EI and measuring water parameters

FrankG

Junior Poster
Mar 17, 2005
16
0
1
Hi,

When I read some some discussions on APC about EI and "their" fertilization method, it seems the most frequently perceived disadvantage of EI is that you are not measuring (I know it is actually an advantage not paying all the money for test kits) and with that frequent and large water changes. People feel they have no control.

I want to make a suggestion. Obviously, the only "danger" I see is overdosing, dosing significantly more than the plants need. I know it does not hurt, but that is essentially the reason for the water changes, correct? Well, the question is how do you know that you are overdosing (unless you have tons of experience like Tom)? In my opinion, the easiest way to figure it out is to measure the TDS. If that climbs quickly during water changes, you are either feeding or dosing too much. In both cases, your nitrates and phosphates are probably going up, so you can reduce either feeding or dosing. A simple TDS meter for 20-30$ on Ebay is enough, and you can use it many other ways, e.g. to check the membrane of your drinking water RO system. Most softwater fishkeepers have it anyway.

Am I completely off here or does that make sense? At least, I have been doing it that way for quite a while, and I am able to stretch my water changes to 4 to 6 weeks. Any problems with that?

Regards,
Frank
 

Greg Watson

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Jan 23, 2005
5,023
3
38
United States
Re: EI and measuring water parameters

Hopefully others will jump in here with a more technical answer, but I am going to pose sort of a question ...

I suspect that the nutrients that we dose in an aquarium contribute a relatively small pecentage of the total disolved solids in an aquarium ... thus my gut instinct is that there are probably a lot of other factors that will cause a fluctuation in TDS ...

However, I could be totally wrong ...

Greg
 

Tom Barr

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
Jan 23, 2005
18,696
745
113
Re: EI and measuring water parameters

FrankG said:
Hi,

When I read some some discussions on APC about EI and "their" fertilization method, it seems the most frequently perceived disadvantage of EI is that you are not measuring (I know it is actually an advantage not paying all the money for test kits) and with that frequent and large water changes. People feel they have no control.
Funny, EI seemed to solve so many algae and plant growth related issues.
I think it might seem too simple for some folks.

Targeting "a range" is the best a test kit can hope to do anyway, the cheaper junky test kits have more variability in their measured range than EI,
+ depending on how you want to approach EI, how many test kits are accurate to 1-2ppm of NO3?

I want to make a suggestion. Obviously, the only "danger" I see is overdosing,

An obvious question and one I've addressed for most all the nutrients.
What is overdosing?
Really?

Anything beyond a precieved need by the plants.
Every method needs to do this to some degree.

So what is the real danger?
I do not know for PO4, K, NO3, Traces, GH etc unless extremely high, I'm talking over 5-10ppm of PO4, 75-100ppm NO3, over 100ppm K+, over 2-4ppm if trace iron mixes, GH's of 25.

I mean heck, how much leeway does one need for danger of over dosing here?

I find it extremelty iropnic that many that worry so much of this preception of a lack control, generally fail consistently to address the much more significant and major component, the CO2.

Whether you focus on EI or test + EI, or do PMDD or PMDD + Testing more and add PO4(PPS), you are still left with fairly large issues with cO2.

If that is not accounted for, and it's about 95% of all algae related and plant related problems in this hobby, I have a rough time accepting so much is the nutrient program. This is leanred through a great deal of experience with helping people.

CO2, CO2 and CO2.

Why so so anal about measurements of say PO4, then mess up CO2?

dosing significantly more than the plants need. I know it does not hurt, but that is essentially the reason for the water changes, correct?

Nope.
You can simply dose less.
You can dose a little less each week till you see a negative response from the plants ansd then back up to the previous week's or whatever time frame's dosing amount.

This will individualize your tank's need to add "just enough".
But why add just enough and walk the tight rope?
It might be "fun" etc, but it's hardly needed, the testing can only measure some parameters and depends on what test kits you have available, how good those kits are, if they have been claibrated, if you want to spend the $ for them, it's simpler to reset the tank for many folks and easier.

Anyway, you can remove tannins, organic fractions, mulm and other junk in the tank.

Also, there is no reason you have to do EI so dang cotton picking rigidly.
I go 2-4 weeks without water changes and dose EI.

Some folks go as long as they can till they see a negative plant health issue then they do a water change and reset of the nutrients.

I've never said anyone had to do weekly water changes, it's just an example and a good starting place for some.

