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Effects of Phosphate

and Nitrate on Pond
By Claudia Phillips
September 6, 2014
Block Two


and knowing that algae feed on nitrate. but too much can make living conditions in water harsh (3).This lab was designed to study and observe the effects of phosphate and nitrate applied to pond water (1). then the phosphate would kill off any algae or bacteria growing and the nitrate would enhance and feed it. I predicted that the algae would grow due to its excess in food supply. The lab was designed to test the hypothesis that if nitrate and phosphate were applied to pond water repetitiously over the course of 10 days. Recalling that phosphorous is used in fertilizers and manure. After we were finished each day. we placed a white paper towel across all cups and placed it under a heating lamp to be turned on until it was time again the next day to monitor the investigation. Through a daily detailed analysis and recording of data. we monitored the cups and recorded our observations into a data table. also used in fertilizers. Cup # 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Solution None . Nitrate is a common source of food for most algae. RESULTS . my group and I modeled the large-scale effects that pollutants such as phosphate and nitrate can have on fresh water systems. My group and I filled 7 containers with pond water and throughout the course of 8 days.Control 9 drops phosphate solution 18 drops phosphate solution 9 drops nitrate solution 18 drops nitrate solution 9 drops phosphate and nitrate solution 18 drops phosphate and nitrate solution Table 1 Drops of each solution added per day per cup Every day after adding the drops. The lab’s main objective was to analyze how the two compounds physically affect fresh water. I surmised that the compound would have a negative effect on the pond water. and phosphate and nitrate solution to the cups (Table 1). Drawing from this. is also found in private and public water and is regulated by the EPA (4). commonly used in fertilizers. Phosphorous. and knowing that it is a pollutant. Nitrate. They are both common pollutants found in fresh water systems throughout the world. is a necessary and vital element for life but can enhance the effects of eutrophication (the over-enrichment of nutrients in water) (2). nitrate. METHODOLOGY The methods followed in this lab are outlined in Lab-Aids™ #20 Pollutant Effects of Phosphates and Nitrates (5). applied a consistent amount of phosphate.

Overall. a very clear pattern began to show itself. Cup 6 promptly began to grow more algae than the others (Figure 2). Cup 6 contained 9 drops of phosphate and nitrate solution. each cup of water had a similar green-tinted appearance (Figure 1). Fig. . algae. Fig. Photo courtesy of Adrian Pavone. we found that the nitrate and phosphate solution produced more algal growth than any other solution. Photo courtesy of Adrian Pavone. all we did was record its appearance and administer the drops. North Carolina. 2 Cup 6 at day two. As time went on. and other miscellaneous material found in ponds. This day. The sample of water was taken from West Lake in Apex. 1 Water containers at day one. The first day. Some algae growth at the bottom around the edges. Cups were a greenish-brownish tint and contained few particles of dirt.

. few particles around edge of bottom. Fig. Cups 3. which contained 18 drops of phosphate solution (Figure 3). Photo courtesy of Adrian Pavone. and 7 showed the most algae growth at this point in time (Figures 5-7). Day three showed the same results.The only other cup to show growth from days 2 to 3 was Cup 3. 6. The effects of the solutions began to show in most cups around this day. Some algae growth at bottom. Only until day four did the other cups begin to show signs of algae growth (Figure 4). 3 Cup 3 at day two.

Cup 6 (second row. 5 Close up of Cup 6 on day four. Cup 6 showed the most substantial growth.Fig. 4 All cups on day four. Green color and particles can be seen at the bottoms of all cups. . Photo courtesy of Adrian Pavone. far right) has the most growth at this point. Fig. Photo courtesy of Adrian Pavone.

Fig. . This cup showed the second most substantial growth at this point. 6 Close up of cup 7 on day four. Photo courtesy of Adrian Pavone.

mostly in the grooved edge. On Day 8. Returning to school the following Tuesday. The next three days. we added double the amount of solution drops to account for the previous day. Cup 6 yet again displayed the most algae growth on day 8 of the lab (Figure 8). we found a drastic change to each cup than what we had previously been observing. The rest of the cups showed very little but still significant growth compared to the days prior. Photo courtesy of Adrian Pavone. school was not in session therefore we could not record data for the experiment. Every cup had a very noticeable amount of algae. the day before the 3-day weekend my partners and I added triple the amount per day of each solution to each cup. A few particles were seen at the bottom. . This cup displayed the third most substantial growth on day four. which was the controlled cup. Still. even Cup one. 7 Cup 3 on day four. some cups had more than others. Several algae particles and a mass of green growth was found at the bottom of the cup.Fig. As a precaution.

