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CO2, BBA, and Excell NEED HELP!

Discussion in 'Are you new to aquatic plants? Start here' started by Tex Gal, Nov 15, 2007.

  1. Tex Gal

    Tex Gal Junior Poster

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    lol :D It IS a big piece of wood. It's 18"x12"X14". It has all sorts of spike coming out the sides, front and back. There is a rounded place in the middle where I can put some substrate and grow something that you normally wouldn't see on manzinita. Since my tank is 125g I think it will look great. I already have a really leggy piece in there that looks kinda like all branches.

    Thanks for the car analogy. Makes a lot of sense to me. I just got some timers today to hook my CO2 up to. I have been manually making sure the CO2 levels are where they should be before the lights come on. I have the light coming on well after I get up so that I can keep them on for the best 10 hours of my day. I used to have them on 14 hours when my tank was low tech (no algae either). Now I have cut back to 10 and I miss seeing the bright shining tank. :(

    I have been dosing EI and I decided to check my Nitrates today. I had 5ppm! I guess the plants have geared up! I was amazed!. I have been dosing the 1.5 tsp 3 times a week as recommended. Just the last few times I went up to 2 tsp. So after I tested I added 3 tsps!. After about 4 hours I retested and it had risen to 10 ppm. I will see what it is tomorrow. Boy my plants are really taking it in. I was reading today on APC about someone having a hard time keep the nitrates up, he had such tremendous plant growth. Pretty incredible once things begin to take off. I added a little extra Fe too.

    I should get some new plecos in a few days! I ordered (from thatpetplace.com) a leopard frog L-134 and gold nugget L-018. S0 much cheaper than the LFS, even with overnight shipping! I have five other already. I make sure to feed them cukes, zuchini and algae and shrimp tabs. Love those guys. They are all the small variety's (6"-8" max)
     
  2. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Hi,
    Yes, timers take the drudgery out of CO2 ON/OFF application, that's for sure. It even allows you to sleep until late without worry.:)

    I guess it's a good time to point out that hobby grade test kits are mostly rubbish and that you really ought not to put any faith in them unless someone hands you a super-duper intergalactic test kit used at NASA or invented by Will Robinson himself.

    That kit of yours could easily have reported to you that you have 60 ppm. Then you would have said "Holy Cow, I better stop dosing!" Then you'd really be in trouble.

    One of the tenets of EI is that someone has already figured out the maximum possible nutrient uptake rates under optimal, max lighting, max CO2 (non-limiting conditions). These values were translated into the EI dosing numbers that you are currently using. Dosing extra is not a big deal, and in big tanks where distribution is always a problem it helps to dose a bit extra, especially as the plant mass increases due to growth.

    What I'm getting at is that we know absolutely that we dose X ppm per week and the plants can only uptake a Y ppm per week under the best conditions. So, as long as X is greater than Y we don't really need to test.

    If you start trusting the kit readings instead of trusting the simple physics of your dosing then you will set yourself up for problems later on.

    My advice is to adhere to the discipline of your dosing regimen and let the plants themselves validate that regimen by their growth rate, color and general health. Those NO3/PO4 kits will merrily lead you down the primrose path so avoid getting mesmerized by the pretty colors in the test tubes. They are mostly just illusions and they tell the truth just often enough to ensnare you further.:rolleyes:

    Cheers,
     
  3. Tex Gal

    Tex Gal Junior Poster

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    .... just when I was beginning to feel a little security with what I was doing!!! :eek: The EI dosages are a starting point, I understand. Tom was telling someone the other day that he doses 2xs the phosphates (I think that was what he said). He was saying how he didn't make the charts, etc..... Surely the test kits have some value or everyone wouldn't be using them. The PPS system relies on them! A nitrate reading of 5 can't be close to 20 ppm so I would think it's safe to add more.

    I don't want to wait 'till I see my plants are suffering. I have 3 wpg 6700K, and yes... I know that doesn't mean everything but it's the best measurement I have. I am not seeing much growth on my bolbitus. (I know it's a slow grower, but how slow?...) My rotala magenta v narrowleaf is barely hanging on. I wonder if it's my light. I've been watching these tanks with the beautiful rotala and they all seem to have 4+ wpg. I do have other things growing like crazy, though.

