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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone!

I have a 20 gallon long with Eco-complete and sand, CO2 at 1 bps (the algae is FINALLY gone) and a current plus pro light on the way. I plan to very heavily plant it and have been thinking about fertilizers. My first question is probably do I even need them? I assumed yes but there are so many variables that I'm not sure I understand. I do 20% weekly water changes, my pH holds steady at 8.2 (didn't even change after CO2) and my water is very hard.
The final stock will be:
10 glowlight tetras
8 Sterbai cories
1 Betta (I have a backup tank, it'd be replaced with a honey gourami if anything went sour)

Right now I'm using just Flourish, but I think it will get expensive in the long run. I'm trying to decide between GLA's EI kit or their PPS-Pro kit. Which would be better for my set up?

EDIT: I also plant to use root tabs but I don't have any root-feeders currently so they aren't in the aquarium.
 

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I recommend reading this article about EI fertilizing: The Estimative Index of Dosing, or No Need for Test Kits - Aquarium Plants - Barr Report

Depending on the light and CO2 levels you will need to add less or more fertilizers. Plants need nutrients to grow and survive, no way around this. Some setups have undemanding plants and slow plant growth that uses few nutrients that come with water changes, fish metabolism and a rich substrate.
It is best to make nutrients non-limiting so the plants can display their best growth. Good plant growth means low algae growth. Damaged plants are a prime growing spot for algae.
How hard is your water ? What is the KH and GH? The fish you list are not fans of extremely hard water. It might be that the CO2 you are injecting is not enough. Do you have a CO2 drop checker at hand ?
I suggest going with EI dosing and raising the water changes to 50% of raw aquarium volume.
You mention some variables, what are they ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you for that link!

I don't have the test kits for GH and KH but I'm planning on ordering them, I'll add a drop checker to the list.

The variables I just meant as things like fish load, types of plants, types of substrate, lighting, etc.
 

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Way overkill on the new light.
I use an E.I. solution from a list on this forum, but I don't use the full amount they
call for in my size tank. E.I. is designed for injected heavily planted tanks and mine
is neither. They recommend 5ml three times a week of each of the Micro and Macro
ferts. I use two doses instead of three and @ 3ml instead of 5. I stil use the 50%
water change because my low level of plants likely doesn't use all the nutrients so
the build up still needs to be dealt with.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I know the light's a lot right now but I like red plants and it needs to be chock full of plants (something like jungle style) to reduce aggression from the future betta.

What's the main difference between EI and PPS-Pro? Are there situations where one is better than the other?
 

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I don't have the test kits for GH and KH but I'm planning on ordering them, I'll add a drop checker to the list.
The variables I just meant as things like fish load, types of plants, types of substrate, lighting, etc.
If you are using tap water you might be able to find a water report from your water provider. If GH and KH are not reported then look for Ca, Mg (this is GH) and carbonates ( KH)

it needs to be chock full of plants
What's the main difference between EI and PPS-Pro? Are there situations where one is better than the other?
I would recommend to start with many plants from the beginning, many of which fast growing.
PPS-pro is basically a rebranded PMDD Phosphate which concerns itself with plant nutrient uptake and nutrient input in an attempt to balance the two and reduce the frequency of water changes.
EI fertilizing method provides ‘unlimited’ nutrient levels for the plants. The growth of the plants will then be limited by metabolism, light and space. When ample light and nutrients are provided most plants will grow fast eliminating lots of metabolites in the water. With the 50% weekly water change you reduce the organic load present in the water ( which is also a good time to trim and thin). Most people state that the 50% wc is done to reduce nutrient levels. While this is one effect of the 50%, in a healthy EI tank the nutrient levels do not clime that high due to plant uptake.

In my opinion, the problem with PPS-Pro is that it requires constant tweaking (due to the variables you listed) and insecurity that your plants have what they need. You either base your dosing on inaccurate test or plants showing deficiencies. I admit to bias against PPS-Pro as there are certain factual inaccuracies present on the website of the main proponent of this method and in his reasoning. And do not let anybody convince you TDS says something about NO3 levels. This is not to say that it does not work, as do all methods that add the complete requirements of nutrients. It works but when you make it work for your plants, your aquarium and limited algae present you might end up with something very different from PPS-Pro and ever in need of change. A heavily personalized PPS-Pro would be suitable for very large aquariums or other situations where frequent water changes are not possible.

EI is good because in some way it ignores the variables you mention. Mainly, there are 3 variables left CO2, light and organic substances. You add all the plants need. If fish add extra N that is no problem, plants have more than they need from the start. If the substrate is nutrient rich than great, a good safety net. High light is okay as long as you have good CO2 and plants that can take advantage of it. Low light is okay and lowers the growth rate/plant selection. When algae is present you need to adjust one 3 variables left, easier than playing with 15. Often times light is to intensive or on for too long, next CO2 is too low or not well distributed. Then there is the case where major uprooting, overfeeding or some plant melted down, some fish died, mulm gathered in some deadspot or water change was neglected and you have a small organic based algae bloom.
This website has some info about dosing methods, but it is a little out of date
http://www.theplantedtank.co.uk/dosing-methods.htm
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you! You've been so helpful.

I couldn't find anything very specific but I found something that was only described as "hardness" at 15gpg – 40gpg where "gpg" is "grains per gallon."
 

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I do 20% weekly water changes, my pH holds steady at 8.2 (didn't even change after CO2) and my water is very hard.
If your ph is steady and not changing than you're not injecting enough co2. Measure your ph before the co2 comes on and after it's been on a few hours and see if it changes. When you have your co2 dialed in the ph should drop around a point or less. If you have planted yet it's no big deal and it will take some time to get it tweaked right.
 
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