Why I think my fert dosing may be off - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-20-2006, 12:30 AM Thread Starter
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Why I think my fert dosing may be off

55g tank.
Ro water + 1.125 tsp Equilibrium + .5tsp baking soda per 5 gallons.
Ei. .5 tsp KNO3 and .125 tsp KH2PO4 / 10ml CSM+B
50% waterchange weekly.
4 x 54w Tek T-5 light for 10-11 hour photoperiod.
Eheim 2026 powering external Co2 reactor and external heater.
Intake in one corner of aquarium, outflow on the other, using an open elbow rather than spraybar (ghetto lily pipe)
surface movement.
13 rummynose tetra. 2 male dwarf gourami. 1 juvenile honey red gourami. 2 ottos. 2-5 shrimp.
PH 6.5, KH 3.9, Co2 36.99 ppm. This is taken around 8 PM, most plants are pearling. Lights have been on about 8-9 hours. My Co2 readings were much higher than this when only using 3wp of NO fluoro.

didlipis diandria, rotala sp vietnam, rotala indica, riccia, marsh mermaidweed, frogbit, pearlweed growing like a glosso carpet, blyxa japonica and one or two others.
sp vietnam has pink tips, rotala is orange/pink, didplipis is also orange/red. blyxa is also orangish/pink.

Rotalas are growing nicely, so is everything else, except the didlipis. which is stunted/being removed often because of BBA.

I used to have BBA when I was low-medium light. It went away. It occassionally comes back, always starting with a few individually infected pieces of flourite. I usually pull those out, then rotate the gravel, and it goes away for a short time. Lately, it has gotten worse, perhaps due to my increase in lighting. It is affected the didlipis badly and a slow growing plant. It isn't doing much to anything else as I suppose their growth rates are healthy.

Could my substrate be a permanent home for this BBA? It always grows on it the most and the often. I've never taken it out and sterilized it.

According to the calcs, I am dosing 8.42 ppm No3, 2.58 ppm PO4, 6.37 ppm K, plus whatever the Equilibrium and CSM+B is adding. My No3 seems low, my PO4 seems high and my K seems low. I just tested for No3 and it reads around 15ppm, this is on an off dosing day.

What can I do to help the situation? I'm almost at the point of trying Excel overdosing.


"Insanity: doing [or asking] the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-20-2006, 03:51 AM Thread Starter
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I'm thinking I need to dose more KNO3. That will get my NO3 levels and K levels up to where they need to be.

My new plan is to continue dosing KH2PO4 at 1/8 tsp and micros at 10ml, but I'm going to try upping my KNO3 from .5tsp to 1.0tsp.

This should up my NO3 from 8.42 ppm to 16.85 ppm and my K will also increase from 6.37 ppm to 11.69. My PO4 will remain at 2.58 ppm. This will put my N:P ratio much closer to where it should be, up from roughly 3:1 to roughly 5:1.

I've always read that .5 tsp KNO3 is the recommendation for a 55 gallon tank, but according to calculators that seems to be dosing NO3 at very low levels, only 8.42?

Testing on a Thursday, after 2 days of dosing KNO3, with only one more day of dosing left in the week before the 50% water change, so this includes some nutrient buildup, my NO3 levels were just 15 ppm. I'm not sure that dosing .5 tsp, even after a week's worth of nutrient buildup, I would get the NO3 levels up to 25 ppm.

"Insanity: doing [or asking] the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-20-2006, 04:16 AM Thread Starter
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So does this make sense? I'd love to hear if I'm totally off my rocker.

Based on this: https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...ght=t-5+lumens

I can compare my old and new lighting like this, 4x40w NO Fluoros in shoplights were putting down roughly 2775 lumens x 4 = 11,100 lumens in the tank. Now I imagine it was even lower than that with the crappy shoplights.

The 4 x 54w t5 HO in the Tek light are now putting down roughly 5000 lumens x 4 = 20,000 lumens in the same tank with the same fert dosing as before. I've doubled my lumen per gallon rating. 34.72 lumens per square inch. Tropical sun is about 90 lumens per square inch if I'm reading Rex's guide right http://www.rexgrigg.com/mlt.htm .

If the WPG rule of thumb was made using NO Fluoros, then the 3.93 wpg of tek T-5 I'm running is equal to about 6wpg using the rule of thumb.

I know this is about ferts but my light levels are what have changed so this is what I am basing my fert changes on.

Probably explains why the same bubble rate as before is now giving me lower Co2 readings, more is getting used up rather than becoming surplus. With all this, I can imagine with my old 3:1 N:P ratio is limiting my nutrient uptake.

