Another thread asking for EI help :)

davidcmadrid

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New to EI,

Hi I am hoping i could get some help with EI. Firstly below is a list of the chemicals that i have bought from aqua essentials. I understand that I wont be mixing Iron in my all in one and will dose this on seperate days but would like to have an all in one for NPK . I dont currently have trace ( forgot it when placing the order ) ,, so i am using seachem trace. I am currently dosing excel daily and have placed the drop checker in various locations in my tank to see if initially at least my flow is " ok " , so far so good ( non DIY co2 appx 4bps but i know that this is arbitary ). PH is stable across the tank also . At this stage there is some algae on the glass and a small amount of BBA on a plant leaf ( i am currently dosing the min or " beginner " doses on seachems NPK starter pack ( my sense is im missing something and have been responding to some small yellowing in leaves along with pinholes by increasing frequency or amount beyond the beginner amounts ).

Water Paramaters

GH 3.5 out of the tap
PH 6.8 out of the tap

Tank Paramaters

180L 60W ( 1.25 Watts per US Gallon )
Sera 250L UV filter with a bag of Purigen.
2 small powerheads at the back of the tank for internal ciculation.


Plants Medium Load and typical ( chain swords, moss , anubias , some long stem plants .. I can be more specific if needed but for now i feel i can sum it up by saying i have what appears to me to be a lot of plants 50% of the bottom of the tank is covered )
15 Fish ( biggest is 1 molly but mostly tetras and wagtail plattys )

Potassium Nitrate - 500g
Mono Potassium Phosphate - 500g
Potassium Sulphate - 500g
Iron Sulphate - 250g
Potassium Carbonate 250g
Magnesium Sulphate - 100g

When i read about EI , it seemed easy in theory and i still believe it is but when it comes to the mixing of the chemicals I have suddenly realised its a bit more complicated. For example i see the all on one thread ( i dont plant to use the iron or trace in this ) uses a " lot of Magnesium sulphate but i was advised that i prob would not need much of that so i only bought 100 grams. That sort of set of an alarm bell and i wondered if i had misundertood something.

My " simplex " view of this was that i add trace on one schedule and NPK on another with excel daily. It is the NPK that has me confused and i was hoping somebody could give me advise

1) Can i mix an NPK solution that is added 3 times weekly in one bottle ? I have 500 ML bottles and 330 Ml bottles.
2) I got confused when looking at the calculator as to the amount of each that i would add to 500mls of distilled water ( is tap ok ?) what would you advise in terms of a mix for NPK into the 500ML and then what goes in the tank.

I am assuming a teaspoon is not heaped. I am doing a 50% water change weekly.

Any advice to get me kicked off would be really appreciated. I believe the beginner amounts from the seachem starter pack are not enough but dont want to overdo it in terms of upping the dose of those and just move over to EI as soon as possible. Sorry to post yet another thread but i have searched both here and Tom Barrs site and gotten a little more confused because i seem to have ended up with a small amount of what appears to be most agressively called for ( Magnesium Sulphate ) , yet I "feel" the advice i got from Richard at AE was good. I did not immediatley see the discrepancy because sometimes posts and amounts refer to chemical symbols and other times by names. I had hoped to post pics of the tank but i cant find my card reader.
 

ceg4048

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Well, first of all, I have no idea what a "beginner amount" or a "starter pack" is. These sound like another set of typical overpriced marketing expressions designed specifically to control the masses. Whatever they are they clearly don't work. Also, please clarify "non DIY CO2". Dose this mean you are using a pressurized cylinder?

It seems like you're also confusing the basic EI scheme with JamesC's All-in-One scheme and you don't have any of the chelators to accomplish this so you're in no man's land. Have you checked the EI Dry Powder Article in the Tutorial section of the forum? It calls for two basic NPK components, KNO3, KH2PO4, and for convenience adds Epsom Salt for the Magnesium. Your list has way more salts than is necessary within the context of this scheme:

1. Potassium Sulphate (K2SO4) is completely unnecessary.
2. Iron Sulphate (FeSO4) is completely unnecessary if you will add traces.
3. Potassium Carbonate (K2CO3) is completely unnecessary if your KH is above 3 or so.

