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Old 12-19-2012, 10:48 PM   #1
sundragon
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Questions about EI Dosing, nitrates, fish health


Hello All,

I have been using PPS - Pro on my tank and overall things are working beautifully - I would like to try EI. There are few contradictions that I understand about using EI - Nitrate reduction for the health of fish vs adding nitrate for the health of the plants. I would like to learn more because I think I may not understand how this fully works.
  1. Adding Nitrates - I know, ideally, fish poop fertilizes the plants but we add nitrates to our water to suppliment the fish poop. When a fish gets sick, I've been told to reduce nitrates because it's a stressor on the fish that can cause illness in the first place. My nitrates after a 50% water change are ~30 after I add a dose via PPS. What I've read on EI, the nitrates are higher than 30 by week's end. I know we do a 50% water to reduce it but going it's still generally high. Anyone give me some insight on how this is okay? Is it because one is caused by waste and the other by direct addition of refined KNO3 type nitrate?
  2. EI making plants red - I've read that plants that display red do it in high light, lots of iron, and 0 nitrates - I have the light and I dose iron every day with little red - How do you guys get your reds to pop?
  3. EI and your Vacation plants - When you go on vacation, what do you do? I can't expect the person who feeds my fish to get the dosing right - partially for fear of messing it up and killing the fish, lol
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Last edited by sundragon; 12-20-2012 at 04:46 PM.. Reason: Corrected grammar
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Old 12-20-2012, 01:49 PM   #2
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FYI, I dose 1/2 EI. I started with PPS pro and kept adding until I didn't notice a difference in plant growth. It turns out it was basically 1/2 EI dose, so that is what I do now. I have a high fish load, injected CO2 and T5 HO lights.

1) I think with EI the goal is to get around 30ppm Nitrate by the end of the week. If you are hitting that number with PPS doses I wouldn't dose more. As far as NO3 from poop vs. chemicals, I don't know if there is a difference on fish health. For sure, many species of tropical fish can tolerate 30ppm +
2) For me, reds in plants is related to intensity of light. Mind you, the only 'red' plants I have experience with are Limnophila Aromatica and Luwigia.
3) When I go on vacation I don't do the weekly water change, I turn down my lights/decrease photoperiod and turn down CO2 slightly. I have heard of some people dosing their weekly dose in one go but I have not done that. If you have been dosing for a while and you can get away with not fertilizing for a while if you slow the tank down - reduce light intensity and photoperiod.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sundragon View Post
Hello All,

I have been using PPS - Pro on my tank and overall things are working beautifully - I would like to try EI. There are few contradictions that I understand about using EI - Nitrate reduction vs adding nitrate for the health of fish. I would like to learn more because I think I may not understand how this fully works.
  1. Adding Nitrates - I know, ideally, fish poop fertilizes the plants but we add nitrates to our water to suppliment the fish poop. When a fish gets sick, I've been told to reduce nitrates because it's a stressor on the fish that can cause illness in the first place. My nitrates after a 50% water change are between 30 after I add a dose via PPS. What I've read on EI, the nitrates are higher than 30 by week's end. I know we do a 50% water change but we bring it up again the next week. Anyone give me some insite on how this is okay? Is it because one is caused by waste and the other by direct addition, type of nitrate?
  2. EI making plants red - I've read that plants that display red do it in high light, lots of iron, and 0 nitrates - I have the light and I dose iron every day with little red - How do you guys get your reds to pop?
  3. EI and your Vacation plants - When you go on vacation, what do you do? I can't expect the person who feeds my fish to get the dosing right - partially for fear of messing it up and killing the fish, lol
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Old 12-20-2012, 01:57 PM   #3
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You do realize that EI is a specific fertilization scheme with substances in different ratios than PPS-Pro right?

EI is not a scheme of dosing ANY fertilizer. It is a scheme for dosing the specific fertilizers specified by the recipe. PPS-Pro contains other compounds as well. You can easily unbalance the aquarium by dosing PPS-Pro per EI.

My two cents.
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Old 12-20-2012, 02:33 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danielt View Post
You do realize that EI is a specific fertilization scheme with substances in different ratios than PPS-Pro right?

EI is not a scheme of dosing ANY fertilizer. It is a scheme for dosing the specific fertilizers specified by the recipe. PPS-Pro contains other compounds as well. You can easily unbalance the aquarium by dosing PPS-Pro per EI.

My two cents.
I think you are exaggerating a bit bro!

Nothing wrong would happen, nothing good will happen.
-----

OP:

To be able to harm your livestock with ferts, you really have to overdose a lot.

If you go on vacations just lower the amount of light by raising the fixture and or shortening the time it's on and don't have them dose if you are using EI.

