow the chlorine/cya chart exactly is if you have poor circulation, poor filtration and/or no brushing. it seems like you're saying the chart isn't a 100% algae free guarantee (assuming those three things I listed) and I believe it is. is there something I'm not getting or is that what you were talking about?
    There are no guarantees but if you follow best practices we have a lot of evidence that you will not have problems.
    The only things that are certain are Death and Taxes (and not in that order,unfortunately!)

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    Re: No Chlorine / Phosphates

    Ok let me explain where I am comming from.

    Firstly please leave out my ioniser experiments, they are just tests to see how and if the thing works on my own pool not my customers. I expected it to fail miserably but it is actually doing quite well and I will have bacterial tests carried out on the water in September if it fails the test it will be junked. BTW phosphates in my water are around 100ppm.

    I am not criticising your excellent BBB, the chart allows people to stay pretty clear of most algae. How many of you are actually getting to the third "B" Borax?
    Water bear is, he knows that is what prevented his pool going green when he was away especially as his water has 3000ppm of phosphates and at that time very little chlorine, algicide works.

    Sure chlorine works too if you add enough of it, simply killed algae are an easy target, mustard yellow on the other hand deos not seem to respect your chart.
    Not sure to what Water bear is refering to "you should not listen to the advice given in the post above this one!" is that to googling algae and phosphates? or Phosphates are the food source for algae?

    I cannot find an algae that will exist without food (phosphates), some algae can produce nitrogen compounds that is why elevated nitrogen levels can be an indicator of algae.
    Just think about it, if you are having a pool party and you don't provide any food how long will your guests stick around?

    The beauty of your BBB system is that it is very low cost whereas adding phosphate remover may require trips to the dreaded pool store and more money. However as the demand on the chlorine will be lower due to the lower phosphates not feeding your algae in the first place, the chlorine you do have will last longer or in the case of a SWG cell increase it's life expectancy.

    Now if you have both borax as an algicide and lower phosphate levels you make your pool very unattractive to algae and bacteria so again the chlorine demand will be reduced so again the chlorine will last longer and /or so will your salt cell, therefore making a saving to offset the cost of the phosphate remover. Could be better for the planet too

    Is phosphate remover worth the extra expense, I can't answer that one that is for the individual to decide. Duraleigh supplies the excellent test kit, maybe if the need was there he could supply phosphate remover at a discount to TFP supporters, another very good reason for being a member.

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    Re: Phosphates are the food stuff of algae

    Quote Originally Posted by teapot
    Despite what you are being told on this forum your phospate levels are way way too high. Phosphates are the food stuff of algae if you shock the pool you will kill most of the algae but when you return to normal levels the abundance of food (phosphates) will bring it right back.
    It was this comment above that raised my eyebrows.

    JasonLion's phosphates levels are over 4,000 and he doesn't experience algae blooms, because he maintains his FC according to the CYA chart.

    Normal levels of chlorine (proper ones - according to one's CYA level) will prevent algae from reoccuring.

    I'm willing to bet in 100% of the cases where the algae has "returned" the FC was allowed to drop too low, or the algae was not entirely killed off to begin with, lurking in some hidden place so when the FC dropped a bit too low for whatever reason, it was able to take hold again. Yes, Mustard Algae can be resistant to "normal" levels of chlorine, but once identified, the technique we advocate for treating it works. It isn't some complex method requiring special treatment.

    Could Phosphate removers help? You said it yourself:

    The beauty of your BBB system is that it is very low cost whereas adding phosphate remover may require trips to the dreaded pool store and more money.
    Phosphate removers are unneccessary and that is the point. The method we advocate at TFP is simple, using products found at grocery stores if needbe, and guess what, it works. Why should someone spend more money on a product when the cheaper method works fine?
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
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    Re: No Chlorine / Phosphates

    Quote Originally Posted by teapot
    I cannot find an algae that will exist without food (phosphates),
    Sure. However, if your pool is PROPERLY sanitized with chlorine, you won't get algae in the first place!!

    And if you do, when you kill the algae with the PROPER application of chlorine, the phosphates become a moot point.

    8200 gallon 20' x 48" round vinyl frame pool, manually chlorinated with 10% liquid, salt added to ~2000, 12" sand filter, 1600gph pump, TF100 test kit
    Handy Links: PoolMath, TF-100 Test Kit, Pool School, Chlorine/CYA Chart
    "Shock" is a process, not a product!

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    Re: No Chlorine / Phosphates

    Quote Originally Posted by teapot
    Despite what you are being told on this forum your phospate levels are way way too high. Phosphates are the food stuff of algae if you shock the pool you will kill most of the algae but when you return to normal levels the abundance of food (phosphates) will bring it right back. and so the cycle will continue until you run out of money or change something.
    This is totally false. If you maintain your FC level according to the Chlorine/CYA chart at Pool School you will not get algae, with or without phosphates. The cycle will not continue and you will save lots of money and trouble by not purchasing phosphate remover.

