• You are viewing the forum as a Guest, please login (you can use your Facebook, Twitter, Google or Microsoft account to login) or register using this link: Log in or Sign Up
  • You can now follow UKAPS on Instagram.

Low Tech Fertiliser Dosing. Whats your technique?

si walker

Member
Joined
30 Mar 2020
Messages
217
Location
uk
I get the feeling that us so called Low Techers beat to the sound of a different drum when it comes to dosing ferts.
Recently I have had a conversation with another group member about exactly this and I was really interested in what everyones approach was.
Personally I am loading my tank with ferts and not really sure if its necessary, being low tech and low light.
This leads me to doing weekly maintenance like its a high energy tank. I'm thinking of adopting a new approach and will keep you posted on how it goes.
Looking forward to hearing your ideas.
Cheers.
Simon
 

Keys_Tanks

Member
Joined
25 Nov 2020
Messages
37
Location
Sheffield
Hey!

The key for this is floating plants as an indicator. I use tropica specialised for my 30lt low tech. 3 pumps per week sometimes 4 with medium lighting at most.

When I first setup my tank I used floaters to gauge If was dosing enough. They indicate lack in nutrition very quick as they have access to co2. Once I found out how my low tech operates then I removed the floaters and had great success don’t get me wrong the odd bit of stag horn came but that got dialled out pretty easily due to having my lights just abit too bright cause originally I had floaters blocking abit of light out .

Hope this helps

Josh
 

Zeus.

Fertz Calc Meister
Joined
1 Oct 2016
Messages
4,593
Location
Yorkshire,UK
Well @dw1305 adds ferts when his duckweed isn't so green, Via his duckweed index and does a WC when his TDS goes above a certain level, he calls it 'a low carbon foot print approach' or was it 'lazy approach' - I think its a 'smart approach' ;)
 
Joined
12 Mar 2022
Messages
172
Location
England
Hi there,
I suppose it depends on the type of plants & how many.
If you're stuffed side to side, front to back & up to the waterline I imagine the plants' access to fertiliser will be more crucial & fert quantities will be greater than a tank of wafting stems with chunks of bogwood covered in moss.
Like @Keys_Tanks I use floaters to gauge whether I'm dosing sufficiently. I use premixed fertiliser but try to add macros & micros as I don't have many fish.
 

si walker

Member
Thread starter
Joined
30 Mar 2020
Messages
217
Location
uk
I suppose it depends on the type of plants & how many.
Really good point. As you say the amount of fish you have comes into play.
I did try floating plants but I have a lid and they rot due to the constant drips of water.

Do you guys tend to also do less water changes than high energy tanks?
 

ElleDee

Member
Joined
12 Mar 2022
Messages
84
Location
Southeastern US
I have tanks that are fairly heavily stocked, very soft tap water, an active substrate, and a very high plant mass with both fast and slow growers. I dose K, Ca, Mg, and micros, but not N nor P.

I used to have floating salvinia, but I found that once my tank matured they weren't contributing anything to the tank anymore. They were just taking light and nutrients away from the plants below, and throwing the extra away was a chore. Also, as my water column got leaner they weren't happy about it. They were useful in the setup period, but I am glad to not have to deal with them anymore.

I do a 50% weekly WC on my main tank and 25% on my shrimp tank. I enjoy tank maintenance though, so I am not trying to minimize it.
 
Joined
12 Mar 2022
Messages
172
Location
England
Both my tanks have covers, I don't have any issues with condensation but the covers are shaped so the condensation runs away without dripping.
I have a 57l and a 25l, water changes are one 8l bucket for the big tank & half a bucket for the small one every four days!
That's about 30% a week overall. Like @ElleDee I enjoy the maintenance as it's not too onerous.
 

KirstyF

Member
Joined
25 Jul 2021
Messages
468
Location
Kidderminster
I ran low techs, low light, before I even knew EI existed and things seemed to work pretty well with an All in One as directed on the bottle tbf! A little more now and then when things needed a boost, a little less when I forgot! Like people say, that actual amount will depend on plant choices and fish loads etc.

Always still did a weekly water change, though at about 25%, and barely knew algae existed. Trimming and titivating was certainly a less frequent occupation.

