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post #16 of 51 (permalink) Old 03-01-2020, 07:35 PM
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This just goes to prove the point that every tank if different, and the key is learning what that specific tanks likes. General guidelines can get us close, but we each much learn to read our tanks to get them where we are satisfied!
If I don't know what the specific level's are how would I know what my specific tank likes? The cause and effect. How can you learn if you don't know what the given conditions are for the effect observed?

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Gotcha. I kept my tank at 20-30ppm for months. Checked it everyday. Had algae like crazy.

Second tank I kept my tank at 20-30ppm for months. No algae.
So, what did you learn then?
I learned that detritus and tank cleanliness/water changes matter more than I thought, and that I cant just blast my lights at 100% for 6 hours+ straight. I've never gone above 100% light for over 3 hours since and my tank has been a pleasure to look at and clean since.

The ultimate thing I learned is that 30ppm nitrate isnt going to cause an algae outbreak, but high ferts all around with excess light will.

I don't want to push you away from measuring every day. I did that for months, but I like my current setup now with my lifestyle. I will always take more real, scientific data though. I suppose I would have never learned what I did without measuring.
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post #17 of 51 (permalink) Old 03-01-2020, 08:15 PM
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Hey Lou I have to ask.

If you had a meter that would provide an absolute reading of NO3 & PO4, how would you use that information?

And I get the wanting to understand water chemistry.....but I am curious what you are hoping to gain in relation to defeating algae?


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post #18 of 51 (permalink) Old 03-02-2020, 10:35 AM Thread Starter
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Ok, are you good with Excel spreadsheets? if so, a little math fun...
Bear in mind that;
the column "tank" represents the ppm of "whatever" in your 1 unit of tank water.
the column "Dist" represents the dilution ratio. In cell B6 it says 10. What that really means is 9 parts distilled water to 1 part tank water.
the column 10x Mag is basically saying you are looking thru the side of the cup and comparing to the supplied chart.
the column Cup is what your mixture looks like on the supplied chart.

So, if you REALLY want to play around with mixtures, you "should" be able to tell what the tank water is with a 1ppm accuracy.

Again, it's not really necessary to get that close, but you "could"

Yes, 9:1; water to tank sample, not 10:1. I got that. Thanks again. It works very well. Much more accurate. As it turns out I was low on my NO3 and using the low range test confirmed that. I would have never known using Saliferts high range method.
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post #19 of 51 (permalink) Old 03-02-2020, 12:36 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Greggz View Post
Hey Lou I have to ask.

If you had a meter that would provide an absolute reading of NO3 & PO4, how would you use that information?

And I get the wanting to understand water chemistry.....but I am curious what you are hoping to gain in relation to defeating algae?
Hello Greg,

Simply put, it makes me feel better knowing what is actually happening in my tank and the error /resolution of these cheaper test kits that are available does not make this possible to the degree of accuracy I would like.
I compared my ATI PO4 test kit against my Hanna photometer (left over from the reef tank days) and could see how inaccurate trying to read / interpret the colors were using the ATI ! I was way high on my PO4 level using the ATI.

The Salifert NO3 wasn't giving me the accuracy I wanted until I diluted the solution 9:1 in order to use the lower range high resolution technique that test provides though, it's still hard to determine a 5 ppm change especially at the higher levels required in planted tanks.

Given that; micros, light, CO2, K, GH and KH are at what seems to be standard levels (given what I derived from being on this website for a year) then the only other controllable nutrients I can add to my tank is NO3 and PO4.

From what I understand these are the only other two main nutrients that effect plant growth and subsequently algae growth. So why wouldn't I want to know, in an accurate way, what they actually are?

I want to be able to dose NO3 and measure the amount of NO3 that the plants takes out so I can measure and determine the uptake rate. The affordable color based test kits that I have been using aren't accurate enough to make this possible. This ppm change is in the "noise".

Once I know the uptake rate I would be able to dose the tank accordingly. I like to be scientific (accurate) about my tank chemistry. I want to know what my PO4 and NO3 levels actually are and dialed in the way I think they are (it's a control thing).

