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New to Fertizer Regimes

Discussion in 'CO2 Enrichment' started by dgphelps, Aug 6, 2008.

  1. dgphelps

    dgphelps Junior Poster

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    Hi, I've been reading about this subject for days and I'm now sitting here, intrigued yet baffled. I ordered a nice little packet of dry ferts from Aquariumfertilizer.com and got them today so my plan is to use them.

    I've done loads of reading, and will continue to, but one thing I have been searching for I can't find. How does EI dosing work for someone who raises shrimp in his tanks? I'm not big on fish so both my tanks have shrimp as the main lifeform other than plants.

    Currently, my main tank is 37 gallons and has about 1 WPG light from bulbs and 3-5 hours of afternoon-evening natural light. I don't have a way to measure it, but I'm assuming I hit 2 WPG on the left side of my tank since the plants there (rotala, etc) have a nice rosy red hue to them and the ones on the right are more green. I dose about 3 ml of excel every other day, but have no CO2 system. I also have been using Flourish in my tank 5ml once a week.

    My plant growth is decent, apparently I am luckier than some based on what I have seen and read. I'd like the growth to be nice and lush but am not ready to make a leap to new lights or a CO2 system.

    I'd really like to incorporate an EI (3x weekly dosing or even daily) dosing plan into my schedule but I fear the levels of things would kill my RCS and CRS.

    I'm currently doing 4-6 gallon water changes on a weekly basis. Since I assume in my 37 gallon tank I really have about 30 gallons of actual water I'm doing 20% water changes. Previously I feared anything more would upset the pH etc and possibly harm my shrimp. The more I read the more I realize that is probably untrue.

    Now that I put half the people reading this to sleep, here are some questions I'd love to have answered.

    * Does anyone successfully do EI style dosing /water changes with RCS or CRS? If so is it safe for them?
    * I loathe doing tests, I do regular pH and GH testing with pretty stable results ph 6.5 - 6.8 and GH 4-6. What is the minimum I can get away with to do EI? Just testing Iron? I'd really like to keep the amount of tests down if possible. It just stresses me out trying to acheive a "perfect" or ideal parameter.
    * It appears since I have lower light and use Excel, I should plan on doing about 1/3 the regular EI dosing. Is this right?
    * I use crushed eggshells and crushed cuttlebone (mixed together) to keep my calcium up. I read it somewhere a while back and added it into my bi weekly water changes. I just throw a teaspoon or so into new water and pour it into my tank. I've been told this is why my GH is higher. Should I stop this? Do I need to get the GH booster?
    * My KH is always around 1 according to my API testkit, so in common terms I assume that is nonexistent. Should I be adding some baking soda to boost this?

    I have the following bags in front of me:
    - MgSO4
    - KH2PO4
    - KNO3
    - K2SO4
    - Plantex CSM+B

    It appears I won't really need the K2SO4 probably from what I read after buying it. I'm thinking of mixing up the mgSO4, KH2PO4 and KNO3 and using that to dose. And mixing the Plantex CSM+B and putting it into the fridge and dosing that as well. The plantex makes sense to me since it's basically like Flourish, only I should dose 3 times a week.

    I'm still reading up before I make any decision and add anything to my tank. If anyone has any answers to my questions or can point me in a good direction I'd appreciate it. My #1 question is will this style dosing be ok with shrimp. All the rest can be learned based upon that answer. :)

    Thanks!
    -Daniel
     
  2. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    EI dosing is finr shrimp. Note that N is more toxic to shrimp than fish.

    That being said, I doubt by following EI for your tank that you will exceed these limits.

    You can always dose 1/4 or 1/2 of EI as a start to see how it affects the tank...

    Answered above.

    Most test kits are not that accurate and can be tossed. The idea of EI is to provide non-limiting amounts of nutirents.

    I would not use test kits unless they are very accurate and calibrated. These tend to be expensive and I doubt you are using anything like them.

    As stated, you can dose less at first to see how it works for you. Easier to add than to take out........

