I've been using EI dosing since October, but I'm not enjoying this method.
I want to have more control over what I'm putting into my tanks. Aside from nitrate, I have no idea what the nutrient levels are in my tanks, and that makes me uncomfortable. I want to try dosing only what the plants need, instead of providing everything in excess. I'd like to either do smaller water changes, or change water less often (every 2 weeks, for example)
1. Does anybody dose this way?
2. I checked Big Al's for other test kits I'd need, but I don't think they have them. What would I need, and where would I get it?
3. Leaves on my rotala 'araguaia', staurogyne 'porto velho', and rotala 'mini butterfly' are curling. What deficiency is causing this? This is another reason I want to do something other than EI. If nutrients are supposed to be in excess, then why am I seeing a deficiency!?
Sure here's the exact plant in my tank you mentioned using EI:
This tank has EI and has more Stauro than most, bark up another tree.
I've gone away for 2-3 weeks and not done water changes on this tank.
It's not the nutrients, it is poor CO2 usage/light balance. Here's another example using a different sediment and a different species of Staruo:
also left for a few weeks, without water changes.
is nutrient related.
There is a need to understand that to move forward and improve your horticultural skills. Think holistically, CO2 and light are the main players, nutrients by and large are very easy. Once you learn that, then nutrients will also be much simpler and easier for you.
You will also better able to master more plants, solve more issues and be a better gardener overall. Being able to rule things out as possible causes is one such skill that's lacking for many hobbyist.
The above planted tanks are sitting in my home and have obviously had EI dosing for several months. So not knowing anything else, I can easily say it can NOT be EI dosing that's at fault here. As the above shows clearly there's no health issues, so that is a control
reference for you.
If you cannot produce a control, then you cannot even start to say what is wrong with your methods or test much of anything. Only with a control, can you do a treatment and test. Otherwise you have no way to check your results against anything, a reference system etc.
Since I have such an aquarium using this method and specifically, also have this plant in lush abundance, this falsifies such a hypothesis. So you should look elsewhere for the issue.
As suggested by others here, lower light/better CO2, current etc, good O2 and so forth. Not only will these plants do better, the entire management will be much easier.
If you use less light, then plants have less CO2 demand and thereby extension, less nutrient demand, you can dose a little bit less, and do water changes once every 2-4 weeks if you are observant and watch the tank plants good. I've never once stated you must use this amount of grams/teaspoons to do EI, you add more/less to suit what you think the case may be.
I can do this very easily.
Also, if you want to reduce the dosing and water changes, you should use ADA AS or mineralize some soil, worm castings etc. This adds a back up supply of nutrient should you forget to dose(who has never forgotten to dose a few times?), and water column allows you to extend the life of the sediment. So both locations work very well together. They act together synergistically.
You can cut the % of EI dosing down (progressively) till you see a negative plant response. Then add the next higher level of dosing, that is the tank's demand without limiting the system strongly.
That + lower light intensity_+ better CO2 management + sediment sources of nutrients can greatly enhance the method goals you have. Makes everything easier to manage.
There's no plant I cannot grow really really well, and any issues I may have had initially have never once been due to nutrients or EI. 300-400 species of plants and counting.
Most of the aquatic plants are grown with a similar solution as EI, some are grown at 5X the amount.
Testing is a trade off and few test kits offer more control than EI does, unless you calibrate and are fairly careful. Many simply suggest they can wing it and not calibrate, well, then you are guessing and no better off and in some cases worse.
I'd not think of it as adding excess/waste, rather, providing non limiting nutrients, basically getting everything you need nutrient wise for the plants.
This does not imply that you have adequate well balanced lighting, or CO2 however, there's more to it than just dosing. If you bother to do a water change, even if 10%, it's not much difference for that vs 50% as far as motivation. On smaller tanks, say 20 Gal, I spend 5 minutes a week doing a 50% water change at most.
On larger tanks, I simply use a U shaped PCV drain hook I made to attach to a garden hose, out the water goes onto the landscaping plants, and attached to the shower head for nice warm water for refilling, no work at all. Also, many can automate their water changes, trying automating testing for N, P, and KH etc. You will not find it that easy to do.
Still, you want less, you can use less light, since you are adding Excess
light right now that's causing high CO2 demand and the plants are CO2 deficient.
I'd stick with 2 bulbs for your tank.
I'd also suggest using a non limiting dosing method if you want to rule out issues with CO2/light, starting at a very lean level, your plants are already hurting. When you adjust ppm's and other parameters, you get dependence if they are really low.
That leads to false assumptions and conclusions in the result since the test are NOT independent. It's only when you provide non limiting factors, can you start to test the other parameters light light, or CO2, or PO4 alone etc.
Keep a good eye on CO2, that's where most of the learning you have should go towards. Some act like it's some easy to do thing, for some, that get lucky, that may be the case...........but most are not so lucky.
Read up more on that. 2 bulbs, not 3.
I can grow any species very well with that set up.
Consider ADA As etc.