Personal Experience using EI with Hard Water and switching to alternatives

Discussion in 'Aquarium Fert Dosing' started by Jack12, 5 Aug 2015.

  1. Jack12

    Jack12 Member

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    Here in UK water is hard with high nitrate content. I was dosing EI, using water pumps to improve circulation, cleaned filters regularly, had a high CO2 concentration (external reactor/high bubble rate) and a drop checker light green/yellow at the substrate level. I've also experimented with different light intensities.

    Unfortunately despite doing everything "by the book", and plenty of my own experimenting, it was a disappointment.

    Water quality would visibly deteriorated as week progressed, water changes of 80% were necessary and plant growth was crippled. Surface film had to be removed every 3 days. Don't get me wrong there was growth but a far cry from the beautiful tanks posted on this forum. I have also had all kinds of algae, which I was able to successfully manage with the right lighting intensity and setting up external CO2 reactor to reach 100% dissolve rate because I got really tired of cleaning atomisers and ceramic diffusers.

    What I couldn't figure out was why I had a slow growth and had to do 80% water changes despite having an excellent water flow, good CO2, religiously following EI (even buying salts from different vendors) and playing with light intensities.

    As the tank matured BGA appeared and it became next to impossible to get rid of. It seemed like I hit a dead end... That was until I switched to RO water and ditched EI, which was promptly replaced with popular commercial fert (you know the firm that makes plants)

    Within a week BGA was gone, there is now little to no surface film and water looks just as clean as it was when 50% water change was made. There was an immediate effect on plant health with bright green colours and the growth I haven't experienced for the past 3 years.

    Only 2 changes were made: no more EI and RO water. Go figure...

    I know people have great success with EI but this was my personal experience which I wanted to share.

    (side note: since switching to alternative ferts I am following the recommended dose (2 pumps per 50L) which naturally resulted in drastically reduced concentration of nutrients in water column. As a result my time spent on tank maintenance has reduced as well. I believe the fear of not having enough nutrients in water column is not justifiable and nuking tank with huge concentrations that EI method provides is not needed to have a healthy, lush growth if you have a nutrient rich substrate)
     
    Last edited: 9 Aug 2015
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  2. Wizard

    Wizard Member

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    I'm in the UK too , the water is very hard out of the tap, mine has a pH of 8 but its down to about 7.4 with the co2 ...be interesting to know what you did with your setup before RO water was used ? Iv just purchased the EI starter kit but I'm only using it as a "top up"
     
  3. MirandaB

    MirandaB Member

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    I think I'm fairly safe in saying I probably have some of the hardest water in the country here on the Suffolk/Norfolk border and I've never found it to be a problem when it comes to growing plants and EI dosing :)
    When I was running pressurised co2 growth was excellent and the only algae I ever had a problem with was BBA which was down to not having enough flow circulating.
    Unfortunately my fish didn't like me increasing the flow so I have gone back to lower lighting and just dosing EI and liquid carbon.
    Some of my tanks are still treated tapwater and some are 60/40 RO/Tapwater and to be honest there is no difference in the health or growth rate of the plants.
     
  4. Jose

    Jose Member

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    Hard water can have an effect on some plants, specially red plants, Also on phosphates and Iron so if you detect any defficiencies related to Fe or P(GSA) then add a bit more. What I do to lower kh is I dose phosphoric acid, but this is not recommended to beginners. Fish dont mind it if done correctly. The ops problems most probably came from his water and not from EI IMO. Maybe it had some polutant in it.
    How were the fish before and after Jack?
     
    Last edited: 5 Aug 2015
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  5. ShawnMac

    ShawnMac Member

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    I have hard water and do not have troubles with EI dosing. IME, hard water does not exclude most plants from healthy growth nor cause algae.

    I have seen external reactors change diffusion rates based upon flow through the reactor causing CO2 issues....slow to reach appropriate level, etc.
     
  6. Jack12

    Jack12 Member

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    the fish was and is fine, no change in behaviour. I am quite puzzled by what happened myself...
     
  7. Jack12

    Jack12 Member

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    its an external reactor based on the empty filter canister of an RO unit. Particles do not accumulate there in my case and the flow is constant
     
  8. Jose

    Jose Member

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    Did you change the co2 delivery method i.e from reactor to difuser?
     
  9. Jack12

    Jack12 Member

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    I haven't changed anything and was using reactor for at least 7 months now.
     
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  10. ShawnMac

    ShawnMac Member

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    Is the pump independent of a filtration system? If so, then your flow would remain relatively constant. If a canister filter is driving the water, then accumulation within the filter can change it. For me that took 3 weeks, so I had to stay on top of my filter maintenance.

    I really don't think your issue is related to EI dosing....or even minerals in the water. Plants need the minerals associated with hard water to grow and very few cannot grow in hard water.

