Bentley Bashes Seachem!

xxBarneyxx

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Please don't think I want to argue. It may seem like I'm just disagreeing with you but I genuinely value your knowledge and experience.

I can however assure you that the fish are being impacted by excess fertilizers including CO2.
Do you have any direct sources for this because honestly it goes directly against my own observations and that of many hundreds of others that have been running this style of tank for years now?

I saw you previously posted the 3 PFK articles 2 based on studies done on marine fish with increased CO2 levels. However I do not think are not applicable in the case of high tech planted tanks.

The CO2 levels in them studies where in the hundreds of parts per million compared less than 30ppm we commonly run at. Also that was in marine fish which are a lot more sensitive to enviromental factors then freshwater fish. Even then the CO2 wasn't directly causing physical harm but was creating behavioral changes at high concentrations.

I have looked for other studies on freshwater fish at "standard" high tech CO2 levels but did not find anything.

The 3rd article about CO2 possibly causing a disease (cant remember the name of it off the top of my head) was purely speculation.

Maybe I should ask this. If you have a fish that is in a normal low tech planted tank and one in a high tech setup, they are both healthy, both spawning, behaving the same and both live for the same length of time how are you supposed to tell that there is something wrong? Also if they are both apparently living the same lives does saying one is being impacted make any sense?

In my experience if you are keeping fish in adverse conditions you will almost always have issues. They will not "look" healthy (less of colour, deformed growth, fin issues, etc), disease and illness will be common, spawning and fry growth will be effected and lifespans will be shortened. Fish are generally pretty sensitive and poor conditions will almost always come out in some way.

I have not had any of this in any of my high tech tanks (and neither have hundreds of others) so what proof is there that these fish are living in sub optimal conditions?


Edit: I appreciate answering me probably feels like trying to explain things to a particularly dense 5 year old. I absolutely understand you not wanting to get into another discussion over this topic. No worries if you just want to ignore it and we just both go on with our days :)
 
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Byron

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I have no problem at all discussing issues with those willing to listen, thank you. I shall try to respond to your questions.

I have a basic precept learned from my parents, school teachers, and university instructors. Listen to those who know, that is how we learn. There is no point in re-inventing the wheel in the off chance the existing wheel might be somehow "wrong." We would all still be sitting in front of a cave rubbing sticks together to make fire if we did not learn from those who know, and advance from that point.

Understanding fish physiology is paramount. When Neale Monks says nitrates at or higher than 20 ppm impact fish, I accept that. I do not have to experiment to prove it, because he knows the issue better than I do. When Ian Fuller says cories need sand, that is the end of the discussion; I am not going to argue fact with such people because the evidence is obvious and to refute fact is nonsensical.

Here's one study on the subject:

Maybe I should ask this. If you have a fish that is in a normal low tech planted tank and one in a high tech setup, they are both healthy, both spawning, behaving the same and both live for the same length of time how are you supposed to tell that there is something wrong? Also if they are both apparently living the same lives does saying one is being impacted make any sense?

I can know the fish in the low-tech tank will be "better" than the other--guaranteed--simply because I know how the fish's physiology operates in a very general way, and I know that each freshwater species has evolved to function at its best in a very specific environment. The further you move away from/out of that environment the more impact detrimentally it will have on the fish. "Environment" here includes the water parameters, light, current, numbers, other species, and habitat features (substrate material, wood, rock, plants). The only way to be reasonably confident that the particular fish is doing as well as can be expected is by providing these factors. When individuals like Drs. Chris Andrews, Adrian Exell, Neville Carrington, and Peter Burgess (authors of The Manual of Fish Health) state this, I accept it. This is education.

In my experience if you are keeping fish in adverse conditions you will almost always have issues. They will not "look" healthy (less of colour, deformed growth, fin issues, etc), disease and illness will be common, spawning and fry growth will be effected and lifespans will be shortened. Fish are generally pretty sensitive and poor conditions will almost always come out in some way.

True, but these symptoms will only become obvious in extreme cases. Take stress for example. This is the direct factor in roughly 90% of all disease in aquarium fish. Stress makes it more difficult for the fish to regulate the normal day-to-day physiological functions—the homeostasis—that are essential to its life. The effects of stress on fish are very complicated physiologically, and are often subtle. There may or may not be external signs discernible to us—it can continue for weeks and even months, sometimes up to the point when the fish just suddenly dies. You may be interested in my article on stress which is on Mike's blog:

Until relatively recently, little was actually known/understood about the impact of this or that upon fish, by which I mean there were few studies to prove what many believed. Take a simple example, one that has scientific evidence, the impact of the number of fish in a shoal of that species. Six is frequently cited as the minimum, but there is absolute evidence that ten will result in improved welfare: behaviours including darting, aggression, shoaling and latency to feed were found to vary with group size in a species-specific manner.


