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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm new to this. I've had my tank for many years but only yesterday took the plunge and planted it up, added CO2 and T5 lights. Now I need to figure out a fertiliser schedule. I'm definately going to use dry ferts, because of the cost.

I like the idea of the estimative dosing schedule because it looks easy, however I'm very lazy about water changing and it seems quite important. My tank is 100gals, with lots of filtration and I can get away with hardly ever changing the water. I have a 16 month old daughter who wakes maybe 6 times a night, so I'm always tired because i haven't had a good night's sleep since she was born. However... I'm sure I could step up and stop being so lazy if I need to.

PPS seems interesting. I'm not sure I like the idea of the CO2 being on all night. Is that really such a good idea?

Are there any other options I've missed? Any advice?
 

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Re: PPS, or EI? or something else?

Well I prefer PPS because it results in a lower amount of stuff in your tank. I do 20% water changes per week and do manual additions of CO2 each morning; so, I don't think turning off your CO2 at night is a bad thing. The only problem will be that you may have some changes in pH when you add the CO2 in the AM; so, do it slowly (which I never do). My next investment is a pH controlled CO2 system.

I'd invest in a UV light. I put one in recently and my tank has never looked better.

If your interested in what happens to your water chemistry on PPS check out my thread on K levels.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Re: PPS, or EI? or something else?

I looked at the two methods and the actual fertilisers are the same (but different quantities) except PPS has Magnesium Sulphate. What does Magnesium Sulphate do?

I'm tempted to go with PPS, because of the water change issue.
 

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Re: PPS, or EI? or something else?

If you want to do without the water changes you need to pick a lower dosage method like PPS Pro, or perhaps the Pfertz method. EI isn't going to work well without the weekly or perhaps every two week water changes. The remaining option is getting test kits for nitrates, phosphates, iron and perhaps potassium, and dosing to meet a target level of those elements. You do need to calibrate test kits before relying on them.
 

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Re: PPS, or EI? or something else?

If you are starting a tank from zero you will have many issues because of irregular water changes. One way around that is to setup a moss only tank with no light or very little light and no CO2. Works every single time. You can do tanks similar to these with only moss:
http://neatorama.cachefly.net/images/2008-02/nature-aquarium-1.jpg
http://www.adaaust.com.au/gallery/contest2005/thumb/foto_01_05.jpg
http://www.youkosoitalia.net/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/10.jpg
http://www.aquabird.com.vn/home/images/news/News_36pj.jpg
You get the idea...

If you are not just lazy but also patient then there is an alternative to EI and PPS!:)

The general idea is very simple. You just let things go their way and use the light as a way to control things. This is how:

1. Put as many plant as you can in the tank (and don't be foolish - use Aquasoil as substrate).

2. Install a strong light on a timer (2+ wpg). Run the light only 2-3 hours a day (the rest is darkness or very low light).

3. Have CO2 running 24/7 (turning it off throws the entire system up and down - inconsistency is the main problem in planted tanks). Also with a very short light period the CO2 literally keeps certain plants alive. Without it they will melt in one (dark) day.

4. Don't have time/willpower to do water changes? How about getting a plastic pitcher - dip it in the tank and replace 2-3 quarts of water every single day? It will take less than 60 seconds. Too lazy/tired to do that? No problem it's no big deal really if you keep 1-3 as described. But your chances of making a mess of the tank increase.

6. After the first week, once a week add about 1/4 teaspoon of Potassium (for a tank 20-75 gallons).

7. After the first month add 1/4 teaspoon of Calcium and 1/4 teaspoon Magnesium (unless your tap water has them in good amounts of course).

8. After the second month - Iron/Traces, Nitrate, Phosphate - a pinch of each once/twice a week.

9. After month 2 you can start increasing the light period - add 30 min every week - until you get it as long as you wish.

The short light period with strong light AND the consistend CO2 will do the magic. Don't preocupy yourself with adding exactly 1/4 teaspoon of this or that, I just gave a good measure, it can be a little less or a little more.

