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Just add enough ferts to not run out of anything even at high light/growth tanks and then do a water change to prevent anything from building up.

Hobbyist have done this same thing for many decades with fish, they "dose" fish food, LOTS of it to grow the fish well, then do frequent water changes to prevent waste/build up.

Hardly my idea. I just argue for it since it's simple and easy. I think many get all into the details too much really. Which is fine and all, but the question is you do not want to spend too much worry over ferts as a newbie, rather, light and CO2. EI just makes ferts independent for any planted aquarium, so you can focus on light/CO2. That is the main goal.

One of the biggest problems folks had were based on old myths about the dangers of excess ferts when I suggested this in the 1990's.
I thought those ideas were correct myself, but then noticed they could not be.

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This is partially true.

Macro ferts have much higher toxicity levels than micro ferts do. Heavy metals are many times more toxic and have fairly low toxicity ranges, some like copper well below 1 ppm (0.15 ppm actually). Long term exposure to heavy metals makes the toxic concentration lower.
That is rather tough to do, I've tried.

I'm sure you could dose enough, but it would REQIURE gross error, massively so, on part of the aquarist, I've never once seen this in some 15+ years of experience of helping folks on line.

Can it occur? Sure, will it? Well, 15 years is a long time and lot of folks have made some really large errors thus far, no one's done it yet near as I or anyone else looking for me can tell.

I've dosed 100-200X what I am suppose to, dosing pump dose it all at once because I did not set the switch on the pump correctly. No death, but a nice yellow red color in the tank. that was with SeaChem Flourish and TMG. Maybe CMS will?

No one has show that to be the case yet, so for macros and micros, you need to get 10X or more dosing errors before you see risk which is a wide wide error range.

Partially true?
Please support such statements.
I've had these same discussions for nearly 20 years perhaps 100 times now.
Shrimp, fish die for many reasons, even without plants and such.......we have to exclude those possibilities prior. If we have a case where they have not died and done well in spite of the high dosing of Traces........well, that falsifies the claims.

That's how it's done, not correlation alone.

Now if we cannot dose say 10X the suggested amount, then we cannot say it's the trace, but perhaps likely it is, but we cannot rule other basic aquarium causes either.

If the livestock is fine, and plants etc are doing well over time, then we can rule out Traces and rule out basic aquarium care/other causes for death since the livestock is doing well. This is basic logic.

When you say a specific hypothesis, liek traces kills things, cause algae, are best off stating a specific ppm etc, say

"0.2 ppm Cu from CMS+B will kill 50% CRS if you dose this amount daily for 4 weeks."

Now you have something to test and to try and falsify. Generalizations are near worthless. They offer little to the knowledge base for aquarist.

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Thanks guys. I think it's more important to understand a technique rather than following the steps of one. Without understanding, when problems arise, we have no idea where to turn.

Give yourself a little credit. It matters little that others have noticed improved plant growth with a given technique. Describing a common application and improving it happens to be the birth of many new discoveries.

“Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.” Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
Arguing for logic, I'll accept that, but not the idea.
Discus folks had been doing it and I figured there's no reason to test if you make a reference solution 2x a week basically with 50-80% of the tank water.

It was mostly to get away from test kits.
It also worked well because large water changes mitigate CO2 and algae issues.

I've yet to meet a single person who got into the hobby that was interested in testing NO3 and PO4, and such. Gardening? Yes, Water changes are part of the labor? Certainly.

Can water changes be greatly reduced using EI? Yes. In fact, that's one of the goals once the user get some good observational experience. I do many on my 120 Gallon Dutch tank, but I move stuff around a lot, have a messy sediment that makes muddy messes, uproot etc, so it's more to keep it clean than anything to do with fert management. The other Buce tank gets a water change once a month. Light is less, dosing is less, uprooting virtually non existent. Taken to the end point, you do with non CO2 enrichment/no excel and low light with rich sediments and perhaps dosing 2-4x a month, maybe 1/10th EI doses.

No set method will be all things to all goals, but a conceptual approach will allow someone to adjust and understand how to do it.

In terms of light and CO2:

This covers virtually 100% of all planted tanks in terms of light and CO2.
They used non limiting ferts for the test.

If you add ferts to the table 1 matrix, now you'd have 9 x 3 boxes....(for 3 levels of ferts).

