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Switching to EI

Discussion in 'Journals' started by edelry.junior, Jan 2, 2017.

  1. edelry.junior

    edelry.junior Plant Enthusiast
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    Hello everyone!


    This Journal is going to be about a noob (a.k.a. me) making his switch to EI. All the obstacles in the way (e.g. Algae, Mistakes) are part of my learning path. In no way I claim to be experient or better than anyone here. Rather, I would like to use this time and opportunity to learn. I don’t know if a noob diary is interesting to read, but I would really appreciate your feedback.


    From this perspective, my journal is maybe a collection of the bad things I did, and attempts to overcome it (for the german speakers: nicht nachmachen :) )


    Here is the structure I will follow for this journal, to keep it clear:

    1. Acknowledgements
      Kudos to some people
    2. Background Notes
      Where I am coming from
    3. Tank Setup
      My first tank here in Germany
    4. EI Journal
      My switch to Estimative Index
      Pictures will be added in this section. Feel free to skip ;)
     
  2. edelry.junior

    edelry.junior Plant Enthusiast
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    1. Acknowledgements


    For quite a while I wanted to create a thread here, mostly because I wanted to be a part of this great forum, but also to thank this community for the outstanding service provided. Really, thank you. There are so many to thank: Burr, Fablau, Strungout, Jason, Pikez, Nicpapa, Christophe, etc. You taught me a lot.


    A special thanks to Mr. Tom Barr: you have no idea of the impact your ideas had on me. Simply put: your work brought the aquarium joy back to me, the happiness of getting results and spending time gardening, instead of focusing on fighting algae or buying more and more ‘miracle’ products.


    Tom, sincerely: thank you so much. Your work is deeply appreciated. I can't over stress this: finding your work was a game changer. Hope to meet you personally one day.
     
    Mike k and a1matt like this.
  3. edelry.junior

    edelry.junior Plant Enthusiast
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    2. Background Notes


    I am a Brazilian guy, born in Recife in 1980. As you can imagine, access to good information and products, in Northeastern Brazil, was really limited. I had my first tank in ‘92 (60l,undergravel filter and air pump) and my first planted in ‘99 (240l, Canister). I kept it until 2005 and then had a big break to focus on other stuff.


    During this time, ‘99 to ‘05, I tried all that I could to get a nice planted tank. I was never successful in keeping a lush environment, although I enjoyed learning and trying new things, and keeping simple plants: microform pteropus, anubias, vallisnerias, brazilian hygrophilas, etc..


    I never got aware of PMDD at that time, but I felt its influence: everybody believed excess nutrients (or even any at all) in the water column was the source of all evil. I have no idea how much money I poured into phosphate, nitrate, silicate, you-name-it removers. At the same time, I never met anyone trying to grow exclusively plants, most people used to care only about fishes, either Amazon fishes (really common for us there) or Malawi/Tanganyika cichlids (cyphotilapia frontosa and the likes).


    Light was always too much, CO2 if present, was never stable or enough, no fertiliser besides soil. I never got things right to produce a breathtaking scape.
     
  4. edelry.junior

    edelry.junior Plant Enthusiast
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    3. Tank Setup


    My wife knew I liked aquariums, but since we got married in 2010, she never witnessed me taking care of it. She thought it would be interesting, I guess. She brought me to a Futterhaus store and said: go for it. :)


    On April 2015 I bought this:



    I thought that because this time I was using ‘the real stuff’, from big name companies, I would achieve success (“"laterite, dirt soil, worm castings, etc. is a thing of the past"”). Needless to say, it did not go well, it was a repetition from before. Better results in general, but on a scale from 1-10, I moved from 2 to 4, when I was hoping for 7 or 8.


    Clearly, the problem was not in the equipment or material per se, but in my knowledge/abilities/limitations.


