Recommended fertilizers for medium tech - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-16-2010, 08:27 PM Thread Starter
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Recommended fertilizers for medium tech

I have what I assume is medium tech. 2 wpg, dose a capful of Flourish Excel daily in a 55 gallon tank and have 5 Flourish root tabs in the substrate which is a mix of pebble and flourite.

The tank has crypts, java moss, spatterdock, rotala, hygrophila, ludwigia and anubias.

What fertilizer regimen should I be following. With the flourite I should be good on iron, so it would be mainly phosphate and potassium right?


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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-16-2010, 10:07 PM
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Two watts per gallon of orange neon bulbs won't work very well Nor will two watts per gallon of yellow incandescent bug lights.

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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-17-2010, 12:16 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoppy View Post
Two watts per gallon of orange neon bulbs won't work very well Nor will two watts per gallon of yellow incandescent bug lights.
And your point is what?

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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-17-2010, 01:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Frogmanx82 View Post
And your point is what?
I think Hoppy's point is that "2 WPG" is generally ambiguous. What kind of lighting do you have? 2 WPG of T12 lighting is quite different from 2 WPG of T5HO lighting.

As such, you may not have "medium light".

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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-17-2010, 02:41 AM
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I would start with the EI method, dosing N, P and K alternating with a complete trace mix, and a large water change.

See how things go with that, and you could begin to back off a bit if you wanted to.

If your lights are 2 wpg of t-8 or t-12, 'plant' or daylight' or 'cool white' sorts of bulbs, then you might start with the lower dosing suggested by the EI system.
If you have T-5 or better, then start at the high end, and get some pressurized CO2. Excel may not be enough.
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-17-2010, 03:44 AM
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Darkblade is right. When we say we have 2 watts per gallon we are saying almost nothing about how much light we have, unless we also say what type of lighting it is - T5HO, T8, T12, HQI, LED's, etc, and how high above the top of the tank the lights are located, plus what the tank dimensions are. If you have two 54 watt T5HO Tek lights right at the top of a standard 55 gallon tank you probably have high light intensity. But, if you have those lights hanging 10 inches above the top of the tank, you probably have low-medium light intensity. If you have 3 32 watt T8 lights right at the top of the tank, you probably have low-medium light intensity. And, if the 55 gallon tank is a 36 inch long tank, of the same height, and not a 48 inch long one, 3 39 watt T5HO lights would likely give you very high light intensity.

Almost every day I point this out in various threads, so I get bored expressing it the same way every time, so this time I tried a new way.

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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-17-2010, 04:48 AM Thread Starter
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OK, perhaps I should have been clear, but I did say its a medium tech tank so obviously I don't have HO on it. I have 2 T8 and a T12 in the 5500 to 10,000 range for about 110 watts on a four foot 55 with a glass top.

The EI method doesn't interest me. Too much water change. I'm not doing 25 gallons a week. Seems like your adding and then getting rid of too many nutients. Is a weekly dose of monopotassium phosphate sufficient since I have flourite for iron? I also add about half a teaspoon per gallon of reef salt when I do a water change, 10 gallons per month.

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55 gallon 2 wpg planted dosing excel with guppies, and shrimp
90 gallon mixed reef with clowns, gobies, and cardinals
150 gallon african cichlid tank with clown loaches
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-17-2010, 05:01 AM
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You need nitrogen, too. You need micros, as well.
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-17-2010, 05:09 AM
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Why do you add reef salt? I don't know of any reason to add it routinely, and very few reasons to add it any time.

The fish poop is the primary source for nutrients with that light level, so at most adding some nutrients once a week might help. Then I think I would use about 1/4 of the amounts called for in the EI method - the sticky on fertilizing. I would dose nitrates, potassium, phosphates and trace elements. It might be helpful to dose a GH builder too, or just add some calcium chloride or other calcium compound and magnesium sulfate once a week. If you use the GH builder, Equlibrium, for example, you could eliminate dosing trace elements and potassium. In any case you don't need much of any of the nutrients. With no CO2 being added it is best not to do big water changes except when needed to correct water problems.

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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-17-2010, 01:04 PM Thread Starter
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Since I have guppies and shrimp which like a little bit of salt, a tablespoon to a 5 gallon bucket isn't much and reef salt is loaded with trace elements. i also have dolomite in the filter so the pH stays up and calcium and magnesium are slowly leached into the water. The GH is very high.

I thought nitrates were high enough since it normally runs 15 ppm , but I just checked and since adding Excel, nitrates have dropped off to non detect.

So potassium phosphate and potassium nitrate would seem needed. I was figuring the reef salt for the trace elements, but is that no sufficient?

I could use water from my african tank I suppose, it's very high in nitrates.

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55 gallon 2 wpg planted dosing excel with guppies, and shrimp
90 gallon mixed reef with clowns, gobies, and cardinals
150 gallon african cichlid tank with clown loaches

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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-17-2010, 05:44 PM
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Pfertz has a MEd Tech package that might make things easy if you're willing to pay for a commercial product. WIll be less expensive than FLourish products, but more than dry DIY fertz.


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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-17-2010, 08:05 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, looks interesting but I may want to just mix up my own. Where is the best place to get the potassium and nitrates and phosphates?

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55 gallon 2 wpg planted dosing excel with guppies, and shrimp
90 gallon mixed reef with clowns, gobies, and cardinals
150 gallon african cichlid tank with clown loaches
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-18-2010, 02:30 AM
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I get dry ferts from www.aquariumfertilizer.com

I started going with the EI system, then backed off because of the large water changes.
Since you already know your nitrates can be removed by the plants when they get enough carbon, then yes, dose nitrates. In my tanks I found the plants used more potassium and more iron than the others, by watching the plants, and testing for what I did have tests for.

