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The Custom Micro Mix Thread

Discussion in 'Aquatic Plant Fertilization' started by Greggz, Dec 16, 2017.

  1. Greggz

    Greggz Lifetime Members
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    As some of you may know, our resident mad scientist @burr740 has been forging a new frontier in micro dosing. He’s been “rolling his own” micro mix, and it’s been quite an interesting journey. Probably the most surprising thing is that he has gone from very, very low micro dosing, to seemingly larding it on.

    Burr has been kind enough to provide a supply to myself and a few others, to see the effects on different tanks. And I know at least a few who are blending their own mix as well. @slipfinger and I have had a couple of conversations about this, and agreed it might be time to start a thread devoted this topic. The idea is to have a place to post tank parameters, dosing schedules, lighting, etc. to make it easier to learn what others are doing, and the effect it is having. And really, anyone who wants to share their parameters, regardless of micro dosing, is welcome.

    So I will get things started, and I hope others will share as well.

    For some time, like many others here, I was testing the lower limits of micro dosing with CSM+B. At one point I was down to .015 from Fe. To make a long story short, I am now dosing the Burr Micro Mix at .15 DAILY (yes seven days a week!). That’s almost 20 times as much!

    In general, the tank has been doing better than ever (all relative of course, I’m still a piker compared to some here!). Makes me wonder if I have been starving them of some needed elements for a long time? I plan to follow up this post with pictures and descriptions of individual plants, as there have been noticeable changes to many.

    So here are the general specs of my tank. I thought it would be interesting to share this information, and hope others will as well. If anyone would like to use this spreadsheet to keep track of their own dosing, here is a link where you can download it. I take a screenshot, then crop it for posting.

    Hopefully we can get a few to participate, as personally I always like to see what others are doing, and then consider how I might apply it to my own tank.

    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1CI7FdUKHGv7CgfA3lRJZdxESN07exBsu

    pHosting.php?do=show&type=f&id=99226&title=Greggz_Ferts_12-16-2017c.jpg

    pHosting.php?do=show&type=f&id=98970&title=20171202_162407c.jpg
     
  2. Phishless

    Phishless Lifetime Member
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    I'll post here I'm not doing two sites.o_O
     
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  3. slipfinger

    slipfinger Article Editor
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    Thanks for spearheading this @Greggz.

    Below you will see my current dosing. I am not too sure which version I am currently on as I mix my own based on @burr740 recommendations. I am currently dosing .325 DTPA Fe 4x a week.

    One big difference between my tank and that of @Greggz and @burr740 is I am using ADA Amazonia Aquasoil. The soil itself is about a year and a half old at this point.

    I also dose .25ppm Urea 4x a week with my macro dosing.


    For those interested below is a list of the individual elements and what I'm and I think most are using.

    DTPA Fe
    Mn as Manganese Sulphate = MgSO4.7H2O
    Cu as Copper Sulphate = CuSO4.5H2O
    Zn as Zinc Sulphate = ZnSO4.7H2O
    Mo as Sodium Molybdate = Na2MoO4*2H2O
    Bo as Borax = Na2B4O7·10H2O

    25232806878_67406eac26_b.jpg

    27321902089_34c3db4538_c.jpg
     
  4. Greggz

    Greggz Lifetime Members
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    Two things. First is the .325 Fe. Was surprised to see this....very similar to my .15 dosed daily.

    And second, I really, really enjoy seeing others specs. I do hope others post as well. I find it fascinating.
     
    #4 Greggz, Dec 16, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2017
  5. slipfinger

    slipfinger Article Editor
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    I was at .15 3/4x a week until I chatted with you are burr. Burr recommended I up my Zn and B, while I was adding the extra to my mix I thought what the hell, might as well double my Fe at the same time. The .25 extra was error on my part, thats how I got to .325ppm.

    I notice your macro dosing is much higher than mine. I am surprised you are at these levels with your fish load.
     
  6. Greggz

    Greggz Lifetime Members
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    So I got a PM from @slipfinger that he noticed that I am really larding on the macros for having such a heavily stocked tank.

    And the answer is yes I do. I generate lots of N & P just from fish waste/food. Seemingly I shouldn't have to dose macros at all.

    But after several years of testing various dosing theories, I have come to a conclusion for MY tank. Every single time I try very low to no macro dosing, my plants rebel. I don't even know why I try it, like there is something noble about dosing less. I am really beginning to believe that there is a difference between the uptake of N & P from fish waste vs. ferts. I have no scientific reason to believe so, just based solely on my own observations.

