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Lean dosing pros and cons

dw1305

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Hi all,
After reading through this thread about "lean dosing" and "EI dosing" I'm wondering whether there is a middle ground, which are the dosing levels provided by 'all-in-one' (some say diluted water) ferts.
If you are using dry salts, you can dose nutrients at any level you like. This is what <"I do at the moment">, but using a <"terrestrial fertiliser">. When I run out of "Miracle-Gro" I'm going to invest ~£10 in a kilo of <"Solufeed 2 : 1 : 4"> mix.
Why not advocate for dry salts to make copycat fertilizers ... we have a calculator on the forums for this ... then let the hobbyist buy into a system. The economic benefit of EI has nothing to do with 3ppm nitrate a day. It has to do with dry salts.
That it is it really. If you use dry salts you can make your own <"bespoke fertiliser mixes"> (like EI was originally) and play around with nutrient ratios etc. if you so wish.

Some people will always prefer to use <"a "system" of Seachem, ADA etc nutrients"> on grounds of <"ease of use">, but once you know that every potassium ion (K+) is the <"same as every other one">, proprietary fertilisers become a <"very expensive option">.

You need all the <"essential nutrients for plant growth">, but plants don't know how much they cost, or where they came from, all they care about is <"the amount supplied">.

cheers Darrel
 
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dw1305

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Hi all,
Even ADA says look at your plants and if they turn yellow dose nitrogen. That's the extreme observation. EI says pour it in and focus on other things.

The system adapts to your inputs but if you go willy nilly and change crazy things (and here is where GH comes into the mix), you will crash.

The only way to understand what happened in this hobby is to look at the history and I'll post that soon.
That is why I suggest just <"look at the plants">, it is <"simple and it works">.

cheers Darrel
 

Happi

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So for anybody that's interested I managed to find some of these recipes, without having my hand held.
those recipes would be a good starting point, that thread is also bit old now and there is always new finding and new updates to share. we tested the Marcher Ratio starting with 0 TDS water, Marcel have done the same experiment, in that same video Vin has talked about Marcel's experiment, I believe Vin listed it as "half EI" which is also incorrect, because the formula is completely different from that. this is what Marcel have to say:

There was the following concentration of nutrients in That tank:
20 ppm CO2, 15 ppm NO3, 4.4 ppm NH4, 2.8 ppm PO4, 4.6 ppm K, 2.3 ppm Ca, 0.9 ppm Mg, 0.14 ppm Na, 12.8 ppm HCO3, 3.6 ppm SO4, 0.05 ppm Cl
(dGH = 0.54, dKH = 0.59, conductivity = 60 µS/cm)

I tested the same with the given formula and I too achieved the same good results using the exact same recipe and the chemicals, I tested it on several different plant which are hard to grow, I tried using different chemical for the same ratio and the results were different, taking out NH4 from the list and replacing with all NO3 didn't have the same results, Urea gave good results too but it was not same as when NH4 used in the recipe. during these tests I changed the ratio around, for example: changed the K from 1 ppm to 3, 5, 10 etc. and even though plant grew but some of them started to show the weird growth and some of them were stunted, made the same changes to the NO3 and same thing occurred. it was quite clear that every time I made the change to these ratio or chemicals, the plant reacted differently.

further more I did several other tests beside the Marchner ratio, the Marchner ratio test was Marcel Idea and it was based on "Marschner's Mineral Nutrition of Higher Plants" and these numbers are based on Terrestrial plant, not aquatic plant. there were time when we agreed or disagreed with each others, but we continued to explore more ideas. for me personally, even if you didn't follow the exact recipe, ratio etc. and started adding little urea/NH4 and reduce the overall NO3 in the water, you would achieve similar results if not perfect.

but what does those numbers tell us from the Marcher ratio?
K should be lower then N? Yes
do we need to add lots of Micro Nutrients? NO
do we need to add lot of Fe? NO (we never had to go over 0.1 Fe proxy using Tenso Cocktail) even at 3 ppm N weekly
do we need to have a good lights for coloration? YES
do we need to add lot of Fe to achieve the red color? NO

Tropica Follow lower K and Higher N for a reason. Tobi follow similar approach, Tobi is also using similar numbers to Marchner ratio for N, K, Ca, Mg. Tobi has very well explained the K causing issue and these issues are more related to this kinds of ratio rather than directly related to K itself. but let me tell you one thing, you will never be able to achieve the same ppm or use the same ratio in your aquarium due to water chemistry if you were using tap water. but at least you get an idea about the importance of these ratio.

