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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I started a new 50G tank about 5 weeks ago, first real planted tank, and have been running very lean. I have been measuring 0ppm (or close to it) every early morning before dosing, and then I dose accordingly for the next day. I've found that using Seachem's products I have gotten very good algae free growth out of:

Daily
15-20ppm CO2
1ppm Seachem N
.30ppm Seachem P
2 ppm Seachem K
.25ppm Seachem Iron
5ml of Seachem trace or occasionally Seachem flourish
5ml Seachem Excel
12.5ml Seachem Flourish Advance

I have Seachem flourish root tabs in Seachem Flourish black sand substrate. There are two Fluval LED 3.0 lights on the tank (20" high) so a lot of light. Nominal pH 7.1, 5dKH and 12dGH.

Also have many dozens of shrimp and about 30-40 endlers (mostly fry and juvenile size).

As mentioned growth has been strong. I have to trim about every other week. I often see pearling on the plant leaves.

Now here is the rub. I have been trying to up the dosing a little as I notice most people use WAY more nutrients, just to see what I will get. Each time I try that (for example I will try to 2x everything), I am rewarded the next day with GSA on my glass and some on the hardscape. And I don't notice additional growth as a result (although to be fair that is tough to judge in a day). The algae disappears the next day when I go back to super lean dosing.

What is the purpose of megadosing (like EI)? Is it to squeeze out the maximum amount of growth possible? It's difficult to buy the "it will cause plants to outcompete algae" argument (if that is an argument for it). If there are far more nutrients in the water column than plants can use, then there is no competition for the nutrients and algae may consume as much nutrients as they want as well. Plants do not grow on aquarium glass but algae does, so there is always plenty of room for algae. In my super lean dosing regimen, I can believe that my plants are outcompeting algae for nutrients, since they use it all in a day! Now I can believe that people who successfully run an EI tank, keep it algae free through meticulous care. I know there are plenty of nice EI tanks, in fact award winning tanks (also plenty of EI tanks with algae struggles, just read the posts here ...).

If my plants are growing well and seem relatively free of deficiency, is there any reason to use bigger doses?

Any lean dosers contrarians out there?

Here's the tank after 5 weeks
P1024016 - Copy (2).jpg
 

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If you're getting good growth, why change it? Anyway. If you're going to up your fertilizers, 2x is way to much. Why not 1.1x the amount and try that for a week or up to a month? Bigger doses in EI is supposed to alleviate any bottlenecks in terms of nutrients.

Great looking tank by the way!
 
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Yeah, don't change if things are going good now!

Of course that will change. It's always changing. :)

Really EI is just a starting point (just like PPS). You need to adjust to the conditions in your tank. With EI it's typically down, although not always. And you have "complicated" things by adding plant tabs. Although in my opinion that's a good complication.

Not sure how you are measuring co2 but if you categorize it with a range of 15-20 I would hazard a guess that is limiting your nutrient uptake. While your lighting is high which is probably why you see changes in algae growth when you bump up Ferts.

Nice looking tank! And awesome that you found the sweet spot on light, co2, Ferts.

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I'm a relatively lean doser, inclined more toward the PPS camp than EI. You may want to study the PPS method to see how it blends with your approach (I'm not a root tab supporter)

Concerning the sudden algae surges, I would tend more to think that it is due to a destabilization issue rather than algae suddenly finding food to eat. Algae is triggered by ammonia(ium) and it takes very little to do it. Perhaps your sudden change in dosing is causing plants to reel back a little, leaving more ammonia on the table. I doubt that our test kits can read such a spike, but you may want to try to see if TAN jumps. If you're inclined to testing, you could also allow about two weeks to see if algae reverses at high dosing levels, after plants adapt.

However, again, I see no reason to do EI if you can do without.
 

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Hi
Having a new setup for 5 weeks is not enough time to see what is working and what not. You will see changes in coming months. Aside from that, dosing daily 0.25 ppm Fe is a lot and it may start accumulating and cause problems later. The usual Fe dose is 0.05 ppm (0.01 – 0.10) a day.

 

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Hi
Having a new setup for 5 weeks is not enough time to see what is working and what not. You will see changes in coming months. Aside from that, dosing daily 0.25 ppm Fe is a lot and it may start accumulating and cause problems later. The usual Fe dose is 0.05 ppm (0.01 – 0.10) a day.

Hey Edward good to see chime in. And I agree, five weeks is not long enough to come to many conclusions.

And 7 ppm NO3 and 2.1 ppm PO4 weekly is not that light. I'm at 10 NO3 and 3.5 PO4 and folks think I dose EI. Fact is very few blindly follow EI, and most dial in what works best in their particular tank and mix of plants.

