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Lean Dosing conversion ?

dino21

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17 Mar 2020
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Derbyshire
Hi,
Been reading some of the posts on the Lean Dosing method and wondered if its practicable to convert our current EI co2 tank to it.
The substrate is Molar clay with sand on top, so is its possible to add root tabs and then low dose the liquid ferts or do we need to strip it all out and use a high fert substrate ?
One thing that concerns us is that on the EI tanks with a substate like ADA etc, some say that these tanks are only short lived and need stripping out as the substate become exhausted ? We would not want to keep stripping things out every year or two.
 

plantnoobdude

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17 Mar 2021
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Hi, I am also implementing minimal lean dosing. while it's great and all that, I'd just like to put in a cautionary comment.
this dosing is not for beginners, you will need to dose urea and or nh4 for best results, be able to make different micro mixes from scratch, experiment with different chelators.
in an old post I saw your water is quite soft? if you could provide water report values that would be of massive help. and we will be able to advise you whether it is safe to use urea/nh4.
there are also in my opinion two types of lean dosing,
1. severely limiting N in collumn, rich colours slow growth rich sediment. (supplimented with ammoniacal nitrogen in collumn, after ~6 months.) ADA style
2. minimal dosing. dosing all nutrients plants need to the point it is not limiting (atleast not severely). dosing small amounts of nutrients daily, low tds, low kh, and low micros.

In my opinion root tabs are unnecessary and dosing nh4/urea to the collumn will have the same effect for almost all plant species. you will also not be able to control the leaching of nutrients, so I would advise against them.

some say that these tanks are only short lived and need stripping out as the substate become exhausted ? We would not want to keep stripping things out every year or two.

if you can grow plants with lean dosing and inert substrate then exhausted AS and lean dosing will work fine.
I have grown multiple plants in sand in my main tank (small glass pots of sand) almost everything grows just aswell in soil/sand. only plant so far that shows obvious unhappiness in sand is ammannia gold. the rest, rotala wallichii, rotala indica, tonina, cuphea anagalloidea etc. all did fine in sand, some even better.
 

dino21

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Hi.
Yes, its soft tap water KH around 3, GH around 4-5. TDS around 190 in the tank now, 40cm cube/50ltrs FE Co2 . APF Ferts
As to the Molar Clay substrate ( kitty litter) no idea if its inert, did get the impression it had some ability to take up and store nutrients from the water ??
The tanks been running for a year , quiet heavily planted with a mix of fast and slow growers which are doing ok, though during the year did have some algae problems but now seems more stable.
 

plantnoobdude

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Yes, its soft tap water KH around 3, GH around 4-5. TDS around 190. 40cm cube/50ltrs FE Co2 . APF Ferts
As to the Molar Clay substrate ( kitty litter) no idea if its inert, did get the impression it had some ability to take up and store nutrients from the water ??
The tanks been running for a year , quiet heavily planted with a mix of fast and slow growers which are doing ok, though during the year did have some algae problems but now seems more stable.
your water is very similar to @Hufsa . you should be good. just be careful when dosing urea and increase the nitrogen dosing slowly. I would check whether you have decent amounts of Mg in tap aswell as that is crucial.
kitty litter should have cec, I think. someone who's used it may be able to advise.
lean dosing is the perfect opportunity to experiment with lythracaea species, for example, rotala wallichii, rotala indica, rotala rotundifolia, rotala macrandra, ammannia gold, ammannia senegalensis.
 

dino21

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Thanks both, think rather than attempting anything on this tank, it mght be better to start a second tank using the Lean method, at least that way we can have a 'clean' start , once we have done a lot more reading on the subject as there seems to be more to this than we orignally thought, though still interested as some of these Lean tanks look great. :thumbup:
 

erwin123

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4 Mar 2021
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One thing that concerns us is that on the EI tanks with a substate like ADA etc, some say that these tanks are only short lived and need stripping out as the substate become exhausted ? We would not want to keep stripping things out every year or two.
Tanks that last for only 1-2 years before you have to tear down seem to be associated more with "competitive aquascaping".... tanks with "old" substrate can grow plants perfectly fine though old substrate may cause other (manageable problems).

