Fertilized Tanks and WCs - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 05:21 PM Thread Starter
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Fertilized Tanks and WCs

I've never used fertilizers before and used to change 20% of my water approx. once every two weeks in my fish tanks. Reading on this forum suggests that, with a fertilized tank, I should be changing 50% every week.

What are the harmful chemicals that these big WCs are designed to remove? It's not nitrates, right? Are there actually tests you can do on the level of these chemicals in your water?

Is there any way to gauge the percent and frequency of WCs that are needed based on your level of fertilization? My plan is to dose Pfertz M, N and probably P about twice a week. Do I need to do a weekly 50%?

Thanks for the guidance.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 06:35 PM
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Well, I did the whole EI route and co2.. For the first 4-6 weeks it's awesome, very lush and fast growth.. However doing 50% water changes and daily pruning gets old real fast.. I now have 39watts of t5ho over a 30 gallon.. I dose excel 2-3 times weekly, micro (flourish) once a week and I'll test for macros.. My tank will eat through the nitrates in about 4 days.. So I dose npk accordingly. I've kinda found the groove of my tank and only test once every three weeks to make sure I'm on the ball.. I do water changes once maybe twice every 6 months.. The tank is flourishing.. Growing HC and dwarf hairgrass with "great success".. I like.. Granted growth is much slower and growing certain stem plants to become very lush is difficult but I can actually enjoy the tank instead of it being a major burden. I would say you could do the same.. If you have a high tech setup.. You'd just have to find how much your tank is taking in the available nutrients and make sure there is nutrients present (not too much/too little) so algae can't take over.. I think 50% water changes weekly is a little radical but I've had this tank for about 2 years and many that support EI have had theirs for decades soooo.. There are definitely options, don't listen to otherwise. IMO.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 06:40 PM
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50% WC is needed for EI, its that kind of system where you overdose and with 50% WC you reset or back to 0. For other fert systems dosing (ppspro or some custom) big WCs are not obligatory.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 06:40 PM
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Research the PPS-Pro method. Same growth and less WCs has been my experience.

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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 06:49 PM
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Well, in theory, if you could be more exact about what your plants used, you could dose accordingly and not have to worry about such frequent water changes, or with as much volume. Then again, I'm not sure whether that would still technically be EI dosing.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 10:15 PM Thread Starter
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I think I'm missing some pieces of this puzzle. Is there a particular harmful chemical that these WCs are designed to remove? If so, is there a test for seeing how much of that you have in your water? Should I be getting P and K test kits?

I'm having trouble sorting through how I'm going to set any kind of parameters for my WC program below the most conservative approach.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 10:25 PM
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EI is a specific fert dosing strategy that ensures that there is always an overabundance of ferts, so that no nutrients are in limited supply.

The 50% weekly water changes helps ensure that those levels don't build up indefinitely, it "re-sets" the levels for the next weekly dose.

Weekly 50% changes probably are not needed using the Pfertz dosing system, what you're currently doing sounds fine to me.

If you start having algae issues and/or start to get a nitrate buildup then you may want to look at your water change schedule again. Otherwise, I wouldn't worry about it.





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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 10:32 PM
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When using EI dosing, the water changes reset nutrients levels to prevent them from building up too high.

In addition to this, water changes can also remove other organics (hormones, etc) that can build up with time.

There are no hobby grade test kits that will be suitable for measuring things such as hormones, etc. For nutrients, you can measure phosphorus, nitrates, etc. There are also potassium kits out there, but they are unnecessary.

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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-20-2011, 05:20 PM Thread Starter
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Okay. My latest plan is Pfertz M, N, P and K, dosing two to three times a week, then 30% WCs once every two weeks.

As long as I'm not seeing algae or nitrates over 100, do we feel good about that? I have a lot of plants, so I would think an unsafe nitrate build up would be unlikely.

One more rookie question - when you do a water change in a heavily planted tank, no gravel vacuuming?
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-20-2011, 05:41 PM
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I like to vacuum up as much mulm on the surface of the gravel as possible, but I would stay away from digging or mixing up the gravel. Ussually if you just swirl the vacuum an inch or 2 above the gravel the mulm will get pulled up but the gravel will stay in place.


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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-20-2011, 06:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeffnebraska View Post
One more rookie question - when you do a water change in a heavily planted tank, no gravel vacuuming?
Most of us don't vacuum. Just the water changes, and enough flow that excess detritus gets sucked into the filter intake.

P.S. There are possible issues with dosing micros and macros at the same time. Not sure which (magnesium and phosphorus, perhaps?). EI system suggests dosing them on different days to avoid any interactions, as well as to help remember when you dosed what. Micros will always come in a different bag or bottle than macros (NPK).
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-20-2011, 10:19 PM
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As long as I'm not seeing algae or nitrates over 100, do we feel good about that? I have a lot of plants, so I would think an unsafe nitrate build up would be unlikely.

One more rookie question - when you do a water change in a heavily planted tank, no gravel vacuuming?
I would still try to keep the nitrates under 40 ppm.

As for the vacuuming, as others have mentioned, there really isn't a need to do deep gravel vacuumings. Just a light hovering over the substrate should be good enough to suck up any detritus.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kevmo911 View Post
P.S. There are possible issues with dosing micros and macros at the same time. Not sure which (magnesium and phosphorus, perhaps?). EI system suggests dosing them on different days to avoid any interactions, as well as to help remember when you dosed what. Micros will always come in a different bag or bottle than macros (NPK).
It is the iron that will react with the phosphate to form ferric phosphate.

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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-20-2011, 11:27 PM Thread Starter
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Dose M and P separately. Check.
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-20-2011, 11:35 PM
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Isn't nitrates at 40ppm harmful?


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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-21-2011, 03:41 AM
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Isn't nitrates at 40ppm harmful?
If those are organics from fish waste then yes, I'd consider a tank with 40ppm nitrates most likely has a huge accumulation of waste and taht person needs to step up water changes.

With nitrates around 40ppm from dosing, that's not necessarily an indication of poor water quality (there's big difference if they're coming from dosed ferts).

However- there really shouldn't be a reason to accumulate nitrates that high. Even people dosing EI on very high light, high tech tanks usually wouldn't need to supply that much nitrate to feed all their plants.

IMO 100ppm is excessive, and I'd step up water changes AND reduce nitrate dosing.





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