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Estimative Index Question

Discussion in 'Aquatic Plant Fertilization' started by John Smith, Dec 10, 2020.

  1. John Smith

    John Smith New Member

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    Ok I joined this forum hoping that someone can help me with this. Seems there is a lot of contradictory and confusing information

    First for my tank parameters. I currently have no livestock in the tank other than some snails which hitchhiked on my plants. They seem to be thriving. I wanted to get my plants to speed with healthy plant growth before adding fish or shrimp to the tank

    Tank size 10 gallon with glass canopy

    Lighting: Nicrew SkyLed Plus set at maximum brightness with 8 hour photo period.

    Substrate: Baked topsoil overlayed over Seachem Flourish Tabs. Half of the soil is capped with pool filter sand and the other half with gravel.

    Pressurized CO2 set on timer to turn on 2 hours before lights come on and turn off one hour after lights come on. As per drop checker and PH KH table to cross reference, it appears approximate C02 is 30-35 ppm

    Plants include Cryrtocornes, 5 Dwarf Sag, Alternanthera Reineckki, frog bit, duckweed, and Brazilian Pennywort.

    My tap water is 7.3 and tap KH 3-4 As I added some Seiryu Stones, it drove my PH to 7.6-7.8 and KH to 8-11. Pressurized CO2 drops my PH to 6.9-7 after lights go off but as expected and normal it increases to 7.6-7.8 ph overnight with C02 being off

    I am using a inline diffuser hooked to a power head to disburse the c02 and the stock filter being used is a Hang Over the bag with lava rocks, polyfibre and small sponge as media

    Fertilizer. I have been using Thrive S liquid fertilizer 20 drops twice weekly as that is all I had laying around. I do 25-30% weekly water changes

    I have absolutely no algae issues to date and tank has been running for 2 1/2 months. This may have to do with the explosive growth of my floaters which I’m speculating is keeping any algae from getting a footing. My stem plants with the exception of the Alternantera is doing p*ss poor The dwarf sag looks like it should be shot and put out of its misery. Die back on it seems faster than any new growth. Leaves are browning

    I will be transitioning to Estimative Index but am trying sort out fact and fiction

    Is Estimative Index enough for a tank with 8-11 KH headwater. I read with this kind of reading you need to add more potassium and possibly iron. Also I read given that the water is naturally higher in magnesium and calcium, you need to limit these to prevent further increase in KH and issues with plant growth

    If anyone can share their experiences with a similar setup, it would be much appreciated. I’d really love to hear the thought of the Founding Father Of The Estimative Index, Tom Barr/Plant Brain himself. Many thanks in advance for any suggestions.
     
    #1 John Smith, Dec 10, 2020
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2020
  2. Pauld738

    Pauld738 Member

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    Ok, I was waiting for others to jump in but since no one has I'll give my thoughts. While I have a10 gallon hi-tech tank, I don't have the high Kh you have.

    As to Kh, it shouldn't really matter except for iron. You will want to find an iron supplement that handles higher pH levels. Iron gluconate? I have never seen any high Kh tanks mention that potassium needed to be higher than normal.
    The problem you will need to deal with is Ca. While seiryu stone can affect overall Gh, which you didn't mention a value for and is different than Kh, it only affects it by the addition of Ca. It's actually important, to the plants, to have the correct ratio of Ca:Mg. And since I'm guessing with your tap kh of 3-4 that your Gh is roughly that level too, you might be experiencing an issue with too low of Mg. It would be interesting to know what your tap Gh level is. Something to look into if not already.

    Thrive S. You can still use it for EI dosing, you just need to up the dose and pay attention to nitrates, which Thrive S has very little of. And to top it off, your floaters will pull nitrates much faster than submersed plants (stems, etc). I don't know what 20 drops means but I'm guessing it's low dosing and your nitrates are constantly at our near zero which is another reason why you might be experiencing problems with your stems. I use Thrive S in my tank but I use it for the micros it has in it. I dose macros, from dry ingredients, separately. My Thrive S dose is roughly 2x-3x the recommended dose at 12 ml per week. (Not drops or pumps but measured ml). I used rotallabutterfly.com to come up with the dose.