So you're immediately making life 100% more complicated than it needs to be right off the bat. :wideyed:

A 180L is a 45USG tank. Lets just call it a 40USG tank. If so, one only needs to double the 20USG reference dosages that is clearly listed in the Article:

Here is a sample of how the reference 20 US gallon tank could be dosed:

Sunday – 50% or more Water Change then dose [3/16 teaspoon KNO3] + [1/16 teaspoon KH2PO4] + [½ teaspoon MgSO4]
Monday – 1/16 teaspoon CSM+B
Tuesday - [3/16 teaspoon KNO3] + [1/16 teaspoon KH2PO4] + [½ teaspoon MgSO4]
Wednesday - 1/16 teaspoon CSM+B
Thursday - [3/16 teaspoon KNO3] + [1/16 teaspoon KH2PO4] + [½ teaspoon MgSO4]
Friday – Rest
Saturday - Rest

So if you double these numbers, a 40G tank dosage becomes:

Sunday – 50% or more Water Change then dose [3/8 teaspoon KNO3] + [1/8 teaspoon KH2PO4] + [1 teaspoon MgSO4]
Monday – 1/8 teaspoon CSM+B
Tuesday - [3/8 teaspoon KNO3] + [1/8 teaspoon KH2PO4] + [1 teaspoon MgSO4]
Wednesday - 1/8 teaspoon CSM+B
Thursday - [3/8 teaspoon KNO3] + [1/8 teaspoon KH2PO4] + [1 teaspoon MgSO4]
Friday – Rest
Saturday - Rest

The article also explains how to prepare the solution in order to avoid having to measure ridiculously small teaspoon values. If NPK dosing occurs 3X per week and if there are 4 weeks per month, then it follows that there are 12 NPK doses per month. So all you have to do is multiply a single dosage value by 12 and add that amount of each powder to any volume of water you like.

3/8 tsp of KNO3 X 12 = 4½ tsp KNO3
1/8 tsp of KH2PO4 X 12 = 1½ KH2PO4
1 tsp MgSO4 X 12 = 12 tsp MgSO4

You say you have a 500ml bottle for NPK? Well, for this mixture that will have to last for 12 doses right? So that means each dose has to be 500ml/12doses = 40ml per dose.

Now, again, Moses did not come down from the mountain top and pre-ordain that I had to make a 1 month (12 dose) supply. I can make a two month supply by mixing twice as much powder (24 doses worth) and only dosing (half the volume) 20ml per dose. You can make any quantity by using simple ratios. I merely picked the most logical time period (1 month) and based the calculations on the number of doses in that period. The choice is up to you.

You are not necessarily required to dose that much MgSO4 unless you were using RO water in your tank. The high MgSO4 dosage is over the top because we're trying to account for all water types. Tap water probably is high in Mg but JamesC proved that it's possible to have high GH water with low Mg values. You need to experiment for yourself. If you can get away with less MgSO4 then great. If not then you need to add more.

Check out the article and ask further questions if this does not clarify.

Cheers,
 

CeeJay

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Hi davidcmadrid

I would heed ceg4048's advice on this subject because he's the man. His understanding of this subject is vast and with his patience, solid advice and clear explanations for me, my tank is now positively booming. :D :D :D (Thanks Clive ;) )
I must have read his EI article at least 3 or 4 times before the penny dropped, each time a bit more went in. :?
Like yourself, I was new to this EI stuff fairly recently and was fretting a bit before I took the plunge, but now my tank has never looked so good. :D
I'm probably slightly overdosing at the moment but certainly no negative effects whatsoever, so no need to stress about it too much.
All I know from my limited experience is, I put this stuff in and my plant growth has gone mental. That's good enough for me. :D
Oh, and you might need a decent pair of scissors for all the pruning you'll be doing. :lol:
Good luck.