    If things are okay, leave it alone.

    BTW, ph swings are not as bad as folks think. Many natural and artificial systems drop a full point or more from day to night and back again.

    It is temp and kh flunctuations that are worse.......

    Hope this helps.
     
  3. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    If you use less light, then you need less ferts and less CO2.
    that said, I have 5.5 w/gal of Pc lighting on a small 20 gal that gets full EI and has a load of CRS, the most sensitive of all the shrimp kept, Rain and a few others have breed CRS in profusion at EI levels.

    So perhaps folks have trouble in general and not with EI itself or NO3.
    Still, they might consider using a bit less, using less light so there's less NO3 demand, or change the plants etc.

    I have no troubles so I know it cannot be EI dosing.
    If you have troubles and cannot pinpoint them, then you blame any and everything without good judgment, that, not EI, is the real issue here.

    If is was due solely to NO3's, I should have a tank full of dead Shrimp, yet I do not.....Cherry's are tough as nails as are Amano's.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  4. dgphelps

    dgphelps Junior Poster

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    Thanks to both of you. I've never lost a shrimp (knock on wood) so I think I am doing something right. If you have no issues then I feel I have nothing to fear starting an EI regime it seems much safer than starting CO2 dosing. ;) For some reason that scares the bejesus out of me.

    I'll finish up my reading and I hope to start EI after my water change on Saturday. Am I correct in assuming I should mix up the plantex for one dosing and the MgSO4, KH2PO4 and KNO3 for another solution? If I've read correctly, I'll mix up a batch as explained on the EI post for 1 liter and then dose 1/3 the suggested amount 3 times weekly.
     
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    If you have 2 w/gal, use Excel, then you will use about 1/3 Excel, however, Excel can be fairly toxic to some shrimp.

    Perhaps worse IMO, than CO2 gas.

    I'd use that vs Excel for Shrimp.

    Stick with low light though, at 2 w/gal, you can use about 50% of EI or so, using Excel, shoot for 1/3 of EI.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  6. dgphelps

    dgphelps Junior Poster

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    I'll try it out at 1/3 dosing and with Excel as I have been dosing it and report back the progress. Thanks again!
     
  7. dgphelps

    dgphelps Junior Poster

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    Ok, I fail at math it appears. Can anyone help?

    The normal dosing for a 20-40 gallon is listed as:
    1/4 tsp KNO3
    1/16 tsp KH2PO4
    1/2 tsp GH Booster (In my case I'm using cuttlebone, crushed egg mix)
    1/16 tsp (5ml) plantex csm+b

    For the plantex, I am assuming this means to make the mixture (1 tablespoon to 250ml water).

    I'll be dosing every three days and I'd prefer to dry dose and based on the fact that I have +-2WPG and I use excel I'll be dosing the above mixtures at 1/3rd the recommended amount. For the plantex this is easy since the solution at 5ml equals 1.66ml to dose. But how do I find 1/3rd of 1/4th, 1/16 or 1/2 tsp?

    Also, I have MGSO4, should I mix that into this mix? If so, at what rate?
     
  8. dgphelps

    dgphelps Junior Poster

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    OK, I may have just solved my own math problem. Please let me know how this looks:

    1/8 tsp KNO3 (3x week)
    1/2 pinch KH2PO4 (3x week)

    1/4 tsp Crushed baked eggshell/cuttlebone mix (1x week) (In place of GH Booster)
    1/4 tsp MGSO4 (1x week)

    1.66 ml Plantex CSM+B (3x week)
    For this I will mix 1/2 tablespoon CSM+B to 125ml water
    OR if I wanted to dry dose it would be 1/2 pinch (3x week)

    Does that look sound? I know 1/2 pinch isn't very precise but it's the closest I could find. I plan on dry dosing everything except the trace. Do I need to mix the trace with DI water or will normal tap water work ok?

    And in terms of maintenance I should be dosing this and doing a 50% water change 1x per week.
     