    If you're not doing it already I would recommend, atleast in the beginning of your EI journey, to test nitrates frequently to give you an idea of how to adjust dosing to meet your tank needs. And that is the trick with EI, you start at the baseline that you see recommended online and adjust dosing based on how your tank consumes those nutrients.

    And if course, EI dosing will need you to change atleast 50% of your water weekly. There are tanks I watch that change 70% more often than not. With my 10 gallon, I change out a 5 gallon buckets worth which is more than likely higher than 50% water change due to hard scape and tank configuration (false position in the back for pumps and heater).

    Lastly, and admittedly nit picky lol, is not too put too much stock into those kh/pH charts for CO2 concentrations. They are a bit flawed in their approach. Since you have a drop checker, your CO2 levels are probably acceptable but I would argue with a less than 1.0 pH drop (if those values are accurate) your co2 is likely less than 30. Many, including myself, go well below a 1.0 pH drop without issues.

    Here's my tank for reference...
    Light: ONF Nano+ (6 hrs total light w/ 3 at full intensity)
    Macros: from dry modified for 2/3rds less NO3, more K to make up for less NO3 dosed all at once right after water change (front loading)
    Micros: 12 ml Thrive S dosed 3x per week
    Water: RO reconstituted to 1Kh 7 Gh with a 2:1 Ca:My ratio

    [​IMG]

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    #2 Pauld738, Dec 12, 2020
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2020
  3. calvin doss

    calvin doss Lifetime Member
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    Nice tank Paul.

    I would recommend looking over the fertilizers in the https://www.nilocg.com/ website. They are dry ferts. They recommend DTPA Chelated iron for alkaline water and they say the Fe gluconate is for acid waters.
     
  4. Pauld738

    Pauld738 Member

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    Thanks Calvin!

    As I said, I don't have any real experience with alkaline water. I will offer up this thread as an example recommending iron gluconate, however, as well as some alternatives.

    https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/11-fertilizers-water-parameters/1285131-high-ph-high-hardness-water-dosing-help.html

    There's some highly respected people chiming in on that thread but Nilocg always tends to know what they are doing, so I don't know where the mismatch is. Maybe I'm just missing something. :)

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  5. John Smith

    John Smith New Member

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    Wow! What a beautiful tank Pauld738. Thanks so much for all the help and suggestions guys

    As per API test kit:
    Nitrates are 5 ppm and Gh is a whooping 16 degrees. I didn’t set this tank up to be a Rift Lake Cichlid Tank or brackish fish water tank so I am glad I didn’t add any livestock in the tank

    Based on the Rotallabutterfly calculator site:

    2ml 2-4 times per week with weekly 50% water change for Estimative Index

    For PPS pro
    1 ml daily

    I started dosing 1 ml in the morning before C02 and lights come on

    Honestly while I’m not totally prepared to accept defeat, I will wait 2-3 months if I can salvage the tank. Based on such high GH readings and the kind of livestock I want to keep, it may make more sense to tear the tank down and start over I may replace the substrate with Fluval Stratum and remove and replace the seiryu rock with a more ph neutral rock. I already invested a lot in this tank and hate to spend more for a quick fix, but at the same time I don’t want to spend months trying to mess with my water parameters and turning this into a super high maintenance tank. With all things being equal, I can deal with 50% weekly water changes with full implementation of Estimative Index, but if my water parameters limit my livestock to fish I don’t care for and i have to resort to peat moss or chemicals to mess with my water parameters constantly, I may just have to fold tent, chalk this up as a learning lesson. I also don’t want a tank where I only have one plant(Brazilian Pennywort) that thrives in the tank

    Thanks again for all your help guys, It’s much appreciated


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  6. calvin doss

    calvin doss Lifetime Member
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    Thanks for the response Paul! I went through the thread and see what you mean about the DTPA and Gluconate. I also do not have experience with hard water and iron, but I did consider what Iron to use based on my pH - and I used the info from the Nilogc site.

