Before I take the plunge, need advice on EI

Discussion in 'Aquarium Fert Dosing' started by CeeJay, 2 Jun 2009.

  1. CeeJay

    CeeJay Member

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    Hi all
    I'm fairly new to this planted tank lark (about 2 months now), and having read about EI, it is now an avenue I wish to explore.
    As this place is a mine of information with a lot of knowledgeable people here, I thought I'd just check with someone before I started my dosing regime.
    The Nutri-calc calculator which was recommended by someone on here gave me the following results for a 180 litre tank.
    2.66 grams KNO3
    1.22 grams K2SO4
    0.75 grams KH2PO4
    6.89 grams MgSO4
    This lot to be dosed Saturday (after WC), Monday & Wednesday
    and
    0.47 grams Trace
    to be dosed Sunday, Tuesday & Thursday.
    No dosing Fridays and 50% water change on Saturdays.

    Do these numbers sound right to you people in the know?
    Also, is there anything else that needs to be added?

    I'm currently using Tropica's TPN+ and adding 5ml Easycarbo daily, so if I switch to dry ferts would you recommend that I carry on with the Easycarbo?

    These maybe back to basic questions for you guys, but it's all new to me :?

    Thanks in advance.

    Chris.
     
  2. TLH

    TLH Member

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    Yes you'll need a carbon source if you start EI. I would invest in a FE and regulator on a tank that size as it'll cost you loads to keep treating with liquid carbon.

    Your dosages don't sound far off what I had for my tank which is about the same size. What I found though is that I didn't have the plant mass for a start to make dosing the full amount worth it. I mixed it all up for a month and even now I'm only dosing just over half of what I should be according to the calculator. Light and plant mass vary so much from tank to tank that some adjustment is needed but stick to the same ratios thereabouts.
     
  3. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

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    K2SO4 is unnecessary if you are dosing KNO3. This means one less thing to buy and one less complication. Easycarbo=CO2 therefore it's unnecessary to use gas injection if you are not experiencing CO2 related algae at this time. Increased dosage levels do however generate increased growth, which then means higher plant mass which creates higher CO2 demand. This often explains why hobbyists get algae after switching to EI. If the plant mass increases beyond what 5ml Easycarbo can satisfy you'll need to increase the Easycarbo dosage.

    Cheers,
     
  4. chris1004

    chris1004 Member

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    Hi chris,

    Sounds like you are about where I was at six months ago. I still haven't got it exactly right as I battle with green spot algae constantly but not to any great infestation proportions. What I will say though is (and I'll probably get shot down for this) don't expect a quick fix perfect tank without problems straight away but definatly persevere as EI definatly works and is (although scary at first) essentially so simple. If your anything like me (a natural born worryer) once you take the plunge and get into a routine its really easy and you will wonder why you worried so much.

    The Ferts are only one of the issues and as long as they are non limiting (i.e. the plants can't posssibly run out) then the job is a good one. Getting CO2, lighting and flow distribution are far harder to get right, especially the Co2. You don't mention your tank specs and whether you are adding Co2 or not. All these issues have to be taken into account when deciding how much and what ferts you are dosing so to get a more acurate answer you will need to post tank specs.

    Just remember that plants will grow at a speed controlled by there lowest limiting factor. This could be CO2, lights or ferts. So essentially we try to give them unlimited ferts and CO2 (without gasing the fish) and control there growth by limiting the lighting which is the easiest element to accuratly control of the three basic requirements. Also remember that things change as the biomass increases, this is a very important point as fert and CO2 uptake will increase and flow will decrease making it harder to deliver the nutrients to the leaf surface where they are absorbed.

    Personally I am finding (after resolving my initial problems with CO2) that flow distribution is probably the hardest thing to get right even though I am well in excess of the recomended 10x tank volume turnover. So don't worry to much about your fert mixture what you are starting with seems fine, is easy to change later depending on results, and there is a massive margin for error with ferts anyway all you need to make sure is that there is enough of everything all the time and it matters not if there is triple what is needed.

    Get the EI method sorted and its so easy and effective. I've got my 50% water change down to 20 mins (100 litres in and out on a sunday) and I dose first thing in the morning before I go to work habitually now and it takes literally seconds to do. The rest of the tank maintenance you would have to do anyway (glass cleaning etc) and the most time consuming problem that you will end up with is the 'gardening' of your tank as plant gowth can be rampant (depending on species) which is exactly what you are trying to achieve. As an example my limnofilia sessiflora (ambulia) grows at least 10" a week!!!!! Most other plants are much slower growers though.

    The EI method comes highly recomended from me, the best thing of all is that you may as welll throw your test kits in the bin as they are no longer needed, yipeeeee!!!!!!!
     
  5. CeeJay

    CeeJay Member

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    Hi all.
    Thanks for all the replies, and so quick too. :D
    Sorry I didn't mention the whole tank spec. :oops:
    But here goes
    180L Juwel Rio (using internal filter that came with it)
    Full pressurised co2 (DC in the green)
    Heavily planted
    Just added a Hydor Koralia circulating pump last weekend because I did have co2 'flow' problems, now everything is swaying in the breeze.
    I'll have to keep an eye on things and keep you posted.
    Clive, would I have to up the KNO3 if I got rid of the K2SO4, if so by how much?

    Once again many thanks for your prompt replies, nice to know us newbies (me) have got support from you guys. :D
    I'm still finding this a fascinating hobby and after many years of keeping fish, I've now got a tank where the plants are looking well healthy. So I'm well chuffed at the moment. :D
    Obviously the heartache is yet to come, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it, hopefully with your help. :D
    Many thanks.