Best to manage light 1st, then if that's too much, manage CO2 next, then lastly........ferts, as CO2 and light are the main players.

Ferts are easy frankly. Aquarist make them complicated.:icon_cool

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13,610 Posts

0.5 Fe
0.01 Cu

Say you want 0.2ppm of Cu at your threshold:

0.5 Fe x 20X = 10 ppm
0.01 Cu X 20X = 0.2 ppm

Overdoing it 20X is not been done by anyone I've known or seen on line ever.

Say the toxic dose is 0.02 ppm Cu
That's still 2X the more than the upper limit for EI.

Math don't lie.

If you chose 0.02ppm which is a long tern residual, vs a pulse dose which is taken up by plants, that is two very different issues, dense plant beds are very effective at removing metals from water. A small amount like this will not last long in the water column.

Have you tested copper in planted tanks? It does not last long. Try it and see for yourself, do not take my word for it. Plants can handle quite a bit. Shrimp are the best bet for a hyper sensitive species. They are the best bet for a "canary in the coal mine"

I've shown there's no risk at high CMS+B dosing for Shrimp.
I've got video, I've got long term photo journals, I've got dozens of local hobbyists who have seen my tanks in person.
Those are the facts.

You cannot logically conclude that there is risk, when others have show otherwise. People make these claims X is caused by Y, but then do not test their own hypotheses. These are not my hypotheses. They are yours, you argue for them, then you do the work.

I'm not coming to you and saying "here's my conclusion, let's see what facts I can to support it." I've dosed and not found observations support the claimed risk. So I cannot logically conclude that there is a risk even over a wide range.

Even if there might be and you want to use belief, you can still switch to a different brand. Both management issues are easily met.

Chelation makes a massive difference in toxicity, and we all add chelated metals for traces. I am also unaware of any shrimp studies that had planted tanks, CO2 enriched systems, this makes growth, uptake and many other issues very different compared to the research.

Research is a good starting point, but unless it's pretty specific to our systems and there's also observations that are not falsified already, it can be misapplied. We assumed that PO4 above 0.2ppm induced algae based on that same logic and research for support.

Clearly that was not true. The same logic I used there I'm using here. All I have to do is falsify it. If I or others cannot, then I tentatively accept it.
I've already falsified your claim way beyond the typical dosing routines and errors newbies and folks who are prone to make mistakes might do.
CMS might be more toxic to livestock than Flourish, but........I've gone overboard with both enough to know there's little associated risk.

As far as plants, they are very tough till you start getting pretty high with copper.


People fish their fish weekly on many forums being careless with that, but we do not see much fear mongering there curiously. Traces? I've yet to see any cases. Could you do it? sure, but you'd have to really try.
I've tried way beyond the highest plant demand, no issues here.

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It's funny I was writing my response above when you posted this lol.

I agree it needs to be mentioned the thought process behind why you initially conceived this. Balancing water changes with dosing eliminates regular testing not to mention the other benefits to regular water changes. From my experience however, most new and many old hobbyist never learn the basics of nutrient management. So they usually get stuck into following a dosing regime without understanding how to adjust. This basically prevents them from ever making those needed changes based on their own tank. As you said nutrients are easy. This is especially true when you understand the basics. Without that knowledge, it's like the difference between riding a bus and driving your own car. The bus will take you where it wants to go. Drive a car and you decide where to turn.

Well, then you get folks who say they do not want all that, just tell me what to do:cool:

Ya cannot win.

So I just take each person one at a time and others watch and get the ideas and info they want.

Some get it right away others want to argue about it, others still have trouble with the concepts. Some do not want to fuss with all them liquids and ppm's of this or that, which was were I came from initially myself. I liked a brand name and not some unknown nameless sack of white powder. I did not want to change the routine.

Many are that way. The problems are much more social than anything.

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It's funny I was writing my response above when you posted this lol.

I agree it needs to be mentioned the thought process behind why you initially conceived this. Balancing water changes with dosing eliminates regular testing not to mention the other benefits to regular water changes. From my experience however, most new and many old hobbyist never learn the basics of nutrient management. So they usually get stuck into following a dosing regime without understanding how to adjust. This basically prevents them from ever making those needed changes based on their own tank. As you said nutrients are easy. This is especially true when you understand the basics. Without that knowledge, it's like the difference between riding a bus and driving your own car. The bus will take you where it wants to go. Drive a car and you decide where to turn.
Well, other folks are writing that, not myself.
I've made it clear 1001 times, but people keep repeating and coming up with their own versions of what EI is.