Chris
(Unplugged) :lol:
 

davidcmadrid

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Hi,

Thank you for your detailed response. I can see now that its a question you get to answer every so often but at the expense of sounding thick when you answered me that is when it became a lot clearer such that i will mix in the morning. I have re read your article again a few times and that helped. I was getting a little tongue tied also between chemical symbols and names but on reading today with the chemicals in front of me ( which are now labelled with both name and chemical code as they arrived only with name on labels).


When i referred to starter pack I was talking about the Seachem Flourish 3 pack of N , P and K in combo with excel. So the beginner amounts are quite low . The beginner dose raises phosphorus by 0.05 mg/L for example so i can see now that this was quite low.

I am not sure why I have ended up with a lot of Pottasium Sulphate , maybe it will be good for the regular plants about the house ( a little side project is to investigate mixing up ferts for the plants with a higher growth rate / the lower growth rate ones are using old tank water ). I am little bummed that I ended up being advised to buy MGSO4 as an afterthought when it appears that it is a central chemical in the mix.

My tap water has a GH of 4 degrees i reckon i picked up the mindset that i must keep the ph very stable somewhere along the way which i have now gather is not correct , thats why i have the Potassium Carbonate for buffering.

Yes I am using pressurized Co2 and have the Fire extinguisher diy job in the back of my mind as the source for future tanks ( the little bottle i got from the lfs is a rip off ). My other DIÝ project will be LED lighting , i reckon by the time i get that done I will be more along the road with the EI.

Chris thanks also for the response i am glad to hear you are finding early results positive. Just using the Seachem NPK I have noticed lots of unusual things in my smaller tank , its been pretty much dormant with a lot of dark green leaves and little new leaves but just after one week things really took off in it , I understand now that I am not getting it right in that tank either ( under supply of nutrients based on the seachem beginner doses , but that little activity has really captivated me and I am looking forward to more positive results with EI.

My objective at this stage is to learn to grow plants , control algae and over time develop landscaping skills.
 

ceg4048

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davidcmadrid said:
... I can see now that its a question you get to answer every so often but at the expense of sounding thick when you answered me that is when it became a lot clearer such that i will mix in the morning. I have re read your article again a few times and that helped. I was getting a little tongue tied also between chemical symbols and names but on reading today with the chemicals in front of me ( which are now labelled with both name and chemical code as they arrived only with name on labels).
Well, no I don't think it's a matter of thickness, just inexperience as well as pre-programming by the System. There is a lot of data in the article so it's easy to become a little glass eyed and miss some salient point I'll have to admit. It would be well worth the trouble to get familiar with the chemical symbols. After a while you'll see them enough that they will become second nature.

davidcmadrid said:
When i referred to starter pack I was talking about the Seachem Flourish 3 pack of N , P and K in combo with excel. So the beginner amounts are quite low . The beginner dose raises phosphorus by 0.05 mg/L for example so i can see now that this was quite low.
That you were able to recognize this fact immediately in no small feat. Now, just for entertainment value try dividing your starter pack "per dose" cost by that mg/L value to see what you are paying for 1ppm. Should be eye opening...

davidcmadrid said:
I am not sure why I have ended up with a lot of Pottasium Sulphate , maybe it will be good for the regular plants about the house ( a little side project is to investigate mixing up ferts for the plants with a higher growth rate / the lower growth rate ones are using old tank water ). I am little bummed that I ended up being advised to buy MGSO4 as an afterthought when it appears that it is a central chemical in the mix.
Well, don't be bummed out. Fundamentally it is kind of an afterthought. Here is another point I wish I had 50p every time I discussed it: You don't really need a lot of Mg. It's a micronutrient. Remember that our philosophy is the opposite of the "starter pack" mentality. The numbers for MgSO4 dosages are a "worst case scenario", because we're assuming that your tap water has zero Magnesium. The fact is, most people probably have tons of it in their tap but in the EI credo it's always better to have more than you need than not enough..ALWAYS.

