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Water column dosing and substrate questions

Abacus

New Member
Joined
20 Apr 2008
Messages
2
Hi all,

I'm a complete newbie, so these questions may sound silly, but here goes...! :D

Firstly, what is water column dosing? I'm guessing by the name it's a tube that goes into the substrate into which you pour fertiliser? Is that correct or is there more to it? And are there any special tubes etc that you need to buy to do this? Any other info such as positioning etc will be gratefully received...

Secondly, I have an established tank with quite a few plants and livestock. I only put basic gravel in when I first set it up about a year ago, but I'd now like to add some proper substrate (e.g. ADA Amazonia etc). Can I do this, or will there be major problems with ammonia spikes etc? Can anyone please suggest a substrate that will allow me to re-introduce the livestock on the same day?

Many thanks in advance for all your comments.

Here is some info that may be useful in answering my questions:

Tank size is 150l
Fluval 205 external filter, UV and heater
Hydor Green NRG CO2 system
2 x T5 lighting built into hood
Approx 75 plants of 15 species (5 each of back, mid and foreground)
About 30" of community fish
 

fishgeek

Member
Joined
9 Jul 2007
Messages
117
Location
west sussex
substitute water column for just water... ie the fertiliser is soluble and dissolved in the tank water

needs to be at correct ratio as algae can feed from the water just aswell as plants and so imbalance here are more of a problem , whilst substrate is accessed more typical by root structures , of which plants have more

does that help
andrew
 

ceg4048

Expert/Global Moderator
Staff member
Joined
11 Jul 2007
Messages
9,067
Location
Chicago, USA
Hi,
Welcome to the forum. :D Water column dosing is merely an expression for adding nutrient directly to the tank water. If you think of the tank as a large test tube you can imagine that there is a column of water sitting on top of the gravel. This form of fertilization differs from having nutrients come from the sediment. In water column dosing the leaves of the plants absorb the nutrients directly whereas in sediment dosing the nutrients are absorbed by the roots of the plants and then transported to the leaf. No special apparatus is required for water column dosing. You merely sprinkle the nutrient products onto the water surface (if you are using dry powders) or pour the liquid into the tank.

The ammonia spikes created by the addition of AS should not be of toxic levels to fauna but may be enough, under high lighting, to cause algae blooms. As long as you leave enough mulm and detritus under the new AS from the previous gravel you will accelerate the development sediment bacterial colonies. Take the old sediment out but do not clean the bottom. Lightly rinse the old gravel out in a bucket and use that dirty water to soak your new AS in. Then place the soaked AS in the tank on top of the detritus left behind when you removed the old gravel. Then replant and add water + fish. This action will "seed" the new substrate with bacteria and will minimize the ammonia leaching. In any case there should be no toxicity issues, especially if your plants are being well fed.

Cheers,
 

Abacus

New Member
Thread starter
Joined
20 Apr 2008
Messages
2
Hi fishgeek and ceg4048,

Thanks very much for your replies. I guessed I might have the whole water column thing wrong! :oops: I often try to make things more complicated than they really are...

I will give the new substrate a try over the coming weeks and let you all know how things go.

Thanks again.
 

Glenda Steel

Member
Joined
2 Jul 2014
Messages
154
Location
Lincolnshire England
Hi,
Welcome to the forum. :D Water column dosing is merely an expression for adding nutrient directly to the tank water. If you think of the tank as a large test tube you can imagine that there is a column of water sitting on top of the gravel. This form of fertilization differs from having nutrients come from the sediment. In water column dosing the leaves of the plants absorb the nutrients directly whereas in sediment dosing the nutrients are absorbed by the roots of the plants and then transported to the leaf. No special apparatus is required for water column dosing. You merely sprinkle the nutrient products onto the water surface (if you are using dry powders) or pour the liquid into the tank.

The ammonia spikes created by the addition of AS should not be of toxic levels to fauna but may be enough, under high lighting, to cause algae blooms. As long as you leave enough mulm and detritus under the new AS from the previous gravel you will accelerate the development sediment bacterial colonies. Take the old sediment out but do not clean the bottom. Lightly rinse the old gravel out in a bucket and use that dirty water to soak your new AS in. Then place the soaked AS in the tank on top of the detritus left behind when you removed the old gravel. Then replant and add water + fish. This action will "seed" the new substrate with bacteria and will minimize the ammonia leaching. In any case there should be no toxicity issues, especially if your plants are being well fed.

