EI DOSING USING DRY SALTS

Discussion in 'Tutorials' started by ceg4048, 23 Mar 2008.

  1. REDSTEVEO

    REDSTEVEO Member

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    Hi Johnny,

    Thanks for the info mate. No I don't think :bored: you'll get slated for helping someone out. As it happens I rang AE to find out when they expect the CSM+ trace elements in and Richard reckons it will be about a fortnight before they have it in again. I did buy all the other dry salts for EI dosing from AE and they recommended for the time being the Tropica liquid trace elements which will just have to do until they get some in.

    I rang Garden Direct first but the person I spoke to had no idea what I was talking about, they did say they would get someone to ring me back though.

    Thanks,

    Steve.
     
  2. johnny70

    johnny70 Member

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    Your welcome, anything I can do to help 8)

    GD can be a bit slow, I just ordered all my stuff over the web took 3/4 days to reach me, they do all the dry salts you need for the tanks in handy sizes too, about to order another lot soon :D

    JOHNNY
     
  3. REDSTEVEO

    REDSTEVEO Member

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    :?:
    Clive or anyone else who feels they can answer this question. This is just a sort p.s. to my last post really.

    My question is if all of my wonderful workings out above really only apply if you sign up completely to the 50% water change every week, does that mean then that if I only do 25% water change every week that I would have to halve the dosage quantities and therefore base the dosage on Clive's original workings based on a 20 gallon tank and not a 40 gallon tank?

    Just a thought. :?
     
  4. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Steve,
    Sorry about that but I completely missed that post. :rolleyes: Good you were able to have a read of the articles. There is a lot of data in them so they are always worth re-reading. You'll find things that you missed before. One of the things I was trying to say in the article is that it is not necessary to try and figure out how much water the tanks has. First of all that would be a guess and second it won't matter either way. What may matter is that you make your life more complicated by doing an unnecessary calculation with more chances of a bonehead error like having the decimal place wrong or something like that and really screwing up. The less calculations the better. Another thing is that the 20 gallon template is based on a 20USG tank and almost every product sold for aquarium is based on USG, which is an easier calculation at 4litres per gallon instead of 4.5. so you have a 190l and that equates to a 50G more or less. This means that the data in the 20G template can be multiplied by 50/20 or 2.5. Either way though the numbers are not far off and the dosing won't be that much different.

    You can make life even easier if you use a dosing calculator. A few posts back I gave the link for the calculator =>http://www.cherniaksoftware.com/homepage/Data/NutriCalc.exe

    So you wind up with 6 tsp KNO3 instead of 4.5 (no big deal)
    1.5 tsp KH2PO4 (the same)
    18 tsp MgSO4 instead of 12 (may not matter that much)

    Yes 1.2 litres of water with 100ml dosage works but so does 600ml with 50 ml dosing.

    Again, with the traces your numbers wind up a little lower, which is not a big deal. It would only start to matter if you were using 5WPG or something like that but with much lower lighting you have plenty of margin of error.

    Regarding your question about the water changes and the nutrient buildup, I differ from a lot of people in that I hold to two concepts which enable me never to worry about this issue. First and foremost is that I am absolutely paranoid about organic waste buildup because this is the most important contributor to algae. I do massive water changes because this allows me to be sloppy about everything else. I'll do 80% WC without batting an eyelash. The reason? ammonia, organic waste and algal spores are removed with every litre of water you replace. I guess it takes twice as long to replace 100 litres as it does 50 litres though, so perhaps you are looking to save time by only doing 25% water change.

    Next is nutrient build up which everyone is so unbelievably paranoid about. As stated in the article why adjust your dosing? There is a mathematical equation that determines the maximum buildup based on your water change schedule but I just don't care because I know that the maximum buildup is not terribly high, that nutrients don't cause algae and that nutrients don't harm fish, at least not the levels we see in our tanks dosing EI. So this is another issue that is completely moot. Dose your nutrients, do your water changes and don't worry about it. If you are nervous about it then skip dosing for a couple of days. Excess nutrients is like excess food. If the plants don't use it today they will use it tomorrow. Sometimes I have to leave town for a few days and that nutrient buildup serves me well because it tides me over. As long as my CO2 is good there is nothing to fear and nothing more to calculate. There are a lot more dangerous things in the tank than nutrients, like disease carrying organisms or parasites, or ammonia. Nutrients neither stress nor stunt the fauna nor make them more susceptible to disease. The same cannot be said for ammonia which is in more abundant supply in the tank than we realize.

