I know there are many people that do not know what this is.. or maybe they know a little bit... but arnt sure what to do.. or why you do it... Well i'm starting this thread for everyone to ask questions regarding EI dosing..
Basically your plants need food when you getting into med-high light tanks and start addiing co2.. nutrient uptake is alot greater than lets say a low light tank where just fish poop can help plants out...
Then all along came this guy his names tom barr, some may know him some not.. he's a legend and inspiration in our hobby, he's a scientist... pretty much and his hobby is aquariums.. he's been doing this.. for a long time.. and he came up with the concept EI (with others of course) to give plants a bit more nutrients then they need...then do a water change on a weekly basis to reset all the paramaters...
Here's a article from tom barr a bit about what it is.. and how you exactly do it.
The Estimative Index (EI) is a straightforward method for providing nutrients for a planted tank. The idea behind EI is simply introducing an excess amount of nutrients within an aquarium, throughout the week. This excess of nutrients floods the water column and feeds the plants. This is an estimative method; measuring specific nutrient uptake rates is not necessary and no test kits are involved. EI provides a surplus of nutrients that helps to prevents plant deficiencies, and allows plant growth unhendered. Most algae releated issues are due to plant deficiencies rather than excess nutrient levels(Ammonium/NH4 + is the exception).
Basically you add a slight excess of nutrients to prevent anything from running out, then do a large water change at the end of the week to prevent anything from building up. This allows you to maintain a range of nutrients without ever using a test kit.
The water change generally takes about the same amount of time once you haul out the hoses etc do the water change so the time and work difference between a 25 % and 50% water change is fairly small.
The process of which this is done is simple. Each day (or 2-3x a week, weekly for low light tanks) fertilizers are dosed, and the nutrients are absorbed by the plants. With this method being estimative, we can dose fertilizers according to general guidelines suited for our particular setup (see below for regime). At the end of the week, one performs a 50% water change to ‘reset’ the nutrient load in the entire system. And then the entire dosing regime is repeated. The hobbyists can do larger(which will afford more accuracy) or smaller water change routines, but 50% is just guide line.
The primary fertilizers are the macro nutrients - Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), Potassium (K), and the micro nutrients – trace elements (Plantex CSM+B, Flourish, Tropica Master Grow-TMG). Iron (Fe) can also be supplemented if necessary.
The Estimative Index method works best for a high light and well planted aquarium. However it is not limited to higher light setups, smaller quantities of fertilizers can be dosed if low light is used. Also, the frequency may be reduced to 1-2x a week at low light(1.5-2w/gal).
How do I use the chemicals?
There are two ways in which you can dose the nutrients, by making a stock solution or by adding dry using a set of standard spoons. If making solutions then this is a guide to the amounts required.
Potassium Nitrate - 40g to 500ml of water and adding 10ml per 100L of water would give you a value of 5ppm.
Potassium Phosphate - 15g to 500ml of water and adding 5ml per 100L of water would give you a value of 1ppm.
Potassium Sulphate - 55g to 500ml of water and adding 10ml per 100L of water would give you a value of 5ppm
Magnesium Sulphate - 70g to 500ml of water and add 50ml once a week per 100L of water - this would give a target of 7ppm.
Trace mix - 15g to 250ml of water will give you about the same concentration as the ‘off the shelf’ products. It is also a good idea, if you can, to add 0.5ml Normal hydrochloric acid as this helps to prevent the chelator from breaking down. Some people complain of mould growing on top of the solution - keeping it in the fridge should help prevent this and prolong it’s life.
It is possible to add the solutions into one bottle except for the trace mix as, depending on the chelator used, the iron could react with the phosphate. Generally speaking it is a good idea to make the solutions up in separate bottles until you are comfortable with the dosing.
nb. It is preferable to make up the solutions in RO water or Deionised water, but tap water can be used if need be.
