EI, read in full before you reply please - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-22-2005, 07:29 AM Thread Starter
 
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EI, read in full before you reply please

Im 99% sure im going to use the EI system on my new aquarium, and Ive read quite a bit abou it on the forum here, I have yet to see much bad at all.

Here is the deal, I want to know of there is anyone who has started using EI on a system and NOT had success, preferably people I see on the boards alot

I know this is a touchy subject and I dont want any extremist looneys posting about other methods or anything
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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-22-2005, 11:53 AM
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There are a few things that are important to do, such as starting with a heavy planting from the get-go, if you want to be successful. If it is a new aquarium, don't expect things to go perfectly for a while, and patience is a virtue well-approved to this hobby. I imagine you have read most of the particulars by now. I ultimately had success with EI, but it wasn't smooth sailing at the start.

Other than that, don't think to tell us extremist loonies not to post and then expect us not to take the bait...

James
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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-22-2005, 01:41 PM
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Well, I'll try to tip toe around the sensitive stuff. I am running a 29g with 1.9wpg, pressurized CO2, and am dosing ferts with the EI. I've modified some of the numbers to a lower light tank to take into account lower nutrient uptake. It didn't work for me but it was only because I made a mistake. My CO2 had a leak and it wasn't getting into the tank like it was supposed to. As soon as I fixed that problem the tank took off and the algae started to go away. So, from my experience, when it's done right it works. Not to mention it is very easy to do right.

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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-22-2005, 03:03 PM
 
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EI works but it needs to be tailored to each tank and tap water parameters.

I started with EI 4 months ago and I used wolfys dosing schedule and began having some problems with bba. Here's the thing: I can't peg exactly what the problem was, but I do think there's a point where excess nutrients can be a problem. For instance: My tap water comes out of the tap with 2ppm phosphate but 0ppm nitrate. I found that adding phosphate became a problem.

I think the "safe range window" of nutrients is pretty large. For nitrates IME 5-25ppm is safe and effective, phosphates,1-3ppm is safe and effective, pottassium 10-30ppm is effective, CO2 25-60ppm. I have gone above these ranges and water quality seemed to suffer somewhat and plant growth seemed to stall a little.

Iron seems to be the slippery nutrient for me, tough to get my arms around and I'm still playing with it a little. Safe and effective amounts seem to be .1-.5ppm fe, tough to measure. We dose chelated iron which seems to be unusable till the chelate gets broken down and it becomes free iron. I suspect that at one point I was overdosing iron which contributed to the bba.

A point that I'd like to stress here is filter and substrate maintenance, though tom Barr does talk about it, I'm here to tell you that with the EI method growth is very good, so good that if you don't prune and vacuum, and clean canisters regularly, you'll get an accumulation of "organics", as tom calls them, basically rotting plant matter and detritus which can contribute to poor water quality. As the stuff rots it pours organic nutrients back into the tank that are tougher for plants to utilize. Inorganic ferts (chemicals) seem to be more readily useable by the plants than these organics. Conversely ,Algae seems to thrive on organics. Test kits measure organic as well as inorganic nitrate and phosphate, the problem I ran into was how much of what was I measuring. The bottom line here is that a clean tank is a happy tank. 50% water changes are great but the real crap lies in the substrate and filter.

I hoped this helped. These observations have been my experience,YMMV.


Marcel
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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-22-2005, 03:11 PM
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i have to second what marcel just said about cleaning substrate, etc.
i was great about the water change amount, i just obsessed about not removing the mulm, to the point that when i finally broke down and "started over" there was so much decaying stuff that had sifted into the substrate that i could have planted a terrestial plant directly into it, with little or no additional dirt.
the other thing that i have found with ei is that (as someone who flunked high school chemistry and algebra twice each) i can not get my head wrapped around the formulas at all.
finally, i have DIY CO2 with a lot of light and that i belive is what finally killed me: no way i could ever get the CO2 levels high enough.
good luck with it, some day i want to be a success with it, but right now i am enjoying my clear water!

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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-22-2005, 05:13 PM Thread Starter
 
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great stuff, you guys really pointed out some excellent points, probally increased my chance to do well quite a bit. luckily im pretty good about cleaning!

PS I secretly love the extremist loonies
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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-22-2005, 08:00 PM
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I'll second the co2 problems too. While with my DIY co2 setup I can acheive upwards of 50ppm, if a bottle gets a leak, or the yeast knocks the bubbles off the ladder for a day, boom, algae everywhere. It also has to be tailored to your tap water as mine comes out with enough phosphate out of the faucet.

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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-23-2005, 12:06 AM
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EI works if you do normal maintenance, maintain good CO2, have enough plant biomass etc.

If you don't, well, then it's not EI's fault.
Good CO2 is going to help ANY carbon enrichement method.

Because if I can do it without issues and repeat it perhaps several hundred times............and I know the levels are good using lab grade test methods....