under the following recipe:
#1 1000ml solution, 20 ml per 50 g

Dosed daily:
Urea (7 gram)
N 0.3450319
calcium nitrate (10 gram)
Ca 0.1793358
NO3 0.5549027
Magnesium nitrate (10 gram)
Mg 0.1001645
NO3 0.5110625

3 ppm PO4 weekly, 20-30 ppm K from GH Booster, very rich dosing of Micro/Fe with this ratio, I had very fast plant growth on many plant species, but not all plant grew well. some of them were severely stunted and some just turned black and disappeared. co2 diffused by reactor, max CO2.

#2 Tropica Plant Growth Specialized Modified Clone, used 1 to 3 ppm N weekly, used varies chemicals, switching from Non chelated to chelated, switching from N urea to N NH4 to N NO3 etc. following numbers dosed at such ratio produced great results, very fast growth, No algae. GH was less than 1-2 DGH, KH 0-0.5
N 1
P 0.074
Mg 0.3
K 0.77
S 0.68
Fe 0.0515
Mn 0.03
B 0.003
Cu 0.0044
Mo 0.0015
Zn 0.0015

#3 Marchner Ratio (starting with 0 tds water), dosed at 1-3 ppm N weekly. plant from Ammania family did even better under such condition, they did not stunt even at 3 ppm N proxy with Marchner, however they still got stunt with the recipe #2, #1 they wouldn't even survive.
N 1
P 0.133
K 0.668
Ca 0.334
Mg 0.133
S 0.066
Cl 0.0063
Fe: 0.01-0.02 (Tenso Cocktail Clone)

as I have explained earlier that most plant will continue to grow fine with any given ratio but you will experience some plant being stunted and some growing fast, some not growing at all. #2 and #3 should give you an idea about lean dosing and how I dose my tanks. if I were to dose #3 and raised the K from 0.66 to 5 ppm, I start to see Ammania twist and start to look weird. I have also seen people growing most of these plant without any issues even if they don't use the same ratio/recipe, but they all had one thing in common, they used high GH such as 5-6 DGH Ca,Mg, 0-2 KH, lower NO3, but higher Micro/Fe, take Marian Tank for example. I have seen people grow these plant with 5-6 DGH, 0-4 KH, decent Micro/Fe, K but no P or N added. they seems to keep the N quite low for some reason. but then how do you explain Ammania growing well even at 3 ppm N ? maybe because the N is in both form of Nitorgen N-NH4 and N-NO3? very likely. but at the same time once the doses were increased there was some plant damage, you can see it on the leaves. but we cannot ignore #3 and why did it produce such a great results, there is something about it, something special.

but do we have all the answers to all the questions? NO
are these above recipes or ratio going to solve all your problems? NO
Will EI going to solve all your problems? NO
is CO2 going to solve all your problems? NO

based on several experience, talking to others who conducted similar experience, gathering what people dose in there aquarium, it appear these people are dosing Lean or started switching to Lean dosing.

My thought on Lean Dosing is that lean dosing is an approach which is based on your plant needs rather than dosing excessive nutrients, if you have very little plants in your aquarium the need for daily dose should be very minimum. Lean dosing shouldn’t have any problem weather it is used under low or Under High Lights, weather its under 15 ppm CO2 or 30 ppm CO2. if you were to dose 3 ppm NO3 daily and only half of it is being used that would mean 0.34 ppm N daily, now lets say if you added 0.34 N from Urea/NH4 daily, you would have met all the plant needs while you have 0 NO3 in your water.

there is a book by Kramer that high Nitrates causes several issues, plant damage etc. this very well could be true, because most people who have great looking tanks keep very little NO3 in their water.

here's Barr tank with same plant under EI (am sure he have enough CO2)
received_844068469446074.jpeg
Screenshot_20211127-173221_Messenger.jpg


Here's Mine Under Marchner #3 (15-20 ppm Co2)
received_1003761836668628.jpeg



like I said not all problems are CO2 related and not all plant will grow equal. Barr might be growing other plants well and so are the other people, but not all people are able to grow some of these plants, either they are stunted or not growing at all.
 

John q

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Thanks @Happi for taking the time to give that detailed response, I'm familiar with the postings of Marcel, Tobi, and dare I say Sol, all interesting stuff, in its own way.

