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How should my EI stragegy change if Aqua soil = substrate?

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by growitnow, Mar 4, 2007.

  1. growitnow

    growitnow Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Mar 3, 2007
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    O.K., new to forum.

    Thanks to Tom Barr and other forum participants. In reading numerous (numerous, numerous!) threads so far, I am quickly finding this to be one of the most valuable sources of planted tank information available. I think what I respond to most when looking across posts and replies, is how Tom (and others) here seem to reply at two levels: (a) What is the principle? and (b) What is the specific recommended practice given the nitty-gritty details of a situation? Combined, this approach has been extraordinarily helpful to my sorrowly unwashed self!

    So, here goes my own first question (strap yourselves in, there are many more coming):

    I have been reading and learning about EI. I have been separately reading many endorsements of ADA Aqua soil. Tom has addressed this here and there in tidbits of posts I have seen. But I want to ask the question more directly, thinking this might also be helpful to others.

    Various people using Aquasoil have indicated that if you use AS, you will not need to fertilize as much (not as much per dose, perhaps not as frequently). How should I approach dosing using EI, with a new tank, if AS is the substrate? Specifically in what way should my approach differ if my substrate were for example Flourite (given the same tank)? This is the main question I am interested in, applied to my situation detailed below.

    re: cycling of a new tank, with AS: how should my EI dosing change at the very initial stages of tank set up versus later (e.g., 2-3 months) as the system stabilizes? I understand the obvious [so I hope!] that dosing is likely to change in any case initially vs. later on but what I’m wondering is whether EI early vs. later would matter because I use AS, suggested by some to require less fert.

    Tank not set up, all parts in or ordered. Not newbie to aquaria culture but this is my first serious go at a planted tank. At this stage, I invite any and all feedback that will help me design and implement an effective plan (my planned set up, issues I should address, etc.). I feel I have much of the booksmarts, but not the experience. Oh sage wisdom of the Barr, shine thy light upon the shadow of my ignorance. Sorry, couldn't resist :D - in addition to being wordy, I have a ridiculous (read lame!) sense of humor.

    4 x 55watts AHsupply. 2x5500k plus 2x9325k
    co2 injection, pH controller
    two ADA Bettle50 glass diffusers
    (routed via manifold w/ separate needle valves & BBcounters)
    two Eheim 2128s
    one or two modified magnum HOTs for additional circulation
    * thinking about adding UV - not a must have, just want from the start to load the deck in my favor
    ADA aquasoil substrate plus powersand
    (in fact, I ordered and just received 7 bags Flourite. given AS enthusiasm, I am going to absorb cost of Flourite, and make an additional order for AS – ouch!)

    KH = 4
    GH = 5
    pH = 8.2 – 8.4 after degassing

    glosso, HC, blyxa, HM and…

    full EI, but moderated by what I find out about N03 & PO4 from water company
    will dose 3x per week, plus traces on alternate days
    Tropica Master Grow trace
    50% water change per week (gotta say this makes me nervous, but WTH)

    From: Tom’s “EI Light”
    60 – 80 Gallon Aquariums
    +/- 3/4 tsp KN03 3x a week
    +/- 3/16 tsp KH2P04 3x a week
    +/- 1/4 tsp K2S04 3x a week
    +/- ¼ tsp (15ml) Trace 3x a week
    50% weekly water change

    ==> this OK for 90gallon? with AS? (main Q1 above)

    Very important to me, not just planted tank with fish additions.

    about 5 anostomous anostomous
    15 ottos
    1 bristlenose pleco
    2 SAE

    I plan on cycling with plants and Biozyme and a few fish; but I will not really add livestock until month 3 or so. Zeolite and carbon/Purigen in filters until..?

    Sorry for such a long post. Some introduction, eh?


  2. growitnow

    growitnow Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Mar 3, 2007
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    meant to write cycle w/ Bio Spira & few fish
  3. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
    Staff Member Administrator

    Jan 23, 2005
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    Howdy Bob,

    Well, that's just what ADA has told folks and they obviously want you to buy and use the entire line of products.

    I can buy K+ at 17$ for 50lbs worth. That would last me till my grandkids started growing plants.

    ADA K+?
    About 6 weeks.

    Cost more even for that 500mls bottle.

    The key to starting a new tank has to do with packing the tank and making sure the plants have enough nutrients, why should that matter in the start or not?

    Some claim to help the plants adapt, well, what occurs when you trim and top plants? Do you wait a month before you add ferts then in an established tank?


    So why there?

    Cycling mainly, you can get around that by adding mulm, or Zeolite or activated carbon or the best solution is to add all of them. Add good frequent water changes(2x week 50% or more) to this.

    Amano does this himself.
    Do these same folks tell you that?
    Probably not.

    I know Jeff Senske does water changes every 4-5 days in new tank set ups.
    Amano does them 2x a week, I do them 2-3x a week.

    After 1-2 months, we all back off to once a week.