No issues there, but they lack common sense often times.
I started explaining it VERY SIMPLY.

But then a bunch of people had more and more questions. they a bunch claimed it caused algae, they claim virtually each individual fert was the root cause for X, Y and Z. After falsifying those, they then back pedaled and went after fish health, then it was shrimp, all falsified easily. Then it was growing the plants too fast. Next is was water changes are BAD.

Heck, what the do folks want?

I made it simple as any method possible.

Add ferts, do water changes to keep the ferts within a range.
Now ferts are independent of other dependencies(light and CO2 mostly)

That's it.

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I think both would agree that dosing excess nutrients without water changes or compounding that problem by dosing incorrectly (tablespoons instead of teaspoons) would lead to toxic levels of anything. We cannot dose "above the barrel" without reset. It's simple logic.
Folks have done this many times, the tanks did not have issues. I suppose if you went out long enough. Or you did not do any water changes, but that's not EI. That's just bad care. No method prevents that. :wink:

Why argue over whether toxic nutrient levels can exist, they can. Water changes and proper dosing can prevent all of this. The problem lies in the sentence preceding this one. Every hobbyist makes mistakes. Yes, they may be huge mistakes by our standards but the possibility still exists.
Sure, that's nice to say........but it is meaningless unless you have a ppm to associate with it.

Your question is not specific. Mistakes, we all make, the risk is the issue. and to assess risk, you NEED to have a range. Saying something can build up does not tell us much, the question is what risk are involved and what ranges can we go to before there is a risk.

I know what plants take up over time.
I know I can lard on a lot more ferts than we need without that much issues, but I see little good reason to do so. Weekly good care and water changes is a good idea for most folks and planted tanks that use CO2 gas.
I'm hardly alone in this view.

What is the toxic level for trace element X in aquatic plants? Beyond a few papers on copper, nitrates, zinc and a few others I have no idea. It would be nice to know, as well as what to look for just in case. I'm like every other hobbyist. I'm human and prone to error.
I know for copper because it's used as an aquatic algicides and herbicide for aquatic weeds.

Sure, it might be nice to know, but I've seen no issues larding on a lot of traces over several years on multiple tanks, others report similar examples.

Say, I know, how about a bunch of hard to grow picky plants?
I sell them routinely, show pics of them over long time frames, garden extensively etc.

So if there are toxicities, you'd have to go way beyond EI's ranges to find them.

Sure they exists, but I do not know, nor have I've seen anyone show what ppm's ranges those actually are to date. It's been 15 years and thousands of users. You'd think by now...........but nope. You basically have to go way beyond the non limiting level and stop following the basic advice I gave to begin with.

Folks make mistakes, no matter what you write.
So you get in and help them, one person at a time if you see something incorrect.

As you both probably know I'm from a medical background. What would happen if doctors decided no one would ever eat 5 bottles of Tylenol?
I thought you said you had a medical background?
What is the risk there .....compared to someone who did not read the article about what to dose their plants and dumped a pound instead of teaspoon of X Y and Z?

Look, people like this likely should not keep pets.
We all have killed fish at some point, learning is a step wise process(hopefully), there is no way to prevent errors 100% of the time, that is not even my goal.

Risk such as children getting into a bottle, we have tamper proof and child proof caps now. How can we stop the aquarist kids from over feeding the fish and killing them 2 lbs of flake food?

I can make such statements also, they do not support your argument however.

Risk is the basis.

We would have a lot of unknown deaths. Instead accept that the possibility exists and develop a clear identification method of what may be going on. It just makes sense.
Most folks who make such mistakes never read the article nor comprehended it. All they see is add X, Y and Z and you have a tank like mine. ADA, Tropica, myself, you name it, they all have folks who see something then think they just need to do one thing etc.

And it's not the articles fault in the least.
You say you are in the medical field but you are not taking into account much about Humans.

This is a social issue, not one so much about the article itself.
Any/every article can be better written.
But the reader...........?? Well, they will take only what they do.
antibiotics, they nag and tell them to take all the pills for the full treatment time, but many do not after they feel better.

