EI doesn't work and is killing my plants - Page 9 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #121 of 271 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 05:01 AM
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Hi @Ddrizzle,

Osmocote Plus is time released based upon temperature, the higher the temperature the more nutrients that are released; at 70 degrees it supposedly lasts 5-6 months in soil, at 80 degrees then 4-5 months. However that is in soil, not water. To my mind the best way to monitor how long it remains effective would be plant growth, when it tapers off it needs to be replenished. In the low tech, low light, high CEC tank I inserted six (6) Osmocote Plus 00 gel capsules. When growth slows I will add more capsules, again pushing them down all the way to the bottom of the tank.

I have also been monitoring for ammonia since over 50% of the available nitrogen in Osmocote Plus is in the form or ammonia. The ammonia level was 1.0 ppm for the first week or so however it dropped down to 0.25 ppm a few weeks ago. I will re-test ammonia levels tomorrow.
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post #122 of 271 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 05:03 AM
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It also seems to show that high kh with EI is a disaster waiting to happen. However, my kh is low... my gh was 16 though.
I understand the demarcation for high KH is around 5; my water is 8dGH and 6.7 dKH. Is cutting tapwater with RO/DI water the only option for reducing the KH?

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post #123 of 271 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 05:25 AM Thread Starter
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I understand the demarcation for high KH is around 5; my water is 8dGH and 6.7 dKH. Is cutting tapwater with RO/DI water the only option for reducing the KH?

I think there are slow ways to do it but I'm not experienced here. I use RO water.

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Hi @Ddrizzle,

Osmocote Plus is time released based upon temperature, the higher the temperature the more nutrients that are released; at 70 degrees it supposedly lasts 5-6 months in soil, at 80 degrees then 4-5 months. However that is in soil, not water. To my mind the best way to monitor how long it remains effective would be plant growth, when it tapers off it needs to be replenished. In the low tech, low light, high CEC tank I inserted six (6) Osmocote Plus 00 gel capsules. When growth slows I will add more capsules, again pushing them down all the way to the bottom of the tank.

I have also been monitoring for ammonia since over 50% of the available nitrogen in Osmocote Plus is in the form or ammonia. The ammonia level was 1.0 ppm for the first week or so however it dropped down to 0.25 ppm a few weeks ago. I will re-test ammonia levels tomorrow.
So I guess my question is for the experienced players here: is this a new or novel idea, or has it been a thing? How were people surviving before aquasoil and osmocote? Solely off of dosing the water column?
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post #124 of 271 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 05:37 AM
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Hi @Rainer,

Yes, diluting the tap water with RO water will lower the dKH. In the video Vin Kutty also suggested carefully using Muriatic Acid (which is dilute hydrochloric acid but still very strong acid). I used Muriatic Acid on the Low Tech, Low Light, High CEC tank to lower the dKH. If using Muriatic Acid it is important to be safe - read up on proper handling of Muriatic Acid. Some of the key some safety tips: wear eye protection, wear rubber gloves, always add acid to water - never add water to acid, use in a well ventilated area, do not add Muriatic Acid directly into a tank that contains livestock, dilute it with water first then add the diluted mixture to an aquarium. Adding Muriatic Acid to a tank drastically lower the pH which can kill fish, shrimp, and plants. If the dKH is very high then lower the dKH over gradually over several days or weeks. Adding one part of Muriatic Acid to 11,000 parts of water will lower alkalinity by 2.8 dKH. Adding Muriatic Acid to the tank changes the CaCO3 (calcium carbonate) in CaCl2 (calcium chloride) with by-products of H2O (water) and CO2 (carbon dioxide). By changing calcium carbonate into calcium chloride the reduction in carbonates lowers the dKH.
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post #125 of 271 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 06:25 AM
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Hi @Rainer,

Yes, diluting the tap water with RO water will lower the dKH. In the video Vin Kutty also suggested carefully using Muriatic Acid (which is dilute hydrochloric acid but still very strong acid). I used Muriatic Acid on the Low Tech, Low Light, High CEC tank to lower the dKH. If using Muriatic Acid it is important to be safe - read up on proper handling of Muriatic Acid. Some of the key some safety tips: wear eye protection, wear rubber gloves, always add acid to water - never add water to acid, use in a well ventilated area, do not add Muriatic Acid directly into a tank that contains livestock, dilute it with water first then add the diluted mixture to an aquarium. Adding Muriatic Acid to a tank drastically lower the pH which can kill fish, shrimp, and plants. If the dKH is very high then lower the dKH over gradually over several days or weeks. Adding one part of Muriatic Acid to 11,000 parts of water will lower alkalinity by 2.8 dKH. Adding Muriatic Acid to the tank changes the CaCO3 (calcium carbonate) in CaCl2 (calcium chloride) with by-products of H2O (water) and CO2 (carbon dioxide). By changing calcium carbonate into calcium chloride the reduction in carbonates lowers the dKH.
WHAT???