I probably need to re read this post a few times and digest it but genuinely interesting to hear your thoughts~findings... and glad we can at least discuss these ideas in a grown up, thought provoking manner.
 

medlight

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For more than a year I have been working with more variant nitrogenous sources from, Mg (NO3) 2, NH₄NO₃, CH₄N₂O, Kno3, so so far it seems to be going well, only at the beginning I had a Fuzz outbreak, which solvent reducing NH₄NO₃ , CH₄N₂O, I follow this thread I find it interesting
I currently dose nitrogen:
Mg (NO3) 2: 0%
NH₄NO₃: 70% = 1.32 NO3
CH₄N₂O: 8% = 0.15 NO3
KNO3: 22% = 0.42 NO3
 
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dw1305

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erwin123

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#3 Marchner Ratio (starting with 0 tds water), dosed at 1-3 ppm N weekly. plant from Ammania family did even better under such condition, they did not stunt even at 3 ppm N proxy with Marchner, however they still got stunt with the recipe #2, #1 they wouldn't even survive.
N 1
P 0.133
K 0.668
Ca 0.334
Mg 0.133
S 0.066
Cl 0.0063
Fe: 0.01-0.02 (Tenso Cocktail Clone)

as I have explained earlier that most plant will continue to grow fine with any given ratio but you will experience some plant being stunted and some growing fast, some not growing at all. #2 and #3 should give you an idea about lean dosing and how I dose my tanks. if I were to dose #3 and raised the K from 0.66 to 5 ppm, I start to see Ammania twist and start to look weird. I have also seen people growing most of these plant without any issues even if they don't use the same ratio/recipe, but they all had one thing in common, they used high GH such as 5-6 DGH Ca,Mg, 0-2 KH, lower NO3, but higher Micro/Fe, take Marian Tank for example. I have seen people grow these plant with 5-6 DGH, 0-4 KH, decent Micro/Fe, K but no P or N added. they seems to keep the N quite low for some reason. but then how do you explain Ammania growing well even at 3 ppm N ? maybe because the N is in both form of Nitorgen N-NH4 and N-NO3? very likely. but at the same time once the doses were increased there was some plant damage, you can see it on the leaves. but we cannot ignore #3 and why did it produce such a great results, there is something about it, something special.

Ammannias are an interesting challenge. I got a couple of Pedicatellas from another hobbyist but my tank conditions were likely to be different so the new growth started to wrinkled. But one of the stems put out a sideshoot that grew perfectly normally even if the original plant was wrinkled. But when it grew too large, and I cut and replanted, it started to wrinkle after replanting. Your formula #3 is 'food for thought', especially the very low "K".
 

JoshP12

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That thread was great Darrel. Thanks.

All the speculation around K and NO3 … isn’t it possible that K accumulates, driving growth, NO3 cost too much to convert as sole N source … plant has to convert to ammonia source - cost energy … CO2 …. Drive demand of CO2 too high … deficiency.

N ain’t gonna get deficient when compared to CO2.

CO2 can’t keep up … Toss in ammonia source or feed harder or use better substrate … cheat co2 indirectly especially with urea yielding internal co2 … co2 demand keeps up beauty growth.

At the same time - this keeps K from accumulating and staying in the constant zone which fixes water chemistry to a stable balance … plant can engineer acquisition expression to suit the situation … .

Everyone in that thread has pieces of the framework - and Tom specifically illustrates when he says probably be fine if you just use better substrate and stock heavier where the Germans say we do.

But who has better flow/distribution/localized concentration/oxygen/turnover/system design. I’m not touching that one.

But we know the answer.

We can rationalize where everyone is coming from with some thought.

I just need to put it out there: can we find a pattern between those who have more success with ammonia based fertilizer? (Hint - look at the flow mechanism!!)

Head guard and shield up.
 

JacksonL

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Since < everyone is right >, I will just answer the OP's questions.

I'm not going to get specific but on a weekly basis APT Complete vs EI is virtually the same aside from the amount of N it delivers. So right away, notice that relative to EI water column dosing targets, your system will be less resistant to inconsistent feeding and will be less demanding on CO2/flow demands.

That aside, you can expect nearly similar growth rates - but slightly less. On some species, you will have smaller leaves and shorter internodes relative to EI targets for water column dosing.

For the moment, we won't discuss GH/the differences between dosing frequency - but it will make a difference to overall stability of the tank.


