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Just wanted to tell everyone on these boards that dosing is really overhyped!

Discussion in 'CO2 Enrichment' started by ntino, Apr 14, 2009.

  1. ntino

    ntino Guru Class Expert

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    Dosing nutrients is nothing compared to Co2 and the correct light spread.
    Here are pics of my 60gal cube after 2 months(yes thats right, two month, well more like 8 weeks) of not dosing or feeding fish.
    (I just didnt have the time to tend to the tank and it was doing ok so I didnt bother).

    Of course the substrate had some nutrients in it and I had nutrients in the water column before I stopped dosing.

    Attention: I havent touched the tank AT ALL for 2 months.

    My plants still pearl alot., the colors on some are not as good as they should be, but nearly no algae, there is very little on the top moss, but none on the anubias, ect. I have very good CO2 spread though.

    Here is a picture of tank after some initial pruning(I had way more mass, pulled out about 5lbs of plant mass).

    My light is a 150w MH with a good reflector, light is between 150 where the moss is and 80 PAR at the bottom.

    The purpose of this post is to show that people pay way too much attention to dosing abit more of this, more of that, less of the other thing... Its all about even light spread, CO2 and maybe a good substrate that can take in nutrients and release them when they deplete - helps make things more ballanced.

    P.S. sorry for the poor picture, will take some better ones later....

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Ye hath seen the light(and CO2).

    There's a tear in my eye.:eek:

    You can dose if you want too however, and the sediment only last for so long......
    But the light range and the CO2 is the key.

    Light = drives CO2.

    I have a similar tank with a 150W HQI and ended up having the light higher and higher.

    Most of my tanks are fairly low light these days, same for the clients.
    Even lighting and good easy to manage CO2.

    I can dose whatever I want without issue.

    You still have high nutrients, but they are in the sediments and easy to deal with. I think over time you will see maintaining this will more of a challenge if you run the present course.

    You can do both water column and the sediment since the light is moderate and CO2 is good. This is pretty much what I do.
    Some tanks have less light though.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. SuperColey1

    SuperColey1 Guru Class Expert

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    You should read the forum a little more ;) This is what we have been saying for a long time.

    We don't add a little more of this and a little less of that. We dose loads more of everything :)

    Why? Because the substrate will run out of juice when used as the sole source. Therefore we water column dose to excess. Our substrates are used as 'backups'

    You may find that if you continue all of a sudden everything goes downhill when the substrate no longer has enough to give to the plants.

    I wouldn't say you have challenged the 'good' light versus 'high' light theory though :) You have very highlight there. and that of course will drive the plants to use up the nutrient even quicker. Keep us informed and then we can see how long the substrate lasts :) What substrate is it?

    AC
     
  4. ntino

    ntino Guru Class Expert

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    this has nothing to do with the substrate, people with AS get tons of algae all the time, and the substrate isnt new either.
    and I have read the forums for a while, and half the posts are around peoples problems and other people suggesting to dose a high AI regime and lower light, rather than focusing on the "right light setup" and CO2 injection methods, flow, ect.
    Whereas there are few people that have a good light reflector(most dont even know what a good reflector will do to their light, as well as bulb and ballast will do to their PAR, as most will just buy premanufactured kits, which are not a good solution - for examplei have the same amount of PAR going from an aquamedic 250 HQI to a 150w custom reflector bulb, and the spread is better because aquamedic reflectors are really bad) and really good CO2 injection.
    You say i didnt challenge high light vs good light, not sure what you mean, but according to you, I have high light, but no dosing at all, BUT no algae... what is wrong here.....Something must be wrong....!!! :)
    everyone knows you must does even higher than normal with high light once in 2 days you dose the amount of macros you should have in your water column, so your plants are supposed to consume that once every 2 days, else you get algae with a high light like this....
    BTW, what I have now is not high light, the reflector is a good 24"-25" above water if I lower it, i get 400s PAR, and even then if I dose I dont get algae....
    This isnt meant as a revalation, merely an example.
    Algae is not lack of AI dosing in 99% of the cases.
     
