I started a new 50G tank about 5 weeks ago, first real planted tank, and have been running very lean. I have been measuring 0ppm (or close to it) every early morning before dosing, and then I dose accordingly for the next day. I've found that using Seachem's products I have gotten very good algae free growth out of:
1ppm Seachem N
.30ppm Seachem P
2 ppm Seachem K
.25ppm Seachem Iron
5ml of Seachem trace or occasionally Seachem flourish
5ml Seachem Excel
12.5ml Seachem Flourish Advance
I have Seachem flourish root tabs in Seachem Flourish black sand substrate. There are two Fluval LED 3.0 lights on the tank (20" high) so a lot of light. Nominal pH 7.1, 5dKH and 12dGH.
Also have many dozens of shrimp and about 30-40 endlers (mostly fry and juvenile size).
As mentioned growth has been strong. I have to trim about every other week. I often see pearling on the plant leaves.
Now here is the rub. I have been trying to up the dosing a little as I notice most people use WAY more nutrients, just to see what I will get. Each time I try that (for example I will try to 2x everything), I am rewarded the next day with GSA on my glass and some on the hardscape. And I don't notice additional growth as a result (although to be fair that is tough to judge in a day). The algae disappears the next day when I go back to super lean dosing.
What is the purpose of megadosing (like EI)? Is it to squeeze out the maximum amount of growth possible? It's difficult to buy the "it will cause plants to outcompete algae" argument (if that is an argument for it). If there are far more nutrients in the water column than plants can use, then there is no competition for the nutrients and algae may consume as much nutrients as they want as well. Plants do not grow on aquarium glass but algae does, so there is always plenty of room for algae. In my super lean dosing regimen, I can believe that my plants are outcompeting algae for nutrients, since they use it all in a day! Now I can believe that people who successfully run an EI tank, keep it algae free through meticulous care. I know there are plenty of nice EI tanks, in fact award winning tanks (also plenty of EI tanks with algae struggles, just read the posts here ...).
If my plants are growing well and seem relatively free of deficiency, is there any reason to use bigger doses?
Any lean dosers contrarians out there?
Here's the tank after 5 weeks