People seem to expect them, but they need not assemble - as the tank matures, the higher order life will outcompete the diatoms, provided there is enough oxygen in the system to sustain it.

First, let's define lean dosing as putting minimal "stuff" in the water column. APT Zero just leans out nitrogen and phosphate further (but not K ... and that is an important observation). Establishing the latter, APT Zero is simply a leaner version of APT Complete and EI is simply a set of "rich" targets for the water column.

Benefits (relative to a richer dosing regime):
1) Slower growth (since N/P can bottleneck metabolism via leidbig) for maintenance purposes,
2) smaller leaf sizes and petite plant forms,
3) shorter internodes,
4) lower demand on CO2 making it easier for CO2 to be in excess and reducing the demand on flow perfection (i.e. the turnover of water need not be so fast since the specific plant areas don't require as much CO2 to maintain growth)
5) A potential for less water changes - but not really since you are dosing a comprehensive fert and nutrient accumulation from the non N/P contributors will cause an issue eventually. If you dose dry salts and reduce N or P on your own while accommodating your dosing regime within targets then yes you can postpone water changes within reason - but I'm not going to go on about this.

Limitations (relative to a richer dosing regime):
1) Huge reliance on consistency in feeding (any fluctuation in N from waste will skew your "CO2 setting" and cause fluctuations in metabolic demand and as such lead to unhealthy plants
2) Slower growth for farming purposes
3) Less stability
4) Heavier reliance on substrate nutrition (each species requires a unique amount of all nutrients ... the substrate tops this up via the roots as the plants needs) - if the substrate depletes (remember K is going to be driving growth rates here -- hence my original note on K being at EI levels and being an important observation -- so the N and P etc in unique amounts will be topped up from the substrate for each species).



There are 2 cases:
1) The roots have access to "substrate"
2) The roots don't have access to "substrate"

In case 1, no, they will be fine as they fall into a "rooted" category.

In case 2, yes, they will use up their stores in due time and eventually deteriorate.

Benefits: you can use epiphytes to gauge when you need to dose. How do we dose to fix them? Large water change, dose EI levels of N and P into the column (could keep lights off don't matter), force feed the plants and leaves with N and P (by going to have a drink and then coming back), 100% water change (back to back to remove any excess) and then move on with your day. This is utilizing the luxury uptake and the nutrient pathways of the plant. Get the N and P in there, the next morning, let the CO2 in excess do it's thing (recall it has been dialed in easier due to lower N demand) --> as a cushion, micro turn up JUST for the day, any sickness to fish, drop it down. You'll be good for another month.


Certainly.

Suppose you induce N fluctuations by inconsistent feeding, then yes.
Suppose you wait to long to luxury dose the tank and lower leaves start to deteriorate and cause a mess, choking the system and starving it of oxygen, yes new algaes
Suppose you drain your substrate and don't catch it, yes different algaes.

Algaes are simply a clue to the instability in the system -- the cause of algae is an imbalance in the zone of the unique nutrient acquisition portfolio of the tank at that moment in time.

Yes beautiful.

It's a new set up. If you pull up S. Repens it has a root structure like a tree. Suppose that your microbial assemblage in the substrate has not developed + the roots aren't developed? Then the rhizosphere does not have the micro organisms to facilitate nutrient acquisition as a result, S. Repens is relying exclusively on the water column until it can get it's stuff sorted out.

Now, each species has a different demand on nutrients (and the ratios of those nutrients) and the ability to acquire those nutrients (it can store them and etc but still unique) ... in my eyes it is simply redirecting resources from leaves to roots, get the root structure, let the bacteria grow, then the things are going to explode. Give it a month. Let it melt if you want. It will be fine.

As a test - pick 1 stem and every week pull it out of the dirt and notice if the roots have grown relative to the week before and the leaves (I've done it ... you will learn a lot).

Beauty tank.

And great questions.

Josh
really interesting post, thanks for taking the time!
The system adapts to your inputs but if you go willy nilly and change crazy things (and here is where GH comes into the mix), you will crash.
can you expand on how GH helps with lean dosing?
 

JoshP12

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really interesting post, thanks for taking the time!
My pleasure. Glad it was useful. Just my thoughts :).
can you expand on how GH helps with lean dosing?
Can try! GH relates to Ca and Mg. Plants need Ca and Mg so that’s one reason we need GH.