  9. Mooner

    Mooner Lifetime Charter Member
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    Close enough, you can always start with an 1/8" tsp and cut in half with a razor to get smaller amounts

    Cool idea, does it work.

    1/4 to 1/2 tsp of CSM+B in that mix is fine also

    Your preference, folks here do both. Personally, I would mix small batches on the CSM+B due to fungus.

    I do weekly WC's on my Excel tanks and have read others going longer. Steady WC keep things clean and healthy (Excel and CO2)
     
  10. dgphelps

    dgphelps Junior Poster

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    I've been using baked and crushed eggshells and cuttle bone, both powdered since I started the tank and my GH is always around 5-6. This dosage is more regular and a little more than I have been doing so I'll keep my eye on the KH/GH and see what happens. As for does it work, I guess so, my GH is steady and my shrimp and snails never have calcium deficiency/molting problems.

    I've always done weekly water changes but only 4-6 gallons at a time. I just did a 50% water change, it took quite a bit longer and raised my pH a lot. Before the water change I was at 6.8 and after 7.4 or so. Probably alright, I'll keep an eye on everything today to see how they took it.

    After I did the water change I dosed everything listed above as planned and excel. I'll go through this week with the planned dosing, unless anyone sees any problems with it, and report back next Saturday.

    Thanks,
    -Daniel
     
  11. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    It isn't necessary to keep the pH absolutely constant. It isn't pH variations that harm the livestock, but big changes in hardness may harm them. Most of us doing EI fertilizing routinely change 50% and more of the water every week or so, and I can't recall reading where anyone has had fish or shrimp problems as a result. Those water changes will always cause at least temporary pH changes, because tap water often has lots of dissolved CO2 in it, plus phosphates added by the water company to keep the pH above 7 and avoid eroding copper piping.

    Just don't dump in a big load of GH or KH raising chemicals all at once. This isn't likely to ever be a problem for you, with your use of a constant supply of eggshell and cuttlebone.
     
  12. dgphelps

    dgphelps Junior Poster

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    Thanks Vaughn, it's tough breaking away from the thought process that pH changes can do a lot of damage. I used to have a reef tank and I was always watching it for changes or crashes.

    I originally planned to do the EI dosing every 3 days, but realized the goal is to dose 3 times per week. If I do Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, with water changes on Saturday is that ok? I'd do the WC and then dose after filling it up with fresh water. That should be fine, right?
     
  13. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    You can dose with a lot of different combinations of days. For example, I dose every day, both the macro and the micro nutrients. And, I change about 10% of the water every day, with a constant dripping flow in and out of the tank. You can dose twice a week, if you wish, but the amounts added that way mean you have to wait several hours between dosing macro nutrients and the iron containing micro nutrients. Or, as I did for awhile, you can dose macros every other day and micros on the other days, changing water when ever it fits your schedule, but about once a week. It is far from an exact science.
     
  14. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    By the way, keep any mixed solutions in the refrigerator, it will prevent fungus from growing at least for a while.
     
  15. dgphelps

    dgphelps Junior Poster

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    It's been a week and things are looking good, at least nothing has died. Though I didn't expect any losses really.

    I've been dosing the amounts I posted last and have been dry dosing the macros. For the trace, I made a small batch with water and am storing it in the fridge. I have been dosing both macros and trace on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I dose in the am around the time lights go on. On Saturdays I dose after my 50% water change. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I dose excel 3ml each day. On Saturdays after the water change I dose 3 capfuls (15 ml) after the 50% water change as specified on the directions.

    When I dose the macros and trace I add them in to different sides of the tank, from my understanding mixing them in the tank is fine, the precipitate Iron if mixed together in concentrated form.

    My main tank has some good looking growth, though honestly I am not noticing any vast difference yet. My 10 gallon yellow shrimp tank is showing definite growth. My mini water lettuce and hornwort have grown very noticeably since last week. I can't wait for a month of this to see what happens.
     
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