    The belief, and it is a belief, from those that support the no dose water column notion is that adding more will cause algae.

    This is easily disproven though.

    That is why I call it a "belief".
    It is a myth and has been for decades.

    You will still have good plant growth if you do not dose the water column because you have forced the plants to use the substrate for a nutrient source.

    But if plant growth is what it is all about, why would you not have nutrients in both locations?

    Then the plants can use ans chose each nutrients type and do not need to transport them.

    This provides the best sources of nutrients.
    And it works in practical application.

    So does ADA's method, but not for the reasons they claim.
    Plants still have a source of nutrients.
    Just nothing in the water column.

    Or do they?
    The substrate leaches nutrients into the water column, so that monkey business about leading to algae is hogwash. Plants transport and leach nutrients up into the water column from the substrate as well.

    Algae do not need much nutrients to bloom, that's been shown way too many times in research studies. I use some pretty good PO4 methods, the limiting ranges are beyond my detection limits, and I know that they are beyond the detection limits for any aquarist.

    All you need is some PO4, N, Fe etc and if there's enough for the plants, there is always enough for algae.

    So why would you slow the plants growth down then?

    I think the method is designed based on this fear and adding just enough because that is hold over from traditional methods back in the 1980's and before.
    In the 1990's mid or so I came along and started bothering people about PO4 and the other nutrients.

    Nothing has been the same since.
    Now the ADA method does work, I do not argue that point, I just argue what works better.

    What provides even better growth?
    How can we do this cheaper?
    What specifically is it that is helping the growth?

    Not just "trust me and buy the entire line".

    That's what the these folks have asked.
    Now if I sell ADA to LFS's which I do, I am in business, I do not tell the LFS's about this. It'll still work and I do not have time to go through all this with the owner.

    And the owner does not have the time either.

    I do not bother them but I also do not tell them what causes algae unless they talk/ask me and I tell them to,ignore some things like that in the ADA materials.

    Yes, there's some conflict, but I think overall I can help folks more by getting them to use the ADA AS.
    Always a trade off, but with you folks, I can say my opinions directly.

    You guys might not have a LFS to run.
    That is very demanding job and labor of love.

    Try about 1/2 the first 2 weeks, then rev things up as the plant biomass grows in.
    This averaged amount seems to work well.

    After 1-2 months, things should be filled out well.
    The issue and the reason why I like ADA AS, is that it is less critical if you flub, the plants at least have a source of nutrients even if you loused up the water column fertilization method.

    And it still provides less translocation than that of water column only.
    It basically makes the transport and supply of nutrients, all of them, a 2 way street.

    10 hours total:
    Use 110 watts for 6 hours total, 220w for 4 in the middle of the day period.

    So the rear bank comes on at 10am, the shuts off at 4pm.
    The front bank comes on at 2pm and shouts off at 8pm.

    This gives a semi dusk to dawn effect and places less demand on the nutrients and less light for algae.
    It also gives you more time to rev up to the CO2.

    I'd not use the pH controller for a few reasons, one of which is ADA AS, that will give you false positives on the CO2 reading, basically telling you have a lot more CO2 than you really do.

    Amano will never tell you to use a pH controller and never tell you to add CO2 at night.

    That is taboo in Japan.
    He never gave me an answer why.

    One thing I can think of: chronic high levels of cO2 cannot be that great for fish when combined with less O2 at night.
    I can add more cO2 without fear of a large build up during the day time, the only time I need to add CO2, because that's the only time plants use CO2, they do not use CO2 at night.

    We add CO2 for one reason: to fertilize the plants, not for pH control.

    They do not hurt, given the $, I generally add one.

    Do not use the powersand!!

    You'll see why later.
    You also have no use for more nutrients, you are adding them to the water column via EI, so that negate the need for PS.
    Note, I've done both ADA AS+ PS +EI, no issues, but the issue with PS?

    Damn butt ugly later after you uproot your plants, if you even move things around a lot etc.

    Some have placed steel mesh to prevent the uprooting issue.
    PITA if you ask me and the PS is not going to last long anyway after a few months have past. I just do not need it and cost a fair amount vs the ADA AS.

    I'd rather have more ADA AS instead.
    That is the product that has the main impact for plants, the PS helps if you do not dose in the start, and after it runs out in few months, then ADA swtiches over to EI type dosing.

    With slow growing plants, less light, you can have a decent tank without any water column ferts etc also, but with more light/CO2 and faster growing species, you have to do this to keep up.

    All the PS is is nutrient enriched pumice with peat, some Osmocoat long term ferts, all of which are cheap.
    Unfortunately, DIY PS is easy but DIY AS is niot so easy, I can have a similar product made, but I have to make 2-5 tons at a time.
    I have no space nor interest in getting into that type of business.