    From what I recall of the infinite series equation the maximum buildup over a long time of dosing + water changes was something like the (weekly dosing)/(percent water change in decimal) so for you the nutrient buildup level would plateau out at 1.6tsp/.25 = 6.4 teaspoons NO3 which turns out to be roughly 180ppm. This assumes zero plant uptake, zero NO3 replacement water content and you would reach that level after a very long time (like infinity).

    If you find it alarming you can slowly reduce your dosing until the point where the plants start to show signs of stress and then back off. In practice I've never seen any ill effects of nutrient buildup but I have seen ill effects of poor water changes.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers,
     
  5. REDSTEVEO

    REDSTEVEO Member

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    Thanks Clive,

    Thorough as ever. I am hoping that the stuff will arrive today or tomorrow. How many doses do you think it takes before there is a noticable difference in things like photosynthesis, pearling etc.

    I posted something which Ed replied to about CO2 Diffusion which I have since tried but there has been no increase in photosynthesis or pearling, so I guess it is just the nutrients that are missing.

    Funny isn't it the hours that I have spent trying to rid my water of nitrates and phosphates and here we are taliking about adding them 3 x per week. :rolleyes:

    Cheers,

    Steve
     
  6. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Steve,
    Yes it's incredible. But the truth is always stranger than fiction. Here is an example: I was browsing one of the aquatic botany journals recommended by Barr which discusses studies done in the interior of the Florida Everglades. This zone is a shallow waterway and is described as being "Oligotrophic". Oligotrophic environments are ones in which the nutrient content is very low. The interior of the Florida Everglades is described as being an extremely oligotrophic shallow wetland and is severely starved of Phosphorous (P). The P content is measured as being below 0.01 ppm. In this system (as in many aquatic systems) there exists a "biofilm" that covered all submerged surfaces (kind of like a thin slime.) This biofilm is called the Periphyton and it is a community of organisms (flora and fauna) which includes diatoms, bacteria, BGA and other types of algae. As it turns out, most of the biomass in this zone of the Everglades is actually comprised of the flora and fauna living in this biofilm. So effectively there is more algae mass than plant mass living in this area of the Everglades. The astonishing implication here is that you cannot starve algae of nutrients without reducing the quality of life of the higher plants. By definition therefore, algae thrive in environmental conditions that are severely limiting to higher plant forms. From a practical standpoint, if you try to re-create an oligotrophic environment in your tank you are doing a disservice to your plants and are making your tank algae friendly.

    Why is low Phosphorous content so strongly correlated with poor plant health and high algal population? The answer is easy and incredible. All living cells are alive because they are powered by little embedded batteries called the Mitocondria. The chemical energy produced by the mitocondria is based on a very active molecule called Adenosine TriPhospate (ATP). ATP is composed of a sugar molecule attached to a purine (caffeine is a type of purine) and three phosphates (PO4). ATP is so active and is so important that it's referred to as natures "energy currency". It's used in energy transfer (by loss and recovery of a PO4) during cell metabolism, cell communication, cellular respiration and is one of the principle stars in photosynthesis. The more complicated the plant, the more ATP is needed. It doesn't take a genius to see how important the uptake of PO4 is to plants. By contrast, algae need PO4 as well but being much simpler organisms they can get by on a lot less.

    Here is a quick ATP primer=> http://www.bristol.ac.uk/Depts/Chemistr ... p/atp1.htm
    A close look at the molecular structure will reveal that the purine component of ATP is a Nitrogen/Carbon sub-unit. It's not hard at all to see one reason why N and C are also critical to plant health and growth.