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Well, the nutrients are coming from "somewhere" are they not?
    As far as algae, light/CO2 are the biggies, that part has no doubts.

    But you still need some nutrients, it does not matter where really, as long as there is some. Sediments are good primary sources also, but so can the water column.
    Folks get tons of algae in every dosing method, not just ADA, EI, non CO2 etc.
    However, folks also have nice examples of no algae for each method as well.

    So it(successful growth + low incidence of algae) cannot be due to nutrients in the sediment vs the water column, only that there is a stable supply of nutrients.

    Where doesn't matter.

    You have dosed and you dosed a lot, CO2 and sediment.

    You can get by for sometime, particularly if the sediment is fresh/new.
    Overtime, maybe months, maybe 1-2 years, the nutrients will deplete, then you can redo the sediment and add fresh again.

    Or use soil, or use water column ferts etc. Using the water column ferts is not going to cause issues, be difficult or lead to algae. We know that. But addign enriched sediment is a form of dosing of nutrients.

    An easy form that should not be ignored and works well. I've never said otherwise, what I have said is that adding water column nutrients, (you add CO2, which is harder than say KNO3 dosing certainly) don't lead to algae.

    We know that and have plenty of examples.

    What you have seen and noticed, and I think is the point, is that moderate to low light, even when we might assume it's high light(say 150W on 30 Gal), but it's adjusted up high to get a better spread, but reduced hot spot intensity, and good current/mixing+ good CO2, leads to success.

    This is true for most any method, not just using ADA AS as a source for dosing/nutrients.

    Still, you can get better growth and longer term success with water column + sediment dosing, without issue having to tweak ferts, you can error on the lower side also if you want to reduce water changes, much like the suggestion for non CO2 methods here.

    If you know both sources of nutrients work well, and both complement the other, without much labor involved (it's not the labor really.......it is the human error/forgetfulness), then it tweaks the result to even better results.

    But you are certainly correct about the greater importance placed on light and CO2 aspects, it is not simply just add 4 w/gal, add CO2...........

    There's a lot more to it than that:cool:
    So folks blame the dosing method and hype that all up, don't listen to folks telling them about CO2/light aspects.

    If you have those 2 things down, then it can afford you a wider range of dosing options. Sediment alone, water column alone or a combo of both all with a high level of success.

    Why folks cannot get the CO2 and light dialed in is a good problem to look into. A light PAR meter is good for the light. CO2 is still a bit more eyeballing/maybe some testing.

    BTW, most of my lights, even the PC lights are about 12-16" off the surface and then the tanks are another 22" deep. the single HQI light over the 38 is about 22" up and about 40- to 42" from the HC. This hits about 70 micromols for most sections of the HC.

    I use to have it lower, about 16" when I have a packed tank full of stems, no issues there, but it's harder to managed. The older ADA AS also wore out after about 14-16 months. It still grows plants, but at a very reduced rate, maybe 10-20% the growth of the fresh soil. So the nutrients do deplete even with dosing the water column as well as the source in the sediments. I tested the sediment also and compared it to the new ADA AS.

    What I have not done was measured the ADA As over 16 months without any water column dosing. That would be a good test.

    Then compare, harder to say experimentally because the differences in fish loads, plants, biomass make a bigger impact over longer time frames like this.

    But it does give an example that the nutrients are depleted.
    The HC is the dry start method, so all nutrients are from the sediment/no leaching into the water column and leaf uptake etc. Some of the nutrients in the new ADA AS leach and are available to the roots of the HC in the older ADA As also.

    But based on the sediment test for N and P(N is more limiting over time, much like the delta clays here in CA), the % is pretty reduced over this time frame for that tank.