    Here follows a brief description of April 2015 to July 2016:

    1. Bi weekly 50% water changes, 12h light cycle. Bio CO2 with a ‘bubble flipper’.
    2. Plants do not grow well despite a lot of fertiliser in soil, kind of okay-ish.
    3. Add more light.
    4. Get a lot of GSA.
    5. Some plants look bad, remove them. Buy others.
    6. Test water.
    7. Buy a Canister Filter
      https://www.amazon.de/JBL-60212-Au%C.../dp/B004K3OTXC
    8. Add nitrate/phosphate remover to Canister.
    9. Some plants die. Buy others.
    10. Add iron.
    11. Test more.
    12. Add more light.
    13. Add pressurised CO2 but rely on poor diffusion and drop checker.
    14. Test more.
    15. Some plants die. Buy others.
    16. Cycle continues...


    I think I did all the possible wrong things.


    No fertiliser in water but lots of light (4 24W T5HO bulbs ~4000 lumens. I don’t have a PAR meter, but I know this is a lot). No stable/enough CO2. Over reliance in cheap test kits, including all sorts of tests: drop test, strip tests, etc. I was so ignorant when I think about it now. Well, at least I found out there was a lot to learn, and that gave me hope.
     
  5. edelry.junior

    edelry.junior Plant Enthusiast
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    4. EI Journal


    4.1. Discovery


    The turning point was in October ‘16, when a friend, who never had a planted tank, said: “I am starting a tank and I want an HC carpet, etc…”. We bought the plants together. And he did it, a beautiful carpet in 4 weeks. His HC was doing great, and mine sucked big time. Smaller and smaller leaves, stems reaching higher and higher. I checked some videos from Dennis Wong on youtube saying that the main reason for HC not growing well was due to low CO2. But I was shoving way more CO2, what am I missing? My friend was the turning point.


    I sat down with him and went step by step checking everything he did: “how do you do the Water Change?”. I was veeeery through in my search. The only real difference was the fertilizer. At the time I thought “Estimative Index” was a brand. He was using, according to him, this “Aqua Rebell stuff, based on Estimative Index”. I tried and bought it, followed the instructions from Aqua Rebell, something like EI PMDD style. I noticed some results. But no so great. Then I decided to read, in german (and my german sucks) what the hell is Estimative Index.


    Mind Blown.


    Really. WOW. So many myths were out of the way.


    It took me 5 seconds to find the BarrReport.com website.


    I spent the next two weeks reading this forum non-stop. Also, I sat down with a friend who is a chemist and I had a quick recap on chemistry, calculating molar mass, interactions, preparing solutions, precautions and so on.


    After 3 weeks my HC carpet was there. Currently I am on my 6th week into EI. From mid november till late december. To be able to trim HC feels like a privilege to me.
     
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  6. edelry.junior

    edelry.junior Plant Enthusiast
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    4.2. Into Estimative Index


    So, my goals changed drastically. So did my questions:

    • “What else can I grow?”
    • “I want some red stuff!”
    • “What about layers, fore-, mid- and background?”
    • “Pruning techniques?”
    • “How to deal with the existing algae?”
    So, I decided to not touch the substrate until I felt I know what I am doing. I thought that I should focus on growing plants for now, the rest is secondary.


    Maybe in September I might restart… ...now is learning time.


    If I can grow my Aquarium plants the same way I do with my Bonsai, I would be satisfied for now. With my Bonsai I focus on shape, pruning, wiring, letting it rest, then shaping again. It is all about gardening. Fertilization is just a step. The growth is obvious. Of course I know this is a stretch, nobody thinks about CO2 availability to terrestrial plants, but the point to me is: The focus is on growing plants, on its health, its shape, and so on. For the moment that is what I would like to focus on.


    So, on to the tank itself. My focus was to let light drive the growth rate (2x 24W T5, during 9 hours, followed by 4x 24w T5 during 2 hours, total 11 hours photo period). So it meant for me that I should provide everything else to the max, short of “too wasteful”:

    1. 75% weekly water change
    2. Bi-Weekly filter cleaning (pre-filter section)
    3. CO2 50ppm, usage of a Reactor and inline Atomizer
    4. I decided to add Seachem Excel to be on the safe side.
    5. N 27ppm, P 5ppm, K 27ppm weekly (split in 3 doses)
    6. Fe 0,6ppm (EDTA, DTPA) weekly (split in 3 doses)
    7. Fe Gluconate 0,25ppm daily
    8. Lots of traces from the Fe EDTA and Fe Gluconate mixes
    9. I also added Seachem Equilibrium at Water Change (enough to raise GH 2 degrees).
    10. Circulation pumps (2x 400l/h in a 60l tank)



    Since KNO3 here in Germany is highly regulated, I decided to stay with the Aqua Rebell stuff for the moment. It is much cheaper than the regular seachem, tropica stuff, and 20€ buy enough macros or micros for 6 months. I settled with this solution for now.


