High nutrients promote algae growth and are toxic to aquatic life - Page 17 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #241 of 283 (permalink) Old 02-17-2016, 10:29 PM
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Now the question is, why some people use levels like 45 ppm NO3 or 15 ppm PO4? Is it really necessary?
This will be my last post in this thread.

In chemistry, there is a phenomenon called the 'anion effect'. It makes cations less toxic due to the affinity of positive and negative ions. In other words, dosing high levels of anions reduce the toxic effects of excess heavy metals cations that are essential in minute quantities (but very toxic at higher concentrations, e.g. 1ppb of Cu is toxic to many life forms, including algae and crustaceans.)

Dosing excessive PO4 also increases the likelihood of metal precipitation, rendering them inert and non-toxic. It also helps alleviate toxic metal stress once plants have absorbed metal cations.

Dosing high levels of NO3 and PO4 anions also helps improve nutrient balance between the macros and the micros, especially more so if micros are excessively high as occurs when dosing EI levels of micros.

So is it typically necessary to dose such high concentrations of anions even though plants don't ever use so much? No, unless you are dosing excessively high concentrations of micros and need a way to neutralize or balance that toxicity. FYI: hydroponics use only a minute fraction of the traces needed to grow food crops, yet EI suggests dosing far in excess of what even these terrestrial crops require for fast and healthy growth. Logic should dictate an error in this approach.
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post #242 of 283 (permalink) Old 02-17-2016, 10:32 PM
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In my experiments, I could not make my plants to consume daily more than 1 ppm NO3, 0.1 ppm PO4, 1.3 ppm K and 0.1 ppm Mg. Once saturated, they simply didn’t want to take more. When I gave them more, they left it behind creating a buildup. This was under Metal Halide 5 Watt/gal PAR 100 and CF 6 Watt/gal PAR 200. (Light Calculator)

Now the question is, why some people use levels like 45 ppm NO3 or 15 ppm PO4? Is it really necessary?
If you started the day with 1 ppm of NO3 in the tank water, would the plants drop that to zero by the end of the day? Would that be true if you had one anubias in a 40 gallon tank vs. one H. polysperma in a 10 gallon tank? Or, 25 in each tank?

And, the same for the others you mentioned.

I'm not arguing with you. I'm trying to grasp the difference between micrograms of NO3 consumed by a plant vs. ppm in the water. Clearly if a single plant can empty the water of a nutrient in a 40 gallon tank, then that plant would be consuming a lot more than it would be in a 10 gallon tank. I see the nutrient requirements as two pronged - concentration, which determines if the plant can access the nutrient, and total amount of nutrient available, which determines how much plant growth is possible. (But, my mental picture of the process may not be right.)
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post #243 of 283 (permalink) Old 02-17-2016, 10:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Solcielo lawrencia View Post
This will be my last post in this thread.

In chemistry, there is a phenomenon called the 'anion effect'. It makes cations less toxic due to the affinity of positive and negative ions. In other words, dosing high levels of anions reduce the toxic effects of excess heavy metals cations that are essential in minute quantities (but very toxic at higher concentrations, e.g. 1ppb of Cu is toxic to many life forms, including algae and crustaceans.)

Dosing excessive PO4 also increases the likelihood of metal precipitation, rendering them inert and non-toxic. It also helps alleviate toxic metal stress once plants have absorbed metal cations.

Dosing high levels of NO3 and PO4 anions also helps improve nutrient balance between the macros and the micros, especially more so if micros are excessively high as occurs when dosing EI levels of micros.

So is it typically necessary to dose such high concentrations of anions even though plants don't ever use so much? No, unless you are dosing excessively high concentrations of micros and need a way to neutralize or balance that toxicity. FYI: hydroponics use only a minute fraction of the traces needed to grow food crops, yet EI suggests dosing far in excess of what even these terrestrial crops require for fast and healthy growth. Logic should dictate an error in this approach.
Excellent explanation Solcielo lawrencia.


