So now I look at the big three ferts, N, P, and K with a bit of the micros added on another day. So finding that there choices can normally be down to three chemicals to get the big three macros and then a simple one item (cms+b?) to do the micros helped me to cut through a lot of the confusion from all the chemistry. I look it as pretty close to the difference in my cooking versus my wife. She can figure out what each ingredient does and have a far wider range of cooking but for me, I can do a few items, taste it and get near enough for the level of cooking which makes me happy without really knowing what each item does in a cake. Since I never really want to do a cake or anything requiring great skill, I'm happy with not knowing!
So the calculator lets me plug in tank size and what item I might want to use. Most use KNO3 as a way to get some of the potassium (K) and nitrogen (N) and what dosing method I like. I use EI as an estimate and it spits out how much KNO3 to add. It tells me how many PPM but I only look at how much in teaspoons and dip it out of the bag to mix in my cup of water before pouring it in! Some of the micros will make some of the macros settle out if we add them at the same time so I do macros one day and micros the next and just go through the week alternating and if I am gone and miss a day, I ignore the break as my plants are not all that fussy.
After feedback from you and visiting other posts, I feel much more comfortable dosing with dry ferts. I think I am going to just buy a kit and learn as I go. Working with the calculator a bit, I now have a pretty good understanding of how it works. It the very wide range of options for ingredients and each one supplementing different things that seemed intimidating. I think if I just get a good kit, Input each ingredient and volume of my tank and add it into the mix.
One question, I believe the EI method depends upon a large water change once a week. I run my tanks with a continuous drip water change. For example, my 180 gallon has an actual volume of around 170 gallons (including filters). I have a 2 gph continuous drip going in which adds 48 gallons every 24 hours. This comes to around 1/4 water change every day. It may seem like overkill, but my water starts out at about 10 ppm nitrates and I kind of have to keep a high flow going to keep it under 20 ppm. I tried switching to 1 ghp and my nitrates rose to almost 30 ppm. Before I put in the continuous drip, I was struggling to keep it under 40 ppm and it was a ton of work. Once I went to continuous drip I could never go back. I only have to do water changes when something gets out of balance or I just feel like I need to do some house cleaning.
I will probably start out with 1/2 gph drip on my 54 gallon. This will change 12 gallons a day at a bit over 22% of total volume daily. How do you think I should adjust for a system like this? If I simply add the 12 gallons (for the first day) to the 54, I would be dosing for 66 gallons. This would start out strong and gradually taper off as the water changes. Since I would be dosing every other day, it would start off high and end up low after the second day. The plants will probably consume a lot of the nitrates allowing me to go to a much lower water change rate (maybe 1/4 gph) or it might even be easier to not do drip at all and do water changes since the tank size is more manageable. Does anyone have experience dosing with a setup like this?