Help me understand EI Dosing! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-20-2009, 05:05 AM Thread Starter
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Help me understand EI Dosing!

I am gonna start by saying hello to everyone.

HELLO! Nice meeting you all!

OK, now, I am new to planted tanks and I am still reading up on the subject before starting the venture. I have read many a thread on EI Dosing. Everything seems quite simple enough. I shouldn't have a problem building and fallowing a set regime. The plan (as I understand it) is that you give excess (word used loosely) nutrients, keep the CO2 at 30ppm and give the amount of light depending on your total wattage. Simply put, the plants have it all.

Now for what I don't understand - to keep your tank algae free, your plants need to outcompete the algae, that's simple enough and straight forward.
But where does the competition take place? I mean the nutrients are all there in excess, the CO2 is stable and the light, well, it's whatever you have under the hood.

Maybe I am missed reading something fundamental or maybe I am just nuts and shouldn't worry about the inner workings of it all. Yet, I would still like to understand what I am doing before doing it.

Any input would be great.

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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-20-2009, 05:23 AM
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Sometimes problems arrive when one or more nutrients bottoms out. This lets the algae that likes these kind of conditions to grow and the plants can't grow because of the missing nutrient(s). EI doesn't allow nutrients to bottom out. Also, the lights and CO2 play a vital part of the system.

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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-20-2009, 07:39 PM
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Plants and algae don't compete in our tanks for nutrients. They do compete for light. When algae grows on a plant leaf, it is taking light away from that leaf. When plants grow to the top of the tank and cover the water surface, they are taking light away from algae.

Algae exist as spores in the tank, on or in the substrate and on plants and hardscape, even when we see no algae. Those spores will be dormant unless something about the conditions in the tank triggers the spores to start growing. Two of the things that seem to do that are ammonia and fluctuating CO2 concentration or a drop in CO2 concentration. Once the spores start to grow, giving you algae, you have to get rid of most of the algae by removing it from the tank, or killing it where it is, then you can reestablish the conditions in the tank that keep more spores from starting to grow.

This is how I understand it, but I'm sure some of those details are at least partially wrong.

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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-21-2009, 04:53 AM Thread Starter
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OK, yes, I see.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoppy View Post
This is how I understand it, but I'm sure some of those details are at least partially wrong.
Partially wrong or not, I am satisfied. I can understand it like so myself. It gives me something to work with.

Thanks for the replies.

If anyone has anything to add, don't be shy!

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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-23-2009, 10:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoppy View Post
Algae exist as spores in the tank.
Correction. Algae exist to drive me insane.

Don't worry this is a piece of cake. There is only one test. If you can balance an egg on a toothpick, you'll do just fine. (Stipulation, egg must be in shell, and you can't stab the egg with the toothpick).

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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-23-2009, 11:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by manofmanyfish View Post
Correction. Algae exist to drive me insane.

Don't worry this is a piece of cake. There is only one test. If you can balance an egg on a toothpick, you'll do just fine. (Stipulation, egg must be in shell, and you can't stab the egg with the toothpick).
That is utter nonsense! You can do fine if you can use two toothpicks to balance it.

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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-23-2009, 11:15 PM
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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-26-2009, 06:33 PM Thread Starter
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I should be able to balance a egg on a toothpick, I'll just wait till my cories spawn and I'll have a crack at it!
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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-26-2009, 06:50 PM
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Agree with what everyone says. And this may also better help you to understand.

Light is something that can cause you grief or aid you in having a successful planted tank. With higher light levels, the balancing act becomes more challenging. The plant's demands for c02 and nutrients is governed by how much light you blast the plants with. Maintaining stable adequate c02 levels, via pressurized c02, and sufficient circulation coupled with fertilization(i.e., EI) at full throttle and 50% weekly water changes helps maintain the balance. But one slip up, and algae will rear its ugly head. There is less wiggle room to screw up with such setups so you really need to committ yourself from day 1.