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post #244 of 283 (permalink) Old 02-17-2016, 11:18 PM
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If you started the day with 1 ppm of NO3 in the tank water, would the plants drop that to zero by the end of the day?
Of course not, the levels never drop to zero, that’s a crazy myth about it.
The water column levels remain stable at 5 – 10 ppm NO3 and 0.1 – 1 ppm PO4. The plants take only what they want and leave the rest.

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Would that be true if you had one anubias in a 40 gallon tank vs. one H. polysperma in a 10 gallon tank? Or, 25 in each tank?

And, the same for the others you mentioned.

I'm not arguing with you. I'm trying to grasp the difference between micrograms of NO3 consumed by a plant vs. ppm in the water. Clearly if a single plant can empty the water of a nutrient in a 40 gallon tank, then that plant would be consuming a lot more than it would be in a 10 gallon tank. I see the nutrient requirements as two pronged - concentration, which determines if the plant can access the nutrient, and total amount of nutrient available, which determines how much plant growth is possible. (But, my mental picture of the process may not be right.)
I think this is why I mentioned the light energy (100 and 200 PAR). There was no more space to put plants, couldn’t see the substrate nor the glass. And, all plants were fast growing stems.


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post #245 of 283 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 12:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Edward View Post
Of course not, the levels never drop to zero, that’s a crazy myth about it.
The water column levels remain stable at 5 – 10 ppm NO3 and 0.1 – 1 ppm PO4. The plants take only what they want and leave the rest.


I think this is why I mentioned the light energy (100 and 200 PAR). There was no more space to put plants, couldn’t see the substrate nor the glass. And, all plants were fast growing stems.
Logic says the more plants you have and the more light you use, the more ferts you need to dose every day. So, if I understand you, you recommend starting with the water at 5-10 ppm NO3 and .1-1 ppm of PO4, then dosing an additional 1 ppm per day of NO3 and .1 ppm per day of PO4. And, this would only apply to heavily planted, high light tanks.

How would you reduce that for a low medium light tank, semi-heavily planted? I assume you would still start at the same concentration, but dose less per day or less often.

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post #246 of 283 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 01:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Solcielo lawrencia View Post
FYI: hydroponics use only a minute fraction of the traces needed to grow food crops, yet EI suggests dosing far in excess of what even these terrestrial crops require for fast and healthy growth. Logic should dictate an error in this approach.

A little bit of an exaggeration there, but in any case to help visualize this, the follow graphs show the concentration of the various elements in Hoagland solution, vs accumulated full EI dosing with CSM+B. EI in red.





One could probably argue that there is a slight imbalance.

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post #247 of 283 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 03:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Hoppy View Post
Logic says the more plants you have and the more light you use, the more ferts you need to dose every day. So, if I understand you, you recommend starting with the water at 5-10 ppm NO3 and .1-1 ppm of PO4, then dosing an additional 1 ppm per day of NO3 and .1 ppm per day of PO4. And, this would only apply to heavily planted, high light tanks.

How would you reduce that for a low medium light tank, semi-heavily planted? I assume you would still start at the same concentration, but dose less per day or less often.

We all know new setups are challenging. Plants always need time to adapt to new conditions. You know what I mean.

To begin, aquarium water can start at any nutrient levels. Then we start dosing daily PPS-Pro solution #1 at 2 ml / 10 gallon and PPS-Pro #2 (Trace elements) at 1/10 of the recommended 1 ml / 10 gallon for about four weeks to let the plants to adapt. (2 ppm NO3, 0.2 ppm PO4, 2.66 ppm K, 0.01 ppm Fe)

During this time and in to the future we need to switch from test kits to conductivity readings. This is easier, cheaper, faster and more accurate to overall living condition. Everything in an aquarium, alive or not, has some relationship to conductivity. (https://sites.google.com/site/aquati...home/tds-meter)

The way it is done is to maintain consistent levels of pollutants, like fertilizers, substrate leaks, fish waste, decoration leaks and other with water changes. Some setups involve large water changes at times, and some more balanced, not so much. That’s the beauty. Plants and fish love consistency.

For example, when your tap is 300 µS, one PPS-Pro daily fertilizer dose is 6µS. This one dose is 1 ppm of NO3. So to limit the NO3 to 15 ppm we need to make sure the conductivity reading is kept under (6 x 15) + 300 = 390 µS. This is so easy.

