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Discussion Starter · #41 ·
No problem! Let me just finish photoshopping here and there and I will... make anything happen!


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The only way to know EXACTLY how much nutrients you need to add (using the Redfield ratio as a basis or starting point) is the measure your nutrient uptake and adjust accordingly. That's (IMHO) the best way to fertilize your tank, but of course you can't write that up in a neat sticky and have a complete newbie understand that. Only by observing your plants and measuring your nutrient levels and adjusting accordingly can you have a world class tank - dutch style or otherwise.
I think this is exactly how anybody should start the hobby. I know I didn't started that way, but I learned the most of the period I did this. I tried ADA style, EI, RR and I can show you my log, with daily measurements of all 3 methods. I knew exactly what my tank was using daily with each method (except for the amount I brought in by fish food, but this was constant as well). I'm setting up my new tank and will be doing this the first 3-4 months again (maybe not daily because I've learned to read my tanks a bit but you get the picture).

To come back on the Dutch in yo' face. This is the current Dutch style tank I setup and maintain in the lfs I work. It isn't 100% Dutch (try to find the elements that are not;)) but comes very close:



Remember it isn't finished yet, but what do you guys think?
 

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It may not be 100% Dutch, but it is gorgeous! Here I display my ignorance. The only "non-Dutch" things I see are the un-planted background, and some of the plants are not arranged in strict streets.
 

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Discussion Starter · #45 ·
That's the ugliest, dirtiest tank I've ever seen! Geez, I lost my appetite! You should see the gorgeous planted tanks in every fish store across America.


To know how much food the plants need daily you can measure or you can skip the measuring. The idea is to know how much food to give them, right?

What if you started the tank by adding low fert dosages that do nothing and gradually increase them to where the plants grow wel? Start by measuring a small, discrete, amount of each chemical - 5 drops of solution X, and 1 ml. of solution Y. These discrete amounts would be something like adding 0.5 ppm N and 0.05ppm P with each dose. Nothing that will make the plants grow. But you build up gradually and then things start to get interesting:

Say you build up to adding 15 drops X and 3 ml. Y a day (1.5 ppm N + 0.15 ppm P a day). Plants do well. No testing, no measuring. Skip X and Y for a few days - plants' growth will slow down because you are so close to hitting concentrations that are too low for the plants to grow. That way you can adjust the plant grow rate to whatever you want. No more high speed tank that forces you to take care of it.

Ok, you can starve the tank at your will. That does not mean that algae will disappear. We have all heard that algae has such low nutrient requirements that you can not starve them. That is not true. Do 50% water changes in your tank every 3 days for 2 weeks and see what happens. Plant suffer, algae disappears.

So why am I typing all that? Because by gradually adding discrete amounts of fertilizer to the water you can know exactly how much food the plants eat daily without any testing. Your goal is to know how much food to give to the plants so they grow well. Your goal is not to know numbers and measure what not.

Such a gradual progression to strong plant growth leads to adding A LOT of fertilizers daily, zero algae, an extremely stable tank, and a true reset that is 2-4 water changes away (2-4 days). Guess how the plants will look with lots of food? Guess how it will all work out if you also added rich substrate? How would you feel if all you had to do was to add some minor amounts of ferts every day and never worry about ANYthing else?

Sounds a lot like ADA's system. Except that they offer all of the above from a commercial perspective. Without understanding how it should work you can make a lot of mistakes even if you drive a Ferrari. Funny enough - at least in the USA ADA is not considered that big of a deal as it used to. Because of the lack of information people did what not with the ADA products. Adding your own twists to something you do not understand makes for a funny outcome. I am pretty sure you do not want to hear the opera that I composed last week, do you? But we all like to look at planted tanks made who knows how. You know, that kind of weirdness is fine in my book.
 

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Jeffy, what is the problem with adding dry ferts to the tank?
The problem i have with EI is specifically the fact that it uses dry ferts. I don't like adding dry ferts to my tank because they don't dissolve right away and i don't like the fact that they can then sink into the tank and (possibly) not dissolve. This makes me wonder if you don't have distribution issues (and we all know how important good water circulation is).

But that's a minor quibble. The main issue i have with EI is that it uses neat nutrient volumes to dose, not a stock fertilizer volume to dose. PPS-Pro neatly states that we make up solutions of x grams of each nutrient and dose at y rate in order to provide a dose of z ppm. When the suggested dosages are listed as volume (and not as dosage rates in ppm), the connection to PPS-Pro (which i consider a good starting point), the Redfield Ratio (again, which i consider a good starting point) and overall nutrient uptake / demand (which can be directly measured by analyzing the differences in nutrient values over time) is obscured. Can you determine the concentrations used in EI? Yes. Can you adjust EI (or any dosing regime for that matter)? Yes. Are they obvious? Not unless you're good at chemistry (which I can tell you that a lot of people are not).

In the process of solubilization the ions seem to somehow act a little different than old, worn out, tired ions of the same kind. In a way that is very beneficial to the.plants.
Salts that are dissolved are, in fact, different than salts that are not dissolved because the dissolved salts are no longer in the salt matrix (or lattice) but now surrounded by layers of water molecules in spheres of hydration. Ions are not living; hence, they are not tired. Personally, i doubt that the exact matrix matters to the plants (since the exact intramolecular structure of the ions is probably changing as it is absorbed by the plants).

Try putting some Dolomitic rocks in the tank and crank up the CO2. See what many plants do in the resulting opalescent broth. Then clear up the water and start adding Mg and Ca solutions in any ratio you like. Plant will not do what they did in the opalescent mess. That could be a result of the rocks' composition I had, but I could replicate similar insane growth only with stems, super clear water, and tons of light and ferts added daily.
A few comments. First of all, the solubilization of dolomitic rock is different than that of the other fertilizers in EI for the simple fact that domomitic rock is primarily Ca & Mg (i think) and EI is everything but. We really need to be sure we're talking about the same elements and not talking about nutrient deficiencies.

Second of all, do you have any samples of those dolomitic rocks? I could digest them in my lab and determine the elemental composition for you if you would like... Related to that, if you think the Ca:Mg ratio is important, then you can't add any ratio you like. Also, how much you add is important. If the "opalescent mess" means that the amount of Ca & Mg is (essentially) non-limiting, how much is that? What is the nutrient demand for Ca:Mg? Only by adding enough Ca & Mg can we be sure that it is non-limiting.

I'm in no way disputing what you observed. I'm just trying to see if we can take those observations and use it to determine an exact nutrient demand that we can all use (without having to have opaque tanks and grey froth).
 

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Discussion Starter · #47 ·
Thank you!

Ok, I agree - some ions are not living and can't get tired but tell you - they do get weary.

Joke aside - the chemical that I have seen to be the hardest to dissolve in one tank is the Ca-Mg-K mix. But it does dissolve after a few minutes over leaves, rocks, and gravel. I am not convinced solubilization is a problem.

The dolomitic substrate I used was "chat". Around here it is used for building roads. It's the light grey pebbles that are evened out and compacted before gorgeous asphalt is poured. I am not sure if the chat is always the same -

the tank that I describe was setup in 2003. I can get you a few of these rocks but I am not sure what we will be looking for. I think that back then I tested the GH, KH, and Ca. I saw all of them shoot up within a day. From about 3 to 15 or so for GH. I do not remember how high the KH got. And beats me how all these Swords and Rotalas loved that hard water. That's why I tend to animate ions - it seemed that there was something special about going about not being tied up together as a rock.


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