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EC Substrate, EI Dosing, Water Parameters and My Tank

Discussion in 'Are you new to aquatic plants? Start here' started by Chunks, Nov 11, 2011.

  1. Chunks

    Chunks Prolific Poster

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    Warning Long Post: I guess my post could belong in a couple of threads, however because I'm new to Aquatic gardening I'll do the right thing and post it here. I have been reading through these forums and a few others trying to sort through what is good advice verses what is bad, not an easy job. It seems that this is where I have ended up due to the reasonable and logical explanations of Tom and other forum members that don't just talk the talk but walk the walk with their own "proof of concept" real life working examples.

    So below is what I have pieced together. Could you please help me with a few of the finer details, I'm nearly ready to strip down the tank and start again as a planted tank. I have sorted each thing in to a separate section with questions I need answers on, I understand that you may not have time to respond to every question but if you have an answer for a specific question please do not hesitate to clear it up.

    Tank Details
    - 52G/200L Tank
    - 4Ft (48x14x18")


    Tank Filtration
    3Ft Sump with 1400GPH Pump

    - Is this enough flow?


    Lighting
    2 x 54w T5HO with 10,000k & 18,000k tubes.

    - Is this adequate lighting for a 52G tank? (I worked it out to be 2w per gallon.)
    - Should I get 2 x 6500k tubes?


    CO2 Setup (I don't own a CO2 system yet)
    Here is my list of things I'm thinking of getting. The alternative to the glass diffuser is to inject the CO2 in to the return line that goes back into the tank. I could plumb something together. The CO2 has to travel up a fair bit of pipe work so it should dissolve along the way. Not sure if it would be better than being forced through a fine ceramic diffuser?

    • CO2 Regulator with Solenoid and Bubble Counter
    • 2.6Kg CO2 Bottle
    • 5cm Glass Diffuser
    • CO2 Drop Checker
    - What regulator do you recommend?
    - What diffusion method do you recommend for a tank of this size?
    - Before I go and spend $400+ on all this CO2 gear I would like your opinion on what would be best based on what you know about this tank.


    EC Substrate
    This is a recipe that I came up with, never tried it. It's a combination of a few ideas I have seen. Based around Aaron Talbots Mineralised Top Soil recipe except with earthworm castings (EC) instead of MTS because I don't have the time or the space to rinse, dry, rinse etc...

    • Earthworm Castings
    • Clay/Laterite
    • Osmocote
    • Peat
    • 2-3mm of sand to cap it off then 2-3" of fine gravel on top
    - Is this ok or overboard? Am I trying to supercharge it to much?
    - In what ratio/weights should I mix these components?
    - I can't afford the pre-made stuff so I need to go DIY, so your guidance is much appreciated on what I should do. I don't want a big stinking mess.


    EI Dosing Plan
    I found the following info on another forum (APC) I think.

    40-60 Gallon Aquariums
    +/- 1/2 tsp KN03 3x a week
    +/- 1/8 tsp KH2P04 3x a week
    +/- 1/8 (10ml) Trace Elements 3x a week
    50% weekly water change

    - Is Seachem Flourish ok for the trace elements? Is there a cheaper long term alternative?
    - Does the above EI dosing plan seem right for my 52G tank?
    - Is there a calculator that allows me to just put in my tank volume and the ppm I want to hit, then it will tell me how much I need to put in?


    Water Parameters
    I found the following water quality report of my tap water in the area I live in, it's included here because I thought it may influence the EI dosing? I can confirm that the pH is 7.8 after it has been sitting for 24 hours. I was told by a LFS that the water in the area is "hard soft water", not to sure how that works or if what he told me was accurate, perhaps the test results below may shed more light.
    • Manganese 0.001 mg/L
    • Aluminium 0.030 mg/L
    • Iron 0.013 mg/L
    • Zinc
     
  2. joryp

    joryp Junior Poster

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    Before answering some of your questions. I would say, just start your tank watch how it's doing and adjust. I will try to answer these questions with my own experience

    have been reading through these forums and a few others trying to sort through what is good advice verses what is bad, not an easy job. It seems that this is where I have ended up due to the reasonable and logical explanations of Tom and other forum members that don't just talk the talk but walk the walk with their own "proof of concept" real life working examples.

    Well, walk your walk get started and don't think too much about perfection, you will adjust it by a 100 times after starting your tank. There are more ways which lead to Rome.


    Tank Filtration
    - Is this enough flow? There are some good threads going on now. 1 will say too much 1 will say too little. You can't really say whether it's enough or too little. The quality of flow is much more important. Too much flow can stress your plants. Personally Im having a flow of roughly 600gph on a 90g tank and it's more than enough.


    Lighting
    - Is this adequate lighting for a 52G tank? (I worked it out to be 2w per gallon.) Will do fine IMO. But you might do 3/4 if dimmable which I would prefer. So you aren't limited to lighting.
    - Should I get 2 x 6500k tubes? I am having 6500k and this works the best for me.

    CO2 Setup
    - What regulator do you recommend? If you don't go for easthetics I would go for the cheapest reliable one which wont leak and spent money on other hardwarde.
    - Before I go and spend $400+ on all this CO2 gear I would like your opinion on what would be best based on what you know about this tank. IMO a drop checker is unreliable and wont sent money on it

    EI Dosing Plan
    - Is Seachem Flourish ok for the trace elements? Is there a cheaper long term alternative? CSM+B and some iron (Fe-edta, Fe-dtpa, gluconate ) depends of your dosing regime and tank kH.
    - Does the above EI dosing plan seem right for my 52G tank? Wet's calculator or the excelsheet in fertilizing board can tell you a lot.
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/7234-Wet-s-EI-modeling-dosing-calculator
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/7706-Stock-Solution-Design-Spreadsheet-..-StockSol.xls


    Lack of more time, anyways someone else should be able to answer these questions also.
     