After the four weeks we start dosing daily PPS-Pro solution #1 at 1 ml / 10 gallon and PPS-Pro #2 (Trace elements) at 1/10 of the recommended 1 ml / 10 gallon and follow the conductivity TDS readings for water changes. Yes, no more test kits. (1 ppm NO3, 0.1 ppm PO4, 1.33 ppm K, 0.01 ppm Fe)

If you feel like needing more fertilizer then there is no problem to dose more ml of the PPS-Pro solutions. The conductivity reading will take care of it and balance it out.

And, no need to use GH Booster. It is not needed with tap.


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post #248 of 283 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 03:17 PM
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@Edward
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Now the question is, why some people use levels like 45 ppm NO3 or 15 ppm PO4? Is it really necessary?
While not the intent of the thread, https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/11...um-plants.html shows that increased nutrient concentration in the water leads to greater plant mass.


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But what is the point to try and destroy bacteria that is not noxious, not affecting the esthetics and will regenerate. It is a losing battle and more maintenance then I like given the results than can be obtained with NO3.
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Originally Posted by Audionut View Post
The issue is, that not all of the N as NH4 is available to the plants, some of it is transformed by nitrifying bacteria into NO3, which then must be denitrified by the plants back into NH4, requiring energy to do so. Without nitrifying bacteria, I would have no loss of NH4 to NO3, and hence, I could add significantly less NH4 to maintain the highly available (low energy requirement for use) form of N. Oh, and of course, with no NO3 dosing or nitrification of NH4 > NO3, NO3 concentration would be 0 ppm. Efficiency.................
It wasn't the increased NO3 concentration that facilitated that increased growth of the stem plants. The NO3 being nothing more then a byproduct of an unwanted biological process. It's the increased availability of more efficient forms of N that is the interesting part. I facilitate this availability by destroying some part of the nitrifying bacteria colony. Give or take, NO3 concentration remains the same as lower doses of N, through the process of water changes and destruction of nitrifying bacteria, but plant growth increases significantly.....................Since some part of the learning process in this system also means the reduction of manual tasks to support it, the constant removal of nitrifying bacteria goes against this standard. So I need to find that balancing act between available N, for my own personal needs and desires regarding growth, and the concentration of an unwanted byproduct (NO3).


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Originally Posted by dukydaf View Post
For example, from night to day we double or more the concentration of CO2 (via injection).
Yes, people do. And why do they do that? Is it because the fluctuations outside of the photoperiod don't matter, or just because any fluctuations don't matter?

When plants only consume this specific nutrient during the photoperiod, what happens with this specific nutrient outside of the photoperiod is of little consequence. T. Barr explains it better then I could currently, @burr740 linked this explanation earlier.

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post #249 of 283 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 07:40 PM
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Just so I understand you believe that the dosing of inorganic salts like NPK is the same as letting organics breakdown in a tank and not being either consumed by plants, biofilter or removed by water changes or media. You think the side effects to the aquarium would be one in the same?
I am trying to discern your stance on this issue since you are speaking with authority, touting your experience as proof of what you are saying is the absolute truth. If algae is simply a result of decaying organic material in the tank then why would any new setup suffer from algae?

Fresh substrate / filter media / new healthy plants - but algae (including but not limited to diatoms and BGA) can develop and persist. Even as plants have acclimated and are thriving in a new setup, algae can pop up almost out of nowhere.

Wouldn't algae only emerge over time as decaying organic matter in the tank increases and is not / cannot be removed with maintenance? And wouldn't mature tanks be affected the most? If this was true older tanks would become increasingly difficult to maintain algae-free as time progresses when the opposite is what is actually observed.

From personal experience, the tanks I have tried to keep pristine - with frequent, large (50%+) water changes, EI dosing to the letter, cleaning the filters / tubing monthly, and hours of in-tank maintenance have suffered the most frequent and persistent algae outbreaks. Backing off the maintenance and modifying the dosing (EI to pps) has completely turned these tanks around. Light and co2 have remained consistent, and organic matter has increased. This ended my experiment with EI dosing.