Furthermore, the real problem is that MgSO4 by weight, is mostly SO4. Magnesium is only 20% by weight of this molecule so that for example, one has to add 10 grams of MgSO4 just to get 2 grams of Magnesium dissolved in the water column. The combination of these two factors is why the number of teaspoons for MgSO4 is so high. There is a strong chance, if you are on the Madrid Municipality that you won't even need to add MgSO4. Try lowering the amount you add every month or so and observe the plants to see if they are stunting. If not then you can safely delete it or at least add a lot less. Hops this make you feel a little better. ;)

davidcmadrid said:
My tap water has a GH of 4 degrees i reckon i picked up the mindset that i must keep the ph very stable somewhere along the way which i have now gather is not correct , thats why i have the Potassium Carbonate for buffering.
Yeah, you'll need to get over the whole pH and buffering debacle right away. It will send you and your tank into a tailspin. FYI, GH is not even necessarily related to pH. GH is the measure of your calcium and magnesium, which we just discussed. Carbonate Hardness (KH) is a measure of the levels of carbonate (CO3) and bi-carbonate (HCO3) so if this were really an issue all you'd have to do would be to add either some Alka-Seltzer or some baking soda from your medicine cabinet. That would have saved you some money. You can still use your Potassium Carbonate if you have an upset stomach (which you'll likely need after you calculate the unit cost of your starter pack).

davidcmadrid said:
Yes I am using pressurized Co2 and have the Fire extinguisher diy job in the back of my mind as the source for future tanks ( the little bottle i got from the lfs is a rip off ). My other DIÝ project will be LED lighting , i reckon by the time i get that done I will be more along the road with the EI.
Find a welding supply shop. They will rent you as big a CO2 cylinder as you can handle and they will do refills. Much cheaper.

Cheers,
 

davidcmadrid

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Hi,

Thanks for your reply. I meant to say my KH is 3 degrees , mg GH is 5 to 6 ( according to the test kit which i have just finished the last of - i wont be buying any more test kits for now ). In regards to the Magnesium given some of the plants were showing yellow spots i think the magnesium content is quite low, if i have understood right the MgSO4 supplies magnesium to the tank , so now i guess i will watch over time to see what happens. This yellow spotting on the odd leave ,, should if the amound of magnesium added be sufficent should it dissapear or do i wait to see new Growth ?

My next challenge i Suppose in regards to the chemicals is to understand how each chemical supplies a given nutrient so that I can target defficencies correctly.

In regards to the cost / MGSO4 , its less of worry as i can see the 98% saving i am making in mixing my own , i have also found a chemicals supply shop here that sells 1Kilo of MGsO4 for about 6 pounds which is better again than what I paid from a UK supplier.

Thank you for the tip in regards to looking at a welding shop for the CO2.

Here is a photo of my tank as it stands at the moment, im going to call it splash since Jungle is so widely used :) I am going to look at other tanks and learn more about plants and also watch what happens this one over the next week. I am going to take a photo each day so that i can compare whats happening.

splash.jpg


As you can see its not scaped very well , i have been using plants in tanks for asthetic purposes only for about 4 weeks now so as i said i want to see that i can grow right with no algae and then think more in terms of what goes in and what comes out of this tank.

I am convinced in regards to a smaller 70L tank that there is visible growth daily in some of the fast growing plants. One or two whom i dont know the names of ( they were in my first tank and almost dead ( dark dark green and no growth ) are now bright green and shooting out sattelites to beat the band. That tank is an " experimental tank " its highly dosed with the NPK / TRACE / EXCel with about 6 watts a gallon , plants are growing at a rake of knots but id never subject a tank with fish to the amount of light etc , at least not yet.
 

ceg4048

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Yeah, that looks pretty nice. You'll save a lot of dosh by not buying test kits. Scaping is an art form so it takes experience to get to that level. Got to figure out how to grow the plants first though so this is all good. Magnesium is a very mobile element within the plant, one of the few micronutrients that are so mobile. So it is possible that the affected leaves will recover their color. Mg is necessary for Chlorophyll synthesis. So anything that affects Chlorophyll becomes obvious as loss of green.