    +/- 3/4 tsp KN03 3x a week
    +/- 3/16 tsp KH2P04 3x a week
    /- ¼ tsp (15ml) Trace 3x a week
    50-70% weekly water change(2x a week for the first 2 months, then 1 week there after)
    GH booster, add about 1 teaspoon after water change only.

    Don't Anostomous eat plants?
    Get 6 SAE's(add these right away 1-2 days)
    50-70 Amano shrimp

    Add Zeolite/carbon and purigen, remove purigen later and replenish here and there. Leave Zeolite and AC in place and clean like biomedia.

    Plant roots are loaded with bacteria, Biozyme will not hurt, but some mulm added to the bottom layer and into the filter media prior to set up/filling will help dramatically.

    Tom Barr
  4. growitnow

    growitnow Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Mar 3, 2007
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    Tom, thanks for your reply, and the excellent detail. That is very helpful, particularly at this stage of set up.

    This seems an important point of understanding, if I am reading it correctly. Minimal nutrients (from tap, decaying plant matter, fish waste) can support algae growth, even in a new tank with no water column fert. In this view, it is counterproductive to NOT feed the higher plants which in the end it is hoped will outcompete algae.

    By ADA's Method, you mean no water column dosing early on, then after the tank is 'stable' (normal cycle period), water column dosing proceeds? I am not unfamiliar with discussions of ADA, but could you offer for me summary statement of what you mean by "their method" so the comparison to what you have suggested here will be clearer to me?

    Good! And with hope, most folks listening will benefit, experiment, and make up their own minds. As you have invited many times..

    So, 1/2 of the above EI doses, for the 1st few weeks? Then gradually/quickly? up to 'full' above EI doses thereafter in evidence of no adverse effects.

    During first 2 months w/ 2x/week water changes:
    Re-dose at the 1/2 above amounts after EACH of the frequent water changes during the initial two weeks?

    Re-dose trace at 1/2 after EACH of the frequent water changes during the initial two weeks (dosing trace on alternate days)?

    Then, when ramping up EI to full dose, re-dose after EACH water change during the first 2 months, even though water changes are occurring 2x per week.

    Same for GH booster. Re-does EACH water change at 2x per week for first 2 months?

    .. point of interest is: does re-dosing at whatever the current dose strenght is occur after each and every water change, regardless of how many water changes are conducted per week in my case, this will be 2x per week, occasionally 3x)

    This is pretty valuable info for someone starting off. Thanks. From my perspective, one of those trade offs is that instead of chasing NO3/PO4 test kit results, one now has to chase C02 test results. If the pH/KH charts no longer provide a useful rendering of C02 levels, inexperienced hobbyists (c'est moi) using AS will be forced to very frequently test C02 levels and adjust. Instead of beginning with at least a rule of thumb provided by pH/KH indicies.

    Do you mean 'front bank comes on at 12pm and shuts off at 8pm'?

    Sorry, I'm not following. More time? Rev up?

    Also, in suggesting this lighting pattern (thanks), do you suggest this as the normative lighting, or do you suggest this during some "initial" period, after which all 220 will be used for most of the day? (of course, all may change depending on growth, etc. but I want to make sure I am clear on what is being suggested).

    Understood. But, is there any reason to suggest use of pH controller with AS (which affects KH) to deliver C02 will NOT provide stable C02 levels, or might provide dangerously high C02 levels? I can think of one: if pH/KH reducing effects of AS are high initially and gradually wane with time, keeping the set point on pH controller the same would result in INCREASING C02 levels from controller.

    But I admit getting a nice warm feeling of stability from the idea of using the controller at least initially. And at least until I get a feel for things myself. But what I don't know is whether AS effects on pH/KH render pH unstable as opposed to just low. If there is any basis to the former, then a controller would be flat out unwise. Or, if the rate of ph/KH change per se were so fast that pH controller would be too quick in ramping up (or down) C02. Further thoughts, or counsel?

    In the brief, for 90gal, can you offer UV Watt rating that would be ample? My understanding is that it is best to drive UVs at the lower end of gph rating.

    Have heard the butt ugly part before. Agreed, and thanks.

    You would need many zip lock bags, indeed. And a good labler.:D

    A. anostomous. I kept one before, in my first planted tank attempt. Never saw it distrub plants too much, but I had limited low light plants. Adapted well to brine/bloodworms. Baensch suggests keeping either singly, or in groups of >6. Far far more interesting fish than at first look. Perhaps others can report on plant damage possibility.

    I am starting dry. No other tank to supply mulm. But yes on Zeolite/Carbon/Purigen.

    Many thanks. As others, I really do appreciate the careful assistance.

  5. sanj

    sanj Junior Poster

    Apr 17, 2008
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    This was a useful topic, thanks. :)
  6. Infulgeo

    Infulgeo Prolific Poster

    Dec 2, 2010
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    As a newbie to the planted tank this was an amazing discussion and if at all possible should be made a highlight topic considering i am going to be starting a No C02 setup and tom's advice helped me finalize and understand ever further!

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