I feel that is important to offer a counter experience to your claims in case someone is reading your words and internalizing their own failures. The solution isn't always more frequent water changes or more thorough maintenance.
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post #250 of 283 (permalink) Old 02-19-2016, 01:29 AM
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One thing ive notiveced from this thread is when we attempt to compare nature to our own aquariums.

Where the Amazon River is found to have 1 ppm of nitrate however doesnt really effect plant growth as the river is in constant supply for plant growth (page 7). Yet we dose much larger doses in EI as to not limit the plants.

Would it therefore make more sense to dose less amount of ferts more frequently while attempting to avoid percipitation, and toxicity.

With equipment advances such as timers and dosing pumps etc it is easier now than having to manually do this.

Another thing that has come to mind if high cec substrate fills up would it therefore be beneficial to add fresh cec substrate periodically to keep as a safety backup system. Ie if overload of ei is filled in the substrate overtime and becomes toxic then the fresh cec substrate can assist pulling excess from water column. As oppose to having to replace substrate completely.
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post #251 of 283 (permalink) Old 02-20-2016, 10:55 AM Thread Starter
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post #252 of 283 (permalink) Old 02-21-2016, 01:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Audionut View Post
Ouch. NO3 as an inorganic salt doesn't come by itself, it is always attached to a cation. The weight of the attached cation determines the amount of NO3 added with each dose of the substance.

You shouldn't need a calculator to understand that two times 13.85 doesn't equal 46.646.
Thanks for the added infor. However, what I have written is correct. The amount of NO3 added to a water volume should be double that of urea in order to achieve a similar N concentration. There is a reason I did not say KNO3, Ca(NO3)2, Mg(NO3)2 or whatever salt … If you use one or mix them, your choice.. still end up with X mg of NO3. I find it easy to figure out the different mass percent NO3 for each salt.
Obviously nobody will dose 2 grams KNO3 and expect it to add 2grams NO3, just like 1g urea would not add 1g N. The correct calculation would be:
2 * 0.225897 (proportion of N in NO3) = aprox. 0.46646
If you want the exact SALT amount to get the same ppm of N as 1g urea you will need:
3.365g KNO3
2.732g Ca(NO3)2
2.4697g Mg(NO3)2

I was referring to your statement :
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Originally Posted by Audionut View Post
This further reinforces that it's not simply the absolute value of the concentration of the nutrients that causes issues, but rather, the speed with which these changes are made.
I provided several examples where the rate of change does not create any issues. In most cases, it does not matter when I raise PO4 from 0.2(lowest) to 4ppm (20x). No plants will melt if I do it during the photoperiod, after, in one minute, one hour or 12h . However, I believe most will benefit having the 4ppm from the start. What Tom Barr explains is absolutely logical for CO2, actually I try to raise my CO2 as fast as possible. Does P or N uptake takes place only during the photoperiod ?