The more you care and reset things , the better the tank will look, does not matter what method.

These human factors are seldom acknowledged in our plant hobby, instead way too focus on nutrient dosing.

I try to address people's habits.
That will help them achieve their goals and maintnain a nice tank over time.
Which means a more successful, tank and hobby.

Well, the question is how do you know that you are overdosing (unless you have tons of experience like Tom)? In my opinion, the easiest way to figure it out is to measure the TDS.

That can be done if you chose, not a bad suggestion.
But.......it is very general, it does not tell you what yopu are dosing, but I'd argue it does not matetr too much, but at what point would you suggest to require/desire a water change?

I've had exteremely hard water and I've had RO like water.
I think this could be done by basing it by how much above the abiment tap water that you use. "How much does it newed to climb before taking action?"

Say 100ppm? 200ppm?

This should work fairly well I'd figure.
I'm not sure how much or what range would be needed.

I don't use TDS meters often in the hobby and haven't when addressing this issue.

I think I was more concerned about individual nutrient issues and build up, rather than looking for a general parameter like TDS, but I do not see anything wrong with using it as your indicator for a build up of nutrients and some predetermined level for water change need.

Good idea.

If that climbs quickly during water changes, you are either feeding or dosing too much. In both cases, your nitrates and phosphates are probably going up, so you can reduce either feeding or dosing. A simple TDS meter for 20-30$ on Ebay is enough, and you can use it many other ways, e.g. to check the membrane of your drinking water RO system. Most softwater fishkeepers have it anyway.

Am I completely off here or does that make sense? At least, I have been doing it that way for quite a while, and I am able to stretch my water changes to 4 to 6 weeks. Any problems with that?

Regards,
Frank

No Frank, you are spot on.
I think some concensus should be reached and folks may want to try it and see how plant health is effected relative to the build up.

This might take a little while to adapt the range for SAM's, but it's done with hydroponics.

Be careful to keep the CO2 up obviously when ever you test something and keep in mind what other things might make a significant difference. Always doubt, till most of the doubt is removed and what you are left with seems reasonable.

I'll bring it up over on APC also.


Regards,
Tom Barr
 

FrankG

Junior Poster
Mar 17, 2005
16
0
1
Re: EI and measuring water parameters

Thanks, Tom. That is the confirmation I was looking for. The extra 5 seconds of testing TDS are well worth it.

And I am glad I could provide you with an opportunity to ramble about the control freaks. ;)

So what is the real danger?
I think the only real danger with EI is human stupidity, e.g. playing with the potassium nitrate bag above the tank and letting it drop into it :D

I think this could be done by basing it by how much above the abiment tap water that you use. "How much does it newed to climb before taking action?"

Say 100ppm? 200ppm?

This should work fairly well I'd figure.
I'm not sure how much or what range would be needed.
My method works as follows:

After a water change and dosing I measure the TDS. At this point I know I have a tank with good nutrients, so that is my reference point. Assuming that other factors (like GH, KH etc) do not change (I know KH and GH may get reduced slowly), I try to keep the TDS fairly constant. An increase of 50 ppm over 3 to 4 weeks is acceptable. The increase is mostly caused by KNO3 and fish food (unless there is something leaking from the substrate). The impact of KH2PO4 is small.
As far as nutrients are concerned, I keep TE and CO2 constant no matter what, while I adjust KNO3 and PO4 dosing keeping the ratio between the two. Initially I did a couple of checks, and it seems to work pretty well.

Regards,
Frank
 

Tom Barr

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
Jan 23, 2005
18,696
745
113
Re: EI and measuring water parameters

Being a control freak for a few weeks is fine, but all the time? Well, you need to get out more is all I can say about that one.

Doign intense control for a purpose driven test, eg careful measurement of NO3 to see what types of NO3 uptake rates plant tanks in general use is not a bad idea.............

But testing all the time as a method?
That's extra work.

But simply adding a little TDS to see about when and how long between WC's is a great idea.

It adds a measure of control that's simple and easy to use and not a big inconveinence to avoid a few water changes.

That's a good thing.

The method sounds fine, K+, PO4 and NO3, GH you might want to include dosing that, eg SeaChem EQ.

After a few weeks, the Ca/Mg will be used up.
So you'll need to add that.
1/2 teaspoon to a 1/4 teaspoon per week per 50 gal should do.

Regards,
Tom Barr