In order to improve the efficiency of the determination of total phosphorus (TP) in the mariculture tailwater, we determined the TP content by microplate reader instead of spectrophotometer in mariculture tailwater, and optimized the digestion method of TP, the type of microwell plate and the amount of sample. The results show that there was no significant difference between 60 min of digestion using a temperature-controlled heating plate and 30 min of digestion using an autoclave (P
>0.05). The sensitivity of the assay was better than those of the other experimental groups (200 µL for 96-well plate, 200 µL for 96-well quartz plate, 200 and 500 µL for 48-well plate, 500 µL and 1 mL for 24-well plate) when using a 48-well plate with 1 mL of sample. The linear correlation between phosphate concentration and absorbance was the best (R2
=0.999 9) for the 48-well plate with 1 mL and the 96-well plate spiked with 200 µL. The accuracy and precision validation of TP determination in mariculture tailwater showed that the relative error (RE) and relative standard deviation (RSD) of the 48-well plate spiked with 1 mL were higher than those of the other experimental groups (96-well plate 200 µL, 96-well quartz plate 200 µL, 48-well plate 200 µL and 500 µL, 24-well plate 500 µL and 1 mL). The recoveries of disodium glycerophosphate (β-GLP) and sodium hexametaphosphate (SHMP) were 98.2%−99.6% and 93.4%−97.1%, respectively, and the limit of quantification (LOQ) of TP were 0.25 µmol·L−1
; the RE and RSD of 96-well ELISA plate spiked with 200 µL were −14.03%−0.21% and 2.63%−14.23%, respectively, and the recoveries for β-GLP and SHM were 94.7%−99.0% and 88.9%−97.3%, respectively, and the LOQ of TP was 0.55 µmol·L−1
. At TP concentration of 0.55−6.4 µmol·L−1
, the accuracy and precision of the two optimized methods meet the determination requirements and can be used for the determination of TP in mariculture tailwater.