The substrate in my tank is 10+ years old - after adding osmocote, plants are growing ok!

By the way, why you are thinking of moving from EI to lean dosing? Why not something in between like APT Complete levels (whether by buying a bottle of APT or mixing your own using DIY ferts)?

I have a relatively small 60cm tank so I just dose from a store-bought bottle.
 
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dino21

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Tanks that last for only 1-2 years before you have to tear down seem to be associated more with "competitive aquascaping".... tanks with "old" substrate can grow plants perfectly fine though old substrate may cause other (manageable problems).

The substrate in my tank is 10+ years old - after adding osmocote, plants are growing ok!

By the way, why you are thinking of moving from EI to lean dosing? Why not something in between like APT Complete levels (whether by buying a bottle of APT or mixing your own using DIY ferts)?

I have a relatively small 60cm tank so I just dose from a store-bought bottle.

Well as you say, the keyword is 'Why'
Just that you see quiet a few folk in the forum etc. saying how good Lean dosing is and like many have had algae problems in the past so always looking for ways to improve, though like many things it can also a case of time, money and experience in finding that sweetspot.
Will add APT to the list for reading , thanks. :)
 

KirstyF

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25 Jul 2021
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Kidderminster
Hi @dino21

Would just pipe in here that figuring out your ‘why?’ Is probably the most important thing here. Many of the folks on here that are using lean dosing are doing so either for the benefit of specific plant types/species or to lower TDS. (Not exclusively perhaps)

Lots of things can cause algae but EI dosing, in and of itself, does not, and as you can see, lean dosing is not always so simple.

If your goal is to reduce algae issues then you likely need to look elsewhere to resolve ur problems and there’s lots of folks and advice here to help out. 😊
 

Zeus.

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The term 'Lean Dosing' is a vague term IMO and its implied meaning varies on how it is being used. To me 'all' fert dosing/regimes can be divided into one of three subgroups which can over lap at times eg when a substrates nutrients run out.

  • True Lean Dosing
  • Pseudo Lean Dosing
  • Estimated Index (EI) dosing

True Lean Dosing is when certain nutrients are dosed at below the plants requirement to induce a specific colour change in plants leaf, which can be stunning. Often to get the results the person is after a nutrient lean/inert substrate is used. So I would say lean dosing is selective dosing to induce specific selective deficiency. Sometimes a user will also dose ferts which at the time of dosing are in abundance in their tank and use a deficiency indicator eg 'Duck weed Index' to prompt the user to dose some more nutrients

Pseudo Lean Dosing is also used by some when the weekly water column dosing is below the plants needs and no deficiency are present in the plants and much of the plants nutrients are supplied by the substrate or root tabs. So all nutrients are still in abundance. The benefit of Pseudo Lean Dosing is a smaller weekly WC and be used. So it will carry a smaller carbon footprint than EI dosing, but requires more 'skill' from the user. Often used by members with much experience

EI dosing is dosing in 'ample' abundance and relatively 50% regular Water Changes (WC) and is best suited to CO2 injected tanks with high output lights with good/great tank flow/turnover. Its the belt and brace method and a good choice for folk new to CO2 injection. A nutrient rich substrate is often used as well as weekly ample dosing to the water column.

This is purely my opinion ;)
 
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MichaelJ

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True Lean Dosing is when certain nutrients are dosed at below the plants requirement to induce a specific colour change in plants leaf, which can be stunning. Often to get the results the person is after a nutrient lean/inert substrate is used. So I would say lean dosing is selective dosing to induce specific selective deficiency.
Many fellow hobbyists around here who are promoting and applying lean dosing mostly think of it as a framework - paradigm if you will - where you dose just enough to fulfill the plants needs - no less/no more - actual dosing also depends on whether the tank is CO2 injected or not - low-tech tanks can get by with far less. The framework also advice zero/near-zero KH / low GH and acidic water to optimize uptake and plant health. At the more advanced level, elements are dosed in proper portions (with DYI traces etc.). And of course, dosing is modified as needed based on water parameters, plant density and how the plants reacts - nothing is cut in stone, but inducing deficiencies is not the point of lean dosing. It's amazing how little fertilizers your plants can get by with and still flourish, and a nice byproduct of dosing lean is that you create a better environment for your livestock (obviously only applicable if you livestock is suitable for soft acidic water).

