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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-23-2011, 06:14 AM Thread Starter
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Educate a noob

I have a 10 gallon moderate-heavily planted tank. The light is an AH Supply 36w CFL. Substrate is Eco-complete and Sunset Gold sand. I have been dosing 1 mL of Flourish twice per week and 1.5mL of Excel daily. I had been dosing less Excel but when I developed a staghorn problem I slowly upped the dosing to its current levels and it has definitely helped to get the issue under control and besides a few remaining strands of the staghorn, my plants look good!

Okay now that you've got the details and background here's where I'm asking for a little education. I think I've got the correct concept in that the amount of light a plant receives drives its consumption of CO2, in my case, via the Excel. That in turn, drives the plant's need for the Flourish.

At my current dosing regimen my tank seems to be doing fairly well but I'm sure there's room for some fine tuning to optimize levels to more efficiently take advantage of the light the bulb is providing. How do I go about upping the dosing of Flourish and Excel safely without providing more than the plants can utilize? How will I be able to tell when I'm approaching that limit?

Finally, I see that Flourish is also offered for specific elements: N, P, K, Fe. In Flourish's guaranteed analysis, it contains all of these elements...under what circumstances would I need increase any/all the concentrations of these elements?

Thanks for your time!
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-23-2011, 04:15 PM
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Well, I think you posed some good questions and its good that you're bothering to ask.

My first question is how far your bulb is from the substrate? 36w over 10g is a decent amount of light. The amount of light actually hitting the substrate is one of those things that can be hard to gauge without actual tests.

That being said, I think you have enough light to start dosing npk and higher amts of trace elements (and co2).

As far as Flourish Comp. and Excel and upping dosage, I would recommend bringing in npk and diy co2.

The only reason I don't recommend the Flourish line is because what you are paying for is the shipping of water, not the nutrients. Its much cheaper/easier to buy dry ferts and either mix your own solution or dry dose the tank directly.

Just to give you an idea of how much more economical it is, 1 - 5ml dose of Flourish Phos. will provide .15ppm (mg/l) in 20g of water. If I want my 36g to get phos. out of that source at say .5ppm, I would have to use 5 capfuls! Thats 25ml per week just for one tank, so in 10weeks I would have used an entire 250ml bottle (about $10-12).

With dry ferts, you just mix your own to the concentration you need and dose. I can add 1tsp kh2po4 to 250ml of water and be adding a little more phos. with a 5ml dose than 25ml of Flourish Phos.

Through Green Leaf Aquariums, http://www.greenleafaquariums.com/aq...ertilizer.html, you can get 1lb of kh2po4 for $5. At 1 tsp per 250ml, I'll be covered for quite awhile.

If you decide to start measuring dosages more accurately, check out this calculator and play around with it : ) http://calc.petalphile.com/


As far as your question about limits, I would say its another thing thats hard to gauge and this is why I like using the EI method of dosing. I can dose a good amount of each nutrient and at the end of the week, reset it with a large water change.

Currently, I'm dosing about 15ppm no3, 11ppm k, and .5 p in a 29g and 36g, both with diy co2. Switching from the Flourish line has improved growth substantially. And instead of worrying about leaving stuff in the water, the wc after the week's dosing simply removes the excess and resets my nutrient levels.

If you do decide to start adding nutrients, I would definitely add a source of co2 outside the excel as well.

Also, I can safely dose Excel at 3x the recommended dosages without ill effects. Just keep in mind that doing so can get awfully expensive. P.S. you can substitute glutaraldehyde for Excel if you want to cut costs ; )
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-23-2011, 04:20 PM
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Plants use nutrients in the following order, as far as the amounts needed are concerned:
Carbon - C
Nitrogen - N
Potassium - K
Phosphorous - P
Trace elements

As you use more light, the plants need more of all of those. But Flourish doesn't have nearly enough nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous and carbon to keep up with the plants needs. It is just a trace element mix with a little NPK in it. With low light, the fish poop, leftover food, and the substrate can supply the missing NPK, but with more light, the plants need more. You have very high light, so you need to dose NPK separately, and Excel is not an adequate supply of C for the plants - you need CO2.

When the plants don't have the needed nutrients to grow as fast as the light is making them grow, they become unhealthy, the faster growing plants hog the nutrients from the slow growing plants, and the unhealthy plants are fair game for algae.

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-23-2011, 04:23 PM
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Don't forget Mg, and Ca. Plants need a bit of this, less than NPK, but more than trace elements.


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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-23-2011, 05:29 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocketdude1234 View Post
Well, I think you posed some good questions and its good that you're bothering to ask.