It shouldn't be a mystery what each salt contributes. It's obvious once you understand the chemical names and symbols. NO3 is the nitrate ion and is made up of N=Nitrogen and O=Oxygen so this is clearly responsible for Nitrogen. Potassium Nitrate is KNO3, K being Potassium so KNO3 is responsible for both Potassium as well as Nitrogen. PO4 is the Phosphate ion and is composed of P=Phosphorous and O=Oxygen. Potassium Phosphate KH2PO4 provides Potassium as well as Phosphorous. The controversial Ammonium ion NH4 is also very high in Nitrogen.

Cheers,
 

jcgoobee

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You know... you and I are in the same boat... not literally, but similar..

I got all my ferts in the mail today, and with Clive, Chris, and Aaron's help and advice, I dare to try mixing my first NPK tonight... it does require some calculation but it's not that bad at all.

Clive's example was set for 20 gallon tank, where I have a little less than half of his sample size. Consequently, I divided everything he formulated by half. For instance, for KNO3, I modified his formula 3/16/2/12=1.125 teaspoon=0.1875 ounces=5.3 grams! I did the same for the other ones (KH2PO4, MgSO4, and CSM+B) the similar ways, and mixed everything (sans CSM+B) else with 600ml water.. vola!

Clive, feel free to correct me if I did this wrong, but that's how I interpreted your formula... I don't think I measured everything so precisely. I took your advice that this is just an EI - Estimated Index... which doesn't have to be precise in the first place.

Once I get this started, I have gained more confidence in the future. I feel good for saving some good money too. :)

So, give it a shot.. it's not too bad after all.
 

jcgoobee

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aaronnorth said:
it is much simpler to do than it looks on paper. And once you have done the first calculaition it is even easier to mix up the 2nd batch lol.

Totally agreed! I know someone is going to laugh at this... I actually did the calculations on paper first, before putting the powders on the electronic scale (borrowed from my wife, her Kitchenaid....).. next time I do it, I will probably use teaspoon to get approximate measurements.
 

ceg4048

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I would have only laughed if you had actually gone out and paid real cash money for an electronic scale just to do this... :rolleyes:

Cheers,
 

davidcmadrid

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Well 10 days in now and all is going well. Some of the fast growing stem plants at the back took me by surprise so I had to prune them which to be honest meant i cut them back to about half their size. Wikipedia says Annubias produce about one leave every 3 months but i have now got a couple of new leaves and a few green shoots ( I had to cut out most of it when i started dosing as by the time leading up to EI I know the plants suffered from malnutrition and Algae , mostly green sport but also BBA had takeon over a few leaves ).

The Echonodorus Tenelius is sending out shoots in every direction although I am noting that not all plants are doing this , about 50% ( Flow or just more time ? ) .

Rotala Wallichii is also showing dramatically increased growth rates. There is a mish mash in there and they all seem to be growing better but i dont know the names of them all ( stoopid mistake lost some cards so this weekend I am going to do an ID via tropicas website as I know all the plants are tropica )


I have noted in spots some green spot algae so last week my response was to alter flow ( added Korilla and made spray bar longer ) and this week I have upped the PO4 going into the tank.

Overall I am happy with progress in the tank but am focussed on a few things now.

1. Co2 injection method:

I had a rubbish Sera reactor which just wasnt up to anything over 1 bubble per second. The shop keepers eyes nearly popped out when i told him that I was adding about 2 to 2 bubbles a second. I have experimented with various methods of injection and measured CO2 levels in various spots and now settled on firing the bubbles ( full size ) , directly into the intake of my Sera 250 Cannister filter. I do have an electronic PH meter and DC. Based on a measured KH I am supplementing the DC measuring via PH also. What i have noticed is that using the direct canister filter injection I can get the PH across different spots in the tank from 7.6 to 6.5 in about 15 minutes using this method with thus far no adverse effects to the filter save the odd gurgle.

