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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-12-2005, 10:58 AM Thread Starter
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Help from the fert gurus

I need suggestions. Sometime in the next 3 or 4 weeks, a couple guys from the Portland Aquarium Society are going to help me install a centralized filtration and water changing system for about half the tanks in my shop.

One sump will feed a 55 gallon, a 40, a 30 tall, 4 20 gallon longs, 4 10 gallons and about six assorted sizes of plastic containers. PVC pipe will feed into each tank and container drawing water out and putting it back in. Each will be set below the water surface. Three of the 20s, and all the 10s and the containers are on a three shelf rack and each shelf has a 8ft HO dual light fixture. The other 20 and the 30 has a 4ft shop light over each, the 55 and the 40 each have a Formosa with four 65 watt PCs. A mix match of different things!

I will be able to draw water out of all of them by draining the sump. Co2 is currently only being fed into the 55 and the 40.

My question is how can I approach fertilization in the most practical and timeless manner? I can dose the sump and whatever I put in the sump will be equally distributed among all the tanks. Or I can dose each tank independently, but water changes would not be done independently. My goal is to keep each tank with healthy plants, and as little algae as possible, but not a tremendously fast growth rate for the plants. The key is to be able to manage everything effectively without being time consuming. Any thoughts or suggestions? I have never used the EI method, but if it could be incorporated into this scenario, I am open to anything.

Robert Paul Hudson

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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-12-2005, 11:19 AM
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The system you are talking of Robert is normally used as a "fish only" setup for multiple tanks. Myself , I would be leary of mass dosing for plants in all the tanks. I would think you could lighten the maintanence load by putting the lower lit tanks all in one system but still keep the high demand plant tanks the way they are. Or run two sumps and divvy them up by demands.
For the most part you could get away with dosing just micros and NO3 for the low maintanence stuff if the turnover is good.
Im not so sure there is an easy way out here.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-12-2005, 11:21 AM
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Or I can dose each tank independently, but water changes would not be done independently.
Even dosing the tanks seperately the ferts will end up mixing in one large circulator so you might as well dose per total gallons in the sump anyhow.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-12-2005, 01:02 PM
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With a sump system all the water will be mixing from all the tanks, is that a correct assumption?

If thats the case you can dose the sump and CO2 right into the sump using a ph controller to control co2 output and keep all tanks the same. Inject CO2 into the sump but instal the ph probe into one of the tanks above. Doing this will simplify things.

You'll have to calculate what you're total volume of water will be and dose the whole thing as if it were one tank.

To minimize CO2 loss you'll have to enclose the top of the sump so that the atmoshere above the sump doesn't contribute to CO2 loss. Any co2 lost above the surface of the sump will remix into solution as long as it's not allowed to escape into open air. An enclosed sump can also act as a CO2 reactor in this way, negating the need for a seperate reactor. If there's no fish in these tanks, CO2 levels can be allowed to reach levels as high as 100ppm without harming plants.

Excess nutrients do not contribute to algae as long as Ammonia is not present and organic waste is kept in check.

The trick to EI is making sure all nutrients are available all the time. The amount of light in each tank will dictate the growth rate in that tank. Higher nutrients in a low light tank should be fine. The amount of nutrient loss due to plant growth will be dictated by the total average uptake of the whole system. While the high light tanks use up more nutrients and low light use less, since all the water mixes your dosing will be determined by the average.

With no fish in this system, it basically becomes a hydroponic system for aquatic plants and your margin for error is much larger, as harm to fish is not part of the equation.

Marcel
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-12-2005, 02:17 PM
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I would not add too much ferts for a plant hold system.
Often since all the leaf loss and decayed plant biomass are a big issue, I would not add much, rather doing large water changes will help more.

So when you get a load of weeds in, do water changes often. Then once the plants have acclimated, then add more ferts.

Adding nutrients/CO2 in the sump is the best/only real solution.
I'd crank the CO2.

I'd use a simple hard plumbed valve for draining and filling. That will make things simple and ease labor wise. While tanks are draining/refilling, that allows you time to tend to the tanks, remove floating leaves, prune and srub off any algae.

You will not able to avoid that part.
Dosing can be done 2x a week and so can water changes.

That would be a rather simple routine. CMS and KNO3/KH2PO4 are cheap.
Water is cheap. Baking soda/MgSO4, CaCO3, CaCl2 etc is cheap also.