    None of this science is considered or even remotely understood by the Bozos in the marketing departments of plant products, hence the absurd label phrases such as "..Our product does not contain nitrates or phosphates which would encourage annoying algae..." :wideyed:

    If you are a masochist you can read the K.R Reddy paper here=> http://wetlands.ifas.ufl.edu/publicatio ... uptake.pdf

    Regarding you question about the number of doses until improvement is noticed, Matt Holbrook used to have a signoff signature which read something like "The only things that happen quickly in an aquarium are bad". Give it a couple weeks to see real improvements. :D

    Cheers,
     
  7. beeky

    beeky Member

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    Just reading that and a big flash went off in my head. Aha, I thought, I remember mitochondria from my school biology. A little black bit in cells I recall. I also remember ATP, although I recall it as Adenine TriPhosphate. Has it got garbled over the years, or is Adenine different to Adenosine?

    I also remember that RNA is Ribonucleic acid and DNA is deoxyribonucleic acid. Not that that's relevant, but these things have just jumped up inside my head! I think I need a lie down now....
     
  8. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

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    Yeah, the Carbon/Nitrogen/Hydrogen "base" is Adenine but when it's combined in the big molecule the name changes to Adenosine. The sugar molecule in the center is ribose which is the basis for the ribonucleic in RNA/DNA. It's just absolutely amazing.

    The Reddy article discusses how the periphytic algae obtain their PO4 by either available inorganic compounds or by organic methods by recycling ATP, no doubt from the cells of anything that dies. I'm not sure if I extrapolated correctly but I'm assuming that the biofilm in our tanks behaves in a similar manner, so we've got all these critters sitting right on the plant leaves. I'm guessing this is the stuff algae eaters eat, and it also may explain why when a plant is starved and starts leeching ammonia and nutrients, the triggered algae is already right there to form on the leaf surface. The spores don't have to swim to the meal, they are already waiting at the table. :wideyed:

    I needed a couple of lie downs to get my head wrapped around this. :lol:

    Cheers,
     
  9. REDSTEVEO

    REDSTEVEO Member

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    Nope, its definitely Adenosine Tri-Phosphate. In humans it is the rocket fuel which allows us to move very quickly in short bursts. From what I remember it is replenished from our creatine phosphate supply. But lets not get too technical eh!!

    Cheers,

    Steve.
     
  10. plantbrain

    plantbrain Expert

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    I think for most aquarist, simply looking at the practical side of things and the trade offs and reducing the unknowns is perhaps a more pragmatic argument.

    Water changes: => easy, no chemistry required, clean the tank out, water clear, and clean.
    Dosing errors=> totally minimized via large weekly water changes.
    Cost: test kits and actually using them does cost something and the reagents are not exactly enviornmentally friendly either......
    Water changes cost $ as well, however, the waste can be used to recharge ground water, water landscaping etc.
    Simple, no testing, no chem knowledge required.

    This is not to say that the test kits are bad per se, or that it's not to recommended ever etc.
    But for most folks, they really do not need them and really are less practical than most seem to believe in the hobby.

    Test kits introduce their own set of errors that need accounted for and when you add that to the aquarium honbby anbd mix, now you do need more understanding and chemistry.

    Problem is, most aquarist do not wnat to use the test kits correctly and use reference standards.
    They think they can get by with short cuts and argue that their test show the evidence, even though the readings may or may not be off by kilometers..........

    Now if you are going to accept some trade offs and not bother to calibrate, and therefore guess the test kit is correct, would you not be better off not even going down this test kit path to begin with?

    You are estimating with EI, based on a known volume of water change.
    With test kits, without calibrating, you are guessing outright and assumign they are correct.

    Guessing vs estimating.
    Which is worse?

    Ironically the test kit lovers all suggest their's is a better more accurate method.
    Yet few seem to be able to calibrate the test kit and want to take short cuts.

    I use test kits to measure the models I make for predictions vs what is actually in the tank itself.
    So I need and demand accuracy when I test.

    I also do not need to test all the time if my model predictions are well matched with my test results.
    Therefore I do not waste my time playing with test kits since I have a good model predictor.

    But some clowns just do not get it.
    They think you must test and do so forever.
    I use testing for experimentation/manipulation/purpose driven questions, so I can make predictions and then apply them to aquariums/lakes, ponds etc.

