When to test water - tank and tap - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-14-2005, 08:06 AM Thread Starter
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When to test water - tank and tap

Hi All

First, thanks for being so helpful this path month. I've been a chatty kathy on here lately -- haha -- but your answers have been very beneficial.

Per forum recommendations, I'm about to start using some of Greg Watson's ferts (who was great to order from by the way, generous, fast, and very helpful). I will be using Chuck's online caculator, a Lamotte Nitrate 3110 kit and a Red Sea Phosphate kit.

After a 25-30% weekly water change this weekend, I plan to do my first ferts. My questions are:

1) After doing the forementioned water change, do I wait a certain amount of time before testing the nitrate and phosphate levels of the tank? I thought I read something somewhere about waiting to test tap water (see question #2) and didn't know if this applied to testing the tank, too, since I'm filling it with said tap.

2) When determining how much nitrate and phosphate to add to a mixed solution, how many of you test your tap water first to see how much nitrate & phosphate is in the tap water itself? If so, do you take some water from the tap, let it stand for an hour or more, then test the water in the glass? In other words, does the chemistry change or stabilize over time in standing water? AND, if you get a nitrate and/or phosphate reading from your tap water, do you subtract that amount from the total dry nitrate & phosphate you yourself will be adding to the solution? Or, do you not even bother taking into account the inherent chemistry of the tap?

3) Lastly, I heard it is best to keep the nitrate/phosphate of one's tank in a 10:1 ratio. Can someone give a quickie example of this with some numbers for this challenged fellow?

Rock (and plant) on!

Last edited by motifone; 01-14-2005 at 08:06 AM. Reason: title fix
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-14-2005, 02:43 PM
 
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You'll want to test your tap water so that you have a baseline to work from. I would let it sit for 24 hours or less if you shake it occasionally to remove gas concentrations. Learn as as much as you can about you're tap water, things like Gh,Kh,Ph,Nitrate,Ammonia,and phosphate are all useful info.

OK, 10-1 ratio, refers to 10 parts nitrate to 1 part phosphate. Generally accepted parameters would be 10ppm nitrate to 1ppm phosphate. If you want a little less ferts you could do 5ppm nitrate to .5ppm phosphate. Some public water supplys have nitrate or phosphate or both present out of the tap. Thats why you'll want to know your tap water parameters so that you can adjust your ferts accorgingly.
IME tap water varies very little. The only time I've seen variations is when the seasons change. Growing season can produce runoff which gets into the public water system, lawn fertilizers are usually the #1 offender. So, as you see people fertilizing there lawns, theres a good chance it'll end up in your tap water. I hope I answered your questions!

Marcel
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-14-2005, 05:04 PM
 
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I suggest teasting the tank water before a water change. Then figure what the numbers are after the water change, then add in whever more you need.

Say the tank is at 5ppm nitrates, you do a 50% WC so you have half the nitrates left when you add tap water, assuming no nitrates in the tap water -- you do need to know those tap parameters. So after refill the tank is at 2.5ppm, so you add enough to get back to your target level.

Now, in the beginning, you may test a lot, before the water change, after the water change, after the ferts are added, just to be sure of your calculations. But after doing that once or twice, so you can believe the test kit and your interpretation of this color or that, and so you believe the recipe you made for the dosing, after that you don't need to keep it up, one test before the water change will do.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-14-2005, 05:17 PM
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Regarding 2) above, this came up not too long ago. Most seem to feel that it was better to use distilled water (or RO if you have it) for premixed ferts, just to help guarantee you know what is it in. Also, with a 50g tank, you will likely be adding around .25-.5 tsp to your tank, so you can dose this dry. With the phospate, you'll likely prefer the premix.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-14-2005, 07:36 PM Thread Starter
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Interesting comments. I think I am getting the idea of it. I just have to do it and take a stab at it.

I might try the distilled water experiment just to get me started off right. I'll consider that.

BSS

Yes, I do have a 50g and that brings up two more questions:

1) My tank is 36x15x20. Now, I've read there are 231 cubic inches in a gallon. So, to figure out the actual gallon count of my tank the formula would be :

Length x width x height, divided by 231 = gallons of tank.

So, technically, my tank has a capacity of 47 gallons of actual water. Maybe another gallon less capacity with the four bags of Flourite used, but that gallon lost is probably gained by the gallon of water (more or less) filling up the Eheim 2126, tubes and CO2 reactor. So, let's say it's 47 gallons. Would this be the number I would use when making my fert determinations.

2) My second question is about dosing "dry". For this tank, from Greg Watson, I bought:

KNO3 (for nitrate)
KH2PO4 (for phosphate)
K2SO4 (for any potassium not provided by KNO3 and KH2PO4)


So, BSS, are you saying because I'll probably only need small amounts of the ferts for my 50g, which of the three would you think I'll be dosing dry? KNO3 and K2SO4? By "dry", do I just take the measured dry fert and toss it in the tank? Or throw it in a cup of unmeasured water, stir it up & dissolve it, and then dump in the tank?

