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Question about posting here--and Flourish dosing

Discussion in 'CO2 Enrichment' started by kid creole, Dec 28, 2008.

  1. kid creole

    kid creole Prolific Poster

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    If I am about to ask a question about dosing Excel and its brethren, should I do it on this forum, or are people expecting to only see questions about EI? Should I relegate all of my posts to the "Are you new to aquatic plants forum" until I know what I am doing?

    Here's my question:

    For reference, you can see my first post and some pics of my tank:
    http://www.barrreport.com/you-new-aquatic-plants-start-here/5079-where-you-introduce-yourself.html

    After some advice there, I have cut down on the lights, and immediately, the yellow is nearly gone, and things are coming back to green ... but not as green as I think think it could be. I also have a little beard algae which appears to be on the decline after the change.

    I am now wondering what I should, or could, be dosing. I know EI seems simple, but I'd like to be successful with some standard products before taking it to the next level. I don't want to do a 50% weekly water change, as I have to use RO at $0.50/gallon. I'm just not ready for EI right now, I don't think.

    In my 65 gallon, I am currently dosing Excel (1 cap) 2x per week, and flourish and Iron about every other day. I'm about to run out of flourish and iron, and I wasn't planning on re-upping. I am also using root tabs which I will replace quarterly. I have floursih and flourish trace on the way.

    What should I dose? Should I just experiment, or should I stick with what I am doing right now for a while (how long?) until I have more data?
     
  2. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    This is a good place for your question. The basics for growing aquatic plants successfully are:
    Adequate light.
    Usable substrate.
    Using an adequate amount of all of the needed fertilizers to match the amount of light used.
    Carbon Dioxide in an adequate concentration all over the tank to match the amount of light used, and a consistent concentration every day.
    Adequate water circulation in the tank to get the CO2 to all of the plants.
    Good, regular maintenance of the system.

    The simple, basic, standard fertilizers are KNO3, KH2PO4, and a trace element mix. Nothing you buy in a LFS will be as good for providing nitrogen, potassium and phosphate.

    There is nothing wrong with experimenting, but you can make the best progress by building on the experience of others when it comes to the basics.

    Just my opinions.
     
  3. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    A basic question I have is why do you have to use RO water for water changes?

    You did not mention why that is done.
    What is the tap water like where you are living(check their site)? GH and KH?


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  4. kid creole

    kid creole Prolific Poster

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    The tap water is high in phosphates. I had horrific string algae to start, but it immediately went away with the use of RO.

    Otherwise, the parameters are good. I don't remember pH, but it was around neutral. KH is around 3 or 4 out of the tap, GH is in the mid teens.
     
  5. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Keeping a successful planted tank can be a lot of work, following a routine of fertilizing, maintaining good CO2 in the water, pruning, cleaning, water changes, etc. When you choose to use RO water in place of tap water you are making that work much more difficult, and reducing your chances to have a nice looking aquarium.

    High phosphates in an otherwise well tended aquarium has not been shown to cause algae. In fact the plants will soon consume those phosphates even if they are initially high. Some of us, probably many of us, have mistakenly added mono potassium phosphate in place of potassium nitrate when fertilizing, resulting in about 4X normal phosphates in the water, but without any observable consequence. In fact the EI dosing method allows phosphates to build up to as much as twice the desired amounts between water changes for lightly planted tanks. I can't recall anyone reporting an algae problem as a result.

    Water departments routinely add things to their water to keep the pH up above 7 at all times, to prevent erosion of the copper piping in most houses. One of the things they apparently add to do that is a form of phosphates. So, many of us use "high phosphate" tap water for our tanks, with no bad results we are aware of.

    The one time using RO water is necessary is to reduce the hardness of the water, and that is rarely necessary unless you are trying to breed certain fish species.
     
  6. kid creole

    kid creole Prolific Poster

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    I may be wrong about why using RO reduced my algae problem, but it doesn't change the fact that it had such a pronounced effect. I attributed it to phospates based on some improvement after using phos-ban. I know I don't have any hard evidence too back this up, so I won't try to defend something that is likely wrong.

    This picture is what my tank looked like with the algae. I was cleaning it every other day, and this picture was the day after it was cleaned. I was pulling out handful after handful of the stuff.
    Picasa Web Albums - Joe - Fish Tank Sep...

