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Switching from EI to PPS-Pro


marka83

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Hello all,

I am switching my fertilization method from EI (estimative index) to PPS-Pro. No problems, I have had excellent growth with EI dosing but want to scale back on the nutrient excess and mandatory weekly water changes to reset the nutrient load. I could tweak the EI doses, which I have to regulate nitrates, but I feel better having a standard schedule to follow.

Anyone here using PPS-Pro in a planted goldfish tank? Did you have to tweak anything to keep the nitrates at a reasonable level?

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Hello all, I am switching my fertilization method from EI (estimative index) to PPS-Pro. No problems, I have had excellent growth with EI dosing but want to scale back on the nutrient excess and mandatory weekly water changes to reset the nutrient load. I could tweak the EI doses, which I have to regulate nitrates, but I feel better having a standard schedule to follow. Anyone here using PPS-Pro in a planted goldfish tank? Did you have to tweak anything to keep the nitrates at a reasonable level?

Great question. I look forward to reading more from this discussion. :)

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I'm not dosing PPS, but I've recently cut back on nitrates too (I'm dosing EI). If I follow the standard three day a week dosing my nitrates just get too high. I could tweak the doses back, but it was just simpler for me to dose nitrates twice weekly and monopotassium phosphate the standard three times weekly. So far I have noticed a decline in nitrates, but I suspect I'll have to dose a separate potassium source to keep the sunset hygrophila happy.

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I'm dosing a modified EI because my tank is low light , no CO2. You can read about my adventure on pinned thread "Dry Fertilizers From Green Leaf Aquariums." I've not updated recently, but will soon. Anyway, you indicated you want to avoid the mandatory weekly water changes to reset nutrient load. In a goldfish tank, weekly water changes are highly recommended due to goldfish being prolific poopers. So even if you were to switch to PPS, you'd want to do those weekly water changes to maintain the best water conditions for goldfish. With the modified EI, I do 80% weekly water changes which I would be doing even if I wasn't dosing ferts.

I don't have a dirtied tank, so I'm not too sure if weekly water changes are recommended for goldfish but I think so. Those who do can chime in here.

Edited by LisaCGold
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I'm dosing a modified EI because my tank is low light , no CO2. You can read about my adventure on pinned thread "Dry Fertilizers From Green Leaf Aquariums." I've not updated recently, but will soon. Anyway, you indicated you want to avoid the mandatory weekly water changes to reset nutrient load. In a goldfish tank, weekly water changes are highly recommended due to goldfish being prolific poopers. So even if you were to switch to PPS, you'd want to do those weekly water changes to maintain the best water conditions for goldfish. With the modified EI, I do 80% weekly water changes which I would be doing even if I wasn't dosing ferts.

For some reason I missed that marka wanted to cut back on water changes.

On a goldfish tank 50% water changes are kind of irrelevant. The majority of members on the site perform, and recommend, water changes in far excess of what you would be expected dosing fertilisers. Large water changes have just become a part of goldfish husbandry. Changing dosing programs won't alleviate this conundrum in my opinion.

Edited by dan in aus
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I figured I'd be advised to continue weekly water changes. I am no expert, and I value the experience of tenured keepers. I've only tested a modified schedule once. Basically I cut my light, ferts, and co2 in half with a shorter photo period. I ran the tank for a week. Then I tested the water every other day till the end of week two, where I did a 50-60% water change. The test continued to show zero ammonia and nitrites and a stable amount of nitrates, about 10-20ppm. As I understand, water changes do a couple of things: remove toxins and remineralize water column. In a heavily planted tank, some of those toxins are being used by the plants and nitrifying bacteria or just one or the other. The fertilization method provides a constant source of macro and micro nutrients.

So are we simply suggesting large weekly water changes in a planted tank because that's the usual practice? Or are there reasons why weekly as opposed to say biweekly water changes are still necessary? Do goldfish produce more waste than a heavily planted tank and bio filter can handle?

I look forward to your responses and thank you for you input so far. These have been questions I've been wondering about for a while.

