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650 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So a while ago I got some advice on how to mix my own liquid ferts to save money (and now I'm never going back to buying bottles again!), but I still have a few questions.

I was told that depending on how the plants react, I may have to dose Calcium Sulfate (CaSO4) or Magnesium Sulfate (MgSO4), but I'm not really sure what to do for what reasons or how to calculate it.

I do know that my plants suffered for a while without ferts. Though they are doing much better, I still have some issues. The new growth for my alternanthera reineckii mini doesn't appear to be as colorful as used to be when I first set up the tank: in the beginning it was red with neon pink undersides, but now it's kind of a green-brown top with red undersides. Some of my hydrocotyle tripartita leaves have holes or are degrading altogether. I've seen the same with some of my val asiatica but it's hard to tell if this was from way before I started dosing ferts regularly, since some of the newest growth of val seems very intact and healthy-looking.

I've have green algae covering the glass and often have to take a magnet scrubber to it, but it comes back pretty quick. The staghorn algae I was battling before I started regular dosing seems to have died out, but the hair algae has gone rampant and I am often pulling out chunks of it.

The tips I got were:
Pale new growth: Add KNO3 next round
Green spot algae: Increase PO4 next round

Question #1: How do I figure out how much PO4 to add?
Question #2: Do I need to add any CaSO4 or MgSO4?

Tank Setup:

20 gallon long

Tank Parameters:

Nitrate: 10 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Ammonia: 0 ppm
GH: 8
KH: 7
pH: 7.4
TDS: 298
Temperature: 77

Note: I'm alright with where my GH/KH currently is due to my current livestock list.

Dosing regiment:

My tank is a 20 gallon long, though the amount of water is more like 14 gallons given the amount of plants, driftwood, and substrate. I'm using Greenleaf products for fertilizer and used a Greenleaf calculator to come up with how much to dose for each. I use the EI dosing technique, alternating between micros and macros daily before lights on (with an autodoser). Each dose is 50 mL, and then I do a 50% water change every Sunday. I use a digital scale to measure ferts.

Macronutrients Container #1:

Potassium Nitrate (KNO3) (Target: 6.5 ppm)
Add: 16.85 grams
NO3: 6.5 ppm
N: 1.47 ppm
K: 4.1 ppm (substract from K2SO4)

Mono Potassium Phosphate (KH2PO4) (Target: 2 ppm)
Add: 4.56 grams
PO4: 2 ppm
P: 0.65 ppm
K: 0.82 ppm (substract from K2SO4)

Potassium Sulfate (K2SO4) (Target: 6.5 - 4.92 = 1.58 ppm)
Add: 5.6 grams
K: 1.58 ppm
S: 0.65 ppm

Micronutrients Container #2:

GLA EDTA Micromix (for CSM+B)
Add: 3.74 grams
Fe: 0.2 ppm
B: 0.035
Mn: 0.057
Mo: 0.002
Zn: 0.011
Cu: 0.003

DTPA Chelated Iron (Fe) (11%)
Add: 1.445 grams (tip: result is half of recommended dose due to Fe in CSM+B)
Fe: 0.2 ppm (0.1 ppm once halved)

Planted Tanker
6,046 Posts
Half the csmb so you are getting .1 ppm Fe from that, and then .1 from the dtpa

With GH of 8 you probably have plenty of Ca and Mg. Both combine for the total value. Most taps are heavy on Ca with a little bit Mg. Are you in the U.S? Should be able to google your area's water quality report. It will tell you how much there is of each one. You may could use a little more Mg but almost certainly have enough Ca.

Standard EI is a very rich dosing routine. Some plants may not like it, or may protest at first (Looking at you, AR mini). Things would probably go better doing 60-70% water changes instead of 50. This will lean it out some and also keep things cleaner.

You can use the same calculator to figure how much Mg to add if you need it. (or anything else) Down at the bottom where it says 'calculating for" change EI to "dose to reach a target". Then enter how many ppm of Mg you want to add. If the GLA calc doesnt include all compounds, go here for the full version - Rotala Butterfly | Planted Aquarium Nutrient Dosing Calculator

I doubt you need any Ca or Mg though, unless the GH is abnormally skewed towards one or the other. Thats what the water report should tell you

650 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Standard EI is a very rich dosing routine. Some plants may not like it, or may protest at first (Looking at you, AR mini).
THIIIIIS. I've been EI dosing regularly for a month and the leaves are just not great at all. Today I removed the plant entirely and replanted just the tops, but I have no idea if it'll stay red. If it can't handle the dosing regiment, I suppose I'll have to replace it.

Another thing that bothers me is my Rotala H'ra isn't very colorful. It's mostly a dull spring color with a hint of orange, and then a little more of an orange tint toward the tops.

I'm not sure what is up with the Hydrocotyle Tripartita. The new growth looks nice, the old growth not so much. I'm tempted to pull it all out and replant the better parts, but I know it'll get kind of ratty like this again.

There's hair algae in my monte carlo and some brownish algae rubbed off on the Staurogyne Repens touching the glass. The bacopa is doing alright, only an occasional holey leaf.

The happiest plant in the whole tank is the dwarf sagittaria, it sometimes gets ratty ends but it grows like no tomorrow and is mostly a healthy green clump in the background.

I miss the early days when I planted my tanks and everything looked spectacular. Now I'm in a balancing act, trying to figure out what I'm doing wrong.

Next dose (less than a month from now), I'll cut back on the CSM+B by half.

650 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I realized I was a week overdue for root tabs (I put them in every 4 months) so I added some to the tank. Hoping the corkscrew val picks back up, I'm really relying on them to reach the surface to create a forest for the betta.

650 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
When you write your "target", is that ppm per dose or per week? And how many times per week are you dosing?

Sent from my SM-A716U using Tapatalk
Sorry for the late response. I honestly don't recall. I used the Greenleaf calculator to come up with the numbers; the mixture is meant to last 2 months and be dosed daily at 50 mL.

Hair algae is still running rampant in the tank and I'm cleaning green spot algae off the glass every day. I'm still seeing some defiencies in some of the plants, including the ends of my corkscrew val (and some leaves of the dwarf sag) melting. I read that Excel can do this, and once a week I was dosing Excel with a water change, so I'll hold off on the Excel for a while.
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