EI doesn't work and is killing my plants - Page 5 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #61 of 268 (permalink) Old 06-12-2019, 09:37 PM
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Originally Posted by cl3537 View Post
Without a doubt but this is plantedtank.net .

I mainly read the dosing thread, tank journals, and requests for advice threads. I beleive I am an outlier because the most active and vocal posters here are predominantly displaying dutch style tanks or just blindly using or preaching EI in all cases and giving advice based on their experiences with THEIR tanks, without proper balance given to the contrast between their tank and the one they are trying to help.

It may be they do not realize that leaner would work better or they do have as Dennis put it 'EI Nutrient Tunnel Vision'.



Should a top Aquascaper and teacher in this hobby consider himself and his methods as an outlier?

No. I don't think so, this place needs to feature more scapes that run on leaner ferts to demonstrate that it is also a viable method and educate more on the proper selection and starting point which in the vast majority of cases should have been leaner in the first place. Leaner ferts, less light, and slower and more controlled growth initially with a slow ramp up with increasing plant mass.



In this thread and in others this phrase bears repeating until it trickles down so that the general advice from the average regular poster here is more balanced.
Yes, this is planted tank.net and I have plants in all four of my low-tech tanks. Its not "high-tech" planted tank .net. I think that is what you are conflating. Some sort of hierarchy among these two methods that shouldn't be there.



The "most active and vocal" posters are within your vision of importance. Not mine. I experience this site much different than you do.

I see no outliers here- thats the point. If you are experiencing this designation or seeing it in any one else's methods it is because you are identifying with that particular method and feeling others are discounting this method. A self-identifying move- not an imposed one. Dont worry what others are doing or posting. Start conveying your own message and methods and worrying less what others are saying.
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post #62 of 268 (permalink) Old 06-12-2019, 10:21 PM
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I see no outliers here- thats the point.
I didn't post that paragraph to start a philosophical debate. I don't consider outlier as a perjorative term it is just a comparative descriptor and I beleive accurate.

Outlier - a person or thing differing from all other members of a particular group or set

I rarely see anyone on TPT, who is focussed on plants, injects CO2 and displays a wide variety of healthy plants that doses anywhere close to as lean as I am.

Up until last week I was dosing this in my new scape. (I increased it by 33% as a test this week but it wasn't because there were any deficiencies)

Total Weekly Dosing (50% water changes once per week)
N 1.416
P 0.106
Mg 0.412
K 1.088
S 0.962
Fe 0.073
Mn 0.041
B 0.004
Cu 0.006
Mo 0.002
Zn 0.002
Cl 0.528

I beleive I am an outlier here amongst the 'High Tech' plant focussed crowd, but my dosing is comparable with how lean Filipe Oliveira doses(he may be even more lean) and many people I speak to offline and on Facebook.

Granted my plant selection plays a big part in this. Hygrophila Pinnatafida is probably the most demanding plant I have in this scape filled with epiphytes(Buces(Wavy Green and Red, Anubias Nana Petite) Crypt Parva, Spiky Moss, and low demand 'weed' stems (P. Erectus R. Rotundifolia) along with easy foreground plants (S. Repens, R. Inundatis, Eleocharis Mini) and one relatively easy red stem in Ludwigia Palustris.

Last edited by cl3537; 06-12-2019 at 10:35 PM. Reason: ...
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post #63 of 268 (permalink) Old 06-12-2019, 10:35 PM Thread Starter
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Just an fyi, Here is my tank before I ripped out the plants in the back due to stunting/holes/dying (right after the daily 1/8 tsp of K). I kept the light and ferts where they were and my initial pics is what happened: https://gfycat.com/remorsefulhorribledesertpupfish . I ripped them out because the plants were growing extremely slow and dying from the bottom up. This is the problem I've yet to understand or solve from my main post, even after everyone's help.

Anyways, thanks for the posts. I DO understand the light vs co2 vs ferts thing. I bought a book called Sunked Gardens that explained it. Three months into my tank, my plants were stalling so I read the EI method and thought "ok, these people have success and I know I need more ferts because my plants are suffering even though I have adequate light and co2". However, I think EI, with what the current plant mass was, ruined my plants. Otherwise it was potentially my insanely high calcium.