My first question is how far your bulb is from the substrate? 36w over 10g is a decent amount of light. The amount of light actually hitting the substrate is one of those things that can be hard to gauge without actual tests.

That being said, I think you have enough light to start dosing npk and higher amts of trace elements (and co2).

As far as Flourish Comp. and Excel and upping dosage, I would recommend bringing in npk and diy co2.

The only reason I don't recommend the Flourish line is because what you are paying for is the shipping of water, not the nutrients. Its much cheaper/easier to buy dry ferts and either mix your own solution or dry dose the tank directly.

Just to give you an idea of how much more economical it is, 1 - 5ml dose of Flourish Phos. will provide .15ppm (mg/l) in 20g of water. If I want my 36g to get phos. out of that source at say .5ppm, I would have to use 5 capfuls! Thats 25ml per week just for one tank, so in 10weeks I would have used an entire 250ml bottle (about $10-12).

With dry ferts, you just mix your own to the concentration you need and dose. I can add 1tsp kh2po4 to 250ml of water and be adding a little more phos. with a 5ml dose than 25ml of Flourish Phos.

Through Green Leaf Aquariums, http://www.greenleafaquariums.com/aq...ertilizer.html, you can get 1lb of kh2po4 for $5. At 1 tsp per 250ml, I'll be covered for quite awhile.

If you decide to start measuring dosages more accurately, check out this calculator and play around with it : ) http://calc.petalphile.com/


As far as your question about limits, I would say its another thing thats hard to gauge and this is why I like using the EI method of dosing. I can dose a good amount of each nutrient and at the end of the week, reset it with a large water change.

Currently, I'm dosing about 15ppm no3, 11ppm k, and .5 p in a 29g and 36g, both with diy co2. Switching from the Flourish line has improved growth substantially. And instead of worrying about leaving stuff in the water, the wc after the week's dosing simply removes the excess and resets my nutrient levels.

If you do decide to start adding nutrients, I would definitely add a source of co2 outside the excel as well.

Also, I can safely dose Excel at 3x the recommended dosages without ill effects. Just keep in mind that doing so can get awfully expensive. P.S. you can substitute glutaraldehyde for Excel if you want to cut costs ; )
Thanks for taking the time to respond! I am not sure of the light's distance from the substrate, I will determine this when I get home to my tank after the holiday. I appreciate your recommendations on the dry ferts, this definitely sounds like the way to go.

Can you tell me more about EI dosing, or point me towards where I can read about it? I've heard of it before but I don't know anything about it.

The 15 ppm N, 0.5 ppm P, 11 ppm K - are these the dosing levels you recommend, assuming I have DIY CO2? Or are these just the specific parameters for your own tank? I had planned on adding DIY CO2 at some point, I guess I'll just accelerate my plans for such. Since I have the Excel I plan on finishing the bottle, is it okay to continue with the Excel in addition to the DIY CO2?

Also, how do I measure the actual concentrations of elements and CO2 in the tank - is there a test kit for these parameters? I have an API test kit but it only measures pH, ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-23-2011, 05:32 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mistergreen View Post
Don't forget Mg, and Ca. Plants need a bit of this, less than NPK, but more than trace elements.
Would I achieve optimum levels by dosing more Flourish, or are there dry ferts for this that you would recommend?
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-23-2011, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Cannonbolt View Post
Can you tell me more about EI dosing, or point me towards where I can read about it? I've heard of it before but I don't know anything about it.
http://www.barrreport.com/showthread...-for-Test-Kits

Tom Barr is the originator of EI. I would recommend the above thread from the Barr Report and for you to look at some of the stickies on this board. There is a multitude of information available.

Quite simply, as Mr. Barr writes, "In a nut shell, the aquarist doses frequently to prevent anything from running out (plant deficiency) and does large weekly water changes to prevent any build up (Plant inhibition)."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cannonbolt View Post
The 15 ppm N, 0.5 ppm P, 11 ppm K - are these the dosing levels you recommend, assuming I have DIY CO2? Or are these just the specific parameters for your own tank? I had planned on adding DIY CO2 at some point, I guess I'll just accelerate my plans for such. Since I have the Excel I plan on finishing the bottle, is it okay to continue with the Excel in addition to the DIY CO2?
The thing with concentrations in a tank is that its hard for the average hobbyist to measure all the variables. I have found this dosage to work for me. Someone with the same lights but sitting 2" higher on their tank might need something different. Also keep in mind the plants that you have in your tank. Some plants are nitrate sponges and keeping to one dosing regime, you may have run out of no3 by the end of the week.