    And you might note I am even higher than EI for P. For some reason my tank just does better with a higher dose. I suspect there is an N to P ratio that is ideal. For me, it's my tank water tested values at about 10:1.
     
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  7. Phishless

    Phishless Lifetime Member
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    10:1 is the norm.
    Fish waste is crap. You've noticed this before!:D
     
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  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Dosing more than say .2 ppm as Fe 4x a week is plenty for any tank, well, at least with the right chelator for the KH you use and if you have some sources in the sediment, eg ADA AS.
    Even there, without the soil.........likely enough for most any purpose.

    I went to 0.5 ppm 4x week...........the last two weeks with hyper touchy plants in 3 different tanks, no differences I could tell vs 0.2 ppm.
    Macro changes caused the most impact, mostly N.
     
  9. SingAlongWithTsing

    SingAlongWithTsing Junior Poster

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    Hope you don't mind me using my own chart lol

    Black Diamond Blasting as Substrate, water changes done with tap

    DTPA Fe
    Mn as Manganese Sulphate = MgSO4.7H2O
    Cu as Copper Sulphate = CuSO4.5H2O
    Zn as Zinc Sulphate = ZnSO4.7H2O
    Mo as Sodium Molybdate = Na2MoO4*2H2O
    Bo as Borax = Na2B4O7·10H2O

    [​IMG]
     
  10. acinonyx

    acinonyx Member

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    I am kind of new here, although I have been lurking these forums for quite a while now. I started rolling my own micros about 2 months ago, after months of struggling with tip stunting and Alternanthera mini doing very weird things. I use RO water and garden soil (1-3 cm) capped with plain quartz sand.

    After several weeks for starting the tank, I noticed that I cannot dose more than 0.12 ppm Tensco Cocktail (based on Fe) weekly, or I would experience tip stunting and super twisted A. reineckii minii. Switching to a different micro mix (only available in this country) improved the situation slightly, but not much.

    Having a PhD in chemistry, I dived into literature and found number of papers on toxicity and low biodegradability of EDTA, so I decided to use non-chelated metals, except for Fe which is difficult to keep in solution as it is. This has improved the situation considerably for me. Over the time, I came to ratios quite similar to Burr’s, except for Zn (which I increased now based on Burr’s observations to see what happens.

    One interesting thing I would like to share with you though: I was mixing a second batch of micros and I miscalculated the amount of copper sulfate, and I was suddenly adding about 3 times more than what Burr was adding (0.015 ppm per 0.5 ppm of Fe). After about 2 days, I saw severe necrosis and stunting of new growth on A. reineckii mini. I realized the copper must be the issue, so I went 2 more weeks without any micros, 2x 50% water changes and mixed a new recipe without any Cu at all. I am now adding twice as much micros as with the wrong Cu batch, yet A. reinickii mini is fine.

    Because of this, I now think Cu is part of the missing link in the micros (along with EDTA). There is a lot of copper tubing in the houses and because of this I think levels of copper vary greatly among people. It is difficult to measure and almost nobody does it (I plan to do analysis of Cu in my lab in near future). Also, Cu is much more toxic than I thought before. Usually acute toxic levels start at 0.1 ppm (even for plants such as L. minor), but in this paper for example, they report LD50@96h for Rasbora at 0.006 ppm and for P. reticulata at 0.038 ppm (a guppy fish(!)).

    The issues with plants we are observing are not as dramatic as death, rather only deformations which in my opinion are very likely to occur at even lower levels of copper.

    P.S. I can't link the paper about toxic Cu levels for the fish for some reason.

    micros.png
     
  11. burr740

    burr740 Micros Spiller
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    Here's my current routine in the spreadsheet. Micros tend to get changed every couple of weeks but this has proven to be a pretty good default recipe. If I make a few tweaks and something doesnt work out I go back to something like this for a while (usually)

    39096028912_0acaf53ddc_o.png

    * In the spreadsheet for micros is says 7x a week, but that's not full doses. I add half a dose of micros on macro days. Started doing this a couple months ago, more or less on a whim as a result of a Fe deficiency, and Ive just kept on doing it.

    Other known tap water content, from both testing and water report

    Ca - 40
    Mg - 4
    SO4 - 7.65
    Na - 1.79
    Cl - 9.14
    As some of you know for the past few months Ive been experimenting with higher B and Zn levels, and having really good results.

    Early on when I was starting out with lower levels, similar to whats in csmb and other edta based products, I saw some weird deficiency symptoms. A few stem species developed really short internodes, a couple of other things developed chlorotic white spots and/or holes in the general range of 3-4 sets of leaves down from the top. Increasing B and Zn eventually solved it.