Either way, I now realize I don't need a ton of ferts. Plants won't die when the nitrate isnt sitting at 20ppm, but it can die if it's way too high.

Now that I'm comfortable with my understanding of all of the parameters, my plan is to reset with water changes, lower the light time to 4 hours a day and replant. Basically reset. I'll be keeping co2 where it is as well because I havent read that it will make a negative difference.

If I run I to the same problems of old leaves dying, expect another thread. I simply cannot remember what exactly my maintenance or ferts were at after my initial stunting three months in. My hope is that I missed something obvious then.

Last edited by Ddrizzle; 06-13-2019 at 02:41 AM. Reason: reasons
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post #64 of 268 (permalink) Old 06-12-2019, 10:47 PM
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Now that I'm comfortable with my understanding of all of the parameters, my plan is to reset with water changes, lower the light time to 4 hours a day and replant. Basically reset. I'll be keeping co2 where it is as well because I havent read that it will make a negative difference.

If I run I to the same problems of old leaves dying, expect another thread. I simply cannot remember what exactly my maintenance or ferts were at after my initial stunting three months in. My hope is that I missed something obvious then.
Sounds like a decent plan. If you could get your hands on a PAR meter(Seneye?) I would want to check PAR in the corners and at the back of your tank just to be sure you really do have 60 par at substrate as you beleive from extrapolation.

If you can keep up with water changes 2X per week that will help you keep Calcium levels in check (just in case that is a problem). While not definitive or conclusive look what excess Calcium could inhibit (K, Fe, Mg, P, Mn, Zn, B).

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post #65 of 268 (permalink) Old 06-12-2019, 10:52 PM
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Okay- not pejorative- but, "set apart". Does this positioning of yourself as an "outlier" indicate you are in a position of neutrality? I wonder...
So, philosophy is not your thing.
From what I gather, this is most important to you :


"... this place needs to feature more scapes that run on leaner ferts to demonstrate that it is also a viable method and educate more on the proper selection and starting point which in the vast majority of cases should have been leaner in the first place. Leaner ferts, less light, and slower and more controlled growth initially with a slow ramp up with increasing plant mass."

Education. I think this is important myself. Thats why I spend a lot of time-daily- helping others, answering questions on fish health, husbandry, illnesses...

Seems far more productive- being that you value the education of others in broader terms than what ( you feel) is being offered currently- to help beginners get off on the right foot. Be an alternate voice in the community by helping those that need your help.

Believe me- I have some alternative views that are not part of the consensus- given opportunity I express them. When beginners ask a direct question in relation to these views- I give them my take. Inevitably, the detractors then give theirs- but, I can at least give that beginner something to weigh when they are first making important choices. This is where your knowledge can make a difference.
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post #66 of 268 (permalink) Old 06-12-2019, 10:56 PM
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I don't know if my plants are always all healthy but I dose pretty lean, I just don't talk about that very much... I barely participate at all in fert discussions. It's not even consistent between my own tanks every one is an ongoing experiment of sorts, but 1/3 EI (is this really a standard unit heh) is about as high as any of my tanks get.
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post #67 of 268 (permalink) Old 06-12-2019, 11:00 PM
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OP;

The other unlikely, but possible scenario is that you hit a bad batch of aquasoil. Recent batches have been more inconsistent - enough that I stopped using ADA soil myself.
If plants are rotting at the roots even as the tips are growing well, this may be it.
Easy way to test this is have a cup of another substrate in the same tank and see how plants grow in it.

Bump: OP;

The other unlikely, but possible scenario is that you hit a bad batch of aquasoil. Recent batches have been more inconsistent - enough that I stopped using ADA soil myself.
If plants are rotting at the roots even as the tips are growing well, this may be it.
Easy way to test this is have a cup of another substrate in the same tank and see how plants grow in it.