    High light dutch tanks with lots of CO2 will draw more nutrients I think also.
    Less trimmed and slower growth will last longer I would predict.

    Still, you can see the point here, light adjusted correctly => good CO2/current => dosing sediment(easy, forgiving), water column dosing(easier, extends the life of the sediment). It's not all about water column dosing(or the corollary: all about sediment dosing).

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  6. Henry Hatch

    Henry Hatch Guru Class Expert

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    I certainly agree with the importance of co2 and good light. Good light meaning good distribution not just a lot of watts. My PAR meter has demonstrated to me the importance of good light distribution. Measuring co2 is still a problem.

    If you are serious about growing plants a PAR meter is a valuble tool. It's interesting that light tends to fall off toward the back and front of the tank and particularly at the ends of the bulbs which just happens to be where many people plant light loving stem plants or low lying carpet plants.

    When I buy light fixtures now I tend to buy more light than I would need if the fixture was sitting on top of the tank. I raise the fixture to improve the light distribution.

    I think light spread may be as important or more important than intensity in many situations.

    One of the problems with many HO fixtures is that they are quite slim. I see problems with tanks that are even 12" wide with t5 or CF fixtures.

    Henry
     
  7. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Henry, isn't some of the problem with a single T5 bulb, the fact that higher growing plants shade the other plants too much? That can be alleviated by always trying to use two bulbs, separated by several inches. Then the two bulbs shine into each others shadows.
     
  8. SuperColey1

    SuperColey1 Guru Class Expert

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    Henry

    You are on the same track as me :) I have said for a while now I would take 4 T8s over 2 T5s because I can space them better.

    I have shown in my tanks (although people say I use 'low light' plants) that I can grow these plants faster than them with less light (WPG) due to having a better spread of light, good circulation and 'on the ball' CO2.

    I have grown supposed 'high light' plants under what people would consider very low light (0.9WPG)

    My current fixture (although LED) has awesome spread and is 40-45cm from LED to water surface. It is only 1.1WPG but I get good fast healthy growth still. This is even with loads of light 'spillage' that doesn't go to the tank.

    The key IMO is (and has been for a year or more) not high light but more a case of high CO2. There are very few people who actually reach the high levels all around the tank that they think they are hitting, see slow growth and up the light. Plants are IMO high and low CO2 demanding plants. The carpets aren't reaching up for more light, they are reaching up for more CO2. I can't understand how any plant will stay flat to the ground because the light isn't enough. If so why do they not stop when they get enough light? What would happen to HC if it reaches 10cm tall and (if that is it's max height) still didn't have enough light? It would die or grow taller still.

    Good circulation/flow and the nerve to push the CO2 a little more would make their electricity bill much lower ;)

    As to EI, it doesn't aim to be a 'cure all' regime. It merely aims to remove the 'nutrient defficiency' claims from people with problems in their tank. EI is supplying more nutrient than they need and therefore they 'have' to look elsewhere for the cause of their problems.

    I would guess that like Tom says 95% of all problems are CO2 related but I would say that the majority of that 95% are something else that is making the CO2 the problem. Namely poor flow and/or too much light. They inject enough CO2 but either there is so much light the CO2 will never be able to keep up or that the CO2 they are injecting is enough but not being distributed.

    Nutrient defficiencies can also become a factor with the flow problem. Dosing is more than enough but the circulation/flow is not distributing the nutrient.

    Many of us in the UK have been ramping up the turnover rates of our tanks with larger filters or circulation pumps and we are seeing the results. More and more people with algae free tanks. We haven't particularly changed anything else. The circulation/flow just solved all the other problems.

    I use EI because it doesn't hurt and want the option of leaving my substrate where it is for as long as I feel. It is currently 18 months old and I see no problems with it. Being clay based I would guess it is also sucking nutrient in as well as supplying roots, so it works both ways really. This substrate provides nutrient but also stores it up.

