Dry fert recipe - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-23-2018, 02:08 AM Thread Starter
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Dry fert recipe

Hello all. I've been lurking for a while and I've gotten off to an okay start with plants in my fish aquarium. I'm upgrading from a 65 gallon low tech medium lighting to a 180 gallon low tech lowish lighting tank. I'm doing this so while I'm gone for many months, my wife will have a more simplified life. I've already got the canister and hob seeding together as that is my filtration setup for the new tank. My 65 is a mature established tank. Everything has recovered since my medications ended in early february.

I'm going to be swapping my 65 gallon out for a 180 gallon. I've got a lot, possibly too many plants currently haphazardly planted in my 65. I also have a moderately stocked amount of fish for this 65. I am increasing tank size so my wife should, in theory have less to do husbandry wise, while I'm gone for a long time.

I build up nitrates with my current stock even though I have a bunch of easy, fast growing plants. The 180 will be a dirted tank of mixed topsoil, organic garden soil, and flourite, capped with nat geo sand. Cant say enough good things about the sand, and the organic soil is manure free and I already sifted it so should be minimal issues there.
Currently dosing nilocg 2 bottle all in one supplemented with a double dose of seachem aqua vitro propel for ludwigia and scarlet temple.
I have medium ish lighting with 2 led bars. They will be split for the 180 since I'm doubling my footprint, so basically 1 6 foot light instead of 2 3 foot lights. It's too much light currently, but growth for the most part is great. Shouldn't be an issue in the 180.

Questions:
1. I do have a bunch of red stem plants. Some are thriving, some look burned, (still playing with exact dosing levels,) and I want to mix up a mega ton of dry ferts so all my wife has to do is toss a baggie into the bottle and let it do its thing. Is there a general, common recipe?

2. Can I omit the potassium nitrate altogether for now since I accumulate nitrates currently anyway?

3. Can I add a bunch of extra iron chelate to the mix since all my plants love it and my red ones always seem to want more? (So much so that I add a double dose on micro day and they are maybe barely as red as they might should be, not enough that they are as brilliant as they could be.)

4. Can I put double doses, (or even quadrouple,) into the bottles to make it last longer in such a large tank?

No co2 will be in this tank. The idea is to make my wife's life easier. The only reason anything survived last time is because I had the toughest golden wonder killifish of a tank. I wont have her messing with co2 and timers hoping to avoid nuking the fish, or plants growing great until the bottle dies and she doesnt realize it for 4 months.

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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-23-2018, 04:32 AM
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Welcome to TPT.

This calculator will walk you through the steps https://rotalabutterfly.com/nutrient-calculator.php

For a dirtied, low light tank I would do 1/2 of the EI "recipe".
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-23-2018, 05:37 AM
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Welcome to TPT!

Quote:
Originally Posted by wraithen View Post
possibly too many plants
Not possible!


Quote:
Originally Posted by wraithen View Post
1. I do have a bunch of red stem plants. Some are thriving, some look burned, (still playing with exact dosing levels,) and I want to mix up a mega ton of dry ferts so all my wife has to do is toss a baggie into the bottle and let it do its thing. Is there a general, common recipe?
Like @OVT said, EI is one "common recipe" that is very popular on here. I use it myself and I'm a fan


Quote:
Originally Posted by wraithen View Post
2. Can I omit the potassium nitrate altogether for now since I accumulate nitrates currently anyway?
That's a very good question! It seems some people can get away with that style of dosing; others can't. I am in the same camp in that I've always got high nitrates. I've always just dosed EI levels anyway. I'm starting to experiment with lowering my KNO3 dosing. Too early for results. You could either try low KNO3 dosing and then watch your plants to see if they get upset, or just keep KNO3 dosing to regular levels because word on the street is that 80-100ppm+ is possibly where it can start to hurt fish, if that.


Quote:
Originally Posted by wraithen View Post
3. Can I add a bunch of extra iron chelate to the mix since all my plants love it and my red ones always seem to want more? (So much so that I add a double dose on micro day and they are maybe barely as red as they might should be, not enough that they are as brilliant as they could be.)
It seems there might be some debate as to whether/how much red plants get their red from Fe dosing levels vs. light/PAR levels vs. limiting N (and probably other things too). I can't give you a solid answer, except to say that you can definitely dose Fe at levels higher than EI recommends using rotalabutterfly. I dose my main tank to about .17ppm/day (~1.2ppm/week). I'm pretty sure EI calls for 0.5ppm/week.


Quote:
Originally Posted by wraithen View Post
4. Can I put double doses, (or even quadrouple,) into the bottles to make it last longer in such a large tank?
Just play around with the solution and dose size on rotalabutterly. It'll give you a warning if you're trying to add more to the water then will dissolve.

