RowaPhos vs GFO: Which One Should You Get?

While being almost similar, Rowaphos and GFO have a lot of differences. Some of those are prominent, while others aren’t. So, anyone can get confused while choosing between Rowaphos and GFO. 

RowaPhos vs. GFO?

While slightly different from GFO, RowaPhos is made from fresh materials. However, GFO comes with two grades; regular and high capacity.

Unlike a GFO, RowaPhos can remove phosphates even in low concentrations. Finally, RowaPhos is only accessible to Europe, and they are hard to get in North America. 

Anyway, this is nothing but just a short preview of the whole comparison. Read along if you want to know more in detail. 

With that out of the way, let’s head right in – 

RowaPhos vs. GFO: Key Differences 

Knowing key differences before jumping into an elaborate discussion can help you understand better. For instance, a preview of Mysis and Brine shrimps can help you understand the difference faster. 

To help you with that, we’ve made a small chart for you – 

Attributes RowaPhos GFO 
Price  High  Moderate
Availability  Europe only; hard to get in the US High availability everywhere. 
Particles  Smaller  Bigger 
Grades No grades Regular and High Capacity
Capacity  Generally High Regular and High
Phosphate Release  Never  Yes if exhausted 

So, which one do you think has more advantages? 

RowaPhos vs. GFO: Detailed Comparison 

Now that we have a quick preview of both of them, we can head to a detailed comparison. 

Price and Availability

RowaPhos is mainly produced in Germany. Thus European countries have better access. Initially, it was developed for cleansing water supplies throughout the country. 

Although it doesn’t mean you can’t get them in the United States or anywhere else. Most of the time, aquarium owners need to buy these in bulk. 

However, you can import it using shipping services. But that might cost a lot, depending on where you live. 

On top of that, the average price of RowaPhos (500ml) is around $50. On the contrary, an average GFO should cost you around 30$ for a similar amount.

So, if you’re living outside of Europe, GFO might be the one you should stick to. They are easy to get and cheaper than RowaPhos. 

Structure and Size of the Particles 

Before everything else, we should know the structural difference. RowaPhos and GFO might be almost similar, but not entirely. 

The full form of GFO is Granular Ferric Oxide. It is red-brownish, and as the name says, it does come granulated. On the contrary, RowaPhos is made of Ferric Hydroxide. 

In science, particle size does matter when it comes to aqueous reactions. In short, if the surface area is bigger, it has more space to react.

As a result, larger particles cause rapid reactions.  And vice versa!

Between the two, Rowaphos has a smaller particle size than GFO. Therefore, it is safer for your aquarium since it will not remove phosphate super fast. 

A sudden change in phosphate level can stress your coral growth. However, it can be good for certain situations (i.e., too much phosphate in your system). 

On the other hand, GFO is super effective but with consequences. You may have to check on phosphate levels every once in a while. 

That’s why we suggest having a phosphate testing kit for your system. It will help you calculate and take proper steps in different situations. 

Phosphate Removal Capacity 

We’ve already mentioned the particles and how they affect phosphate removal. But sometimes, even regular capacity might not be enough for your system. 

On the contrary, High Capacity GFO can remove phosphates with 2x more efficiency. So, there’s a fair chance it’ll endanger your corals and other fishes. 

A rapid removal of phosphate may reduce your phosphate level to zero. This is something you would like to avoid. Like algae, corals also need phosphates. 

So, the capacity you require depends on your phosphate level directly. One such instance is excess phosphates in your aquarium (5-10ppm).

In these cases, regular phosphate remover might not work best. 

You’ve noticed that RowaPhos doesn’t have any higher-grade options. Therefore, its performance could potentially be bad in higher densities. 

As we’ve already mentioned, RowaPhos has a slightly different structure. Unlike other GFO brands, it’s man-made and claimed to be unique by the makers.

RowaPhos is made for aquarium purposes only. Its removal capacity is greater than regular GFO. 

But remember that Higher Capacity GFO products are better phosphate removers than regular GFOs and RowaPhos. 

Release of Phosphates When Exhausted 

While RowaPhos may be a little pricey, they come with a nice bonus. They do not release the absorbed phosphates back into the water. 

Even if the best phosphate remover reaches its absorbing limit, it causes exhaustion. When it happens, GFO products may/can release phosphates back into the water. 

High Capacity GFOs may not get exhausted easily, but normal ones do. So, keep an eye on if you’re using a regular GFO. 

On the other hand, you don’t have to worry about this if you’re using RowaPhos. It comes with an increased price, but it’s a nice luxury. 

Final Verdict: RowaPhos Or GFO

So, have you decided which one you’re getting? If you’re still struggling to choose between them, we can help you. 

If you ask us, we are going to pick GFO. They are cheap and have two different grades. The only downside for GFOs is that you must check the phosphate level frequently. 

If you think that will be inconvenient, you should go for RowaPhos. It does make your life easier while being slightly pricey. 


Question: Can you overdose RowaPhos? 

Answer: Overdosing RowaPhos can hurt your overall alkalinity. If your system doesn’t have enough magnesium, this will cause an imbalance. 

As a result, fish and corals will have a high chance of dying.

Always be sure to test the phosphate level before dosing. If the level is under 0.03 ppm, overdosing will harm your corals. 

Question: Should you rinse RowaPhos? 

Answer: It is advised not to rinse RowaPhos before using. Although, in some cases, high usage of RowaPhos may turn your water brownish.

It only happens when some parts of the material get overused more than others. 

Question: Does high phosphate cause Algae? 

Answer: Too many algae or zooxanthellae can be caused by high phosphate levels.

Also, it can cause algae blooms which produce algal toxins that harm fish and corals. 


This is everything we could gather and explain on RowaPhos vs. GFO. We do hope you have found the information you were looking for!