EI Dosing schedule help needed - Nitrates through roof!
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Old 02-14-2013, 02:12 PM   #1
Catie79
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EI Dosing schedule help needed - Nitrates through roof!


Newbie warning goes here.

I've been running the suggested EI dosing schedule in the sticky in my 10 gallon aquarium for about three weeks now. I've had an outbreak of hair algae, so I suspected that I didn't have my nitrates in line. I did a test to see where I was at, and the thing turned fire engine red! At least 40 ppm! I'm about to do an emergency water change to protect my fish, but I'm wondering how I messed this up. I know we're supposed to be overloading the water column a bit, but I didn't think I'd get things high enough to put my fish in danger.

Is my tank not heavily enough planted? Do I need to increase light or CO2? I'm reluctant to increase light as my hair algae problem is pretty aggressive. My current plan is to half my current dosing schedule, but I thought I should post my tank specs, dosing schedule, and a picture of the tank to see if anyone else could suggest where I've gone astray. I'd like to learn from my mistake.

Tank specs:

Tank: 10 gallons
Light: 20" Finnex Fugeray, 10 hour photoperiod with the light right on the tank
Filtration: HOB
Substrate: Eco-complete with root tabs
CO2: Paintball set up at 1 bubble per second. Drop checker is green.
Stock: 1 betta male, 4 oto catfish, 2 nerite snails
Plants: Pennywort, crypts (spiralis and wendtii), bacopa, dwarf hairgrass, Christmas moss, java moss, anubias



Everything is growing back from a trim in this picture, but should give you an idea of how densely planted the tank is.

Weekly dosing schedule:
KNO3 - 10 mL x3
KH2PO4 - 2.5 mL x3
Trace - 2.5 mL x3
GH Booster - 1/4 tsp x1
50% Water change

Solution made by adding 1 tablespoon to 250 mL of water. Unless I messed up my math, this should be the same as the dosing on the sticky for a 10-20 gallon tank.

Half the dosing? Turn up the CO2 to encourage growth and uptake? Any help is appreciated! Please let me know if I left any information out. I'm just going to go do an emergency water change now.
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Old 02-14-2013, 02:30 PM   #2
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Wonder if before the trim the nitrogen being added was being consumed?
Less plant's now,maybe more KNO3 than is needed?
Any nitrate level's in tapwater?
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Old 02-14-2013, 03:00 PM   #3
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Default Re: EI Dosing schedule help needed - Nitrates through roof!

Any chance you're stirring up dissolving tabs in the substrate during your WC? I'm having similar weird nitrate readings and suspect that's the problem despite going lean on dosing.
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Old 02-14-2013, 03:07 PM   #4
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If I'm not mistaken its not uncommon to have high nitrate readings dosing EI. Thus the 50% water change at the end of the dosing schedule to remove the nitrates. 40ppm while high I wouldn't consider it lethal. If its 40 ppm after your 50% w/c, well then you should be concerned.
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Old 02-14-2013, 04:09 PM   #5
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Water change is complete and I've still got about 30 ppm. I'll leave the tank like that, since I think that's a comfortable level for my fish. They've perked up already.

@roadmaster: No nitrates in the tap. It's possible that I've stalled things out with the aggressive trim.

@Rainer: You've got a good point, it's hard to not stir up the substrate in this set up. I'll try to be more careful in my next change and see if that helps.

@fishwater: I was worried that the test had gone so red that I wasn't sure what it meant. After the 50% change, I'm still reading around 30ppm, so I was definitely high enough to stress my fish. It's so hard to tell the exact numbers with the liquid tests. For my schedule, I was supposed to dose macros again today which would have just driven the numbers up higher. Now I just have to figure out the happy balance.
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Old 02-14-2013, 04:24 PM   #6
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Default Re: EI Dosing schedule help needed - Nitrates through roof!

One small thing I've encountered since trying to maintain nitrate at 10-20 ppm: nitrate and phosphate levels seem to stay in synch but additional potassium supplementation is indicated. I'm seeing pinholes and lower leaf loss otherwise.
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Old 02-14-2013, 04:28 PM   #7
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Yeah, that was probably not comfortable for your critters, hopefully you'll find that balance. I'm trying to balance things myself (aren't we all). On a side-note thats a beauty of a tank your betta gets to play in .
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Old 02-14-2013, 04:53 PM   #8
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Add more fast growing plants will suck them up fast. Had the same problem with my tank doing EI dosing.
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Old 02-14-2013, 05:01 PM   #9
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I suppose you could reduce the KNO3 dosing, a little, temporarly.

