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Just got a TDS Meter. A new approach to my Low Tech.

si walker

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Joined
30 Mar 2020
Messages
217
Location
uk
Hi.
In the time given I have read as much as possible on Low Tech. Some of the most wonderful examples on this site (Shangman- "The Mossy Spider" for example) always commented how they are quite relaxed about adding fertilisers and only topping up if they are too busy drinking tea! On the other hand there I am chucking ferts at my tank on a daily basis. I don't even run CO2 and feel that I lost my way a bit.
Anyway I am taking a new approach from today by using a TDS Meter.
Basically I will measure my tap water.
Do a water change- measure that.
Add a couple days worth of ferts- measure that.
Over the week I will continue to measure and try to grasp how my plants are using the supplies that I offer them.
Personally I'm quite looking forward to this rather that just adding more and more. Its Low Tech after all and I presume the uptake is slower than what I expect?
Let me know if you are doing something along the same lines.

Si
 

MichaelJ

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Joined
9 Feb 2021
Messages
1,998
Location
Minnesota, USA
Hi.
In the time given I have read as much as possible on Low Tech. Some of the most wonderful examples on this site (Shangman- "The Mossy Spider" for example) always commented how they are quite relaxed about adding fertilisers and only topping up if they are too busy drinking tea! On the other hand there I am chucking ferts at my tank on a daily basis. I don't even run CO2 and feel that I lost my way a bit.
Anyway I am taking a new approach from today by using a TDS Meter.
Basically I will measure my tap water.
Do a water change- measure that.
Add a couple days worth of ferts- measure that.
Over the week I will continue to measure and try to grasp how my plants are using the supplies that I offer them.
Personally I'm quite looking forward to this rather that just adding more and more. Its Low Tech after all and I presume the uptake is slower than what I expect?
Let me know if you are doing something along the same lines.

Si

Hi @si walker, Using the TDS meter to gauge plant uptake is going to be difficult. A good portion of what you add in terms of fish food and the waste from fish, snails, plant decay etc. will show up as TDS. So unless your running a plant-only tank there is generally no way you can tell from the number what the plants uptake is (its different in a high tech tank where the uptake might be much higher). What you do want is to make sure your TDS remains stable over time - that you don't have any large increases that suggest build-up of waste - that is mainly how I utilize my TDS meter - I just want things to remain stable at the TDS levels I have dialed in with my water parameters and weekly fertilizers. Generally you don't need much fertilizer in a low tech tank and of course your fertilizer regime is up to you and will work as long as you don't starve your plants on any of the essential nutrients.

Cheers,
Michael
 

Djoko Sauza

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23 Jul 2017
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253
Location
SE London
I use somewhat of a similar method in order to keep TDS very low since I have blackwater fish. Here goes: since I use a dosing pump I know how much ppm of salts is being added per week (13ppm at the moment - still lowering from starting point of 30ppm). If my TDS increases by more than say 5ppm by the end of the week I'll reduce the amount of ferts dosed. To make things more complicated, the amount of floaters, at least in my case, also plays a major role in the amount of nutrients being consumed.
After using EI for many years I'm now testing how lean I can go before all my plants melt one by one. I can say already after losing a few plants: not recommended if you want to have a nice planted tank.

If my goal was to keep only plants happy then I wouldn't push the lower boundary of nutrient availability so hard and accept that some unused nutrient accumulation is not a big deal. In any case, using a TDS meter to check what is going on with your water is in my eyes always a good idea. I think your method is sound but only if you keep an eye on your plants as well, they will tell you if you've gone too lean before the TDS meter.
 

erwin123

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4 Mar 2021
Messages
1,069
Location
Singapore
I used to have more time to maintain my hightech and lowtech tank, but as I'm back at office most of the time, I have less time for tank maintenance - my hightech needs the maintenance routine so I've been sort of neglecting my lowtech.

For the lowtech, I am doing monthly water change for my lowtech and dosing ferts when I feel like it. I also haven't trimmed the plants for a month or so.... but the plants are ok and the tank hasn't crashed.😅 There is no BBA whatsoever despite such poor maintenance, and the only algae is GDA on the glass which I can just scrape off ....
 

MichaelJ

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9 Feb 2021
Messages
1,998
Location
Minnesota, USA
For the lowtech, I am doing monthly water change for my lowtech and dosing ferts when I feel like it. I also haven't trimmed the plants for a month or so.... but the plants are ok and the tank hasn't crashed.😅 There is no BBA whatsoever despite such poor maintenance, and the only algae is GDA on the glass which I can just scrape off ....
In that case that doesn't sound like poor maintenance to me necessarily. The reason I change (~30-40%) water weekly in my tanks is mostly for the sake of my livestock and not the plants - if I had plant-only tanks or extremely lightly stocked tanks, I am sure I would and could go for a lot longer...

