PMDD / EI System Evaluation - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 101 (permalink) Old 03-24-2005, 09:41 PM Thread Starter
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PMDD / EI System Evaluation

OK then, I've finally decided to quit jerking around and get serious about implementing the EI system of dosing. I think this is the perfect time because I tear down all my tanks in one week and move them to the new house. I've been dinking around with Flourish products, but I haven't been dosing an macros, just Flourish Flourish Trace and Flourish Iron. Those are now relegated to the pond when I get it up and running. Don't get me wrong, I love Flourish, I've had good sucess with them, but I'm looking for a whole new approach here.

I just got done ordering the gammut of products from Greg Watson, I ordered CSM +B plus Plus Extra Iron - $8.59 a pound, KH2PO4 - $3.42 a pound, K2SO4 - $2.17 a pound, KNO3 - $2.17 a pound, and MGSO4 - $0.85 a pound.

First off, I have to say that Watsons prices are absolutely the lowest I've seen for "PMDD" products anywhere. The complete system of components works out to $1.07 per ounce, dirt cheap, especially considering the next lowest price I've seen comes to over $3.00 an ounce. Come on people, these are chemicals, there's no voodo, no ones KN03 is any better than anyone elses KN03.

Secondly, I have to mention Greg Watson himself. He spent a great deal of time with me on the phone helping me with my decisions and even pointed out that I could use my existing supply of Flourish instead of the CSM +B, but quite frankly, I want to start fresh as I want to be able to give the PMDD system a complete workout, plus his service is outstanding, and he's very active in the aquatic gardening hobby and provides his products as a means to support it first and foremost. That speaks volumes in this hobby when so many companies seem more interested in taking your money first and foremost.

So anyway, the ferts are ordered, I have a subscription to the Barr Report, and I will be using his EI system using Watsons products from day one with the new tank setups, and I hope to be able to give an informative evaluation of the system and products and get some discussiion going on the specifics of dosing a planted tank according to Tom Barr's EI system.

Please note as we're talking about dosing using a blend of generic chemicals so most of the information will be more evaluative of the EI system and how it compares to former dosing regimen, as stated above KNO3 is KNO3, so anyones products of similar composition would be able to be used to recreate what is learned and discussed here.

I'll be maintaing a log of procedures from the time I open the box, with photos and tank journals which I will reference here but most likely maintain elsewhere so as not to waste space.


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post #2 of 101 (permalink) Old 03-25-2005, 12:43 AM
 
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I agree as to the pricing and especially to the A++++ quality customer service, Ive never had someone deliver that kind of service over a $20-30 transaction. Greg is someone who goes far above and beyond. I was blown away. Even if I could get it a couple bucks cheaper I will stick with him cause anyone who does business the way he does has to be a great guy.
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post #3 of 101 (permalink) Old 04-05-2005, 04:31 AM Thread Starter
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OK, so the first tank, a 30, is set up, substrate is approx. 60% Flourite, 30% generic fracted clay and 10% generic gravel to a depth of 3", lighting is 130 watts of CF, 6400 K and CO2 is at 30PPM.

I set everything up last night (Sunday) 04/03 with fresh cuttings and/or rooted plantlets from existing stock.

This what it looked like an hour after setup:



Monday (today) is the beginning of my dosing schedule which will be as follows:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday:

Potassium Nitrate (KNO3) 1/4 tsp.
Mono Potassium Phosphate (KH2PO4) 1/8 tsp.
Potassium Sulphate (K2SO4) 1/8 tsp.

Tuesday, Thursday:

Plantex CSM + B plus Iron 10ml (solution is 2 tbsp / 500ML tap water)

Saturday:

50% water change

At this time, I have no plans on testing, mainly because I'm looking to verify the EI system as a no frills, easy to use system that I can promote to the customers of the chain I started working for recently. If I have problems, I'll do extensive testing and discuss the results here to tweak the sytem.


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post #4 of 101 (permalink) Old 04-05-2005, 12:16 PM
 
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Stuff

Glass-Garden,
I am new to the EI and into it for around 3 weeks. I see Greg has you dosing K2S04 and MGS04. I am not dosing those and was wondering what they are for and what the recommended doses are.
Thanks\

JR
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post #5 of 101 (permalink) Old 04-05-2005, 12:47 PM Thread Starter
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Dosing the magnesium and potassium sulfate are really just an after thought, not something that was specifically recommended. It's cheap, can't really hurt anything so I'm doing it for now. At the end of the four week cycle, I may eliminate the extra K and see what happens.


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post #6 of 101 (permalink) Old 04-05-2005, 08:22 PM
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I just figured out I had magnesium deficiency recently and started dosing epsom salt. Plant growth/color has marked improvement.