    My phosphate level is around 4,000 and I never have any problems with algae. As long as you maintain your FC level according to the chart you won't have problems with algae regardless of your phosphate level.

    Quote Originally Posted by teapot
    However as the demand on the chlorine will be lower due to the lower phosphates not feeding your algae in the first place, the chlorine you do have will last longer or in the case of a SWG cell increase it's life expectancy.
    This isn't true. If you maintain your FC level based on the Chlorine/CYA chart at Pool School, the total amount of chlorine you need to add will be very similar with and without phosphates.

    There is a related effect that you might be talking about. If you get your phosphate level low enough, and there is nothing else in the water that the algae can eat (there often is), you can maintain a lower FC level and use less chlorine. However, the cost savings on chlorine won't be enough to pay for the phosphate remover, and sometimes algae will grow even without phosphates.
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    Re: Phosphates are the food stuff of algae

    Algae is not the only thing that will grow in a pool. Bacteria will also. My pool has a very low level of phosphates <200 ppm, yet if I let the FC level go too low, bacteria will start to grow and eat my CYA. In fact in my pool I have to maintain FC levels well above the recommended minimums in order to prevent this from happening.
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    Re: Phosphates are the food stuff of algae


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    Re: Phosphates are the food stuff of algae

    Quote Originally Posted by Brad S
    LOVE it! When did we get this one?

    8200 gallon 20' x 48" round vinyl frame pool, manually chlorinated with 10% liquid, salt added to ~2000, 12" sand filter, 1600gph pump, TF100 test kit
    Handy Links: PoolMath, TF-100 Test Kit, Pool School, Chlorine/CYA Chart
    "Shock" is a process, not a product!

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    Re: No Chlorine / Phosphates

    Quote Originally Posted by teapot
    I am not criticising your excellent BBB, the chart allows people to stay pretty clear of most algae. How many of you are actually getting to the third "B" Borax?
    The third B for borax is using borax for raising pH insead of soda ash. It is not about adding broates to 50 ppm. If you were as familiar with the BBB methos as I am and knew of it's origens you would have known that. It existed before this forum did.

    Water bear is, he knows that is what prevented his pool going green when he was away especially as his water has 3000ppm of phosphates and at that time very little chlorine, algicide works.
    In the example I gave you in our PM discusstion, when I was in vacation, yes. However, there is no need for borates in a properly maintained pool to supress algae even with very high orthophosphate levels. Chlorine will do it by itself. As far as supressing algae while my pool was shut down for 12 days last August while I was on vacation, I suspect that if I had added Polyquat 60 to a pool without borates I would have had very much the same effect. Perhaps not quite as effective as the borates but I still would not have returned to a green pool. Realize that the reason I originally experiemented with borates (and those experiments were well documented on another forum) were for the pH buffering effects. I was not really interested in the algaestatic properities sine algae, even with my very high phosphates, was never an issue for my pool because I maintaine the pool at an adequate level for my CYA. In fact, I really had no idea that the borates were effective as claimed as an algaestat until my emperical evidence from my vacation last summer. My pool has had high othophosphates since filling (my builder gave me a years supply of phosphate remover that I promptly got right of! ) but I have NEVER had an algae outbreak, even with having to do the occasional ascorbic acid treatment for staining of my fiberglass pool (which, I assume you know, requires the FC to be very low or absent for several days). Before the borates I would use polyquat 60 and never had a problem with an outbreak.

    Sure chlorine works too if you add enough of it, simply killed algae are an easy target, mustard yellow on the other hand deos not seem to respect your chart.
    Yes it does. If you maintain proper water balance you won't get it to begin with. I have never had mustard either and when my customers have it was because their chlorine was too low for their CYA. Once it gets hold it does take more chlorine to kill than green algae but cyanobacter ("red algae' or pink slime) and white water mold take even higher levels to kill but are very rare occurances in a pool that maintains even sub par chlorine levels.

    Not sure to what Water bear is refering to "you should not listen to the advice given in the post above this one!" is that to googling algae and phosphates? or Phosphates are the food source for algae?
    It was about buying and adding phosphate remover. It is an unnecessary expense. the problem was ammonia in the water that needed to be oxidized.

    I cannot find an algae that will exist without food (phosphates), some algae can produce nitrogen compounds that is why elevated nitrogen levels can be an indicator of algae.
    Just think about it, if you are having a pool party and you don't provide any food how long will your guests stick around?
    Mine stick around because of my winning personality and my sparkling pool! (Longer than I want in most cases!)

    The beauty of your BBB system is that it is very low cost whereas adding phosphate remover may require trips to the dreaded pool store and more money. However as the demand on the chlorine will be lower due to the lower phosphates not feeding your algae in the first place, the chlorine you do have will last longer or in the case of a SWG cell increase it's life expectancy.
    And what about the clouding of the water caused by Lanthanum compounds and the problems with filter pressure and constant filter cleaning durng the first 24-48 hours after adding a phosphate remover. The are a LOT of work, are they not? I have quite a bit of experience with them vfrom more than one manufacturer. Also, if you look at the cost vs. chlorine they lose. Polyquat 60 is going to be as effective as an algaestat and many people use it for this reason and it will do the same with much less effect, about equal expense or less, and it will also help clairify the water in the process. I am more inclined to reccommend the use of polyquat 60 before I recommend lanthanum chloride or sufate.