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Originally Posted by Audionut View Post
Missing the point has extended both ways. I was attempting to answer a simple claim in a simple manner.
The issue of nutrients and organic substances is not simple and cannot be solved in a simple manner. Detailed considerations need to be made if we want to derive a valid conclusion, even more so if we want to generalize our conclusion to other aquaria.
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Originally Posted by blinky2088 View Post
One thing ive notiveced from this thread is when we attempt to compare nature to our own aquariums.
Where the Amazon River is found to have 1 ppm of nitrate however doesnt really effect plant growth as the river is in constant supply for plant growth (page 7). Yet we dose much larger doses in EI as to not limit the plants.
It is my strong opinion that we need to stop such a comparison. To begin with, fauna and flora are not offered perfect growth conditions in nature except for a very limited time (if any). In addition, we cannot, nor do we wish, to provide all the natural complexities of the ecosystem in our aquariums. I really do not want to leave some random dead fish in the aquarium to provide N , C, P etc , nor do I care for a layer of mulm on plant leaves. I dare you to try and stratify your Livingroom tank to simulate summer and wintertime stratification that leads to clear water in some ponds. What about meter long patches of one single plant sp., how many fit in a normal aquarium ? We can learn somethings from natural ecosystem observation, but experiments have their place.
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post #253 of 283 (permalink) Old 02-21-2016, 02:35 AM
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If algae is simply a result of decaying organic material in the tank then why would any new setup suffer from algae?
Fresh substrate / filter media / new healthy plants - but algae (including but not limited to diatoms and BGA) can develop and persist. Even as plants have acclimated and are thriving in a new setup, algae can pop up almost out of nowhere.
Interesting points. As others stated, algae does not have a single point of origin. There is a multifactorial equation behind the existence of algae in an aquarium. Organic substances are one factor that may have a higher impact coefficient.
From my experience, problems with algae start to appear at around 2 weeks in the life of the aquarium…. Maybe the bacterial population becomes established at that point and enough organics accumulate. In this new environment there is also a fast succession of first (bacterial) colonizers, which grow and die (release organics) very fast. In the following months these bacteria are replaced by more stable populations.
It is also the case that some algae are observed after fish are added to a setup, sudden increase in organics. For example, if I induce increase in organics ( eg plant trim, plant damage) without cleanup or wc , bba bloom is sure to follow (bba was already present in small amount)
To complicate things further, as your righty point out, there are many different algae, some do indeed appear faster than 2 weeks under certain conditions. BGA profits from its ability to grow in NO3/NH3 poor waters ( typical for some new tanks). Diatoms are also observed in nutrient poor , high silica waters. Green water, another starting algae, seems to occur in high NH4, using all nutrients and then crashing. As you see, there are some factors that seem to tip the balance towards one algae type or another. Organics may be one of the factors for BBA, hair , GDA….




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Originally Posted by Edward View Post
During this time and in to the future we need to switch from test kits to conductivity readings. This is easier, cheaper, faster and more accurate to overall living condition. Everything in an aquarium, alive or not, has some relationship to conductivity. (https://sites.google.com/site/aquati...home/tds-meter)

The way it is done is to maintain consistent levels of pollutants, like fertilizers, substrate leaks, fish waste, decoration leaks and other with water changes... Plants and fish love consistency.

For example, when your tap is 300 µS, one PPS-Pro daily fertilizer dose is 6µS. This one dose is 1 ppm of NO3. So to limit the NO3 to 15 ppm we need to make sure the conductivity reading is kept under (6 x 15) + 300 = 390 µS. This is so easy.
And, no need to use GH Booster. It is not needed with tap.
I like the thinking process behind PPS-Pro and for large aquariums or areas with water restrictions this is a good method.

However, not so easy nor so simple. It is made seem simple by ignoring/misstating certain facts. Some organic molecules have 0 impact on conductivity. Conductivity is a good measure when working with electrolytes.

In addition, rock and substrate interactions can affect the conductivity of the water. To use your example, rock leaks Ca2+ and the conductivity in now raised above 410 µS. Does this mean we have more than 15ppm NO3? It actually tells us nothing about the conc. of NO3. Say we have a nice Montmorillonite substrate under basic conditions and a (real) NO3 of 40ppm. Ca2+ decreases, conductivity decreases down to 300. Oh, it must mean all our PPS-Pro dose was used. Conductivity measurement is great but it never ever replaces the specific test, no matter the calculations. Interactions between substrate, fish waste, rock and water are not consistent over time.

Even with daily dosing, you do not have consistency in the aquarium. I would rephrase it to plants and fish love the correct parameters. Fish that start spawning when conductivity abruptly drops are not actually very sad. What about plants that flower when P is increased ?
Dosing additional Mg and Ca is not needed with most taps, UNLESS you have very soft water or your GH is made out of Ca only or you have a high performance water softener.

So not so simple. PPS-Pro is a good starting point for running suitable nutrients without the big weekly wc, it is just more tricky to get and keep right than EI.


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Originally Posted by Marcel G View Post
c) By calculation I have found out that for producing 450 grams of fresh weight the plants consumed 642 mg NO3, 58 mg PO4, and 262 mg K in 100 days. Converted to 60L tank volume, this means that the actual uptake rate of these plants was about 12 ppm NO3, 1.1 ppm PO4, and 5.0 ppm K per week.

