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What is Rowaphos?
RowaPhos is a unique man made ferric hydroxide material specifically produced for efficient removal of phosphates, arsenic and silicates from fresh and salt water, having initially been developed in Germany for treating mains water supplies. As such it should not be confused with natural materials, which are generally based on aluminium oxide, (zeolite).
RowaPhos is manufactured using a Patented process which makes it physically and chemically completely different to the vast array of other iron based media which have sprung up to ride on the sucess of the Rowa product. Most of these products are iron oxide based and have a higher capacity for phosphate than aluminium based medias but do not touch the engineered properties of RowaPhos.
In an independent series of tests carried out by the Berlin Technical University on the five most commonly used phosphate removers at the time, RowaPhos was found to be the most efficient in removing phosphate from water. Other medias tested reached only to 30-40 % of its removal capacity by weight. Additionally RowaPhos was found to continue to remove phosphates at lower concentrations and had a higher maximum holding capacity.
How much should I use?
Each pack of RowaPhos clearly states the volume of water that the contents of the pack will reduce in phosphate concentration by 3 ppm. Note that it is 2 times more effective in fresh water than in salt water.
Many people take this stated volume, often on the smaller packs, and see that it is the same size as their own tank. They then hand over their money, take it home and pop it into their tank to be forgotten about for the next few months before beginning the cycle again.
In reality most people starting to use phosphate removers for the first time will probably have concentrations of phosphate in excess of 5 ppm in their systems and even more bound up within the rocks and media requiring a pack size suitable for removal of 3 ppm from 2-5 times their tank size or more to bring the initial concentration under control.
The reality for someone blindly using RowaPhos is that they start off at 5 ppm and reduce it to 4 ppm by using the wrong sized pack, which they replace after 2 â€“ 3 months by which time the concentration has returned to or exceeded its original level.
Reduction to 4 ppm was a total waste of their time and money, as the phosphate levels must be ideally reduced to almost zero or at least below 0.01 ppm as PO4 (0.03 as P) in order to starve out the algae.
What level should I have in my aquarium?
In saltwater aquariums and reef aquariums in particular we would recommend that your phosphate level is maintained at between zero and 0.05 ppm (PO4). Some test kits may express the results as the concentration of phosphorous ion P and in this case it should be below 0.015 ppm (P).
How do I use RowaPhos?
There are several ways of using RowaPhos depending on the aquarium size or the budget.
The smaller packs of media, which are often used by people with smaller tanks or those first starting to control phosphates contain a net sock into which the media can be placed.
The way that RowaPhos works is by chemical adsorption onto the surface of the media and hence for it to work properly it is necessary for water to flow around and through the pouch. It is also recommended that the media is regularly disturbed to prevent compaction and expose new areas of the surface to the general water flow.
The second way of using RowaPhos is in a conventional canister filter. It is possible to put the above sock straight into the canister however this has a tendency to channel or compact, which is exacerbated by the use of Kalkwasser, which can solidify the media in the same way that it does so to the sand in a plenum system.
It is therefore preferable to layer the RowaPhos between sponges or floss to create a more uniform flow and show a higher surface area to the water.
The third, the easiest, and the most effective, but most expensive method, is to fluidise the RowaPhos in a suitable reactor. Fluidisation keeps the media constantly moving and the water column in constant contact with the whole of the surface area. As RowaPhos is relatively light compared with some sands it is important not to over fluidise it and send the whole contents into the aquarium. For this reason
Deltec have developed a range of fluidised reactors specifically designed to allow a high water flow without over fluidisation.
Do I wash the media first?
For use in a fluidised reactor we recommend that you wash the media in R.O. water prior to use to remove the fines, which would otherwise over fluidise and end up in the aquarium. If this happens it will not cause any harm to the inhabitants as it is inert but may look unsightly for a while.