PPS Analysis Form for UkeDude - PPS Analysis and Feedback - Aquatic Plant Central

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Old 09-15-2006, 07:02 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default PPS Analysis Form for UkeDude

Background

I have had fish-only tanks for several years and limited success with plants. I never bothered to learn. After being compelled to tear down my 29g tank to move to another house, I decided to start a project with my oldest daughter to create a rich plant environment.

After much reading (and let me tell it was difficult to find this stuff from ground zero), I finally discovered EI. After ordering ferts from GregWatson.com and several lengthy (and gratefully received) email exchanges with Greg about how to begin, I was nearly committed.

In the process of looking for supplies and the recipe for Traces solution, I discovered APC and PPS. So here I am.

When did you begin using PPS?

I am about to embark.

Do you find the PPS system easy to use?

I am a Ph.D. in Engineering with a long background in analysis and design. I do not say that to claim any better understanding of planted aquaria than any other newbie. I only say that to emphasize that careful analysis and experimental procedure are hallmarks of my training and passion, so readers can better understand the point of view from which I look at PPS.

EI embodies Ockham's Razor--in the absence of any definitive facts, the simplest solution is usually the best.

However, EI is a major effort--50% water changes in an average home are hard to pull off--especially with a family that doesn't look kindly on hoses and drips and stinky water.

The fundamental tenant of EI is that we don't know, so be conservative (generous) and punt (reset) frequently.

PPS immediately struck a chord with me because it uses an iterative, corrective approach to managing unknowns, and does not require large and frequent water changes--let's not underestimate the value of that!

The biggest unproven aspect to me is that the iterative process can become divergent--that is we actually move away from a stable minimally variant routine.

However, all the evidence I have read suggest that this is not likely under reasonable circumstances when all the recommendations of PPS are undertaken responsibly.

The last problem to overcome is the acquisition of adequate supplies. A few vendors (Greg Watson) are positioned to be the go-to source for things like syringes, wash bottles, containers, etc. It is rather exasperating to not be able to find all the bits and pieces in one place.

How often do you do a water change?

None yet since I haven't started.

Do you use CO2?

I have a 5 lb. CO2 bottle with a homemade 2" PVC reactor inline with my XP2 return line.

What is your aquarium's water volume?

29 gallons.

What type of lighting do you use?

CurrentUSA 1x65W CF

How many watts of lighting do you have?

1x65

Please describe the condition of your plants.

None yet. Planning to order this weekend.

Please attach the PPS Excel Spreadsheet.

Not yet started.

I look forward to following up with more information. Perhaps no on else will care, but this thread will become my personal log for this experience.
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Old 09-17-2006, 08:36 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Welcome to APC!
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Old 09-19-2006, 06:21 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Documentation

For my own benefit, here is some startup information.

I purchased four 16 oz. wash bottles from usplastics.com. After receiving them today, I mixed up a 500ml batch of the Mg solution. It turns out that 500 ml of H2O and 169 g of MgSO4 does not fit in the bottle without forcing some liquid out. I may have to mix and store in another bottle and pour into the wash bottle for dosing.

Also, the wash bottle cannot do drops, only a thin stream. If I need to do drops, I will have to get a dropper. I believe that is my only choice for the Traces solution since the dosing chart lists doses in drops for my size tank.

I also ordered from usplastics.com a 10ml plastic graduated cylinder for measuring doses. It was cheap and better than my kids' dosing spoon for antibiotics.

I already had a kitchen scale good to +/- 1g, which should be good enough for what I need to do. If small weights are a problem, I will mix a larger batch into a storage container of some sort.

I am a bit confused about the starting doses for a new tank. I found several conflicting resources on this site. One mentions starting with a ml dose of gallons/10. Another resource lists a fixed amount based on the size of the tank.

I suppose it doesn't really matter, but I would like to be a bit surer so I don't screw things up on day 1.

I am not sure what TDS (Total Dissolved Solids, I presume--it is not documented) on the Analysis sheet is for. I am not sure how to compute it or test for it either.

I have, or ordered, test kits for Nitrate, pH, GH, KH, PO4, and Ca. All kits are Aquarium Pharmaceuticals since that it what I had previously. I am not sure if the Ca test kit tests for Ca and Ca2 or just Ca. I will find out when it comes (for BigAlsOnline.com).

