Dosing by "rule of thumb" or regular testing? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-14-2005, 12:58 AM Thread Starter
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Dosing by "rule of thumb" or regular testing?

Wow, all the information on this forum is making me spin. Thanks everyone!

I'm new to aquariums, and set up a planted tank almost 3 weeks ago. I'm just now getting around to dosing (algae!).

I've read the dosing stickey and Rex Grigg's websight about dosing, and I gather that although there's a "rule of thumb" of how to dose a 20 gal tank, that matching your tank's exact needs are better. Do most people determine the tank's needs by testing nitrates, phosphates, iron, potassium, hardnesses, etc. or by looking at plant growth and symptoms (or some combination of the two)?

I have the Tetratest Laborett (tests pH, GH, KH, nitrites, ammonia) which seem to work fine for me (except that pH scale isn't very sensitive, only distinguishes values by 0.5) but which other tests are necessary? I assume that nitrates and phosphates are most important, but what about Fe and K?

If your answers depend on my tank specs, here they are:
Incredible plant growth and pearling, in spite of abundant green hair (I think) algae.
Eco-complete substrate and Hagan natural CO2 system.
In the evening I have:
pH=7
KH=5 (thanks to baking soda)
Calculate 15.0ppm CO2 (a.m. calculation is 47ppm; pH accuracy? no gasping fish)
GH=3.5 (I think Eco-complete brought this up a bit, tapwater is GH=1.5)
Nitrites, Ammonia both zero
Don't know Nitrates, Phosphates, Fe, K

I'd appreciate any advice, as I still find it difficult to translate all the subtleties of aquarium care to my own situation!

Thanks!
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-14-2005, 01:40 AM
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I also have a question on this topic. Is it ok if I don't have any water testing stuff?
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-14-2005, 02:47 AM
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I am still pour and pray...

Plants are growing - perhaps too fast. Fish appear healthy, even the shrimp are doing well. Eventually might test just to see where in the ballpark I am so others can reproduce it.

58 gallon oceanic, Kessel 360 tun sun, pressurized co2, eheim pimp #179 - 2217 and diffuser

Last edited by jgc; 10-15-2005 at 03:25 PM.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-15-2005, 02:02 AM
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If you are adding CO2 you will need to test pH and kH.

I am using the estimative index. I really don't test much. While one of the main tenets of the EI is "little testing required", I might still recommend it. We try to provide sufficient K, N, and P so the plants can grow. While the EI certainly provides sufficient amounts of each for the most part, I still think it is reasonable to periodically test nitrate and phosphate towards the end of the week. How else are you going to know if your java fern is a nitrate hog or your riccia is consuming all of your PO4? Every tank is different so we should not assume that one blanket approach will fit the needs of all, IMO. Most of us don't test for Fe or K. Watching plant growth can certainly help here.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-15-2005, 05:20 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Jart,

That was exactly what I needed to know. With hindsight I can't believe I didn't pick up on what EI really is (I did kindof wonder what the letters stood for...) but this can get overwhelming for a newbie! Having re-read the sticky and Rex's pages, plus finding the EI link on the Barr Report, I'm back on track.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-15-2005, 02:38 PM
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I started out occasionally testing just to get a baseline knowledge. After about a year I was able to dose more by feel. It just takes a little practice like anything else. Hang in there and you'll get the gist of it soon enough.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-16-2005, 01:10 AM
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How much of these ferts should I buy?
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-16-2005, 01:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trckrunrmike
How much of these ferts should I buy?
1lb ea. www.gregwatson.com

Craig

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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-16-2005, 01:37 AM
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E.I. is awesome. I dont even test pH anymore. I crank the co2 a little everyday until I get mad pearling and the fish still look happy. Cant say this is what everyone should do but it works for me.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-16-2005, 01:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trckrunrmike
How much of these ferts should I buy?
Like WfxXx said, 1 lb of each, but check Rex Grigs site to determine what ferts to buy. Hang on, I'll check for you.

Steve

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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-16-2005, 02:08 AM
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Ok, this is right off of Rex's fertilzer page :
Quote:
For a normal order I would suggest one lb KNO3 (if you need to dose nitrates), 2-3 lbs K2SO4, 4-6 ounces of KH2PO4 (if you need to dose phosphates), and 6-8 ounces of trace mix.
I would order a minimum of 1 lb of each, so:
1 lb KNO3
2-3 lbs K2SO4
1 lb KH2PO4
& 1 lb CSM+B Plantex

Steve

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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-16-2005, 02:12 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trckrunrmike
How much of these ferts should I buy?
Hi trckrunrmike,

As you know, I'm new to this too (so if I write something wrong, someone please correct me!)

I just bought the following from Gregg Watson (1 lb of each) which is a lot for a 20 gal tank, but since it's dry, it should keep quite a while and keep me going for ages, even if I get another tank. I'll just have to mix small batches in water before using.

1 CSM+B Plantex (traces)
1 Mono Potassium Phosphate
1 Potassium Sulfate
1 Potassium Nitrate
1 Calcium Chloride (only because I have really soft water. I meant to order Magnesium Sulfate (epsom salt) too but I guess I didn't.)

This totaled $30.17 including shipping, but according to fert part of Rex Grigg's websight, it should come out to way less than 10 cents a week, so I've got at least a year's supply.

Greg Watson also sells a pre-mixed version of the various ferts I ordered (without Calcium Chloride) that looks simpler, and would allow you to purchace a single pound that includes almost everything. It doesn't have the exact mixes suggested by Rex Grigg or on the stickey, but it's close, and I'm not sure if it matters. I bought everything seperately so I could have more flexibility with dosing.

I also decided to buy phosphate and nitrate tests online ($5.49 and $9.99 not including shipping) so I could see the effects of what I was dosing. It's more for the learning experience but also to conserve some ferts by being more precise with my dosing.

Hope that helps!
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-16-2005, 02:16 AM Thread Starter
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Wow Matak, that was quick. You beat me to it, *and* I see that I forgot I'll be going through the K2SO4 quicker... Oh well, live and learn.
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-16-2005, 03:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sacha
Wow Matak, that was quick. You beat me to it, *and* I see that I forgot I'll be going through the K2SO4 quicker... Oh well, live and learn.
Thanks. Is this what 'Ninja Posting' is all about?

Steve

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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-16-2005, 05:00 AM
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Wow now I get it. Now I just have to find some money for this stuff.
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