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EI and measuring water parameters

Discussion in 'Advanced Strategies and Fertilization' started by FrankG, Aug 5, 2005.

  1. FrankG

    FrankG Junior Poster

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    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
     
  2. Greg Watson

    Greg Watson Administrator
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    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
     
  3. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: EI and measuring water parameters

     
  4. FrankG

    FrankG Junior Poster

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    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. ;)

    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

    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
     
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    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
     
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