I tested my tap water for everything but Ca and PO4 since I am waiting on those kits. I found pH to be 8.2, GH 1d, KH 7d, NO3 0, NH3 0, NO2 0.

I will test my standing tank water when the kits come. The water has been circulating in the tank for 30 days or more with no fish or plants--that is how long it has taken me to figure all this out.

I also ordered another batch of chemicals from GregWatson.com. I already had 1lb each of KNO3, KH2PO4, and CSM+B. I ordered 2lbs. of K2SO4 and 1lb more of KNO3 since those chemical seem to require the most in the solutions, and they are cheap (well, not so cheap with shipping, but still cheap).

I did not order any CaCO3 since I do not know if I will need it. Greg only has CaMgCO3, but I don't know if that will make any difference.

I need to study the GH/KH/pH tables again to see if I am heading for disaster with trying to get CO2 levels up.

I sprung a leak in my CO2 tubing at the point where the tube is clamped in to the top of the bubble counter. It leaked all over the inside of my oak ply cabinet and allowed the formation of lots of black and grey mold--yuck! I am luck the walls did not weaken enough to topple the tank.

Once I get the chemicals and droppers and have all the equipment I think I will need, I will finally order some plants.

I believe I am going to order a 29g kit from someone. I suppose it really does not matter so long as the retailer is reputable. I have read that too little plant mass is a newbie gotcha, so I do not want to skimp.
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Old 09-19-2006, 08:10 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ukedude

I purchased four 16 oz. wash bottles from usplastics.com. After receiving them today, I mixed up a 500ml batch of the Mg solution. It turns out that 500 ml of H2O and 169 g of MgSO4 does not fit in the bottle without forcing some liquid out. I may have to mix and store in another bottle and pour into the wash bottle for dosing.
Sorry, it doesnít work that way. You need to put the MgSO4 in the bottle and then fill it up to the top.

Quote:
I also ordered from usplastics.com a 10ml plastic graduated cylinder for measuring doses. It was cheap and better than my kids' dosing spoon for antibiotics.
That's right.


Quote:
I already had a kitchen scale good to +/- 1g, which should be good enough for what I need to do. If small weights are a problem, I will mix a larger batch into a storage container of some sort.
Sure it is good enough.


Quote:
I am a bit confused about the starting doses for a new tank. I found several conflicting resources on this site. One mentions starting with a ml dose of gallons/10. Another resource lists a fixed amount based on the size of the tank.





Quote:
I am not sure what TDS (Total Dissolved Solids, I presume--it is not documented) on the Analysis sheet is for. I am not sure how to compute it or test for it either.
optional


Quote:
I have, or ordered, test kits for Nitrate, pH, GH, KH, PO4, and Ca. All kits are Aquarium Pharmaceuticals since that it what I had previously. I am not sure if the Ca test kit tests for Ca and Ca2 or just Ca. I will find out when it comes (for BigAlsOnline.com).
No problem, it works.


Quote:
I tested my tap water for everything but Ca and PO4 since I am waiting on those kits. I found pH to be 8.2, GH 1d, KH 7d, NO3 0, NH3 0, NO2 0.
You donít need to test for NH3 and NO2 in the aquarium, but it is good to know there is none in the tap. KH of 7 indicates most likely high Sodium. Do you have a water softener in the house?


Quote:
I also ordered another batch of chemicals from GregWatson.com. I already had 1lb each of KNO3, KH2PO4, and CSM+B. I ordered 2lbs. of K2SO4 and 1lb more of KNO3 since those chemical seem to require the most in the solutions, and they are cheap (well, not so cheap with shipping, but still cheap).
Did you order MgSO4?


Quote:
I did not order any CaCO3 since I do not know if I will need it. Greg only has CaMgCO3, but I don't know if that will make any difference.
Good because it doesnít work well.


Quote:
I need to study the GH/KH/pH tables again to see if I am heading for disaster with trying to get CO2 levels up.
There is no such thing as a disaster. Actually, it is CO2/KH/pH table. KH moves pH up and CO2 down. Therefore pH is dependent on these two. Donít worry, it always works fine.