So yes, the whole idea of adding fertilizers is that you need to start somewhere, but not blindly follow any system. Get to know your tank, and adjust whatever you do so it works for you!

The best Guppies I ever had were in my brackish tank, but there is too much salt in there for the plants. :-(
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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-18-2010, 05:26 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Diana. I have a phosphate test kit for my reef tank so I should be able to figure out what's needed. I figure with the flourite I have plenty of iron. I have actually had some pieces of flourite stick to my magfloat.

I don't get the EI thing. That much water change just seems like bad management. You're throwing away too much of what you just added. I would rather measure and get to know my tank.

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90 gallon mixed reef with clowns, gobies, and cardinals
150 gallon african cichlid tank with clown loaches
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-18-2010, 04:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frogmanx82 View Post
Thanks Diana. I have a phosphate test kit for my reef tank so I should be able to figure out what's needed. I figure with the flourite I have plenty of iron. I have actually had some pieces of flourite stick to my magfloat.

I don't get the EI thing. That much water change just seems like bad management. You're throwing away too much of what you just added. I would rather measure and get to know my tank.
And testing is a waste as well, depends on what trade offs you want.
A better term is providing non limiting nutrients rather than "waste".

Few hobbyists test consistently, and if you use those test kits to rely solely on dosing, then you should also calibrate the test kits, other wise you are simply guessing they are correct and are no better off.
That is human factor, nothing to do with the plants, and such management issues cause issues. "Waste" can easily be reduced slow and progressively till you have just barely non limiting levels.

If someone relies on test kit results, they should use reference standards, just like they use with pH meters to calibrate those, particularly for N and P which test kits are off by 5-10ppm typically.

EI can dial in that range easily. Which was my point over 13 years ago.

So the test kits really offer no advantage in terms of accuracy really.

You can modify EI also.
Most use plants as their test kit, and adjust the dosing from high non limiting, where you are sure that the nutrients are independent, down slow and progressively. Once you see a negative sign in growth, you adjust the dosing back up to the next higher amount.

Simple.

Water changes are not "wasteful". If wastewater is a concerned, add a shower aerator, get a better toilet, use a cup when shaving/brushing teeth etc, and what you do with the wastewater is also key afterwards, mine goes on the landscaping plants outside. It might be more labor, but there's little labor difference between 10-25% water change and 50%, particularly if you use a siphon python like hose to drain and refill. For smaller tanks, say a 20 Gal, I can do a 50% water change is under 4 minutes. 10 Gal of water is spread out on the landscape outside. That's not waste. Landscapes and lawns suck up far more water and waste than any aquarium. Even if it goes down the drain, the water treatment plant reuses it again.

I can reduce the water changes wayyyyy wayyy down this way by progressively reducing the dosing by volume without any test kits.
But I like to stay on top of things more and it's much easier and simpler for hobbyists to do than test kits.

Some use test kits to adjust their EI dosing, but here again, this does little good with calibrating the test kits. Well, if you suggest you do not need to, that the test kits are "accurate enough", then the error range is no better than EI.

So you end up wasting ferts and having poor management eitherway.

Still, water is extremely cheap, much cheaper than any set of test kits might last over an entire year. Ferts are extremely cheap and maybe used for landscaping plants with wastewater. If reducing waste and energy is really the deal, then we all likely should not ever even keep aquariums, but atlas, here we all are

So there's some acceptance of waste. Also, since you read EI, you should read the confusion and myths surrounding the method, it's not meant to be written in stone and filled with the exact type of misunderstanding that's gone on here (and many other places from time to time with other folks).

http://www.barrreport.com/showthread...nd-other-myths

I prefer to go a more sustainable approach myself.
This starts with less light, which is the worse waste product we have and causes the most issue for management.

You want less waste? Use less light, add "just enough light". Then you use less CO2/nutrients as well and waste less of both, and have less algae and still nice healthy, but slowed growth.

It's also fast, simple, cheap and easy, all good traits for management of aquatic plant tanks.

Discus folks do this also, they do 50% 2x a week often. Are they wasteful for keeping and raising discus?

Are we not all wasteful in keeping aquariums in that regard????
There's a trade off we accept, so then it's an issue of labor, technical abilities, motivation to test or do a water change, cost and management

No doubt, tech abilities EI beats the snot out of other methods.
However, even here, using a sediment based ferts helps. ADA As etc, or soil, worm casting etc, add and then dosing is much easier, you can add less to the water column and trim things down since the sediment provides a back up.

I fully suggest this type of holistic approach.
You'll note I discuss light, using less etc, and sediments, and CO2 management, nutrients are not independent of these, any method that assumes that will have many issues.

Overall, dosing is easy and simple, some want to complicate the heck out of it and test and fiddle with a dozen parameters, maybe only 3-4. Still , I have a nice clean vibrant tank after a good sized water change, what do I have after spending a 1/2 testing 4 parameters?

Not much really.

You can try these method sand see what you really think, let me know after 5 years if you still test regularly an dose according to those results. Not very many do.

You work through what these trade offs are for you personally, think about them, think about your own personal habits, will you stick with it? Most do not. This is much more a human issue than anything to do with dosing methods.

Regards,
Tom Barr




Regards,
Tom Barr
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