Hey, anyone can louse up the most fool proof method, but the EI is the easiest thing out there and simple maintenance takes care of most of the problems with nutrients, CO2 is still an issue..........but I suggest high levels of that as well, just like the NO3/PO4 etc.

EI is rich, most tanks don't need that much, but adding it does not hurt either............

Re read what I say in the EI article. I suggest some things folks seem to overlook all too often.

Read it all, not just some.

If you have issues, go back and see what the CO2 is.

If you have trouble in the start up using a new uncycled tank, read about mulm and peat I suggest adding from day one.



Regards,
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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-23-2005, 04:37 AM Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the advice about the peat / mulm, Ill definatly look into that before I start . c02 shouldnt be a problem im getting pressurized - Im starting brand new, - Its in the photo section under Jay's 46 gallon.
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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-24-2005, 01:09 AM
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Well then pack the tank with weeds, add the mulm/peat from day one, add algae eaters after a couple of days, crank the beejesus out of the CO2 and make sure it's around 30ppm.

With lots of plants from the start, this will produce lots of O2 from the start also........................

The EI is great for ruling out a deficiency, so then all you are left with is CO2 and set up and maintenance issues.

No method using CO2 is going to work if the CO2 is not stable and in good shape.

Make sure the CO2 is good and stays that way. If you ever have any algae issue or lull in plant growth or something just does not look quite right, check the CO2.

If you use an electronic pH measurement, make sure the electrical equipment around the tank(lights, filter etc) is turned off and the probe is calibrated.

Assume the CO2 is lower rather than higher than the reading may suggest.

Regards,
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post #11 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-27-2005, 02:07 AM
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i've just started dosing my tank according to the EI methodology about two months ago, and I'll second what others have said about keeping the tank clean. I'm running ~4wpg, ~20-25ppm CO2, and a little less than weekly 50% water changes. I've found that I haven't been cleaning the substrate surface well enough since changing dosing routines, and I've got a cloud of white and some BBA. I also think that the already established tank that has been dosed by other methods is having a harder time with EI than the one next to it that was started fresh with EI. The already established tank seems to eat through the nitrate as fast as I can put it in, leading to quite a bit of underdosing in the first month or so. I've found that I'm adding about 3x more nitrate than I was before EI, and about twice as much as I expected when changing. Anyway, the bottom line is that EI works as long as you treat her like a lady and give her plenty of attention, especially at the start.

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post #12 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-27-2005, 04:01 AM
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My 2 cents. I too had to work with EI beforehand just as everyone else has (Craig, Marcel, etc). I first started off with the basic 1/2 tea of NO3, 1/16-1/8 tea of KH2PO4, and 10 ml of plantex 3x a week and I got BBA...when I never had the stuff. With my high lighting, something was out of whack. My CO2 was fine (between 30-60 ppm) and pearling starts about 1/2 hour to and hour after the lights went on.

Basically I found that the plants I have didn't seem to take up much phosphate as other plants I've had...so I had to reduce that dose. I also had to reduce my NO3 a bit too.

It will take a bit of practice to get the balance right of how much to dump in on your fert days, but you'll get the hang of it.

Just as everyone else has suggested:
1. CO2....co2 co2!!!
2. a lot of weeds!! Anacharis, hornwort, etc...basically the junk you can find at petsmart for 1.99-2.99 a bunch...let 'er rip and find a good lfs you can sell/trade the plants to for fish or other plants you want. Don't replace all the fast growers with slower or more exotics all at once...replace chunks at a time.
3. patience

I'm actually about to start up a 65g tank with considerably less lighting I had before (2 x 96...so almost 3 wpg) so I figure I'll have to play with my dosing again after "mastering" a 46g bowfront.

Re-boot!
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post #13 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-27-2005, 04:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plantbrain
If you use an electronic pH measurement, make sure the electrical equipment around the tank(lights, filter etc) is turned off and the probe is calibrated.

Assume the CO2 is lower rather than higher than the reading may suggest.

Regards,
Tom Barr

Tom,
Are you referring to the likes of a Milwaukee SMS122 controler. And that the probe and its lead should be away from the power cords of a light? Or what specifically do you mean, as it runs 24/7 and mine is near the Tek light power cords. I do get a couple tenths of a pH point difference from my Hanna Phep4 hand held meter, even after calibrating in the same solution. I just take that as the vagaries of pH metering, as ph often seems to never be exactly the same. Thanks alot. bob





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post #14 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-27-2005, 12:09 PM
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As far as the organics in the substrate, are there any good tips on vacuming out the crap in a heavily planted tank. I already clean my filter and do the water changes, but have been slacking on the vacuming. Too many plants

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post #15 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-27-2005, 05:42 PM
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i use small diameter rigid tubing to clean my sustrate. Similar to the kind you get with RO/DI kits. The smaller diameter gives you enough suction for syphan without having to worry about filling the bucket every minute. The rigid helps you point where you want to suck. Hope this helps
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