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Going front loading full force

Hanuman

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So I persuaded myself to become a front loading boy. Here is the hypothetical plan. Dosing levels are calculated on the WC volume not the entire tank volume.

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Something that is not clear to me is if there is any benefit in using Urea in this mix considering I would be front loading. My understanding is that urea is best served hot, that is, every day. I also wish not to dry dose so that's why I am preparing a concentrated macro solution. So what is your say on this?

Micros on the other hand would be served hot, daily, with a separate solution.

Thank you.
 
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Zeus.

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What I did when using 100% urea as source of Nitrogen is little and often
I was dosing 100ml three times a week of Macros and Micros in 500l tank so 300ml each a week
so same dose was used but macros was dosed then 2 hrs later micros rinse repeat for the whole week
300ml / 7 / 6 = 7.15ml every four hours
This easy with my my DIY auto doser and PLC
I started off with 20% urea and slowly increased the % urea till 100%
 

Hanuman

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What I did when using 100% urea as source of Nitrogen is little and often
I was dosing 100ml three times a week of Macros and Micros in 500l tank so 300ml each a week
so same dose was used but macros was dosed then 2 hrs later micros rinse repeat for the whole week
300ml / 7 / 6 = 7.15ml every four hours
This easy with my my DIY auto doser and PLC
I started off with 20% urea and slowly increased the % urea till 100%
In my case I wish to front load all NPK but I am unsure if there would be any benefit in adding urea in such dosing strategy.
 

MichaelJ

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So I persuaded myself to become a front loading boy. Here is the hypothetical plan. Dosing levels are calculated on the WC volume not the entire tank volume.
I've been front loading all my NPK,Ca/Mg for a long time now in both my tanks (targeting the WC water) and its been working very well. I dose the traces twice a week - the morning after the WC and then again mid-week.
I can't speak to Urea whether that can be front loaded. If not, I wonder if some could be added on the day of the WC, and some mixed in with the traces for auto dosing and split into say 3 doses or so, spread out during the week.

Cheers,
Michael
 

plantnoobdude

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In my case I wish to front load all NPK but I am unsure if there would be any benefit in adding urea in such dosing strategy.
Hi, urea should not be front loaded, it should be added in small amounts daily, as for the standard macros, it doesn't matter much if you front load or not, I did not notice any difference in my tank. urea is available for a relatively short period of time like micros, am wondering If adding urea to your micros will work because that'll be one less solution to deal with.
 

Happi

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front loading the urea would mean sudden gain in plant growth for the first 1-2 days and then the growth will slow down a bit, my main concern would be front loading the urea in higher quantity will results in rise in NO3. other than that there is no issues dosing it in higher quantity to begin with, 1-3 ppm N from Urea was quite common practice for me for front loading it. also, not all of the urea is converted into NH4 immediately, it takes hours and days, so even if you added 1 ppm Urea at front load, expect it to continue to produce NH4 in small quantity on daily basis. this process will increase in presence of urease, Nickel or beneficial bacteria.
 

Hanuman

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I think I might just dose NO3 straight. Down the road I might introduce urea in small regular doses through the week either with traces or alone. But 5ppm front loaded as my pic shows above is probably too much for the tank to cope with. Plus fish are actually producing NH4 daily anyway.

Does anyone see any issue mixing urea with traces?
 

Zeus.

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front loading boy
Hadn't heard of 'front loading' before so had a google - so the idea is to provide a more stable/constant level of nutrients (Correct me if I'm wrong)
But if you dose all the NPK after WC then the NPK levels will drop over the week and peak again next WC
Surely a daily dosing would reduce the peaks and troughs of the NPK levels. The dissolved organic compounds will still peak until there's a WC
One of the ideas of me dosing many-many times a week was to reduce the peaks and troughs with daily dosing or dosing Macros and Micros on alternative days. I though of a large body of water eg lake/river the NPK levels wouldn't change very fast, there would be seasonal variations due to decomposition of organic material and run off from farmer fields. These changes would be slow due to the large amount of water. Although there will be times of heavy rainfall and the land gets well flushed and the river carries many more millions of gallons than normal.
 
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Hanuman

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Hadn't heard of 'front loading' before so had a google - so the idea is to provide a more stable/constant level of nutrients (Correct me if I'm wrong)
No correction needed. You understood 100% :)

But if you dose all the NPK after WC then the NPK levels will drop over the week and peak again next WC
Yes and no. If you have fish they also produce nutrients for the plants so basically that balances things out at least for nitrates. For the rest yes you might see a drop in P and K levels but since you are already in realm of "overdosing", plants don't really see the difference. Also the drop that you see in the week by front loading is nowhere near comparable to the increase you see when you dose daily. @GreggZ will confirm this. His TDS remains pretty much the same before and after WC. Same goes for his NO3 since plant uptake + fish unload balances out.
The idea of front loading is you basically ignore entirely the accumulation shenanigans and dose so that your water is always at its peak. Same as if you had reached the max accumulation over time. That peak can be anywhere you like of course and so you remove the WC % out of the calculation.
 
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Hanuman

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What about front loading 50% of the weekly dose, and then spreading the remaining 50% out over the rest of the week? I think that would make for a pretty smooth curve in nutrient levels.
Or maybe 75% up front and 25% over the week
Yes I believe some do that as well and it works fine. The point I think is to simply prevent the plants from being in a state of high demand while the water column is in a state of low supply.
 

Hufsa

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in a state of high demand while the water column is in a state of low supply.
Yeah this is my thinking too. I suppose the effect of "empty" water column would be worse on a leaner regime than say, full EI?

Im starting to partially front load my tank at the moment, just because I think it makes sense. It will also allow for larger than 50% water changes if I feel like it without it messing up the nutrient levels so much.
 

