Hi & Help!

Discussion in 'El Natural & Low Tech' started by mick b, 22 Jul 2008.

  1. mick b

    mick b Member

    Messages:
    80
    Hi All,

    1st let me introduce myself, I'm principally a Discus keeper (link to here from BIDKA).

    I live in south Lincs and have a 300 gallon planted tank (21 discus) and a 60 gallon planted tank (2 Discus), both use UG filtration+cannisters and UV.

    I have been reading the artical (great stuff :D ) re EI and was doing OK, untill I came across this;

    "NPK (Nitrogen + Phosphorus + Potassium) Mixture for 20 Gallon Tank
    1 month = 4 Weeks
    3 doses of NPK per week
    Therefore there are 12 doses of NPK per month
    Multiply a single dose teaspoon value by 12 => [3/16 tsp KNO3]*12 = 2 ¼ tsp KNO3
    [1/16 tsp KH2PO4]*12 = ¾ tsp KH2PO4
    [1/2 tsp MgSO4]*12 = 6 tsp MgSO4
    Add these to 600ml of tap or distilled water

    Now this mixture must serve 12 doses so each dose is 600ml/12 = 50ml
    This makes life easier because you need only dose 50ml of this NPK solution 3 times per week.

    Always separate the CSM+B from the NPK because it has a tendency to react with the phosphate. You can dose the CSM+B as a powder or if it more convenient add 8 * 1/16 tsp => ½ teaspoon to 300 ml of water and dose 25 ml two times per week."



    NPK I'm ok with, adding dry salts, no issue, but would somebody please enlighten this 'newbie' as to what CSM+B is??

    Many thanks in advance, Cheers, Mick B :)
     
  2. JamesM

    JamesM Member

    Messages:
    1,913
    Location:
    The BIG End, South Wales
  3. spaldingaquatics

    spaldingaquatics Member

    Messages:
    161
    Location:
    Spalding, S.Lincs
    Welcome to UKAPS!!!!! nice to see someone else from sunny S.Lincs :D
     
  4. mick b

    mick b Member

    Messages:
    80
    Hi James,

    Many thanks for that, off to investigate ;)

    Cheers, Mick B
     
  5. mick b

    mick b Member

    Messages:
    80
    "Sunny S.Lincs" ?? :lol:

    Thanks for the welcome :D
     
  6. spaldingaquatics

    spaldingaquatics Member

    Messages:
    161
    Location:
    Spalding, S.Lincs
    yeah you're right, not that great it must have been the light from my tanks :lol:
     
  7. JamesM

    JamesM Member

    Messages:
    1,913
    Location:
    The BIG End, South Wales
    np mate, welcome btw :)
     
  8. mick b

    mick b Member

    Messages:
    80
    Hi James,

    Glad I found this place!

    So I currently add fe (Iron Sulphate), K (potash), Mg (Epson salts) and my Tap water contains at least 15ppm NO3 (Phosphate approx 1.5ppm also in the water) and I have been adding a dry mix of 'trace elements' but blending them together with the other base ferts (pre-mixed), which is seems is in-effective? (checks out in practice :( )

    So, if I read it correctly, I have (as a starting EI position) NO3 (in the water) PHO4 (in the water), K,Fe & Mg, plus the trace elements, but where I'm wrong, is don't pre-blend the trace elements with the base ferts?

    Does this make sence? am I on the right track? :?

    Cheers, Mick B
     
  9. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,952
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Hi,
    The caution in the article warns against mixing KH2PO4 with the Fe supplement. The mix that you are combining should be OK as long as the potash that you mention is not KH2PO4. "Potash" is a vague term for me because I come across various forms, from Sulfate of Potash (K2SO4) to Muriate of Potash (KCl) to Potash fertilizer (KOH) and a lot more. Even Potassium Nitrate (KNO3) is called Nitrate of Potash aka saltpeter. Essentially any salt of Potassium is a type of Potash.