Plants are red because they are red, getting plants that are like that is key and a good amount of light. The rest is like talking about magic. I know what you mean by no nitrogen but its not just nor dosing nitrogen all the time, it's a "show" technique.
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Old 12-20-2012, 02:50 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by pejerrey View Post
I think you are exaggerating a bit bro!

Nothing wrong would happen, nothing good will happen.
-----

OP:

To be able to harm your livestock with ferts, you really have to overdose a lot.

If you go on vacations just lower the amount of light by raising the fixture and or shortening the time it's on and don't have them dose if you are using EI.

Plants are red because they are red, getting plants that are like that is key and a good amount of light. The rest is like talking about magic. I know what you mean by no nitrogen but its not just nor dosing nitrogen all the time, it's a "show" technique.


Note also plants store nutrients. so going on vacation they can survive with lower light levels EASILY with not extra nutrients added
for safety levels, do't be concerned
i've had 200 ppm of nitrates with no apparent fish stress, not that i try daily to do that, but my average is around 40-60 before water change, i feed my fish often, i dose fertilizers frequently, and my plants grow very rapidly. phosphates stay high as well. usually around 8-12 ppm
AND YES there is a difference between organic nitrates, and fertilized nitrates. organic( fishpoop) can do more harm tha fertilized nitrate, but again the tolerance is pretty high on healthy fish in a well maintained aquarium.

as pjerrey mentioned. red plants are red because the respond to strong light by pigmentation. they are protecting delicate tissue when they turn red. some plants don't need much to do this, some plants are more hardy and require much more light to do this. limiting nitrogen just allows less production of chlorophyll and the pigmentation already present to show through. it is not the key to a healthy plant
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Old 12-20-2012, 03:05 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by HD Blazingwolf View Post
organic( fishpoop) can do more harm tha fertilized nitrate
Can you elaborate a bit on that? What does organic nitrogen mean? AFAIK, the organic form is not accessible to plants as it is a too complex compound, just like organic carbon. It needs to be broken down to more simpler, inorganic, forms like NH3/NH4 before the plant can use that. The fertilizer nitrogen is indeed inorganic. Although plants prefer NH3 and NH4 before NO3.
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Old 12-20-2012, 04:29 PM   #7
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Vacation. I've been cutting light over 1/2. (3-4hr/day) 10+ days away, *Most* everything is doing fine. 3-4 day vacation is no problem.
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Old 12-20-2012, 04:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danielt View Post
You do realize that EI is a specific fertilization scheme with substances in different ratios than PPS-Pro right?

EI is not a scheme of dosing ANY fertilizer. It is a scheme for dosing the specific fertilizers specified by the recipe. PPS-Pro contains other compounds as well. You can easily unbalance the aquarium by dosing PPS-Pro per EI.

My two cents.
Ratios make no difference, at all for aquatic plants.

The ONLY thing that makes a difference is when ONE nutrient becomes a limiting growth factor, this is called Liebig's Law of the Minimum.
There's a good reasons why it is an Agricultural plant science law.
The entire ratio business is one of the most abused concepts in algae and aquatic biology.

EI is simply a method to rule out limitations, much like using Hoagland's Modified nutrient solutions for plant research. For aquatic plant water column growth studies, this is typically reduced by 5x(See Geoff 1966). EI simply uses water changes(hardly something I ever came up with) and dosing based on teaspoons rather than making ppm's and mls. Turns out no one needs this supposed balance of ferts, unless they are actually trying to limit growth.

If you wish to limit growth, then use a holistic approach, not just nutrients. Otherwise you end up wasting light and CO2, that's not "balance".

If you want a lower end control, then a pure non nutrient solution using no ferts. Then EI. All other fert dosing routines will fall somewhere between those two ranges.

Now if you have trouble mastering CO2, or have too much light, not enough ferts/CO2, then you will have trouble. In fact, EVERY dosing routine has examples of problems, algae, many other issues, so balance is not due to the dosing method. Likewise, we also find cases where dosing various routines also works well. Obviously, there's a lot more to balance than the mere dosing routine. And the lion share of growth and problems folks encounter in the hobby are light and CO2.