That way you will ALWAYS end up with a tank that is so stable that you can let it evaporate 30% with no issues whatsoever. You can stop fertilzing completely. You can overfeed or underfeed the fish. Never an issue except a little algae on the glass.

My advice is proven but I don't push it because people are impatient, want to tinker with numbers, water changes, tests, and all that cool stuff. If you read what Takashi Amano suggests about starting a tank you will see that it's very much what I just described except I'm easy on the water changes, and I add Ca and Mg.

--Nikolay
 

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Re: PPS, or EI? or something else?

Niko, that is an interesting way to start a tank, one I don't recall reading about anywhere else. Do you have a name for it? The NS method? (Niko Start)
 

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This is the best and easiest way to start a new aquarium, a method that skips the unpleasant period of cleaning tons of algae and replacing dead plants. I wish more people tried it.

Few additions I suggest.
After the 2nd month the light period is still 3 hours, add 1/10 of PPS-Pro fertilizer once a week.
After the light period is increased to 6 hours, add 1/10 of PPS-Pro fertilizer once a day. If the aquarium is algae free then more varieties of plants may be added and aquascaping may begin. .

I highly recommend it.

Edward
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Wow my thread got stickied! I just saw it!

That all sounds good. With hindsight.

My only concern is with the low lighting - I have already planted the tank up with plants and some of them really like light! I have already put in:

Hemianthus 'cuba'
Hemianthus Micranthemoides
java fern
java fern 'windelov'
Aponegeton Madagascarieisis (lace plant)
dwarf hair grass
Hygrophila difformis
Hygrophila corymbosa 'red'
Crinium calamistratum
Nesaea Crassicaulis
vallis
crytocoryne wendtii 'tropica'
moss balls


Would some of these plants die if I only lit them 3hours a day? I'm already finding that the Hemianthus Micranthemoides is growing a bit 'leggy' and I've ordered another ballast for two more T5s off ebay.

To give perspective, my tank is 100gals, it's a Juwel tank (rio 400) and it has the new T5 system (2X54watt bulbs). I am using pressurised CO2 from two canasters and diffusers, one at either end of the tank. I'm not sure my exact ppm, I'm using a JBL permanant CO2 test and trying to keep my CO2 levels in the 'ok' range, which I assume is approx 30, give or take a bit?

My substrate is just sand. I know this is bad, and I want to upgrade to aquasoil. But I'm moving house in a years time and I've heard it can turn to mud if you move it - to do this size tank, that's hundreds of pounds worth of aquasoil I'd lose. I'm using root tabs on the crypts, crinium, aponogeton, Nesaea Crassicaulis, and hairgrass.

I got all my plants except for the java fern, windelov, moss balls and vallis (I already had all these) from the green machine.

So far, things are looking pretty good. I had an initial algae attack (day 1 and 2) on my anubias, but I trimmed off the leaves worst affected and it hasn't come back. My lace plant has grown three new leaves at an astonishing rate. Initially it lost a leaf, but then it grew these three in the space of 2 days and they look really healthy and are getting bigger really fast! My HC and hairgrass is starting to spread out, and my stems are starting to grow taller slowly but surely. I had initial problems with the Nesaea Crassicaulis. It started shedding leaves, but new leaves have started growing now. I had an initial small melt of the crypts, but that's stopped now and there are plenty of leaves left.
 

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Hi
See, I was hopping Niko comes back, but…
Niko's ideas are excellent as always, based on decades of experience I agree with. Almost every new built aquarium goes through hell for the first few months, marine or fresh, no difference. Algae hell and plant melting. The point here is to make it as painless as possible and with moss it works because it is so resilient it survives no fertilizer conditions, no adequate lighting and it doesn't melt. Regular plants just melt and release nutrients back to the water column triggering more algae spores to explode. It is a Catch 22 scenario.
 

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Since I don't have CO2, I guess I need to do the moss method.

If I were to get CO2, what light levels are needed to do Niko/Amano Hybrid Method? Is 2w/gal enough?
 

