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Lean dosing pros and cons

Riverside Scaper

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28 May 2021
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The Toon
Hi all,

I’ve recently set up my new scape AS1200 and densely planted. Running CO2 with an in-line diffuser on both Oase 600 filters and dosing APT Complete daily as per instructions on the bottle. I’m still doing daily water changes for the first month and then will dial it back slowly until I am down to 2 water changes a a week.

So far everything is going good and I don’t have any nuisance algae issues, just diatoms but I guess that’s to be expected.

My question is what is the benefits or limitations of switching to APT Zero or just lean dosing in general? Would my epiphytes suffer if I switched to lean dosing? Would I possibly swap one type of algae issue for another?

This is the scape currently, plants are growing in slowly and things are generally headed in the right direction.

The only plant that isn’t doing well is the Staurogyne Repens. For some reason that I can’t figure out, it’s dropping leaves fast.

926F6874-87F4-4723-B84B-EE021A8EBAAA.jpeg
 

MichaelJ

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9 Feb 2021
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Minnesota, USA
My question is what is the benefits or limitations of switching to APT Zero or just lean dosing in general? Would my epiphytes suffer if I switched to lean dosing? Would I possibly swap one type of algae issue for another?
Hi @Riverside Scaper Nice tank! I can't really think of any benefits from lean dosing (whatever that means, exactly). Your running a massive high energy tank with a huge plant mass (eventually) that is going to need a lot of nutrients. The fertilizers you dose won't cause algae problems, but the lack fertilizer very well might.

Cheers,
Michael
 
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South Carolina
I think “lean dosing” is misleading. Each tank has a sweet spot, and it also depends on the plants you have in that tank and how nutrient rich your substrate is. The only advantage I think would be getting deeper reds in plants that respond to nitrate limitation in that way. Your treading a fine line going that route, but there is nothing wrong with experimenting to see, just expect plant growth to suffer and even onset of algae. Looking the way your tank does, I wouldn’t change a gosh darn thing!
 

Kelvin12

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16 Nov 2020
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NSW Australia
Michael, my on demand method is my own dosing method 1/2 recommended or thereabouts, then only as the plants seem to have dropped off a bit. II am finding the few fish I keep, neon tetras especially don't seem to be very happy even with this small doseage. But plants are my priority not the fish.

P.S. to above there are also 3 Siamese algae eaters in this tank that don't seem to be effected maybe because they are a bigger fish.
 

Angus

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Vauxhall, London.
I think “lean dosing” is misleading. Each tank has a sweet spot, and it also depends on the plants you have in that tank and how nutrient rich your substrate is.
Exactly this, like growing any plant there is a sweet spot, where if you provide light, you have to match the demands that light sets on the plant in regard to supplying the appropriate building blocks for growth.

In growing terrestrial plants you don't have the problem of co2 limitation, whereas in the aquarium this is an ever present concern for people running high metabolism high growth rate co2 injected tanks.

And most people who do planted tanks should know about NPK+trace, and what to provide your plants for best vegetative growth.
 

MichaelJ

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Michael, my on demand method is my own dosing method 1/2 recommended or thereabouts, then only as the plants seem to have dropped off a bit. II am finding the few fish I keep, neon tetras especially don't seem to be very happy even with this small doseage. But plants are my priority not the fish.

P.S. to above there are also 3 Siamese algae eaters in this tank that don't seem to be effected maybe because they are a bigger fish.

Hi @Kelvin12 , Fertilizer won't harm your fish unless you are wildly overdosing (I have lots of different healthy Tetras, Oto's, Golden Rams and Angle fish and lots of Shrimps and shrimplets across my two tanks and I dose A LOT!). Also, waiting for the plants to show stress from deficiency is not a good idea - you are starving off the plants and give room for algae, and from the time you start upping the dosing and until it works the plants will deteriorate even more. I personally think it's pointless to back down on nutrients (unless its for monetary reasons), as we now know that it won't cause algae or harm our livestock.
@Riverside Scaper there is no issue with lean dosing and high lights. You can keep your co2 between 15-20 ppm and dose lean with high lights. This need for high light, high co2 and high fertilizer is a myth and mainly comes from EI concept. I can tell you this based on my experience and am sure you will find more people who have similar experience.
Hi @Happi , It would be great if you could add some insights to this from your experience. Given how many around here that follows and promotes the myth, as you call it, and have great success following it (i.e. high dosing / EI), I think it would be interesting for a lot of fellow hobbyists to understand why it is so in more details. I just follow the advice given to me by the experts to see if it works... and it works! ... I do not know why it works in excruciating details - I don't need to.