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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-23-2018, 08:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MCFC View Post
That's a very good question! It seems some people can get away with that style of dosing; others can't. I am in the same camp in that I've always got high nitrates. I've always just dosed EI levels anyway. I'm starting to experiment with lowering my KNO3 dosing. Too early for results. You could either try low KNO3 dosing and then watch your plants to see if they get upset, or just keep KNO3 dosing to regular levels because word on the street is that 80-100ppm+ is possibly where it can start to hurt fish, if that.
The nitrogen can get a bit tricky in a planted tank. Yes, the "common wisdom" is that N is not harmfull to plants / fish in relatively high concentrations but I have 2 issues with EI's methodology:

- if your tank has naturally high levels of NO3, adding more of it and then removing it with water changes seems wastefull, just like moving dirt around

- EI approach is based on having "unlimiting" plant food and doing weekly water changes that "re-set" the tank and that eliminates / minimizes the need for frequent water testing. My problem with that approach is that nitrogen can build up because it comes from multiple sources:

* from fertilizers (KNO3)
* potentially, from your tap water
* fish food
* fish waste (ammonium to NO3)
* organic decay (plants, algae, driftwood, etc.)

For my tanks that hoover around 20-40 ppm of NO3 from week to week without KNO3 fertilization, I stop fertilizing KNO3. I do test for NO3 once in a while, and if that tank's KNO3 starts to drop towards 10 ppm I re-evaluate that tank's management.

The obove does not help the OP as he will not be able to actively manage the tank. But my assumption would be that his NO3 levels will be rising in his absence: dirt substrate in a new tank, transplanted plants, less frequent maintenance of water / plants / organics, and the common fish over-feeding.

In his situation, I would not completely eliminate KNO3 from his fertilizer BUT cut it down substantially to, say, 1/4 of the recommended ammount.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-23-2018, 01:53 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys. I promise I did a search for this first but the only thing that looked good was an almost 200 page thread. I knew it was lazy but sorting through the tangents into some science I dont understand yet didnt seem like a good time management solution lol.

Thanks a lot for the calculator. I'll at around there and see where I go.

I know ei dosing works, but I also know it's a bit wasteful, and wont work in a large tank when husbandry may be skipped 3 times a month in some cases. I'm not super worried as I've got easy plants for the most part, and I'm going to be plussing up my oto and amano population as much as is locally sourceable, but she doesnt have any idea how much I've got in my plants lol.

When I said possibly too many plants, I have to remove random clippings ive placed like spare wisteria in order to plant more dwarf sag. It's more a shading and real estate problem.

All in all i think that calculator is about to be my best friend. I now get to research theories on what makes the red weeds red, and i really appreciate the atmosphere here.

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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-23-2018, 02:46 PM
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Possible small point but something to keep in mind when cutting back doing nitrate, If leaving out the KNO3, you will also be shorting the amount of K! So it is sometimes worthwhile to add an extra bit of K from potassium sulfate. K without added N?
Before fully deciding or leaving, I might suggest looking at some of the nutrient deficiency diagrams to look carefully at your plants and that may help spot some lack that you might not note otherwise. Going to be a difficult time, at best as things do tend to drift and change over time.
I am currently moving my last tankl toward empty to avoid the same problem. Just not sure the lady who takes care of things is up to it for a longer period, so planning to rebuild when I'm back, rather than stress over things I can't control.
Time, effort, and stress to rebuild or time, effort, and stress over it not running well while we are gone? I've decided to go simple, cough up the expense when I get back, rather than lose the friend because she feels she killed my tank! Money, I can get, good helpful friends are harder.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-23-2018, 03:12 PM Thread Starter
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Totally agree, which is why I never tell her how many times an 8 dollar plant has died or how much I spend. It's also why I've kept this tank simple.

As far as deficiencies I've learned that in my tank the way I've been dosing, the battle for equilibrium causes my issues. 90 percent of the time the deficiency shown will only cause more problems. For example, my temple plants show calcium deficiency, but I know for a fact it was too much phosphate as I always have to battle gsa. The other issues from my plants are either algae growth on them, or recovering from being in an ro only tank for a few weeks before I bought them. As long as the tank is overall healthy, I dont worry about individual leaves. Easier to just cut them off and judge the plant overall. I believe that once my new tank settles, it will be an extremely easy to care for tank due to stocking and plant selection, as well as lighting being sufficient. I just want her to have as easy a time as possible. She hates a non planted tank anyway.

Now when I retire and turn that 65 into a reef or discus tank, and inject co2 in the 180, and start building tanks and sumps, and...

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