    Within 2 weeks of switching to RO, and doing a few 10% water changes, the green string algae was gone. Like it was never there.


    I am open to going back to tap water in the future as an experiment, but not right now.

    RO water has not complicated things for me, except that it doesn't facilitate the use of my Python. I get 3 5 gallon jugs. 1 is used to replaced evaporated water. The 2nd 2 are the same size as the 5 gallon bucket I use for water changes, so I can change out 10 gallons of water in 10 minutes. I just add 1/2 tsp of RO conditioner and most of a tsp of baking soda, and I've got a good water mix.
     
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Blah, you are thinking like folks did 20 years old.
    PO4 in my tap water was why I grew such nice plants, this is precisely why folks add PO4 to their tanks today.

    My tap was about 1.2ppm PO4.

    PO4 is not the enemy, nor will it ever induce that algae, when you start out, many folks get algae, it's not PO4 fault or NO3 etc, or the tap, it's yours/ours etc.

    We lack experience.

    Here's a tank of mine with 3ppm of PO4:
    [​IMG]

    Another:

    [​IMG]

    See algae?
    Nope, it cannot be due to high PO4..............generally not enough plants, ot enough water changes and good general care, poor CO2, too much light etc.
    CO2 is about 90% or more of the algae issues folks have.

    NO3 and PO4 are really low on the list.

    You have ideal Tap, use it, stop playing with RO, you can drink it etc if you want:eek:

    The PO4 limiting approach has resoundly been falsified some years back, I guess about 12-13 or so now. Focus on plant needs, not being scare of algae.
    That is the path, not fear of algae.

    You cannot say PO4 causes algae when faced with evidence that we are adding 2-4ppm per week of PO4 and have no algae. It has to be something other than the PO4 for this to be correct, it cannot logically be PO4 excess.

    Look, we are not lying and not trying to pull one over on you, we have been there ourselves and are trying to make the point that will save you a look of work and headache.

    You might think it is based on correlation, but that does not imply anything to do with "cause", so look at the root cause and address that, not just the symptoms.

    Most folks have trouble with CO2 and make way to many assumptions there and add too much light. If you luse CO2 up with high light and have nutrients, you will get some rather nasty algae, particularly in the first few weeks.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  8. kid creole

    kid creole Prolific Poster

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    Point taken, thank you.
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Well, it will save you a lot of wasted time chasing after things that do not matter, save you enromous amounts of labor doing a water change etc.

    Look at/for results that prove the point, not speculation.
    The results must support the theory/question being asked. Not mere correlation which is what you and others in the past saw. It might seem reasonable at first even......and often does..............

    But when you really test it and then correct the other issues(CO2, light etc) so that they do not influence the results.......then it's clear and you have ruled out the other confounding factors like CO2 etc.

    If you do not do that, you really cannot ever say what(PO4, CO2 etc_) is doing anything. You can speculate, but the the results do not tell you anything one way or the other.

    For this to work, you need to be able to test this hypothesis/theory in such a way that the prediction is supported every, or most, everytime. Clearly that is not the case here nor has been in thousand's of aquariums for over a decade. Your theory about algae and PO4 cannot be true. It's not my or your theory really, folks have long stated this. Nor is this personal, it's just an idea, and one we can test and see if it is correct or not.

    The idea about PO4 limiting algae was based on correlation and some skewed interptation from natural lake studies. So it does seem reasonable. Steve Dixon and I just bothered to actively test it by adding PO4 to see if the algae would appear as claimed. It did not. Others did it, again, no algae. We shared that with folks. I do not think you find many that agree PO4 is an algae culprit today on the web.

    I also know for many, it's not something they are willing to give up so easily and start adding PO4, many are still engrained with the belief that PO4 is "bad", "less is better", however, think about a farmer growing crops, does his field grow better on rich soil or infertile nutrient poor soil? Same thing here.

    To grow plant well, the central goal in Horticulture, you must focus on their needs.
    That's all this does. There are quite a few folks locally in NC that also have planted tanks and do quite well with the tap water, no RO needed.