    Chris
     
  6. CeeJay

    CeeJay Member

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    Sorry guys
    Forgot to mention lighting.
    Currently 2 x 45w tubes currently on for 7 hours a day and Co2 on 2 hours before lights on and Co2 off 2 hours before lights off.

    I'm looking forward to that bit :lol:

    I'm finding this whole EI thing makes perfect sense when viewed with an open mind and a bonus is it's as cheap as chips compared to liquid ferts :D

    Cheers

    Chris
     
  7. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Chris, Glad you find the data useful. When dosing the EI standard values there is more than enough K in KNO3 so that adding more K via K2SO4 is redundant. The reason has to do with the fact that KNO3 is very high in K. KNO3 is constructed of about 40% by weight of K. In that 2.66 grams of KNO3 you'll be adding about 1 gram of K. On top of that, K makes up 30% by weight of KH2PO4, so every time you add 0.75 grams of this salt you're adding 0.23 grams of K. There's no way you'll run short of K. Adding more K via K2SO4 (of which K is 45% by weight) is simply a waste. It won't hurt anything if you do add it of course, but why complicate your life? The only time K2SO4 is relevant is when folks decide that they get enough NO3 via their tap and/or fish waste so that KNO3 addition is unnecessary. If no KNO3 is added then the wealth of K disappears and so one needs another source of K via K2SO4.

    So really, you can just forget about K2SO4 unless you get paranoid and decide to delete KNO3. ;)

    Cheers,
     
  8. CeeJay

    CeeJay Member

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    Thanks for the replies
    Boy. you know your stuff
    Don't do paranoid. :D
    I want my life to be as simple as possible and dry ferts seems such a simple but brilliant concept.
    I really do appreciate all your help.
    Thanks

    Chris
     
  9. plantbrain

    plantbrain Expert

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    No, this is entirely correct way of looking at it, EI, any dosing method etc, is simplistic and only addresses one of 3 or 4 parts of what it takes to grow plants, that's why no one dosing method will cure every one's ills.

    There are fine examples of algae ridden filth using EI, Tropica, you name the method or the product..... and there are examples of nice tanks.

    So there have to be other factors.
    CO2 is the next one, then light is the first.

    Many buy more light, then add ferts, but are too scared of CO2 gas systems and do not realize or think of it as a fertilizer like KNO3, NO3, PO3 etc...........

    So they get algae, without understanding why and what it takes to grow plants well. Algae are virtually never CO2 limited in aquariums or natural, plants are very commonly, it's the most common limitation for FW submersed plants.

    Poor CO2 causes most of the issue.

    All EI does is to make nutrients an independent factor(no nutrient limitations), then it's up to the aquarist to modify CO2, and or lighting to match.

    Few measure CO2 well and watch for it, realize how much better their plants do when they do use it correctly, it's really 95% of this whole thing. Folks have long fingered nutrients as the root of all evil, but that's not the issue, poor plant growth and care are really the larger problem. Deficiencies, tables etc, all are lifted from crop studies and hydroponics, not submersed systems where CO2 is a dependent variable.

    So those are pretty much of no use.

    EI's ratios are pretty much those based on N:p:K ratios in research for nutrient wastewater removal, eg:
    http://wetlands.ifas.ufl.edu/publicatio ... les/96.pdf
    The targets are based on some older work from Gerloff 1966.
    However, these are after the facts............I just added enough till even at high light with the CO2 going strong, I had more than enough nutrients for any species.

    So these both arrived at similar ratios, ppm's etc, but independently.
    That's pretty strong support for a good method.

    I'd also strongly encourage the use of ADA's Aqua soil or make your own DIY mineralized soil's in conjunction with water column dosing.

    It will complement and enhance water column dosing and make it easier, and if you like to mess with leaner systems in the water column, then that's also a pretty viable option.

    Still, that does not detract from the basic myth busting that EI has been able to accomplish, only offers and leaner way to do things and less work. No need to dose the sediments once you add rich soil down there.
    Doing so will only help and extend the life of the sediment when adding water column ferts.

    You can still add GH booster(I do, it's 50% K2SO4), or K2SO4 alone in addition to KNO3, no issues there, we just saw no difference in adding much more.

    Won't hurt anything however.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  10. CeeJay

    CeeJay Member

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    Hi all

    Boy, you lot know your stuff around here.
    Having scoured this forum for weeks now I have learnt that there is more to this planted tank game than I first thought, although I have to say the rewards are immense when you get it right, going by some of the tanks I've seen around here.
    I now realize that the key to a successful planted tank is a whole multitude of things ranging from lighting, co2, ferts, flow and substrate to a lesser degree. I say that about the substrate because I have just seen a tank by someone from Portugal (I think) and it was absolutely stunning and he used gravel only. :wideyed:
    Anyway, I really do appreciate all of your responses. They're helping me out no end, me being a newbie and all that.
    So once again many thanks for taking the time out to reply.

    Chris
     
  11. chris1004

    chris1004 Member

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    Now I'm not doubting or casting aspertions when I say this. Well I don't mean to be anyway. But sometimes its worth remembering that most people only photograph their tanks when they have just finished cleaning/prunning/planting them. Sometimes a pinch of salt is required when looking at these immaculatly kept tanks.i'm not saying it can't be done or even that the pictures are all deliberatly misleading its kind of the same as doing the housework just before your inlaws are due round.... :lol: :lol: :lol:
     
  12. CeeJay

    CeeJay Member

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    Hi chris1004
    That may or may not be the case. I wish mine would look as good after a clean up. :lol:
    Although I have to say my plants are growing mental now (2 weeks into EI dosing). :D
    Just in the middle of a 'new tank' algae crisis on my HC carpet, but after some sound advice round here, I've sorted the flow rates and flow around the tank so I'll hopefully get on top of it. Once it's sorted I might even get the camera out. ;)

    Chris
     

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