    Some months ago I bought/started using a couple more things:



    I am using 2 canisters: the initial JBL CristalProfi 700 and an additional Eheim 2233. I bought these filters second hand, and paid 50€ for both. I have one inflow for each filter, but a single outflow through the inline atomizer, co2 reactor and finally a spray bar. The JBL filter has 3 trays, 2 with ceramics, 1 with the pre filter pads. The Eheim has only filter pads. I started using both because I wanted to drive the CO2 reactor with more power, and avoid the crazy amount of mist I was having. I also enjoy the extra filter pads. The surface skimmer is just a precaution, and I like the extra circulation. The extra pump complements the skimmer, making sure the water literally “circulates” (skimmer is on the right, circulation pump is on the left, as in a marine aquarium).


    By the end of the month I will receive a much bigger canister, a gift from a friend.
     
  7. edelry.junior

    edelry.junior Plant Enthusiast
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    4.3. Photo Journal


    This is the pretty portion (not really until the end). Photos are untouched from my phone. Photos were taken from different angles, different times of the day, different lighting, etc. Brief notes are written in them, along with the dates.


    2015 Photos










    image_6107.jpg

    image_6108.jpg

    image_6109.jpg
     
    #7 edelry.junior, Jan 2, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 2, 2017
  8. edelry.junior

    edelry.junior Plant Enthusiast
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    2016 Photos
















    2016-02-21.jpg

    2016-03-03.jpg

    2016-11-29.jpg

    2016-12-23.jpg

    2016-03-12.jpg
     
    #8 edelry.junior, Jan 2, 2017
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  9. edelry.junior

    edelry.junior Plant Enthusiast
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  10. edelry.junior

    edelry.junior Plant Enthusiast
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    Pearling Video


    I had to adjust the timers for some reason and ended up turning all the pumps and filters off, so that I could rearrange the power cords. During this time, I became aware of how much "pearling" I was having. I thought it was CO2, but that is not the case.


    [video=youtube;T0DhHej-Dlw]

     
    #10 edelry.junior, Jan 2, 2017
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  11. Kyalgae

    Kyalgae Lifetime Members
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    Tank looks great! The grisly before EI photos really highlight a poorly growing plant vs. a much healthier plant, that was a nice java fern though. I noticed in the video the fish sitting mostly at the surface of the water, do they normally do that, or is that just because your circulation/surface agitation is turned off?


    Do you have any Red Cherry Shrimp?
     
  12. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    You are what we call a 'quick study' here in the US. Nice job. You've come a long way in just over a year.
     
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  13. edelry.junior

    edelry.junior Plant Enthusiast
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    At this point I don't care much about the fish, but no, they don't stay the whole time up there. Maybe it was the lack of circulation. But in general no.


    My cousin in Brazil breeds Red Cherries on big numbers for sale, and he suggested I should keep some. I like the idea, although currently I only have amanos.


    Now I am curious: why do you ask? :)
     
  14. edelry.junior

    edelry.junior Plant Enthusiast
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    You are very kind Pikez. I am really investing time going through all the stuff you guys made available here. Thanks.


    This forum is a very good place to learn, given Tom's solid foundations. Many people seem rather pragmatic about their observations.


    There is also a nice balance between the scientific approach and being practical. You don't need to be atomically precise, the usage of "acceptable deviations" just speeds up the process. But that requires experience, property over what you are doing, and I trust Tom has provided a lot.
     
  15. Kyalgae

    Kyalgae Lifetime Members
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    Neocaridina shrimp are very entertaining to watch, and very active. I started off with red cherry shrimp, then I threw in a few pumpkin shrimp (same shrimp but selectively bred for orange colour) then you get all kinds of neat variations in the offspring colour and pattern wise. You could start off with ten shrimp then end up with......depending on feeding hundreds.