Cheers,
Thank you so much for this brilliant reply ceg4048 (and for asking the question Abacus!) I am completely new to this too and have been advised with our Fluval Edge 46l dimensions to go the route of water column dosing rather than soil, but had no idea what it was! This answer it perfectly! Only one question if I may? Will the fertilizers effect the fish and shrimp, is there anything to avoid? I am so grateful for finding this forum, it has answered so many questions! Warmest wishes - Glenda
 

dw1305

Expert
Staff member
Joined
7 Apr 2008
Messages
11,522
Location
nr Bath
Hi all,
It really depends on what plants you want and how quickly you want them to grow.

Light and CO2
Light drives photosynthesis, and photosynthesis drives the uptake of the nutrients plants require.

I'll ignore the requirement for oxygen for respiration outside of the photo-period, so the compound plants require in the largest amount is CO2 -
add_aqa_equa_lighten.gif


Macro and micro nutrients

After carbon (C), plants require nitrogen (N), potassium (K), phosphorus (P) and then in lesser amount magnesium (Mg), calcium (Ca), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), sulphur (S), chlorine (Cl), zinc (Zn), Molybdenum (Mo), copper (Cu) and Boron (B). They also require all of these elements to be as ions in solution.

Liebig's law of the minimum
The lack of any of these essential elements can limit plant growth. In aquatic situations CO2 is always in short supply, so if you want to enable your plants to make maximum use of the available light you need to supply additional CO2, and then ensure that none of the other nutrients are limiting.

Estimative Index
This is why Estimative Index (EI) was devised, it is a system where nutrients are never limiting <http://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/the-estimative-index.13/>, and users don't have to do any testing etc. Many people use it, and it offers the advantages of allowing you to grow a wide range of plants.

The Duckweed Index
I've never used EI, mainly because my requirements are that I have a stable, resilient tank where any changes are fairly slow and plant growth is controllable. For that reason I devised an alternative low tech. KISS approach for planted tank management, it doesn't have the "bells and whistles" of EI but it doesn't require all the high tech. kit either.

I called it the "Duckweed Index" <http://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/duckweed-index-ferts-advice.21003/> because you use the health of your floating plants (they have access to 400ppm aerial CO2, which takes CO2 out of the equation) to tell you when you need to feed your plants to maintain some plant growth.

cheers Darrel
 

Michael W

Member
Joined
13 May 2013
Messages
879
Will the fertilizers effect the fish and shrimp, is there anything to avoid?

Over dosing fertilizers won't harm your live stocks which can be proven by EI dosing where people deliberately over dose as explained by Darrel. You can try either starter kits from one of our forum sponsor AFP, they offer a wide range of other supplies for the planted aquarium as does our other sponsors.

http://www.aquariumplantfood.co.uk/fertilisers/dry-chemicals/starter-kits.html
 

Glenda Steel

Member
Joined
2 Jul 2014
Messages
154
Location
Lincolnshire England
Thank you so much for such a detailed response. I have had a look at the El link and I do apologise but I just don't understand it. I am sorry but I have never kept fish before and am only just getting to grips with the science behind it (never one of my favourite subjects at school)! I will study it again and hope that with a little experience I may get the gist! The online shop looks great but I've no idea how to use the fertilisers - are there any water column dosing "how to instructions" ? Perhaps you just pour the in the tank? Thank you once again - Glenda
 
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Fern

Member
Joined
8 Aug 2013
Messages
156
I have had a look at the El link and I do apologise but I just don't understand it
I woldn't worry too much about the science about it, basically it's just a way of feeding your plants using dry salts that you can either add directly to your tank, or add to bottles with water, that you measure out in ml's. There are other products that will feed your plants, but the EI salts work out to be great value.
http://www.aquariumplantfood.co.uk/fertilisers/dry-chemicals/starter-kits.html