It seems that lot of people are happy with just calculating the dose adding it to the water and calling it a day. But how do they know with high accuracy what the plant uptake is? I want to know what the rate that NO3 and PO4 is taken up after dosing.

For example if I increase my PAR level over the tank I can actually measure what the increase in NO3 and PO4 uptake is and adjust my dosing thus, preventing an algae outbreak down the road from depleted nutrient levels. Don't we want to know and measure with high accuracy what are PAR level is?
It's just a personal preference. It provides me with more information. It provides me with more control over what's happening.

I guess working in a lab environment all my life has contributed to my "type A" approach to my new hobby. I get all twitchy when I can't measure stuff :-).

It makes me feel better to have a much more accurate way of knowing what's going on. To me it adds to the fun factor and in turn adds to my enjoyment of my system.
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post #20 of 51 (permalink) Old 03-02-2020, 01:36 PM
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May i ask the current Salifert NO3 test kit is for fresh water also? i dont see it lable on the box for fresh. I even called a reef store and asked them if the test kit is for fresh water and they said it is for salt water.

Can you advise what Salifert NO3 model you are using? and Hannah NO3 kit is for fresh water also?

Thanks
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post #21 of 51 (permalink) Old 03-02-2020, 02:55 PM Thread Starter
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May i ask the current Salifert NO3 test kit is for fresh water also? i dont see it lable on the box for fresh. I even called a reef store and asked them if the test kit is for fresh water and they said it is for salt water.

Can you advise what Salifert NO3 model you are using? and Hannah NO3 kit is for fresh water also?

Thanks
Some of the salifert test kits can work for both salt and fresh. I use the "NO3 Profi test kit". It can be used for fresh and saltwater.


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post #22 of 51 (permalink) Old 03-02-2020, 03:06 PM
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From what I understand these are the only other two main nutrients that effect plant growth and subsequently algae growth.
Lou I get everything you are saying.

In my tank, it seems my plants do best at about 30 ppm NO3 in the water column. Over the years I have done a lot of testing and have come up with this......................



I can't say for sure it's accurate, but it's a general enough assumption to help guide me with dosing and better understand what is happening in my tank. I can test my NO3 pretty much any day of the week, and it will read right around 30 ppm. If it doesn't, something has changed or is off....which actually happened just not too long ago. Then it's recalculating to get it back on track.

The reason I asked is I was wondering if you were hoping to defeat algae by limiting nutrients. Glad to see you singled out plant growth first in your comment above. That really is the point of the exercise to me. Happy healthy growing plants are easily the best defense against algae.

And as a side note, we should all take light (PAR/Duration), CO2 (consistent relative pH drop), and maintenance just as seriously. It all adds up.

I look forward to seeing what you come up from your analysis. I know it's geeking out a bit, but I find it does help and can shed light on what is happening in your tank.
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post #23 of 51 (permalink) Old 03-02-2020, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Liquidgarden View Post
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Originally Posted by Greggz View Post
Hey Lou I have to ask.

If you had a meter that would provide an absolute reading of NO3 & PO4, how would you use that information?

And I get the wanting to understand water chemistry.....but I am curious what you are hoping to gain in relation to defeating algae?
Hello Greg,

Simply put, it makes me feel better knowing what is actually happening in my tank and the error /resolution of these cheaper test kits that are available does not make this possible to the degree of accuracy I would like.
I compared my ATI PO4 test kit against my Hanna photometer (left over from the reef tank days) and could see how inaccurate trying to read / interpret the colors were using the ATI ! I was way high on my PO4 level using the ATI.

The Salifert NO3 wasn't giving me the accuracy I wanted until I diluted the solution 9:1 in order to use the lower range high resolution technique that test provides though, it's still hard to determine a 5 ppm change especially at the higher levels required in planted tanks.

Given that; micros, light, CO2, K, GH and KH are at what seems to be standard levels (given what I derived from being on this website for a year) then the only other controllable nutrients I can add to my tank is NO3 and PO4.

From what I understand these are the only other two main nutrients that effect plant growth and subsequently algae growth. So why wouldn't I want to know, in an accurate way, what they actually are?

