Mixing EI Solutions - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-14-2020, 11:29 PM Thread Starter
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Mixing EI Solutions

I'm trying to get started with EI dosing... This is my guide: https://www.nilocg.com/dosing-information/ (along with this forum ). I'm using the table for a 55G and want to premix the solutions in to a pump bottle. That's about all I know for sure.

I'm confused about a few things:

1) since I dose macros and micros on alternate days, do I mix all the macros into 1 bottle? Spoiler, I did my first mix into 1 bottle - but obviously did not get all 500ml of water into the bottle - I added ferts then water to the bottle and they did not all dissolve yet. So in this bottle I added KNO3, KH2PO4, K2SO4 and am using distilled water.

Or, should I have added all 3 of those to their own bottle (or the first 2 in one and K2SO4 in the other)?

The CSM+B seems to have mixed fine - and that's the only thing in that bottle.

2) How much do I dose from each bottle on it's day? The way I read the table is that I would dose 15ml of each bottle on the day it's due. That seems like a lot... I understand the target concentration levels they have listed (ppm), but not how to translate the solution I mix, into a PPM for the tank. I.e. how many PPM does 1ml of that solution contain?

Trying another way - looking at the nilocg page - and taking the table for KNO3 as an example, if I want 1/2 tsp per dose and then mix that into 500ml, then and the dose is 15ml, then I would have 32 doses in a 500ml. But doing that same math for KH2PO4, I get 36 doses and 42 for K2SO4. So I'm missing something.

Any pointers?

Thanks,
Brian
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-15-2020, 04:07 PM
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I assume you're following the '15mL Per 55 Gallons' section?

1) You should measure the fertilizers out, then top up water to the 500 mL mark. This will mean that you will likely add less than 500 mL of water, since the fertilizers will displace some water.

If you are following the amounts of fertilizer to add above, they may not necessarily dissolve into 500 mL of water; you are trying to dissolve quite a bit (too concentrated a solution). You will likely have to create a slightly more dilute solution, and then dose more volume to get the same equivalent dose.

You can mix all three macronutrients into one bottle, or have them separated; that's up to you. Of course, mixing them all together in one bottle is more convenient, but you will have to ensure that they can all dissolve.


2) 15 mL into a 55 gallon aquarium is not that much. It all depends on the stock solution strength. If you make a very dilute solution, you might end up having to dose (say) 50 mL.

To figure out how much PPM you have in your stock solution, you can calculate using molarity and molar mass. Alternatively, for any particular chemical species, if you know how much a known concentration will increase a known volume of water by, you can figure it out by using a dilution formula (m1v1 = m2v2).

For your example, the number of doses will be different for each chemical, because different amounts are added into 500 mL. However, if you work out the math properly, you can ensure that 15 mL of a mixed solution will still raise all chemical species by the desired amount

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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-16-2020, 03:35 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks @Darkblade48 - everything made sense to me until the dilution formula :p...

Does this make sense (I'm using made up numbers for simple math)?

If my daily dose of dry ferts is 1/2 tsp... and I put 20 tsps into a bottle. I would want to dose 1/40th of that solution per day?

B-
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-16-2020, 05:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bjm051593 View Post
If my daily dose of dry ferts is 1/2 tsp... and I put 20 tsps into a bottle. I would want to dose 1/40th of that solution per day?

B-
Yes, this would be correct. Do ensure that you can actually dissolve 20 teaspoons into whatever volume of water you plan to use, however.



You may find out that you need to settle for dosing more volume, as you will reach a point of saturation at some point

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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-16-2020, 10:01 PM
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Their instructions should mix up fine. Are you mistakenly using tablespoons instead of teaspoons? NPK in one 500ml bottle, micros in another 500ml bottle.
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-17-2020, 06:59 PM Thread Starter
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@DaveKS - in the macros bottle I have - KNO3, KH2PO4, K2SO4 and am using distilled water. There is still a bit that did not dissolve, I'm wondering if the K2SO4 was too much?
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-17-2020, 07:14 PM
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have you used the rotala butterfly dosing tool? it will tell you if you won't be able to dissolve x amount of salt in y volume of water.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-24-2020, 03:37 AM Thread Starter
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Heh.... I've seen that but never knew what it meant. I think I do now, thx...
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-24-2020, 06:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bjm051593 View Post
Heh.... I've seen that but never knew what it meant. I think I do now, thx...
It takes some math. And itís quite possible that NilocG instructions donít allow for total solubility in a solution at room temp for extra K.