    Now if you have both borax as an algicide and lower phosphate levels you make your pool very unattractive to algae and bacteria so again the chlorine demand will be reduced so again the chlorine will last longer and /or so will your salt cell, therefore making a saving to offset the cost of the phosphate remover. Could be better for the planet too
    Realize that the vast majority of people that are adding borates are doing so for pH control, at least here in this forum, because this is what we recommend it for. The algaestaic effects are a bonus. We do not recommed borates for algae control. We recommend proper pool matenance for that, just like in a commercial pool.

    Is phosphate remover worth the extra expense, I can't answer that one that is for the individual to decide. Duraleigh supplies the excellent test kit, maybe if the need was there he could supply phosphate remover at a discount to TFP supporters, another very good reason for being a member.
    I CAN answer for the powers that be here when I say that there is no need! I know that I will not be corrected.

    FWIW, I know a bit about algae. I have kept aquaria, both fresh and salt for almost 50 years now (I am currently 55, do the math ) in sizes from 2 gal to 150 gal and have had up to 9 tanks going at any one time. You learn a bit about algae, both the wanted and the unwanted kinds, in that time frame. Lanthanum products are also used as algae control in lakes and ponds (and aquaria) but other phosphate flocs are used also. They help to a limited extent but since there is no way to eliminate nitraes from the water algae is still a problem. Interesting enough, algae control (the unwanted kind) can be done with macro algae in a refugerium that consumes the nitrates and phophates as food and this macroalgae is havestes on a regular basis and allowed to regrow to remove this susbtances from the aquarium. It is the nitrate removal effect that is very pronounced, btw. Unfortuneately, these are not methods we can apply to a swimming pool.

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    Re: Phosphates are the food stuff of algae

    [quote=The Mermaid Queen]
    Quote Originally Posted by "Brad S":ywfpnbc3
    LOVE it! When did we get this one?[/quote:ywfpnbc3]

    Ditto!

    That's the best emoticon ever.
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    Re: Phosphates are the food stuff of algae

    [quote=The Mermaid Queen]
    Quote Originally Posted by "Brad S":1op5cqen
    LOVE it! When did we get this one?[/quote:1op5cqen]

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    Re: Phosphates are the food stuff of algae

    Quote Originally Posted by Brad S
    ooooooooo...BUSTED!
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    Re: Phosphates are the food stuff of algae

    Thanks for all your replies, So how many of you are actually using Borax?

    No need for Waterbear to reply as we know he is.

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    Re: Phosphates are the food stuff of algae

    As much as i love to wasde into the debate on phosphates and lanthanum.......

    There are lantanum compounds that do not require clarifiers added after application

    Chlorine is the best algaecide in the world

    99.9% of pool owners do not maintain the chlorine level in their pool as they should

    70% of pool owners wouldnt even know what chemicals they had in the shed (for a couple of reasons but i wont get into chemtura marketing), and at least 30% of pools are maintained by pool valet/service people (mobile shops often with as much knowledge - requires buying a van, and a rake and vac head)who visit on average once a week - every 2 weeks in summer and monthly in winter

    Algaecides and phosphate removers are great insurance for those who fall into the majority and assume that a couple of tablets or 10 gallons of bleach once a week is all lthat is required. I personally ran my own swimming pool (a horrible little 10,000g above ground unit) for 2.5 years on phosphate remover and long life chemcalted copper algaecide every 3 months, and ran the pump for maybe a couple of hours a month to clean the **** out of the bottom - however i never did and never would have swum in it.

    I am a firm beliver in using these products in countries or areas where the pools do not freeze in the winter, pump running time and energy costs can be significantly reduced, without the need to add chlorine/ bleach every day as no-one is swimming in the pool during winter

    so its a horses for courses debate - a lot of people nowdays are cash rich and time poor (i wish i was one of them, but am just poor), having a little bit more flexibilty and leeway on the pool for when the chlorine level does inevitibly drop below its ideal range that you do not have to get up to a green toxic pool and then spend a lot more money at the local pool store.

    The average cost for an average domestic pool with an average bather load and debris is under $100 NZ per year / 65 USD. This is significantly less than what is spent on chemicals and labour and your own time in cleaning a green pool.

    So if you are meticulous at looking after your pool it is unlikely you will never need phosphate removers, if you are not, and your pool store is not ripping you off on them, they can be a good investment.

    *EDIT* After re-reading the poolstores advice i should also state i do not agree with it at all, even though i work in the indusrty and have done for 15 years, and would be mortified if one of my customers (i sell wholesale) was giving out advice like this

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