    I'd focus more on good care consistently, water changes and CO2.
    This will help a lot, get you much closer to your goal and sa a lot of labor, time and testing.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  10. KentCurtis

    KentCurtis Junior Poster

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    I too decided to use the flourish line of supplements (Flourish Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorus) before I tried mixing my own. My setup is a 20 gallon high, 55 watt PC w/ AHSupply reflector, and DIY co2 (yes I am poor and in college). Can I expect to see decent results dosing with these products as opposed to not dosing them at all? It was kind of expensive to buy them as opposed to mixing my own, but I just didn't feel comfortable mixing them with some much information out there to digest. I haven't decided how to dose them yet, dosing them all together every other day or some combination as I have read so many opinions. Anything would help guys!
     
  11. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    The other thing is that you started taking better care of the tank in general, it might not have anything to do with RO. Doing more water changes, tending the tank more often etc does help even if the source of the water used for changes is the same.

    We have to be a bit careful attributing it to RO or other things.
    I have high PO4 and no issues, so I cannot suggest that high PO4 causes any ill effect in and of itself.

    You can believe what you think till the cows come home, but it does not answer why I do not have any algae issues and high PO4, NO3, Fe.
    Luck, magic, none of those are reasons either.

    I do also understand for you right now, you simply want the algae gone and do not want to deal with it again. However, "the cure" is growing the plants well under non limiting conditions. This includes PO4 and all the required nutrients.

    This "cure" also applies to all cases and means if you have issues with PO4, you can rule that issue out and focus instead on the root cause, not just the correlation, which is what you have not done here.

    You just focused on the symptom, not the root cause.
    While understandable...............folks here and many places will tell you to forget the PO4 excess issue and focus on the plant's needs and their growth.

    Most make mistakes with too much light and poor CO2, not excess nutrients.

    By ruling things out like NO3, PO4, Fe etc, we can easily focus the "cure" on the root cause and get much better health with much less labor over time.

    Generally, if it's a CO2 issue, you see some plants doing well, some not so well.
    Folks often thought this to mean that it's nutrients, never considering that some species are better at gobbling up all the CO2 and some are not that good at acquiring CO2.

    Some species will do pretty good even if the CO2 is suboptimal.
    And some folks do not mind slower growth, even no growth as long as the plants are clean of algae.

    But that is not why folks do this hobby, they get into the hobby to grow a nice planted tank, so the focus should always be there, not 101 ways to limit and kill algae. If you focus on the plants, you do not have algae issues.

    No one will disagree with that. I might be hard to swallow initially, most are very unsure about things and this does not make sense to some new folks after a bout with algae.

    But it is the path you should take. I am not going to misguide or lie to anyone about it;)

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  12. abcemorse

    abcemorse Prolific Poster

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    Here's a great breakdown of cost as far as liquid vs dry ferts, as well as a quick & dirty list of parameters. The dosing schedule here is a bit more labor/testing intensive then the EI method, but probably works just fine (can't say personally, as I use the EI system). The cost thing is pretty eye-opening. Dosing is really pretty simple, look up "Chuck's Planted Aquarium Calculator" for an easy way to determine dry amounts or stock solutions, persoanlly I prefer the latter. Even with EI, I would suggest testing for a few weeks till you get a handle on what your tank is using up. For example, I have discus that require a LOT of food, which adds a fair amount of NO3 by itself, so I don't quite dose as much of that, same with PO4 but not to the same degree. Anyway, I'm babbling, hope that helps!!
    Fertilizing the Planted Tank | Nutrients | Rex's Guide to Planted Tanks
     
  13. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    No, no babbling at all, rather good common sense approach, choosing to use less KNO3 to make up for the Discus waste is often done where higher bioloads are present.

    You can sub K2SO4 to make up for the K+ in stead of KNO3 etc.

    There's no rule that says you cannot use RO water, or test kits in EI, on ly that it really tends not to be needed. Folks can and do check with test kits as long as they are calibrated.........then make adjustments. I would only suggets making adjustments bawsed on general trends, not just a week or two of higher readings etc and only when I'm very sure the CO2 and light issue is in good shape.

    Common sense and not blind adherence works far better:)
    I do try to have the folks I help get that rather than simply taking my advice.

    Why?

    Simple, they can think better for themselves and answer their own questions, resolve their own issues and help others do better in the future.
    That makes for a wiser aquarist and one that will not make the same mistakes we see over and over again.

    That's really my agenda:gw

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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