With less light(2 watts/gallon or less), plants grow slower so nutrient demand and uptake is less and c02 is not as critical, but if you do inject c02, you do not need to hit that magical 30 PPM for the plants to benefit and to prevent algae. There is insufficient light to spark algae, so even if you got an ammonia spike from a decaying fish and did not notice it, it will not trigger algae growth.

The key is really, giving your plants sufficient light so that they can grow but not so much that you are forced into the daunting task of agressively trying to ensure appropriate c02 levels and nutrients so algae will not force you into a long drawn out, time consuming war. It is much easier to do things to prevent algae than to battle it head on for months once you get it.
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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-27-2009, 04:45 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Homer_Simpson View Post
It is much easier to do things to prevent algae than to battle it head on for months once you get it.
Mmmm, yes, point taken.
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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-27-2009, 04:56 PM
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Our goal is more horticulture, to grow and garden aquatic plants.
So we focus on providing good conditions for plant growth.

Plants, not nutrients define the system and their ability to grow and flourish.
Ever seen a tank with algae and flourishing plants?

I haven't.

In tanks where the plants are flourishing and doing very well we see little if any algae. These tanks can seemingly have little or a great deal of nutrients, both are seen and there is a wide range observed. Why is that? Well, light and CO2 paly a rule also. Less light, less nutrients, also sediment sources can make up for seemingly low water column ppm's and poor testing can also lead to poor conclusions, as is often the case.

So sediment sources + water column dosing are synergistic, they make both methods easier.

As long as the sediment is not messy and you are not making a mess as well, then this is a good method to add to any water column dosing routine.

Less light = less CO2 demand = less nutrient demand.
Fish load also can and does add some variation as well and load of nutrients.

Plant biomass differences between tanks also play roles, and often tanks are nutrient limited which causes issues for CO2 demand(reduces the CO2 demand often several times), so if you add non limiting amounts of nutrients, then you have much more CO2 demand as result, if the CO2 is not adjusted for this, then you end up with algae, not from nutrients, rather, lack of enough CO2.

Such indirect relationships cause many to assume algae is limited by nutrients, without considering what and how the plants are affected and without regard or measure of the CO2 and light critically.

This was common decades or so ago, not so much today, but many "still cling to the past". Ironically referring to themselves as new, more evolved methods that dose less than EI etc. If you have low light, then it's not an issue, the tank is not limited by nutrients or CO2. If you have a PO4 limited tank, then you are not limiting algae, you are limiting CO2 demand from the plants.

Very poor conclusions and even worst test method/s.
You can find tanks with no PO4 measured and low limited PO4 and algae ridden. Likewise, where's my algae bloom if limited PO4 works as claimed? If this is true then I should be able to induce algae and run and high risk or a bloom if this theory is correct.

So both cases do not explain the results and observations.
Yet they still believe it
I guess the world is flat

Easily shown to be false but they still cling to the past and what they want to believe, not the evidence/observations/confirmation.

Regards,
Tom Barr




Regards,
Tom Barr
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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old 03-06-2009, 06:20 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post
I guess the world is flat
Huh? World, not flat? What? And here I thought it was rectangular and enclosed in 5 panes of glass.... Might have to rethink my position on the matter.


Thanks for the replies.

Maybe, I am trying to see things in overly concrete terms. 1+1 doesn't always equal 2....

Quote:
Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post
Such indirect relationships cause many to assume algae is limited by nutrients, without considering what and how the plants are affected and without regard or measure of the CO2 and light critically.
Bottom line, in EI, CO2 and light are the determining factors... hmm. Still doesn't fit with my specific type of reasonning, but then again, since I do not know all the possible relationships in this equation, I can't really argue any points. Besides if my point of view is wrong, my questions on the matter might be the wrong ones to ask.

I will be leaving this simmer and hopefully, if there is a real need to understand, experience will deliver.

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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old 03-06-2009, 08:47 PM
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I'm a bit of a matter of fact type of person, I observe first, then see about testing some idea. Then see what I might be able to conclude.

