Fertillizing & Liquidoser? Tips? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-27-2004, 08:29 AM Thread Starter
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Fertillizing & Liquidoser? Tips?

Hi All

Planted tank newbie here soaking up what I can. New 50g.

Going to be setting up the tank next week. Have Fluorite. Have pressurized CO2. Have decent AH Supply lighting and filtration.

Starter plants: Sprite, Dwarf Sag, Wisteria, Val

I could use some tips on fertilzing. I'd like to stick to products I can buy for the moment. Here's what I have:

Seachem Flourish
Seachem Flourish Iron
Seacheam Flourish Potassium
Seachem Flourish Tabs

Missing anything important?

I also bought a Eheim Liquidoser because I will be away for a couple of weeks and it might help things in the long run.

So, I was wondering a few things:

1) Using the products above (aside from the Florush tabs), what might be a good measurement mix for use in the Liquidoser? Do you basically make a batch that last two weeks and it gets dispersed over the 2 weeks? I'm assuming it's not bad to mix all the ferts together in the liquid doser?

2) Should I fertilize differently in the first couple of weeks then change things? If so, how so?

3) I hear mixed things about nitrates and phosphates in the water. In a planted tank, is it bad to get "zero" readings for phosphate and nitrate? Is it a good idea to fertilize with some nitrates and phosphates? Is this what Seachem Nitrogen and Seachem Phosphorus is?

I realize there are no magic portions, but I'd like to learn from you guys what I can

thanks!
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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-27-2004, 10:55 AM
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First of all I would love to know where you got your Liquidoser I wrote Eheim several months ago asking about it and never received a reply.

You should be able to mix all of your liquid ferts without much trouble. The only things you might want to keep separate, if possible, are iron and phosphates. From what I understand they can react when dosed together, forming iron phosphate (imagine that) and rendering both of them much less effective. That's just what I've read though, no real experience to back that up.

As to nitrate and phosphate dosing, you're getting into a huge can of worms there because there are so many different schools or thought and variables that come into play before anyone can really tell you what you need to dose or not. I can say that it is usually a bad thing for water column levels of nitrates to hit zero. Algae can survive on almost untestable levels of nutrients in the water column where plants will quit growing, giving the algae a big hand up. Phosphate levels can drop to zero safely for a few days at a time, but again, it's never a good idea to leave them there, or let them get that low in the first place. My recommended target levels for nitrates and phosphates: 5-15 ppm NO3, 0.4-1.0 ppm PO4 (kept in roughly a 10:1 to 14:1 ratio). Potassium is also a necessary macronutrient but is not easy to measure and only really needs dosing if you're burning through a lot of nitrates and phosphates. Most experts recommend keeping potassium levels in the 10-20 ppm range, but again, how do you measure it?

And yes, Seachem Nitrogen and Phosphorous are used for dosing nitrates and phosphates.

Your best bet is to maintain stable target levels of NO3 and PO4. IME, large fluctuations in levels of these nutrients are more likely to cause algae than anything else. You're going to need to experiment with nutrients to determine what works best for you - every tank is different. Just go with the basic guidelines at first and then modify them slowly to see what sort of effects they have. Good luck!

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Last edited by travis; 11-27-2004 at 01:59 PM.
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post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-27-2004, 12:13 PM
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You will be able to grow those 4 plants with little to no effert at all by adding the flourish line, but that will get expensive over time, once you start adding some more demanding plants, is when the real challenge will arrive

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post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-27-2004, 05:25 PM
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Couple of points here. Where to start?

First. You equipment is "spot on". You have the lighting, a good substrate, pressurized CO2, and a good filter. Step 1 completed and perfect!

Your start off plants are good as well. Go heavy on the watersprite and the wisteria. These plants are going to be absorbing a ton of nutrients and will be your first line of algae defense. Consider adding even more stem plants for now. They will only aid in the battle against algae. you can always swap them, bring them to the LFS for credit, or just pitch them in the trash when you are through with them.

You have mentioned Seachem products. The micro nutrient products you have mentioned are pretty good (Flourish and Flourish Iron), but for your macro nutrients, the best way to go is going to be to purchase the bulk chemicals most of us are using. KNO3, KH2PO4 and K2SO4 can be purchased for a fraction of the price of Seachem's macro nutrient line, and are going to go a lot further. Dosing an aquarium to optimal levels using the Seachem line is going to take a huge amount of product! Been there, done that, learned a lesson.

You are going to need to maintain certain nutrient levels, no doubt. Travis mentioned that, and I can beat you over the head with that information, but I think you already know about the levels! My fear is the Liquidoser. It is a nice piece of equipment, but I don't think you are ready for it. You really need to get a grasp on the nutrients you are going to need to be dosing, and the actual amounts of those nutrients you are going to need to be dosing. there is no "universal formula" you are already aware of that. the only way to find out what is going to work for you is to test, dose and test. Keep a log of what you are doing, so you know what you are doing! A Liquidoser is not going to do you any good until you get a hard grasp on what you are dosing. The Liquidoser will help you in the long run, but at start up it is not a good idea. You need the control and the experience.