I want to be able to dose NO3 and measure the amount of NO3 that the plants takes out so I can measure and determine the uptake rate. The affordable color based test kits that I have been using aren't accurate enough to make this possible. This ppm change is in the "noise".

Once I know the uptake rate I would be able to dose the tank accordingly. I like to be scientific (accurate) about my tank chemistry. I want to know what my PO4 and NO3 levels actually are and dialed in the way I think they are (it's a control thing).

It seems that lot of people are happy with just calculating the dose adding it to the water and calling it a day. But how do they know with high accuracy what the plant uptake is? I want to know what the rate that NO3 and PO4 is taken up after dosing.

For example if I increase my PAR level over the tank I can actually measure what the increase in NO3 and PO4 uptake is and adjust my dosing thus, preventing an algae outbreak down the road from depleted nutrient levels. Don't we want to know and measure with high accuracy what are PAR level is?
It's just a personal preference. It provides me with more information. It provides me with more control over what's happening.

I guess working in a lab environment all my life has contributed to my "type A" approach to my new hobby. I get all twitchy when I can't measure stuff 🙂.

It makes me feel better to have a much more accurate way of knowing what's going on. To me it adds to the fun factor and in turn adds to my enjoyment of my system.
You want to know what plant uptake is? You can only do that with inorganic/inert substrate FYI. Organic substrate soaks everything up and it's a pain to do that. Hence measuring what goes in instead.

And no, exact par doesnt really matter either. I have one of the expensive sensors and barely use it. What matters is that everything is in balance with each other. You'll know by how your tank reacts.

Now again, if you could measure everything to the T and come up with QUESTIONS you want to ANSWER with data, you have me sold. I dont see that yet. One of the other problems is that measuring potassium with the current kit sucks and isnt very accurate, and how are you going to measure stuff like sulfate or forms of NPK that arent measured by the typical kits?
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post #24 of 51 (permalink) Old 03-02-2020, 05:16 PM
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And no, exact par doesnt really matter either. I have one of the expensive sensors and barely use it.
Maybe exact PAR doesn't matter, but knowing your general range sure does.

Light is the engine that drives the tank. Too much or too little can induce all kinds of symptoms.

In a high tech tank with lots of stems, too little light can lead to poor plant growth and lack of color (light deprivation). Too much can lead to algae. It pays to know where the sweet spot is.

In my tank, about 125 PAR seems about right. And that's living on the edge, trying to bring out crisp colors and provide better color separation between species. I could go down to 90 and things would be easier, but color would not be peak. If I took that down to 50 PAR, many of my stems would start melting and wilting away, and most of the plants would be green.

If I change out a couple of bulbs for more powerful ones and raise that to 150+ PAR.......well I can assure you all heck can break loose. And fast.

I know because I have experimented with each one of these scenarios many times over the years. Heck, sometimes just dialing in a ramp up/ramp down of light can be enough to keep algae in check.

IMO, light is like every other aspect of a planted tank. It pays to get it right, and even small adjustments can have a noticeable effect.
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post #25 of 51 (permalink) Old 03-02-2020, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Ddrizzle View Post
And no, exact par doesnt really matter either. I have one of the expensive sensors and barely use it.
Maybe exact PAR doesn't matter, but knowing your general range sure does.

Light is the engine that drives the tank. Too much or too little can induce all kinds of symptoms.

In a high tech tank with lots of stems, too little light can lead to poor plant growth and lack of color (light deprivation). Too much can lead to algae. It pays to know where the sweet spot is.

In my tank, about 125 PAR seems about right. And that's living on the edge, trying to bring out crisp colors and provide better color separation between species. I could go down to 90 and things would be easier, but color would not be peak. If I took that down to 50 PAR, many of my stems would start melting and wilting away, and most of the plants would be green.

If I change out a couple of bulbs for more powerful ones and raise that to 150+ PAR.......well I can assure you all heck can break loose. And fast.

I know because I have experimented with each one of these scenarios many times over the years. Heck, sometimes just dialing in a ramp up/ramp down of light can be enough to keep algae in check.