Effort should be placed there, not worrying over the dosing routine.
Now if you want to REALLY evaluate CO2 and light effectively, you would need to make nutrients non limiting, thus independent of other variables.(this goes back to Liebig's law, but applies now to light and/or CO2)

This teaches aquarist much more and hones their CO2 and light adjustment skills. If you can adjust those 2 parameters, then nutrients are extremely easy and adjustable over a massive range.Why learn to balance just ferts, when you can learn to adjust all 3 factors that define growth rates?
If that was the goal, then PPS is no different than PMDD that came 8 years before and is virtually identical.
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Old 12-20-2012, 06:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danielt View Post
Can you elaborate a bit on that? What does organic nitrogen mean? AFAIK, the organic form is not accessible to plants as it is a too complex compound, just like organic carbon. It needs to be broken down to more simpler, inorganic, forms like NH3/NH4 before the plant can use that. The fertilizer nitrogen is indeed inorganic. Although plants prefer NH3 and NH4 before NO3.
Organic nitrogen is referring to nitrogen derived from organic sources such as fish waste, uneaten food, decomposing plant matter, etc. High levels of organic nitrogen are usually a sign of poor water quality due to lack of maintenance, etc.
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Old 12-20-2012, 06:28 PM   #10
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I'll try EI with my next water change. I'm not looking for crazy high growth, currently things are growing (not algae) I'd like to learn the art of making my reds pop like some of you and the art of taming algae

Thanks for the insight on organic nitrogen vs the nitrogen we add.
I will play with the ratios based on my load of fish and I'll watch the water quality.
As for vacations - I can barely trust my roommate to not over feed the fish (first hand experience), much less not over dose the ferts over a week...

Did you have to increase your CO2 when you started EI?
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Old 12-20-2012, 07:00 PM   #11
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I am not sure if this was meant for me, but if so, yes, I am aware of what you mention. I used the same fertilizers under the PPS Pro scheme as under EI.

What I meant to say was that I started with PPS Pro, added a bit more Nitrate and Phosphorous as I observed plant growth and green spot algae. When I arrived at the point where adding more didn't help, I looked at my spreadsheet and realized I was dosing ppms that were very close to a 1/2 dose of EI for the amount of water in my tank.

Quote:
Originally Posted by danielt View Post
You do realize that EI is a specific fertilization scheme with substances in different ratios than PPS-Pro right?

EI is not a scheme of dosing ANY fertilizer. It is a scheme for dosing the specific fertilizers specified by the recipe. PPS-Pro contains other compounds as well. You can easily unbalance the aquarium by dosing PPS-Pro per EI.

My two cents.
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Old 12-20-2012, 07:19 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sundragon View Post
I'll try EI with my next water change. I'm not looking for crazy high growth, currently things are growing (not algae) I'd like to learn the art of making my reds pop like some of you and the art of taming algae

Thanks for the insight on organic nitrogen vs the nitrogen we add.
I will play with the ratios based on my load of fish and I'll watch the water quality.
As for vacations - I can barely trust my roommate to not over feed the fish (first hand experience), much less not over dose the ferts over a week...

Did you have to increase your CO2 when you started EI?
more than likely u will. if u add appropriate amounts of nutriets for the amount of light u have, the demand for co2 increases..
likewise if u have enough co2 and light increases, nutrients demand increases

just remember light drives the need for both co2 and nutrients. the less u have of light, the less u need of everything else

PHOSPHATES WILL NOT CAUSE ALGAE
so if u start dosing more ferts and notice algae, its because the demand for co2 has increased and ur plants are responding positively for the amount of light they have but u need more co2 to continue the growth properly and effectively
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Old 12-20-2012, 07:23 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by sundragon;[B
Did you have to increase your CO2 when you started EI? [/B]
I started injecting CO2 when I started dosing the PPS Pro scheme. I did not increase CO2 when I started dosing EI because I was already blasting the CO2 at a fairly high rate - don't ask me what my bubble count is, I have no idea - too fast.

To get back to Tom's point about limiting factors: under high light, CO2 and ferts are limiting factors. With CO2 and livestock you can only inject CO2 up to the point where it is non lethal. That is your end point for CO2. After that you need to balance ferts and light. Given that the tropical fish most of us keep are very tolerant of a wide range of ferts you have a lot of wiggle room there. Concentrate on light and you are mostly there.
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Old 12-20-2012, 07:38 PM   #14
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You should not relate need for co2 with nutrients, it's related to light.

We add co2 to allow the plants to process nutrients if the light is strong enough to demand more than what can be dissolved in the water from the atmosphere.

Nutrients will be processed anyways if there is no co2 and the light is strong, but instead of been processed by the plants it will be algae... Starting with GSA IME.
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Old 12-20-2012, 08:31 PM   #15
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@ Tom

You will have to excuse me for I'm still adjusting to the mindset of NOT considering nutrients in excess a problem in the aquarium. I'm yet to make the leap of faith into EI dosing regime

I was referring to the PPS-Pro formula which has different ratios. It will limit some of the substances at some point if he's dosing a solution. I didn't used PPS-Pro in an EI fashion and I'm out of my league here

@ OP

The order as I see it is: Light -> CO2 -> Ferts

Increased light will cause CO2 limiting before ferts. This is because plants have stored resources and will use them in case they're not CO2 limited. Ferts will need to be increased at some point as you will see problems with growth once you're fert limited.
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