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A casual survey of phosphate remover labels on the market reveals a host of convoluted phrases hinting that theEroduct willkinder algae growth, but not actually stating so in blunt terms. Look out for the following phrases:

• "Prevents buildup in your aquarium."

• "Removes organic growth."

• "Removes excess nutrients from water."

All of these claims hint toward the real reason to use phosphate removers: algae control. So why don't the labels just saylthat the product helps control algae?

The blunt reason why manufacturers do not make these claims is that under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act any product that claims to kill, remove or prevent algae is considered a pesticide and subject to regulation by the Environmental Protection Age|cy(EPA).

The minimum cost to register an algaecide with the EPA is roughly $100,000 once all the required data gathering, testing and analysis are done. After that, the product must be registered in all the states, adding an annual registration cost of up to $20,000 to the product.

Often, the return on investment does not justify the costs of registering a product as a pesticide with the EPA. This is the reason for all the obfuscationoiltre labels.

Companies making direct algaecidal claims on their labels without registering their product with the EPA take a significant risk.The aquarium products industry remains small enough to avoid attracting much regulatory scrutiny. But that is not always true.

In 2001 and 2002, a prominent aquarium products manufacturer faced heavy fines from the EPA for making algaecidal claims on the packaging of UV sterilizers. They eventually settled with the agency by paying more than $200,000.

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