PPS vs. EI - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-13-2009, 04:41 PM Thread Starter
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PPS vs. EI

I know many people here are familiar with PPS Classic/PPS Pro, and most generally use EI for fertilizing. I was wondering what people used here for fertilizing their tanks, and how much success they've had with it.

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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-13-2009, 04:43 PM
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I use EI and would say im moderately successful with what I can grow and how it looks. Allthough I wouldnt atttribute my unsuccessfulness (sp?) to the fert routine but to my hard water. Man, I really ne a r/o unit...


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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-13-2009, 04:47 PM
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I have tried PPS Pro, PPS Classic, and EI. And I would say that I had the most success with EI. However, cause and effect is difficult to pinpoint with accuracy. There could have been a host of other variables involved that could account for the difference. Unfortunately to isolate those I would have to run several tanks under exact identical conditions using all three to see what happens. As much as I love this hobby and a challenge, I don't have the time and space to do run such a test.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-13-2009, 06:11 PM
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PPS is leaner(can limit nutrients in some cases), EI is richer(non limiting most all cases)). Not much difference. NO3 is still NO3, PO4 is still PO4 etc.

You can dose PPS 2-3x a week, or dose EI daily, you can do it in a liquid or dry. Neither matters that much. What does matter is that you are consistent and add enough ferts for the plants.

You cannot blame a particular method for your own issues
..........and........... plenty of folks have.

CO2 is the issue that nutrient dosing often gets the blame for.
Many make bad assumptions there, don;t add enough and then blame the fert dosing.

If you limit some nutrients, you reduce the demand of CO2, because the plant is limited not by CO2 any more, rather some other nutrient.

But that did not address the root cause, poor CO2.
That leads many to think that less PO4 or whatever nutrient you wanna pick is the root cause of their issues, that's simply put: bad logic and poor conclusions and this relationship is testable and supported by the observations.

Overall, nutrients are about the easiest thing, then lights, the hardest and the one that kills more fish, caused stunted tips, poor growth, competition between plant species, and of course more algae issues than any other: CO2.

Adding more CO2 can relieve such issues and gets at the root cause, but you can also reduce and limit the light and this places less demand on CO2 as well Rather than limiting something that changes and needs tested often, limiting light cost less and reduces the amount of pruning and algae growth as well. Less light reduces the amount CO2 fixed by plants in photosynthesis, thus is it's easier to target a good non limiting CO2 ppm.
Then nutrients are also used at slower rate and the plant is able to build and make tissue without running out of anything.

This is basic plant science.

You have the entire control over light, CO2 and nutrients. So it's not just about dosing a certain way, it's also about the light, and the CO2.
and many blame dosing for everything since they cannot test light well or CO2. Or assume too many things are the same with light and CO2.

They are not.

Put another way, folks fail with EI all the time, same for PPS, same for ADA, same for any method...........the user sometimes gets lucky, sometimes they fail and fail no matter what dosing routine they chose(too much light, not enough CO2 etc).

Failure means you did not do something right, it is not confirmation that the method does not work, folks fail for 1001 reasons, there are plenty of examples of where they do work(successes), you can debate why they work, but you cannot blame the method of dosing based on those, because they do work.

That's not confirmation of failure
They all work within context and for some of the same reasons in some cases(say when the light is low), and different reasons in others(say when light is higher and the nutrients limit CO2 in one case and when they are non limiting in another).


Regards,
Tom Barr



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Regards,
Tom Barr
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-14-2009, 01:42 AM
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I agree with Tom, that the biggest improvement I've seen was by upping my CO2. I only fertilize at water change and once maybe twice a week with trace and K because my fish load suffices for the nitrates and po4.

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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-14-2009, 03:19 PM
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I also agree. I just switched to pressurized and man the difference in plant growth is outstanding. FWIW, I use PPS-Pro. I really like the results as far as plant growth. There is a consistent, steady growth. I notice when I buy a new plant locally, the growth greatly improves within a few days. The only issue I have is with GSA. I hear this is a common factor in using the PPS method of fertilizing, since it is lean on phosphates.

I wanted to go with EI, but the water changes of 50% is just too hard on my fish (especially the otos) due to the water quality. (I cannot afford RO yet.) Also, I felt changing that much water weekly was not the greatest thing for our environment, since it is a resource many of us take for granted. Off my soap box....

But with either method, I believe consistency is the key to success. I didn't see great improvement until I started following the instructions to a T. I don't overdose, and I dose daily as recommended. A bit of a pain, but well worth it in the end.

Without Algae, death of mankind would be inevitable.

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-14-2009, 06:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sewingalot View Post
I also agree. I just switched to pressurized and man the difference in plant growth is outstanding. FWIW, I use PPS-Pro. I really like the results as far as plant growth. There is a consistent, steady growth. I notice when I buy a new plant locally, the growth greatly improves within a few days. The only issue I have is with GSA. I hear this is a common factor in using the PPS method of fertilizing, since it is lean on phosphates.
So add more PO4 to the solution mix next time and then you have addressed that. You know enough to solve the issue, use the common sense.