    Also, I think you hit the nail on the head with the nitrate concentrations, ferts in general, and the water changes.
     
  7. calvin doss

    calvin doss Lifetime Member
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    Hi John,

    I would not give up yet, the fun part is figuring out what is happening.

    Also, the water changes can be increased by a lot and will bring your GH down a lot. You can change 50% daily for 3 or 4 days, before going to a 50% weekely water change and EI dosing. After about a month, you might see what your GH stabilizes at - it may be more to your liking. Be sure to add your fertilizers at an increased rate while doing the water changes.
     
  8. John Smith

    John Smith New Member

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    Thanks Calvin for the suggestion. I am prepared to try the increased water changes and allow 3 more months to see if I can get GH to a reasonable amount. Won’t increasing water changes cause algae inducing changes by reducing c02 levels and causing inconsistent C02

    I don’t have much money now for a redo. I have to wait to save up, so I guess I can monkey around with the tank for 3 months to see what happens

    Thanks again


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  9. calvin doss

    calvin doss Lifetime Member
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    I know that the "experts" use a lot of water changes and they even suggest that it reduces algae. Tom B mentions this in his education video on this site - that video is highly recommended.

    Best Regards
     
  10. John Smith

    John Smith New Member

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    Thanks so much.l I didn’t know about the frequent water changes For low light planted tanks as Per Tom Barr type low light planted tank setups, I know he advises against water changes

    I forgot to ask but will water changes significantly reduce GH and KH levels if the Seiryu rocks remain in the tank and continuously leech carbonates in the water

    Also for what it’s worth replacement tap water Gh is 5 degrees and KH is 4 degrees


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  11. Pauld738

    Pauld738 Member

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    Fluval Stratum and substrates like that are awesome. In fact I won't start a planted tank no-a-days without that for substrate. Keep in mind that those substrates will pull kh from your water. Just don't fight it. :)

    That said, 16 Gh is a bit on the high side but I follow a beautiful planted tank that uses seiryu stone, with the resulting high Kh/Gh, that houses cherry shrimp and Ember tetras with no apparent issues. Super red on those Ember's. And Ember tetras usually prefer softer water. Although it has been said that most soft water fish can handle hard water while hard water fish have a "harder" time with soft water.

    I really think it's your Fert dosing that is the problem. With co2 injection it becomes critical to stay on top of Ferts. Even more so with hard water.

    And I forgot! Since I'm using Thrive S as a Micro fertilizer, that Thrive S's P and K are quite low as well.

    To give you an example, I'm at 3.87ppm PO4 and 21.9ppm K per week. With Thrive S you are not even close to those numbers. Even at 4x the dose the lack of phosphate will give you fits. Not to mention NO3.

    I know you said money is tight but grabbing some true macros would definitely help the situation. That and figuring out what your Mg is.

    Of course, if you can switch out the stone it would make life much easier as well. Especially since a 10 gallon tank builds up concentrations faster than a larger sized tank.

    Keep us posted on how it goes!

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  12. John Smith

    John Smith New Member

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    Great info pauld738 The biggest and stupidest mistake I made was not creating a good setup from the start.

    My original goal was just to experiment with a planted dirt tank setup. The biggest mistake I made was adding those stupid expensive seiryu rocks without a KH and GH lowering substrate like aquasoil or fluval stratum. I read that seiryu rocks are used in Amano tanks but with aquasoil to compensate for the crazy KH and GH raising properties of Seiryu rocks. I just didn’t think the rocks wouid do that to the point it did where it would require such a tweaking of ferts, water changes, etc. In hindsight I should have known better. For someone trying to save money, this sure turned out to be an expensive learning lesson


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  13. calvin doss

    calvin doss Lifetime Member
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    I have read the Tom B - low light - NO CO2 version also. I agree he mentions no water changes. This type of tank is very slow growing. When you use CO2, the growth will be a lot higher - for his CO2 tanks he uses EI dosing and 50% weekly water doses.