    My pH out of the tap is near 8 or more. KH ranges from 8-12. With my Seiryu stone CaCO3 can get as high as KH 14 over the course of the week between changes, so right now in my current scape the KH goes from around 7 right after water change to 14 after 10 days as measured by a high quality LaMotte KH titration test kit (I measured at a point longer than a week to know the extreme end of the range because I was trying to set a pH probe to run my CO2 and needed to know the extent of buffering). All my tanks have been grown in the tap water. I dose EI and run high light.

    Algae issues come and go, dosing and maintenance routine varies because I'm human, but one thing that never changes is the tap water. I think this eliminates the water as the cause. Do you have some type of local water report to review? Even in hard water you could be short something like Mg. Maybe when you switched dosing to a commercial brand it could have added that thing your missing conventional EI wouldn't (if you aren't using GH booster since you have hard water) OR reconstituting RO water added it. Just a thought...
     
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  11. Chris Jackson

    Chris Jackson Member

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    To me this suggests that with EI you may have been inadvertantly overdosing. People get carried away with the idea nutrients dont cause algae and seem to think you can just whack in as much as you like if you have sufficient CO2... I don't buy that. Our aquarium plants are basicly wildflower weeds. Over fertilise regular garden wildflowers and they hate it, so why should our water plants be different?

    Can you find the make up of your comercial fertiliser somewhere online and compare that to what your EI doses were giving and see how the doses differ?
     
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  12. Ryan Thang To

    Ryan Thang To Member

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    my tap water is ph 7.8 and even with ei i keep getting gba since my tank has been up 6 months ago. i was only dose 10ml a day on a 60 litre tank but since i change to tropica after a water change it never came back. so i do think ei is still good and maybe when i run off of fert i go back and dose half of ei.
     
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  13. Jack12

    Jack12 Member

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    This definitely could be the case. I was reading that dosing extra nitrate would help in fighting BGA but quite frankly it just made water even more polluted with extra ferts and BGA reacts positively to polluted water (keep in mind that I already have hard water with high nitrate on tap). Also, people say they run very high EI concentrations with no negative effects. For me extra dosing resulted in more green algae on the tank glass and stones accompanied by a deteriorating water quality. At times when I was experimenting with running half of EI dosing, BGA would just take over the tank...

    I switched to Tropica Specialised
     
  14. Jack12

    Jack12 Member

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    this is exactly what happened to me but in addition I switched to RO.
     
  15. Jack12

    Jack12 Member

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    There was a discussion on this forum that EI does not play well with Hard water. I didn't pay attention to this at first but now I am pretty convinced having observed the change. But in my case there is high nitrate on tap so this could have also played a role thus changing to Tropica had an instant positive effect
     
  16. ian_m

    ian_m Global Moderator Staff Member

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    You haven't stated your tank volume and lighting power.

    I bet you have way way way too much light (greater than 1W per US gal) which is most likely the source of all your issues rather than falsely following the idea that something is wrong with your water :confused:. Many many people here, including me, have hard water (22' Clark), might have high nitrates in water (will never know as I don't have suitable lab grade test kits), dose EI, in fact dose higher than standard EI and don't suffer any significant algae as well as getting monster plant growth of all plants placed in tank. Main thing we have is light levels under control and consistent controlled CO2 levels.
     
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  17. Jack12

    Jack12 Member

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    its ADA 90P tank, Grand Solar 1 fixture suspended 30cm above water level and 70cm above substrate. HQI 150W lamp is not used, only 2 pairs of tubes (36W x 2). This is a low light set up. As I mentioned I have played with heights and lights intensities, lower I get higher the green algae on tank walls and BGA. I found this height to be optimal as it solved all of the algae issues except for BGA. Water was still getting visibly polluted with surface film and some algae on stones while using EI. This was solved by RO/Tropica. I haven't changed any other parameters and do filter maintenance every 3 months.

    CO2 levels are stable, on 3 hours prior to light (drop checker lime colour) and shut off during the night. Later in the day drop checker at the substrate level is almost yellow colour. It is bright yellow colour in the middle of the tank.
     
    Last edited: 6 Aug 2015
  18. ian_m

    ian_m Global Moderator Staff Member

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    One thing you can try, is to determine if you have algae spores in you tap water.

    Get some tap water let it stand for 24hours and/or shake it, to get rid of any chlorine and place it in a glass bottle in the sun for a day or two. There are plenty of places in the UK where the water will go green due to spores in the water.

    Normal usage of water (drinking, cooking, washing etc) with spores isn't an issue only when used in fish tanks, ponds, paddling pools does the presence of spores become an issue.

    If you have spores then a UV steriliser (cheapest option), HMA filter or RO system should remove them.
     
  19. Chris Jackson

    Chris Jackson Member

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    Did you try RO/EI before RO/Tropica, is the real change the RO water or the ferts?

    Either way you've now got the result you want which has to be good!
     
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  20. Jack12

    Jack12 Member

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    thanks for advise ian_m. When i am using EI and turn on UV filter water becomes cloudy white. I have had positive experience with UV but that was prior to using EI.
     

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