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Great questions! I've just been doing the weekly changes to get rid of toxins and my fish seem happy and healthy. Now, I don't know the specific toxins that plants can take up versus ones they can't. I hope some of our more experienced plant and goldfish owners respond soon. I look forward to their responses.

Edited by LisaCGold
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From what I read, plants take up ammonia and nitrates. Now the ammonia in a non planted tank is handled by a good stable biofilter, along with nitrites, but the nitrates are left lingering requiring water changes. In a planted tank, these nitrates are another source of food along with carbon, Potassium, and trace elements.

Also, whereas water changes in a sparsely planted or non planted tank allow for the substrate to be vacuumed, it's not possible or practical in a heavily planted tank. Poop falls to the gravel bed where some gets removed from the water through filtration and the rest disintegrates into the gravel bed. The gravel bed is turned over by my shubunkin and two siamese algae eaters who have to this point escaped my food trap to get em out lol along with a collection of mystery snails.

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What I worry about are the byproducts of goldfish poop that are not taken up by the plants and I don't have tests for (I have a lot of water tests) (I'll call these types of byproducts "nonnutrients"). Because I don't have a dirted tank, I vacuum the substrate at every water change. I assume there are nonnutrients that I'm getting rid of in my weekly water changes that would otherwise degrade the health of my goldfish. But it would be good to hear from others on this.

Edited by LisaCGold
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"Do goldfish produce more waste than a heavily planted tank and bio filter can handle? "

Yes and no. (Bear with me here, I came up with what I wanted to say in another language and now I have to try phrasing it in english LOL)

The amount of plants, the filtration and feeding practices will all play a part in how it will all be processed. And the fish, of course.

If for example, you're overfeeding, but adequately filtered and have a jungle of a tank, the plants may benefit from it and the water parameters may be more stable, even if you were to slack on water change percentages. Keep in mind this could not be a forever thing, as you're dancing on a dangerous tight wire when overfeeding and under cleaning.

If you're under planted, adequately filtered, but overfeeding, your plants will benefit from the excess waste but your fish and your bio filter will pay the price.

You'll have to find the right balance of plants, feeding, and cleaning. Some systems with different types of fish do fine with smaller water changes but Goldfish can literally eat and poop themselves to death. We are the ones who have to ensure their health and cannot leave our plants up to cleaning up their bio wastes as we could with smaller fish.

They create an immense amount of waste that would need a large amount of plants to offset the consequences that would come with doing smaller water changes.

Some plants do not agree with large water changes but keep in mind that a lot of those more "sensitive" plants will most likely end up eaten by goldfish. They can and will eat just about anything with softer leaves, which leaves us up to the task of finding plants that do well with our water chemistry, ability to fertilize, lighting and habits of our fish. :)

If you want to fertilize, you'll want to be sure it's something your fish do not react to. If you wish to not fertilize then you'll need plants that will flourish just fine with fish wastes and base your aquascaping around that, but not assume that the plants will somehow lessen your weekly responsibility to your finned friends.

This is most likely the number one reason why my tank is entirely anubias and unfertilized. One of my fish reacted poorly to flourish and flourish excel and since then I have no felt comfortable dosing anything or inserting any tabs into my substrate.

The plants can handle my weekly (and sometimes twice a week, just because) >95% water changes, bright and prolonged but under-sized light, lack of fertilizer and my fish do nothing but occasionally uproot them. The larger grain sand holds just enough nutrients to continuously provide a food source for the plants but I'm not sure if my plants do a lot for my water parameters (I stopped checking them ages ago anyway). Even with 15+ anubias, my two girls... ... poop a lot.

Sorry for rambling, I hope this somehow helps!

Edit: edited a lot oops

Edited by Chai
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"Do goldfish produce more waste than a heavily planted tank and bio filter can handle? "

Yes and no. (Bear with me here, I came up with what I wanted to say in another language and now I have to try phrasing it in english LOL)

The amount of plants, the filtration and feeding practices will all play a part in how it will all be processed. And the fish, of course.

If for example, you're overfeeding, but adequately filtered and have a jungle of a tank, the plants may benefit from it and the water parameters may be more stable, even if you were to slack on water change percentages. Keep in mind this could not be a forever thing, as you're dancing on a dangerous tight wire when overfeeding and under cleaning.