The risk there far outweighs anything we might do here.

Social? I would tend to agree.
See? We do agree, hehe.

It gets down to what are the risk, and what are the ranges associated with said risk. Without that specific information, we cannot say if 2 bottles of Advil is toxic or not to lab rats or is it only 4 mg per adult 500 gram 12 week mouse?
We NEED a range to work with if you want to add that information.

You do not get to "guess" and make stuff up:redface:
Has not stopped many:icon_roll

I simply went with a very high light and and CO2(thus these are the upper bounds that most hobbyists would ever have. Any and everything else would fall BELOW that value for uptake/demand.

So no need to lard more ferts on beyond that.
Likewise, this implies that 99.9% of all aquariums will have LESS demand than this.

So EI is a good start point.
Then you have independence for ferts and can lower it progressively and slowly and eyeball a good Critical point. The point where you see a decline in growth rates.

Then bump back up to the last prior dosing. There is no need to research and try to kill your plants with ultra high dosing. Many have made gross errors in the past and had little issue.

The goal is to have good growth without much management risk or issues.
Nice to have the other info, but few hobbyists are honestly THAT interested, they want to garden nicely with aquatic weeds. They do not want to use and fiddle with dosing and test kits, do all sorts of research.

Not seen many state that was their goal. Just the nice gardening.

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Using PPS, you try to keep addition and consumption of major nutrients the same, so that nothing ever builds up or is depleted, and water changes can be minimized. You add potassium nitrate only as much as nitrates are needed. Fish food is another source of nitrates, and so in a well-stocked tank little or no additional potassium nitrate may be needed. But potassium is still needed even if the nitrate is not, as fish food is a poor source of that. So you need a separate source of potassium without nitrate, and that is potassium sulfate - one of the extras in the PPS pack.
So in order to do this and avoid the water changes, you need to test.
This assumes that all 400+ species of plants have the same fert requirements, this is not true.

Water changes are much more effective and part of the routines, what folks signed up for when they got an aquarium, reduces FAR more risk than test kits and avoidance of water changes. I've done this. And if anything get too far off? Then they defer to a water change to remove user errors anyway.
Telling folks not to do water changes is not good advice for 95-99% of the planted hobbyists.

It can be done, I've done it. But it's easier if you remove the CO2 and reduce the light, then you do not have to dose and can get away with a much more effective non CO2 method.

Still, it's not for everyone also.

The other is magnesium sulfate. EI assumes you get enough from hard tapwater, or if your tapwater is soft you're adding a GH booster that contains magnesium; either way, magnesium is being replenished on a weekly basis. But with PPS you minimize water changes, and magnesium is not being regularly replenished. So it's likely enough that you'll need to dose it separately, to warrant its inclusion in the pack.
Mg is often overlooked/forgotten. But you can tell in a day or two if adding it helps.

GH booster should be added with EI.

PMDD included it with the Trace mix.

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There is a calculator. Here is the link. The problem many people seem to have is the differences in tanks parameters. Should I choose EI, low/light, PPS because I have XYZ? I am in the process of writing another calculator. I intend to add a wizard to ask these questions and suggest a good starting point to work from. Carlos (Wet) has been a great help with this endeavor thus far. Beyond that the calculator is very helpful and accurate. Where do you start?

You have a moderately planted tank. The plants are rather undemanding. I would start with 1/3 or so of the EI dose to start. Once you see how your plants respond you can slowly reduce that dose until you see a change.

Using that calculator you can choose EI low light weekly. There is another option you can start with. Choose EI daily and dose that amount every other day. It's a little more than you need but won't cause any problems what so ever. I like dosing something every day for several reasons.

The traditional EI method requires weekly water changes. This is important if you choose those doses from the calculator. If you want to modify the water change schedule you can look at the levels that will be expected in this calculator. Our goal here is to maintain a range of nutrients listed in the original post.

So basically, if you're willing to do weekly water changes I would choose the daily dose and use that every other day (more than you need but not harmful). We want to start above that barrel. Then decrease and find that critical point where we see changes. Do we need to reduce doses? Honestly I don't see any reason to. The levels are not toxic to fauna or flora. Is it expensive? Not at all. Do we need this much fertilizer. No, but is there any harm?