    Watch out though, you can waste hours watching them clean little bits off your plants. My Red cherries do more than my Amanos cleaning-wise. I have a non co2 tank with Amanos, and those things are two inches long and ferocious, but for some reason in my high tech they aren't very active.


    Get some Red Cherries, you won't regret it.
     
  16. edelry.junior

    edelry.junior Plant Enthusiast
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    That is nice. I will do that for sure.
     
  17. edelry.junior

    edelry.junior Plant Enthusiast
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    Fablau, thanks for the pictures.


    You have very lush growth, and on the right side, the AR mini looks like the single exception. That's interesting...


    I wanted to see it so that I can compare the conditions with mine. So far, from what I can see:

    • My AR gets more direct light, I always try to no let the plants overshadow each other, and when they are too close, I always do the house cleaning. But that is also related to scaping/style.
    • Also, my AR spot has access to much more water circulation.I even have a portion of my spray aimed at them.
    Please understand that I am not saying you do not have enough light or water circulation! I am just sharing my observations.


    About the Anubias: they started melting months ago, leaves and rhizomes, way before I started using excel, and unfortunately they never stopped melting. A slow decay... :(


    For my learning period now, I am not concerned about it. I rather have fast growers that can keep up with my mistakes, than strive for perfection. At some point the Anubias might come back.


    About the RotalaButterfly's calculator:

    • Tried it. Interesting. I was aware of the website, but did not know you and Jason were contributing to it.
    • I have to report a bug: if I provide the Lumens/Watt ratio, which is optional, it does not work.
    • Skipping the Lumen/Watt ratio, it tells me I have around 192 PAR at substrate level with 2 lamps, and 383 PAR with 4 lamps.
      I think that it is a bit too much, I think I have half of that, tops. I already knew I had more than enough, but not that much. Makes me think.
    • If I are curious to know exactly which lamps I use, here they are:
      2 bulbs of JBL Solar Tropic 24W 438mm long during the whole photo period.
    • 1 bulb of JBL Solar Tropic 24W + 1 bulb JBL Solar Color 24W for the last hours.
      Links to the manufacturer website, with the specs and spectrum analysis:
      JBL Solar Tropic: https://www.jbl.de/?lang=en&mod=prod...d=2383#6176100
      JBL Solar Color: https://www.jbl.de/?lang=en&mod=prod...d=3132#6179100



    Anyways, I just wanted to give you the numbers you asked for :)


    Last point: please create the journal man, we learn so much from the exchange!


    I know it is a bit of work to collect all the pictures, write all the data and stuff, so take your time, but please do it!
     
    #17 edelry.junior, Jan 6, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 6, 2017
  18. fablau

    fablau rotalabutterfly.com
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    Oh well, I think something is wrong with the forums today, it looks like the past 2 days postings are disappeared ?!? I can't even see the pics I posted yesterday on this thread... Jason, ideas?


    Anyhow, Edelry, I think you said it right about circulation and light about my AR, in fact I noticed you have strong circulation in your tank. Do you use any additional power head besides your canister outflow?


    As for your Anubias, maybe it's a combination of things (too much light? Something else?). As you said, wait and see. Maybe could also be related to Co2 and pH... Just thinking out loud, what's your PH drop when you inject Co2?


    As for the light calculator, we all are aware it is anything but accurate, there isn't actually a perfect way to calculate PAR, but we are trying to get close. I will play with it and eventually fix the bug you found. Thanks for your lights specs!


    I will definitely create a journal, thanks for pushing me, I need that!
     
  19. fablau

    fablau rotalabutterfly.com
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    Ederly, could you please give me the data you have entered in the light calculator which gives you that PAR result?
     
  20. Jason King

    Jason King barrreport.com
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    Hi Fab


    Yes we had a big problem with the database and seems we lost over 500 posts 2 days back :( , this ment we had to restore a database but it resulted in losing about 20 replies.


    I did have a notice above the forums announcing that we would be doing a restore, anyway


    Firstly sorry about this, its now fixed.


    Secondly for those who would like to have there missing posts restored contact me with the thread in question as I personally get an email with every post made so in theory have a sort of backup, that we can copy and paste back in.


    Thanks for understanding


    Jason
     
    #20 Jason King, Jan 6, 2017
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