    If you dose the trace element mix there is no need for the FeSO4 as most trace element mixes are predominantly Fe.

    I imagine that if you are a Discus keeper you probably feed 10 times per day or something like that so your base nitrates are probably high already so you could get by with 1.5 teaspoons of K2SO4 3X per week for the 300G, and 1/4 teaspoon 3X per week for the 60G. If the potash you are using is some other salt than K2SO4 then we'd need to recalculate because the molar weight would be different.

    So you would only need K2SO4, MgSO4 and trace element mix in the following solution:
    300G high light tank:
    [1.5 teaspoon K2SO4 + 1 teaspoons MgSO4 + 1.25 teaspoon trace] = 1 dose (I don't think you'll need 10 teaspoons of MgSO4)
    [18 teaspoons K2SO4 + 12 teaspoons MgSO4 + 10 teaspoons trace] = 12 doses (only 8 doses worth of trace)

    Add the 12 dose mix to 600ml water and dose 50 ml per dose, or if you have trouble dissolving that much powder add the mix to 900 ml water and dose 75 ml.

    If later you saw evidence of algae then you would have to adjust the mix to include the associated salt(s).

    Of course this assumes a high light CO2 injected 300G tank. If the tank in not CO2 injected and/or not a high light tank then these numbers get thrown out the window. :wideyed:

    Cheers,
     
  10. TDI-line

    TDI-line Member

    Messages:
    1,535
    Location:
    Yaxley, Peterborough
    Hello and welcome.
     
  11. mick b

    mick b Member

    Messages:
    80
    Hi All,

    Thanks for the warm welcome :D

    ceg4048, WOW! :wideyed: :eek: I was not expecting such a detailed reply (and still trying to get my head around the chemistry! :oops: )

    I don't feed 10 times a day :lol: but 4 times and yes, that Discus beefheart stuff! + flake, granules, brineshrimp, bloodworms, earthworm etc etc, so there is plenty of 'fish waste' in there, hence no issues with lack of Nitrate (N03), potentially the reverse (N03 levels can reach 40+ppm but average about 25ppm)
    Tank has 21 adult Discus, bristle-noses, cardinals, SAE's, banjo cat, corries and the odd armoured shrimp.

    Here is a description of the tank etc;

    Display Tank;
    300 gal, of which approx 260 is water + 250Kg 10mm to 25mm inert gravel UG (Under-gravel filtration)
    Areas of the UG are supplemented with laterite and allowed to ‘mulm-up’ where plants are (direct into substraight approx 4” to 7” deep, flow in these areas is very slow, if at all).
    UG is Deep-Vacced, 1 x week on a rota, 40% week 1, 40% week 2, then repeated (20% only surface vacced, where plants are).

    Total volume is turned over approx 3.5 times an hour, no air-stone, but no C02 injection either, average temp 28 to 30 deg C (varies approx +/- 1 deg C max)

    Lights (on 3 phased timers, water depth approx 30")
    (A) 100 watts Halogen (5 x 20 watt 12V Dichroic spots) mainly for show as they give good penetration and provide ‘shafts’ of light (more to do with effect than plant growth).
    (B) 60 watts T5 fluorescents (6700 temp white/blue)
    (C) 50 Watts T8 fluorescents (approx 3000 temp pinkish)
    (A) On 11 AM to 1 PM
    (A) +(B)+(C) 1 PM to 9 PM
    (A) 9PM to 11 PM
    11 PM to 11 AM (3 watts green LED moonlights)

    Water;
    10% water changed each night (Say 30 gals), mix of RO (distilled water) and Carbon filtered ‘tap’ with chlorine and heavy metals removed.
    Water going in (blended RO/Tap) is approx 250 TDS, Kh 4, Ph 6.9
    Tank average (no added ferts) 280 TDS, Kh 3, Ph 6.7 to 6.9

    Plants,
    In substraight;
    Swords (varied), Vallis (giant), Crypts (2 types ??), lace-plant (chalk added under root ball), all doing OK, not really a problem.
    In water column (tied to bog-wood)
    Java fern & Anubias.