"Insanity: doing [or asking] the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-20-2006, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by random_alias
I'd love to hear if I'm totally off my rocker.
Yes, you are. For one thing, you're talking to yourself.

Seriously, it sounds like you've got a handle on the dosing changes. Nothing to add there.

What I do want to suggest is that if you're currently using Excel, you can shut down water flow, then squirt your normal dose directly on the affected plants with a syringe. It creates a localized overdose, which is a little less severe than overdosing the entire tank.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-20-2006, 09:37 AM
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I was going to suggest the spot treatment of Excel also, as I never saw real good results with just dumping the Excel into the tank.

I, too, have had a fairly long on-going battle with BBA. Nothing most casual observers would see, but I can always spot multiple patches. My NO3 levels have never been as low as yours (though with EI, I don't really take the time to measure it too much any more). But, I'm finding I need to really jack up my CSM+B dosing. I'm now up to 3/16 tsp (dry dosing...I've gone away from premix) every other day. That actually seems out of the norm for what others suggest also, seeings how I have a 46g. But, it has stopped my A. reineckii from strunted growth on the new leaves (signs of a Ca deficiency, but corrected with added trace for me). So, not sure it applies to your tank, but you might suspect a trace shortage.

I'd be curious to hear back on what you think helps the situation!
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-20-2006, 10:31 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys and yes, I was beginning to notice the one-way conversation taking place.

I don't even have test kits for Ca, Mg, Fe, PO4, K.

I didn't notice my No3 levels being low because I was dosing Ei specs for a 55g tank and so assumed they didn't need checking. Turns out that was an oversight of laziness on my part. I would assume my test kits were wrong, and they may be, but the calculators still support my findings, both Chuck's and the Fertilator show my levels to be low based on what I'm adding.

Tom said the Ei recommendations were a good starting point and that once people got a feel for things they could adapt it as their tanks needed. He's mentioned that to me more than once and I always assumed it was something academic, for those interested in tinkering, and that he thought I'd have fun with it. Turns out it was exactly the advice I needed, I just wasn't willing to hear it. This experience has shown me that, if ignored, it can become a necessity. I think that's as aspect of Ei that many people forget, or choose to forget. I've learned that even though others have been helpful in providing a standard fertilization routine, it can only be a standard. It keeps us from having to start from square one but we still have to think for ourselves.

I'm going to stop being so lazy and start accepting responsibility for my own tank. I suppose there really is no magic bullet in any of this, just good guidelines to go by until we're ready and able to help ourselves a little.

DarkCobra, that's another thing I had heard and chosen to forget. I can spot treat sections to test for effectiveness. It really would be a better alternative to treating everything in the tank, a little. If I decide to try Excel I'll use this method.

BSS, you're right and once I start upping my Macros it will make a micro deficiency more likely. I'll see what happens. And my tested No3 levels used to be bigger before the light upgrade. Apparently less was getting used up and so the surplus was growing steadily dose after dose up till the 50% water changes. Now, if I don't do it right, it shows There are no more false positives.

**To be fair to Ei, I just realized that Ei recommends 1/4 tsp per 20g. I was dosing 2/4 when, in fact, I should have been dosing closer to 3/4 for a tank my size. That still may have underdosed me according to the calculators, but it would not have underdosed me as much. I may have been dosing 33% less than what Ei recommends. I guess it depends on if you're talking about tank size by name or tank size by actual interior volume. I'm still gonna up it to 1tsp because that gets me to the ppm targets I'm shooting for.

Light acts like a microscope. It makes little problems much bigger.

"Insanity: doing [or asking] the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-20-2006, 12:41 PM
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I have a tough time with all these rules of thumb and standards. They never work for me for long. I run my tanks on a controllers. My CO2 is higher then 50ppm and consistant (I do monitor my KH and calibrate my probes). If i follow the starting guideline for EI, GSA in about 5 minutes. HAHAHA In my 75 with 220 PC light, I dose 1/2tsp N, almost a 1/4tsp P, and 1/2+tsp K (gregW ferts). It has been working well for me. I also dose 15ml TMG for micros. Doing the traditional alternation between macro and micro 3x a week. Now this amount of N in my size tank, is extremely low according to the standard. I have messed with upping it, but as soon as i do, GSA. It should also be noted that I have very little bio load. Just a lot of shrimp and otos, and i dont feed them.

BBA........well I have noticed in both of my tanks, that it seems to start in high flow areas. It will start on leaves that are in direct current from the filter, or on rocks that are in high current areas. I am seeing it starting to grow in my 75 now. This tank has virtually 0 algae. Why is this? Is it cause my N is low? I cant up it without GSA. I guess I could add more P, but I think I already add more then I should. Perhaps it is my local water?

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