Going back to your other post on deficiency and type of plants youíve got you might not even really need extra K above what KNO3 and KH2PO4 provide, those 2 together hit the basic EI dosing rate of 5.23ppm of K.

When you figure on rotalabutterfly for KNO3 this is result you get which is exactly inline with what NilocG states, 84+gm. Note that this amount KNO3 is hitting N target but also adding 4.73ppm of K as well.



Now do same thing shown above but use KH2PO4 and youíll see it hits you P target and adds another 1.31ppm of K. Those 2 compounds combined hits basic lowest level of K that tank could possibly need, 5.3ppm. I myself would rather have K Sulfate and not need it or very little of it than not have it.

In your deficiency thread we talk about your apparent Mg deficiency. Did you get some Epsom salt (Mg Sufate) to deal with that? Might be that all you need to do is add some of Mg Sulfate and some of K Sulfate you just got to change water to give a little Mg and K boost each week, you can also take those 2 compounds in their own 1L bottle, mix them up and add a nice splash of it in change water and another splash midweek. I myself think youíll be AOK adding about 3 part Mg and 1 part K to change water and call it good. The amounts are not as important as maintaining ratios in your water and observing/knowing the symptoms of K or Mg deficiency and taking proper steps once you observe them. Remember Mg will show up on your GH test kit, thatís all it measures, Ca/Mg levels, a TDS meter will show accumulation of all dissolved elements in water.

If you look on that NilocG page there is a list of target ranges that your supposed to hit for EI dosing, you can easily use those to mix up a solution that fits your tanks needs. Those ppm listed are the bottom of EI dosing range, the dosing for nitrates can be anywhere from 7.5ppm to at least 2x higher if not more depending on your tanks uptake rate. There is no black or white in dosing, only grey, dependent on type of plants you have and amount of light and co2 your giving them, but for the most part the ratios of those dozen+ elements plants need donít fluctuate to much.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-24-2020, 04:30 PM
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And don't obsess too much on getting it exactly right.
First step of Estimative Index, is that it is an estimate! So do give some thought to the balance between getting pretty close and enjoying the hobby versus getting the exact amount for an estimate? Your tank, plants, fish and water combo is different than other tanks and we are starting with an estimate of what a "normal" tank with "normal" lighting, fish plants, etc. will like best.
I stopped trying to figure out what normal was!
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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-30-2020, 08:02 PM Thread Starter
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@DaveKS - thanks - I think I'm making steps forward (in understanding this)...

The calc tells me how to mix the solution so I can get a specific PPM (7.5 of NO3 in this case). Then it also tells me how much K (and N) I get from that in PPM. But how do I find out how much K (for example) I need overall? Ack - that you're saying that I will likely have enough without K2SO4 (now what do I do with the K2SO4 I bought ) just want to see if I can follow this all the way through.

The one thing I don't understand is the graph at the bottom Rotola cald... why is there such a huge range of PPM for EI in the graph when above it tells me exactly what I need?



re: the other thread, I did add some Mg/Epsom salt and some K2SO4 while I was waiting to figure out the EI stuff - and it did seem to help, I saw less detioration in the anubis but the java fern didn't seem to change much... I also had an anubis bloom, not great, but still...

And then I also decided I wanted to do a reset on some of the plants I had in the tank. I had a few fast growing plants and that seem to be non-stop trimming and perhaps causing some of the imbalance, so I removed those and hopefully just have things that grow at a similar pace. I know that might be a shock to the tank but new ferts and new plants all at once will ideally be a faster way to what @PlantedRich is hinting at.

So now I'm just doing the macros/micros (no more extra Mg), and will probably post another pic in a few weeks here. I'm trying to figure out the dose that I can use with a every other week WC, and seeing some GDA on the glass so far. I also noticed less pearling in the plants since the reset and new ferts - not sure why.

@PlantedRich - yes I laughed out loud when I read this:

>>> So do give some thought to the balance between getting pretty close and enjoying the hobby...

I seemed to keep crossing line after line... first live plants then ferts then CO2 then DYI ferts. I keep thinking there is a point here where I'll have this figured out and then on cruise control, so yes that's the goal. Hopefully you can share from experience that it's attainable in some fashion
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 07-01-2020, 02:26 AM
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Yes, I found it was attainable but at some expense to my self image! I got close to what I wanted for a number of years and then as it became more work, I thought to let it slide to the point that was also not fun. I wobbled left, wobbled right, sold it all and got a motorhome!
BAH! Now I'm caught again as it is not safe nor logical to go out running around the country, so we go thirty miles out to a local lake and set watching the sunset! I can keep my habits fed to a certain level just running through the woods collecting a few bits and pieces of wood to turn on the local market as it feels right, or it can all set out beside the house until the mood strikes which is NOT what I want to do with a tank to maintain!
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 07-01-2020, 09:28 PM
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Go back to that NilocG page and note section about target concentration levels for EI dosing.