    Java Fern & Anubias, is where my problem is;
    Until a few years ago, all was OK, but then the Water Co lined the old mains, since then (or so it seems) there is no Iron in the water and the Java ferns turn black (in patches) and the anubias, grows pale-green/white new growth (very slowly) which is quickly covered by dark brown/blackish slimy stuff?

    Base Chemicals available;
    (Can, if necessary get new?)
    John Bowers (JB) Iron Sulphate
    (JB) Sulphate of Potash (Potassium Oxide K2O soluble in water 48% (39.9%K))
    Epson Salts Magnesium sulphate (?)
    Trace elements (frittered minerals, boron, copper, manganese etc etc)

    I also have a printout of the local Water Companies test sheets, but to be honest, I don’t understand them!!

    So;

    To resolve the problem with the water column rooted plants, what do you advise?
    (If you think it best, I can/will get the specific components you reccomend, so feel free to say, "Bin the crap-stuff, get this etc")

    Many thanks in advance, Mick B :D

    PS, If it's OK (Mods please delete if not) heres a link to some photos etc
    http://forum.bidka.org/showthread.php?t=3759
     
  12. spaldingaquatics

    spaldingaquatics Member

    Messages:
    161
    Location:
    Spalding, S.Lincs
    Hi Mick,

    Just had a look at the link and unless I've done something wrong It looks like the only way to view is to be a member

    could you post a couple of pics on this thread? judging by your description of your tank and the BIDKA members reactions they sound really good :D


    Thanks
    Adam
     
  13. mick b

    mick b Member

    Messages:
    80
    Hi Adam,

    Don't seem to be able to up-load a pic?? :rolleyes: but working on it!

    Cheers, Mick B
     
  14. mick b

    mick b Member

    Messages:
    80
    Hi Adam,

    Well can't locate the pics in the current link (PC crash and issues with Kodak etc :? ) but here's a link to how it was before the Water Co changed the pipes!
    (No longer has java moss as fish load is higher)

    BigTank.jpg

    Hope it works!

    Cheers, Mick B 8)

    Edited to provide inline image. ceg4048 14:00 23 Jul 2008
     
  15. mick b

    mick b Member

    Messages:
    80
  16. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,952
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Thanks for the additional data. OK, it dawned on me that this is a non-CO2 tank, so yeah, throw all my previous calculations away. The Ei dosing article is geared towards high tech CO2 injected tanks so that's what threw me. You don't need nearly those levels of nutrients. Apologies for that. :rolleyes:

    This may sound bizarre, but the non-CO2 method assumes that 80%-90% of the macronutrients will come from organic sources, but the dosing of inorganic KNO3 and KH2PO4 at low levels actually improves performance quite a bit. That's because the uptake of NPK is faster for inorganic nutrients than for organic nutrients.

    1. You can add 1/4 teaspoon per 20 gal of either Equilibrium or of Trace Mix once every week or two. So that means 3.75 teaspoon of either Equilibrium or Trace Mix per week or per every two weeks.

    2. It is recommended to add 1/8 teaspoon of KNO3 and 1/32 teaspoon KH2PO4 teaspoon per 20 gal once a week or once every two weeks. That means roughly 2 teaspoons KNO3 and 1/2 teaspoon KH2PO4 per week or every other week.

    3. If you were dead set against adding N and P you could try just adding 1/8 teaspoon K2SO4 (sulfate of potash) per 20 gal so 2 teaspoons K2SO4 every week or two in lieu of 1. and 2. but I'd advise against it. Discus people are the most paranoid about nitrates but they may not realize that nitrates are relatively harmless and that it's the toxic ammonia that the nitrates start off as that does the damage. In any case I leave the decision to you.

