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Help making NON-CO2 fert solution for multiple tanks

Discussion in 'Non-CO2 Methods' started by MixtecoBlue, Apr 23, 2010.

  1. MixtecoBlue

    MixtecoBlue Junior Poster

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    So I just ordered from Green Leaf Aquariums 1lb KNO3, 1lb KH2PO4, 1lb GH booster and a 1 liter dosing bottle.

    Using the NON-CO2 method, and its dose suggestions, what would be the best way to mix a liquid solution so that it would be easiest to dose for all of my tanks out of one bottle (5 gallon, 25 gallon, 55 gallon)? I don't mind if the solution is more dilute, I just want to know what the best recipe would be. Im not so good at the math for mixing my fractions of a teaspoon.

    Thanks,
    Jeff
     
  2. Tug

    Tug Lifetime Charter Member
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    Hi Jeff,
    Just a few questions. What substrate do you have these plants growing in and what kind of lighting is the tank getting? How long have you had your tanks and how many fish are there?

    A nice read on non-CO2 methods by Mr Tom Barr can be found here, http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/2817-Non-CO2-methods and you will notice plants under low light and non-CO2 conditions grow 5 to 10 times slower and can get away with lighter dosing. Often fish wast is sufficient to provide for the needs of most plants. Are you dosing any micro-nutrients like Plantex? Also, look into adding Excel or a product like Excel.

    Another thing to consider is the number of water changes you want with Non-CO2 tanks. Adding water from your tap will raise CO2 levels, but fewer water changes are recommended to provide more stable CO2 levels, giving plants time to adjust to the lower levels of CO2.

    For N and P, I would try 6 tablespoons of KNO3 and 1 tablespoon of KH2PO4 to 1 Liter of distilled water. For a 5 gallon tank, adding 1mL of this stock solution will add about 4.4ppm NO3 and 1ppm PO4. Dose after the water change, once after two or three days and once a week there after should allow for more time between water change, say three months.

    Here is a link to the calculator I use, http://www.theplantedtank.co.uk/calculator.htm to determine your stock solution and dose. Add the tank volume and the other requested information and let it do the math for you. For example, the stock solution I suggest would be dosed the same way for your 25 gallon tank, only you would dose 5mL depending on the actual amount of water in the water column. Your 55 gallon tank, 10 mL per dose. Another calculator, http://wet.biggiantnerds.com/ei/con_v_time.pl should give you an idea of how much fertilizer is building up in your tank between water changes.

    This should be enough information to get the ball rolling. Good luck.
     
    #2 Tug, Apr 23, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 23, 2010
  3. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Nice post Tug.

    I find universal dosing solutions are pretty cool; good nutrient ratios, just increase or decrease the ml needed.

    A little HCl or Excel goes a long way in keeping batches stable. I've had NPK batches taint on me with some abuse, so it's become standard practice for me.
     
  4. MixtecoBlue

    MixtecoBlue Junior Poster

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    Thanks for the replies!

    The 5 gallon is a 7 gallon bow with 5 gallons of water in it, planted moderately. It has a 13w pl type PC bulb over it 8hrs/day and regular gravel w/ fert tabs. I try to keep this tank to water changes once a month or so at most. This tank has 6 Boraras maculatus in it. I plan to move this tank's livestock over to a 10 gallon soon, and add some more small fish; possibly Pseudomugil sp..

    The 25 gallon is the simplest. It is just a ton of rooted water sprite on white caribsea sand with 28w NO T5. Not a whole lot cooking there, I just turn the lights on when I feel like it. It gets 2hrs direct sunlight per day (10a-12p) and an average of 5-7hrs tank lights. This tank gets once monthly water changes as well. This tank contains a large Opaline Gourami, a few small loaches, and an SAE. This tank requires the least attention due to the "unkillable-ness" of water sprite.It takes care of itself. It is primarily a simple display in our bedroom.

    The 55 gallon is heavily planted with Rotala indica, Wisteria, Ozelot swords, dwarf sag, tenellus, crypt wendtii, hygro salicifolia, etc. It has 110w PC on 8hrs per day, and gets fert tabs under the swords and crypts as needed. Mix of flourite, silica sand and black gravel for a substrate. It is home to 25 cardinals, and 3 ancistrus. I plan to add some amano shrimp, nerite snails, some otos, and 2 tank raised discus.

    All of these tanks have only been set up since the beginning of March when I moved. I have been keeping fish for years, but have only recently gotten the plant bug. I have read extensively on many different methods, and read here quite a lot. I grasp all of the concepts quite well. I'm just simply in need of help with the math-via-teaspoon-fractions bit. I never was good with scaling all the numbers in fractions. My expertise lies more in observation and reaction. I do best with what i can see.

    With an all-in-one liquid I can adjust doses in small amounts to see what works, and if its dilute I can change in small increments. Also, it allows me to run out of liquid faster, so that it doesnt sit around too long in the fridge.

    I have Excel, and used it to grow the tanks in but I'm trying to scale it back and only use it in reserve if I need it (to quickly grow something in, or burn off algae). I'd rather the slower growth, as I work a lot of hours and have 2 young kids. My wife would appreciate that my time be spent WATCHING the tanks, not constantly tinkering with them. I have ZERO plans for CO2 in my life.

    -Jeff
     
  5. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Honestly Jeff, if the nutrients are non-limiting then there's not much to play with. If they aren't non-limiting, algae competes in the column and you have to work harder. Tweaking the nutrients is kind of pointless if you're not trying to do fancy stuff like playing with growth morphology.