We know that fish will be killed with elevated levels of CO2. The question has been, what may occur with lower levels. CO2 is necessary to life, but it is also a killer of life. The fish have to work harder which is itself detrimental. There was an article in PFK a couple of years back about this, but I have been unable to track it down recently.

I had an issue in one of my tanks some years back, and I consulted a marine biologist online. She naturally asked dozens of questions, but when everything had been sorted out, she asked me what benefit to the fish I thought existed by adding Equilibrium. I had to admit, none. Then why add it? It was weakening the fish and this only makes it easier for other problems to occur, all unseen by the aquarist. A recent thread dealt with water conditioner, something most of us use with very good reason. But there is no point in using more than absolutely necessary. Manufacturers like Seachem (Prime) will tell us it is safe to use five times the amount needed--but it is not "safe" if by safe one means for the better well-being of the fish. The fact that they may not die immediately does not make anything "safe." Water is continually entering fish via osmosis; any substance added to the water that is able to diffuse across the cell membranes will enter the fishes' bloodstream and internal organs. All of these are "negative" to the fish, and they have impacts.
 

xxBarneyxx

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Thank you for the reply. I will try and do it justice a provide relevant counterpoints. Before I do I (hopefully) understand that your core principle is "do the bare minimum to interfere with water chemistry while maximizing the living conditions for the fish". I get where you are coming from and I do not disagree. The "low tech"planted tank method is extremely effective at both being great for water quality and fish welfare. It is also low maintenance, cheap and simple and I don't disagree that it is a great system.

However I disagree that a high tech planted tank is any different when you get right down to it. I will try and show you why I think this below by picking out what I think are probably the bits you most disagree with and comparing them to a lowtech setup.

Lighting:
This is one area where I do agree the "high tech" bright light tanks with no surface cover and neatly trimmed back plants is too bright for many fish.
However in my tanks at least I always have floating plants. I always have a lot of overhanging plant growth. There are for sure areas of my tanks that are much dimmer then most "normal" tanks will be. I sadly don't have most of my old photos but this one should give you an idea. The contrast in the photo is a bit more than in real life but that is 4 T5 high output tubes in one of the best reflector setups you could get at the time over just 12" of water depth. There is plenty of shaded areas in my opinion:
1633551533539.png


Fertilisers:
Understanding fish physiology is paramount. When Neale Monks says nitrates at or higher than 20 ppm impact fish, I accept that. I do not have to experiment to prove it, because he knows the issue better than I do. When Ian Fuller says cories need sand, that is the end of the discussion; I am not going to argue fact with such people because the evidence is obvious and to refute fact is nonsensical.
Believe it or not I don't disagree and even when using an EI dosing scheme I'm still not going against this wisdom.

EI generally works on the basis that assuming that the available light available for a plant is higher than a plant can use then it will consume 20ppm of Nitrate per week. This is a "max uptake". Adding more light wont do any more so this is the max amount of Nitrate you would have to add. That works out about 3ppm of Nitrate per day which is the max amount you need to dose. Of course not everyone is using the maximum amount of light but part of EI is also doing large weekly water changes which help remove any "leftover" nutrients.

Now every tank is different, plant mass, water sources, fish stocking, etc. Generally one of the nice things about EI is not measuring every little thing. That doesn't mean you don't measure anything at all though and you should still check the basics to at least set your baselines. If you have high nitrates in your tap water, or low plant mass or whatever then you adjust your mix and reduce your nitrates. Likewise if you have a low fish load, high plant mass and growth rate then you up the nitrates. Normally the max most people will run is 30ppm Nitrate over 3 doses (so 10ppm max dose). Thats still plenty under the 20ppm threshold.

Generally people will dose macros 3 times a week for a total of 7ppm nitrite per dose. Now considering people aren't doing EI unless they have good lighting, CO2 and a lot of plant mass this 7ppm dose is getting used up pretty damn quickly. In my tanks I generally run with an active substrate so run EI at about half dose. Generally my nitrates are undetectable 24 hours after dosing so the highest they get is about 4ppm just after I dose. Even when I have run full EI with an inert substrate it is still a max of 7ppm Nitrite at any one time and it getting rapidly zeroed back out again.

There is no real difference between low tech and high tech. The proportion amount of nutrients are the same, just in a low tech they are put in slower and taken out slower, in a high tech they are put in faster and taken out faster.

Fish Stress and effects:
The effects of stress on fish are very complicated physiologically, and are often subtle. There may or may not be external signs discernible to us—it can continue for weeks and even months, sometimes up to the point when the fish just suddenly dies.

