A couple questions about Tom's Non CO2 tank method

Harry Muscle

Junior Poster
Mar 17, 2007
I setup a 55G tank (my first tank after many years of not having one) just a few days ago. I'm trying to stick to Tom's Non CO2 methods fairly closely since he outlines them very nicely in his article (in the Articles section of this forum). However, I do have a few questions since I'm new to the whole planted tank thing.

In the article (http://www.barrreport.com/articles/433-non-co2-methods.html), Tom outlines suggested dosing when the tank is more or less stocked. Currently I only have a Betta and 3 SAE in there. I'm waiting for the tank to cycle so let's say for the next 4 weeks or so I won't have any other fish in there ... should I be dosing more than what's recommended in the article for those 4 weeks? Is there something I can test for to see if I'm dosing enough for the time being (don't get me wrong ... I don't want to be testing for ever ... just the initial period before my tank fits in ideally with Tom's article). For example, if I test for Nitrate and it's not detectable, should I add more? If I add more Nitrate should I also add the corresponding ratio of the other nutrients mentioned? Hope my question makes sense.

The other question I have is regarding Excel. I have a bottle of Excel (250mL ... according to the instructions would last about 2 months), is there any advantage to me using it for the first few months? If so, how much should I increase the dosing (keeping in mind that for the first little while I will have fairly low fish stocking levels). Is there anything else I should do differently if using Excel for the first two months?



Guru Class Expert
Jun 8, 2007
I will be interested in answers to these questions too, since I have two non-co2 tanks and one 'el natural' tank.

But just one thing I thought of...if plants have ammonium available, I don't think they need nitrate or will necessarily even use it. If your tank isn't cycled, chances are you won't have much nitrate in there, but you will of necessity have ammonia if you have fish (although with a low fish load it's hard to say how much). But I don't see any harm in adding some nitrate anyway if you're worried or if the plants don't look too good.


Lifetime Charter Member
Lifetime Member
Jan 24, 2005
Sacramento, CA
Harry, it is the loading of plants that determines how much fertilizer is needed. The fish and their left over food provide some fertilizer too, and if the light intensity is low enough that the plants only grow slowly, the fish may provide all that you need. Excel is for carbon, which the fish provide little useful amount of. So, it should be dosed, if you use it, depending on the plant load, or just follow the bottle directions. The bottle says you can dose either daily or every other day, so you would probably just dose every other day. As I recall, Excel is only good for a couple of days in the water, so weekly dosing might not be a good idea.