    Interesting note on Seachem products (of which we are using the exact same compounds except for Fe)

    First keep in mind that Flourish comp isnt meant to be a stand alone source of micros, its designed to be used along with Flourish Trace. Despite the marketing hoopla it's basically just a source of Fe (gluconate)

    Getting back to B and Zn, since we are using the same compounds as Seachem I think it is relevant to see what Trace provides:

    At the recommended dose
    B - .0016 ppm
    Zn - .101 ppm

    Helluva ratio, huh?

    Dosed at .5 Mn adds almost 1 ppm of Zn

    Ratio-wise you wont find anywhere close to that much Zn in any other commercial product, agricultural study, plant research, Hoaglands, nothing. At best you'll find something around a 1:1 B:Zn ratio.

    Why does seachem use so much? @fablau posed the question on their forums and they said its based on their research of what plants need...yeah right. My theory is they use so much because unchelated Zn simply doesnt stick around very long.

    Either way since we're using the same compounds I think its a good idea to follow in their same general footsteps.

    On the EDTA chelate: It is important to note that edta only breaks loose from Fe around 6.5 PH. To all the other micros it remains bound much higher.

    39096029922_4553d72960_o.jpg


    So the problem here is edta Fe - IF your PH is much higher than 6.5 for any length of time. My tank for example is only under 6.5 during the photo period when the co2 is on. Overnight it degasses up to around 7.4. So for at least 14-15 hours every day it gets way above 6.5.

    When edta breaks loose from the original compound there are a couple of potential issues:

    One is all that edta is now free to bind with other stuff. In addition to other micro elements it has a high affinity for Ca, and other things too but Im not sure exactly what all else. This additional binding may or may not be a problem.

    Edta is also not biodegradable. It just sticks around building up like the macros we add, only removed by water changes.

    The other potential issue, and perhaps the most significant, when the chelate breaks loose Fe is in whatever raw state it was in before. At the very least precipitating out, and almost certainly binding with P and who knows what else. Fe is very volatile, which is why it needs an appropriate chelate relative to PH.

    The other micros are not so critical. It's more important in agricultural use where you might fertilize the soil every few weeks. Everything needs to stick around as long as possible in an available state. It becomes less important dosing every day or two like we are.

    Fun fact: Csmb is 65% EDTA

    38245287185_44b0c4281e_b.jpg

    Great thread [MENTION=16861]Greggz[/MENTION] , I know [MENTION=282201]slipfinger[/MENTION] had a hand in doing this too so thanks to you both. Im sure that collectively we can learn a lot as more folks share their anecdotal experiences. The more the better.

    As far as the hobby goes thats really all we have when it comes to the whole micro debate. Still so many unknowns how various compounds behave and interact under various conditions. Anyone who pretends to know it all is either delusional or just plain full of crap. ;)
     
  12. burr740

    burr740 Micros Spiller
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    Yeah you gotta have something like 3-4 post before you can add links. It helps deter the spam bots.

    Great post, thanks for sharing!

    That is very interesting what you observed from Cu. I wasnt adding any either when I first started doing this

    I'd had the 75's tank water tested a couple years ago and it showed 17 ppb. At the time I was adding about 3 ppb per week from csmb. So it's probably safe to assume my tap has around 10 at least.

    But then I figured to make sure all bases were covered might as well add a dash just in case. I may try going without it again and see what happens.
     
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  13. aclaar877

    aclaar877 Junior Poster

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    I'll share my dosing, but I think there are other weird things happening in my tank, possibly due to Na/Cl or chloramine levels. I'm now two weeks into the switch from 0.02 ppm CSM+B with equal parts DPTA iron to Burr's v5.15 mix ratios at 0.15 ppm Fe. No copper added, because I don't know how much to add. RotalaButterfly says I need 50 tsp of copper sulphate to get my doses to 0.002 ppm (591 mL Coke bottle, 60 mL doses, 150 gallons tank volume). If someone can run this calc for me, I'd appreciate it. I also haven't added Molybdenum because I have 0.001 ppm in tap report.

