Balancing fertilizer in new Aquscape - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-16-2020, 12:38 AM Thread Starter
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Balancing fertilizer in new Aquscape

Hi guys,

I recently made some major changes to a small aquscape of mine where I'm going for a more Dutch look instead.This is a high light setup based on a par test for the nicrew bright led I use. I use a 7 hour photoperiod currently, inject co2 and dose thrive and iron. While I'll say everything is growing in, it seems to be growing slower than I expected, some rotala may grow 1-1.5in per week and even pearl weed is growing quite slow. Based on timelaspe videos it seems I should see more growth than I am.

I've been battling high nitrates in the tank (I think due to excess organics which I've now cleaned up) but now it appears to be under control (5-10ppm). Because of the high nitrate and slow growth, I was only dosing a 1/2 thrive dose per week because I'm trying to prevent algae breakouts from occurring. I figured the slow growth meant the plants weren't using much nutrients so didn't want to over fertilize. Now I'm wondering if limiting my dosing is what's caused the slow growth. I'm not seeing any obvious signs of deficiency in the growth, just slow.

So how do I know when I need to dose more for the plants, vs dose less to not overload the system and cause algae? Currently I only see a little green alage on some driftwood and otherwise just diatoms on my SR and some slower growing rotala stems.

Plants - I have 4 different rotala species, SR, anubias Nana petite, Java moss, pearl weed, hairgrass, ludwigia repens, and AR mini.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-16-2020, 01:48 PM
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I would first question lighting and CO2.

Do you know your PAR level at substrate? Are you achieving this consistently throughout the tank footprint? How about the light spread
higher up in the water column?

What substrate are you using?
Do you know your degassed pH and your pH after the CO2 has been running for a few hours?


I personally wouldn't half dose fertilizers either...
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-16-2020, 04:29 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quagulator View Post
I would first question lighting and CO2.

Do you know your PAR level at substrate? Are you achieving this consistently throughout the tank footprint? How about the light spread
higher up in the water column?

What substrate are you using?
Do you know your degassed pH and your pH after the CO2 has been running for a few hours?


I personally wouldn't half dose fertilizers either...
I myself don't have a par meter but was given this par information on my light here. https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/s....php?t=1306339

My degassed pH is 7.6 and gassed is 6.6. I also have a drop checker which I keep at lime green.

I'm using ecocomplete mixed with some sand substrate. I've gotten some conflicting information about substrate nutrient need. While I'm sure high nutrient substrate can't hurt, I believe I've been told here that the water column nutrients are typically more important unless you have a heavy root feeder species. Is that correct?
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-16-2020, 08:22 PM
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What size (dimensions) is tank?

If your only doing thrive at half strength 1x week that’s probably means your plants are running out of nutrients before next weeks dose. At least go to 2x week and work up from there.

There are all kinds of dosing/rates people use but you need to zero in your tanks needs for maintenance, water change and then through testing and especially observation gauge your tanks sweet spot and set up a consistent routine of all the above. And be patient, many of the changes you may make can take 2-3wks before you see actual improvement.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-16-2020, 08:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jah410 View Post
I've been battling high nitrates in the tank (I think due to excess organics which I've now cleaned up) but now it appears to be under control (5-10ppm). Because of the high nitrate and slow growth, I was only dosing a 1/2 thrive dose per week because I'm trying to prevent algae breakouts from occurring. I figured the slow growth meant the plants weren't using much nutrients so didn't want to over fertilize. Now I'm wondering if limiting my dosing is what's caused the slow growth. I'm not seeing any obvious signs of deficiency in the growth, just slow.

So how do I know when I need to dose more for the plants, vs dose less to not overload the system and cause algae? Currently I only see a little green alage on some driftwood and otherwise just diatoms on my SR and some slower growing rotala stems.
What was the NO3 reading when you considered it "high"?? Most with "Dutch" type tanks keep it quite a bit higher than that. Remember, the more light and more CO2 you provide the higher need for nutrients.

At 5 - 10 ppm NO3 my tank would hate me. Plants would be stalled, in poor health, and a target for algae. Strong well fed plants are easily the best defense against algae.

You also make an assumption that more ferts will cause algae. That has not been my experience, or the experience of many others in the hobby. IMO, too few ferts is much more likely to bring on algae than too many. Think providing plants all they need, not defeating algae.

As to your dosing level, I have no idea as you don't say what size your "dose" of Thrive is. And most people won't take the time to look it up and try to figure it out. You are better off starting to think in terms of ppm of NO3/PO4/K.....and micros too. It's the universal language, and will help people help you.

As to slow growth, if plants are healthy I would not be to worried about the growth rate.

Any pics of the tank? A picture is worth a thousand words and again will help others help you.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-16-2020, 09:42 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveKS View Post
What size (dimensions) is tank?

If your only doing thrive at half strength 1x week that’s probably means your plants are running out of nutrients before next weeks dose. At least go to 2x week and work up from there.

There are all kinds of dosing/rates people use but you need to zero in your tanks needs for maintenance, water change and then through testing and especially observation gauge your tanks sweet spot and set up a consistent routine of all the above. And be patient, many of the changes you may make can take 2-3wks before you see actual improvement.
It's a standard 10 gallon so 12" high. So you say they are probably running out of nutrients. How do you determine if this is the case though? What I've been looking for is signs of deficiencies which I'm not seeing, the plants are just growing slow I think.