    Tom says so much is CO2. Got that hopefully nailed down. Drop checker is at lime green. Need to tweak my ferts. Don't know how to do that without relying on the test kits. I'm sure NASA won't hire me :p , so... I'm left with the play test kits. This is surely a trial and error hobby. The good news is that the plants are very forgiving for the most part and have a wide range in which they grow. I met a girl in an plant club who's philosophy was "If I can't grow it I just choose a different plant". That, I can do. I'm reaching for the rainbow and trying to get the ones I haven't been able to do low tech. :rolleyes:
     
  4. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Fertilizing is a crude science. It isn't rocket science - more like donkey science. So, knowing that you have 10 ppm of nitrate in the water and not 30 ppm is not valuable knowledge. That is why the Estimative Index method for dosing works so well. It makes sure you have enough of all of the nutrients the plants need, and makes sure you don't overdo it too much by doing weekly 50% water changes to get rid of any excess of any nutrient. No testing needed.

    Don't assume that the products you see in a LFS are all worth the money and time to use them. Test kits are a good example. They are unnecessary, but on some occasions they can be useful. On those occasions you always need to calibrate the test kits or the results won't mean much. Nitrate, Phosphate, Iron, etc. tests are notorious for being extremely inaccurate. I have pH, KH and GH test kits only, and I find that the pH kit can lose its accuracy over time, the GH kit does the same only more so, and the KH kit seems to at least be consistent. Those are the "accurate" tests.
     
  5. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Hi,
    It's exactly as hoppy says. Reaching for a test kit when you are in doubt is false security. It's actually very simple to make the dosage adjustments without test kits - you simply increase the dosages by percentages or multiples. As you stated before, you increased the nitrates by 50%. It's easy to increase everything by 50%, or by 100% and wait three weeks to see the results. The test kits will not tell you anything because they are simply placebos. As I said, sometimes they tell you the truth, but not consistently enough to suit me. The amount of energy required to ensure that they are telling the truth at any given time (calibration with stock solutions) is not worth the effort for me. And yes, many people do buy and use worthless things ALL the time (like pet rocks, remember?). The following kits have been purged from my inventory for years now - PO4, NO3, Fe, NH4, NO2. I have experienced much, much less algae now than when they were being used. The reality is simple, at 3WPG twice the suggested EI dosage is more than enough, regardless of test kit readings. As Tom Barr says, the only thing left is CO2 distribution, regardless of what your drop checker says.

    Again, don't be so quick to assume that by having a green indication on the drop checker, that your CO2 is automatically OK. Depending on the flow patterns in the tank it could be that certain areas of the tank do not receive their fair share of CO2. This is especially true in large tanks. Distribution can be an issue. The real (practical) limit to CO2 application is the fish. If you were to take all the critters out and blast the heck out of that tank with CO2 you would be amazed at the amount of pearling, growth and disappearance of algae. You wouldn't need to add 1 single watt of additional light.:cool:

    I think we discussed before that increasing the lighting increases the demand for everything else, especially for CO2. Also each plant has it's own demand for nutrients so it's not an equal scenario across the tank. Therefore, if your Rotala is just hanging on at 3WPG, it's almost a certainty that it's hanging on for more CO2, not for more light.:rolleyes:

    Cheers,
     
  6. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Well, if you try coming from the leaner side, you end up with hurting the plants.
    If you come from the non limiting side(eg EI dosing), then reduce things down till you see a negative response as suggested above, then bump back up to the next highest rate, then you have healthier plants.

    Also, combining sediment ferts with any water column dosing routine really can have dramatic improvements.

    Test kits are slippery slope and few folks get into this hobby to test water.
    Folks will often get into testing water for about 1-2 years or so, then get over that affliction and mellow out and realize that watching plants, good consistent care, water changes, cleaning filters, prune etc make a lot more difference in the end result.