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post #68 of 268 (permalink) Old 06-12-2019, 11:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Ddrizzle View Post
Just an fyi, Here is my tank before I ripped out the plants in the back due to stunting/holes/dying. I kept the light and ferts where they were and my I itial pics is what happened: https://gfycat.com/remorsefulhorribledesertpupfish
Didn't realize there was another DesertPupfish out there. Sorry if I inadvertently plagiarized your handle.

If it's any consolation, the tank in your vid looks way better than mine does right now.....
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post #69 of 268 (permalink) Old 06-12-2019, 11:05 PM
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Just an fyi, Here is my tank before I ripped out the plants in the back due to stunting/holes/dying. I kept the light and ferts where they were and my I itial pics is what happened: https://gfycat.com/remorsefulhorribledesertpupfish . I ripped them out because the plants were growing extremely slow and dying from the bottom up. This is the problem I've yet to understand or solve from my main post, even after everyone's help.

Anyways, thanks for the posts. I DO understand the light vs co2 vs ferts thing. I bought a book called Sunked Gardens that explained it. Three months into my tank, my plants were stalling so I read the EI method and thought "ok, these people have success and I know I need more ferts because my plants are suffering even though I have adequate light and co2". However, I think EI, with what the current plant mass was, ruined my plants. Otherwise it was potentially my insanely high calcium.

Either way, I now realize I don't need a ton of ferts. Plants won't die when the nitrate isnt sitting at 20ppm, but it can die if it's way too high.

Now that I'm comfortable with my understanding of all of the parameters, my plan is to reset with water changes, lower the light time to 4 hours a day and replant. Basically reset. I'll be keeping co2 where it is as well because I havent read that it will make a negative difference.

If I run I to the same problems of old leaves dying, expect another thread. I simply cannot remember what exactly my maintenance or ferts were at after my initial stunting three months in. My hope is that I missed something obvious then.
I'm glad you're not throwing your hands up in the air and running away. Lots of people do.

As far as plants rotting from the bottom up, I don't have a explanation for that, but since your tank is relatively new in terms of 'tank age', tanks need time to develop what is called a microbial bed. I don't explain this well, so I'm not going to try. Instead I'll let Dave from ADU explain it as he's a science guy.



Also keep in mind that plants have a adjustment period when they go from the tank you purchased them from to yours. Plants are going to melt, develop holes and shed leaves until they adapt to your water parameters. Not all plants are going to like your tank; this is okay. It is perfectly normal and doesn't mean you've failed somehow.

EDIT: I missed Dennis' post. If it is a bad batch of AS, watch the video when you have time. The more you know, the better.
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Last edited by Smooch; 06-12-2019 at 11:10 PM. Reason: Added more
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post #70 of 268 (permalink) Old 06-12-2019, 11:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Ddrizzle View Post

Now that I'm comfortable with my understanding of all of the parameters, my plan is to reset with water changes, lower the light time to 4 hours a day and replant. Basically reset. I'll be keeping co2 where it is as well because I havent read that it will make a negative difference.

If I run I to the same problems of old leaves dying, expect another thread. I simply cannot remember what exactly my maintenance or ferts were at after my initial stunting three months in. My hope is that I missed something obvious then.
Sounds like something to go forward with.

Just remember like @Seattle_Aquarist always says, look for new plant growth and how well they stay healthy. Changes take a couple weeks sometimes to show themselves. They ARE plants. Speed is relative

I would also not take co2 for granted -- all the way from the cylinder to the plant. Injection, reaction, diffusion, flow, absorption. I would inspect and reinspect the entire process. There's just so many places to go wrong here. Unlike ferts, short of gassing fish, I dont recall anyone ever arguing about too much co2. So, if you think you have enough, you probably dont have enough. and as always if you're going to make co2 changes, watch your fish. That change can show itself real quick.
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post #71 of 268 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 12:15 AM
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Just an fyi, Here is my tank before I ripped out the plants in the back due to stunting/holes/dying. I kept the light and ferts where they were and my I itial pics is what happened: https://gfycat.com/remorsefulhorribledesertpupfish .
One more thing I noticed:

The large primary Seiryu stone breaking the water surface does concern me a little bit, and how it might be blocking flow, would you consider lowering the substrate below it so that you have at least a couple inches of water above it to the surface? That would dramatically increase natural flow and may help with CO2 and fert circulation. It looks like you put a powerhead behind it which is a good idea but I would be more comfortable if it was a little lower considering the algae problems you are having.
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post #72 of 268 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 12:16 AM
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Granted my plant selection plays a big part in this. Hygrophila Pinnatafida is probably the most demanding plant I have in this scape filled with epiphytes(Buces(Wavy Green and Red, Anubias Nana Petite) Crypt Parva, Spiky Moss, and low demand 'weed' stems (P. Erectus R. Rotundifolia) along with easy foreground plants (S. Repens, R. Inundatis, Eleocharis Mini) and one relatively easy red stem in Ludwigia Palustris.
This is an important point.

Similar to my tank when it was low tech. Needed very, very little to no ferts.

IMO, species of plants and overall goals need to be considered from the beginning.


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post #73 of 268 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 12:54 AM
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Education. I think this is important myself. Thats why I spend a lot of time-daily- helping others, answering questions on fish health, husbandry, illnesses...
I may regret replying to the thread that will never end.

@Discusluv good point made on the "Education" front.
When searching the web one must also have the ability to determine fact from fiction.
Everything on the web is of course absolutely the truth!

To add to this, in a planted tank world "Experience" is also key.
So many species of plants are available these days.
Last time I checked there are no courses on trimming and propagation of aquatic plants.

This journey takes time, I'm 5 years in on heavily planted tanks.
Some days I feel like I've only grazed the surface.


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Growing is not that difficult.
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post #74 of 268 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 01:13 AM
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Just an fyi, Here is my tank before I ripped out the plants in the back due to stunting/holes/dying. I kept the light and ferts where they were and my I itial pics is what happened: https://gfycat.com/remorsefulhorribledesertpupfish . I ripped them out because the plants were growing extremely slow and dying from the bottom up. This is the problem I've yet to understand or solve from my main post, even after everyone's help.

Anyways, thanks for the posts. I DO understand the light vs co2 vs ferts thing. I bought a book called Sunked Gardens that explained it. Three months into my tank, my plants were stalling so I read the EI method and thought "ok, these people have success and I know I need more ferts because my plants are suffering even though I have adequate light and co2". However, I think EI, with what the current plant mass was, ruined my plants. Otherwise it was potentially my insanely high calcium.

Either way, I now realize I don't need a ton of ferts. Plants won't die when the nitrate isnt sitting at 20ppm, but it can die if it's way too high.

Now that I'm comfortable with my understanding of all of the parameters, my plan is to reset with water changes, lower the light time to 4 hours a day and replant. Basically reset. I'll be keeping co2 where it is as well because I havent read that it will make a negative difference.

If I run I to the same problems of old leaves dying, expect another thread. I simply cannot remember what exactly my maintenance or ferts were at after my initial stunting three months in. My hope is that I missed something obvious then.
I'm curious, I know you believe the calcium is coming from the stone, but could the calcium be coming from your tap?

I ask because if you hop on youtube and look at a ton of aquascapes from members such as George Farmer and others they use Seiryu stone in quite a few scapes. Their tanks at least through recordings look fine and the leached calcium doesn't seem to have much of an impact on the system.
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post #75 of 268 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 01:19 AM
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I may regret replying to the thread that will never end.

@Discusluv good point made on the "Education" front.
When searching the web one must also have the ability to determine fact from fiction.
Everything on the web is of course absolutely the truth!

To add to this, in a planted tank world "Experience" is also key.
So many species of plants are available these days.
Last time I checked there are no courses on trimming and propagation of aquatic plants.

This journey takes time, I'm 5 years in on heavily planted tanks.
Some days I feel like I've only grazed the surface.





That old saying...


The wisdom paradox:
The more you learn, the more you are exposed to what you dont know.

180 g. low tech w/ wild South American cichlids, corydoras eques, and African Congo riverine tetras.
60 g. low tech w/ F1 Alenquer pair /Stendker "Tefe" discus and wild Altum Angels
30 g. low tech w/ Wild Tucano tetras
30 g. low-tech African Biotope
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