EI is not much more than non limiting PMDD + PO4. That's about it, and using more % water changes, no test kits are needed. I claim no different.
PPS is leaner, so if you really wanted to, add less EI and use test kits to avoid water changes. I prefer to do water changes because it makes working on the tank less messy and no water all over the place, wet arms etc.

Quote:
I wanted to go with EI, but the water changes of 50% is just too hard on my fish (especially the otos) due to the water quality. (I cannot afford RO yet.)
What is wrong with the tap?
I've had ottos over 30+ years with a huge variation in tap water having lived in the midwest, the south, both coast, rock hard and super soft. No issues here with them or most fish. Always done large 50% water changes. Just like the breeders. The only issue was really the KH, but once they are acclimated to harder water, then there's little issue. If you do large water changes, the system stays more stable because it's just like the tap all the time.
I've never had any associated issues with % water changes and fish.
They have always seemed to like more water changes.
Few will disagree.

RO: That waste 90% is rejection water so that's far more environmentally wasteful which is hardly ecologically sound reasoning.
I can do 10X the water changes with the same tap water as you can with RO. That's the part pps does not tell folks. Why not just live with higher KH? You can remove everything else with a simple no waste carbon filter.
Spent carbon can be heated and reused or used as a soil amendment etc.

So say I do 50% weekly water changes and you do 25% monthly using RO on a 40 gallon tank. I have to pay for a RO, store the water etc. I'll say the labor is free for doing all that.
10 gallons of of RO will take about 100 gallon per month, vs the EI 50% water change weekly will use 20 gallon per week x 4 weeks= 80 gallons of tap water vs 100 gallons of tap water(RO).

Who's wasting more water here?

Waste is also an issue, what you do with the water afterward is critical also, it's not waste for me since I irrigate and recharge the ground water with old tank water. Water that I have to use anyway for the landscaping.

Quote:
Also, I felt changing that much water weekly was not the greatest thing for our environment, since it is a resource many of us take for granted. Off my soap box....
Please, this some perception fed to you, if you honestly wanted this:
In aquariums: go all non CO2 approaches which make it far easier and much manageable to go without water changes for months, years etc, eg here's a tank using the non CO2 methods I've suggested:

No water changes for many months:


I mean if that is really your goal and the trade off you honestly want to avoid water changes and think less is better ...........why not go all the way there?

The results are easy to see. Folks have done nice non CO2 aquariums for years, "why add CO2 poison to the water that stressed fish and kills more fish in planted tanks and causes more algae than any other single issue by a huge factor?"

I can use environmental agenda horse manure and promote an agenda as well Does not mean the logic follows however.

You cannot have it both ways, you have to accept trade offs for your stated goals, so you cannot disparage one method using CO2 and high light while you do it as well and then use very harsh environment test kit reagents, RO etc on the other. Those can be and often are even worst environmentally. Be honest and look at the trade offs fairly.

Heck, be honest and aware about this stuff if it's a soap box issue at least.
We all can improve in this area, but the trade off vs what you get here is not some gain as you suggest, in fact, it might be more harmful ironically.

You should not use higher lights and CO2 either if this is your "feeling".
Ah, but you are willing to forgo that trade off for faster growth and other considerations, what about the noxious chemical by products from test kits, RO waste water? I'm sure you take these to hazmat section and not just toss into the landfills? Nutrients get cycled rapidly and are relatively non toxic at the small ppm's we add, particularly if you spread them on landscaping soils.

I do point out trade offs, which are applied to all methods. You do not get something for nothing. There is always some trade off involved. Folks need to be honest about those trade offs, not fill them with agenda and bad mouthing because the method is not theirs, or they did poorly with the method.

You failed, not the method.
Perhaps you messed up the CO2, perhaps you did 101 things we are not even considering, aquarist kill fish for many reasons not related to water changes, or dosing KNO3. Common sense will quickly tell you this is true. So it is difficult saying what caused what.... unless you confirm things.
Is the savings worth the benefit? Often times not.

As far as a sustainable philosophy method for aquarium keeping, the non CO2 method cannot be beat by EI or PPS. PPS seems to try to imply it's the same, but it's not even remotely close nor as a successful as a non CO2 method at that aspect. Nor is EI. But it makes no such claim either, nor does ADA, which also uses 50% weekly water changes and virtually no test kits.

Any method using enriched CO2 enrichment is industrial agriculture based high yield cropping systems, the same type the reefer growers use.........is not nearly as sustainable, so ADA, EI, PPS all fail on that agenda if you use logic.

You want a more natural approach, then go non CO2, you get 10-20X less growth however. That's the trade off, but it works and requires virtually no effort once established.

