Terrible Advice Tuesdays (T.A.Tues): The Cheapest Phosphate Remover…Ever

Terrible Advice Tuesdays: Granulated Ferric Oxide is just rust, so the scrapings from a rusty iron pipe will work just as well for phosphate removing media.

The rest of the story: No matter how small your saltwater tank budget, please don’t try to use rusty iron pipe scrapings in your tank. The rusty pipe could have all sorts of other chemicals in it that don’t need to be in your tank. Unless the pipe came out of your house, then you’ll have no idea what substances flowed through the pipe that might stuck in the rust and sludge in the pipe.

Add on the fact that rusty iron pipe isn’t exactly laying around in mass quantities. Finding enough rusty iron pipe to produce enough scrapings to fill your media reactor even once would take a lot of effort and time. Given the low cost of GFO and other phosphate removing media, just go buy some media meant for aquariums. The financial gain you might make is small and the potential risk of a containment getting into your tank isn’t worth the money saved.

(I’m going back to laughing about this one now)

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Comments for this article (22)

  • Comboverguy says:

    Couldn’t we just plumb our aquariums with iron pipe and have an automatic phosphate removal system? Just use it until water starts spewing from the natural corrosion from the salt, then replace it with new iron pipe?

  • Hector Valero says:

    Whoa! I’ve heard it all, well I think I have…

  • John Rodgers says:

    Humor, and so early. Good morning Sunshine.

  • Comboverguy…that is a great idea. I think I’ll write a new book to bring forth the groundbreaking method to the world of reekeeping. Eternal fame here I come! 😀

  • kyle larsen says:

    Little known fact, prior to 1862, the oceanic phosphate level was signifcantly higher, as the only source of marine rust was cannons. Once iron and steel wrecks became more prevalent, phosphate levels dropped significantly.

  • Josh says:

    Haha! While you’re at it, why don’t you just dump a bottle of Oxy Clean in your tank to oxidize all your nuisance algae…. LOL Whoever told someone to use rusty iron pipe needs to have their head examined…. Too funny

  • JOHN McDougall says:

    It never fails to amaze me..What people will believe …

  • Jon says:

    This one should be a no brainer,,, it just seem wrong on so many levels!

  • Nate says:

    Mark where do you get your GFO from?

  • Nik says:

    I the days before gfo we would use a few nails to remove phosphate, but nor many people been around that long.

  • Nik says:

    Of course back in the day we would also treat ich with pennies, bleach our corals, and were proud of microbubbles too.

  • Frank says:

    Nik You made me feel old. Do you remember when bio balls came out and blue flor. lamps?

  • Frank…I remember the blue flor lamps! I was sold one by my LFS because I needed “a more powerful” light for an anemone I purchased.

  • Nik says:

    Blue flour lights, T12 shop lights, and growlight bulbs. Those were the days, where DIY wasn’t looking for something to do cheap, it was the way of life. We would go all the way to Chicago to get fish (10 hrs one way). I still remember having a nice lionfish, and finding a firefish that my mom fell in live with. It will be ok, just feed the lion, and the firefish will live in the corals. Paid $80 for that fish, and it made the nicest glow inside that lionfish…

  • Simon K. says:

    Oh Mark,

    Were in the world do you get these hilarious bad advice snipets from?! Seriously! Always makes me laugh at the proposterous ideas that people come up with. Are these for real? With such information around are we just hopeless!


  • Simon…I hear about these snipets from emails, see posts on forums, etc.

  • Alisha says:

    Not to mention the tetanus shot you might need from cutting yourself on the rusty metal, cha-Ching

  • Pierre - Yves Bouic says:

    What about the old way of lowering a ammonia spike using cat litter. This was when the kitty litter was made out of totally different stuff. I heard this one from an old guy who was big on cichlids, I never used this Idea once, the thought of what back then was white zeolite mixed with what looked like specks of foam, even in a bag would have made a mess.

  • Comboverguy says:

    The book is a great idea! Just don’t forget my residuals. 😉

  • Nik says:

    Oh there are volumes that can be written about the history of the hobby, and the story would be different by the region of the country you were in at the time.

  • Mark, your posts take the cake. This guy sounds like the type of guy that tests 9 volt batteries with his tongue… Lol

  • dave says:

    mark. I am trying to get on to your site “flow chart” and it wont get there it leads to a advertising site. is it still up and running.. thanks

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