Cheers,
Michael
 

Hanuman

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Been reading some of the posts on the Lean Dosing method and wondered if its practicable to convert our current EI co2 tank to it.
I would say everything is practical as long as you are aware of the consequences and the time you will spend tinkering with your tank. EI or similar regimes were designed to avoid exactly that. When you start playing around with ferts at cut throat levels in the water column and substrate, you become a slave to ferts. Look at the discussions on lean dosing. They are 99.999% all about fert/trace ratios, recipies, amounts in minute ppm etc etc and nothing much about the rest. The few that are experimenting on this type of dosing in the forum are not showing exceptional tanks as far as I am aware and those that are having beautiful tanks with "similar" lower dosing (I only count 2 or 3 persons), are not actually lean dosing per say.
The substrate is Molar clay with sand on top, so is its possible to add root tabs and then low dose the liquid ferts or do we need to strip it all out and use a high fert substrate ?
No need of stripping. You can add root tabs no problemo or not if your clay has a high CEC which would have captured lots of nutrients and then restitute them to the plants.
One thing that concerns us is that on the EI tanks with a substate like ADA etc, some say that these tanks are only short lived and need stripping out as the substate become exhausted ? We would not want to keep stripping things out every year or two.
Depends on your objectives. If you are planning on making competition tanks then it probably is necessary as the soil exhausts and you need to change the design completely. Better start with a proper base than having to balance nutrients between substrate and water column. Also if you have farm tanks then it could also be a good things to change susbstrate once in a while. I would say it all depends on how much you are willing to put into balancing your tank, how much plants mass you have and how attached to "plant form and nutrient tunnel vision" you are. Keep in mind that nutrients need to come from somewhere one way or another since a tank is a closed environment. In a natural environment, nutrients are constantly fed back to the ground, either by water flowing, rich underground substrates, decaying matter etc etc.
 

MichaelJ

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I would say everything is practical as long as you are aware of the consequences and the time you will spend tinkering with your tank. EI or similar regimes were designed to avoid exactly that. When you start playing around with ferts at cut throat levels in the water column and substrate, you become a slave to ferts. Look at the discussions on lean dosing. They are 99.999% all about fert/trace ratios, recipies, amounts in minute ppm etc etc and nothing much about the rest. The few that are experimenting on this type of dosing in the forum are not showing exceptional tanks as far as I am aware and those that are having beautiful tanks with "similar" lower dosing (I only count 2 or 3 persons), are not actually lean dosing per say.

Hi @Hanuman, @dino21, Lean dosing don't have to be complicated. Thousand upon thousands of hobbyists are successfully dosing lean just by following the direction on the Tropica Specialized bottle - some add more, some add less (like me)... you watch you plants and adapt - and you don't have to worry about ratios or minute ppm's. Ratios certainly have merits as an exercise for the advanced connoisseurs, but if you dose a reputable product such a Tropica they all have that figured out... I assume they sort of know about plant needs given they success as one the worlds premier aquatic plant nurseries. Of course, the discussions on this lean topic is absolutely no different from other fertilizer discussions on this and other forums - people like to talk about ratios and weekly amounts of this or that fertilizer ingredient and share recipes etc. to give their plants the best chance to flourish... there is nothing wrong with that - no matter what regime your are following. It's all part of the fun for many of us and there are great tools out there for the people who love to indulge in fertilizer tweaking such as the IFC Calculator or Rotala Butterfly (IFC is the ticket if you have Excel and really want to go deep on your ferts tweaking without hassle).

