Help with DIY Macro solution - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-11-2018, 05:02 AM Thread Starter
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Help with DIY Macro solution

Hello, I've been browsing these forums for some time and have gotten a bunch of useful tips and information so thank you in advance for any help anybody can offer. Forgive the long post but I am trying to add as much information as possible. I need some assistance making my own macro solution. I have purchased some dry ferts from Green Leaf Aquariums, specifically their EI package which includes Potassium Nitrate (KNO3) - 1 lb, Mono Potassium Phosphate (KH2PO4) - 1 lb, Potassium Sulfate (K2SO4) - 1 lb, and Plantex CSM + B - 1 lb for micros. I then used the nutrient calculators the "Fertilator" as well as the Rotala Butterfly to determine the amounts I needed to add to my 800 ml bottle. Based on both calculators they recommend adding 55.55 g of KNO3 to yeild approx. 5 ppm of nitrogen to my 45 gallon tank with 20 ml doses. I targeted 5ppm instead of the recommended 7.5 to account for nitrates already in the water, plus my tank is not heavily planted yet, also I chose 20 ml so I could break up the doses in 2 (10 Mls before lights on, and another 10 MLs a few hours later). However after making my solution based on the recommendations, I did my first dose of 20 MLs total, after about 30-40mins I tested my nitrates which were at about 5ppm before dosing and they shot up to over 40ppm. I spent the last few days doing small daily water changes to bring the nitrates back down to as close to zero as possible and yesterday after the last water change I was able to get it down to under 5ppm, it wasn't quite 0 but it wasn't 5 either kind of in between. This morning I dosed again but this time only 5 MLs to test, waited about 20 mins and tested the nitrates, and they went from just below 5ppm to almost 20 ppm. This was more reasonable but I am curious why there is a such a difference from what the calculators recommend? Am I doing something wrong, or am I missing something. I should mention I am using the API freshwater test kits the liquid ones not the strips. Currently in my tank I have 5 juvenile Apistogramma cactuoides, 4 pygmy Cory's, 3 panda Cory's, and 5 cardinal tetras. Plant wise I have pretty low demanding plants except for some dwarf baby tears that I am trying to get to carpet, the others are some Anubias, java moss, s. repens, and some alternanthera reineckii. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated as I am trying to dial ini to the correct amount so I can get a good growth and a nice planted tank.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-11-2018, 02:19 PM
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Welcome to TPT!

First off, it's nice to break up a huge block of text with paragraphs. It's a lot easier on the eyes and can let people quickly see the pertinent information.

Secondly, your calculations seem correct - 55.55g of KNO3 into 800ml, dosed at 20ml into 45gal, should give you 5ppm of NO3.

Testing at 40ppm NO3 after dosing is really strange. The first thing that comes to mind is the API KNO3 test itself. It is notoriously finicky. The instructions need to be followed very carefully. You have to smash reagent #2 against a hard surface, almost to the point of exploding the container, for it to work properly.

Normally the problem with the test is that it under-reports your KNO3 levels, but that doesn't seem to be your issue, so I'm really not to sure what's going on.

The last thing I'll say is that 40ppm NO3 is absolutely nothing to worry about. Won't harm a thing in your tank.

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-11-2018, 02:26 PM
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One thing to note is that even though the calculator asks for your aquarium size, it really means water volume. And since you more than likely have some substrate, rocks, wood, decorations, plants, etc... the actual water volume is less. You probably have more like 40 gallons or less of water in there. It won't make a huge difference but it will change the actual concentration. And if you are like most of us and are measuring your amounts using measuring spoons rather than an actual gram scale, there is quite a bit of variation from one tsp to the next.

But like MCFC said, 40 ppm is nothing to worry about. Most of us have nitrate levels consistently that high or higher. The whole point of EI is to make sure you have more than enough of everything. So as long as you are doing a weekly water change of at least 50%, you'll be fine. The fish will be fine.


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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-11-2018, 02:40 PM
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And if you are like most of us and are measuring your amounts using measuring spoons rather than an actual gram scale
Pure insanity...

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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-11-2018, 03:08 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for the responses and help, MCFC my apologies on not breaking the text up you are 100 % correct, my bad.I feel a little better as I have been reading through the forums and most people say the same about the API test kit being finicky. When I was mixing my ferts I did use a digital scale but it was one of the cheaper digital spoon scales so that could have been off. I ordered a new one and its on the way.