If you're under planted, adequately filtered, but overfeeding, your plants will benefit from the excess waste but your fish and your bio filter will pay the price.

You'll have to find the right balance of plants, feeding, and cleaning. Some systems with different types of fish do fine with smaller water changes but Goldfish can literally eat and poop themselves to death. We are the ones who have to ensure their health and cannot leave our plants up to cleaning up their bio wastes as we could with smaller fish.

They create an immense amount of waste that would need a large amount of plants to offset the consequences that would come with doing smaller water changes.

Some plants do not agree with large water changes but keep in mind that a lot of those more "sensitive" plants will most likely end up eaten by goldfish. They can and will eat just about anything with softer leaves, which leaves us up to the task of finding plants that do well with our water chemistry, ability to fertilize, lighting and habits of our fish. :)

If you want to fertilize, you'll want to be sure it's something your fish do not react to. If you wish to not fertilize then you'll need plants that will flourish just fine with fish wastes and base your aquascaping around that, but not assume that the plants will somehow lessen your weekly responsibility to your finned friends.

This is most likely the number one reason why my tank is entirely anubias and unfertilized. One of my fish reacted poorly to flourish and flourish excel and since then I have no felt comfortable dosing anything or inserting any tabs into my substrate.

The plants can handle my weekly (and sometimes twice a week, just because) >95% water changes, bright and prolonged but under-sized light, lack of fertilizer and my fish do nothing but occasionally uproot them. The larger grain sand holds just enough nutrients to continuously provide a food source for the plants but I'm not sure if my plants do a lot for my water parameters (I stopped checking them ages ago anyway). Even with 15+ anubias, my two girls... ... poop a lot.

Sorry for rambling, I hope this somehow helps!

Edit: edited a lot oops

The only comment I have is that the biofilter is not a fixed thing, but a dynamic and living thing, which can expand and contract based on the the availability of "food," provided that they have adequate substrate to do this.

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Would that be so in the case of extreme ammonia (if overfed to the point of registrable and even threatening levels)/nitrate overload?

I was under the impression that an overload of bio wastes would not be processed as efficiently with the beneficial bacteria or perhaps threaten it. If not, my mistake. :)

I'm aware it's more of a big community that somewhat "fluctuates" as a whole to meet the needs of the tank, but I was simply speaking if the tank were not maintained to ensure it's overall health and keep parameters/other organic wastes to "healthy" readings for the sake of having excess waste to feed plants.

Hope I phrased that as I intended... :hmm

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All this is true. The biofilter is dynamic, feeding and other factors can change the bioload, etc. Yet according to my ongoing test, a heavily planted tank, not overstocked, pressurized co2 at less than 30ppm, ferts, proper lighting, and proper filtration can maintain a healthy aquarium environment for at least two weeks. I wouldn't recommend it as a best practice, I wouldn't recommend it to a beginner, but if you are an experienced keeper with a well established tank and monitor the tank properly I think it works. If any of those factors are not optimal (overstocked, tank too small, filtration is too weak, biofilter is underdeveloped, tank is too sparsely planted) then this will probably not work. I'm basically arguing for and testing the possibility of a sustainable ecosystem that can provide a healthy environment for goldfish for at least two weeks.

And please don't confuse my test for poor maintenance. My fish are regularly feed, tank is clean, walls are scraped, plants are pruned, etc. That's probably another factor too, decaying plant matter. It's important to remove dying and damaged leaves so the decayed plants don't contribute to the organic waste already produced by goldfish.

I won't be able to do another test till for a week because I need to do a big water change before switching to pps-pro. Thanks for your thoughts so far. Very thought provoking. You all brought up some points and variables I didn't think of!

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All this is true. The biofilter is dynamic, feeding and other factors can change the bioload, etc. Yet according to my ongoing test, a heavily planted tank, not overstocked, pressurized co2 at less than 30ppm, ferts, proper lighting, and proper filtration can maintain a healthy aquarium environment for at least two weeks. I wouldn't recommend it as a best practice, I wouldn't recommend it to a beginner, but if you are an experienced keeper with a well established tank and monitor the tank properly I think it works. If any of those factors are not optimal (overstocked, tank too small, filtration is too weak, biofilter is underdeveloped, tank is too sparsely planted) then this will probably not work. I'm basically arguing for and testing the possibility of a sustainable ecosystem that can provide a healthy environment for goldfish for at least two weeks.