    4. MgSo4 (epsom salts). This really depends on your tap water but it doesn't hurt to add say 2 teaspoons every week or every other week. If you use Seachem Equilibrium as noted in item 1. you wouldn't need to add this (since it contains Mg) and you could bin your Iron Sulfate, traces mix (I have no clue what "frittered" minerals are :? ) and epsom salt. This would make life much easier, because it sounds like you have a complicated schedule with this tank. :wideyed:

    I'll mention it one more time that not all that ails a plant is necessarily due to Fe starvation. In fact it's the exception rather than the rule. Leaves having black patches has nothing to do with Fe, that's for sure. That could easily be GSA due to low PO4. Fe deficiency believe it or not looks a lot like N deficiency. So it's easy to get tripped up on optical illusions. This is why I suggest that you bite you tongue and dose small quantities of KNO3 + KH2PO4. Lack of these essential elements is what causes more problems than Fe or Manganese by an enormous margin.

    So you have a few options. If you use the trace element mix, it's mostly Fe, so you don't need Iron Sulfate. If you use Equilibrium you can bin a lot of items.

    Hope this helps. :D

    Cheers,
     
  17. mick b

    mick b Member

    Messages:
    80
    Hi ceg :D

    Many thanks again for the detailed reply, and UREKA! you have just confirmed my darkest thoughts!

    There are different types of Nitrate!
    As a keen gardener, I looked at the plants and though nitrate difficency? but with 30+ppm N03 in the tank water and no apparent Iron, I have been chacing the Fe thing!!! but NOW it makes sence.

    So I can have ureic(?) nitrate derrived form the organics and fish waste, but not have 'chemical' nitrate, hence the inbalance!

    So armed with this bit of info, I have no problem dosing N03 (after all, if nessasary, I can completely change 100% in 30 hours, so no problem to dilute it out if problematic), It's also interesting in that Discus keepers do worry about nitrate, but IMO/E 50ppm is not detrimental (30ppm max is better long term) but what N03 are they worried about???

    I think, what's happening, is the NO3 reading from the drop-tests is showing organic nitrate, this is a reflection of the level of dissolved organics in the water (percieved DOC's) High levels of DOC's is a concern (percieved as dirty water), but it seems Discus keepers when refering to high nitrate should differentiate if its organic nitrate that is problematic, or all the 'other' dissolved organics of which NO3 is a part, but not all!

    Back to the plot;
    Last night I tested (Sera drop tests) as follows;

    Inlet (new) water (RO+Filtered tap)
    TDS 260
    pH 6.7
    Temp 29 deg C
    gH 12
    kH 5
    NO3 10 mg/ltr (10 ppm)
    PO4 2 mg/ltr (2 ppm)

    Current 'Tank Water' (recently flushed following medications etc, but indicative)
    TDS 270
    NO3 20ppm
    PO4 2.5ppm (poss increase from flake & granular feeds)

    Water Company figures (pre-filtration and heavy metals/chlorine removal)
    Fe 13 micrograms/ltr (13 ppb (billion))
    Manganese less than 1 ppb
    Copper less than 9 ppb
    Phosphate 1430 ppb
    Zinc 0.021 mg/ltr
    Nitrate 19.4 mg/ltr (19.4 ppm)

    If possible, and with referance to the above 'stats' I intend to order the items reccomended and start EI, but would be greatful if you could confirm my 'plan' taking into account, the 300 gallons, over a week is actually 300 + 7 x30, hence 500 gallons actual (10% water change each night etc).
    (I use grams and have estimated based on 8 grams per tea-spoon)

    Plan;

    Weekly dose of;
    25 grams Equilibrium
    10 grams KNO3
    2.5 grams KH2PO4

    I intend to mix the dry components (37.5 grams/week) and dose @ 6 grams per day (dry powder dropped into pump chamber, to mix & distribute)

    Please advise if this is about right, have I missed something, or with the additional info, are there any 'tweeks' to be made? etc.