And with phosphate, I guess you are saying premix a bigger solution to have on hand.

thanks! this should help me this weekend.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-14-2005, 07:49 PM
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I actually keep a log of the parameters of all my tanks. That way, I have a good idea of how long it takes for, say, the nitrate to zero out after dosing it. Also, it helps to see which tanks have high phosphate levels and which ones are near zero and how long it takes before they start rising (if at all). As for the testing, I test my phosphates right before cycling so that I see how high they got before I cycled. I usually test nitrates right before cycling and about midway to my next cycle, just to make sure they don't zero out.
-Aphyosemion

Two 1 GA desktops, a 5 gallon, a 2.5 gallon, a 10 gallon, a 20 gallon, a 25 gallon, and two 75 gallon tanks, all planted.
I am an expert on algae, so ask me if you have questions. I know how to grow it, just not how to get rid of it.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-15-2005, 07:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motifone

2) My second question is about dosing "dry". For this tank, from Greg Watson, I bought:

KNO3 (for nitrate)
KH2PO4 (for phosphate)
K2SO4 (for any potassium not provided by KNO3 and KH2PO4)


So, BSS, are you saying because I'll probably only need small amounts of the ferts for my 50g, which of the three would you think I'll be dosing dry? KNO3 and K2SO4? By "dry", do I just take the measured dry fert and toss it in the tank? Or throw it in a cup of unmeasured water, stir it up & dissolve it, and then dump in the tank?

And with phosphate, I guess you are saying premix a bigger solution to have on hand.

thanks! this should help me this weekend.
You sound like you're off to a great start. Bravo! I may be able to answer these questions for you. I have just dry dosed the ferts you refer to in my 55 gallon tank for months now, no problems; however, if you prefer you can mix it in some water and then pour it in the tank (same thing). Dose everything, but the phosphate dry. I think it may be too concentrated to dose dry, unless you have super small measuring spoons, but then you may run into accuracy problems- Just dilute it in a solution and then dose that. Use a fert calculator for that and you'll be set. O yeah and you may not even need the K2S04-well maybe very little. Shoot for around 10 to 20ppm of K. Some will argue that too much will block calcium uptake so something to keep in mind when dosing K. Sometimes more isn't always better.

Definitely do those water tests. No guessing around until you "learn your tank", and for your own good get in the habit of documenting your results. I can't tell you how useful that has been for me. Also if you really have any questions about your tap water you can always get a comprehensive water report from the local water dept. I will break everything down for your piece of mind.

I didn't see a mention of trace ferts. Don't forget those! That unfortunately is not an exact science (you can't test for it) so it's more trial and error.

Jeff
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-16-2005, 02:53 AM Thread Starter
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Jeff

Thank you

I'm diving into it tonight and this weekend and will take your advice to heart. I have a little journal am I keeping to keep a record of the dosings.

For Micros, I have Seachem Flourish and Flourish Iron. I bought those before I learned of Greg Watson, and will use the Flourish to dose micros for now. Once I run out I will try the Plantex CSM +B I bought from Greg for micros.

I'll let you know how it goes!
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-16-2005, 04:36 AM
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Cool. You'll have to post some pics up when all up and running. I've always used the Flourish and Flourish iron with good results. You can get a 2L bottle of Flourish for about $24 that is a little more reasonable, but the Greg watson stuff is probably the most economical.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-18-2005, 06:15 AM Thread Starter
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Doing my tank tomorrow when I put the lights back on. Don't know if it matters, but figure plants can start using what I put in when lights are on

One follow up question:

How long after dosing my 50g aquarium with, let's say nitrates, should I expect to see a reading on my test kit? 10 minutes? Hour? I'm using a Lamotte 3110 kit. Just want to get a feeling how the ferts will register on the tests.

If I dose in the morning and don't "test" for it until 8 hours later until I come home from work, I fear the results might not be accurate as the plants may have already absorbed some of the ferts over the course of the day.

thoughts?
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-18-2005, 06:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motifone
Doing my tank tomorrow when I put the lights back on. Don't know if it matters, but figure plants can start using what I put in when lights are on

One follow up question:

How long after dosing my 50g aquarium with, let's say nitrates, should I expect to see a reading on my test kit? 10 minutes? Hour? I'm using a Lamotte 3110 kit. Just want to get a feeling how the ferts will register on the tests.

If I dose in the morning and don't "test" for it until 8 hours later until I come home from work, I fear the results might not be accurate as the plants may have already absorbed some of the ferts over the course of the day.

thoughts?

Oooo... Lamotte those are nice kits. I'm jealous. I think that you would see results almost immediately, but accurate ones.... not really. I like to give it 24 hrs, but that's just me. Sometimes I cheat and wait 6 hours, but don't tell anybody LOL. Any concern of plants taking up enough nitrates in 8 or even 24 hours to skew your nitrate test results are nil IMO. In the beginning take notes of how much you dose and your test results. Continue to test maybe every few days to get a feel of uptake rate. Maybe will have to add more midweek? It really depends on a lot of factor. Fish load, plant uptake.... As time goes on you should see a trend and then you can back off on your tests except for just to do a random "check up" just to make sure. This is at least how it worked out for me.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-19-2005, 03:51 AM
 
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right away

If you have dosed some ferts, you ought to be able to retest and see that right away. If you wait hours then the plants will have consumed some of it.
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