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Disagree with above.

Many EI tanks are 50+ ppm nitrates for years.

Personally I routinely keep Rainbows for ten years with what most would consider high Nitrates.

If you set out to kill your fish with high Nitrates, you would be highly disappointed. Would take far more and longer than you think.

Now Discus is another thing entirely, but for most freshwater fish, Nitrates are of little concern.

At least that has been my experience in 40+ years of fish keeping.
 

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I get what the article linked to says. I've seen many like it.

With all due respect, they suggest keeping a tank at no higher than 5 to 10 ppm Nitrates. Do you think ANY planted tank here on this board would fall into that category? Or for that matter very few freshwater tanks in general.

And I am not trying to argue with you. But interestingly, you state you have never experienced it, but have read it. In my opinion, experience and quoting internet articles are two different things. I could start a long list right now of things I consider to be complete myths about Rainbows, yet people regularly quote them as they are gospel. Why? Because they read it somewhere, and it gets repeated. Goes for planted tanks too.

I've read quotes from Tom Barr where he has kept many tanks at well over 80ppm for years. No fish loss, disease, or other problems. Fish breed, shrimp breed, and tank is healthy. And he is a guy who sets up and runs lots of planted tanks.

Now I do believe there is a point where Nitrates will affect health. My point is that in my own personal experience that the level is much, much higher than the 5 to 10 ppm the linked to article states. Even the article says fish don't show any symptoms under 100ppm. I routinely dose N to get the water column into the 50 range, check my journal to see loads of pics of my large long lived Rainbows.

Again, not trying at all to pick a fight, just stating my own personal experience, and I know there are loads more here who share that same experience.

Edit: I should add that I am a strong advocate of large regular water changes. And regular gravel vacs, heavy filtration, good surface agitation, and all around good tank maintenance. In my experience, keeping organics low is key to success for both fish and plants.
 

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If you really want to, I'm sure you can google it and I'm guessing it wouldn't be too hard to find. I also recall a post of his that basically said worrying about high nitrates (from dosing, not a dirty tank) is the least of your worries, unless you are well over 100ppm from organics. There are 101 things more important to worry about. He also wrote about a tank he kept at 160ppm for some time (from dosing), and no problems with fish.

But in any event, regardless of Tom Barr or anyone else, my thoughts are based on my own personal experience from decades of fish keeping. In the end, that's what I rely upon most, both for fish AND plants.

For instance, if someone starts reading about CO2, they will see over and over again that a one point pH drop (30ppm CO2) is optimal. Funny thing is most every successful plant keeper I follow is well over that. I know in my tank plants would rebel pretty quickly at that drop. And if you read up on EI dosing, you might think there is a recipe you follow and that's that. Again, most every successful plant keeper I follow is dosing some variation that works in THEIR tank.

Again, don't want to argue with you. Each is entitled to his own opinion. But if it's really true that say 50ppm+ nitrate killed fish, I guess I've just been lucky for the past 40 years.

And honestly, peer reviewed scientific University articles mean little to me. I don't know of one that takes place in a home hobbyist aquarium. Goes for both fish and plants.
 

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@Discusluv I have no experience with sensitive species like Discus or the others you mention.
@discuspaul might be able to let you know about his experiences.

My primary experience is with Rainbows.
@Edward guilty as charged. I do rely on personal experience in my glass box.

The other end of the spectrum are those who rely solely on research, but ignore practical experience.

In the end, do what you think is best. I honestly think some are more interested in proving they are right than enjoying the hobby. And when you start arguing the science, most rely on that which support their cause.
 

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@Discusluv if I were you I would reach out to Discuspaul. He has been involved with Discus for many, many years, and is what I would consider to be the go to guy here. He always seems to be happy to share his years of practical experience, and I am sure he would welcome hearing from you.

It's true that with the species I keep (Rainbows, Denison Barbs, Clown Loaches) I have not experienced any problems in a heavily stocked heavily dosed tank. But I do recognize that with the South American Cichlids it could be entirely different. Will be curious to see if you come to any conclusions, but more importantly I'll be curious to see how the fish react to the higher macro levels.

Are you intending to keep high light high tech plants with your Discus? I would be interested to learn more. Do you have a journal for your tank? Since searching is not working here right now, I couldn't tell.
 

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@Edward I get that your system is PPS. And you have success with it.

And many others use EI, and they have success with it.

I don't think there is a question that both can be successful. And I don't believe it is the case that one is right and one is wrong. High macros seems to work best in my tank. If someone else is more successful with low dosing, I don't get mad or try to belittle their method. In fact just the opposite, I am interested in learning more. Successful tanks fascinate me.

For me, I started following a couple of well documented tanks of people I respected (Burr/Pikez) and tried my best to apply what I learned to my own tank. That developed a framework for me, which is still being tweaked to this day. I don't have it all figured it out, and still stumble and stub my toe, then look for solutions and try to right the ship. Pretty much like I think everyone else is doing here.