There are far too many variables to count for the average hobbyist; This is also why work from individuals like Tom Barr is invaluable to us. Many times it will come down to trial and error as far as the amounts you're dosing.

You can absolutely use Excel and co2. I will use excel occassionally on top of the diy co2.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cannonbolt View Post
Also, how do I measure the actual concentrations of elements and CO2 in the tank - is there a test kit for these parameters? I have an API test kit but it only measures pH, ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite.
If you read the link, it mentions testing. I personally don't test such parameters, but you can get testers. As far as co2, I would recommend a drop checker to keep an eye on. Personally, I watch my fish... any issues, I will oxygenate the water, if there is no problem with gasping fish, then I don't think there is an issue. As long as the plants are healthy, the fish are healthy and there is limited algal growth, I'm within a "acceptable" range of parameters for the system.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-23-2011, 11:30 PM Thread Starter
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I read Tom Barr's thread and found it very useful, explanatory, and slightly confusing at times. I've also been fooling around with the dosing calculator but I find that I'm still left with a few questions.

Tom recommends:
CO2 range 25-35ppm
NO3 range 5-30ppm
K+ range 10-30ppm
PO4 range 1.0-3.0 ppm
Fe 0.2-0.5ppm or higher (?)
GH range 3 degrees ~ 50ppm or higher

He also recommends dosing N-P-K every other day (say 4 times per week). For say NO3, if I wanted to dose 20ppm, in the middle of the recommended range, would I:
a) dose enough dry fert to achieve 5ppm four times per week for a total of 20ppm for the week?
-OR-
b) dose enough to achieve 20ppm with EACH dose (4x per week).
I'm assuming it's option 'a' but I'm still a little unclear on this.

Also, when I've been fiddling with the the calculator, in the drop down box I've selected 'The Estimative Index' and say KNO3, it automatically sets my target NO3 concentration to 6ppm which is on the lowest end of Tom's suggestions. Is this a good place to start? When would I decide to double the dose to achieve 12ppm which is still well within the range?

Tom addresses GH levels as well and I get the impression it's related to Mg and Ca, two elements someone mentioned above. What exactly is GH, what is it's relation to Mg and Ca, and why does Tom recommend a range from 3-50ppm, that seems like an extreme range.

Thanks!
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-24-2011, 02:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cannonbolt View Post
What exactly is GH, what is it's relation to Mg and Ca, and why does Tom recommend a range from 3-50ppm, that seems like an extreme range.

Thanks!
If your water naturally has high GH, this account for the Mg & Ca. If not, you'll have to add extra like MgSO4 (epson salt), and CaSO4 et al for Calcium.
There's a product called GH Booster you can get.

Mg & Ca in GH is relative.


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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-24-2011, 03:29 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mistergreen View Post
If your water naturally has high GH, this account for the Mg & Ca. If not, you'll have to add extra like MgSO4 (epson salt), and CaSO4 et al for Calcium.
There's a product called GH Booster you can get.

Mg & Ca in GH is relative.
Thanks for the reply! So would having a high GH be the same as having 'hard' water?

Regarding my above question, I'm pretty sure I've figured it out - if I want 20ppm of KNO3 in the tank, I would dose a 5ppm equivalent 4x per week.

I'm still trying to figure out the dosing calculator and the best way to make use of it...also why there is such a large acceptable range for GH.

Any replies are greatly appreciated, happy turkey day!
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-24-2011, 03:56 PM
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Just for now forget the dosing calculator and dose the amounts shown in the sticky at the top of this forum. Plants need some of all the basic elements, precise amounts aren't as crucial. If it scares you then start with half the amount or even less. My ten gallon lit with 2 compact screw in fluorescents and dosed with Excel got a pinch of N and half pinch of P and micros once a week.


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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-24-2011, 04:07 PM Thread Starter
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Just for now forget the dosing calculator and dose the amounts shown in the sticky at the top of this forum. Plants need some of all the basic elements, precise amounts aren't as crucial. If it scares you then start with half the amount or even less. My ten gallon lit with 2 compact screw in fluorescents and dosed with Excel got a pinch of N and half pinch of P and micros once a week.
Okay, thanks for the suggestion! For my Micro dosing, would an increased dose of Flourish satisfy those needs, or should I order the Plantex CSM+B when I order other dry ferts?

Same for Fe, does Flourish contain sufficient iron? What about CSM+B? With whatever I end up using to dose micros, would I still need an additional Fe supplement? Thanks again!
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