    #2 joryp, Nov 12, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 12, 2011
  3. Chunks

    Chunks Prolific Poster

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    Great thank you for your response. I will order some 6500k tubes soon.

    Anybody got some thoughts on the EC substrate idea? This is the bit I'm stuck on and the part I need to get sorted first to move ahead with this project.
     
  4. DanielG99

    DanielG99 Junior Poster

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    Hi,

    If by EC you mean Eco-Complete you will be fine. I've had great results with this product.
     
  5. Cyclesafe

    Cyclesafe Guru Class Expert

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  6. pat w

    pat w Member

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    There's a small bug in the spreadsheet pertaining to two of the Iron sources. The 10% and the 13% are bringing up the wrong values. I've finally located the problem but I haven't had a chance to update the downloadable file.

    Pat
     
  7. fjf888

    fjf888 Guru Class Expert

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    Lighting....

    I use 2x54 on my 72G. You may or may not have too much light depending on your fixture, reflectors etc. My guess is you have high lighting to start with.

    Flow

    30x tank size. Again most likely, 30x tank, but the actual GPH will probably be lower depending on how far the water needs to be pumped up.

    Substrate

    The cost of Eco vs. aquasoil is not that different. If I had to do it over, I would have used aquasoil over eco. On a first tank I would use aquasoil and stay away from layering.

    Fertilizer

    http://www.aquariumfertilizer.com/

    Use Plantex CSM+B for traces. For the commercial fertilizers you are paying for water, period. With the amount you save on ferts you could easily afford better substrate.

    Water Parameters

    What you need to check is Ca and Mg, or your KH. If you KH is about 4 you are probably fine and don't need the GH booster If these are low then you need GH Booster.

    Plants

    No magic formula for plants including those you listed, if you add CO2, in adequate quantities with EI virtually anything will grow and grow well.

    CO2 is the most important item to get right. Study the threads here and ask questions.

    My two stage Victor regulators that I purchased used for
     
    #7 fjf888, Nov 16, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 16, 2011
  8. Left C

    Left C Lifetime Members
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  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    CO2 is the biggest issue for anyone to learn and deal with as far methods and tech stuff/routine etc.
    The rest is fairly easy and then the aesthetics and gardening.

    So.....spend the $ and time on CO2.........
     
  10. Chunks

    Chunks Prolific Poster

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    Well I finally bought my self a KH/GH API Liquid test kit and did a test on my tap water straight from the tap. The results are below.

    My Water Results
    2dKH
    3dGH
    7.8pH

    Now reading through the EI article my water seems to be at the low end for EI dosing, GH range 2-8 degrees, KH range 3-6 degrees. I'm trying to understand how this will affect my CO2 diffusion rates. I had a look at table showing the pH/KH/CO2 relationship and it indicates that based on the above results my rate is 0.9 mg/Litre of CO2 in my tank.

    From what I understand I need to aim for at least 30ppm of CO2, if I'm reading it right I'm not close. What do I need to to? I seem to remember reading somewhere (a few times) that Tom uses a bit of GH booster when he does a water change? If so do I need to do this? What level of KH/GH do I bring it up to? The trouble is that if I bring the level of GH up to 10 degrees with a pH of 7.8 according to the chart my CO2 still would only be 4.7.

    I have a CO2 drop checker, but I just haven't made the 4dKH solution yet so I can't use it. (I tried using it with 2dKH tank water and the colour changed very slightly from a deep blue to a more translucent lighter blue, at least I think so... it could just be me wanting to think it changed)

    So confused... help.
     
  11. Chunks

    Chunks Prolific Poster

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    So what do you think about my water KH and GH, will I need to add a booster?
     
  12. Left C

    Left C Lifetime Members
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    My KH and GH is close to yours. I don't ad anything for the KH. For GH, I add a teaspoon of GH Booster in my 40 breeder at waterchange. I add extra Epsom Salt for a bit more Mg too.

    You can probably get by with adding a couple of teaspoons of Epsom Salt and forgo the GH Booster if you wanted too. This would add around 5 ppm of Mg. You should have enough Ca, but you might not have enough Mg. GH Booster also adds K as you know.

    Do note that you need to use distilled water and baking soda to make your 4 dKH solution. Don't use use aquarium water.

    Also, GH has no bearing on pH or the CO2 level. It is the CO2 that works with KH to determine the pH. I think that you are a bit confused about this.

    If you want 30 ppm of CO2, just crank up the CO2.
     
  13. Chunks

    Chunks Prolific Poster

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    How do I factor in the extra K into my EI dosing routine that I would be getting when using a GH booster?
     
  14. Chunks

    Chunks Prolific Poster

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    Thanks for a great response, I have reread it so many times to get it to sink into my brain. Thanks again!
     
  15. Left C

    Left C Lifetime Members
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    The easiest thing to do is to not worry about how much K you are dosing. If you are dosing a GH Booster that has K in it and you are dosing KNO[SUB]3[/SUB], you are getting enough K. Dosing KNO[SUB]3[/SUB] in EI amounts gives you enough K by itself.

    Chances are, if you purchase one of the GH Boosters other than Seachem's Equilibrium, you won't know how much K you are getting anyway.

    Have you checked out wet's calculator? http://calc.petalphile.com/
     
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