Unfortunately I purchased a LOT of ADA fertilizer (Brighty K, Green Brighty Special Lights and the Green Brighty series 1, 2 and 3) before finding information in your forum about the EI method. So based on your years of experience, how would you recommend I fertilize (how frequently/much)?
The aquarium has been setup for 3 months, and it’s heavily planted with the following;
Alternanthera Reineckii 'Rosaefolia'.
Echinodorus X Barthii
I am also currently using over 3 wpg of light, and the CO2 is 30ppm 1 inch from the soil but almost all the stem plants are leggy. So, based on having more than enough light, good CO2/circulation, my only conclusion is I’m either over fertilizing or under fertilizing. Based on the instructions I’m dosing 17mls (1ml per 20l) of Brighty K and Green Brighty series 1 (daily), and since it wasn’t specified in the directions, I’m also dosing 17mls of Green Brighty Special Lights.
Well, you now have lots of nice pretty bottles filled with mostly water
You have a nice tank, nice light, nice sediment, decent filters, etc.
ADA AS is where most of the nutrients are at this point.
You likely can use 1/2 the light or so, I use 4 x 54 W on my 120 Gal, same size, just a 6" wider.
In otherwords, it's not a lack of light for the plants.
Sounds more like you just need to trim the plants, be careful and if you must uproot the plants, be careful not to pull up the powersand. You'll regret it otherwise, so very gently remove the plants as needed there, but mostly, trim and top the plants, and the lower shoots will have light and resprout.
Cut just like you might for hedge out in the yard (use scissors).
Also, watch CO2 much more.
This is critical.
More so than the nutrients(even if you under dose the water column, you still have back up in the sediment using the ADA AS and PS). This will not last forever however, so adding rich water column + rich sediment will help the sediment last longer.
To reduce and slow rates of growth, chose slower growing species, add more hardscape, other layouts that require less work, and more than other parameters: reduce the light to reduce the rates of growth.
You may use high light like you have to allow the plants to grow and fill in, after which you reduce the light to keep the plants filled it and not growing as fast.
Keep the CO2 diffuser clean and well maintained.
Same for the filters, clean regularly. You might try using 2x 54W on the light for 5 hours, then the other set for the remaining 5 hours, or with 2-4 hours of overlap.
This will still give nice light spread, but reduce the intensity.
Less light= less CO2 demand= less nutrient demand.
Makes things easier maintain and slows growth.
As far as nutrients:
50% weekly water change:
Trace mix(Say CMS+B)
Planted Aquarium Fertilizer - Home
GH booster after water change only, say 3/4 to 1 tsp
2-3x a week:
KNO3: 3/4 teaspoon
KH2PO4 1/8" teaspoon to a little under 1/4 tsp
Traces: add 15 mls of the CMS+B in DI or very soft water low KH at 2 Table spoons in a 500mls of water. If the water is harder , you might add another 1/2 teaspoon or DTPA Fe to that.
That's it pretty much.
If you watch the tank after the water change, (do the water change in the morning right after the lights come on), this is a good gauge for CO2 and general optimal health for reference.
If the tank look nearly that good all week, you are in good shape, if things slowly get worse, then it's likely a CO2 issue, water changes a good tools for cleaning things up and resetting things, but CO2 is a big one also.
Keeping nutrients within and stable range is one of the few parameters we can make stable and be sure of, the other is light.
CO2 is not.
So keep everything that is involved with the CO2 system optimal.
Eventually you will forgo the Drop checker and use the plants as a more visual indicator of CO2. pH controllers have issues also, so do not think they are some cure for CO2 variation, they are not.
CO2 is a mixture of current, flow through(so the filter clogging will reduce the amount of CO2 that can be dissolved and mixed and would increase lag times), rate of Gas added, structure within the tank, various species demands(they are not all equal), and how you measure it, it's also a function of O2 as well with respect the the fish themselves.
Nutrients are easy, CO2 is not.
BTW, you can make ADA liquids (see the Newsletter report), or you can make a liquid form of the EI method, EI came from PMDD and added PO4, so there's an article on how to do that, so you can use those pretty bottles and use a similar routine, just with DIY ferts and richer levels.
Then slowly back off and see how the tank responds.