Here is what I would do if I were in your shoes. If you are going to be leaving for a couple of week, I would wait a couple of weeks to start this project. Planted aquariums are a ton of work, and require a ton of attention. Starting, leaving and coming back to it could quite possibly create even more problems for you. You will lose the time you already invested by having to redo or trouble shoot a situation you could have carefully monitored and played an active role in.

That would be my advice. Wait until you can give your aquarium your full attention. I know how difficult that can be, but trust me, it will be worth the wait. The potential aggravation and disappointment you will avoid will make it worth it alone!

Mike

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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-27-2004, 09:34 PM Thread Starter
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Mike & Travis

Wow, thanks for the helpful tips. This site has really been helpful. A few follow up comments if you don't mind:

Travis, FYI, I order my Liquidoser from Big Al's:

http://www.bigalsonline.com/catalog/...tegory_id=3139

Mike & Travis,

So true that fertilizing is a trial & error process. There's some learning to be done on my part and I'm willing to keep an open mind. If that means mixing my own macro ferts at a cheaper price than Seachem (NO3, KH2PO4 and K2SO4) then I will certainly consider it. I respect your advice. Do you guys have a preferred vendor for these bulk macros? I think, at least for the first month or two, I may stick with the Seachem products -- just as training wheels -- and then dive into the other recommended macros at a lower cost, once I have developed some skills.

As far as my plant selection, yes I bought these for their nutrient hungry personality and "algae fighting". Advice taken, and I will get more. I can always swap them out.

Testing levels: I have a few testing kits from past tanks, but it sounds like I should also invest in a testing kit for nitrates and phosphates, correct? Can you guys recommend any test for these you prefer? I used to have a nitrate testing kit in which I had to crush up these tablets, but the tests that use drops are preferred.

Lastly, Mike, I agree with your concerns about the Liquidoser. I shouldn't think of it as a magic tool and really shouldn't be relying on it until I know what it's doing. I agree manual dosing is the way to go at first so I can have a firm understanding of things. I had bought it because of the two week vacation I mentioned coming up.

Sorry to keep whining about the two week vacation. I know its factoring into the mix complicates things. I agree a project such as this should be postponed until after my break. I do not dismiss that advice. Unfortunately, things are a bit more complicated. (if not bored, read on ) Last month, my current 30g acrylic aquarium starting showing some "crazing" (fine micro cracking) on the front panel. I had recently emptied it because my landlord was putting in wooden floors and after refilling it I began to notice these defects. These defects were probably caused by the improper stand I have had it on for years. (Bad of me, which is why I am investing on a proper set up). Before I leave for two weeks, I want the piece of mind of knowing my defective tank and/or stand isn't going to burst onto my new wooden floor. Hence, this new tank purchase. MY old tank still has angelfish in it and the plants mentioned above (val, wisteria) with an AH Supply 1x36. No ferts, plants have been in there a month -- most look decent, aside from a little green dust algae on the glass. Aside from bringing them to an LFS, these fish and plants need a new home here before I leave.

So Mike, that's why I think I'll have to set up the new tank before I leave on Dec. 18th. What if I was to set up the new tank, but simply do a scaled back version of it -- as if it was just a new version of my current tank? For example, hold off on the CO2 until I get back. Hold off on ferts until I get back (again, the plants have been surviving a month without either decently enough). The biggest challenge might be the 1x96w AH Supply kit I bought. That might give me more than just green dust algae on this new 50g w/o CO2 and ferts. I had considered adding my 1x36w kit to the 1x96w kit eventually anyway to supplement it, so what if I just installed the 1x36w for now until I come back? Keep the plants centralized underneath it. These are some ideas that might make things more manageable.

Final thoughts and answers on other questions?

thanks as always
steve
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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-27-2004, 10:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motifone
Do you guys have a preferred vendor for these bulk macros?
I've always ordered mine from www.gregwatson.com. They are cheaper than using Seachem's retail ferts by at least an order of magnitude, probably more. Greg is a great guy to do business with too. Friendly and knowledgeable.


Quote:
Originally Posted by motifthone
I think, at least for the first month or two, I may stick with the Seachem products -- just as training wheels -- and then dive into the other recommended macros at a lower cost, once I have developed some skills.
I think that's a great idea. When you do decide to get your dry ferts here's a link to Chuck Gadd's Aquatic Nutrient Calculator. It will do all the hard math for you as far as determining the amounts of dry fertilizers to mix. IMHO it's the best tool you can have when mixing your own ingredients.