The other - which I don’t have scientific study/physiology of plants proof for - is based on common observations and then linking them into the framework I mentioned.

It seems that higher GH (within reasonable Ca and Mg relative concentrations - can safely say anything from 4:1 - 1:1 … if this is too skewed some people report issues - there is more words can be said to qualify all this but I think it’s clear what I mean) .

Ok, for example, when GH is around 5-7 instead of 1-2, people notice plants grow “nicer” and “easier to achieve same results”… better coloration and so on. It seems that it moderates the input from water column into leaf - like a bouncer.

Less N/P primarily that is force fed, the easier co2 demand is to hit - no deficiency! Ok more words can be put, but we get it :).

It’s important to note that you can get nice plants in low GH - just be aware that on the reasoning above, each N you dose or each extra you feed may have larger impact than in the case of higher GH.

Edit note: it’s probably why those very challenging plants - which just means have high metabolic rate per N/P so need more co2 - often people who grow them say they look better in higher GH. The soft water component refers to KH and in nature often linked to GH but not in our cubes — the KH increase co2 acquisition efficiency the lower it is.

Low KH more co2
Higher GH less N and P

Combo - co2 demand met easier - plant grows “easier”.
 
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JacksonL

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#3 Marchner Ratio (starting with 0 tds water), dosed at 1-3 ppm N weekly. plant from Ammania family did even better under such condition, they did not stunt even at 3 ppm N proxy with Marchner, however they still got stunt with the recipe #2, #1 they wouldn't even survive.
N 1
P 0.133
K 0.668
Ca 0.334
Mg 0.133
S 0.066
Cl 0.0063
Fe: 0.01-0.02 (Tenso Cocktail Clone)
.
thanks for such a detailed post. Are the numbers above ppm per day?
 

JacksonL

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My pleasure. Glad it was useful. Just my thoughts :).

Can try! GH relates to Ca and Mg. Plants need Ca and Mg so that’s one reason we need GH.

The other - which I don’t have scientific study/physiology of plants proof for - is based on common observations and then linking them into the framework I mentioned.

It seems that higher GH (within reasonable Ca and Mg relative concentrations - can safely say anything from 4:1 - 1:1 … if this is too skewed some people report issues - there is more words can be said to qualify all this but I think it’s clear what I mean) .

Ok, for example, when GH is around 5-7 instead of 1-2, people notice plants grow “nicer” and “easier to achieve same results”… better coloration and so on. It seems that it moderates the input from water column into leaf - like a bouncer.

Less N/P primarily that is force fed, the easier co2 demand is to hit - no deficiency! Ok more words can be put, but we get it :).

It’s important to note that you can get nice plants in low GH - just be aware that on the reasoning above, each N you dose or each extra you feed may have larger impact than in the case of higher GH.

Edit note: it’s probably why those very challenging plants - which just means have high metabolic rate per N/P so need more co2 - often people who grow them say they look better in higher GH. The soft water component refers to KH and in nature often linked to GH but not in our cubes — the KH increase co2 acquisition efficiency the lower it is.

Low KH more co2
Higher GH less N and P

Combo - co2 demand met easier - plant grows “easier”.
Great, thanks for the information
 

erwin123

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Happi,

When I looked at #3 and #2, is the main difference that #3 has double the P dose?

If you doubled the P for #2, isn't it virtually the same as #3?

I have A. Pedicatellas in my tank, some have the wrinkled leaf problem, some don't. I had a beautiful sideshoot that looked totally normal even though the 'mother' stem was wrinkled., but it got too tall and was sprouting lots of aerial roots, so I cut it and replanted, and the new leaves promptly wrinkled. Am trying to reduce my water column dosing to see if it can help the Pedicatellas.
 

Happi

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thanks for such a detailed post. Are the numbers above ppm per day?
we used N as our Proxy, it would be good to start with 0.25-0.5 N daily depending on plant mass, but 0.5 N daily is recommended for tank full of plants, I used 3 N weekly which is about 0.42 N daily.
 

Happi

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UTAH, USA
Happi,

When I looked at #3 and #2, is the main difference that #3 has double the P dose?

If you doubled the P for #2, isn't it virtually the same as #3?
nope not the same. one recipe is Tropica based and the other one is Marchner based. both recipes uses different ratio of overall nutrients, its not just N : P ratio. doubling the P might make the N : P ratio similar to each others but then overall the ratio of other nutrients are still different from each others.
 
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