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Old 09-15-2011, 07:58 PM   #1
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fert method, some one help, my head is going to explode!

So I've been doing a lot of reading on different fertilizer methods and I feel like the more I read now, the more confused I get. PMDD, PMDD + PO4, PPS, PPS Pro, PPS Classic, EI...HOLY ****

I understand some are more labor intensive then others, EI being the most (from what I'm understanding). I just want to be able to do my 30% water change once a week and setup an auto doser of some sort to dose daily (eventually).

I have Java Moss, Italian Vals, Dwarf Hair Grass, and Brown and Green Crypts and the tank is pretty heavily planted. I have Eco Complete as my substrate, and a pressurized Co2 system that I just started for the first time today. My pH is 6.6 as of now, and my dkH is 1-2* (I say its 1 but it could be 1.5 or 2, the test is a pain in the ***).

My question is...How do I go about figuring out exactly what ferts I should be putting in my tank? How do I know how much to add, and how often? I've seen a PPS Pro calculator, but does that really work for everyone?

This community has been great to me so far. The amount of information I've gotten is ridiculous. I just need someone to shed some light on ferts and I'll be able to say, I have a good BASIC understanding in keeping a planted tank, and I can start building on the basics. As of right now I'm in the dark with this part...Can someone help out?
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Old 09-16-2011, 05:19 AM   #2
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Sorry I'm a lazy low tech newbie. I have root tabs and dose Leaf Zone weekly and sometimes dose liquid Carbon in my non Shrimp tanks ( all small tanks 5-10g ).

My established 10g is a jungle. Gotta trim weekly.



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Old 09-16-2011, 05:40 AM   #3
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Okay, to keep it simple you could just do PMDD (i.e. mix everything together with water) and then dose as needed, the routine will be something you determine based on your results.

You can get test kits for the different ferts but generally speaking it's not necessary.

As for the rest, there's a micromix (csm+b, flourish, microplex, or what have you) that contains most of the micronutrients needed, so that's something that should be dosed regularly. Start with once a week after water changes, if all is well, up it to twice a week and see if you have any noticeable results. If you see more growth, then you know you should be dosing more often, but if you start seeing issues with algae, or nothing at all, then I would just cut it back to once a week.

The NPK macronutrients are extremely important, and you can treat them the same basic way. Test for nitrates, if you have some in the tank at all times then don't worry about dosing N, as far as potassium and phosphorous go, apply the same method that you use with the micros.

Personally I've experienced that with a lack of NPK that there will be growth issues/stunting or whatever moreso than with a lack of micros, probably since they utilize much more of the NPK nutrients than of the micros (hence why they are called macronutrients)

It's really only as complicated as you want to make it.
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Old 09-16-2011, 08:18 AM   #4
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Okay, to keep it simple you could just do PMDD (i.e. mix everything together with water) and then dose as needed, the routine will be something you determine based on your results.

You can get test kits for the different ferts but generally speaking it's not necessary.

As for the rest, there's a micromix (csm+b, flourish, microplex, or what have you) that contains most of the micronutrients needed, so that's something that should be dosed regularly. Start with once a week after water changes, if all is well, up it to twice a week and see if you have any noticeable results. If you see more growth, then you know you should be dosing more often, but if you start seeing issues with algae, or nothing at all, then I would just cut it back to once a week.

The NPK macronutrients are extremely important, and you can treat them the same basic way. Test for nitrates, if you have some in the tank at all times then don't worry about dosing N, as far as potassium and phosphorous go, apply the same method that you use with the micros.

Personally I've experienced that with a lack of NPK that there will be growth issues/stunting or whatever moreso than with a lack of micros, probably since they utilize much more of the NPK nutrients than of the micros (hence why they are called macronutrients)

It's really only as complicated as you want to make it.
This helped some what. I don't understand though why anyone would need to dose N if they have a cycled tank with fish. The end result of the nitrification cycle is nitrates right? Some of the fish I'm putting in my tank are very sensitive to nitrates, so I think it would be a bad idea for me to dose N.

So if I'm following you all I need to a csm+b mix and a PK mix? Why does PPS have magnesium, what does that do?
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Old 09-16-2011, 08:49 AM   #5
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This helped some what. I don't understand though why anyone would need to dose N if they have a cycled tank with fish. The end result of the nitrification cycle is nitrates right? Some of the fish I'm putting in my tank are very sensitive to nitrates, so I think it would be a bad idea for me to dose N.