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Hi
Injecting low to moderate CO2 is acceptable as the system gets used to it and will continue without interruption once it gets over the first algae developing stages. As far as light is 2W/gall is enough to grow most plants, no need to push for more. The point is to limit not the intensity but the photoperiod to keep algae under control and this can be done easily with moss, not with other plants. Other plants need longer photoperiod and algae free conditions to grow. Moss can take it. So, get some moss and break it in pieces and cover the entire substrate not leaving any space open. The moss will grow filling up available space covering the substrate making it difficult for any algae to establish. After 2-3 months algae will disappear and water becomes crystal clear. This will be the time to start aquascaping and enjoying the aquarium.

Edward
 

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This principle works with any substrate, Aquasoil, Eco, Dolomite, Onyx, Play sand, Quartz, River sand, Laterite, Inert substrate and Pool Store Filter Sand.
 

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Ok, so if I'm understanding correctly:

1. New tank setups go through algae hell. One should not just throw in plants and start fertilizing.
2. I'm going the moss route, because I have moss and I don't have CO2...DIY CO2 in a 75g is not practical and could cause more problems.
3. Use my full amount of lighting (between 1.5-2w per gallon in my case), but limit the photoperiod to ~3 hours.
4. Let this ride for 2-3 months (perhaps in the meantime accumulate equipment needed for pressurized CO2 injection.)
5. Add no ferts? What about Excel?

What's the best way to anchor moss in my substrate (Fluorite)? Bury some of it?
 

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i think it looks neat if you find a bunch of large round rocks and you can take a hairnet to hold the moss over the rock, kinda like a wig. or, you could get some sort of flat netting and put it over the moss and use small rocks or weights in strategic places to hold the net down, this way you would have the moss directly on the substrate.
 

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Ok, so if I'm understanding correctly:

3. Use my full amount of lighting (between 1.5-2w per gallon in my case), but limit the photoperiod to ~3 hours.
4. Let this ride for 2-3 months (perhaps in the meantime accumulate equipment needed for pressurized CO2 injection.)
I read through this post backwards and when I saw that I was ready to reply with "Are you kidding?! There's no way that would work. You will be asking for disaster!"

Man, when I finally got to Niko's method explanation I was like, "huh?" :confused: I would not have figured it would work until now, and I see it's "tried and true". It makes me wish I had asked for more advice (and been more patient) BEFORE I started up my tank! :rolleyes:

I'm going to use this method for my next set-up. (No promises on how near...or far...in the future that will be. ;) )

-Dave
 

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I wonder if it is possible to do this for just 2 weeks. For read somewhere that someone put plants in his tank and after 2 weeks put in fish. This person had no algae.
 

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I wonder if it is possible to do this for just 2 weeks. For read somewhere that someone put plants in his tank and after 2 weeks put in fish. This person had no algae.
Usually first 4 weeks are nice and clean and then, it starts. Variety of algae blooms, one by one, comes and goes for another 2 to 6 months. One day, just like that, algae start dying off and disappearing. Sometimes conditions are right and everything works nice since day one, but that's rare.
 

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So if you start off a new aquarium with some water and filter from an old tank there may be algae blooms up to 6 months?
 

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May or may not happen and nobody knows why. It took decades to figure out good aquatic fertilizers to maintain clean aquarium, I think it's time now to resolve the process of setting one up in as easy as possible way.
 

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Usually first 4 weeks are nice and clean and then, it starts. Variety of algae blooms, one by one, comes and goes for another 2 to 6 months. One day, just like that, algae start dying off and disappearing. Sometimes conditions are right and everything works nice since day one, but that's rare.
That's when someone has just added two drops of tonic water to try to kill the algae, and lo and behold, it worked!! New cure for algae! I actually had an experience like this with a 120 gallon tank years ago before I knew anything at all about fertilizing. I sweated over that tank for weeks at a time, and suddenly, no algae at all. I didn't dare stop doing anything I was doing, convinced I had found the exact right balance.
 
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