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Old 02-08-2007, 07:28 AM   #1
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help!-water readings

Folks,
I never really looked at water readings except PH. Now that im planted I understand the importance of but dont know the acceptable ranges of potassium and Nitrates.
Here are my readings. I appreciate any feedback-thanks
PH-6.2-(Big driftwood)
NO3-40
NO2-0
Hardness-120
alkalinity-120


55gal
2x65w-11hrs
No co2
plant spikes for ferts (from aquarium store-black plastic spikes)

Cliff NY
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Old 02-08-2007, 07:58 AM   #2
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40ppm of NO3 seems very high in a planted tank. The reason to keep track of NO3 is you don't want it bottoming out. It gives you an idea of when to dose. I would say most are happy with a reading of between 5 and 10 ppm for nitrates.

Regarding the K, it's impossible to overdose. What isn't used is not harmful.
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Old 02-08-2007, 09:30 AM   #3
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Actually, since most of us are using hobbiest grade test kits, a Nitrate level between 20-40ppm is generally considered good. Reason being that hobby grade Nitrate kits are often highly inaccurate below 20ppm, especially if they haven't been calibrated against a reference solution. Often test results below 20ppm can actually end up being 0ppm and the cause of algae problems.

Generally you're going to want your Phosphate levels between 1-2ppm for every 20ppm of Nitrate. This is just a starting place and you can play with the ratio some as needed. Many have found that they need to dose the Phosphates a bit higher to get rid of Green Spot Algae.

For Potassium, you'd want to dose between 10-20ppm per week. There isn't a hobbiest kit for this nutrient, so you need to rely on dosing and your plants to show you if there's a deficiency. Luckily it's nearly impossible to overdose, so you just need to ensure that you're dosing enough.

That being said, the easiest method of dosing is probably EI (Estimative Index). Basically you dose enough each week to ensure that you never risk a nutrient bottoming out, and then do a 50% water change at the end of the week to reset your parms and ensure that the levels don't get too high.

Also just for reference, you pH and KH relationship appears to be out of wack. As I recall from another thread you aren't injecting CO2, but your readings indicate a deadly amount of CO2. In a non CO2 injected tank the CO2 levels are only about 3ppm, which means you won't be able to rely on pH and KH readings from your tank to determine your CO2 levels if you decide to start injecting at some point. You'd either need to use an alternative method of measuring CO2 or a CO2 drop checker.
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Old 02-08-2007, 04:03 PM   #4
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Purrbox,
I do have some algae spotting on my sword leaves. What and how do I dose any ferts? Those readings were off a Mardel 5 in 1 test kit. So i dont know how accurate. Still its out of wack? Do I get Potassium from the local store? What form should I get? powder/liquid?
How do I check phosphate? Another test kit? where do I get phosphate to dose?
So If I understand--I need to check and balance--phosphate and potassium?
thanks
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Old 02-08-2007, 04:24 PM   #5
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I believe that you are talking about test strips? If so I would never recommend basing your dosing off of those as they are even more notoriously inaccurate than regular hobby grade test kits.

The forumulas for calculating CO2 are based off of the only buffer in the tank being KH. A tank without CO2 injection will only have about 3ppm of CO2. Whenever the results are vastely different, then there has to be other buffers, etc in the tank affecting the relationship. If we're talking test strip results, I'd wait until you get a better test kit before jumping to any conclusions.

If you're going to dose to targets then you need to balance Nitrates and Phosphates, and dose a certain amount of Potassium and Traces each week. If you're dosing EI then you dose set amounts and tweak as needed based on algae and plant health.

You can either dose a quality line of Ferts like the Seachem Flourish line (most LFS don't carry the macros so you'd need to special order or order online) or dry ferts which can be gotten from GregWatson.com.

Nitrate -- Flourish Nitrogen or KNO3
Phosphate -- Flourish Phosphorus or KH2PO4
Potassium -- Flourish Potassium or K2SO4
Trace Mix -- Flourish Comprehensive (NOT Flourish Trace), Tropica Master Grow, or CSM+B

If you're going to test your tank, you'll want to use liquid test kits. The main ones used for a planted tank are:
Nitrate (Hobby grade kits can be innaccurate under 20ppm, go for Lamotte if you have the spare cash and want the extra accuracy)
Phosphate (Seachem has been recommended as being almost as good as Lamotte without the added expense)
pH (I recently picked up a pH pen meter and love it for the extra range and accuracy, but a regular test kit is fine)
KH (Most test kit should be fine for this as well)