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post #7 of 101 (permalink) Old 04-05-2005, 08:30 PM
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Hey Shula,
Is epson salt just MGS04? What are the dangers of overdosing this, if it is possible to do that. How much do you add? Thank you.
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post #8 of 101 (permalink) Old 04-05-2005, 08:33 PM
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The Mg will raise your GH levels. As I have a GH=10 out of the tap, I've never added MgSO4/Epson's salts to my tank.

Shalu - is your GH lower? Or are you just adding it as a matter of course?
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post #9 of 101 (permalink) Old 04-05-2005, 08:42 PM
 
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If you have algae, it will take weeks to months to really reduce the algae. Pruning it away really helps. I'm on my 4th week of adding Flourish Excel, gradually going up to 5x the suggested dose with no problems whatsoever even with the addition of a calculated 50ppm CO2. Plants are awesome and the green dot algae is taking a hit! Been doing EI and PMDD dosing for about 2-3 months now and it's made all the difference in the world; the most success I've ever had in growing plants and not having to worry about algae. Finally have mature specimens to aquascape. I'm so stoked!! You will do fine with all your attention to detail. Water testing really tells you whats going on in the tank and helps in fine-tuning the EI method to suit your tank's needs.
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post #10 of 101 (permalink) Old 04-05-2005, 09:00 PM
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My tap gh=8, somtimes higher. But it is almost all Ca, little Mg, I believe. I thought some symptoms were Ca deficiency and dosed extra Ca++, but now convinced that it is really Mg deficiency. I just dose epsom salt(MgSO4). Experimenting with different amounts by observing plant response. I am at 1 tsp every other day in my 100gallon right now, might try more. Epsom salt is commonly used to cure discus constipation, will not harm fish even at pretty high concentrations(we won't see that level in planted tank dosage).


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post #11 of 101 (permalink) Old 04-05-2005, 10:49 PM
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Shalu,
Did you have the water tested? My GH is 8 but central TX and all these rocks, Hmm? I wonder if I'm mg low.

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post #12 of 101 (permalink) Old 04-05-2005, 11:12 PM
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My Lamotte kits should be coming soon. So far I just went through the process of elimination, and dosing Mg seems to improve things a lot.


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post #13 of 101 (permalink) Old 04-06-2005, 03:46 AM Thread Starter
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Magnesium is one of those things I add because it can't hurt at the level I dose, it's cheap and the base is covered if needed, if not, oh well I just wasted what? $0.78 every 6 months?

The whole idea of EI (in my opinion) is to offer a method that relies more on consistency rather than accuracy. Obviously Tom Barr has gotten the tweakers in a fix, because despite it's apparent inattention to minute detail, it works.

Face it, the simpler we can make this hobby, the more people will get involved in it. If you can develop a system whereby a simple dosing regimen labeled a b c results in a good planted tank experience it's a good thing.


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post #14 of 101 (permalink) Old 04-06-2005, 09:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glass-gardens.com
Magnesium is one of those things I add because it can't hurt at the level I dose, it's cheap and the base is covered if needed, if not, oh well I just wasted what? $0.78 every 6 months?

The whole idea of EI (in my opinion) is to offer a method that relies more on consistency rather than accuracy. Obviously Tom Barr has gotten the tweakers in a fix, because despite it's apparent inattention to minute detail, it works.
That would be a fair assement.
A routine habit is done a number of ways, some folks will pay much more attention and keep their tank maintained much better when tweaking and watching/testing. This a reasonable assumption.

We pay more attention when we know there is a problem and are trying to achieve some goal.

When they neglect and do not pay attention to it, they blame the method rather than their habits. Habits play a huge role in folk's approaches. Some I think need to test to keep themselves interested and consistent.

Likewise, some need to dose daily vs 2-3x a week since it's an easier everyday routine for them vs "Did I dose yesterday or was it two days ago?"
Adding a tad more Mg will not hurt the plants or help algae and would account for any deficencies which is the main problem, rather than excess.

You can still tweak though if you have that urge, will you gain anything more?
Not in terms of growth rates, one person said their plant's where "prettier" doing PPS, I asked what are the units for that subjective observation.
No comment:-)

How can I argue with prettier?
I see a nutrient starved plant, they see a "prettier" plant.
As scientist, if something has a higher growth rate and uptake rate, it'll be assumed reasonbly that the plant prefers that condition over another.

I think some need to justify all their work vs actually gaining something significant. The significant thing you gain from testing: growth rates!!!!
Even the tweakers using PPS have conceded that.
They claim knowing the individual growth rates for each tank is better.

But is it?
These change over time, with plant biomass etc. So they need to assume the max rates for their tanks as well.
Some say that EI does not account for fish bioloads, this is true to some degree.


