Phosphates and Fish?


Broke Reefer!
Been having a bit of trouble since I added new fish last week and upped my feedings. I would say 1/2 - 2/3 of my corals look like :pooh: - this could be related to the change I made to my lights but its been 4 days (3 with reduced lighting) and they still look terrible (and increasingly so). Today 2 of my established wrasses spent the day in hiding looking particularly stressed. One came out to eat, the other didn't. I can see his snout and at one point he looked like he was breathing heavily but still looks alive - tuxedo urchin has been hanging out at the entrance to his cave all day so its hard to get a really good look at him. The new anthias are out and swimming about half the time and hiding the other half (but previously were out swimming regularly). The other fish seem fine. I did a 10g water change Sunday, 5 last night, 15 tonight, and hooked up my GFO reactor. Tested my water and everything is relatively okay except for phosphate (measured with the hanna checker). Parameters are as follows:

Salinity: 1.025
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 2 to 5
pH: 8.2
Alk: 2.5 meq/l (low end of the spectrum and I'm working on a dosing routine)
Phosphate: .31ppm

How toxic are phosphates to fish and how quickly would fish show a reaction? Do you think the phosphates are the cause of my wrasses behavior? Both were added in October and up until today have spend every day out and about all day long. Is there something else I am not taking into consideration or missing?
I don't think the phos would mess with the fish to bad? The only reason I say that is because my water isn't the best and when I first started this salt thing the lfs(closed down) told me I could use tap water and as it goes I had a good amount of cyno and hair algae most likely from a high amount of phos. and even still I'm sure it's more than it needs to be and all the fish and inverts apeer to be fine.
I don't see temp listed in the parameters, I'll assume its steady and where it should be. I would think its the lighting adjustments that are messing everything up. When we had the blizzard a few weeks ago the light and temp swings played havoc on some of my stuff. When you upped your feedings did you change foods or anything? A few days ago my wife and I noticed our brittle star coming out at night and eating corals after its been in the tank for a while. It was driving me crazy trying to figure out what was happening. Any chance something in the tank turned predator?
IME, elevated phosphates wouldn't be adversely affecting your fish but would negatively affect your corals. Anything over .05-.1ppm would inhibit stony corals and cause them to look crappy. It causes the corals to produce more zooxanthellae which causes an imbalance in the symbiotic relationship with the bacteria. Maintaining a higher PH is one way to combat phosphates by causing it to precipitate out and not gather.
Thanks guys. My largest wrasse (and tank bully) is still hiding in the same cave. He's alive but clearly distressed and hasn't made any attempt to come out. Its hard to tell from the angle but looks like he has developed pop-eye on one of his eyes. I don't know if he was somehow injured or if this is disease or water quality related. If I can get him out I will take him home and QT him and treat him with Maracyn 2 in case its bacterial. The fact he's still alive gives me hope that its an injury but in case its bacterial I don't want it to spread to my other fish. The other wrasse that was hiding yesterday is now out and acting normally.

It is possible that one of my emerald crabs has gone rogue and turned predator - he's gotten quite large and I've been trying to catch him for days to get him out before he killed something - I watched him try to catch a smaller wrasse 2 days ago and have watched him fight my goby for food. He's gonna get someone if I don't get him out, but he's also a smart bugger and hasn't gone for the food in a net after dark trick, so not sure how I'm gonna get him.

Temp is stable at 97.1, controlled by an external controller and separate temp probe.

Interesting about higher pH causing phosphate to preciptate out. I'm going to measure phosphate again today and see if its dropped at all since yesterday's water change and starting up the GFO reactor. If not I might try upping pH a little. I already run an overrated skimmer and have the sump on an opposite light cycle. No way to open windows for fresh air so I think I'll have to dose something to raise pH. How high can I raise it before it reaches dangerous levels?
So, interestingly enough, I double checked my temp after posting that it was 79.1 (which every single time I've looked at it in the past year its been, and was when I looked at it last night), but today when I looked it was all the way up at 81.9 - yikes!! I tend to keep my office warm with a space heater and guess I got it too warm. Opened the door to the hallway and it was dropping when I left. If this has been happening regularly and I just haven't been noticing, then it may partially explain the problems (in addition to phosphate and lighting changes). Also, if the wrasse is suffering from some sort of bacterial problem, the bacteria may have taken hold because of the higher temp. So in a way you maybe did find the problem! We'll see how things look tomorrow when I go in (or I might go back tonight to check).

As an aside, has anyone experienced a temp spike when adding a GFO reactor? The pump didn't feel particularly hot, but I wonder if the GFO itself gets hot as it starts to work...
The wrasse moved from his spot overnight and came out to eat with everyone else today!! One of his eyes still looks a little cloudy and he has a tear on his dorsal fin but otherwise looks just fine. I'm thinking he must have gotten in a fight with someone and maybe injured his eye darting into a rock. Anyhow I am relieved! Going to keep an eye on him of course but things are improving. LPS are looking better too, but zoos and mushrooms are still unhappy. As long as things are going in the right direction I am happier :)