    I still test a great deal, just not for my tanks unless I have a more hypothetical question.

    This tank for example has never been tested and dosed based on a test kit reading:

    resized350102006.jpg

    How?

    Weekly 50-60% water changes, standard EI dosing, good CO2 and tweaking, routine pruning, no losses of fish(there's about 900-1000 or so in this tank) etc.

    Amano likely does the same types of things and really ever suggest testing much if at all. The care he typically suggest is actually very similar to what I suggest, just leaner to the water column, but the ADA aqua soil makes up for that.
    The other part, both Amano and I came to some similar conclusions quite independently.

    As said also, you can vary the dosing via % easily, no test kit needed either.
    You do not need ppms, you need to know how much to dose for that tank at the point and time(which can change!).

    So you can later the dose without a test kit also.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  7. Tex Gal

    Tex Gal Junior Poster

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    Tom gorgeous tank - is that lace rock?

    Thanks you guys. I have been upping my dosages. Things are looking good. BBA pretty much a thing of the past. Being patient to see what happens to my red plants. I am faithful with my water changes. SO GRATEFUL to the guys that posted about refilling directly into the tank with a hose and prime. It's so much easier & also keeps me from messing up my plants. The 5 gallon buckets it takes to do a 50-60% water change for a 125g really gave me a workout!!!

    Funny that you all should mention water circulation. Hoppy asked me a long time ago if I had enough. I thought so as I have 2 rena XP3 which according to stats give me 700 gph - a turnover tank rate of 5.6 X per hour. I see plant movement from one side of my tank to the other. BUT some people out there have twice that much in their tanks. Then both of you spoke of dead areas and such. Is there a rule of thumb out there about turnover circulation? Do I need more?:confused: I could get a powerhead if I need to.

    I am going to be changing to an ADA aquasoil substrate. (If I don't use the power sand should I put a thin layer of peat down?) I really think that my pea gravel is way too big. I'll never get a foreground with it. The fine rooted plants can't stay rooted. I'm a little more than nervous about it :( , seeing as most of my plants are growing beautifully, (except the rotala magenta narrow leaf), expected nitrogen spikes with new aquasoil, etc. I have no where to keep all my fish while my tank cycles. I have great fish and some expensive plecos. I have crypts that hate to be moved, apons, vals, etc. But eventually I will have to make the switch as I really want to do an aquascape.

    I have decided to set up a small shrimp tank with aqua soil first so that I can see how it goes and learn what to do on a small scale. Then I'll change over my 125g. I have plenty of mulm as my tank is a well established tank.
    Any substrate change over hints? (I know about fast growing stem plants.:) )

    Tank px today. Soon I will have enough plant mass to be able to thin out to only special ones and do an aqua scape.
    2101870977_6317a7a5dd_b.jpg
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    The dwarf green Green gecko Crypt would be ideal for you.

    Adding lots of that in the front, sloping the gravel back away from the front to create a sense of depth etc.

    BBA takes some time to to die off once conditions have improved.
    Some algae respond fast, some do not.
    Still, 3 weeks is long enough for most issues.

    While some carry on about the "need" for testing, other than perhaps GH/KH and pH for CO2 and what's in the tap(you can call and ask also), few can pinpoint a single deficiency based on anything they have learned from a test kit.
    To do so critically requires a good experimental set up, not guessing in what you believing in. Yet they claim to be able to after they started "using test kits to get a handle on things"

    Un huh............

    I have a tough time when I specifically try to induce a deficiency in a specific plant species. I know a few, but I have a lot more experience than a couple of years with a test kit and I know how to set up a good design and control.
    I also go back and forth several times to be sure it was not just a fluke, which often things can very well be........your mind can play tricks on you.

    I used a different approach about 8-10 years ago. Use algae to determine plant tank health.

    They are pretty good at explaining bad conditions and are fairly specific.
    No one else has done this in the hobby to date though.

    Bioindicators............some claim you cannot use them, that you need test kits........you can use them very well if you test for them specifically.

    Just like test kits.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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