Lots of people like the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals test kits, and I've had good luck with the Hagen Test Kits (except the Nitrate Kit which I find hard to read). LaMotte is very expensive but will provide great accuracy for the Nitrate and Phosphate test kits.
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Old 02-08-2007, 11:49 PM   #6
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Purrbox,
thanks--You are correct--I used test strips. Im heading to my sisters this weekend--ill start looking for the test kit you recommend and Seachem ferts when I return.
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Old 02-09-2007, 08:01 PM   #7
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folks,
Ok--I just bought a KH liquid test kit from Aquarium pharmaceuticals on the way home from work. It took 6 drops to make the solution turn from blue to yellow. at 17.9 ppm per drop (per instructions) that makes my KH reading 107.4
Help--how bad is that reading? How do I fix? I hope to get other test kits this weekend.
Thanks
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Old 02-09-2007, 08:32 PM   #8
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Not to worry, you have 6dkh and that relates to having some good buffers in your water. The next step is to test your ph. My guess is that it'll be somewhere around 7.6, which isn't bad at all.

Test your tap straight of the tap, then another one by leaving it out overnight and then compare to a test of your tank water. There shouldn't be much of a difference.
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Old 02-10-2007, 10:03 AM   #9
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Folks,
Ordered all the ferts through Greg Watson--The shipping cost more than the ferts!!
I did a water change today and the water "tint" is gone. Guess I have to change 50% water every week? I was doing every 2-3 weeks.
I will be getting the liquid test kits this weekend
Then I have to figure out how to dose when I get the dry ferts.

Thanks again for your help!!
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Old 02-10-2007, 10:55 AM   #10
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Greg definately isn't out to make a profit on us, just helping out other hobbiests. The shipping is why we recommend ordering everything at once, even if you don't need it all right away.

Here's a link to EI Light, it should get you started on dosing without all the extra technical information on why EI actually works.
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Old 02-11-2007, 07:32 PM   #11
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phosphate

Folks,
I just bought a liquid phosphate test kit (Aquarium Pharmacueticals)
My reading is over--10.0 ppm. It was a darker color than the darkest color on their guide.
What should it read? Are these tests accurate? What do I do to correct?
What harm will a high phosphate reading have on the plants? Thanks
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Old 02-11-2007, 09:42 PM   #12
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Well that would explain why your KH and pH relationship is off. Have you been adding any chemicals to buffer the pH? What's the PO4 reading of your tap water?

That kit isn't going to be extremely accurate, but it's good for giving a general idea of the phosphate levels. Definately indicates high PO4 in the tank.
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Old 02-11-2007, 10:12 PM   #13
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Quote:
2x65w-11hrs
That seems like a lot of light with no CO2.
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Old 02-11-2007, 11:13 PM   #14
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Purrbox,
Tap water is .5ppm phosphate reading.
I did do a 40% water change Saturday morning--Could that be the reason for the 10.0 reading in the tank?
Ill pick up a nitrate kit tommorow-
Cliff
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Old 02-12-2007, 12:35 AM   #15
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Since the Phosphate isn't coming from the tap, and you didn't mention using a pH adjusting chemical, the next likely suspect is your fish food. Check the ingrediants on your food and stop using any that have a high Phosphate level. May also need to cut back on feeding.
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Old 02-12-2007, 07:12 AM   #16
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TeraMin flakes daily-min phoshorus 1%

also-once or twice a month-and live blood or black worms for about 4 days.

Schedule-feed twice a day--7am 7pm. No more than they can consume before food hits the bottom.
What are the symptoms of too much phosphate?
Thanks
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Old 02-12-2007, 10:12 AM   #17
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Plant Deficiencies - Also lists Toxicities

Variety is good for you fish. I'd recommend trying to pick up some alternatives with less phosphorus. To address the immediate excess you may want to do several large water changes. I really shouldn't be harming anything but it's nice to have in a testable range.
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Old 02-12-2007, 09:05 PM   #18
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purrbox
Just checked my Nitrates with a liquid nitrate test kit--50ppm. good -bad-ugly?
Also--did a 50% water change on saturday--should I do another with my high phosphate reading tonight? Thanks
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Old 02-12-2007, 09:12 PM   #19
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With nitrates that high I would recommend a water change of 50%. That will also lower your phosphates.
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Old 02-12-2007, 09:47 PM   #20
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I agree with Rich. A 50% waterchange is advisable under those conditions.
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