    That 55 gal is about where I'd want to strap CO2 on; perhaps raise the fixture or obscure the light a little. An all-in-one won't do the job with that kind of light. The 7 gal isn't a big deal if some algae happens; it's a small tank. The 25 gal won't need extra PO4 if you're feeding heavily.

    If you want an all-in-one, you could try a mix of CSM+B with KNO3. I'd keep some KH2PO4 on hand though; GSA is a pain, and stunted phosphate deficient plants are ugly. At worst EI is a two bottle system with GH booster at water change time if you've got soft water. Rather than keeping it sitting in the fridge, you can simply use HCl (10ml of 14.5% pool acid sold at Home Depot per liter) or I believe 4x the quantity of Flourish Excel. You'll have to mix less often this way and have fewer worries about drinking fertilizer.

    In all cases, you're using inert substrate. You are very dependent on what you dose in the tank, completely dependent if you used Flourish tabs which contain just about zero nutrients. For less maintenance long-term, nutrient loaded substrates are a great direction. If you ever end up overhauling, look at the benefits of things like osmocote, mineralized soil/worm castings, ADA aquasoil, etc. Some are dirt cheap, some cost, each have their advantages and drawbacks.

    Believe it or not, compressed CO2 is pretty headache free if you didn't need it before; adding any now will just make for healthier plants. The infamous tinkering happens when you strap high light to the tank and compensate for the lack of natural CO2 by using compressed. Without the CO2, it turns into a full scale disaster. It's taken the hobby a while to add this up, but now it's heading towards low light tanks with compressed CO2 because they're both beautiful and easy. If the plants are growing too fast because you added CO2, then they were CO2-limited; simply reduce the light level to slow them. The only real drawback comes with cheap regulators dumping CO2 into the tank all at once (get a decent reg) and anyone who doesn't educate themselves on how to properly handle their regulator (5 minutes talking to LeftC will fix this). It's definitely an investment, but it's also nice to have.

    Anyhow, my recommendation would be 9.2g of CSM+B and 65g of KNO3, add what ever stabilizer ahead of time in 750ml DI H2O and wait 5 minutes, add the CSM+B, stir until dissolved, add the KNO3, repeat, top up to 1L. Leave the bottle sit with the cap off for an hour or two (the mix will probably be cold) and away you go. Typically for high tech/light it would be 1ml for every 6L, 3x a week with a 50% WC. It works well for me and my math, but it's easy to convert. Just dose an average of 1ml for every 8L of column over the course of a week. Do this for a month, then do a 50% WC. If all seems clear, you can try dosing/changing a little less often. For the sake of the fish, I tend to change 50% a month as a very minimum anyhow, so I use this method often enough for my own low tech tanks. As I said, keep the KH2PO4 around; if PO4 dosing becomes an issue, you can always mix up a solution of it to dose now and then. If it turns out you need magnesium, about 101g of epsom salts in the above solution added after the stabilizer and stirred then leave to set for a few minutes before adding the CSM+B will solve your problem.
     
  6. MixtecoBlue

    MixtecoBlue Junior Poster

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    As far as what fert tabs I've been using, they're the Total tabs from aquariumplants.com.

    I'm unable to add CO2 due to cost. Maybe in a year or two, but it's not in the budget, and won't be.

    The 110w PC on the 55 gallon was a quick fix at best. It wasn't what I had planned to use, but my old canopy got destroyed in the move, and a friend had this one laying around. I have a reptile fixture at my store I'm thinking of grabbing that would fit 1x T8 and 4x screw in incandescents. I could use low watt screw-ins to get by. My plans are to get a new fixture in the next few months however.

    Any suggestions on a light fixture for a 55 to shoot for low tech, no CO2? Wattage, type? I'd rather change my light fixture (which I want to do anyway) than add CO2, or such things. An LFS nearby can give a good deal on a twin t5ho strip (and just run one bulb, since no one makes singles in 48"?).
     
  7. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    You can always try obscuring the light partly. If you've got the typical coralife fixture then why not get a custom piece of acrylic cut to replace the existing one that blocks 25% of the light? I can't imagine it costing more than a new fixture.

    You can put together a canopy of your own pretty inexpensively, which leaves you with more options that cost less. Personally I'd opt for 2x T8 retrofit; multiple bulbs makes for better saturation and healthier plants. If you really want a T5 single strip, go with the Sunblaze 54" T5HO by Sunlight Supply. They're something like $50 with reflector plus shipping. I'm alternating between two of them through the day right now on a similar sized tank, and they work very nicely. In both cases be aware that the first 3 months with a bulb is going to run you 50% higher output, so either break in the bulb or be prepared to cope with a little extra algae at first.

    I'm not completely sure on length, but you may be able to tear out the guts of your 48" coralife and even retrofit the sunblaze into that. I can take measurements off mine with installed reflectors if you like.
     
  8. MixtecoBlue

    MixtecoBlue Junior Poster

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    its an old perfecto SHO light
     
  9. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Those look like they've got some room in them from the pic I could find. What are the dimensions?

    I'm guessing you may already know, and that given the age it's probably not a problem, but I'd rather post this than not:
    http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml00/00015.html
     
  10. MixtecoBlue

    MixtecoBlue Junior Poster

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    after going to my friends house and talking a bit, I may do what he did for his dart frogs (he breeds them) and just use a shop light fixture. I'd paint it black on the outside to blend better with the tank, and get some decent bulbs for it. figure 80w total.
     
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