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When one nutrient is available in amounts higher than the plants are able to use relative to another factor. ie, at 10ppm NO3 my plants are able to utilize 2ppm PO4. At .5ppm PO4 my plants are able to uptake 10ppm NO3 easily.

Therefore, within the range of .5-2ppm PO4, 10ppm NO3 is in balance with PO4. If I add more NO3 to bring the tank to 15ppm while maintaining 2.0ppm PO4 my tank is imblanced in favor of NO3, which may cause algae.

Likewise, in a tank where the plants aren't growing very fast they may only be able to utilize .5ppm PO4 due to some other limiting factor (such as light). If for some reason the level of PO4 raises above .5ppm, the tank is imbalanced and algae may start.

Those numbers are hypothetical only, not actual.

Best,
Phil
 

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Phil Edwards said:
If I add more NO3 to bring the tank to 15ppm while maintaining 2.0ppm PO4 my tank is imblanced in favor of NO3, which may cause algae.

Likewise, in a tank where the plants aren't growing very fast they may only be able to utilize .5ppm PO4 due to some other limiting factor (such as light). If for some reason the level of PO4 raises above .5ppm, the tank is imbalanced and algae may start.
Is it that NO3 and PO4 are out of balance with each other or is it that one element exceeds the amount being taken up by plants and, as a result, is available for uptake by algae? Algae being very opportunistic would jump on the excess nutrient and explode?
 
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