Cheers,
Michael
 
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erwin123

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4 Mar 2021
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Singapore
You can modify EI in a very simple way, without a "test kit".

How? Start with normal EI dosing and then slowly and progressively reduce the dosing rate till you note a negative plant growth response.
Then simply bump back up to the last prior dosing level. This is the ideal dosing rate for your tank. This takes a few weeks of reduction to do it correctly and of course watching your plants and growth, but you will do this anyway.

Unlike lean methods, this approach does not stress the plant's full potential of growth, it targets what is called the "critical point".

Tom Barr's suggestion is an excellent one - instead of going from EI one day to lean dosing the other, you slowly dial down the ferts until you see negative effects.
The last 2 lines of his post are well worth remembering:

EI is not rigid, it's what you make of it and then use your own brain to modify for your management goals.
It's just a starting place or a method to rule other factors out.
 

MichaelJ

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Tom Barr's suggestion is an excellent one - instead of going from EI one day to lean dosing the other, you slowly dial down the ferts until you see negative effects.
The last 2 lines of his post are well worth remembering:
Whats the point of this exercise? (Not asking you @erwin123 as your the messenger here...) Well, I get it, if your teetering on high TDS levels for certain livestock such as delicate shrimps etc. but otherwise not. The reason I do WCs is to get rid of waste - unrelated to my fertilizer dosing. Perhaps this advice was given back (almost 10 years ago actually) when fertilizer was super expensive, not well understood or something. Can someone explain why this is even a topic for discussion? :)

Cheers,
Michael
 
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Riverside Scaper

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Thanks for all the replies, it’s much appreciated.

The tank has only been up and running for a month, 3 weeks of which it has been planted… so plenty of time to screw this up! 😅

With regards to the substrate, it’s a bottom layer of ada power sand and the rest is just regular Tropica soil and powder soil. I haven’t added any nutrient tabs to the substrate or anything like that and the only dosing is APT Complete at 9ml per day as per the bottle instructions.

I’m doing 80% water changes daily and between those and my clean up crew consisting of 7 ottos, Amano shrimp, cherry shrimp and horned nerite snails, I haven’t had any algae issues so far. I run the light for 6 hours per day, with CO2 starting 2 hours before lights on and stops and hour before lights off. I dose slightly more CO2 than normal so my drop checker is a lighter green, but my fish and shrimp all seem happy. There is plenty of surface agitation which is how I like it, I’d rather dose more CO2 and have some of it gas off than less surface agitation.

The plant list is as follows:
Marsilea Crenata
Cryptocoryne Parva
Cryptocoryne Willisii
Anubias Nana Petite
Bucephalandra Biblis
Bucephalandra Theia
Bucephalandra Kedagang
Schismatoglottis Pretoi
Hygrophila Auriguaia
Microsorum Pteropus Trident
Bolbitis Heudelotii
Hygrophila Pinnatifida
Hemianthus Micranthemoides
Ludwigia Mini Super Red
Myriophyllum Mattogrossense
Rotala Indica Bonsai

The only positives I could find in nitrogen limitation is the more vivid colourations of the red, pink and orange plants such as Rotala Macrandra. Does this method impact epiphytes such as Trident ferns, Bolbitis or Buces?
 

Happi

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@MichaelJ
It's one of those debate which is a never ending debate and we are not going to get anywhere. I use to spend lot of time debating and it would go on back and forth without any outcome. So I just let people decide for themselves, if they were to use high light and lean fertilizer and succeeded then that's all the proof you need.

The argument is not about weather EI or high dosing works. The argument is about we are told that high light mean we need to dose high fertilizer and add lot of co2, this is a myth. This myth is similar to high po4 solving GSA when GSA has nothing to do with this. If true then both myth should hold true when someone is using tropica fertilizer because not only it's lean, but it also adds very little po4.
 

Happi

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I think “lean dosing” is misleading. Each tank has a sweet spot, and it also depends on the plants you have in that tank and how nutrient rich your substrate is. The only advantage I think would be getting deeper reds in plants that respond to nitrate limitation in that way. Your treading a fine line going that route, but there is nothing wrong with experimenting to see, just expect plant growth to suffer and even onset of algae. Looking the way your tank does, I wouldn’t change a gosh darn thing!
I dont see anything misleading about lean dosing, people think its misleading because they misunderstand it. When done correctly no plant suffer and there is no algae, not only plants look vibrant but they also do well under such condition. They might grow bit slower but other than that high light and lean dosing will not cause algae. Most modern lighting is producing much higher PAR than ever and majority of people are still dosing lean and have great looking tank and they run their tanks at 20 ppm or so CO2. Most people who have high lights and dosing higher nutrients seems to have more algae problems. In year of 2021 they are still trying to fix their co2.
 