Cheers,
Michael
 
Last edited:

si walker

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Thread starter
Joined
30 Mar 2020
Messages
217
Location
uk
Thank you for your feedback!
I will post up my weekly PPM when I'm done.
On day 5 so far, the PPM has not moved.
In simple terms I understand this as the ferts put in 4 days ago have yet to be consumed?
This is a possibility as it is a low tech tank and my lighting is set for 6 hours.
Or the ferts are all gone and it has been replaced with the same exact amount of fish waste, which I doubt as the tank water has been measured daily with no fluctuations .
I love this kind of things and look forward to reading some opinions on what else could possibly be happening/or not happening as it were!
Cheers.
 

Djoko Sauza

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23 Jul 2017
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Location
SE London
What plants do you have and how is their growth rate? Are you topping up the water to account for evaporation if you're using an open top?
 

si walker

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30 Mar 2020
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uk
What plants do you have and how is their growth rate? Are you topping up the water to account for evaporation if you're using an open top?
Hi. Well i am in week one of using the TDS Meter so it is early days. Tank heavily planted (nearly full!) I have a lid so very little evaporation. Plants good. Tank mates all good.
 

si walker

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30 Mar 2020
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uk
Okay so I said that I would report back on this one.
Still doing TDS readings daily.
Okay I admit that I'm confused about this. My PPM reading has been at 260 give or take, for the last two weeks?
Does this mean that the Fertilisers put in there at the beginning have not been consumed ? I have not added anymore and only topped the water up by about 500ml.

Let me know what you all think? Remember that theres no CO2.

Thanks for reading.
 

si walker

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Presumably you are feeding you fish? Whilst ferts get consumed, y the food you add will also contribute to your TDS.
I am yes! Which leads to why the TDS remains constant. The paranoid in me wants to dump a load of ferts in the tank!
 

jaypeecee

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21 Jan 2015
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Bracknell
On day 5 so far, the PPM has not moved.
My PPM reading has been at 260 give or take, for the last two weeks?
Which leads to why the TDS remains constant.
Hi @si walker

Something's amiss and I suspect that you have a faulty TDS meter. You should be seeing some variation in your readings. May I ask the manufacturer's name and model number of your TDS meter? There are a lot of dodgy TDS meters out there.

JPC
 

si walker

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Did you establish a daily baseline (over a week or so) for the TDS before adding ferts and then see it jump up to 260 after dosing?
Yes I did. I also measured my tap water etc.
I do have low light and run at 6 hours only. Maybe it is super slow tech?
 

si walker

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Thread starter
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30 Mar 2020
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217
Location
uk
Hi @si walker

Something's amiss and I suspect that you have a faulty TDS meter. You should be seeing some variation in your readings. May I ask the manufacturer's name and model number of your TDS meter? There are a lot of dodgy TDS meters out there.

JPC
Yeah I thought so too.
Actually this evening I reloaded the tank with ferts. It's only 35 litres and for each MM I put in the TDS Meter jumped consistently 2 ppm, which I take as being pretty accurate.
I have the HM Digital TDS-3.
It is by no means a professional one!

Thanks for your reply.
 

brhau

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10 Jul 2020
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San Francisco, CA, USA
Yes I did. I also measured my tap water etc.
I do have low light and run at 6 hours only. Maybe it is super slow tech?
There are too many unknowns here, such as what all the measurements are and what the tank looks like. Is it possible that ferts weren't the limiting factor before you dosed?

As pointed out above, TDS is a noisy number, especially since you're well above blackwater levels. When I've tried this in the past, I measured nitrate to determine the minimum dosing regime. If I dose above that, I can measure the unconsumed nitrate. That was a more sensitive measure than TDS. I know the accuracy of nitrate test kits is questionable, but it at least seems repeatable in my hands.
 

si walker

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Funny you say that as I too measure nitrate. Mine is off the charts! Crazy high right out of the tap. Also like my Po4.
 

jaypeecee

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21 Jan 2015
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Actually this evening I reloaded the tank with ferts. It's only 35 litres and for each MM I put in the TDS Meter jumped consistently 2 ppm, which I take as being pretty accurate.
I have the HM Digital TDS-3.
Hi @si walker

Just for clarification, what do you mean by 'MM'?

I used to have an HM Digital TDS-3. But, I had to return it for a full refund. The stick-on membrane with the push buttons was starting to peel away from the meter body. I'd had it for just over a week. I was able to see the electronic circuitry inside - through the gap! Very disappointing.

JPC
 
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