I’ve also always had lidded tanks and never suffered much from losing floaters. If you are able to crack the glass lids open just a smidge, the extra circulation can really cut down on dripping (beware jumpy fish and acrobatic Amano’s, a little bit of mesh can help with that, I’ve discovered!)

If ur dead set against floaters and want to dose ‘as needed’ rather than a set amount, I wonder if anyone could suggest a good submerged ‘canary plant’ to incorporate? (If there is such a thing) It’s always good to have something that will shout at you before things go too far south!
 

Djoko Sauza

Member
Joined
23 Jul 2017
Messages
253
Location
SE London
Well @dw1305 adds ferts when his duckweed isn't so green,
Yes, I encourage all low tech folks to give the Duckweed Index a try, all you need is some floaters and complete fertilizer. Add in a cheap TDS meter and you have pretty much all the information you need about your plants needs.
It is like the opposite of EI, genius nonetheless.

and does a WC when his TDS goes above a certain level
I'm pretty sure @dw1305 does 10% daily water changes with mostly rain water, adding tap water to reach a certain conductivity value he found his plants grew at. Apparently he found his fish were healthier when they had more water changes. Correct me if I'm wrong ;)

Whichever way, I agree it is a smart approach!
 

MichaelJ

Member
Joined
9 Feb 2021
Messages
1,690
Location
Minnesota, USA
Well @dw1305 adds ferts when his duckweed isn't so green, Via his duckweed index and does a WC when his TDS goes above a certain level, he calls it 'a low carbon foot print approach' or was it 'lazy approach' - I think its a 'smart approach' ;)
Very smart indeed - and he doesn't use very much (citation needed)... and its very, very livestock friendly!... super low conductivity with rain water... dare I call it lean - without the drama :lol:
I am more or less using my "duckweed" (actually Frogbit, Pennyworth and Duckweed) to gauge the plant health in one of my tanks., but I keep the dosing fairly consistent and relatively high for a low-tech in that tank. The only minor concern, is that the approach is somewhat reactive - i.e. the "damage" is somewhat already done when you start to see deficiency issues and it can be notoriously hard to identify what nutrient is actually missing. But yes, it works!

Cheers,
Michael
 
Last edited:

dw1305

Expert
UKAPS Team
Joined
7 Apr 2008
Messages
13,873
Location
nr Bath
Hi all,
I'm pretty sure @dw1305 does 10% daily water changes with mostly rain water, adding tap water to reach a certain conductivity value he found his plants grew at. Apparently he found his fish were healthier when they had more water changes. Correct me if I'm wrong ;)
Exactly that, I found a <"goldilocks zone"> where I had healthy fish and some plant growth. In some ways it is the path of least resistance, but <"I've scaled my peak">, it is just a pretty low altitude one.
The only minor concern, is that the approach is somewhat reactive - i.e. the "damage" is somewhat already done when you start to see deficiency issues and it can be notoriously hard to identify what nutrient is actually missing.
I'd agree that is a limitation, and also one that affects Amazon Frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum) more than Lesser Duckweed (Lemna minor).

By the time you see a visible deficiency of an immobile nutrient (one that effects new leaves), it is a while before the plant grows new healthy leaves, even when that nutrient becomes non-limiting. I'm actually using a <"hybrid duckweed index"> at the moment, where I add iron (Fe) and magnesium (Mg) on a regular basis.

The advantage that Lemna minor has, is that it has a very quick turn over of fronds, so new green leaves appear within a day or two. With Limnobium laevigatum it <"takes longer for new healthy leaves to grow">.

cheers Darrel
 
Last edited:

MichaelJ

Member
Joined
9 Feb 2021
Messages
1,690
Location
Minnesota, USA
Hi all,

Exactly that, I found a <"goldilocks zone"> where I had healthy fish and some plant growth. In some ways it is the path of least resistance, but <"I've scaled my peak">, it is just a pretty low altitude one.

I'd agree that is a limitation, and also one that affects Amazon Frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum) more than Lesser Duckweed (Lemna minor).

By the time you see a visible deficiency of an immobile nutrient (one that effects new leaves), it is a while before the plant grows new healthy leaves, even when that nutrient becomes non-limiting. I'm actually using a <"hybrid duckweed index"> at the moment, where I add iron (Fe) and magnesium (Mg) on a regular basis.

