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Old 04-30-2011, 09:28 PM   #1
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DIY Auto-doser and dosage?

I've been reading over the build threads of a couple of members for auto-dosers and am thinking I'd like to take a stab at it when I eventually (hopefully sooner than later) move into dry ferts.

Now I understand the equipment end of it all, and how it works. I'm pretty confident I won't have too many problems building it.

My question is really on the fert end of things. In order for the auto-dosers to work on a timer, they need to be able to come on once a day. From what I've read about the dry ferts, it sounds like you only need to dose a couple times a week? I'm sure I'm probably wrong here, but that is just the impression that I was under. In other words, I understand WHAT ferts are needed, but when it comes to how much and how often, I'm lost. Right now I just follow the labels on the liquid fert bottles, so before I dive into dry ferts, I really want to wrap my head around dosing, etc.

When I do pick up dry ferts, I plan to get K2SO4, KNO3, MKP, CSM + B, and possibly MgSO4.

My tank is a 20g (tall). I've got a 2x24w T5-HO fixture running 8 hours a day. I'm also running DIY CO2. Unfortunately I don't have a kh test kit, so I'm not sure exactly what my levels are (ph is 6.6). I pretty much just try to keep the drop checker green ^_^ I'm going to guess it is running at about 20-25ppm. Right now I dose with Flourish Nitrogen, Flourish Potassium, and Flourish Trace. I also added some Excel yesterday with a PWC because I had just taken out my contortion vals.

Right now plants are:
Java fern
Anubias nana
Anubias afzelii
Crypt wendtii
Ludwigia repens
Nesaea (which is very difficult and needs high light, i understand. it was an impulse buy )


So in terms of dosing, once I get dry ferts and an auto-doser set up, where do I go from there? Although I would love for someone to say "Dose this much, this often" I'd like to be able to know how to figure it out myself. So when if I come into a nutrient deficiency, I can take things into my own hands.


Any and all help or advice would be much appreciated. Thanks
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Old 04-30-2011, 09:41 PM   #2
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If you check out my build thread, Neilan made a great spreadsheet which you input your tank size, dosage size (how much is pumped out at a time), and container size and it tells you how much to mix up. You will need a gram scale to measure the dry ferts.

DIY Auto Doser Build

PS - This is all based off of the PPS Pro dosing method.
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Old 04-30-2011, 09:47 PM   #3
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Also, as far as adding the ferts daily... the Hamilton timer I linked to in my build thread lets you set 1 minute increments. So the pumps come on for 1 minute every day. I found the same timer for $10 less at Harbor Freight - so check your HW stores.

From there, you average the dosage size (you will get different dosage sizes depending on how full/empty your container is) and plug it into the spreadsheet.
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Old 04-30-2011, 09:48 PM   #4
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Ok, I'm normally a pretty intelligent person. But all of this just escapes me. I've already downloaded the chart, and then sat there and stared at it like "Duuuurrrrrr"

Is there any chance you could walk me through the chart a little, and explain what each column means? I'd really appreciate it.
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Old 04-30-2011, 09:50 PM   #5
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Don't overanalyze. I did at first... I was like... Huh? Then I realized its not that hard to understand. You dont mess with the formulas. You simply input your tank size and how much of an average dose (you have to have your autodosers set up before you determine that), then it tells you how much of each you need... in grams.
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Old 04-30-2011, 10:03 PM   #6
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My brain hurts!! lol. I think I am over analyzing. Or maybe I'm just missing something?

So... "1 mL dose per 10g / 1 L mix" .. huh? 1 mL of the dry ferts per 10g of tank / 1 L of water? But I thought the chart was to figure out how much of the dry ferts you need to add in grams? I'm so confused.

And what do the values next to each fert mean? The same values are in the Final Baseline column. what is the final baseline??

Why is there a column for adjustments? In case you need to dose more of a certain nutrient for deficiencies?

I feel so dumb. It's not normally this difficult for me to figure things out, ESPECIALLY when it comes to math

Also, does it matter what size containers you use to build the auto-doser?
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Old 04-30-2011, 10:04 PM   #7
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No problem! I'll try my best to explain it.

The only three things you need to do at first are:

Tank size: (enter your tank's volume in gallons)
Dosage size: (this is when you average your doses) In my case I was getting anywhere from 100 to 150ml - I averaged out to 125ml
Mixing: (enter the size of your container (minus a little for the pump's displacement))

After you do that it will automatically update the spreadsheet and show you how much of each fert to add (in grams) to your container. The standard column (far left side) is just the basic PPS Pro dosing guideline. What you are interested in is the Solution to mix column. That is how much of each fert you need to add to the container.

All your macros (K2SO4, KNO3, MKP) go in one container and your micros (CSM+B) go in the other container.

The adjustments column is for when you get things situated and notice any deficiencies then you can increase the % of nitrate, potassium, etc. and it will adjust the grams you need to add.

Hope this helps, if you have any more questions let me know and I'll try to answer them.
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Old 04-30-2011, 10:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mommytron View Post
Also, does it matter what size containers you use to build the auto-doser?
Yes... IMO. I got these cool conatiners from walmart on sale for 2/$5. They hold EXACTLY 2 gallons with the pumps in them. Now, my problem is that as the water pressure decreases as the amount of water decreases, the amount that the pumps actually pump decreases. So, my dosage when the containers is full is about twice what it is when the container gets low. I just refill mine about the half way mark to prevent underdosing. But, they're considerably cheaper than anything else I found, so may be worth looking at. They have a picture of rice on them, as they're designed to dispense rice, sugar, etc.
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Old 04-30-2011, 10:14 PM   #9
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Yes! that helps a ton! It actually isn't all that complicated, is it? I think I can do this! lol

I'm sure I will come up with more questions between now and when I'm able to get it all set up, but for now I think I finally am understanding this.

Thanks so much, I really appreciate the help. I knew I was just thinking too hard (I think I smell something burning...)
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Old 04-30-2011, 10:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfdrookie516 View Post
Yes... IMO. I got these cool conatiners from walmart on sale for 2/$5. They hold EXACTLY 2 gallons with the pumps in them. Now, my problem is that as the water pressure decreases as the amount of water decreases, the amount that the pumps actually pump decreases. So, my dosage when the containers is full is about twice what it is when the container gets low. I just refill mine about the half way mark to prevent underdosing. But, they're considerably cheaper than anything else I found, so may be worth looking at. They have a picture of rice on them, as they're designed to dispense rice, sugar, etc.

Good to know! thanks...will have to look for those. So when you make your solution when it's halfway gone, do you have to go back into the chart again.... or wait, would you just half the amount you added for the full thing?

Since they are made to go into your aquarium, I'm assuming the ferts dissolve in the water in the container. Is there ever a problem with them settling at the bottom of the container after a long period, or do they stay dissolved in the water? Was just a thought I had. (Like my sugar/yeast solution builds up at the bottom of my CO2 bottles sometimes, so i give it a little swirl to mix it back up.)
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