Water changes with EI, low-tech - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-14-2015, 12:50 PM Thread Starter
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Water changes with EI, low-tech

Hi all,

I'm dosing EI (usually no KNO3 -- fish add enough nitrates, and I'm keeping them at 5-10 ppm) and daily Excel in my 38-gallon tank (medium-ish lighting). Since I don't do CO2, I've just been doing 1 of the typical 3x/week doses (micro and macro). Do I still need to do 50% weekly water changes? I'm thinking about scaling back to 1/3 or 1/4 changes (still weekly) to keep the water more stable for my fish (cardinal tetras and soon, pygmy corys and Bolivian rams), particularly since I have to use RO water and thus have to add back minerals and KH buffers, and because the water I add is colder than the tank water. Given that I don't do the full 3x/week dosing, will I avoid overfertilizing the tank with the smaller WCs? (Of course, if I find that nitrate levels start to rise too much due to fish waste, I'll do bigger or more frequent changes.)

And if I do decide to try this, will there be visible signs of too much ferts (micro, potassium, phosphorus... I can test for nitrates, of course) so I'll know if I need to up WC % or decrease ferts?


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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-14-2015, 01:24 PM
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Your fish probably won't care if you do 50% water changes. You should never introduce cold water changes. Why can't you heat the water up before adding? I often do up to 70% water changes every 2-3 weeks on my low tech RCS / cory tank.

Whether you are dosing too many ferts greatly relies on your lighting, plant mass, plant selection and how many nutrients they consume as well. It's not a perfect mathematical equation.

There really aren't 'visible signs of too much ferts' as ferts very rarely cause algae issues except for more extreme cases. Keeping things clean and lots of healthy plants keeps algae at bay. If your ferts are way off and your plants suffer then that will cause algae. Not necessarily because there are ferts in the water column but because your plants aren't growing as well.

Either way I don't think it will be an issue. Just keep doing what you're doing.


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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-14-2015, 01:36 PM
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By cutting down on water changes you will make the tank water more unstable in the wrong direction.

You say your fishes add a lot of nitrate, so I assume that your tank is well stocked with fishes, and you feed them well. You also are adding plant fertilisers EI which means a variety of mineral salts. Now cutting back on water changes would mean accumulation of unwanted mineral salts, some of them not harmless in strong doses.

If you have been following you past routine with good results, it is because you have found a sweet spot - stick with it. Correction with sudden large water changes is a yo-yo effect - sudden highs and sudden lows of TDS. Keep the build-up of mineral salts low and enjoy the benefits.

If you have a choice, you have a problem, till you elect your choice. No choice, no problem, only consequences, learn to live with them.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-14-2015, 01:54 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by klibs View Post
Your fish probably won't care if you do 50% water changes. You should never introduce cold water changes. Why can't you heat the water up before adding?
The water comes from R/O tanks in our crawl space, which is insulated but not heated, so it's going to be colder than the tank water. (Long story short, I use R/O water because every spigot in and out of our house puts out water that has been through a water softener, and I've received consistent advice not to use that.) Right now, I have a line directly from the tanks that I can fill the tank with. I add dissolved Equilibrium and KH buffers slowly as the tank fills. I add a second heater to the tank as it's filling, so the temperature drops only 3-4 degrees and quickly gets back up to normal. Granted, the new water may get colder as winter hits. I could heat it, I suppose, by filling up a trash can or something next to the tank and adding a heater or letting it sit overnight... and then add Equilibrium and KH buffers and get it into the tank with some sort of pump? This is a significant extra step to the process that I'm not thrilled about -- hence my question about scaling back the amount of water changed each week instead (so the temperature drops less). But if it's really that important to not add colder water, I suppose I could do it.


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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-14-2015, 02:05 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by essabee View Post
By cutting down on water changes you will make the tank water more unstable in the wrong direction.

You say your fishes add a lot of nitrate, so I assume that your tank is well stocked with fishes, and you feed them well. You also are adding plant fertilisers EI which means a variety of mineral salts. Now cutting back on water changes would mean accumulation of unwanted mineral salts, some of them not harmless in strong doses.

If you have been following you past routine with good results, it is because you have found a sweet spot - stick with it. Correction with sudden large water changes is a yo-yo effect - sudden highs and sudden lows of TDS. Keep the build-up of mineral salts low and enjoy the benefits.
The issue is that the tank is pretty new (2 months with plants, has been cycled), and I just added fish a week ago, so I guess I'm still trying to figure out what the sweet spot might be. Right now I just have cardinal tetras, and they don't add much nitrate. I'm planning to add 16 C. pygmaeus and 2-4 Bolivian rams, though, so yes, I expect the nitrates to increase more quickly as the tank is stocked. My question is *assuming* I don't need bigger WCs to remove nitrates (i.e., if, after a week with the stocked tank, nitrates are no more than 10-15 ppm), would it work to do smaller WCs to lessen swings in temp and water chemistry (in particular since I have to add KH buffers to the R/O water) that happen with each WC. Again, a different way to ease my concerns would be to warm up the water in a trash can, add Equilibrium and KH buffers, let it sit overnight, and pump it into the tank in the morning... but I'm hoping to avoid that if there's a healthy way to do so.

In short, I'm concerned that the water change itself is a stressor for the fish, since it's colder, R/O water and I'm adding in Equilibrium and KH buffers (ideally if I'm adding the same amount every time, it should remain stable, I suppose), and I'm wondering if I can reduce that potential stress with smaller changes, or if I should do that with the more burdensome step of using some kind of trash can/pump system.


