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Adjusting EI to low light tanks

Discussion in 'Estimative Index' started by wgoldfarb, Jul 18, 2015.

  1. wgoldfarb

    wgoldfarb Junior Poster

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    I have a lightly planted, moderately stocked aquarium which has been set up for about 6 months. I had kept aquariums in the past, but this is my first time with a planted aquarium. It's a 29 gallon with an EHEIM 2213 for filtration and a Marineland hidden LED light, which I know is considered low light (25 par and 1121 Lux at 12" depth). Ever since I set up the tank the plants have appeared healthy with no obvious signs of any deficiency. The problem is that they simply don't grow much. I have an Amazon sword, crypts, red temple, jungle val, anacharis, water wisteria, and some Java fern. They all look fine, they simply aren't growing. At first I simply thought it was due to the low lighting, but some weeks ago I decided to try adding some root tabs, Seachem Flourish and small amounts of Excel. Shortly after that the Sword, temple, anacharis and wisteria started to show some growth. This led me to believe that growth is being limited by nutrients, and not by light as I originally thought. I started doing some research and learned about EI dosing, which I immediately liked and decided to try. If my growth is indeed being limited by nutrients, EI should help. If it doesn't, well, I will know that nutrients aren't the problem, and I will just live with limited growth until i replace the light. I want to try it for 2-3 weeks and see if it results in any additional growth. I am not interested in rapid growth, just in SOME growth, so if this works at all I will be very happy.


    Since my plants aren't showing any signs of deficiency, the tank is only lightly planted and stocked, and since I have low light I decided to start with leaner dosing than the recommended levels for a 20 gallon with high light. I also don't have a CO2 dosing system so I decided to use Excel. I know Excel isn't as effective as real CO2, but I figured it is better than no CO2. However, I do have some anacharis and I know it doesn't react well to Excel, which is another reason I decided to start with leaner dosing. After some reading I came up with the following weekly dosing schedule (I use tap water for my water changes):


    Day 1: 50% water change, 5 ml Excel, 1/16 tsp Seachem Equilibrium


    Day 2: 1/8 tsp KNO3, 1/16 tsp KH2PO4, 1 ml Excel


    Day 3: 1 ml Excel, 2 ml Flourish


    Day 4: 1 ml Excel


    Day 5: 1 ml Excel


    Day 6: 1 ml Excel


    Day 7: nothing


    I know the amount of KNO3 is higher than what I would get if I just adjusted proportionately, but I read that underdosing KNO3 is a common cause of problems. I am also considering dosing 2ml Excel every other day instead of 1 ml every day, as I think it might be more tolerable for my anacharis, but I know daily dosing is better, correct? Since I am only dosing 1 ml in 29G, the anacharis should be ok. Or is 1ml excel every day too little to be effective?


    Any feedback? Are there any obvious problems with this schedule? Am I doing anything that could lead to trouble or that is incorrect? Any guidance would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. wgoldfarb

    wgoldfarb Junior Poster

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    Here is a pic of my tank, to give you an idea of what I mean by "lightly planted". There are some crypts on both front corners, a red temple in the center, an Amazon Sword at the back right, a vallisneria at the back left, some wisteria on the back wall right next to a "hedge" of java fern (which looks like it's planted in the substrate but it's not -- it's attached to a strip of lead and placed on top of the substrate). You can also see the single strand of anacharis floating against the glass at the top right.


    Sorry for the crappy quality, the room is brightly lit, so getting a good image is hard. I just wanted to show what I meant by "lightly planted". Stocking for now is 4 otocinclus vittatus, 13 green neon tetras, and 9 red phantom tetras.


    Edit: You can also see the substrate is suffering from some discoloration (natural color is what you can see under the crypt on the left side). I am not sure if these are diatoms, or some type of algae growth. It only happens on the substrate, everything else is clean.




    View attachment 9300

    20150718_155934.jpg
     
    #2 wgoldfarb, Jul 18, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 18, 2015
  3. Christophe

    Christophe Subscriber
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    Seems like a sound plan, keep us posted on how things progress.
     
  4. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    Iron and traces might help.
     
  5. wgoldfarb

    wgoldfarb Junior Poster

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    Thanks Christophe and Pikez for the feedback. I'll certainly keep everyone updated on my progress.


    Pikez, wouldn't the combination of Seachem Flourish and Seachem Equilibrium that I'm using provide both iron and trace elements?
     
  6. Christophe

    Christophe Subscriber
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    Flourish is an iron/trace supplement. Equilibrium boosts calcium, magnesium if your water is too soft - you get some potassium out of it too. You might not need the equilibrium if your tap water isn't super soft.
     
  7. PhilipS

    PhilipS Lifetime Members
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    Looks like a good start. Greens look green, and the reds don't look faded.


    All aquariums have algae. Some are algae farms.


    Not every plant will thrive in every tank. Maybe re-arrange the plants so the taller ones are in the back.


    Clean the glass inside and out. Then take the picture at night with only the tank light on for best pics.
     
  8. wgoldfarb

    wgoldfarb Junior Poster

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    Thanks again for the feedback and help.


    I actually have essentially no algae. I have very very small amounts of green algae growing on the very top leaves of the red temple, but those leaves are very close to the light, so it doesn't surprise me. The only tall plant I have "not in the back" is the temple. I did that because I believe it has the highest light requirement of all, so I placed it closer to the light source. The plants behind it are Java Ferns, which have lower light requirements, so they should be ok behind the temple. But you have a point, and it might be time to trim the temple down :)


    I will try a better pic one of these nights. I have already started with the dosing plan above, except I decided to dose 2 ml of Excel every other day instead of 1 ml every day. I figured it would be better for the Anacharis to have a full excel-free day in between each dosing. I will keep you posted!
     
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