This is a general dosing guide that can be used with the following tank sizes. Solution volumes are calculated on making the stock solutions as above. Tank volumes are in US gallons. To convert to UK gallons multiply these figures by 0.83
10-20 Gallons (38-76 litres)
10ml solution or 1/8 tsp KNO3 3x a week
5ml solution or 1/32 tsp KH2PO4 3x a week
2ml solution or 1/32 tsp K2SO4 3x a week
2ml or 1/32 tsp traces 3x a week
20-40 Gallons (76-152 litres)
20ml solution or 1/4 tsp KNO3 3x a week
12ml solution or 1/16 tsp KH2PO4 3x a week
5ml solution or 1/16 tsp K2SO4 3x a week
5ml or 1/16 tsp traces 3x a week
40-60 Gallons (152-227 litres)
30ml solution or 1/2 tsp KNO3 3x a week
18ml solution or 1/8 tsp KH2PO4 3x a week
8ml solution or 1/8 tsp K2SO4 3x a week
10ml or 1/8 tsp traces 3x a week
60-80 Gallons (227-303 litres)
40ml solution or 3/4 tsp KNO3 3x a week
25ml solution or 3/16 tsp KH2PO4 3x a week
11ml solution or 1/4 tsp K2SO4 3x a week
15ml or 1/4 tsp traces 3x a week
100-125 Gallons (380-473 litres)
70ml solution or 1 1/2 tsp KNO3 3x a week
40ml solution or 1/2 tsp KH2PO4 3x a week
16ml solution or 1/2 tsp K2SO4 3x a week
30ml or 1/2 tsp traces 3x a week
EI target ranges
CO2 range 20-30 ppm
NO3 range 5-30 ppm
K+ range 10-30 ppm
PO4 range 1.0-2.0 ppm
Fe 0.2-0.5ppm or higher
GH range 3-5 degrees ~ 50ppm or higher
KH range 3-5
See dosing calculators for additional dosing guides for Fe, etc.
Where to buy fertilizers?
So your next question might be ok well i figured it out kinda but where do i get these macro fertz. Well i got a secret for you. Rex Grigg is a guy that sells them to people living in the states and Canada and you can checkout his website right here. http://www.bestaquariumregulator.com/ferts.html .
As far as the Micro (trace) you can buy those are your local fish store, you know the usual bottles that have trace elements.. seachem flourish
1 lb of each for Chemicals will last at least 1 year:
Potassium Nitrate KN03
Monopotassium Phosphate KH2PO4
Potassium Sulphate K2S04
Providing optimal CO2 levels of at least 30 ppm are necessary for plants to prosper. If algae issue arise, remove all visible algae and infected leaves. Recheck CO2 levels, and possibly reduce and adjust the lighting period.
Direct dry dosing into the tank is perfectly fine. Many dose straight into, or they dissolve each daily amounts in water before adding. Plantex CSM+B is often mixed into solution for liquid dosing. 1 tablespoon to 250ml water is equivalent to: 20 ml = 1/4 teaspoon of dry Plantex. This solution is stored in refrigerators to prevent mold from forming within the container. HCL can be added to prevent the mold.
Small dosing teaspoons (smidgen, dash, pinch) can be found at Linen & Things, Bed Bath and Beyond, Wal-Mart, dollar stores, eBay and other online retailers. To identify the specific measurements of your smidgen, dash, pinch set, a 1/8 tsp should fill a ¼ tsp in 2 tries, 1/16 tsp in 4 tries, and a 1/32 tsp in 8 tries.
Sticking to a good dosing regime will make your plants flourish, and keep you delighted! If you seek more in depth discussion about EI, there are two other articles here.
John N and Tom Barr
If your thinking now.. heck where do i get these from.. well many plant stores around our area carry these, members on the site may want to just post if they have some for sale. Me personally i bought some off another member here a long time ago i just cant remember.
So Let me know any questions and i'll be glad and happy to answer, i'm sure everyone else will pipe up aswell.
Me personally i do this and it's worked for me... ever since i've done it... My plants show no signs of nutrient deficientcy like they used to and they grow fast.