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Old 02-14-2013, 05:32 PM   #10
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As far as KNO3, looks like you're adding 10ppm per dose.

If you're nitrates stay that high, I would think it would be safe to cut the KNO3 in half and monitor the levels. If you start bottoming out 0-5 nitrates, then up the dose again. If it doesn't go real low, you can prolly stick with 1/2 current dose.

As a side note, unless my math is wrong, your KH2PO4 dose is adding 3ppm of PO4 for each dose. That just seems like a crazy amount even for EI.

I think you can probably cut KH2PO4 in half as well (maybe even cut down more, like 1/3 of the current dose).
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Old 02-14-2013, 05:46 PM   #11
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I doubt it was the fact that your Nitrate ppms went from 40 to 30 caused your fish to perk up. It was probably the fresh water you added.

Good generic values (I said generic, some plants have specific needs) to shoot for regarding plant growth are:
Nitrate: 10-30 ppm
Phophate: 1-3 ppm
Potassium - no idea, don't test for it, get plenty from water supply.

This holds for whether you dose EI, PPS, or any other scheme. If you look at it, EI shoots for non-limiting ferts and tries to approach these values BY THE END OF THE WEEK. Then, 50% water change to reset the tank. Adjust dosing to hit these values by the end of the week (food, fish waste, decaying matter add to Nitrate and Phosphate load in the aquarium).

See here (read, learn): http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...ing-guide.html
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Old 02-14-2013, 11:48 PM   #12
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I don't dose any amount of nitrate with my EI. Nitrates hover 100-200. Why? Aquasoil and root tabs dump a ton of N into the water.
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Old 02-15-2013, 03:40 AM   #13
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There's some common sense expected with EI, some follow the method blindly and think you must follow some routine I've given as a generalized way to provide enough ferts for most any light level.

It can be adjusted and likely should be for each specific person's goal.

Sometimes tap water has plenty or enough PO4, so you do not add that, or has high GH and a decent mix of Ca and Mg, no GH booster, but you add some K2SO4. Or a high fish load and lower light, less KNO3 and little bit les sof everything else.

Or or or......ask before and see what folks think. It's meant to be modified.
From there, you can adjust and observe.

Some of my tanks get much less, some more, some get 1-2x a week 70% water changes, some once a month, some none at all really other than for evaporation.

I think light and CO2 are the larger issues for folks, ferts are fairly easy and risk free over all.

CO2? People kill their fish weekly on these boards with the gas.
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Old 02-15-2013, 04:01 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post
There's some common sense expected with EI, some follow the method blindly and think you must follow some routine I've given as a generalized way to provide enough ferts for most any light level.

It can be adjusted and likely should be for each specific person's goal.

Sometimes tap water has plenty or enough PO4, so you do not add that, or has high GH and a decent mix of Ca and Mg, no GH booster, but you add some K2SO4. Or a high fish load and lower light, less KNO3 and little bit les sof everything else.

Or or or......ask before and see what folks think. It's meant to be modified.
From there, you can adjust and observe.

Some of my tanks get much less, some more, some get 1-2x a week 70% water changes, some once a month, some none at all really other than for evaporation.

I think light and CO2 are the larger issues for folks, ferts are fairly easy and risk free over all.

CO2? People kill their fish weekly on these boards with the gas.
I'm really not looking for a 'one size fits all' solution or for a lot of hand holding. To be fair, I know my water is soft and the GH booster is necessary just to get to 3 degrees kH. I haven't seen nitrates in that tank since the plants got established and fell out of the habit of testing. I made a mistake, it happens. I just didn't expect to see these results with what I thought was conservative dosing. I thought I might have done something else wrong. Believe me, there's a reason I started with just one tank while the other three get very little in the way of fertilizers or light or CO2. I think the advice that my root tabs may be inflating things was very useful and will help me with customizing the dosing.

We've all got to start somewhere.

I've learned my lesson and I'll be shifting down to 2x dosing of KNO3 with half of what I was doing and rebuild from there. It's just overwhelming balancing the light and ferts and CO2 when you haven't done it before. If the algae doesn't settle, the next step is to lift the light up. The PAR looked to be moderate, but the algae says otherwise. CO2 is pretty much as high as I can get it without killing the fish, so decreasing light is up next.
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Old 02-15-2013, 03:11 PM   #15
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You are taking the right approach, good job. Target those variables I posted (also read the thread, lots of good info there), play with light intensity (photoperiod and/or height of light from tank) and make sure you have good flow in the tank to evenly distribute the CO2 (I recommend using at least 2 drop checkers in different areas of the tank to make sure you are getting even CO2 distribution - or just move 1 drop checker to different areas over the course of a few days...).
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