That graph at bottom shows how broad the EI dosing range actually is, some people with good light and co2 and dense plantings of super needy plants will use higher amounts. Until you cross past that higher end of EI dosing range you won’t experience nutrient toxicity as long as your keeping ratios up.

The amounts listed on that NilocG page are the lowest amounts that will put you in EI dosing range, you’ll need to dose those amounts 2-4x a week. Your tank and plant choices probably won’t need much more than basic low end EI dosing and adding some Mg and maybe extra K on water change. Monitor your nitrate and phosphate and under EI style dosing you should see those levels slightly rising throughout the week and then you change water to flush excess accumulations from tank and reset levels. If you see levels dropping you need to dose more, you can either increase amount your dosing or increase number of times you dose per week. The only unknown is usually change water source chemistry variables, fish load/maintenance/cleaning routines, plant types and planting density.
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 07-25-2020, 09:48 PM Thread Starter
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@DaveKS / @PlantedRich - thanks for hanging with me here... The latest.

Ok, I'm about a month into my attempt at EI dosing... Attached are some recent pics to see what's happening (it's not improving :p). Here's what I think are the relevant bits - note that I'm trying to be more scientific and less ad hoc.

  1. to level set, I removed the fast growing plants from the tank (I was trimming them a lot, weekly and they just took over the tank)
  2. I mixed my first round of solutions based on the nilocg page using the 55G table. I have a 65G tank (w/ CO2) and dose at 12ml with a WC every 2 weeks (not every week)
  3. the micros solution I mixed has accumulated some "solids" in the bottle, looks a bit like algae but it's floating in the solution - not sure how to describe it, but it was a transparent brownish-green when first mixed, but now has this stuff floating in it
  4. BBA has started to take hold again, I had this largely under control before switching to EI and you can see from the pics it's getting worse
  5. pearling - the plants don't pearl anymore, they used to but not for a few weeks. The BBA pearls just fine :p
  6. leaves (on the anubis) are still showing dark green spots, amazon sword leaves are melting
  7. reminder that in my first round of mixing I did add the extra K2SO4 (so this may be one thing to change)

I'm ready to dump my solutions that I mixed (macros because of K2SO4 and micros because of the stuff growing in it), but wanted to get some advice before mixing the next round... Here's what I'm thinking from reading the thread and observing:
  • remix the macros and don't add the K2SO4 this time...
  • put together another solution with Mg and K2SO4 (or not), use this only at WC time (or once/week) - though not sure how much Mg and K2SO4 I should add to this solution and how much to dose
  • rotala is telling me I need 0.2ppm of Fe, but NicolG says I should be shooting for a concentration of 0.5ppm for EI - any idea why those are different?

Please help :p
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 07-26-2020, 03:57 AM
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I'm not one to figure the amounts too closely as my first thought is that the number comes from an estimate of what a "normal" tank may need, so an estimate is not something to try to get exact.
So the difference in Rotala and Colin's advise may appear to be "off" but they are both an estimate, so that leaves both to be right potentially, but also open to change if we see something that says more or less might work better.
Part of the whole has to involve what we each have in our water and that will vary. One of my big ger problems was that it seemed no matter what amount of nitrate I added or tested, it looked like I needed more as my plants were not green. So there are times when having the nutrient there and the plant being able to use it are two different things. I had the nitrate in the tank but I have extreme Ca which was not allowing the plants to use it until I added more MG and iron!
And that whole idea has lead me to do ferts a bit different than some as I don't want to mix a whole jug of ferts, only to find I want to change up the amounts in a few weeks. Also I find the ferts store better when dry! I stay flexible by just having a base idea of how much of what to add on the days I do mine, then if I find things are changing, I may bump one single item up a small amount or totally drop one.
There is no magic formula to meet every tank and some of mine required more and some none, so my small amounts often were just as seemingly random as adding a pinch on alternating days, etc.
One point that some mention is getting it all "dialed in", like they finally find the perfect answers and can go with that for the end of that tank. I find that there are always changes in anything that grows as fast as out tank plants. If it is not some plant dying, it is one growing too fast and shading the small ones.
Check with any farmer and you will find it is a constant struggle to try to figure out how many ferts and what type to use on each field.
So I don't work for perfect, just settle for fun and enjoyable!
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