Quote:
But with either method, I believe consistency is the key to success. I didn't see great improvement until I started following the instructions to a T. I don't overdose, and I dose daily as recommended. A bit of a pain, but well worth it in the end.
Okay, answer me this then:

So at what ppm's do you get algae or poor plant growth, bad fish health, bad shrimp health for say NO3, K+, PO4, Fe etc in each and every case when the other parameters are kept independent? How do we know the other parameters are truly independent and not confounding the results?

Are you, or anyone else able to say? How far out there do we have to go before we see detrimental effects? Folks say this all the time, yet others routinely add high levels without ill effects. That falsifies these claims and advice.

The explanation is that the dosing is causing one limiting to be replaced by another. Thus if you limit PO4, it causes indirect effects NOT associated with the root causes. This is testable and repeatable, that's why you need to be careful in what you assume and look for such indirect effects, make sure the test is independent and looking at only one thing at a time, this is basic stuff in plant science text books. See Liebig's law of minimum, various PO4, NO3 (or light as well) limiting CO2 demand papers etc on plants. Less light obviously means less growth also, so less light means less demand for CO2, less demand for nutrients, and also less growth rates. Some trade offs are good, some not what some folks want or think they want. CO2 and light obviously affect dosing and nutrient demand. I do not need to add anything other than fish food for most non CO2 planted tanks if I limit the light and CO2. Clearly the reverse is also true, if I add more light and CO2, I need to add more nutrients to scale things up. Fairly logical. ADA uses lower light(in terms of PAR, not watts/gal), sediment and water column ferts(in case the user forgets to add the water column ferts- sediment sources act as back up) and CO2, which is easier to add at lower light intensities.

This makes for an easy to use system.
EI can handle the higher light intensities better than other methods, but it also knows that the higher nutrients do not cause algae. Still, it and every method works better with low to moderately low light, there's more wiggle room. Adding sediment ferts is also a wise trade off, it helps add ferts synergistically and complements any water column fert routine. Now we have moved beyond agenda, "either or", products, and any one method and can generalize what trade offs are useful to meet a particular goal we/folks we help might have. That's far more useful to the hobbyists(who have many goals) and helps new folks have more success.

Regards,
Tom Barr




Regards,
Tom Barr
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-15-2009, 06:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post
Now we have moved beyond agenda, "either or", products, and any one method and can generalize what trade offs are useful to meet a particular goal we/folks we help might have. That's far more useful to the hobbyists(who have many goals) and helps new folks have more success.
I must say you have definitely opened my eyes to a lot. It is always great to have someone more knowledgeable in a hobby guide you in the right direction.

I am hesitant to add more PO4 (the test is at 3) to the PPS Pro mixture since I am really new to the fertilizing of plants and to planted tanks for that matter. From what I read on PPS-Pro, this is supposed to be enough (although lean) dosing. I actually am researching on this to see what avenue to take with my next mixture of fertilizers. I have been searching boards for days, and there is just so much information, it is easy to get confused. Therefore, I have a journal detailing each step I take and I only change one thing a month in order to see if there is progress. According to my notes, the GSA arrived three-five days after I went from using SeaChem fertlizer products the the PPS-Pro method. I know this is part of the problem, but I thought research and following the directions given in the meantime would be the most advantageous. Is this not the correct thing to do?

You asked what is wrong with the water here? The sewer system is not in the best of shape right now, and when it rains, there is sewage backup frequently to the point it comes out of the pipes, not just through the drains for days on end. Lately, it has been bad because of the leaves are blocking the drainage system. I thought the RO could help with the water quality overall and not stress out the fish. That is the main reasons I don't do the 50% water change, especially since the last time killed otos within a few short hours. (We later found out they had issued another boil advisory the day I changed the water.) However, I didn't realize RO wasted so much water, so this won't be an option for me. I also use my tank water for plants around my house, or the trees outside.

I like the concept of the non co2 approach. I am actually doing that with two of my ten gallon tanks with my bettas. It is a great idea, but I see that there is trade offs in these two tanks. Mainly, the fish load is very light and the plants are slowly growing. Yet this is fine with me, and both bettas are happy and healthy.

One thing you said concerns me though. ". . .you cannot disparage one method using CO2 and high light while you do it as well and then use very harsh environment test kit reagents, RO etc on the other. . ." I never intended to disparage the EI method. I think it could be a wonderful regimine for many to use. I never intended to sound as though I thought poorly of it. I actually started out using this method, but couldn't continue do to local water qualities. That is what I was trying to get at when I was talking about wasting water, you never know what a precious thing it is until a problem exists. I never meant any offense, though. I am truly embarrassed that it came off that way.

Thanks for the help, I appreciate your taking the time to explain the differences in methods of fertilizing.

Without Algae, death of mankind would be inevitable.

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