And please don't confuse my test for poor maintenance. My fish are regularly feed, tank is clean, walls are scraped, plants are pruned, etc. That's probably another factor too, decaying plant matter. It's important to remove dying and damaged leaves so the decayed plants don't contribute to the organic waste already produced by goldfish.

I won't be able to do another test till for a week because I need to do a big water change before switching to pps-pro. Thanks for your thoughts so far. Very thought provoking. You all brought up some points and variables I didn't think of!

Marka,

You are right that with the stocking and WC schedules we recommend, it does allow for the occasional laxness in the WC without causing damage. That's the idea. If you do at least once weekly WC of a large enough volume, then your tank isn't in danger of being harmful to the fish when the occasional emergency occurs. :)

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Would that be so in the case of extreme ammonia (if overfed to the point of registrable and even threatening levels)/nitrate overload?

I was under the impression that an overload of bio wastes would not be processed as efficiently with the beneficial bacteria or perhaps threaten it. If not, my mistake. :)

I'm aware it's more of a big community that somewhat "fluctuates" as a whole to meet the needs of the tank, but I was simply speaking if the tank were not maintained to ensure it's overall health and keep parameters/other organic wastes to "healthy" readings for the sake of having excess waste to feed plants.

Hope I phrased that as I intended... :hmm

In what hypothetical scenario would we get to this point, Cat?

The only case I can imagine is if someone dumps a whole bottle of food in the tank, and then leaving it alone...

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Would that be so in the case of extreme ammonia (if overfed to the point of registrable and even threatening levels)/nitrate overload?

I was under the impression that an overload of bio wastes would not be processed as efficiently with the beneficial bacteria or perhaps threaten it. If not, my mistake. :)

I'm aware it's more of a big community that somewhat "fluctuates" as a whole to meet the needs of the tank, but I was simply speaking if the tank were not maintained to ensure it's overall health and keep parameters/other organic wastes to "healthy" readings for the sake of having excess waste to feed plants.

Hope I phrased that as I intended... :hmm

In what hypothetical scenario would we get to this point, Cat?

The only case I can imagine is if someone dumps a whole bottle of food in the tank, and then leaving it alone...

...maybe I went a little too extreme. :cry

:cry

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All this is true. The biofilter is dynamic, feeding and other factors can change the bioload, etc. Yet according to my ongoing test, a heavily planted tank, not overstocked, pressurized co2 at less than 30ppm, ferts, proper lighting, and proper filtration can maintain a healthy aquarium environment for at least two weeks. I wouldn't recommend it as a best practice, I wouldn't recommend it to a beginner, but if you are an experienced keeper with a well established tank and monitor the tank properly I think it works. If any of those factors are not optimal (overstocked, tank too small, filtration is too weak, biofilter is underdeveloped, tank is too sparsely planted) then this will probably not work. I'm basically arguing for and testing the possibility of a sustainable ecosystem that can provide a healthy environment for goldfish for at least two weeks.

And please don't confuse my test for poor maintenance. My fish are regularly feed, tank is clean, walls are scraped, plants are pruned, etc. That's probably another factor too, decaying plant matter. It's important to remove dying and damaged leaves so the decayed plants don't contribute to the organic waste already produced by goldfish.

I won't be able to do another test till for a week because I need to do a big water change before switching to pps-pro. Thanks for your thoughts so far. Very thought provoking. You all brought up some points and variables I didn't think of!

You wrote, "I'm basically arguing for and testing the possibility of a sustainable ecosystem that can provide a healthy environment for goldfish for at least two weeks." Although I don't think I'll get to your level of expertise in heavily planted, dirted, co2 tank any time soon, it sounds like me and others will benefit from what you learn from your testing. Please keep us apprised of what you discover!

I greatly appreciate this thread, Mark. It is great that you have joined our community

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Would that be so in the case of extreme ammonia (if overfed to the point of registrable and even threatening levels)/nitrate overload?