....
So we should differenciate between these two things: external concentration of nutrients vs. uptake rate (and also between 'minimum external concentration of nutrients needed for maximum growth rate' vs. 'minimum uptake rate needed for maximum growth rate' vs. 'actual uptake rate').

Bravo @Marcel G . A very good explanation of some complicated concepts. I would like to humbly add some points.

The (amount of ) elements that are present in the plants at the time of the measurement may not be all that is required by a plant to function. Like any organism, plants use some molecules /elements available in the environment as carriers. They also secrete organic substances/biproducts. Thus the C or N requirements might be higher because the plants loose some of it via ex/secreted molecules. As others who documented these molecules stated, some of them are returned to plant nutrients other are lost to the aquatic plants. A close to home example (with a bit of a stretch) would be the % of O in the human body is not the ppm of O2 that we need in the air in order to survive.

Thus the dry tissue analysis, although widely used, only serves as a ball-park, not the exact amount, composition or proportions of elements that the plant prefers.

A second point I would like to make is that most plants have a nutrient storage already with them when we subject them to different nutrient regimes. For some trace elements these storages might last very long in some plants. If the growth rate is slowed enough the plant can even survive in RO water for some months (years ?). This further complicates things when we talk about minimum nutrient level.
Food for though. Cheers.
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post #254 of 283 (permalink) Old 02-21-2016, 05:06 AM
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I like the thinking process behind PPS-Pro and for large aquariums or areas with water restrictions this is a good method.
What water restrictions? Some aquariums, based on conductivity readings need little water changes and some need massive water changes based on contaminations invisible to test kits.

Anyway, there is a value in water that has been filtered by plants. We think of tap water as the most brilliant and clean water there is, but plants don’t. For plants tap water is a polluted soup needing hard work.

Quote:
However, not so easy nor so simple. It is made seem simple by ignoring/misstating certain facts. Some organic molecules have 0 impact on conductivity. Conductivity is a good measure when working with electrolytes.
True, however, when zero impact organic molecules are present, there are also other substances present that are making it visible on the conductivity scale. This will trigger a water change.

Quote:
In addition, rock and substrate interactions can affect the conductivity of the water. To use your example, rock leaks Ca2+ and the conductivity in now raised above 410 µS. Does this mean we have more than 15ppm NO3?
Are you suggesting that rocks and substrate leakage increasing conductivity through the roof is a good thing? I don’t. I think maintaining it with the help of conductivity readings will keep water more pure or at least at the same level without further deterioration. I could say less soupy.

Quote:
It actually tells us nothing about the conc. of NO3.
The mentioning of NO3 was used to describe one dose of the fertilizing package.

Quote:
Say we have a nice Montmorillonite substrate under basic conditions and a (real) NO3 of 40ppm. Ca2+ decreases, conductivity decreases down to 300. Oh, it must mean all our PPS-Pro dose was used.
Great, keep regular dosing until the substrate becomes saturated and then you get an indication in increased conductivity that the substrate is at its limits.

Quote:
Conductivity measurement is great but it never ever replaces the specific test, no matter the calculations. Interactions between substrate, fish waste, rock and water are not consistent over time.
True, but I am looking for the easiest way to have a beautiful living room display with the least amount of work.

Quote:
Even with daily dosing, you do not have consistency in the aquarium.
Still more consistent than weekly spooning.

Quote:
I would rephrase it to plants and fish love the correct parameters. Fish that start spawning when conductivity abruptly drops are not actually very sad.
This is so sixties.

Quote:
What about plants that flower when P is increased ?
… really?

Quote:
Dosing additional Mg and Ca is not needed with most taps, UNLESS you have very soft water or your GH is made out of Ca only or you have a high performance water softener.
Very soft water poses no problems to most aquatic plants. Actually they are doing better in softer water. When your GH is made out of Ca only is no problem neither because PPS-Pro comes with Mg. And, as you suggested “high performance water softener”, almost everybody knows today, not to use it for aquatic plants.


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