Well Tom, I've read hundreds of diffent posts on EI and I've followed direction to the tea and yet I still get tons of problem with EI, such as stunted growth and algae issue. I don't think I'm alone here. The remedy at all EI folks seem to espouse is to check you CO2 level, check your CO2, and make sure it's high, it's not your nutrients. Make sure your CO2 is HIGH. So that's what I'm doing! All of my other parameters are good.
Lots of folks have followed directions and do not have issues also.
Maybe it's the folks and not the method?
After all, every method
has some folks that have issues.
Every method has examples of failures and successes.
Given that, it seems that the people are the variable more than the method itself.
Don't neglect the human factor in this.
If you cannot produce a reference aquarium, eg one that has no algae, no plant growth issues, is doing well and has been for some months, then you cannot know what it is, you lack the control to do any testing and ruling anything out.
However, others can and can say that it's not the nutrients directly.
This is not a questionable statement either.
There is more to growing plants than mere dosing of nutrients.
There is more to fish and and aquarium keeping than dosing also in general.
Folks kill fish all the time without ever keeping any plants/dosing anything.
I know you are frustrated, but that does not mean it has a thing to do with the dosing method or saying folks have issues and you are not alone.
Same could be said for aquariums without plants.
Respiration for fish is a 2 way street, it's not all about adding more CO2.
You have several things occurring and CO2 is not some simply thing, nor is it easy to test and measure with certainly.
You have CO2 and O2.
Plants care only about the CO2, fish, the ratio of CO2/O2.
So how does one make management easier?
Less light is one way(nothing to do with EI or any dosing method)
Good current, with enough ripple to not break the surface of the water is a good rule of thumb.
This adds O2, but also degases CO2, simple enough, now you have good O2, adding more CO2 is easier with less stress to fish and ,more wiggle room.
Less light also means less demand for nutrients and importantly, much less demand for CO2.
Riccia makes a good bioindicator for CO2, if it pearls the last 1/2 of the day you likely are in good shape for CO2. Still, CO2 is not some simple parameter(To measure, add, gauge). I do not think I've ever implied otherwise, many others may have, but not myself.
Most folks that do well, master CO2 well.
Balancing light and CO2 is much more of this, as well as having good O2/current.
Nutrients are easy and one of the simpler things we can rule out as a problematic cause.
Light can be measured with a meter easily.
You are also starting off with a messed system with algae, that is hardly a good point to start with when trying to figure out what is the reason why plants are not growing. You have even more of a challenge/uphill battle at that starting point.
Excel can help kill some algae and add some CO2 while you adjust the gas system. Water changes about 1 hour after the lights come on also help.
Adjusting the lighting down.
Being careful with CO2 and patience. Those last two are lacking with many of not most folks. And it's clear that both have nothing to do with dosing of any nutrient.
We all are guilty of it to some degree at some point.
So the solution is to be aware, less light, better care with CO2, experience, testing once you have the ability to control so you can help others etc.
I've seen all the same issues for the last 2 decades.
Even if the solutions have become better, and are stated here and elsewhere, many folks will still stumnble and have issues.
Some of us make more mistakes learning than others.
Not everyone is the same there.