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)
(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.