    I wasn't having a go at all. Just saying that people on EI don't concentrate on upping or lowering things at all. They up everything at the beginning and leave it unless they see something is wrong.

    One day when I get a larger house and more funds ;) I may try a tank with 1WPG of T12/T8 but with super flow and CO2 and see if HC actually carpets or whether it does reach for the skies?

    AC
     
  9. ntino

    ntino Guru Class Expert

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    HC grows on top of each other, it becomes a real weed when established....
    I hope that everyone who read this understood that by good light I meant good equal spread, which is alot harder to achieve than most people think, it requires a good reflector, and for the light to be efficient in PAR you need a good ballast and bulb combo!
     
  10. SuperColey1

    SuperColey1 Guru Class Expert

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  11. Henry Hatch

    Henry Hatch Guru Class Expert

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    Yes that makes sense. If you move your sensor on the par meter around at the substrate level moving it even 1" can make a difference. I would think this is often the result of shading particularly with carpet plants. If people are having a problem growing a plant for which they think there is enough light sometimes moving the plant slightlly will make a difference. If you have the same plant growing well in one location, but not another try moving the one not growing well. The shading may not always be apparent to the eye.

    However, I have a 2 bulb t5 HO fixture and I have noticed a consistent drop off in par levels as you go up the front and back of the tank. I think this is just the angle of the light coming from the fixture. The spread improves when I raise the light.
     
  12. Henry Hatch

    Henry Hatch Guru Class Expert

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    I have an old twin tube VHO fixture. The fixture is huge and it lit my 75 gallon quite well.

    Another thing to consider regarding circulation when it comes to carpet plants is the fact that they are normally surrounded by taller plants which might not only shade them, but reduce circulation and therefore co2 and nutrients. Maybe we should try tall plants in the center and carpet plants around that.

    As for EI. It simplifies life, and helps to eliminate variables. If you're using EI and still have growth or algae problems the chances are pretty good that the problem is not due to nutrient shortages. If you do have a co2 problem and up the light instead the problem will just get worse. I see growth and algae as two sides of the same coin. How many tanks with healthy growing plants have algae issues ? Whenever I have algae problems I almost always see a slow down in growth first.
     
  13. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Yep, it's interesting what you learn when you test things and they end up not being what you had been speculating all along for years or decades. Then you see the dosing is only just one cog in the wheel.

    But.........crap.........I recall George Booth and myself nagging about all the high light folks that came about with the PC light cost dropping, must have been in 1998/1999. Prior, most folks had trouble getting any more than 2 w/gal of T12 bulbs and they packed to the hood from front to back. Then they started having lots of issues and asking why.

    This really has not changed much since.

    I had to work at it to get enough CO2 and nutrients when I started using the MH's and PC lights, but it got me good at the CO2 and dosing nutrients.

    CO2 was the biggie, then nutrients.

    But by going back to light and reducing it, making it even etc, comparing it equally amongst tanks, systems, now we can compare and make some more general statements and model things much better.

    Even if we do not have a precise ppm for CO2, we have the nutrients and lights down, so the CO2 is a process of elimination. If you look at the advice I often give, it goes down this path.

    Has for many years I suppose.

    The light readings help to verify and answer such questions much better than say experience alone. I cannot buy and try every height, brand name light, bulb etc, ADA alone would set me back 2-3K$!

    That 200$ light meter is now pretty economical for answering this question.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  14. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    EI is mostly an upper bounds for nutrients so folks can rule those out as a limiting nutrient(water column). The same can be done using the sediment also(say fresh mineralized soil, worm castings, clay or ADA AS)

    From there, we test light.

    By process of elimination, we can vary CO2 to get at the last part.

    Generally, a CO2 issue is well manifested in the rate of plant growth, often with some species reacting more so than others. CO2 competition between species is strong in aquatic systems.

    So simply watching the system and thinking CO2, not deficiencies of nutrients, blocking, too high etc, is much more the wiser way to go about it.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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