Quote:
I believe I am going to order a 29g kit from someone. I suppose it really does not matter so long as the retailer is reputable. I have read that too little plant mass is a newbie gotcha, so I do not want to skimp.
The best is to get the cheapest plants first and then when the aquarium works well start changing them. You need to cover the whole substrate with plants.
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Old 09-20-2006, 04:17 AM   #5 (permalink)
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First, I appreciate these thoughtful replies. I really didn't write this for anyone to respond to, but simply to document what I am doing. Perhaps someone can learn from my mistakes and hopefully successes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward
Sorry, it doesnít work that way. You need to put the MgSO4 in the bottle and then fill it up to the top.
Ah, that would explain it.

I did get MgSO4 at Wal-Mart as Epsom Salts. Since it is so cheap, I will ditch this batch and make it correctly. That is why I chose that solution first.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward
Referring to image above...
So this table is preferred to the explanation in the PDF documents. OK, that question is answered.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward
KH of 7 indicates most likely high Sodium. Do you have a water softener in the house?
Yes, I have a water softener. Since the sodium is not consumed in large quantities by the plants, does this lead to undesireable build up of this element in the water?

I see people talking about RO and other "purified" sources of water, but I would rather deal with tap water even if I have to get a water upstream of the softener (like from my outside spigots--that's a chilly prospect in February)
Quote:
Originally Posted by EDWARD
The best is to get the cheapest plants first and then when the aquarium works well start changing them. You need to cover the whole substrate with plants.
A fair recommendation. Time to start reading...
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Old 09-20-2006, 04:17 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Hi

Any attempt growing aquatic plants in water processed by home softeners failed. Is your source city water or private well? Do you have analysis?

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Old 09-20-2006, 05:48 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward
Any attempt growing aquatic plants in water processed by home softeners failed. Is your source city water or private well? Do you have analysis?
Well, that would be a rather obvious clue for me to use my pre-softener water.

I received my Aquarium Pharmaceuticals PO4 and Ca tests. Tap water (softened) read < 20 ppm Ca and 0.5 ppm PO4. I also tested water from my outside spigot and found Ca about 70 ppm and PO4 the same at 0.5 (as expected).

The Ca results are to be expected, but the PO4 surprised me. Perhaps my test kit is not very accurate at low concentrations.

My water is municipal water taken from Ohio Valley aquifers and surface water. The county's annual report lists a number of pollutants, but not anything that looked important for the tank.

I guess I need to get my warm clothes out for winter time water runs, or get a tap installed in my basement upstream of the softener.
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Old 09-21-2006, 04:55 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I am continuing to log my activities for my own record...

I made up the SS, PF, NF, and Mg solutions today, getting them correct by adding the weight of chemicals to an empty beaker then adding pre-softener water up to 500ml (my batch size).

This went fairly well. It took a long time to dissolve the ferts in cold water. I may nuke the water next time to a warm temperature before adding it to the beaker.

Also, the K2SO4 from Greg has a good deal of grit in it. I don't know if that is just undissolved chemicals, a filler, or an impurity. At any rate, shaking the wash bottle before dosing will suspend the grit long enough to go into solution.

I have not made the trace mix yet. I want to get a smaller dark or opaque bottle (I understand the traces are light sensitive because they are chelates) and a dropper first. Perhaps the pharmacy at Wal-Mart or similar store will give or sell me a bottle and dropper. I should have ordered one from usplastics.com with my previous order.
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Old 10-14-2006, 07:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Finally got some plants

I finally got some plants at the GCAS auction today. I am sure I paid more than those "in the know" would have, but I was in a hurry and I didn't know what I was doing. I hope my ineptitude funded someone's hobby for a bit longer .

I added ferts and turned on the CO2 for the first time this afternoon.

We'll see how things go.

Since I am starting this tank fresh, I am still uncertain about good starting doses, so I will use the information in the table above.
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Old 10-15-2006, 07:09 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Hi
There is 2.8 ppm of toxic Chlorine in your tap water. Home Depot sells carbon filters that remove Chlorine. They are cheap and last over a year. Just an idea for filling up the aquarium.
Also there is 0.4 ppm of Copper. You donít want to do large water changes. Fill once and let plants take the Copper and clean the water for your fish.
Too bad it doesnít say much about Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Phosphate and Sodium.
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