IMO, light is like every other aspect of a planted tank. It pays to get it right, and even small adjustments can have a noticeable effect.
Yeah I'm not trying to argue that. I will argue that the difference between 60 and 100 par isnt that crazy and either will grow almost all plants I've run across.

Now if there are balance issues, then you'll want to adjust.
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post #26 of 51 (permalink) Old 03-02-2020, 06:16 PM
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Yeah I'm not trying to argue that. I will argue that the difference between 60 and 100 par isnt that crazy and either will grow almost all plants I've run across.
IME, there's a massive difference between 60 and 100 PAR. It's actually a good example of what I was talking about.

It's the difference between a beginner just learning how to grow easy plants and keep them alive/healthy, and someone more advanced growing more difficult flowery stems and trying to bring them to peak health and color.

And I'm not implying one is better than the other. You can create a beautiful tank with each. But as someone who has run tanks at 60 PAR and 100 PAR IME you are dealing with a different animal once you hit 100 PAR or more.
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post #27 of 51 (permalink) Old 03-02-2020, 10:29 PM
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Simply put, it makes me feel better knowing what is actually happening in my tank and the error /resolution of these cheaper test kits that are available does not make this possible to the degree of accuracy I would like.

I want to be able to dose NO3 and measure the amount of NO3 that the plants takes out so I can measure and determine the uptake rate.

Once I know the uptake rate I would be able to dose the tank accordingly. I like to be scientific (accurate) about my tank chemistry. I want to know what my PO4 and NO3 levels actually are and dialed in the way I think they are (it's a control thing).
Generally, like you, I do enjoy reaching for an acceptable trade-off between accuracy and ease. I modify nearly all of my tests to improve accuracy Öexcept for NO3 (I use the Salifert kit).

I decided to accept the Salifert NO3 readings as they are (which are far better than API results). The reason, in my mind, is that no matter how good we think the NO3 readings or uptake are, we are only measuring a part of the nitrogen component. Remember that plants prefer ammonia/ammonium to NO3 and they do grab it constantly. So, how do we know what NO3 changes really mean? How much of the changes are simply variances in NH3/NH4 production and consumption, let alone BB impact upon the nitrogen stream?

These days, I donít add any NO3, as I dose only urea. So long as I see 5-10ppm NO3, Iím comfortable that it is proof that - at least - Iím not bottoming out anywhere in the nitrogen stream.

I also agree with @Greggz that knowing oneís PAR is far more important that getting to pinpoint accuracy in nutrient measurement. I also noticed a big difference moving from 60 PAR (and high PUR) at the substrate to 120 PAR. Although Iím curious (without trying to find it) what your photoperiod for the 125 PAR level is @Greggz.
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post #28 of 51 (permalink) Old 03-02-2020, 10:46 PM
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I also agree with @Greggz that knowing oneís PAR is far more important that getting to pinpoint accuracy in nutrient measurement. I also noticed a big difference moving from 60 PAR (and high PUR) at the substrate to 120 PAR. Although Iím curious (without trying to find it) what your photoperiod for the 125 PAR level is @Greggz.
It's been 8 hours of 125 PAR for quite some time now.

For me, right at the upper range as to what my tank can withstand. Any much higher, and algae appears.

And not really sure what I would gain, so don't experiment with it too much.

I find when I'm up near the upper limits, the tank has better separation of colors. At the risk of starting another controversy......here is a pic!

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post #29 of 51 (permalink) Old 03-02-2020, 11:40 PM
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I figure now is the time to point out how much plant mass and fast vs slow growers matters.

I was so confused why I couldn't have my lights at 100% for 12 hours like some people do. You need a TON of your tank's space occupied by fast growing plants to do that. This wasnt really mentioned in any of the popular books on the subject either.

I'd be much more curious about a scientific experiment where you have the same ferts and light dumped into tanks with varying levels of plants.
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post #30 of 51 (permalink) Old 03-04-2020, 10:41 PM
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I was just thinking the same thing last night. The difference between 10 and 20 ppm isn't distinguishable....what's with that? At 20 ppm I have to start worrying about the snails who don't like over 20 ppm, so a differentiation in those colors would be really helpful.
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