The advantage that Lemna minor has, is that it has a very quick turn over of fronds, so new green leaves appear within a day or two. With Limnobium laevigatum it <"takes longer for new healthy leaves to grow">.

cheers Darrel
Hi Darrel, I might not be the only one being curious about what you are dosing so I thought I would ask. Do you target any specific ppm's with your fertilizers? what's your technique? :)

Cheers,
Michael
 
Last edited:

tam

Member
Joined
5 May 2011
Messages
1,236
I think rotala could work as a rough under water indicator in low tech, if you look at a long stem you can see the leaf size and stem change when ferts have got a bit lean and then recovered again. I haven't paid attention to how rapid the reaction is though.
 

Tim Harrison

Administrator
UKAPS Team
Joined
5 Nov 2011
Messages
8,978
Location
UK
Darrel’s Duck Weed Index

Or take a look at this
 

dw1305

Expert
UKAPS Team
Joined
7 Apr 2008
Messages
13,873
Location
nr Bath
Hi all,
I might not be the only one being curious about what you are dosing so I thought I would ask. Do you target any specific ppm's with your fertilizers? what's your technique?
I don't target any particular nutrient levels, but now we have <"some analytical kit that will simplify the whole process"> of nutrient testing I will run some tank water samples through the AES when / if I have time.

At the moment my fertiliser regime is <"pretty ad hoc."> for both magnesium (Mg) and iron (Fe), and consists of a small slosh of <"very pale blue Miracle-Gro"> (when I think the tank needs it, based on the <"Duckweed Index">) for everything else.

When I run out of "Miracle Gro" I've bought a kilo of <"Solufeed 2 : 1 : 4 mix">. When I start with the <"Solufeed"> I'll work out what gives me 10 ppm nitrogen (N) (and ~44.3 ppm NO3 equivalent) and dilute that <"in a milk carton (6 pints of water)"> to see how blue that looks. Then I just need to ensure that the water I add to the tank is always less blue than my trial run.

Also I haven't tested conductivity recently, I've just observed <"the snail shells">.

cheers Darrel
 

dw1305

Expert
UKAPS Team
Joined
7 Apr 2008
Messages
13,873
Location
nr Bath
Hi all,
When I run out of "Miracle Gro" I've bought a kilo of <"Solufeed 2 : 1 : 4 mix">. When I start with the <"Solufeed"> I'll work out what gives me 10 ppm nitrogen (N) (and ~44.3 ppm NO3 equivalent) and dilute that <"in a milk carton (6 pints of water)"> to see how blue that looks. Then I just need to ensure that the water I add to the tank is always less blue than my trial run.
I should probably put in the calculation for that.
  • The tank is a nominal 70 litres and
  • I want 10 ppm N
  • Solufeed 2 : 1 : 4 is 15% nitrogen (N).
  • There are 1000 mg in a gram, so 1 gram of Solufeed contains 0.15g or 150 mg N, "mg / L" and "ppm" are equivalents.
  • 150 / 70 = 2.14 ppm N in 70 litres
  • 10 / 2.14 = 4.667. I need to add 4.67g Solufeed 2 : 1: 4 to give 10 ppm N in 70 litres of water, and then to check
  • Check = 4.667 * 150 = 700, 700 mg is the total mg N added and 700 / 70 = 10 mg / L (ppm).
cheers Darrel
 
Last edited:

dw1305

Expert
UKAPS Team
Joined
7 Apr 2008
Messages
13,873
Location
nr Bath
Hi all,
I believe Darrel uses the 'pinch or dip' technique with dry salts using complex mammalian opposable digits - not a gram scale in sight!
Speak away, I do, and <"it really isn't good enough">, but in my defence I'm used to working with chemicals, so I have a fairly good idea of what 10g of a salt looks like and of which salts are denser. If I'm not sure? I will get the scales out.
I think rotala could work as a rough under water indicator in low tech,
It was a floating plant, just because it took CO2 out of the equation. There has been a suggestion, on this forum, that all plant growth issues are CO2 related. Purely in terms of the mineral nutrition? Any green fast growing plant will do.

cheers Darrel
 
Top