I was under the impression that an overload of bio wastes would not be processed as efficiently with the beneficial bacteria or perhaps threaten it. If not, my mistake. :)

I'm aware it's more of a big community that somewhat "fluctuates" as a whole to meet the needs of the tank, but I was simply speaking if the tank were not maintained to ensure it's overall health and keep parameters/other organic wastes to "healthy" readings for the sake of having excess waste to feed plants.

Hope I phrased that as I intended... :hmm

In what hypothetical scenario would we get to this point, Cat?

The only case I can imagine is if someone dumps a whole bottle of food in the tank, and then leaving it alone...

...maybe I went a little too extreme. :cry

:cry

As I put fertilizers and excel into my tank, I keep asking myself, "Am I first a fish keeper or an aquatic plant keeper?" I can't definitively say one or the other all the time. It is a polarity to manage instead of a problem to solve. I have to keep this in mind so that I don't go extreme on the poles of fish keeper and aquatic plant keeper. I try to successfully navigate between these poles in order to be both a fish keeper and an aquatic plant keeper all the time.

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the PPS pro schedule honestly looks like a pain to me (too much measuring and messing with levels nutrients), which is why I do EI, but like Dan, I tend to scale back on nitrates.

IMHO, weekly water changes are best for the fish when you have an aquarium with with normal stocking. In an aquarium we are ultimately dealing with a closed system. There are lots of things that we don't/can't test for that may or may not be building up in the water over time. Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are just a piece of it. To me, weekly water changes are a simple thing that we can do for the health of our fish. :idont I personally wouldn't give up weekly water changes in a goldfish tank.

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the PPS pro schedule honestly looks like a pain to me (too much measuring and messing with levels nutrients), which is why I do EI, but like Dan, I tend to scale back on nitrates.

IMHO, weekly water changes are best for the fish when you have an aquarium with with normal stocking. In an aquarium we are ultimately dealing with a closed system. There are lots of things that we don't/can't test for that may or may not be building up in the water over time. Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are just a piece of it. To me, weekly water changes are a simple thing that we can do for the health of our fish. :idont I personally wouldn't give up weekly water changes in a goldfish tank.

Are you dosing three times a week macros and three times a week micros or have you modified it?

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the PPS pro schedule honestly looks like a pain to me (too much measuring and messing with levels nutrients), which is why I do EI, but like Dan, I tend to scale back on nitrates.

IMHO, weekly water changes are best for the fish when you have an aquarium with with normal stocking. In an aquarium we are ultimately dealing with a closed system. There are lots of things that we don't/can't test for that may or may not be building up in the water over time. Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are just a piece of it. To me, weekly water changes are a simple thing that we can do for the health of our fish. :idont I personally wouldn't give up weekly water changes in a goldfish tank.

Are you dosing three times a week macros and three times a week micros or have you modified it?

3x macros 3x micors.... my tank is high light with pressurized co2, so I follow the EI dosing schedule as it was intended, but I just dose less NO3 since (1) goldfish can be sensitive to high nitrates and (2) goldfish produce enough waste to add to the nitrate count by themselves ;)

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the PPS pro schedule honestly looks like a pain to me (too much measuring and messing with levels nutrients), which is why I do EI, but like Dan, I tend to scale back on nitrates.

IMHO, weekly water changes are best for the fish when you have an aquarium with with normal stocking. In an aquarium we are ultimately dealing with a closed system. There are lots of things that we don't/can't test for that may or may not be building up in the water over time. Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are just a piece of it. To me, weekly water changes are a simple thing that we can do for the health of our fish. :idont I personally wouldn't give up weekly water changes in a goldfish tank.

Are you dosing three times a week macros and three times a week micros or have you modified it?

3x macros 3x micors.... my tank is high light with pressurized co2, so I follow the EI dosing schedule as it was intended, but I just dose less NO3 since (1) goldfish can be sensitive to high nitrates and (2) goldfish produce enough waste to add to the nitrate count by themselves ;)

I do the same. Scaled back n03 from 1/2 teaspoon to a 1/8, with fish bioload keeps it below 20ppm.

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