Also agree with Edward that 1.75 weekly is far more Fe than any tank I know needs. Doubt you need that much K either, but who knows?

I will say tank is looking good. Expect a few bumps and bruises along the but it's a great start.

Keep the updates coming I look forward to following along.
 

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if you dose higher ferts then it may mean that you should up the light and CO2 so the plants can uptake faster. since you're not changing those two factors then that's why the algae take over. If you up ferts, light intensity, and co2 then you'll get faster growing plants than you have now but should keep algae in check.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Can Seachem iron settle or otherwise go somewhere it can't be measured in the water?

Hi
Having a new setup for 5 weeks is not enough time to see what is working and what not. You will see changes in coming months. Aside from that, dosing daily 0.25 ppm Fe is a lot and it may start accumulating and cause problems later. The usual Fe dose is 0.05 ppm (0.01 – 0.10) a day.

Hey Edward good to see chime in. And I agree, five weeks is not long enough to come to many conclusions.

And 7 ppm NO3 and 2.1 ppm PO4 weekly is not that light. I'm at 10 NO3 and 3.5 PO4 and folks think I dose EI. Fact is very few blindly follow EI, and most dial in what works best in their particular tank and mix of plants.

Also agree with Edward that 1.75 weekly is far more Fe than any tank I know needs. Doubt you need that much K either, but who knows?

I will say tank is looking good. Expect a few bumps and bruises along the but it's a great start.

Keep the updates coming I look forward to following along.
Thank you, thank you for bringing up Fe! I was going to start a whole thread on that. Hopefully I get some replies on this.

Yes I feel it is a lot of Fe. Here's the skinny. I test it every night and it shows 0ppm. I now have 5 different iron tests I am experimenting with including a Hanna HC (those little electronic color checker things you put the sample in) and they all confirm a 0ppm. I then dose Fe, re-test my water shortly after and sure enough, the tests then show iron in the water and very roughly around the ppm value I dosed. But then 24hrs later I measure 0 ppm iron again. I started with .1ppm daily doses and upped it a couple times to the now .25ppm. Each time I wanted to see if I would measure "leftover" iron the next day, and nope it's all gone after 24hrs. I've even checked in the middle of the day (~8 hours later) with lights on, and no iron detected.

My HUGE million dollar question is, is it possible for iron to build up in the tank in a manner that will not show up on the tests? For example, could it be settling somewhere or perhaps coating the filter plumbing? Can plants absorb too much of it?

I was assuming the plants are uptaking all that iron but in the back of my mind, worried it might be going somewhere else. You have just convinced me to pull back to .1ppm daily until I can be more certain about it.

Appreciate all the positive comments from everyone!!
 

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Not seeing value in "megadosing" nutrients

Oh! Seachem Iron, that’s gluconate, the one that breaks down daily. That may explain why your tests see nothing at the end of the day.

Yes, I, too am interested to know what would be the issue of overdosing that ?

There’s even mention here that it breaks down in “hours”. https://barrreport.com/threads/i-wa...-seachem-iron-to-a-chelated-iron-powder.8746/
 

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Hi
Did you mention water changes?
You are testing so many things daily? It is not necessary, once a week max at the beginning. And only macros. With trace elements like Fe testing is kind of pointless. The element changes form and makes reliable testing impossible. You have new Flourite black sand porous clay. Clay substrates have some CEC ability. To better understand you can go here and read very well explained what trace elements do.
 

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if you dose higher ferts then it may mean that you should up the light and CO2 so the plants can uptake faster. since you're not changing those two factors then that's why the algae take over. If you up ferts, light intensity, and co2 then you'll get faster growing plants than you have now but should keep algae in check.
Are you saying that if I accidently overdose fertilizers I better increase light intensity and CO2 level or I get algae?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Oh! Seachem Iron, that’s gluconate, the one that breaks down daily. That may explain why your tests see nothing at the end of the day.

Yes, I, too am interested to know what would be the issue of overdosing that ?

There’s even mention here that it breaks down in “hours”. https://barrreport.com/threads/i-wa...-seachem-iron-to-a-chelated-iron-powder.8746/
Tom Barr says "DTPH last about 2-3 days in solution, ETDA, maybe a few hours, 1/2 day, the Fe Gluc maybe a few hours/minutes......." but what does that mean? Where does the iron go? It can be neither created nor destroyed, just changed form. So what does it mean that "it doesn't last"? Do the plants all use it or it converts to a form that can't be used?