EI is simple, it's suppose to be, it's the most reduced type of dosing method.
Water change: removes any excess build up, dosing, frequently: prevents anything from running out.

Some math can be used to estimate what % error you have, for 50% weekly water changes, 2x the dose for the week.

Teaspoons are accurate for our purposes and easy to use.
DIY chemicals are very cheap and also standard, so anyone anywhere uses the same stuff.

This is simple. There's not a whole lot to it. Folks ask a dozen questions about it still, no matter how simple I explain it.

They worry something will go wrong, that it will cause algae, harm their fish or any several dozen myths that have been said and are still being claimed even after 15 years of it's use and a decade of wide spread use.

LFS's and vendors do not like EI and other DIY methods, they cannot make $ off them like ADA, and other brands.

So they will scare and warn folks about such methods and further the myth simply to make some sales...................
There is no other reason other than ignorance, I'm not sure which is worse.

=>>>> In the reasoning you state, EI simply rules out nutrients as dependent factors. So the other dependent factors are light and CO2. Now we only have 2 things to deal with instead of three.

Light is fairly stable and if you had been able to grow things in less than optimal nutrients, now you should be even better off.

Now you are down to one thing: CO2.

You can reduce light also, this will reduce CO2 demand and also thereby.......nutrient demand.

This will make targeting a good non limiting CO2 level fairly easy.

This gives you an easy to manage system where no testing is needed, low occurrence of algae, good healthy growth with good color.

It's just using common sense to isolate things to one main variable, CO2.

CO2 is the trickiest of the parameters to measure, the largest % of plant biomass and the most limiting factor for growth, the one that can change the most in a few minutes/hours etc.

If you want to induce algae, try turning off the CO2 for awhile and see how long it takes to get bad algae.

Nothing does this like poor CO2..............

If you cannot knowingly rule out CO2 and test the other parameters, you are in a lot of trouble experimentally. You have no confirmation and I do not trust the pH/KH test one bit, nor Drop checkers etc. I've measured CO2 very critically and it varies more than most aquarist realize.

The issue is really about EI dosing here, it adds a nice non limiting concentration to plants. That's all it does.

A few simple test falisfy these other myths/claims against it and are and have been repeated many times for over a decade.

This is not anything "new".

Regards,
Tom Barr




Regards,
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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old 03-08-2009, 04:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post

CO2 is the trickiest of the parameters to measure, the largest % of plant biomass and the most limiting factor for growth, the one that can change the most in a few minutes/hours etc.

If you want to induce algae, try turning off the CO2 for awhile and see how long it takes to get bad algae.

Nothing does this like poor CO2..............

If you cannot knowingly rule out CO2 and test the other parameters, you are in a lot of trouble experimentally. You have no confirmation and I do not trust the pH/KH test one bit, nor Drop checkers etc. I've measured CO2 very critically and it varies more than most aquarist realize.

Regards,
Tom Barr
Question #1 (1a, 1b, 1c) - OK, low CO2 is bad. With respect to the plants (disregarding effects on fish), are there negatives to "too much" CO2? Can we "overdose" CO2 easily...is there a narrow threshold or a broad tolerance level (for plants)? As with EI, do we simply make sure there is more than what's needed, or is too much just as bad as too little? The 50% wc at the end of the week rebalances the CO2 as well, doesn't it?

Question #2 - No test kit and no Drop Checker....how do you measure CO2 concentration? How do you know you are where you need to be? Are you saying we should all be using a pH monitor, solenoidie thingy, whatever?

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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old 03-08-2009, 04:48 AM
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I think I am just dumb, but I don't understand how you supply all of the nutrients needed for plant growth, including those that grow algae, and you don't get algae.

I see the results, and I'm not arguing that. I don't use EI yet, but I have a tank full of fairly healthy plants (with a little algae), and I don't understand why algae isn't having as much of a field day as the plants are. What is the algae lacking?

I just don't understand it.

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