1) Wear gloves
2) Use eye goggles
3) Mix a solution

I can get behind using fertz and playing with a tank's chemistry, but this definitely seems a bit extreme.
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post #126 of 271 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 07:56 AM
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I think the moral of this story and much of other stories. All tank should be treated as an individual. Really depends on individual goals. Different situations have different needs. Low light less demanding plants shouldn't follow high par hungry plants fertalization regiments. High light, high demanding plants wont do well in lean fert low light tanks. 1 thing we all have in common is consistent co2 and good tank maintenance.


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post #127 of 271 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 08:45 AM
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So I guess my question is for the experienced players here: is this a new or novel idea, or has it been a thing? How were people surviving before aquasoil and osmocote? Solely off of dosing the water column?
Yes it was all based on using a substrate media that had good CEC binding properties and doing dosing in water column which by way of circulation/micro currents gets pushed into substrate where the negatively charged soil or substrate grab onto positive charged nutrient ions and hold them there for the roots to uptake.



It’s basically how all soil works, terrestrial or aquatic. Seattle aquarists safeTsorb substrate he used in his demo/test bed tank has a very high CEC binding property, but has absolutely zero organic matter.

Without that binding action the Osmocote would have very little for its nutrients to bind to and hold it there for plant roots uptake, most of it would end up flushed back in into water column. The roots as far as I know can’t extract fert from osmo pellets directly.

Even inert subtrate like blast sand can build up their CEC properties over time by the build of mulm (organic matter) in between grains or you can add a slight bit of coco peat with it as you build substrate to give a bit of a jump start. True soils and peats usually have highest CEC properties then you get to hardened clays like safeTsorb/kitty litter. Then slightly lower on CEC capacity scale you’ll find stuff like Flourite etc.
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post #128 of 271 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Seattle_Aquarist View Post
Hi @Rainer,

Yes, diluting the tap water with RO water will lower the dKH. In the video Vin Kutty also suggested carefully using Muriatic Acid (which is dilute hydrochloric acid but still very strong acid). I used Muriatic Acid on the Low Tech, Low Light, High CEC tank to lower the dKH. If using Muriatic Acid it is important to be safe - read up on proper handling of Muriatic Acid. Some of the key some safety tips: wear eye protection, wear rubber gloves, always add acid to water - never add water to acid, use in a well ventilated area, do not add Muriatic Acid directly into a tank that contains livestock, dilute it with water first then add the diluted mixture to an aquarium. Adding Muriatic Acid to a tank drastically lower the pH which can kill fish, shrimp, and plants. If the dKH is very high then lower the dKH over gradually over several days or weeks. Adding one part of Muriatic Acid to 11,000 parts of water will lower alkalinity by 2.8 dKH. Adding Muriatic Acid to the tank changes the CaCO3 (calcium carbonate) in CaCl2 (calcium chloride) with by-products of H2O (water) and CO2 (carbon dioxide). By changing calcium carbonate into calcium chloride the reduction in carbonates lowers the dKH.
I donít math good. , how much acid per 10 gallons? I would like to experiment with this. Thanks.
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post #129 of 271 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 11:33 AM
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So I guess my question is for the experienced players here: is this a new or novel idea, or has it been a thing? How were people surviving before aquasoil and osmocote? Solely off of dosing the water column?
As mentioned in the thread over at Barr Report, lean water column dosing does still happen while using this method depending on the plants that are being kept. Rhizome plants such as anubias, bolbitis, java ferns, ect... still need to be fed. They will naturally grow roots into the substrate themselves, but if the rhizome is buried, it will rot and the plant will die.

This is what people need to keep in mind when using this method. Not all plants are stems and or rosettes. I didn't read the entire thread, but culture tissue plants unless dry started would also need to be fed as they don't have much in terms of roots when they come out of their plastic cups. If a person has a couple of inches of substrate, it's going to take a minute for said plants to grow roots that will reach down to where the Osmocote is which means there is going to be plant melting and tank maintenance to keep the organics in the water column under control.

I'm not knocking the idea as I use root tabs myself (not Osmocote) but there are things that need to be taken into consideration before somebody decides to load up their tank with Osmocote. There has been more than one person that has turned their tank into a total algae farm because they thought is they just used Osmocote they wouldn't have to do anything other than feed their fish for a few months.
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post #130 of 271 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 12:31 PM
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I don’t math good. , how much acid per 10 gallons? I would like to experiment with this. Thanks.
I have been doing the Muratic acid thing for several months now. There is a thread on here documenting it as well.
To answer your question, 3ml added to 20 gallons will drop the dKH about 1 degree (other variables at play, but this is close).
For me, a nice plastic syringe works great for adding the acid to water. If you have the ability to test the dKH of your water, try doing some experimenting. The Acid is very cheap and water is even cheaper
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post #131 of 271 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle_Aquarist View Post
Hi @Rainer,