Keep in mind my goal is not to prove any theory. I have no interest in growing single plants in an empty tank to document the effects of different dosing methods. My goal is to keep a fish tank with a wide variety of plants/shapes/colors. It's just what I personally like.

Honestly my main goal is just to sit in front of my tank (like I am doing right now), and enjoy the tranquility it provides me. I also enjoy the journey itself, and the challenges it presents.

As to the effects of N on the fish I keep, I have only stated my personal experience. If that doesn't fit with your narrative, so be it. I'd like to know more about your experiences with N dosing and fish health. Not something you've read, or an article you can point to, but your own actual experience.
 

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@Discusluv love the tanks.

Very nicely presented and artistic. Evoke a great feel. Don't need much work from I can tell.

All what I would consider to be low light plants.

I don't use LED, but I am guessing low light.

All in all seems to be appropriate for South Americans. Haven't seen a high tech tank with Discus that every worked out for long. To me great concept, and very nice execution.
 

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@Edward can't use quotes so text below in blue is from your recent post.

I will say it again;
At the stage your aquarium is in, I would really like to find out why you are experiencing problems when lowering NO3 to half when the most aquariums on this planet with the best plants have 1/10th of that.
I don't know. And frankly it doesn't matter that much to me. Right now my dosing is almost exactly the same as Burr and Pikez. Now they are both far more successful than me, but I am working on it. Put it this way, my tank isn't perfect, and you can pick out all the flaws you want, but it's good enough to make me happy.

And your question really is PPS vs EI in general. As you probably know, when Burr tests his tank N is always red 40+.

For example, some tetras get more colorful, more beautiful when introduced to higher trace element metals. More Cu better colour they get, until they go to shock and die. Even when dead, they have unusually very strong ‘beautiful’ coloration. So much for happy looking fish, right?

I haven't read any of the articles you linked to, and probably never will.

As I've said, I can only speak to my personal experience. Below are pics of two Rainbows that are in my tank right now. They are both about ten years old, and have been raised in what you call a high nitrate environment since they were less than an inch long.

According to you I have been torturing them all these years. So how long does N take to kill fish? Must be closer to 15 years as these guys appear about as healthy as can be to me.


 

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@davgriggs IMO your fish problems have nothing to do with N from dosing.

You likely answered your question in your first post. Water changes are the single best thing you can do for fish health. Get on a regular weekly schedule, and more is better. Personally I change about 70% weekly.

I would also recommend good general maintenance. Keep the filters clean, vacuum what you can, even if it's just removing fish waste lightly from the carpet. Provide good surface agitation, so that water is well oxygenated.

As to CO2, right now you are pretty much guessing. Get a pH pen and some calibration fluid. Let a glass full of tank water sit out for two or three days, then test the pH. This will provide you a baseline degassed value.

Then measure the tank pH as the CO2 period begins. Many start off by shooting for a 1.0 pH drop. So if your degassed value is 7.5, adjust CO2 so that the tank goes down to 6.5. Counting bubbles is not a very reliable way to measure CO2 injection.

As always, observe livestock for changes. I've yet to see fish shows signs of stress from too much CO2 from a 1.0 drop.

Once you have more confidence and want to keep more demanding plants, you may find plants respond better to an even further drop. Myself and many here shoot for more like a 1.2 to 1.4 pH drop. In my tank, it takes about 1.50 before fish show signs of stress. And if you do go higher tech (increased lighting, CO2, more demanding plants) you may find you need to dose more than PPS. I've seen this play out many times here on the board, but every tank is different.

All that being said, it's always possible the fish were sick already, or came from poor weak breeding stock.

But most importantly, get on a regular water change schedule. In my opinion that is going to fix most of your problems.
 

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@davgriggs it's a small world. I grew up at 5 & Haggerty in Plymouth.

A pH reading changes instantly while a drop checker takes several hours. I would start checking a couple of hours after the CO2 period begins. Then periodically throughout the day. Getting your CO2 correct is worth your time. It can prevent you from chasing your tail with lots of other things. It's the first thing I recheck if anything is wonky. And like I said, don't rely on counting bubbles. They are not uniform and are little better than a guess.

In my opinion, you did hear wrong about limiting surface agitation. For both fish and plants, you want the water highly oxygenated. Lack of oxygen can kill fish pretty much faster than anything. A good surface ripple will make your fish happy, and cost you pennies in more CO2 in a tank that size (and even in a big tank too).

And if you just started the tank in April, looks like you are doing a lot things right, and the tank looks like a nice start. As you get deeper into the hobby, there are a lot of folks who here who are glad to help.

You never mentioned your lighting, but that will drive everything else. The higher the lighting, the more demand for CO2 and ferts.

Good luck and look forward to seeing how things go for you. If you want to get more involved here, start a journal. It's a great way to share your progress and get help from others who have similar set up to yours.
 
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