The entire point to this method is to supply non limiting nutrients. Then we can work on more important things like CO2 and basic gardening. Nutrients are the easiest part. We can tinker with various levels and argue over other aspects but the fact always remains the same. Just dose enough fertilizers for the plants needs.

Using EI low light weekly or daily dosing using that amount every other day, schedule below, will provide appropriate nutrients for any plants you may have.

Mon Macros
Tues Micros
Wed Macros
Thrus Micros
Fri Macros
Sat Micros
Sun 50% water change (GH booster)

Does this make sense?

This is a good way to look at it.
Even if you under dose, the effects of adding ANY ferts will be positive on growth.

The only question is, are you adding enough to have independence from ferts?
Or are you still adding limiting fert values?

Liebig's law needs brought into the conversation.
This is the entire point of EI/Hoaglands nutrient modified solution, the idea of a non limiting fert routine. Dupla, Tropica both address this as does PMDD.

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It is starting to make more sense.

However, where I am getting stuck on now is where I find out how much of each Fertilizer I need to add to make my dosing solution (ideally in grams for a 500ml bottle), while taking into account the information regarding how KNO3 for example also provides some K. I am not even sure where a general baseline of PPM to be looking at?

5-30ppm is a huge range. There has to be some "generalized idea" of where to start, or where in that range has been found sufficient. Also, Do I need to know both my GH and KH? And what is the GH booster?

Am I wrong to be thinking that I will be able to combine all of the Fertilizers (minus the Micros) in one bottle and then pull a few ml's out everyday? Or is there a better alternative that I am not seeing?
5-30 ppm is a large range but it's also where we tend to see optimal plant growth. Some tanks might have 3x as much light, thus they will remove 30 ppm over time slower than 5 ppm which be gone in 24-36 hours in another tank, or fish loads might add some of the Nitrogen demand.

The point of EI is simply add more than the demand from plants even at high light and stem plant type growth. Then good sized water changes.

You can fiddle all day long, but this rarely saves anyone any labor or time. Water. dose dry ferts(unless it's a nano tank or something). You need not fret over a few ppm of NO3.

No method should require such precision.
Take what you might think you'd need for say 2 week,s dissolve that in a bottle, one for the micros, one for the traces.

Dose that.

You can complicate it, but it's actually VERY EASY once you do it for a week or two, after which, it's rather BORING/OLD HAT.

The how: add dry ferts based on tank volume, some common sense for plant load/type, do good sized water change soften.

The why: makes ferts independent for plant growth. Keeps tank nice and clean and less algae.

I think folks just worry a lot is all, they want reassurances they are not making a mistake. Chem and math are not many folk's strong suits and some view these are poisons and the great unknown. So they go on and on trying to get details, but lose sight often times of the basics.

I was no different years ago. I'm the same as most newbie folks posting here, we all were at some point.

I believed I did not need it(CO2 particularly) and tried to do it without. But the reasons and rational put forth, well, I got too curious.

So "the how" was easy.
"The why" was a bit more painful for myself.
That was the biggest mental block I had.

I think seeing other folks adding it helped.
You basically only have to dose 3-4 things and teaspoons work fine.
I do not fret over 3/4" th teaspoon of baking soda when making cookies.
Nor should I here.

Just a simple recipe.

I do not need a ppm at all in fact. Farmers rarely think this way with ppm's etc, they look at their plants. They look at pounds per acre.
Aquarist: teaspoons per gallons.

Less light, less plant biomass etc, slower growers, cut EI by 1/2 or down to 1/3 etc.

Observe and see. Should be fairly simple.
Your goal was to grow nice aquarium plants, gardening etc, not learn chemistry. You will pick that up later as you learn more, but.........I think successful and top scapers tend to be less obsessed with the fert routines and more obsessed with good general care(water changes, cleaning, routine care, trim/pruning, hardscapes etc).

I really do not worry much about the ferts.
I rarely discuss them in presentations and talks these days also.
More light and CO2.

You add ferts, you do water changes.
Pretty simple and straight forward.

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I'm convinced but I would still like to know if my crypts,who are heavy root feeder, will actually benefit from water column fertilizers? If so, I'll be ordering some dry ferts from Green Leaf.
Name the Crypt, I've likely grown it.
Name the Buce for that matter, same thing, name the Anubias, same thing.

Most all aquatic Ariods.
No issues.
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