    Tank: 155 gallon bowfront
    Lighting: Mix of BML dutch XB dimmed 75-80%, single T8 for longer viewing, T5HO twin tube on bowfront (flora max and color max bulbs). PAR estimate around 80, based on product info
    Substrate: BDBS

    Tap:

    GH: 5.5
    Kh: 3-4
    Ca: 15 ppm
    Mg: 14 ppm
    Na: Up to 51 ppm
    Cl: Up to 38 ppm

    Dosing:
    NO3: 22 ppm added weekly over three doses
    K: 27 ppm added weekly over three doses
    PO4: 4.5 ppm added weekly over three doses
    Ca: Add 10 ppm via C2SO4 at water change
    Iron/Traces: 0.45 ppm Fe added weekly over three doses, minus copper and molybdenum (Burr's v5.15 ratios). (Initially I balked at price tag of Mo dry ferts, since I have 0.001 ppm in tap)

    CO2: 3"x24" Griggs style reactor, run by two Rena XP3. Outputs to two different parts of tank for better distribution. Small bubbles escape, but I still get 1.0-1.2 pH drop. I've tried cutting the outflow and making backpressure, but then I just get tons of mist and haven't noticed a pH improvement when doing that.

    I use Osmocote pellets (not O+, just NPK) under some plants, like Ammania Senegalensis and Pogo Erectus, based on Pikez's observations on root versus water ferts for these species

    Now the weird stuff:

    1. My plants appear not to like water changes. I know I have chloramines in tap, but I use Seachem Safe per directions. If I don't use it I get leaf drooping in most plants. When I do use it, I sometimes get leaf "rolling" and some curling and drooping in hygros, AR, Ammania Senegalensis, and tip hooking in AR. I'm very tempted to reduce water change volume, or just try RO reconstitution and see if that helps. Most people's plants love water change day, but not mine. When I re-did the tank substrate a year ago, I forgot to add water conditioner, and every plant got transparent and melted away within a few days.

    2. Ludwigia Palustris is hardly growing, and shedding leaves. I used to grow it like mad - it was one of my favorite, most reliable plants. It gets very rich CO2, right by the filter outlet and with these macros, you wouldn't think it would be due to K or NO3. But, that's exactly what it looks like. I also get hygro pinholes on lower leaves, and some yellowing. Perhaps I need even more NO3 and K to overcome the Na and Cl levels in my tap water.

    3. Ludwigia Glandulosa just sits there, not growing, stunting or shedding leaves. Even putting it in pots with garden soil and O+ last year for a few months did absolutely nothing. (In first week of new micros, it has started new shoots.)

    4. Pogo Erectus - I can grow some nice, 8" "bottle brushes", but then have tiny plants one inch away do nothing and just sit there.

    5. Ammania Senegalensis - hit or miss. Some stems grow OK for a while, and then recoil after water changes. It seems to prefer tank stability - no large fert doses and no big water changes. Noticed some improvement after starting the new trace formula.

    6. Anubias get algae even in darkest corners of tank, and flow is very good. Something is keeping them from full health, but I just don't know what. They grow and flower, but all older leaves get algae and look awful.

    Future plans: add proper amount of copper to trace mix, maybe reduce water change volume, and maybe increase NO3, K, and Ca dosing since that's what the plants are telling me. Purchase RO unit as last resort.
     
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  14. Allwissend

    Allwissend Article Editor
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    Here are the micros I use at the moment, daily dose. Dose as solution.

    Subst._______mg/L__________% mine vs Burr's (Mn standardized)
    Fe EDTA _____0.0725_______________na/65% EDTA vs dtpa
    Mn__________0.04_________________100%
    B___________0.0105________________68%
    Zn__________0.03_________________135%
    Cu__________0.0009______________1013%
    Mo__________0.005________________750%

    Substrate aquasoil and black quartz sand in another. CO2 and medium light. RO water, PH around 6, Kh 4, GH 12

    So a lot more Cu and Mo, but it works for me for now. Definitely not the best most optimized mix, just what I am using at the moment. I think the Ei approach works with micro nutrients just as well. Provide non-limiting levels and don't worry about ratios.

    I think the chart should also document if some form of oxidizer is used or added to the aquarium. H2O2 is very potent in oxidizing heavy metals. Twinstar also produce oxygen radicals (in whatever form). These will consume your micros more than plants. PO4 precipitation may be a problem in the bottles where concentrations can reach 1000s mg/L but in aquariums there are very infrequent encounters between the ions.

    Also worth noting, at 0.07 mg/L Cu weekly dose I did not have a single RCS dead. Well one that got pulled out with the plants and dried out before I noticed him. Otherwise females are berries and I see little shrimplets around. Certainly not saying this level would work for everybody.

    I think later I will start posting a journal with the 30L nano where I did the algae tests.
     
    #14 Allwissend, Dec 19, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2017
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  15. fablau

    fablau rotalabutterfly.com
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    I am sorry guys to join you late here, but I am also mixing my own micros based on Burr's recipe, something different because I perform 50%-60% water change every 2 weeks. So I have been dosing the following every other day, 3x a week for the past 2 weeks.