    Then I do not need to test forever ;)
    I can automate a water change or make it very easy/simple to do also(Hard plumb a valve for drain and for filling).
    I cannot automate NO3, PO4 testing nor KH.

    The other thing that the test kit crowd are just plain terrible at: measuring CO2.
    For all the talk and banter over test kits and N etc, they are terrible when it comes to measuring the 2 big parameters in the hobby: light and CO2.

    Irony has no limit.
    Why spend all this effort on NO3, PO4 etc when you do not address the 2 main components to plant growth?
    I've never met a single pro test kit person that uses a light meter using PAR in this hobby to date.
    Ever............

    CO2?
    Some readings might be right, but many are not.
    If you have measured CO2 very critically, then you know the plant responses, you know the algae responses, so even if the test say one thing, you know it cannot be correct, something must be off for the plant to be looking like that and it cannot be the CO2.

    Many aquarist claim they have everything correct and do not check it twice.
    I'm always amazed at how sure they are yet scratch their heads about why they still have stunted plant tips or algae.
    Stunted tips and smaller growth at the apex is classic poor CO2. Blackening Java fern= classic poor CO2, BBA etc......increased Hair algae growth..............lower O2 levels during the day..........
    I've gone back and corrected perhaps 100X these situations and cured the issue using nothing other than CO2 changes.

    I have a 2500$ CO2 meter that is independent of pH/KH and is accurate to 1ppm and a response time of about 5-10 min.
    I am a bit more interested in experimental designs, research, testing than most. I also calibrate it and make sure it measures true against a known standard. Then I can really isolate and measure this one parameter and see what impact it has.

    Folks do not like it when you question their long held beliefs, they do not like it when you question the test kits they claim make their point, they do not like to be wrong, yet cannot explain why things are okay when you have these high levels, and why others folks who measure with crappy test kits have issues as well.
    There is a great deal of irony, conflict and contradiction in their logic.
    Logic that will never win out over time.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  11. JDowns

    JDowns Newly Registered

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    I think I've read the EI stickies at Barr Report 20 times to try and wrap my head around the concept. This article really has to be the most concise, easy to understand, easy to interpret, quantification of EI.

    The trap I fell into was what I fear is a common one. I read EI, well perused and skimmed to the dosing tables and called it good. I notice Tom says consistently that EI is not meant to be a sledge hammer. This article really emphasises that aspect well that I think people misinterpret, and should be a must read as a primer to folks prior to delving into utilizing this method.

    Great write up and thank you for sharing it.
     
  12. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks jdowns, glad you found the data useful. Did my best to convince readers that EI is based on user friendly principles, like Tom says, and is not based on dogmatic principles many seem to believe. :D

    Cheers,
     
  13. REDSTEVEO

    REDSTEVEO Member

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    Hi, Can you tell me where the link for "EI Stickies at Barr Report" is. I think I might have missed it somewhere.

    Thanks.

    p.s. I have just found the website for the Tom Barr report, which sticky is the one which mentions the "sledgehammer" topic?

    Thanks.
     
  14. REDSTEVEO

    REDSTEVEO Member

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    Hi Clive, George, Tom, Ed,

    I have been using the EI dosing system for a few days now. This morning I have just done a 50% water change using RO water. I added a 100 ml of the dosing mix and 15 ml of the trace element mix. The fish look fine and the plants are beginning to bubble nicely 3 hours later.

    Just out of pure curiosity I have tested the water using all of my test kits, KH, GH, Nitrate and Phosphate. (Yes I know we are supposed to do away with the test kits) but I am still new to this. :?

    The KH came out as 3 degrees, i.e. test solution turned from blue to yellow on the third drop, GH 0 degrees (went yellow straight away), the nitrate test solution went bright red which according to the guide on the test kit means these conditions could prove fatal for the fish. :( The phospate test solution has gone very very dark blue which according to the scale is "bad" Now previously I would have panicked at this stage and done massive water changes to get rid of all the nitrate and phosphate. But......this time I am trying to stay calm and have faith that nothing will happen to the fish and the plants will continue to grow and that 3 or 4 days from now everything will still be fine and I won't come home from work one day to find algae crawling all over the place.