the last day of the lab. Exceptional amount of algal growth on the bottom of the cup after applying triple the amount of phosphate and nitrate solution. More algae grew at the bottom at the same pace. showed little change from that observed on day 8 (Figure 9). middle) having the most growth while the others had significant particles. Photo courtesy of Adrian Pavone. Cup six (column one. Day 9 of the experiment. Cup 3 showed significant growth in just over a day compared to the other cups that showed either a staggered or slow amount of growth. This can more than likely be attributed to the doubled amount of drops we applied the previous day. 8 Cup 6 on day 8. Although nothing like Cup 6. . Fig. the day upon returning to school. Photo courtesy of Adrian Pavone. Cup 3 showed a dramatic change overnight it seemed.Fig. Cup four displayed the least amount of growth in this lab. A lot more algae growth occurred. 9 All cups on day 10. the last day of observation. but no drastic changes occurred except of that in Cup 3.

Too much nitrogen and phosphorous in water. World Resources Institute." Wheatley River Improvement Group. ones that received a nitrate and phosphate solution.Overall throughout the duration of the experiment Cup 6 displayed the most amount of growth while Cup 4 showed the least. Howard.wheatleyriver. 2014. <http://water. produced the least." Phosphorus and Water: The USGS Water Science School. Web. 2014. the cup that received 18 drops of nitrate a day produced a lot of algae. Through research and these observations. n. 04 Sept. An increase in nitrate can sometimes be followed by an increase in phosphate. 04 Sept. which in turn encourages algae bloom (6)." Eutrophication and Hypoxia. the hypothesis would have been altered to reflect this information. Recording only observations sufficed for this short-term experiment. the cups that produced the most algae were Cups 6 and 7.html> 2. which received 9 drops of nitrate per day. The faults of the hypothesis can be contributed to the fact that a mixture of nitrate and phosphate solutions together causes a perfect balance to grow more>.org/our-work/project/eutrophication-andhypoxia> 3. Still. Excess nutrients cause algal and bacterial growth.usgs. yes. to a certain extent. CITATIONS 1. the layer of algae prevents light from reaching the bottom of the body of water.d. The lab could have been improved by studying these samples for a longer time or having a more quantifying way to measure the algae. 17 Mar. 4 Sept. n. . USGS Water Science School. killing or reducing the life quality of plants below the surface (8). We believed that one of the solutions would cause growth while the other would inhibit it. <http://www. < the original hypothesis that the nitrate solution added to the pond water would produce algae and the phosphate solution would kill off the algae was supported. but having a way to physically record the growth of the algae in a numerical format would have been more beneficial to see the full extent of algae growth. So. especially drinking water. When this occurs at the surface of water. "Nitrates and Their Effect on Water Quality. 2014. "Phosphorus and Water. We found that in Cup 5. Had I or my lab mates known that. That is not true at all. Perlman. CONCLUSION This models human activity’s effect on fresh water environments. I learned exactly how this occurs.wri. "Eutrophication and Hypoxia. DISCUSSION To some extent.d. can result in nutrient overproduction which results in polluted water. Web. 2014. but the nitrate solution alone did not produce the most amounts of algae. Web. the phosphate solution did produce the least amount of algae. Both nitrate and phosphate result in a growth of algae. however Cup 4.

5 Feb. . "Water What-ifs. 2014. "Nitrate in Drinking Water.4. 2014." EPA. <http://www. 2000. 6 Sept." Science Junction. Web. 2014. and Abid Ali Ansari." The Problem. 04 Sept. 2014. Aug 29 2014." Pollutant Effects of Phosphates and Nitrates. < Course Handout.epa. Fareed A. 7. 8.epa. EPA.>. 03 Sept. <http://www2. Web. "Lab Aids."The Botanical Review 71. 16 Mar. 04 Sept..ncsu. Web. North Carolina State University. Web.cfm> 5. 6.4 (2005): 449-82. Khan. "Eutrophication: An Ecological Vision. 2014. "Nutrient>. 24 Feb.