Yes, diluting the tap water with RO water will lower the dKH. In the video Vin Kutty also suggested carefully using Muriatic Acid (which is dilute hydrochloric acid but still very strong acid). I used Muriatic Acid on the Low Tech, Low Light, High CEC tank to lower the dKH. If using Muriatic Acid it is important to be safe - read up on proper handling of Muriatic Acid. Some of the key some safety tips: wear eye protection, wear rubber gloves, always add acid to water - never add water to acid, use in a well ventilated area, do not add Muriatic Acid directly into a tank that contains livestock, dilute it with water first then add the diluted mixture to an aquarium. Adding Muriatic Acid to a tank drastically lower the pH which can kill fish, shrimp, and plants. If the dKH is very high then lower the dKH over gradually over several days or weeks. Adding one part of Muriatic Acid to 11,000 parts of water will lower alkalinity by 2.8 dKH. Adding Muriatic Acid to the tank changes the CaCO3 (calcium carbonate) in CaCl2 (calcium chloride) with by-products of H2O (water) and CO2 (carbon dioxide). By changing calcium carbonate into calcium chloride the reduction in carbonates lowers the dKH.
Thanks for the detailed explanation, Roy - much appreciated. I have a few follow up questions:
- Is there a list somewhere of plants that fare well enough in EI + high KH?
- To lower KH by 2.8, how much is pH lowered?

I'm planning to set up a new 120g with 40g sump. Assuming we're still going with 50% WC weekly and using a water changer connected to the nearest sink, what would be the best way to dose the acid without damaging anything?

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post #132 of 271 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 04:13 PM
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I think the moral of this story and much of other stories. All tank should be treated as an individual. Really depends on individual goals. Different situations have different needs. Low light less demanding plants shouldn't follow high par hungry plants fertalization regiments. High light, high demanding plants wont do well in lean fert low light tanks. 1 thing we all have in common is consistent co2 and good tank maintenance.
Exactly, well put!
A careful selection and plant plan for a scape from the beginning prevents problems later.

If you have all low demand plants than you can use lean water column ferts and don't even have to bother with root fertilization, I don't.

If you plan on having a mix of high and low, getting the balance is tricky and you might benefit from a rich substrate or selective root tabs, water chemistry becomes a factor (hard or soft, low kh, high kh), and achieving this balance comes with other caveats and keeping the tank cleaner could be more difficult.

The pro and competition aquascapers know their plants, their needs, and how to balance the tank. They typically use a limited number of species well known to them where the growth behaviour and needs are predictable and work well with one another.

Light control becomes key throughout the stages of growth of the tank especially during early stages and one must be careful not to overdo it.


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post #133 of 271 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 04:27 PM
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Hi All,

@DaveKS provided an excellent summary of how the CEC of a substrate helps plants absorb nutrients into the root zone. I do disagree with the comment about the CEC levels of calcined clay products however. Calcined clay substrates (such as Profile (Soilmaster Select), Turface, and Safe-t-sorb) have a CEC level comparable to and even greater than most soils. There was an excellent article in Planted Aquaria Magazine Summer 2000 issue (hi-res .pdf - takes a while to load) pages 17-23 of which was the magazine that preceded the current AGA magazine The Aquatic Gardener. The article was done by a TPT member.

There is also an excellent discussion thread about CEC here on TPT.

Nutrient Levels and CEC Levels of Various Substrates (re-printed from Planted Aquaria Magazine - Summer, 2000


Note that #1, #15, and #20 are various soils with CEC readings of 16 - 24. Turface (#16), Soilmaster Select (Profile)(#8), and other clay based substrates have CEC readings in the 29-33 range.

How important is CEC? I've seen beautiful planted tanks using inert substrates and water column dosing. Conversely I have seen equally beautiful tanks using high CEC substrates and minimal water column dosing. One of the inferences from Vin Kutty's presentation was almost all of the more successful tanks seem to have lower alkalinity (dKH) as a common factor in their success. Is this true? I don't know, that is why I am doing the experiment in my 10 gallon tank. However based upon the growth changes in my Pogostemon erectus over the last 5 weeks changing from a 6.0 dKH tank to a 1.0-2.0 dKH (and minimal water column dosing) something has obviously improved.

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post #134 of 271 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 04:34 PM
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Thanks for the detailed explanation, Roy - much appreciated. I have a few follow up questions:
- Is there a list somewhere of plants that fare well enough in EI + high KH?
- To lower KH by 2.8, how much is pH lowered?

I'm planning to set up a new 120g with 40g sump. Assuming we're still going with 50% WC weekly and using a water changer connected to the nearest sink, what would be the best way to dose the acid without damaging anything?
Rainer, I don't know that this site will help you completely with your first question, but I have found it pretty handy at times with regards to what likely "won't" grow in high KH water.
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post #135 of 271 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 05:05 PM
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The pro and competition aquascapers know their plants, their needs, and how to balance the tank. They typically use a limited number of species well known to them where the growth behaviour and needs are predictable and work well with one another.
One of your better statements!
This takes time to build experience with so many available species and growing conditions.


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Growing is not that difficult.
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