    The water changes will definitely make your water (GH, KH) get closer to your incoming tap water. When you do your daily 3, 4, or 5 water changes, your water should approach your tap water parameters. In order to keep the GH and KH levels down you will need to do a weekly 50% water change like for EI dosing. After about 4 or 5 weeks, you will be able to see where the GH and the KH settle on. The value that it settles on will depend on how fast your rock dissolves into the water. I doubt it will be much higher than your incoming GH and KH. Keeping a log of the results will increase your understanding by a lot.

    I do not think anyone wants you to change your tank. Every tank is a great opportunity for leaning. You know a tank with your seiryu rocks can work.
     
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  14. John Smith

    John Smith New Member

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    Thanks so much for the suggestions.

    It’s funny I have another low light non-c02 tank no rocks. It is a Tom Barr type low light tank. It is doing 100 times better than the my high tank c02 tank. There is no scape in there and it looks like a jungle in there with the plant growth being so explosive. It gets only 2 ml of Thrive S fertilizer a week. The 7 male Endlers and 3 Amano Shrimp are thriving The substrate is eco-complete in the back and pool filter sand at the front. I’ve made quite a bit of money selling the frogbit that’s growing super healthy with large lush green leaves and super long roots. This tank totally puts the high light C02 injected tank to shame.

    So if I understand what you’re saying the rocks will eventually stop leaching calcium carbonate. I didn’t think that to be possible given the makeup of those rocks
    I will do as you say and wait 3 months with the high light C02 tank. If all fails, I will pluck out the Seriyu rocks and replace them with more KH and PH friendly rock(s). I will sell the Seriyu rocks to try and recoup some of my losses. I won’t replace the substrate as I don’t think that is the issue. But if I find later on after removal of Seriyu rocks that the substrate may also be causing weird water parameters I will replace it or even a portion of it with Fluval Stratum


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  15. John Smith

    John Smith New Member

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    I just wanted to thank you guys a lot for all your help

    I just wanted to let you know what I decided to do and why. Please don’t hate me as my actions are not a reflection of finding your recommendations unworthy, but more my impatience and frustration of staring at a pathetically looking sorry looking tank.

    As I was decluttering my house from my many years of hoarding, I found some left over ADA Aquasoil. It was just enough to add about 1/4 or less inch cap to the 10 gallon. In the past I’ve never had a low light or high light planted tank I set up using ADA aquasoil where plant growth ever failed or which even took more than just trimming down the explosive plant growth


    Based on that I remove all the Seiryu rocks and capped the gravel with the quarter inch aquasoil. I will fill The spaces left by removal of the rocks with ludwiga Inclinita Cuba, ludwiga arcuata, and rotala rotundafolia. This will result in a change from Iwagumi to a sorry a*s Dutch Style scape but I’m okay with that as long as I get really good plant growth

    I will test Ammonia levels to see how much if any ammonia. The tank had me running for two months with snails so I’m guessing it may or may not be necessary to go crazy with water changes for ADA aquasoil as recommended for a month. The water is crystal clear and did not cloud up dumping the ADA aquasoil in there. I added a bag of Seachem Purigan before dumping in the aquasoil. I found from my past experience using aquasoil that Purigen works miracles in clearing up cloudy water fast and keeps water crystal clear. And no I don’t work for Seachem or get kickbacks from them for posting that.

    I may or may not PPS-Pro the water column until things are settled and plant growth starts taking off.


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    #15 John Smith, Dec 14, 2020
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2020
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  16. calvin doss

    calvin doss Lifetime Member
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    I am glad you are following your own way.