Bump:
Hi
Did you mention water changes?
You are testing so many things daily? It is not necessary, once a week max at the beginning. And only macros. With trace elements like Fe testing is kind of pointless. The element changes form and makes reliable testing impossible. You have new Flourite black sand porous clay. Clay substrates have some CEC ability. To better understand you can go here and read very well explained what trace elements do.
I will definitely reduce testing eventually. For right now I need to understand the nutrient cycle in the tank so I know how best to manage it.
 

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Tom Barr says "DTPH last about 2-3 days in solution, ETDA, maybe a few hours, 1/2 day, the Fe Gluc maybe a few hours/minutes......." but what does that mean? Where does the iron go? It can be neither created nor destroyed, just changed form. So what does it mean that "it doesn't last"? Do the plants all use it or it converts to a form that can't be used?

Bump:

I will definitely reduce testing eventually. For right now I need to understand the nutrient cycle in the tank so I know how best to manage it.
I'll leave it to the chemists to really answer that one. As we've established before, your desire to go down rabbit holes way exceed mine (and I don't mean that in a bad way! :) ) But from my limited understanding and past reading, it has changed form so that certain tests no longer register it and even more importantly, your plants won't be able to use it -- which is why I, myself, was a little curious of what happens to the buildup of this particular type. I'm remembering that I've read the buildup of the chelates of the other types can theoretically start doing weird things, but I thought this sort of problem was not true for gluconate.

This thread 'may' help or beget even more questions...

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/...pe-chelated-iron-toxic-works-if-ph-6-3-a.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I'll leave it to the chemists to really answer that one. As we've established before, your desire to go down rabbit holes way exceed mine (and I don't mean that in a bad way! :) ) But from my limited understanding and past reading, it has changed form so that certain tests no longer register it and even more importantly, your plants won't be able to use it -- which is why I, myself, was a little curious of what happens to the buildup of this particular type. I'm remembering that I've read the buildup of the chelates of the other types can theoretically start doing weird things, but I thought this sort of problem was not true for gluconate.

This thread 'may' help or beget even more questions...

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/...pe-chelated-iron-toxic-works-if-ph-6-3-a.html
Some of the best learning in life happens in the rabbit holes :nerd:

Great thread and threads linked within it. It's a good primer for understanding the different forms of iron and ways to administer in the tank. It does not directly answer the question of what happens to iron gluconate excess, which I'm going to post directly to Seachem. I think they have a Q&A they respond to. On their bottle they pre-warn about getting a 0PPM test result afterwards and recommend "Due to rapid utilization, test within 30 minutes".

It looks to me like iron has a lot of unknowns in the hobby. I see people post they run 2-3PPM weekly dosing, others much lower, and various guidelines recommending weekly dose of .1 to .6ppm. A "how to use" video I watched for the Hanna HC Iron detector, at ~2:35 the instructor is saying her reading of .6PPM is "deficient" and that she runs at a constant state of 2-3PPM. That would be a very large weekly dose, maybe 10PPM to maintain a constant 2-3ppm. She is in aquaponics, not aquariums so maybe there is a big difference.


For anyone interested in iron tests, the Lamotte strips appear to work. I've been using them for a couple weeks, comparing to other tests, and doing "before and after" testing. They are very convenient compared to other iron tests which can be so complex, user error will result in them never working (eg. Seachem iron test). Dip for 2 seconds and near instantly you'll see if there is iron, takes 30 seconds to fully develop. It's not super resolved with the 0PPM, .3PPM, .5PPM ... pink gradations but I find it useful enough.
 

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I dose .1ppm iron daily (.7ppm weekly), but that is all gluconated (Seachem Iron). Because of my level one UVS, I cannot use chelated iron, such as EDTA or DTPA. Generally, you need to dose more gluconated iron that EDTA or DTPA forms because it is consumed by plants so rapidly. After going back and forth with Seachem on how to determine how much to dose (their directions are a little misleading), they advised to dose enough so that ferrous iron tests show zero iron after 20-30 minutes. During that time, the plants will uptake virtually all of it. In my case I could actually dose higher than I do and remain within these test parameters. This is because it is in the ferrous form and not the ferric form found in chelated versions, which are designed to last much longer in the water column (up to several days). Additionally, the gluc iron is not dependent upon pH levels.

