EI dosing / Fish behavior question - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-07-2015, 02:58 AM Thread Starter
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EI dosing / Fish behavior question

I have a standard 55g, pretty heavily planted (see my sig for details). For about a year I've been following the dosing schedule outlined below. My plants grow like mad and my fish seem healthy. Last week I decided to not dose any fertilizers at all, just as an experiment to see what effect it would have on plants/fish. Over the course of the week with no fertilizers added, my fish (assorted tetras and harlequin rasboras) seem to have become more active. Was I dosing too much nitrate? Or do you see any other problems with this schedule that would cause fish to be lethargic? Again, I never noticed that they were acting lazy until I stopped dosing fertz and they suddenly perked up.

Mon: 3/8 tsp KNO3, 1/8 tsp KH2PO4, 1/8 tsp K2SO4
Tue: 1/8 tsp CSM+B
Wed: 3/8 tsp KNO3
Thu: Flourish Comprehensive
Fri: 3/8 tsp KNO3
Sat: none
Sun: ~40% water change

55g: Finnex Planted+ and MonsterRay, Pressurized CO2 w/ Atomic inline diffuser, Eheim 2217, Eco-Complete, EI ferts. Lemon, Glowlight, and Black Neon Tetras; Harlequin Rasboras; Otos. Staurogyne repens, Hygrophila corymbosa, Ludwigia repens, Ludwigia glandulosa, Red Melon Sword, Wisteria, Water Sprite.

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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-07-2015, 03:22 AM
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Checking the Nitrate/w a test kit sounds like a better idea.
Plants use/need it but over 40 ppm seems to effect fish more.
The level which you are using is less than one of the three doses that EI recommends
so I can't see it getting in excess. But doing test is better than guessing.
And I might also check the source water before I put it in the tank to see if
it has any nitrates.

P.S. check the nitrates just before the WC.

The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line...in the opposite direction...

Last edited by Raymond S.; 04-07-2015 at 03:24 AM. Reason: P.S.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-07-2015, 03:53 AM
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Just my 2 cents, but I've noticed my tetras perk up whenever I make changes. I've heard that changes over a few days in water parameters excites them as it mimics the start of their breeding season, but it's just a shot in the dark. I may also be assuming here, but based on Sudeep Mandal's method for low tech tanks, it's at least POSSIBLE that your plants are using one fertilizer far less than the others, and as a result, even with water changes, it slowly built up over months to a level that was a bit less enjoyable for them. But I'm new so ignore me, just trying to be helpful.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-07-2015, 12:49 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raymond S. View Post
Checking the Nitrate/w a test kit sounds like a better idea.
Plants use/need it but over 40 ppm seems to effect fish more.
The level which you are using is less than one of the three doses that EI recommends
so I can't see it getting in excess. But doing test is better than guessing.
I agree that testing is a better idea. But all I have is the API Master Test Kit, which is utterly useless when it comes to making fine distinctions. As best I could tell using the lousy API color card, my nitrates were somewhere between 30-80 ppm at the end of a normal week of dosing. After a week of no dosing at all, my nitrates had come down to somewhere between 10-30 ppm.

55g: Finnex Planted+ and MonsterRay, Pressurized CO2 w/ Atomic inline diffuser, Eheim 2217, Eco-Complete, EI ferts. Lemon, Glowlight, and Black Neon Tetras; Harlequin Rasboras; Otos. Staurogyne repens, Hygrophila corymbosa, Ludwigia repens, Ludwigia glandulosa, Red Melon Sword, Wisteria, Water Sprite.

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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-07-2015, 01:10 PM
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-07-2015, 10:11 PM Thread Starter
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Have you calibrated the test?
Yep. It's not a calibration issue, it's the colors on the test card, as I ranted about long ago in this post: https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...586&highlight=

For nitrates, the API test kit is only useful for seeing the extreme ends of the scale. If you're up around 100ppm or higher, you'll know it because the water will be really dark brick red; and if you're down around 5 to 20ppm, you'll know it because the water will be pale orange; but anything in the mid range, say from 25 to 80ppm, is just plain old red. It's a guessing game! The colors on the test card are no help at all: 10ppm looks darker than 20ppm. 40ppm and 80ppm are indistinguishable; if anything, 40 is darker than 80! (I would be tempted to think that I got a defective card, except that this is my third kit, and all three kits had the same problems; and all three were purchased years apart in different states.)