Quote:
Originally Posted by motifthone
Can you guys recommend any test for these you prefer?
For the cheaper test kits I would recommend either Seachem or Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Nitrate, Phosphate, pH, and KH (you'll need it for determining CO2 levels) kits. They're fairly accurate and are (at least for my color-blind eyes) easy enough to read. If you want something that will give you dead-on exact results, and don't mind spending some extra cash, look into LaMotte or Hach test kits. Very impressive but also very expensive.

You are an exception to the rule - someone who asks the right questions before the problems start I think you're going to have a great time with your new setup. Well I hope this helps out.

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post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-27-2004, 11:26 PM Thread Starter
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Travis, excellent. Good times.

You guys are making it a joy. Thanks for all the answers. I will look into the products you mentioned and add them to my notes!

Steve
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post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-27-2004, 11:28 PM
 
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www.marinedepot.com sells the Eheim liquidoser
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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-28-2004, 02:32 AM
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once got a Liquidoser off ebay for $15 Not always this cheap though, but worth a look there.


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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-28-2004, 04:40 AM
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Quote:
I think, at least for the first month or two, I may stick with the Seachem products -- just as training wheels -- and then dive into the other recommended macros at a lower cost, once I have developed some skills.
I am going to disagree with Travis. I don't want to come out and say "bad idea". I will say, you could make a better choice. There is no point going with the Seachem products, unless of course you have already purchased them and can't return them. Going with the Seachem products is only going to delay your transition into the more affordable and much more accurate world of bulk nutrient dosing. It takes a ton of product to achieve proper levels (Rex...where are you! You seem to be able to figure Seachem dosing amounts vs. bulk nutrients). You are test, figure out your levels, dose Seachem then have to start the process all over again when you get into the bulk fertilizers. Why? Why when you can read Chuck Gadd's site, look at the nutrient calculator and prepare you own solutions? It is absolutely obvious to me that you are going to be able to figure out bulk nutrients with no problem Steve! heck, I did it!

I don't understand wasting your time and money on Seachem macro nutrients.

I see your concern about getting started early. If I had to do the same thing I think I would get the whole thing set up, get the CO2 up and running, run the lower lights for an abbreviated photo period, not dose any fertilizers, and cross my fingers!

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post #11 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-28-2004, 04:47 AM
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Good point on the Seachem products Mike. I never could figure out their mumbo jumbo dosing instructions either, and must say that DIY fertilization is much easier. I've still got several full bottles of Seachem stuff sitting around that I never use because I still don't understand how much of them I would have to add to get the equivalent in dry ferts.

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post #12 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-28-2004, 01:12 PM
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One example. Seachem Potassium. To get to 20 ppm you would need to dose 100 ml for the first dose and then 50 ml after each 50% water change. Using K2SO4 (potassium sulfate) you would need to dose just a hair over 8 grams. You would get right around two years use out of a pound of K2SO4 if my math is right this early in the morning, based on weekly 50% water changes.

The same type of numbers pretty much apply to all bulk ferts. A pound of KNO3 will give you right in the neighborhood of 300 5 ppm doses on your 50 gallon tank. And the cost of that pound is under $5 shipped most of the time.
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post #13 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-28-2004, 03:02 PM
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Thanks for doing the math and illustrating my point!

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post #14 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-28-2004, 08:33 PM Thread Starter
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Guys

Thanks for the fert "intervention". Haha! I can see your points and the logic makes sense.

I will check out Greg Watson's site today. I will also look at Chuck Glad's fert caculator at work tomorrow (seems to run on a PC, I have a Mac here at home)

I have not yet bought the Seachem macro ferts and, per your advice, will no longer do so. The only Seachem ferts I bought are Seachem Flourish and Seachem Iron. My understanding is that these are micro ferts. MIKE, earlier you said these are decent micro ferts. Again, I still need to read Greg's site, but for micro ferts, is Seachem an okay way to go?

I'll pick me up some Nitrate and Phosphate tests. Already have KH, ammonia, and pH tests.

Bit of a dumb question: is KNO3 and KH2PO4 equivalent to NO3 and PO4, just with potassium added?

Time to cook an omelette and do some fert reading!

Thanks again!!
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post #15 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-28-2004, 09:13 PM
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Quote:
Bit of a dumb question: is KNO3 and KH2PO4 equivalent to NO3 and PO4, just with potassium added?
They are basic chemical compounds that are easy to obtain, store and use. The reason you see them with potassium is that potassium is very reactive and actually doesn't exist in it's pure state (did you know that potassium is a metal?).

I use the Flourish as PART of my micro dosing. I also use Plantex CSM+B. I have switched to chelated iron powder for iron dosing as again it's much cheaper than the commercial products. A pound of chelated iron powder will last you a lifetime.
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