As far as test kits for iron are concerned, after trying a few different kits, I found that the Nutrafin kit (may be labeled under the Fluval name) is good at detecting both types of iron. I don’t have the Hanna version because I don’t think it is important to test for iron at that price since iron testing is so questionable in both results and value, as @Edward pointed out. However, I do use Hanna for other types of tests and would expect their iron test to be good, as well. I found Seachem’s test to be good with ferrous iron (which is their product), but not very good for ferric iron. As I understand it, the chelated bond has to be broken down by these types of reagents before actually being able to measure the ferric iron (this is the reason for the lengthy time to measure EDTA and DTPA iron) and many test kits aren’t good at doing that. Conversely, some were not good at measuring ferrous iron.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I beleive the most scientific about their tanks use this Fe tester https://hannacan.com/hi746-iron-low-range-checkerr-hc.html I don't have a dutch tank so I never saw the need to get one but its as good as you get in our hobby. Range is up to 1ppm Fe which should be good for most tanks.
That's what I have. I have the one that has a 0-5PPM range and shows out to two decimal points. It's actually not so easy to use, but yes it is a nice tester.

Bump:
I dose .1ppm iron daily (.7ppm weekly), but that is all gluconated (Seachem Iron). Because of my level one UVS, I cannot use chelated iron, such as EDTA or DTPA. Generally, you need to dose more gluconated iron that EDTA or DTPA forms because it is consumed by plants so rapidly. After going back and forth with Seachem on how to determine how much to dose (their directions are a little misleading), they advised to dose enough so that ferrous iron tests show zero iron after 20-30 minutes. During that time, the plants will uptake virtually all of it. In my case I could actually dose higher than I do and remain within these test parameters. This is because it is in the ferrous form and not the ferric form found in chelated versions, which are designed to last much longer in the water column (up to several days). Additionally, the gluc iron is not dependent upon pH levels.
That answers a lot of questions. It sounds like during the titration period, dosing should be during the day with lights on so that plants can uptake the iron immediately and can be retested 20-30 min later. I have been dosing an hour or so before lights on (which is convenient for me). I can see why they recommend daily dosing of it. Actually it seems critical in a high tech fast growing tank.
Since iron can't be transported inside the plant and it's gone in 20-30min, it needs to be re-introduced everyday for new growth to get enough iron.
 

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Daily
15-20ppm CO2
1ppm Seachem N
.30ppm Seachem P
2 ppm Seachem K
.25ppm Seachem Iron
5ml of Seachem trace or occasionally Seachem flourish
5ml Seachem Excel
12.5ml Seachem Flourish Advance
This was my weekly dosing for about 8 months. I mixed everything in an old Easy Green bottle and dosed 4x per week:

6 ppm NO3
2.8 ppm PO4
20.8 ppm K
.16 ppm Fe
1.6 ppm Mg

So leaner on N but higher PO4 and K. It worked pretty well when supplemented with Osmocote root tabs, but as soon as the root tabs started to run low you could see deficiencies in the plants. I was using the Seachem fert plan for a few months like two years ago, but I just got sick of having to measure out 6 different liquids every day.

I pretty much doubled the lean dosing since then. Plants are growing bigger and faster, plus I don't have to worry about root tabs. I'm using more fertilizers, but I've still only had to buy the dry ferts once in my life. It also allows me to dose macros once per week which is just easier. The downside is the plants are growing bigger and faster so there's more trimming maintenance.

The whole concept of EI and "MEGADOSIIIIIIINNG" is very particular to American aquarists and this forum in particular. Most other aquatic horticulturists from Asia and Europe are using much leaner dosing, in line with what you do. If it's working for you, I don't see a reason to change.
 

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This was my weekly dosing for about 8 months. I mixed everything in an old Easy Green bottle and dosed 4x per week:

6 ppm NO3
2.8 ppm PO4
20.8 ppm K
.16 ppm Fe
1.6 ppm Mg

So leaner on N but higher PO4 and K. It worked pretty well when supplemented with Osmocote root tabs, but as soon as the root tabs started to run low you could see deficiencies in the plants. I was using the Seachem fert plan for a few months like two years ago, but I just got sick of having to measure out 6 different liquids every day.

I pretty much doubled the lean dosing since then. Plants are growing bigger and faster, plus I don't have to worry about root tabs. I'm using more fertilizers, but I've still only had to buy the dry ferts once in my life. It also allows me to dose macros once per week which is just easier. The downside is the plants are growing bigger and faster so there's more trimming maintenance.

The whole concept of EI and "MEGADOSIIIIIIINNG" is very particular to American aquarists and this forum in particular. Most other aquatic horticulturists from Asia and Europe are using much leaner dosing, in line with what you do. If it's working for you, I don't see a reason to change.
If you go over to The 2HR Aquarist website these amounts are pretty much in line with those Dennis Wong recommends. He also mentions that nitrate levels >10 ppm makes one more prone to GDA and GSA.
 
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