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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-14-2015, 02:12 PM
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I'll stick my neck out and say you researched that Bolivian Ram.
Ideal water parameters for Bolivian Ram:
Soft to moderately hard (hardness to 12 dGH), acidic to slightly basic (pH to 7.8) water, temperature 24-27C/76-80F. While adaptable, seems to prefer soft, acidic water and will spawn more readily. Habitat parameters: < 6 dGH, pH 7-7.6, temperature around 27C/81F.
Still suggested to only be placed in a mature tank. So appears to be more sensitive to
changes in water parameters than other fish, though not so much as the Blue Ram.
That covers that issue. So I have been told by a couple of our nutrient people that yes even if I am only using one of those three doses I still need to do the 50% water change each week. I guestimate that my plant mass is just into the mod range.
As was stated by Klibbs the amount of ferts used does depend quite a bit on plant mass
and type. But PPS Pro doesn't require that 50% water change. So same nutrients, just less of them. I'd check/w GLA and ask them to walk you through preparing PPS ferts
and just compare them to see if you think you might be OK with switching.

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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-14-2015, 02:29 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raymond S. View Post
I'll stick my neck out and say you researched that Bolivian Ram.
Ideal water parameters for Bolivian Ram:
Soft to moderately hard (hardness to 12 dGH), acidic to slightly basic (pH to 7.8) water, temperature 24-27C/76-80F. While adaptable, seems to prefer soft, acidic water and will spawn more readily. Habitat parameters: < 6 dGH, pH 7-7.6, temperature around 27C/81F.
Still suggested to only be placed in a mature tank. So appears to be more sensitive to
changes in water parameters than other fish, though not so much as the Blue Ram.
That covers that issue. So I have been told by a couple of our nutrient people that yes even if I am only using one of those three doses I still need to do the 50% water change each week. I guestimate that my plant mass is just into the mod range.
As was stated by Klibbs the amount of ferts used does depend quite a bit on plant mass
and type. But PPS Pro doesn't require that 50% water change. So same nutrients, just less of them. I'd check/w GLA and ask them to walk you through preparing PPS ferts
and just compare them to see if you think you might be OK with switching.
Yes, I've researched all of these fish quite thoroughly in anticipation... when I have to wait for something, I tend to research it to death. My water should be great for the BRs and other blackwater fish, since I start from RO and shoot for GH < 6 degrees and KH < 3 (if any higher, pH is too high).

I wouldn't add KH buffers at all (Seachem Acid Buffer and Alkaline Buffer), except that the KH of my RO water (and even my tap water) is 1 degree or less, and I've read that this can lead to pretty drastic pH swings, which I'd like to avoid. I think I have found the right dosages for these to keep the parameters I want, but if someone wants to disabuse me of that notion, I would love to stop messing with KH...

I'd call my plant mass "medium" right now. A lot of water wisteria in one corner and lots of Ludwigia stems, some B. japonica, AR mini, but also a couple big pieces of driftwood (with Anubias, java ferns attached). Not a thick jungle, but not minimal either. Plants seem to be doing well, although my L. arcuata is quite spindly (probably the lack of CO2, which I'm okay with). L. atlantis is taking off!

I will look into PPS Pro... but EI sounded like it would be less work, other than the larger WC. Just dose according the the calculators and 50% WC and you're good to go.


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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-14-2015, 02:58 PM
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By not dosing the KNO3, considering the Wisteria as in " A lot of water wisteria in one corner" then your dosing likely should contain about 3/8 tsp of K2SO4.
Several small plants wouldn't use that much, but one mature Wisteria can be front to back and one foot wide in that tank. But they fairly quickly will show pin holes in the lower leaves if they lack enough Potassium.

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-14-2015, 04:42 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Raymond S. View Post
By not dosing the KNO3, considering the Wisteria as in " A lot of water wisteria in one corner" then your dosing likely should contain about 3/8 tsp of K2SO4.
Several small plants wouldn't use that much, but one mature Wisteria can be front to back and one foot wide in that tank. But they fairly quickly will show pin holes in the lower leaves if they lack enough Potassium.

Good call; I'll get some K2SO4.


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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-14-2015, 05:37 PM
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Normally what people use to substitute for the KNO3 in high stocking level tanks which produce enough NO3 on their own. Equal amounts are sufficiently equal doses of the "K".
You likely have 36g after sub etc, but with multiple Wisteria I used the 40g tank dose in dry from this list and added both the KNO3 and K2SO4 together
for the total amount needed. A calculator would be needed to get closer as their is no 35g size on the list.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/11...n-recipes.html

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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-14-2015, 09:34 PM
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EI is not for Excel based tank really, but doing so does no harm, I only do about 1/3 rd the dosing EI and then water changes once every month or so.
Things go slower.............so you just add less(since you know things grow slower than with CO2 gas and higher light etc)

Folks who choose EI need to realize it's not meant to be set in stone, it's meant to have common sense applied.
Modifying it to reduce the % growth rate by 3x and reducing the water changes out to monthly or somewhere around that is what I'd tell folks to do.

Dosing is based on rates of growth. At full med high light, full 100% planted surfaces, CO2 gas...........vs say a 1/2 planted tank with Excel and medium to low light, well.........things are going to grow slower, so the rational is there's LESS demand.

If you go full non CO2, no excel, then you reduce things down by about 10-20X and feed fish, and do a water change maybe once every 3-6 months.

That pretty much covers every type of planted tank.
Stuff still grows, just grows slower.




Regards,
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-14-2015, 09:40 PM Thread Starter
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EI is not for Excel based tank really, but doing so does no harm, I only do about 1/3 rd the dosing EI and then water changes once every month or so.
Thanks Tom for the informative response. Why do you say EI is not really meant for an Excel-based tank?


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