55g: Finnex Planted+ and MonsterRay, Pressurized CO2 w/ Atomic inline diffuser, Eheim 2217, Eco-Complete, EI ferts. Lemon, Glowlight, and Black Neon Tetras; Harlequin Rasboras; Otos. Staurogyne repens, Hygrophila corymbosa, Ludwigia repens, Ludwigia glandulosa, Red Melon Sword, Wisteria, Water Sprite.

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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-07-2015, 10:22 PM
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Just food for thought. One of those brain shows showed some color card tests and it turns out women see the colors on those cards better than men. So if your a guy maybe have a women look at it. I know it worked in my house. My wife picks out the color matches on the api cards right away.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-08-2015, 05:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrill View Post
Just food for thought. One of those brain shows showed some color card tests and it turns out women see the colors on those cards better than men. So if your a guy maybe have a women look at it. I know it worked in my house. My wife picks out the color matches on the api cards right away.
That's why when we ever do any renos around the house I say let me handle the design layout and for my wife to just worry about picking the colours!

Cheers,
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-08-2015, 09:26 PM
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I have the API test kit for nitrate. What I do is test the known quantity I'm aiming for (at least 10ppm), directly alongside my system water, and if I am way over, then no NO3 for a week, water change and test next week.

I have extensive personal experience (12 years in hobby, 4 years fish import/specialty LFS, 5 years running my aquatic business) with chemistry correlating to fish behavior, and I can say that if everything else is spot on (pH, O2, KH, GH, nh4, nitrite etc) then fish show a direct negative reaction to NO3 levels, especially over 40-50 ppm.

That being said, my system was recently at over 150ppm nitrate for two weeks(overdose of KNo3), and I lost zero fish. The other factors play a huge role when No3 is high.

Most fish will breed (are happiest) only when a large water changes are done, and NO3 gets below 10-15 ppm. There is a whole new level of activity here.

ALL that said, NO3 is just one factor.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-09-2015, 02:41 AM
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If you suspect the NO3 is in the 'unreadable red' zone, then dilute the tank water with as much RO as you suspect will give you a readable result.
For example, if you think the NO3 might be between 20-40 ppm, then see what 50% tank water + 50% RO will give you. Double the test reading to assign a value to the tank water.

You could try as little as 1ml tank water + 4 ml RO, then multiply the result by 5.

Alternate idea: If the test is anywhere in the red zone, do a 50% water change and retest. Maybe gotta do another 50% if it is still unreadable. Then let it stabilize over night, and test the next day.
2 x 50% water changes back to back is 75% water change. If the NO3 is still over 20 ppm after this, it means that it had been over 80 ppm which is WAY too high.

Does not really matter what the actual value is. If the test is red, do a big water change.

Now, back to dosing.
Fish food can contribute quite a lot of N, P and most traces.
Water changes can supply the Ca and Mg needed by fish and plants, as long as the GH is at least 3 degrees.
Fish food is low in carbon, potassium and iron.

You could:
Skip dosing anything and do 50% water changes, still run the lights and CO2 for a few days.
Then test the NO3.
Use this as a guide to how much fertilizer the fish food is giving to the plants.
If it is still readable, the NO3 can be a stand-in for P and the traces (but not iron).

Next, dose K and Fe.

After a few days test the NO3. The additional elements that fish food is low in might be just enough to kick the plants into using up more NO3.

If it is low, then start dosing KNO3, KH2PO4, and traces. You could use the EI method, or perhaps cut the recipe in half if you think these are being supplied pretty well by fish food. Whatever level you decide to dose the KNO3, also adjust the KH2PO4 and traces the same way.
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