    The 0 degrees GH needs to be corrected and pushed up to around 10 degrees I believe. I can do this by adding:

    a. Tap water.
    b. Sera Mineral salts?
    c. Sera KH buffer?
    d. No idea (suggestions as soon as you like please)

    In the meantime fingers crossed everything stays okay.

    Incidentally a question for the techies, I have got a Sera Electronic test probe which is meant to be used for measuring the electrical conductivity of the water in microsiemens. I have just measured the water with it and it is reading 600 ms. I thought previously it should be around 350 ms. Does anyone have any views on this or is it just another pointless piece of information and another test kit I should do away with? ;)
     
  15. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Steve,
    Here is Tom Barrs EI Sticky=> http://www.barrreport.com/estimative-in ... -kits.html

    I guess I'm not really sure I understand exactly why you are using RO water. Is it for your fish? Your plants don't care about RO so you can use tap water. If you continue to use RO water to do your water changes and if your tap water is soft it's not hard to imaging that your GH will fall. In any case there are no TDS requirements so 0GH or whatever microseimen value you have is not important. The TDS value is only important if you have fish that require a maximum TDS for breeding. Adding nutrients will always increase your TDS so this can be a sticky issue if you are attempting to breed low TDS fish in an EI tank.

    This is what I despise about test kits. They make people paranoid. It's almost like superstition. You gave two sentences about the good news of the tank: Fish fine, plants growing - you've seen a glimpse of the truth. Then you gave a thesis on test kit readings and how bad that should be. I'd take the first part and be happy. Doesn't more plant growth automatically mean more oxygen for your fish and for nitrifying bacteria? Doesn't that mean that NH4, which is toxic and which causes algae, is reduce more quickly? Shouldn't more oxygen result in better fish health? Shouldn't you be happy? But no, instead, the test kit has some magical power over you. Do yourself a favor, collect all test kits in a paper (or biodegradable plastic) sack and throw the sack in the nearest rubbish tip. Can you see why I think that test kits are a construct of The Matrix? :D

    Cheers,
     
  16. REDSTEVEO

    REDSTEVEO Member

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    Cheers Clive,

    I think that is exactly what I wanted to hear (re-assurance). I'll probably do the water change next Sunday with tap water.

    :D

    p.s. Thanks for the link to the EI sticky.
     
  17. Tom

    Tom Member

    I think the penny might be dropping... awesome article!! Don't know how I missed it unitl now :rolleyes:

    Sorry if I've missed it somewhere in the mass of replies, but in theory can I dose over the recommended levels (of say TPN+, Brighty Spec Lights etc), as long as CO2 is ok and avoid algae? Am I being a bit slow? :lol:

    Tom
     
  18. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Tom,
    Well I can only speak for the dry powders and the answer is yes, but the commercial products get a lot of their N from ammonia salts or urea. I'm on really thin ice here because I've not played with those products very much at all (can you blame me at £44 per litre? Even petrol isn't that expensive. Get real! :wideyed: ) but I guess if its anything other than an N product you'd be OK. If there is N then there is a likelihood of an ammonia component and you'd be playing with fire. That's the beauty of the dry salts, they're cheap and I can do anything I want without fear. I'd have much less confidence with the commercial N products so I'd advise caution.

    Cheers,
     
  19. Tom

    Tom Member

    Cheers Clive :D

    I'm only using ADA stuff because someone gave me three bottles! I wouldn't pay that much!

    Tom
     
  20. Ed Seeley

    Ed Seeley Member

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    Just to add to Clive's response I add some salts to my RO water to provide the GH. I simply add a teaspoon per 25l water container. Despite many people's successes with tap water I won't go back to it as I find I have a lot less problems in my tanks since I switched to it. My main reason, as Clive said, was for the fish I keep, though it certainly doesn't harm the plants. But I keep soft water fish and soft water plants and therefore they should thrive. I imagine Vallis would probably melt before my eyes...

    As to the microseimens reading; as Clive said some fish will be affected by it. I noticed that some of my killifish did stop breeding when the TDS rose too high and when I cut back on the EI ferts and did some large water changes they started breeding again. Once my Biotoecus mature I may have to start altering things in their tank I am sure.
     

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