Assuming a total volume of 300 gallons, you can likely spend 2-4 hours total time tending and water changing if you do 2x a week routines.

You'd dose after each 30-50% water change 2x a week:
KNO3: 2 teaspoons
KH2PO4: 1/3-1/2 teaspoon
Traces: (2 tablespoons in 500mls of H2O) 50mls

GH as needed to add 3+ degrees
KH as needed to add to 3 degrees.

CO2 as much as you can and not kill the fish.

This will keep the tanks in very good shape as well as plant health.


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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-12-2005, 03:11 PM
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My husband has a central system for his freshwater fish at the store and he loves it. But he did go through some problems figuring out how dosing, etc. work when it was first set up.

I have 2 pieces of advice. The first is to brace for an adjustment period--it will take you a little experimenting to fine tune things. The second is to make sure you plumb it so you can take any tank off the system easily--more critical for fish than plants, but you never know.

Make that 3 tips. Think about drainage and accidental overflows. We all know a little water goes a long way. A lot of water can be a huge mess.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-13-2005, 06:36 PM Thread Starter
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One tank does have fish, the 55, the rest are plants only. Plants do go in and out of these tanks fairly quickly, some more than others. The stem plants move the quickest. And Tom is right, the biggest problem is leaf litter and constantly up rooting plants stirs up the tanks. A drainage hose from the sump will go out the door to drain outside. My shop believe it or not has carpeted floors, and no drainage hole!

The other side of the room has a 100 gallon tank, three 30s, and six or 8 plastic tubs. These will not be on the system.

So, I should crank up the C02, change water twice a week, dose the sump on the light side. Is there some sort of formula I can use to dose when having an exact gallon total? I am curious Tom how you figured that dosage? Sounds reasonable to me, just wondering if I add more tanks, or if I cut it back, how do I figure the dosage?

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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-13-2005, 06:49 PM
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Is there some sort of formula I can use to dose when having an exact gallon total? I am curious Tom how you figured that dosage? Sounds reasonable to me, just wondering if I add more tanks, or if I cut it back, how do I figure the dosage?
That dosage is about right for 300 gallons of water. Ymmv, but thats a good starting point. Since you do have fish in the 55G , keep CO2 between 30- 50 ppm and your fish'll be fine.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-13-2005, 08:44 PM
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I may be wrong but I was under the impression that new plants need to adjust for a week or two and you aren't supposed to add ferts or add a reduced amount. So if you have plants coming in and out quickly, only the ones that have been sitting for a while will be making use of the nutrients. So wouldn't the algae start taking over? If the plants are adjusting and not growing then they aren't going to be competing with the algae and it can make use of the nutrients and take over. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-13-2005, 11:36 PM
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I have always started ferts right away. I have gotten plants from Robert and from trades. I have had the same plants double their size (stem plants) in 3-4 days. And there is no way they have that amount of stored nutrients. Also Tom Barr has said many times to start the ferts right away.

IMHO either the plants are healthy and ready to grow or they are ready to melt or die.
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-14-2005, 02:31 AM
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Hogwash....
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-14-2005, 09:33 AM Thread Starter
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It was probably me that said that. Some plants do go thru an initial transplant shock, others do not. In a newly set up tank with fish that is cycling, I don't add ferts right way. But in this scenario there are many different plants mixed together and there is no ammonia spikes to worry about.

You want to hear plant woes? I had three hundred Cryp wendtii and lucens plants do a total meltdown! That was more than annoying! When I buy cryps from Florida, particularly wendtii, they never melt. When I buy them from Asia they seem much more sensitive and need carefull handling. I think it is probably because they are collected from the wild.

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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-14-2005, 06:13 PM
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FL's water is hard most often(limestone).

Crypts seem to do better in harder waters.

I suggested lower KNO3 dosing and perhaps you might want more K2SO4.
The reason for less NO3 is simple: redder plants which folks like more.
But if you go too low, then you have poor looking plants also.

You can tweak this more.

I'd do more water changes the first week of a shipoment.
Less otherwise.

Leaf litter in the toughest thing, the water change removes most of the dissolved decayed organic matter, this can easily cause algae all by itself.

The nettting out of the rest 2-3x a week will take care of the rest.

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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-15-2005, 07:29 AM Thread Starter
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My water is pretty soft too, I hadn't thought of that, but the florida cryps don't melt in my water...I don't know

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