But if you have high bioloads, the fear is not running out, but rather an excess level, something that EI assumes does not cause algae or poor plant growth.

Observations with high bioloads shows this to be true also.
If you add too much fish load and have a NH4 back up, does not matter which methiod you use, there will still be the same issue: algae.

So not addressing the bioload does not make EI less useful.
High bioloading and large water changes also go together rather well don't you think?

If you have a high bioload, you can add less KNO3, but that's all that will save you. Same with lower light methods.

Uptake Rates:
This is something I made light of as important years ago.
I had not seen anyone suggest a NO3 or PO4 uptake rate by planted tanks till I suggested them. No one realized the plants would remove that much until, someone did a basic test that included removing the limiting elements like PO4, Fe, CO2, light etc. I added high light/Fe, CO2 etc, then mainpulated each variable to see what is the best range.
Calibrating the test kits and testing for the nutrient of interest were also topics I've raised a long time ago on the APD and other broads.

From here, you can scale down whatever approach you use to accommodate your routine in terms of the plant's needs.

There is nothing saying you must do weekly 50% water changes, it's merely a suggesting that assumes you cannot muck things up too much in a week.
If you are experienced, you can likely go weeks without one, I can.
But I'd rather brush my teeth than wait for a cavity...........so doing a easy to remember weekly routine is easier and keeps up on things.

If they are so good about testing and managing, why did they not figure out this stuff before????? Maybe I'm just very lucky? I don't think so. This is not just hobbyists, but companies making things for the hobby claiming they do research. I always wondered what kind of research they do, they never said much interestingly.

Funny thing is, now folks are testing a lot, before they tested a lot before thinking about calibration, before considering uptake rates, before considering that excess PO4 does not cause algae among other issues.
We have come a long way since then.
But the things I looked into were initailly done with Paul Sears and PMDD. He looked at dosing KNO3 and considered PO4, but the issue of looking at macro's was begun and a focus on the plant's needs.

I assumed that at max light, high CO2 that this would also be the max uptake. Adding more than you need does not hurt(at least over a wide range for most every nutrient except CO2/NH4) nor causes algae.

But testing and tweaking and filling in Excel spreadsheets and micro managing things is a tough sell. It's hard to explain, it requires the aquarist to know much more. It is interesting but something I've done for a long time, I moved beyond that and testing for nutrients. That leap was critical in accepting EI would work as well as knowing.

If I can just look and add something or do a simple routine, then it will work for a larger group than the tweakers.

BTW, I am tweaker but I am open minded enough to realize most folks in this hobby really would rather avoid testing if it's still give them good results.

The ironic thing is that I am sometimes called closed minded or not open to ideas other than "my own" which to many seems to be exclusively EI. I play both sides of the field and do many methods, not just EI.

They can always do that later if they chose, nothing wrong with that.
PPS makes some weak assumptions on Ca/Mg/SO4 and also Traces, one which will not be overcome with testing regarding traces.

Quote:
Face it, the simpler we can make this hobby, the more people will get involved in it. If you can develop a system whereby a simple dosing regimen labeled a b c results in a good planted tank experience it's a good thing.
It's an issue of assumptions and making them reasonable.
I test for water parameters way too much in work related issues. We put out a thick water monitoring report every year for our aquatic weed control program. Good lord, I'm sick of it.

The last thing I want to do is come home and test more.
Most did not get into this hobby to test water.

I'd personally rather spend my time pruning and making the tank look prettier.
EI allows you to grow any plant you want well and together.
If I have a question, I'll test and be rigorous.
But I don't test just to maintain a tank, that's too much work for something I can do without that much work.

Why test if you do not need to and also do not want too?
Add that to more cost, more time, more compicated methods, it's really a hard sell. Both work, but one is a harder sell and takes more time to learn and explain.

Regards,
Tom Barr



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post #15 of 101 (permalink) Old 04-06-2005, 11:51 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Tom,

Thank you for that wonderful contribution.

In my case, I prefer not to test, because I become obsessed with proper levels and tweaking, which in my personal experience leads to destabilzation, and from my experience in the hobby, stable conditions, albeit less than ideal yield better results than constantly adjusting to acheive ideal conditions.

My hope is to be able to show my customers that keeping a planted tank is as easy as one two three, and train employees in keeping their display tank looking good after we get them set up so ease is priority.

Even after just a few days, I can see the results of the EI system, the new plantings are taking off already whereas before it would be at least a week before I could see any changes and the only way to describe the color is vibrant. Just to see where I'm at, I'm going to do some tests prior to the first water change, but unless I see something that bothers me in the condition of the plants, I probably won't adjust my dosing, if it ain't broke ....


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