    Many thanks in advance, Cheers, Mick B :D

    PS "Frittered" apparently means shattered/crushed and is very finly ground minerals (feels like talcum powder, but brown/greyish)
     
  18. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,952
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Well, hang on for a second. It's a little be more complicated than that. There is only one nitrate ion - "NO3" How you get to NO3 is the issue. You can start off with the inorganic salt and it will be available immediately upon dissolving or you can get to it organically by the process of nitrification and by the breakdown of organic waste. In either case though the ion "NO3" is the same.

    Instead of discussing "forms" of nitrate though, it's more accurate to talk about "forms" of Nitrogen - because this is the real nutrient.

    So the scientists categorize DIN (Dissolved Inorganic Nitrogen) and DON (Dissolved Organic Nitrogen).
    The DIN is easy as it is a fraction of the KNO3 (or whichever nitrate salt is dosed) but the DON is much more complicated.

    Here is an example: DON can be released in the form of urine, say. But urine is a complicated molecule and the Nitrogen atoms trapped within the urine molecular structure is not directly available to plants. In fact, urine must be broken down by an enzyme produced by certain bacteria. This enzyme is called Urease. Again, this is a very complicated biochemical reaction that consumes oxygen and which takes time. The urine is broken down to NH4 which is then nitrified using more oxygen - NH4->NO2->NO3->Plant uptake. The oxygen that is consumed in these reactions however would have been better served being used by your fish. So each gram of urine that needs to be processed robs the water column (or sediment) of X grams of O2. In high temperature water, where O2 is already at a premium, giving it away to bacteria robs your fish. So really, by the time organically derived nitrate is present in the tank, it is already too late. It's not that nitrates have such toxicity, it's that the damage is done via the production of the nitrate.

    This is the real disadvantage of organic forms of Nitrogen and one of the major reasons why organic nutrients in general are a killer. This is why organic waste buildup in a tank is bad. In deep sediments bacterias in the upper region of the soil have access to O2 and can nitrify NH4 but deeper down there is less O2 so the NH4 persists because the reactions cannot proceed without O2. This is another reason why, when you disturb the sediment, you release NH4 which can cause algal blooms. This is why you should perform a water change when you significantly disturb the sediment such as in replanting/rescaping. Additionally, this is the real advantage for plants which have a well developed root structure that extends into the substrate. When those plants are healthy they send O2 to their roots deep in the substrate to give the bacteria the O2 they need to nitrify the NH4 and to then produce the NO3 which the root can then uptake as well as uptaking some NH4.


    Actually I think the accepted norm is 6 grams per teaspoon for these powders, but no matter, there is no need for super accuracy. Doing a daily change complicates things a bit. I'm more inclined to use 16 grams per week of KNO3 + 3 grams KH2PO4 but your numbers are more or less fine. Again, there is no way to predict whether you will need more or less. These are good starting values as long as you dose after the water change. Wait 3 weeks and make adjustments after observing the plants reactions.

    Thanks for the clarification on Frittered. :D

    Cheers,
     
  19. spaldingaquatics

    spaldingaquatics Member

    Messages:
    161
    Location:
    Spalding, S.Lincs
    Hi Mick

    Thanks for posting the pics, your tank looks great and those discus are stunning! :D

    I was looking at what our MA had yesterday (just for entertainment, I could never keep them :( ) and I don't know much about them but I'm guessing you've either got a far higher quality of discus or you've kept them to a standard that's brought out their full colouring? 8)

    Thanks
    Adam
     
  20. mick b

    mick b Member

    Messages:
    80
    Hi Adam,

    Thanks for the positive comments (and they are easier to keep than percieved ;) )

    Two of the Discus you can see, are home-bred, others mainly from specialist suppliers (via BIDKA etc), but like plants, if you ask around, do the research, find the right suppliers etc, you can get good quality at a fair price :D

    Well I'm not too far away from you, so if you fancy a cuppa, PM me :D

    Cheers, Mick B
     

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