note: i just reread this post and realized that only parts of it go to jart's original point, and hope that no one takes this post as I'm telling you something you don't know... just a bit of personal experience, as I messed up almost all of these things myself when I switched to EI, and would have loved to have seen these suggestions myself on day one of my lighting change instead of piecing it together over the last couple of months.
i also tested unusually high for nitrates and phosphates after a few months with weekly 50-75% water changes. I only tested again at the suggestion of others in a thread here about my plants doing poorly despite an upgrade in lighting, upped co2, and upped ferts. I've since discovered a few things...
#1 typical aquarium test kit = wildly inaccurate, specifically nitrate in my experience and in reading posts over the last couple of years
#2 although your macro nutrients might be perfect, plants will still underperform in lacking co2 or even lacking micro concentrations. I actually found that my plants perked right up and algae started backing off once i started adding some calcium, magnesium, and extra traces to my tank. I still dose my nitrate, phosphate, and potassium as before, but it seems by adding the other nutrients, the plants have perked up and been more hungry for the accumulated macros. check your hardness, and if possible, find out what the ratio of calcium to magnesium is in your tapwater. sometimes upping gh makes plants happier than you'd expect. oh, and my water is also much clearer than it's been in months.
#3 crank the co2. I've read it over and over again, but never really took it to heart until my almost 4 wpg tank had ludwigia and hygro polysperma melting for no apparent reason. those plants do fine without co2 injection in lower light situations, but if you crank up the light and ferts, you MUST crank the CO2, or algae will eat up the ferts, and the plants will just beg for some carbon until they die. Think about ferts like the food pyramid put out by the government. The base of the pyramid for plants is carbon. Plants NEED carbon desperately to thrive. Immediately above that, or really on the same level is light, and macros on the second level. Micros like Ca, Mg, Fe, and S make up the next level, and at the very top are things like Boron, Manganese, Copper, Chlorine, Molybdenum, etc. (I know I'm leaving a few out...) Make sure you cover the base of the pyramid without a doubt before you start sweating the micros, or even the macros.
#4 EI is easy, but not foolproof. Many take the idea of EI and run with it to the point that they stop testing, stop thinking about balancing nutrients, and stop paying attention to the clues their plants or tank in general are giving them. If your plants melt, algae takes over, water gets cloudy or smelly, it's time to reasses every step of the process, even if EI is supposed to mean you don't have to. Test your macros, check your CO2 level (time for a new CO2 tank? reactor clogged with debris?), check your light levels (time for new bulbs?), assess your substrate (compaction, dark spots?), evaluate your water change schedule (missing too many weekly water changes?), check your filters (too much buildup in the filter media adding to N or P concentrations, preventing adequate circulation?) and look for specific symptoms in your plants that denote deficiencies associated with them (pinholes? yellow tips? darkening? curling?) When things are running smoothly, EI is fantastic, but until you hit your sweet spot with your setup, or after getting a bit off target, it can be a real bear. But the bottom line is, it's not hard at all, and definitely beats daily or weekly testing, and shuffling around ferts and calculators and dosing things a few drops here and a few drops there, as long as you're willing to do the legwork when things get a bit off.
Eheim Pimp #171
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; Eheim 2217, TurboTwist UVS, Seachem Onyx / Black T-grade ColorQuartz, 2x55w AHS CF, BeverageFactory.com CO2 Regulator with Clippard accessories
"If you ask me, you've got too much imagination. Everything's all loop-de-loops and flibbertigibbets." - Hank Hill