The CO2 goes into the filter at 4bps and the PH meter trips it off when the PH reaches 6.5 in a remote spot of the tank. A rise to PH 6.7 trips the CO2 back on. I am noting no adverse effect in the DC but do note that the Guppies in there at 6.5 PH start to migrate to the top of the tank.Am I better to lower the bps rate and have it steadily fire in CO2 or am I ok in your view with this flush CO2 is the PH meter is saying PH is rising slightly ? What I like about this method is i can bring the tank up to speed in Co2 15 minutes before lights on and 15 minutes before lights off the ph meter then switches roles to turn on air stones to shed the CO2 out of the water and add oxygen for the overnight session.


2. I forgot to order CSM trace from AE so am adding Seachem Trace / Seachem Iron in its place. I am currently trying to find out if i can make my own trace from locally available chemicals given that the P+P is high from AE to Spain for 1 item ( plus im liking this DIY thingy too :) ) also prompting me to look at my own mix is the fact that the biggest component of Trace from AE is MG which is already part of the the dosing plan via the 3 times daily mix as discussed above.

I have also in general copped on to a few things.

1. Half baked ideas of the guy in my local fish shop which of course mean i have gathered over the last year a pressfull of rubbish that it would appear makes things worse in tanks be they planted or basic hobby. E.g i gathered a phosphates removal filter bag to fight algae in my smaller tank about 6 months ago but this rightly only made things worse due to increasing inbalance and malnutrition in the plants.

2. A good deal of research is needed to discern marketing spew from what the product actually does and whats needed can come back only to a few core things , like light , CO2 injection and flow , nutrient addition and flow and thats about it.

3. Its hard to get a filter thats over rated for your tank size but easy to get one thats under rated.

4. Save EI and indeed fish tank water in a big bin for your house plants. I feel better about doing weekly water changes given I am using the water twice, once for the fish and again for the plants. Friends and family who keep plants are now starting to collect 5L bottles of the stuff ( topped up with a little NPK powders ) for their own house plants too :D so that I aim not to throw any tank water down the drain.

5. A bit of shopping around to compare prices is a good thing e.g Aquaristic do a 5 litre bottle of Aquatan for what most people charge for a 500ml bottle.

6. I dont wander beyond Here and the Barr Report for advice / reading and as normal want to thank all the people who post and offer help :D
 

ceg4048

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Using a pH controller to modulate the CO2 injection is not a good idea at this time. It's much better to have a steady bubble rate and to turn the gas on an hour or two before lights on and to turn it off a few hours before lights off.

Cheers,
 

davidcmadrid

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Hi,

Ok I had some doubts about this manner. I am starting to suspect ( but will test timing with a 5 litre bottle ) ) also that the flow of the filter is being decreased this way ( no matter since i am going to put in a more powerful second filter ). It should work out at the same amount of CO2 in any event.

Being inquisitive technically you mention "at this time" suggesting there may be an appopriate time and I am wondering what that is in order to develop understanding only.

In the end i have quite an expensive next to useless ph meter , the only use for which i can now see in reality is to amuse myself measuring a near irrelevant statistic and also as an emergency cuttoff against CO2 dump.
 

ceg4048

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The reason I say "at this time" is because it's necessary to get a better understanding of CO2. It's not impossible to use the controller, only that the CO2/KH/pH relationship that the controller tries to use is broken in tank water, and adjustments need to be made. Other acids affect the reading and the result is a surge of gas then a curtailment. This cyclic behaviour of CO2 injection causes concentration level instability which gives rise to some forms of algae. It's better to learn how to inject gas in a stable manner before using the controlling function of the meter. Neither fish nor plant care about pH stability, and pH stability comes at the cost of CO2 stability which you clearly can see affects fish and plants alike.

Cheers,
 
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