    Maybe I did not know that one of your key objectives is to minimize water changes. If that is the case, then EI dosing would not be appropriate and your dosing scheme seems more like the Tom Barr - no water change, low tech tank (no CO2?). If water changes are reduced, then maybe removing the Seiryu rocks is reasonable.

    I suspect that the new ADA soil will leach quite a lot of nutrients initially. If a lot of ammonia is released, then there may be an algae bloom. Let us know what happens.

    I was not sure if you continued with the CO2. The CO2 may cause your plants to grow very fast and reduce the nutrients in the water to the point that some plants may suffer some deficiencies. Hmmm.... maybe I have gone full circle......

    Best of luck.
     
  17. John Smith

    John Smith New Member

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    Thanks Calvin.

    Your responses got me to think outside of the box or should I say outside the tank. Also I had a buyer for the Seriyu Rocks but I just couldn’t part with them so cancelled the sale.

    After removing the Seriyu Rocks, I decided to place them in a bucket of water and replace the water daily for two months. After two months, I want keep the rocks soaked in 10 gallons of water for up to 4 weeks. I will test the KH, PH and GH at the start and after the end of everyweek. I’m curious to see if PH, KH and GH stabilize sufficiently for optimum plant growth, and I’m curious to see how much the rocks alter the ph, gh and Kh sitting in 10 gallons of my tap water for a month. This will give me some idea of how frequently I may need to change water over a month if I decide to reintroduce the rocks into my aquarium. My goal is to reduce frequent water changes and use a leaner method of fertilization like PPS pro. As I may use ADA aquasoil the plants will have two pathways to take up nutrients, substrate and water column so it may prove sufficient even with pressurized C02 injection. I can always modify dosing based on any nutrient deficiency plants show. Even Tom Barr has said nothing is written in stone whether you use EI or PPS Pro.

    For no other reason than curiosity I would love to reintroduce the rocks in an aquarium with Fluval Stratum or Aquasoil given the PH, KH and GH lowering properties of those two substrates. The combination may result in the ideal water parameters for plant growth. If I use Fluval stratum, I may have to add some root tabs for my heavy root feeding crypts

    With respect to the aquasoil I added to my tank after removing the rocks, plant growth literally took off after I did that. I decided to follow the ADA recommendations for water changes(50% daily for week, 50% every 2nd day 2nd week, every 3 days 3rd and 4th week).

    I am still using pressurized C02. After water changes, the plan was to experiment with a leaner form of water column fertilization given ADA aquasoil Is very nutrient rich. Algae has not been a problem so far but may be due to the great mass of floating plants(frog bit) that I have. It’s growing faster than I can sell the excess. I have noticed some diatom algae on glass but I suspect this is normal given this is a fairly new setup. Also, I noticed a little yellowing on some Frogbit leaves. I believe this may be a sign of nitrate deficiency. I’m not surprised as I have not stocked the tank with any livestock yet, so there is no source of nitrates I think if I can induce healthy long term plant growth, algae may not become a huge issue I want to use PPS Pro with fewer water changes over time. The PPS pro will also have some flourish excel added to the macros and micros solution to act as an algacide I don’t have any excel sensitive plants in the tank and don’t plan to. The only thing that may suffer is sone java moss, but I have read mixed things about that. I won’t be adding any livestock just yet as I may tear down and rescape the tank with the Seriyu rocks. If I decide to go with my current setup without the rocks, I want to test and ensure ammonia and nitrite levels test zero before I add any livestock. I may start with cherry or Amano Shrimp and go from there

    I know some argue that scaling back water changes is only compatible with a low light non c02 tank. I’m not 100% convinced of that. I think biggest issue may be trimming any dead or decaying plant leaves, and a cleaning crew of nerite/mystery snails and Amano or Cherry Shrimp may help somewhat with that task. I am curious to see for myself. But if anyone else has tried, I’d be curious of their finding. But I guess that’s for another post.

    Thanks for all your help again as without suggestions you guys offered. I would never have thought to do this


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    #17 John Smith, Dec 24, 2020
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2020
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