should you dose if parameters are ok? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-25-2005, 01:30 PM Thread Starter
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should you dose if parameters are ok?

Have a new tank, 4 weeks or so. Since I am completely new to tanks, I test like an SOB. Usually test everyday for NO3, PO4, pH, KH, GH, and sometimes others. Even use different brands to compare.

If my nitrates are between 5-10 3 days after dosing, does it still make sense to dose ala EI? Seems to me if the parameters are "in the good range" that dosing does not make sense. Right?

I know that EI is supposed to take the testing out of the equation, and one day I'm sure it will for me, but not just now.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-25-2005, 02:29 PM
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one of the main points of EI is that often you cant trust testkits. if it shows a NO3 reading of 5-10, you can't be 100% sure that it actually is. At that low of a reading it could be bottomed out quickly.

5-10 is pretty low anyway, but how much light do you have (in wpg)? Your NO3 reading can get quite high before there are any negative effects. This includes the effects on fish (my Rays have many times been in NO3 readings of 80ppm+... not good, but no harm done).

So, dosing more definately doesnt hurt, and it will reinsure you that you wont have a bottom out of NO3 and algae pop up. I would personally continue to dose.

Cliff
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-26-2005, 08:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikey
Have a new tank, 4 weeks or so. Since I am completely new to tanks, I test like an SOB. Usually test everyday for NO3, PO4, pH, KH, GH, and sometimes others. Even use different brands to compare.

If my nitrates are between 5-10 3 days after dosing, does it still make sense to dose ala EI? Seems to me if the parameters are "in the good range" that dosing does not make sense. Right?

I know that EI is supposed to take the testing out of the equation, and one day I'm sure it will for me, but not just now.
You assume that your test kits are correct and you assume that their measurements provide optimal plant growth.

I also wonder, do you also test for K+ and each trace?
Ca and Mg or just GH?

You can take testign a long way, but as far a routine, it's a lot of work for little gain.

Focus on one test and dosing of one nutrient at a time.
Excess for the rest.

You'll learn more.

I'd target 10-20ppm for NO3.
Test kits te4nd to test for total NO3 or PO4, not plant bioavailable inorganic forms.

A good deal of the PO4 and NO3 can be bound to organic R groups.


Regards,
Tom Barr



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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-26-2005, 04:08 PM Thread Starter
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How can it be that all the tests are that inaccurate? I mean I can tell that they are problematical by the difficulty I have in reading, and sometimes measuring the tests. But they must be within reason in their functionality or nobody would buy them - right?

The Salifert tests cost a pretty penny and seem like they should be accurate.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-26-2005, 05:09 PM
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its not so much that they aren't functional, as it is that they are difficult to read in many cases, or difficult to have reliance on the reading that shows up.

testkits like NH3-4, NO2, are very effective in that as long as you get the bottom coloration provided on the color chart, you are in good shape. NO3 however, once you get over 30-40ppm, is very difficult to read and not even worth looking at. For that you would have to go by the fish health to determine if you are adding way too much NO3. I have had up to 80ppm NO3 (as far as I can tell anyway) with no signs of fish stress, so have decided to just not test at all.

Testkits like PO4 and Fe are commonly said to be defective from the start and give false readings. Not worth buying.

pH testkits (other than digital) - although essential - has a .2pH margin of error. Is that effective? Within reason, yes, but not for an exact co2 reading.

KH - assumed to be very effective, or at least I trust mine.
GH - Good to an extent, but as Tom Barr pointed out, do you know the ratios of Ca/Mg within the GH reading you get? It is just common to believe that there is enough of both in readings of GH > 5dH. I don't trust it, so I still dose Mg after each water change.

So, I wasn't necessarily implying that testkits are worthless, just that 100% reliance on testkits is obviously not "effective". I have a testkit for most of the variables (didnt bother trying K or Mg - if there is one). I just don't want to rely on them for my dosing. If I ever see signs of fish stress, I will get them out and it should point me into the correct direction though.

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-26-2005, 05:31 PM
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well, once you test the kits against a known starndard, even if they are off, you can adjust for that.

Say the kit says 20ppm when the sandard known solution is 10ppm, from then on with this test kit, you can assume it's really 10ppm, not 20ppm.

Sandard solutions are not too hard to make and you need them for things like NO3/PO4.

Don't even bother with micronutrients metals like Fe.
Too many confounding issues and too small quanatities to work.

You can consistently dose nutrients with EI, that is a consistent method, more so than all the rror introduced with test kits.

Even then, CO2 measurements are tough and since CO2 is the main nutrient we add, roughly 40+ % of the plant's biomass, as well as the main issue when algae blooms occur, I find it illogical to focus so much of N when it's only 1.5% of the plant's biomass. It's still important, but not as important as the Carbon.

People squawk over testing but are seldom rigorous at testing CO2.

Regards,
Tom Barr



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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-26-2005, 06:13 PM Thread Starter
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Well thank you both for your thoughful responses.

I try to be particularly diligent on testing CO2 because it is so important. I have ~1 bubble/second in 37 gal of water, pH seems to not move at 6.6, and KH for some reason seems to fluctuate between 5.2 and 6.4 or so, so that gives me roughly 40 to 50 ppm CO2. I got algae up the ***, am dosing EI as best as I can being a newbie, and I guess the algae is just something that happens at the start? I will get it together over the next few months I hope.

thanks again
Mike
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-26-2005, 06:49 PM
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we are in the same boat right now. i have BBA and Green Spot allover right now. Been dosing EI method for a couple weeks, but figure it must just be a start-up thing.

In my case it may be that I had to cure for Ich. Raised the temp from 78 to 85 for a week, added salt, and was adding Rid-Ich+. So maybe that threw things out of whack.

Soon enough we will both have no algae

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-26-2005, 07:14 PM Thread Starter
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From looking that you have 3 rather hefty tanks I guess it IS true, everything IS bigger in Texas!! Lets hope that doesn't include algae.
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