Zeus.

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His TDS remains pretty much the same before and after WC
So the 'aim/target' is stable TDS , irrelevant of what's dissolved. You would expect a small increase with feeding fish and evaporation- Yes my TDS climbs all week long, I just accept it and don't check it.
Food for thought indeed ;)
 

Hanuman

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So the 'aim/target' is stable TDS , irrelevant of what's dissolved
Well stable TDS and perhaps semi stable nutrients I concur. But plants will not suck up 30ppm of K, I doubt it unless you got a tropical jungle in the tank.

You would expect a small increase with feeding fish and evaporation
Don't forget plant uptake. All in all it is probably much more stable this way than just doing massive WC and then day dosing little bits. If you have a new rich substrate then you won't see much of a difference but when your soil depletes that's were you might see some benefits of front loading or if your substrate is lean to start with.
 
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Wookii

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What about front loading 50% of the weekly dose, and then spreading the remaining 50% out over the rest of the week? I think that would make for a pretty smooth curve in nutrient levels.

That would make the most sense if being combined with a 50% water change, if consistent nutrient levels are the aim.

Not dosing after a 50% water change, and dosing everything after the 50% water change would seem to be largely the inverse of one another - one builds up over a week, whilst one diminishes over a week.

I have set up my system with stability in mind, so I do daily (auto) water changes, and daily dosing so my tank TDS is always rock solid.
 

GreggZ

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No correction needed. You understood 100% :)


Yes and no. If you have fish they also produce nutrients for the plants so basically that balances things out at least for nitrates. For the rest yes you might see a drop in P and K levels but since you are already in realm of "overdosing", plants don't really see the difference. Also the drop that you see in the week by front loading is nowhere near comparable to the increase you see when you dose daily. @GreggZ will confirm this. His TDS remains pretty much the same before and after WC. Same goes for his NO3 since plant uptake + fish unload balances out.
The idea of front loading is you basically ignore entirely the accumulation shenanigans and dose so that your water is always at its peak. Same as if you had reached the max accumulation over time. That peak can be anywhere you like of course and so you remove the WC % out of the calculation.
When I started front end loading macros years ago many people thought I was nuts. They had been told over and over again that you need three doses and macros and micros need to be dosed on opposite days. And on top of that the water change day was a day of "rest". Whatever that meant. It was a dogma if you will. And any thought to the contrary was blasphemy!

What happened for me is that I noticed many sensitive plants would look worse a few days after a water change and look the best right before the next one. My thought was it could be related to unstable water parameters. When you perform a large water change, you remove a large amount of nutrients, so the water column is very low. Then you start dosing and the levels begin to rise as the week goes on. I decided to create a spreadsheet to help me understand what was happening in my tank.

So let's take a look at my tank. Here is typical dosing three days a week at 16 ppm NO3 with 70% water change. In this case I am not accounting for tank generated nutrients or plant uptake, just pure theoretical numbers. The key number is the Daily NO3 level in week 11. Notice how it rises from 6.85 to 22.84 as the week progresses.

Typical EI No Var.jpg

Then let's take the same 16 ppm NO3 dosing all front right after a water change. Again this is purely theoretical with no entries for tank generated nutrients or daily plant uptake. Notice how the daily NO3 level is completely stable.

Front Load no Var.jpg


But in the real world there are other variables. The tank is generating nutrients from fish waste, fish food, dead/decaying plant matter, etc. And the plants are taking up nutrients too. Now this gets tricky because these could vary wildly from tank to tank. I have what most would consider a large fish load for a planted tank, and I have a densely planted tank full of fast growing weeds with a lot of plant mass.

Over the years I have been testing and think I have a decent understanding of what is happening in my tank. And I do admit I could be wrong, but years of testing leads me to believe it's pretty close to what is actually happening.

I believe my tank generated nutrients to be just slightly more than the plant uptake. So let's take my actual tank with normal 3x a week dosing. Again pay attention to the daily NO3 level.

Typical EI with Var.jpg


Now let's take a look at my tank with front loaded macros.

Front Load with Var.jpg


I've been doing this for years and I can tell you that my NO3 measures right about 25 ppm any day of the week. If it's a lot more or less, then something is off and I need to figure it out. And the same goes for my TDS. It's very close to the same right before and right after a water change.

I have been dosing all macros up front and dosing micros daily for years. That's one reason I was so interested when Marian Sterian mentioned that he doses five times the daily dose right after a water change. He observed the same thing with more sensitive species. Confirmed what I had been thinking for years. I can tell you this if nothing else it sure is a lot more convenient.

This is a spreadsheet I put together years ago. If anyone wants to use it PM me and I will direct you on where to download it. Once you start playing with your own numbers it might provide a better understanding of what is happening in your own tank. For some it may turn out that a 50% dose after a water change then two 25% doses works best. All depends on your fish load, maintenance, and plant uptake.
 

Hanuman

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While you were preparing your post I was preparing a simulation to answer to @Wookii but you beat me to it @GreggZ. I'll just post it so it doesn't go to waste. It's just a quick simulation for a week dosing under different regimes at specific dosing ppm and uptake. This is theoretical but it just provides an overall idea of why front end loading or at least 50% dosing after WC is beneficial.

1648049754067.png
 
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Wookii

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I was preparing a simulation to answer to @Wookii

Yep, your figures show that the 50% dose at water change (assuming a 50% water change) will give most stable theoretical fert levels when doing a single weekly water change, which is what I suggested above?
 

Hanuman

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Yep, your figures show that the 50% dose at water change (assuming a 50% water change) will give most stable theoretical fert levels when doing a single weekly water change, which is what I suggested above?
Correct. But the WC% is irrelevant in this simulation as I am assuming that's the tank peak and one is dosing the WC volume not the tank volume.
 
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