Cheers,
Michael
 
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Hanuman

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Hi @Hanuman, @dino21, Lean dosing don't have to be complicated. Thousand upon thousand of hobbyists are successfully dosing lean just by following the direction on the Tropica Specialized bottle
Yes and you omit the substrate. Highly fertile.
That I buy, but again it all depends what you want to achieve, your level of requirements, commitment and expectations. Using TSN on a high intensity, highly planted tank like a dutch or a farm tank will NOT work well on the medium/long run. You'd probably have to triple or quadruple the dose very quickly. If we are talking about an average tank with most plants not being very demanding, then yes, it will work for longer. As long as your substrate is packed, everything will be fine. Once it starts depleting you will start seing differences in plant form, growth pattern and speed and you then have to adapt and reconsidering your dosing.
As I said, it all depends on your objectives.
 

Zeus.

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Many fellow hobbyists around here who are promoting and applying lean dosing mostly think of it as a framework
Yes, and we are waiting/watching so see how it goes :thumbup:

The definition I use/posted is a personal one, which I feel fits the type of dosing being used and the levels of nutrition present in the tank as a whole. I would also mod/update True lean dosing to-

True Lean Dosing is when certain nutrients are dosed at below the plants requirement to induce a specific colour change in plants leaf, which can be stunning. Often to get the results the person is after a nutrient lean/inert substrate is used. So I would say lean dosing is selective dosing to induce specific selective deficiency. 'Sometimes a user will also dose ferts which at the time of dosing are in abundance in their tank and use a deficiency indicator eg 'Duck weed Index' to prompt the user to dose some more nutrients'

Its all a matter of personal choice, what your goals are and which regime best fits them. The name of the regime only helps others understand what the person is dosing and a sub division of lean dosing IMO helps to highlight which method is being used

If you are after healthy plants with the minimum time and effort to understand dosing and deficiency's, then EI dosing has to be the best dosing regime to use for simplicity/results for the broadest spectrum of water parameters.
If you have the inclination and time to micro manage your tanks ferts and nutrition and understand it and maintain healthy plants then 'Pseudo Lean Dosing' fits the bill.

Which ever fert/regime you choose there will always be some folk who due to water parameters that will need to apply/adapt the regime to account for 'hard water'. Commercial ferts do seem IMO better suited for tanks using RO remineralised water/rain water and soft water. Folk with hard to very hard water do seem to have more issues esp when their aqua soils (AS) Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) becomes exhausted due to active exchange sites being block with minerals and compounds from hard water. I was thinking about rejuvenating my old AS by having RO water running thought it for some time.

The term 'EI dosing' could be renamed as' dosing in abundance' or 'ample dosing', however I feel that this is missing some of the EI dosing requirements ie Reg 50% WC and no testing

'Pseudo Lean Dosing' could also in my book be called 'Pseudo EI Dosing' as it is dosing just enough for healthy plants. But that would be a red rag to a 'Bull' for some folk IMO
 

dw1305

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nr Bath
Hi all,
It's amazing how little fertilizers your plants can get by with and still flourish, and a nice byproduct of dosing lean is that you create a better environment for your livestock (obviously only applicable if you livestock is suitable for soft acidic water).
That was the idea behind the <"Duckweed Index">, that the plants would <"maintain high quality water"> and that the only requirement for adding nutrients was to <"maintain some plant growth">. Because I want the plants to be able to respond to any <"increase in bioload">, I actually don't want them growing at their optimal rate.

I just wanted plants that are capable of showing a rapid growth response to increased nutrients, so a plant with access to aerial CO2 and one capable of a very quick growth response.

"Lesser Duckweed" (Lemna minor) was my initial plant, and it fulfils those criteria, but <"it is a p.i.t.a to harvest">, is always slightly yellow in soft water and doesn't survive at very low nutrient levels. Amazon Frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum) doesn't grow as quickly as Lemna minor, but it <"has other advantages">.

cheers Darrel
 
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