Planted Tank Guru
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Contra Costa CA
Yes, here is one way to do this:
Set up the tank with light, CO2 and whatever else is the way you think it ought to be.
Dose EI with the 50% weekly water change.
Watch the plants, and adjust lights and CO2 until you are happy with the way it is running.
Then back off on the fertilizers and the water changes a step at a time until the plants take a turn for the worse.
Then go back up to the previous level of ferts and water changes. If you do smaller water changes then whatever ferts you have added will build up. At some point you will reach a balance of smaller or fewer water changes and low level dosing.
What you are doing:
Giving the plants unlimited fertilizers while you figure out what level of light and CO2 suits the way you want the tank to look.
You might have to give up certain plants if they will not grow under the light and CO2 levels you are willing to provide. But you will know that fertilizer deficiency is not playing any part in this section of figuring things out.
Then you start limiting the fertilizer. A little less each week or two, run the tank for a week or two, then drop it again.
Eventually the plants will start looking like they are lacking fertilizer. No one can say where this point is, because it is based on the light and CO2 levels that you have set.
When you see that 'plants look poor' add a bit more fertilizer, or do smaller water changes so the fertilizer you add is not removed and has a chance to build up.
Use slow release fertilizer tablets for the heavy feeders and very lightly dose the water column for plants like Anubias, Java Fern and others that do not have roots in the substrate. The very low dosing will not need much in the way of water changes, while the heavy feeders will have the nutrients they need.