Newish to plants, Help me understand my EI dosing - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-06-2013, 03:36 PM Thread Starter
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Newish to plants, Help me understand my EI dosing

So my 120 gallon tank is moderately stocked. I have tried plants two different times in this tank with no luck, but after lots of research I have stumbled across what I think may be the answer. Estimative Index (EI).
Now I understand this is mainly for "high tech" tanks but can be adapted for "low tech" tanks as well which is more closely related to my goals.

The tank currently has about 1 watt per gallon with one 4' T5HO single light fixture and a 4' T8 double fixture giving me 118 watts total. I plan to plant this out at a moderate level but not too dense to keep room available for my fish to swim.

I will be performing weekly 25-50% water changes. Here are the parameters of my water here in Fort Worth over the last year.
Nitrate - .75ppm
Nitrite - .4ppm
PH - 8.0 - 8.4
Calcium - 97-110ppm
Magnesium - 4-8ppm
Sulfate - 25-38
Sodium - 14-28ppm
Copper - .51ppm

My understanding of low tech tanks is that there should be no water changes due to the influx of different C02 levels possibly causing algae, however I intent to keep up with these water changes in order to keep my fish happy and healthy (Discus and Clown Loaches).

My plan is to dose the following once a week after my water change.
KNO3 - 3/4 teaspoon
KH2PO4 - 3/8 teaspoon
Seachem Equilibrium (traces) - 1/2 Tablespoon

The biggest questions I have are
Is the above dosing schedule sufficient with the water parameters from my tap?

With C02 being one of the main components to keeping plants, should I dose Flourish Excel as well?

If I do dose Excel, do I need to increase my dosing schedule and/or lights?

Any help or references you can provide will be greatly appreciated. Thank You
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-06-2013, 03:44 PM
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Other issues...
What plants did you try?
What is your substrate?
What is the distance from your light to surface and surface to substrate?
Do you use reflectors?
Never heard of not doing water changes. I do 50% every two weeks. I would think you don't need water changes if you don't have fish, or your bioload is VERY small...
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-06-2013, 03:57 PM
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Seachem equilibrium is mostly calcium,magnesium,and will harden your already hard water further.
Better trace mineral source would be CSM+B or Seachem's Flourish comprehensive.
If nitrate reading is from tap,,you might not need much KNO3.
I run low tech 80 gal with weekly water change, and after each water change ,I add..3/4 tsp KNO3,3/4 tsp KH2PO4,and next day..1/2 tsp CSM+B.
Plant's respond well and no algae to speak of save a little BBA on some wood which I can live with.
I don't need pottasium due to it's presence in KNO3,KH2PO4. but tank's of mine are all low tech.
Once you start adding higher lighting, CO2 or supplement's (Excel,glut,etc,),you are no longer in low tech method and may need more nutrient's and likely better ,more stable,CO2 distribution.
For your size tank,,It will be expensive to use supplement's like excel,glut,which need to be used each day or close to it to be very effective and to create stable source for plant's.
I would stick with low tech,or go all in for CO2 injection.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-06-2013, 04:38 PM
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I'd modify things somewhat.

Excel might be fine, as long as you dose it routinely.
I'd cut the dosing in 1/2 or even to 1/3rd and then use excel if you can DIY the glutaraladehyde.

If you stick with CO2 gas, then 1/2 should do it.
Weekly water change due to the fish loading.

Ferts play some role, but only if you have enough light and have enough CO2.
Light and CO2 are the 2 larger factors.

With Discus and loaches, non CO2 methods are going to be rough at best.
So Excel and/or CO2 are better options.

I have a number of articles detailing modifications and hybrid methods for dosing and non CO2 and Excel dosing routines. Dosing Ferts are no silver bullet. CO2 light and ferts, fish load, water changes, tap water, goals of the aquarist etc, these are all factors. No just one thing.

Tom Barr
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-06-2013, 05:27 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the quick replies.

My substrate is a 50-50 mixture of Eco-Complete and black sand blasting sand.

Distance from substrate to water level is roughly 21-22" and the light sits about 6" above the water. The T5HO has a great reflector and the T8 is a shop light with white reflectors(but a mirror like reflector could easily be made for this light if needed).

If I were to change the dosing amounts to the following:

1.5% DIY glutaraladehyde mixture- Dosed at 50 ml after water change and 10 ml daily

Weekly after water change
KNO3 - 1/4 teaspoon
KH2PO4 - 1/8 teaspoon
Plantex CSM +Boron (solution) - 1 tablespoon

Would I be able to get away with keeping my lighting the same at 118 watts 28" above the substrate?

My stock list is 8 Clown Loaches (ranging from 3" to 10"), 5 Geo Tapajos (3-4"), 5 Roseline Sharks, and 3 Discus (3").

Is the additional liquid carbon necessary with my stock list? Would I be wasting my time if I attempted to keep the plants without it?

I have been successfully keeping large South American fish for close to 10 years but am just now making a real attempt at keeping plants. I have been researching for days but just haven't put it all together yet so I apologize for my ignorance on the subject. Thank you so much for your support.

Last edited by FishFinatic; 12-06-2013 at 05:41 PM. Reason: update
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-06-2013, 06:38 PM
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Remember, mirror is not a good reflector, it needs to be a highly polished metal. Angles in the reflector are important, too. Otherwise, white is a better reflector that a mirror.
What plants were you wanting to keep, this is very important to the whole equation, too. Every plant type has it's own unique "best" parameters.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-06-2013, 07:22 PM Thread Starter
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I don't have my final list together but here are a few I was looking at.

Java Fern
Amazon Sword
Anubias Nana
Crypt Wendtii
Vallisneria spiralis
water wisteria
green tiger lotus

I would be open to suggestions as well. I want to make sure everything is in place and I understand everything needed before making another attempt. Hopefully third time is the charm.
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