@elusive77 as for water volume I did take all this into account. I have an Innovative Marine all in one SR 60. Its stated as a 60 gallons but between the sump area in the back, substrate, rocks, wood decor etc, I estimate I am closer to about 45-47 gallons which is why I used that for my tank size.

I am glad to hear 40 ppm is nothing to worry about I was concerned the excess nutrients would bring an algae outbreak, I am injecting CO2 and try to limit my lights to 8 hours or so, to make sure the tank isn't over ran by algae. I am using two AI Primes, one freshwater and one made for reef aquariums. Neither light goes over 50 % intensity at its highest point. On the Prime HD reef version I am not using any of the UV, or Violet LEDs. Just cool white, deep red, some blues and some greens. Same for the fresh water version with the exception of additional warm white LED.

One thing I did notice is that after posted this, I tested again about 8 hours after the 5ml does, and nitrates were back to around 5ppm which is what it was before I dosed. I doubt the few plants I have in there consumed the additional nitrate so I am leaning towards my testing kit not being properly shaken/stirred up. I will continue to monitor this and do some more testing to confirm. I was also thinking on getting a different nitrate test kit. Ive read get reviews on the Seachem, and Salifert kits.

Anyone have any experience with either of those?

Again thanks for the help
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-11-2018, 03:45 PM
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try to limit my lights to 8 hours or so
Are they not on a timer? Consistency, stability, and balance are all key to a healthy, long-lived tank.

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I am using two AI Primes, one freshwater and one made for reef aquariums. Neither light goes over 50 % intensity at its highest point.
Those are capable of A LOT of light! Good thing you have the intensity throttled

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One thing I did notice is that after posted this, I tested again about 8 hours after the 5ml does, and nitrates were back to around 5ppm which is what it was before I dosed. I doubt the few plants I have in there consumed the additional nitrate so I am leaning towards my testing kit not being properly shaken/stirred up.
The 5ml dose should have added 1.25ppm NO3. So if we forget about your test shortly after of 20ppm and just see it was 5ppm before, you add 1.25ppm so the total should be 6.25ppm (all things equal), and then you test and read 5ppm. The difference between 5ppm and 6.25ppm with the API liquid is impossible to tell, so in the end I think those two make sense.

The 20ppm test is the odd one. I've read often that timing of the test matters and it's best to let things "settle", but I'm no scientist so I don't really know what's going on.

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I will continue to monitor this and do some more testing to confirm. I was also thinking on getting a different nitrate test kit. Ive read get reviews on the Seachem, and Salifert kits.

Anyone have any experience with either of those?
I binned the API NO3 and went with the Salifet NO3. Haven't looked back since!

The one thing I will say is that I went through my first (and only so far) Salifert kit relatively quickly. I don't think the average hobbyist would notice, but I'm normally running between 5-10 tanks, so my use can be more on the higher end.

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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-11-2018, 03:54 PM
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+1 on the Salifert kit, much easier to read and distinguish the values on the comparison color sheet as opposed to the API test kit.


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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-11-2018, 05:14 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Are they not on a timer?
They are controlled via an app and you set your times through there. Originally between ramp up and ramp down and the times in between this was around 10-12 hours. I have since adjusted so that the ramp down starts earlier.

Quote:
The 20ppm test is the odd one. I've read often that timing of the test matters and it's best to let things "settle", but I'm no scientist so I don't really know what's going on.
This makes sense, perhaps I didn't give it enough time for everything to settle and I just freaked out. On my next round of testing I will dose in the morning and test after a few hours just to be on the safe side.

Thanks again for the help and suggestions, hopefully I can get this all figured out so I can get a nice looking tank like the ones I've seen on here
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-13-2018, 03:39 PM Thread Starter
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quick update

Hey guys just wanted to give a quick update. Seems like the issue was a combination of testing too soon after dosing and not shaking my test kit well enough. Yesterday morning I did another dose but this time of 10 ML which should have yield about 2.5 ppm of NO3, and let it settle until I returned back from work, I did test nitrates prior to dosing and shook the the crap out of the API nitrate test bottle # 2. That test showed I was still around the 5 ppm like previously could've been slightly higher but the difference between 5 and 10 on these tests are pretty close. When I returned back from work about 9 hours later, I did another good test and I was right around 5-10ppm. So now that that's sorted out I will be monitoring to see how my pants respond with regular consistent dosing and weekly water changes.

Thanks again for all the input.

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