You just dose the micros and macros on alt days, for 6 days, then do a water change of 50% weekly. I think theres a guide somewhere on here... I'll try and find it
Oh, and use a funnel to add the dry ferts to the bottle, makes it much easier :lol:
What we are trying to achieve is having a healthy planted tank that's going to be a great environment for our fish to thrive :)
 
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Andy Thurston

Member
Joined
16 Apr 2013
Messages
2,803
Hi Glenda
If you buy the ei starter kit from the link above it comes with instructions for making liquid feed and how to dose ei with it
Its pretty straight forward and you dont really need to understand the chemistry or the maths, unless you really want to
Heres a calculator that does all the hard work for you
http://blog.fluidsensoronline.com/calculators/estimative-index/
 

dw1305

Expert
Staff member
Joined
7 Apr 2008
Messages
11,522
Location
nr Bath
Hi all,
Thank you so much for such a detailed response. I have had a look at the El link and I do apologise but I just don't understand it. I am sorry but I have never kept fish before and am only just getting to grips with the science behind it (never one of my favourite subjects at school)! I will study it again and hope that with a little experience I may get the gist! The online shop looks great but I've no idea how to use the fertilisers - are there any water column dosing "how to instructions" ? Perhaps you just pour the in the tank? Thank you once again - Glenda
I think your best bet might be to buy a complete fertiliser kit from one of our sponsors, something like <Complete All in One Aquarium Plant Nutrition> (other sponsors are available). There are dosing instructions here <Dosing pdf>.

cheers Darrel
 

Glenda Steel

Member
Joined
2 Jul 2014
Messages
154
Location
Lincolnshire England
I woldn't worry too much about the science about it, basically it's just a way of feeding your plants using dry salts that you can either add directly to your tank, or add to bottles with water, that you measure out in ml's. There are other products that will feed your plants, but the EI salts work out to be great value.
http://www.aquariumplantfood.co.uk/fertilisers/dry-chemicals/starter-kits.html

You just dose the micros and macros on alt days, for 6 days, then do a water change of 50% weekly. I think theres a guide somewhere on here... I'll try and find it
Oh, and use a funnel to add the dry ferts to the bottle, makes it much easier :lol:
What we are trying to achieve is having a healthy planted tank that's going to be a great environment for our fish to thrive :)
Thank you so much, now I understand perfectly! Doesn't the 50% weekly water change stress the fish? Also can the water taken out during the water change, be used on the garden plants?[DOUBLEPOST=1406097792][/DOUBLEPOST]
Hi all, I think your best bet might be to buy a complete fertiliser kit from one of our sponsors, something like <Complete All in One Aquarium Plant Nutrition> (other sponsors are available). There are dosing instructions here <Dosing pdf>.

cheers Darrel
Thank you so much Darrel Andy and Fern! I will start doing some reading! Warmest wishes - Glenda
 
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mr. luke

Member
Joined
7 Dec 2008
Messages
1,033
Location
Lincoln
50% water changes will only stress fish if there is a huge change in water chemistry between tank water and tap water.
If you live in a hard water area you will be 100% safe.
Using ph as an example if yoh tap water has a ph of 8 and aquarium water drops to ph6 and you do a 50% change you may have problems but in the real world such a drastic change is very unlikely to occur :)

Aquarium water of any kind, especially that that is dosed with the EI method would be fantasic for watering plants.
The idea behind EI dosing is that there is always an abundance of everything required by your plants so if you are doing it correctly there will be a certain ammount of this in the old tank water.
 

Fern

Member
Joined
8 Aug 2013
Messages
156
Doesn't the 50% weekly water change stress the fish?

Most fish are fine with a weekly 50% water change, or you could split it to 2x 25% weekly, what ever suits your lifestyle. The idea is to refresh the water to help take away build up of organic/fish waste etc, Fish and plants benefit greatly from regular water changes, it also helps to put back minerals that are used up in the aquarium.
Use a good quality water conditoner like seachem prime to make the tap water safe to add.
http://www.seachem.com/Products/product_pages/Prime.html

can the water taken out during the water change, be used on the garden plants
Yes! Great for houseplants too

If you are not using pressurised co2, you can use a lesser quantity of plant ferts, check out/ask a question in the EI natural and low tech section :)
 
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