John q

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I think “lean dosing” is misleading. Each tank has a sweet spot, and it also depends on the plants you have in that tank and how nutrient rich your substrate is.

With regards to the substrate, it’s a bottom layer of ada power sand and the rest is just regular Tropica soil and powder soil.
@Riverside Scaper the tank looks fantastic.

The substrate you're using is packed with nutrients, how much of that finds its way into the water column I couldn't say but would suggest its a fair amount. At this early stage to suggest the plants in this tank are lean dosed is slightly misleading.

The substrate at some point will stop providing these nutrients and you'll have to start adding a complete fertiliser, this could be lean dosed, full ei, or something in-between, your plants will then answer the original question of pro's and con's of lean dosing.
 

Tom Delattre

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France, Avignon
I'm currently switching progressively (1ml + or - per week) from high dosage of tropica specialized to low dosage of Apt zero. What I see is redder plants, lower growth, and higher GSA.
I have another tank that has always been under a no ferts, no CO2 regime (but prodibio aquasoil) and plants were very healthy, slow growing, super red. Recently I added Bucephalandra to that tank and they are getting BBA . I'll probably start dosing that tank...
Just my 2 cents :)

Envoyé de mon KB2003 en utilisant Tapatalk
 

PARAGUAY

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I think “lean dosing” is misleading. Each tank has a sweet spot, and it also depends on the plants you have in that tank and how nutrient rich your substrate is. The only advantage I think would be getting deeper reds in plants that respond to nitrate limitation in that way. Your treading a fine line going that route, but there is nothing wrong with experimenting to see, just expect plant growth to suffer and even onset of algae. Looking the way your tank does, I wouldn’t change a gosh darn thing!
I dont like the term lean dosing either it implies thats all whats given without mention for nutrient rich substrates like amazonia. In fact shops will adopt lean dosing for healthy plant growth but less faster meaning less work maintaining 30 or 40 planted CO2 aquariums. A bit different on low dosing regarding low energy no CO2. IME less dosing but dosing all nutrients when needed as Duckweed Index.
 

Angus

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@Riverside Scaper the tank looks fantastic.

The substrate you're using is packed with nutrients, how much of that finds its way into the water column I couldn't say but would suggest its a fair amount. At this early stage to suggest the plants in this tank are lean dosed is slightly misleading.

The substrate at some point will stop providing these nutrients and you'll have to start adding a complete fertiliser, this could be lean dosed, full ei, or something in-between, your plants will then answer the original question of pro's and con's of lean dosing.
Definitely correct in my opinion, amazonia allows me quite a lot of lee-way in my low-tech setups and means i can wait and increase stocking more slowly, because the plants are provided for without the fish waste being produced by a full stocking compliment, i also dose very lightly once a week or after a waterchange. (seachem flourish lol don't laugh at me i didn't buy it.)

But i know this will have to change after about 6 months of the tanks being set up from experience, and i will have to dose macro+micro.
 
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@Happi In regards to my comment about lean dosing being misleading, what I meant is that “lean” is not same amount for every tank. One tank may only need 5-10 ppm of nitrate a week based on that tanks needs. Another tank could attempt that same “lean” regimen and watch their tank crash, with the end user not understanding why it works for the first tank and not theirs.
 

Happi

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@Happi In regards to my comment about lean dosing being misleading, what I meant is that “lean” is not same amount for every tank. One tank may only need 5-10 ppm of nitrate a week based on that tanks needs. Another tank could attempt that same “lean” regimen and watch their tank crash, with the end user not understanding why it works for the first tank and not theirs.
so lets say if 10 users are using Tropica fertilizer for example and out of those 10 users, 2 of them have the issues with plant growth. does that mean they need to increase their dosing or does that mean there is some user errors or water chemistry issue?

now take another 10 users who are using higher dosing fertilizer for example and out of those 10 users, 2 of them have the issues with plant growth. does that mean they need to increase their dosing or does that mean there is some user errors or water chemistry issue?

I have seen tank Crashes in both cases, but I don't blame the crash entirely on the nutrients, there are several factors from User errors to water chemistry and many more.
 
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