So if I'm following you all I need to a csm+b mix and a PK mix? Why does PPS have magnesium, what does that do?
Because a well planted tank will often use more N than what is being produced. What I would do is just prior to water change/dosing ferts, test your Nitrates and if you have a good readable amount then I wouldn't bother dosing N. I'd test that every week though because if your plants really start taking off they will use up the N that is being produced by the fish pretty quickly.


Magnesium is utilized by plants for photosynthesis so it's really important. Have a read Chlorophyll - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 09-16-2011, 07:42 PM   #6
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Because a well planted tank will often use more N than what is being produced. What I would do is just prior to water change/dosing ferts, test your Nitrates and if you have a good readable amount then I wouldn't bother dosing N. I'd test that every week though because if your plants really start taking off they will use up the N that is being produced by the fish pretty quickly.


Magnesium is utilized by plants for photosynthesis so it's really important. Have a read Chlorophyll - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
That's a lot of information I just read through. Honestly I'll probably have to read through it again to retain everything, but definitely a lot of good information. Thanks!
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Old 09-23-2011, 01:06 AM   #7
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I picked up flourish, phosphate, and potassium...I'll start dosing this Sunday when I do a pwc and see how the plants react.
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Old 09-23-2011, 01:32 AM   #8
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Just be careful not to overdose on phosphate. Algae love that.

If you have some time try and research a bit on the EI-method of fertilization. Its basically a scientific approach to PMDD but more specific to your tank requirements.
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Old 09-23-2011, 10:27 PM   #9
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Another thing to keep in mind is that right now you have mostly root feeding plants - the crypts particularly, and also the vals and hair grass and going to want to get a good portion of their nutrients from the substrate, and will benefit from some root tabs.

I think it's a good idea to start off with whatever method appeals to you most (and that you are most likely to follow). Everyone is going to have their opinion of which method works best but in reality they all work, although some work better or worse for particular tanks and their owners. I have to say I've done EI, and PMDD, and at this point just go by "feel"...I have a pretty good sense of what the tank needs by how certain plants are doing.... I will freely admit that I'm an oceangrapher by training, though...

What size tank and what kind/amount of lighting do you have on it?
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Old 09-23-2011, 11:23 PM   #10
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I have a 40 breeder with 160w T5HO. I only run all 4 for 2 hours though, the other 6 hours I'm just running 2 bulbs.
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Old 09-23-2011, 11:37 PM   #11
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That's a lotta light! Hang on for the ride....my first planted tank was a 55g with 192 watts CF and it was a rollercoaster getting things figured out. The nice part was that while things could get out of whack quickly, you could also get things back in line pretty quickly as well. Currently I am running that tank with 2x54 watts T5HO and things move a lot slower. I actually find it easier to balance a high light tank than a lower light tank, although it is more work.
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Old 09-23-2011, 11:50 PM   #12
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Well I'm trying to get this under control right now. Hopefully after I start dozing things will get better. I'm getting this brown fuzzy algae all over the place and all my plants are looking like garbage. I got the co2 at 30ppm according to the drop checker, so hopefully the ferts are the answer to my problems right now.
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Old 09-24-2011, 07:50 PM   #13
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My 55g looked like a royal disaster about a month after I got it going. Took about another month for things to start looking good....hang in there!

This gives you an idea of how bad things got....I never took at full tank shot when it was like this, for obvious reasons!

This is my fav pic of the tank - proof things will get better! :
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Old 09-24-2011, 08:09 PM   #14
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Mine I think looks a little worse, but hopefully after I start dosing it will be a lot better. I'll take a pic when I get home tomorrow.
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Old 10-07-2011, 02:23 PM   #15
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Because a well planted tank will often use more N than what is being produced. What I would do is just prior to water change/dosing ferts, test your Nitrates and if you have a good readable amount then I wouldn't bother dosing N. I'd test that every week though because if your plants really start taking off they will use up the N that is being produced by the fish pretty quickly.


Magnesium is utilized by plants for photosynthesis so it's really important. Have a read Chlorophyll - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Well after a little while, you were right. My plants havent really grown, and when I test for Nitrates, I get 0. I'm going to start dosing N this Sunday with the water change and see how it goes.

My Crypts started to noticeably grow taller, the dwarf hair grass and vals are still looking kinda ******. The vals are shooting runners, but arent really growing, theyre staying small. Maybe after dosing N they'll start?
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