    Fe DTPA 10% 0.15 ppm
    Fe gluc. 12.46% 0.05 ppm
    Mn 0.0625 ppm
    B 0.0255 ppm
    Zn 0.0325 ppm
    Mo 0.00145 ppm
    Cu 0.00165 ppm

    And I got excellent results with most plants, despite some plants got a little cranky (AR got a little bit more wavy leaves and Rotala Nanjenshan got some deformed tips). But in the overall, much better then the previous weeks where I used to dose half than that. It really looks like that by increasing traces with this kind of elements (different by CSM) we all are covering those few deficiencies that kept our plants from growing at their full potential.

    What I am going to try in the next 2 weeks is to remove Gluc from the mix above, and increase Fe to 0.17ppm and see if that makes any difference. As Burr said, we got to experiment.

    I'll try to find some time in the coming days to post some pics on my own journals to show you the results I obtained. Kudos to Burr for sharing his fantastic recipe! :)
     
  16. berarma

    berarma Subscriber
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    I'm very glad this thread exists. I've been using EI for some years without 100% success, mainly due to inexperience and lack of time, and knowing in more detail about what the successful pals are doing will help me lots. It's also very beneficial that more experimentation is going on to help understand micro ferts.

    The first thing I've noticed is that you're all dosing micros daily while I was on a 3 times a week schedule on alternate days. That's important for me since I use Nutritrace CSM+B as my main Fe source with only some Fe-DTPA added and my pH is above 6.5 at night. So I'm switching to a daily schedule now hoping my plants get enough Fe all days.

    Second, you're doing no break day even for macros. I will start dosing macros 4 times a week too although that might not be so important for me.

    Since I use Nutritrace CSM+B, my Zn and Mn levels are a bit off compared to yours, specially the former, so I will dose a bit more to compensate. I'm not sure about B since the aquariumfertilizers web states that their micros are 3.8% B, so in theory that's more than you're adding, but I've read conflicting reports somewhere.

    I thought it would be hard to get everything necessary to do our own micros mix. Which chemical compounds do you use to make them? Where do you get them? Is there a thread dedicated to this?
     
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  17. burr740

    burr740 Micros Spiller
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    @berarma , thanks for chiming in

    Most are dosing macros only 3 times per week except for maybe a couple people. That should be fine unless you just want to change for some reason. Macros dont precipitate or rely so much on PH to be available like micros do. So it really doesnt matter if you dose 2x week, 3 or 4x, all that really matters is the total ppms for the week (between water changes)

    The Zn in csmb is chelated, so in theory it should stick around a lot longer than what is being used here (non-chelated ZnSO4). As long as you're using csmb there's probably no need to ass more Zn. But Ive never tried adding more to csmb, it might be a good thing. Im only speculating.

    What we are using here are the same non-Fe compounds found in Seachem's Flourish Trace and Comprehensive

    MnSO4.H2O, H3BO3 (or Borax works), ZnSO4.H2O, Na2MoO4*2H2O, CuSO4.5H2O

    You can find them on Ebay or Amazon, and they are listed on the calculator here - http://rotalabutterfly.com/nutrient-calculator.php
     
  18. Phishless

    Phishless Lifetime Member
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    Evening All:

    I've been following all of this mess on two forums, even some extra threads have popped up too.
    Micro Wars starting to form again???:D

    I am investigating and comparing products at this time and may roll my own very soon.

    In the running are EI requirements/equivalents vs. CSM+B, Flourish Comp, and Flourish Trace.
    Atomic weights and measures this eve to include pricing of different compounds.
    New spreadsheets are in the making right now!

    I use capped soil and am tired of micro day dosing giving me the cloud.

    Night All: Back to research!
     
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  19. Phishless

    Phishless Lifetime Member
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    Being much calmer here.:D

    Looking into compounds and prices, pulling this off should not be costly.
    Revising my spreadsheets to include new compounds and such to figure out weights for solutions.
    I can bide my time with this, no issues @ present and capped soil has benefits too!

    It is more than the cloud, my reasoning behind this.
    Mini B curls on micro day, AR a bit wavy @ all times.
    Yellow ammania is a bit curly too.
    There are many happy plants so don't take this the wrong way.
    Just looking to improve.
     
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  20. Phishless

    Phishless Lifetime Member
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    Spreadsheets are now done and proven.
    Found all compounds I need on the "Bay" and a mg scale to .001grams.
    I think for just under $60 I can pull this off.

    Funny thing when calculating how many 250ml bottles I can make from certain compounds.
    Between 168 to over 11000 bottles depending on compound.o_O
    Some of this will be around for a long time!:D
     
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