I think I'll move up my dosing now to 2x to 3x the per week. Thrive reccomends 3x per week for high tech tanks. The reason I was dosing so low is because the plants were new so I was trying to give them a break in period. That was three weeks ago though so do you think that is enough time for them to adjust?
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-16-2020, 09:49 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jah410 View Post
I've been battling high nitrates in the tank (I think due to excess organics which I've now cleaned up) but now it appears to be under control (5-10ppm). Because of the high nitrate and slow growth, I was only dosing a 1/2 thrive dose per week because I'm trying to prevent algae breakouts from occurring. I figured the slow growth meant the plants weren't using much nutrients so didn't want to over fertilize. Now I'm wondering if limiting my dosing is what's caused the slow growth. I'm not seeing any obvious signs of deficiency in the growth, just slow.

So how do I know when I need to dose more for the plants, vs dose less to not overload the system and cause algae? Currently I only see a little green alage on some driftwood and otherwise just diatoms on my SR and some slower growing rotala stems.
What was the NO3 reading when you considered it "high"?? Most with "Dutch" type tanks keep it quite a bit higher than that. Remember, the more light and more CO2 you provide the higher need for nutrients.

At 5 - 10 ppm NO3 my tank would hate me. Plants would be stalled, in poor health, and a target for algae. Strong well fed plants are easily the best defense against algae.

You also make an assumption that more ferts will cause algae. That has not been my experience, or the experience of many others in the hobby. IMO, too few ferts is much more likely to bring on algae than too many. Think providing plants all they need, not defeating algae.

As to your dosing level, I have no idea as you don't say what size your "dose" of Thrive is. And most people won't take the time to look it up and try to figure it out. You are better off starting to think in terms of ppm of NO3/PO4/K.....and micros too. It's the universal language, and will help people help you.

As to slow growth, if plants are healthy I would not be to worried about the growth rate.

Any pics of the tank? A picture is worth a thousand words and again will help others help you.
My lights are timed to come on quite soon so I'll post a picture when they do.

From nilocg's website - For Advanced Users: 1 pump(2ml) per 10g will add ~6ppm NO3, 1.1ppm PO4, 5ppm K, and 0.25ppm Fe

So I was getting half that per week. I know it's very little.

My concern was that my nitrate spike (above 40ppm) was due to leaking root tabs. That's the only thing that made sense at the time. It may or may not have been true, but through water changes I've gotten it back down to 10ish ppm. My thought at the time was if it was the root tabs, then other nutrients would also be high in the water column (I don't have a means of testing them).

What level of nitrate do most Dutch styles utilize?

My intention is to one day lower the nitrate levels to bring out some reds. I know it's not healthy long term though.

Here's the picture, just 2 days ago I trimmed some rotala and replanted to thicken the background some.
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Last edited by Darkblade48; 05-18-2020 at 02:31 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-17-2020, 12:52 AM
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Go to rotalbutterfly and use the dosage calc.

Well assume 9gal actual water in tank. It will give you a exact breakdown of what your adding with each dose.



To reach your target of 0.2ppm Fe you will need to add 1.6 milliliter (equivalent to 1/4 tsp + 1/16 tsp ) Thrive to your 9gal aquarium to yield:
Element ppm/degree
NO3 5.3986
Po4 1.0068
K 3.8503
N 1.219
P 0.3284
Ca 0.0095
S 0.2571
Fe 0.2
Mg 0.1524
Cu 0.0001
B 0.0038
Mn 0.08
Mo 0.0003
Zn 0.0018
Dose these levels 2-4 times a week for EI. Classic EI depends on good CO2, good circulation, and regular water changes. Light past moderation is not so important.

If you look at graph at bottom of page once you fill in data youll see this dose is at lower end of accepted EI dosing. But its also gives you latitude to go up in dosing as well it also accounts for nutrient accumulation throughout the week. At end of week you do your 50% water change to reset levels to baseline. Your tank by pics and freshly mowed Id say 2x week will get you going but as plant mass increases plan to go to 3-4x a week dosing.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-17-2020, 01:11 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the help! So why did you use iron as the main criteria for the calculation?
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-17-2020, 02:37 AM
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Thanks for the help! So why did you use iron as the main criteria for the calculation?

Because iron is toxic at high doses and you will over dose iron before anything else.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-17-2020, 06:03 AM
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Yep thats criteria most all in one ferts are dosed on, dose it to target and all the other compounds should be at proper ratios.

Go to same dosing calc and pick Seachem Fluorish Comprehensive. It will hit iron target at same ppm but youll notice it has almost no NPK. Seachem sells those as separate solutions.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-17-2020, 11:43 AM
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I'm using ecocomplete mixed with some sand substrate. I've gotten some conflicting information about substrate nutrient need. While I'm sure high nutrient substrate can't hurt, I believe I've been told here that the water column nutrients are typically more important unless you have a heavy root feeder species. Is that correct?
I wouldn't worry about substrate dosing. Eco or any other inert substrate will grow plants just fine. With that being said an active substrate can and will allow you to be more forgiving with water column dosing and can give a boost to a new setup and make some species more robust, but inert will grow plants just fine. Even the so-called heavy root feeders like swords, crypts, etc do great.

As mentioned its more important that the ferts are in there, then the exact dosing numbers. Every tank is going to be different anyway, so if your dosing by gallons it's going to change day to day anyway based on plant mass, uptake, maintenance, etc. That's why it's an estimative index. Every tank has excess and there's no reason to believe that this excess causes algae. If it did every EI tank would have algae problems.
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