And as we see often on here fish will generally die when they are kept in conditions that cause them stress. If a fish is living the same length of time, with the same lack of illness, showing the same behavior in both a low tech and a high tech tank then in my opinion its fairly safe to assume that to the fish both situations are the same. The above shows that the nutrients levels are no different and with careful planting the lighting wont effect them either so why is the high tech method assumed to be doing harm when at the core of it the two methods have near identical water chemistry? If anything, a high tech tank can respond better to poor water fluctuations than a low tech tank as it can much more rapidly pull nutrients from the water column.

CO2
We know that fish will be killed with elevated levels of CO2. The question has been, what may occur with lower levels. CO2 is necessary to life, but it is also a killer of life. The fish have to work harder which is itself detrimental.
This is an assumption though that is not backed up by any evidence. Yes too much CO2 is dangerous but so is too much of anything. Now I know your argument is "if you don't know what is safe then the answer is zero". However from my own observations and that of many, many other people the proper use of CO2 has no effect on fish at all. CO2 like everything added to a tank needs to be done with care and monitored. Again I don't necessarily disagree with your sentiment of "If you don't know, don't do it" but I would argue again that if a fish in 30ppm of CO2 behaviors the same and lives the same amount of time as a fish in 15ppm of CO2 and there is no evidence of any harm being done then it is fairly safe to assume that it is not a problem.

Closing
A recent thread dealt with water conditioner, something most of us use with very good reason. But there is no point in using more than absolutely necessary.
Only use what is necessary is not a bad way to do things and is the safest option. However it is not the only way and it has its disadvantages as well. One of the biggest issues I see when trying to convince people to put some damn plants in their tanks is "I tried that and they just keep dying". Low tech planted tanks, despite being "low tech", require way more thought and consideration than high tech systems. Balancing light against nutrients and finding the correct plants that work with what you got takes trial and error, as well as quite a bit of plant knowledge.

In a high tech tank pretty much everything is going to grow well (with the exception of a few plant species that actually prefer shade). My plant knowledge is pretty crappy but I don't think I have ever had any issues with any plant I chucked into a high tech system. Mostly my plant selection for a high tech system is "that looks pretty and has the right shape for this fishes needs". You can't get away with that in a low tech system, you will get a lot of dead plants and algae.

That's the next issue with planted tanks, algae. This can be a problem with either method but in my experience the speed of plant growth in a high tech setup absolutely removes any chance of algae growth (with the "maybe"exception of green dust algae). As long as the plants have no limitations put on their growth (ie, good lights, ferts and CO2) then algae is never an issue. Compared to a low tech system where you have a balancing act of getting the right plants and light to deal with the nutrients in the tank I have had way more issues with algae in low tech setups then in high tech ones. Super charged plant growth has a lot going for it.

All of these are "negative" to the fish, and they have impacts.
Except comparing the two systems there really is no difference between the two in terms of "negatives" so by this logic there is no difference in impacts as well?

Now my "knowledge" is pretty rusty. I spent a lot of time learning this 15+ years ago and since then it has passed from "book knowledge" to "I know this works". It wasn't important for me to remember details anymore as following the same steps produced consistent results, so please do poke any holes in this if needed.
 
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Found this today. From what I understand,you can get up to 1/4 the amount of Co2 from a vortex or air pump into your plant tank by using a good air pump or powerhead. 8% vortex vs 40% Co2 cylinders. I have a powerhead with the vortex running and even might get an air pump to pump air into the vortex. I did that once years ago and got a mountain stream of bubbles in a plant tank. I think they do make plants healthier. I know decades ago the LFS had those super fine mist making air stones on his salt water tanks. I wonder if they were used on plant tanks would they boost plant growth? Those super mist makers might even have been made of wood. A long time ago,I don't remember for sure.
Anyways..he takes on Seachem himself...
 
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itiwhetu

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I don't use fertilizer never have never will. But I think the video is really good if what he was reading off the bottles is accurate. Why would anybody make a product range with different dosage rates, that's just plainly absurd. On that basis alone a would never use it or recommend it.
 

itiwhetu

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I won't edit my above post, but add to it here.

So Seachem has 8 fertilizer products. How does anybody know which one or ones they need to make their plants grow. How do you ever figure out dosages and if you add more than one how do you figure out which one is being beneficial and which one is being detrimental.
 

xxBarneyxx

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Found this today. From what I understand,you can get up to 1/4 the amount of Co2 from a vortex or air pump into your plant tank by using a good air pump or powerhead.

You don't even really need to bother with anything fancy. Just a spraybar near the water surface to give good surface movement and gas exchange will do the job of equalising CO2 in the water.

In a "low tech" setup good surface movement on the water surface is pretty much all you need to take care of your CO2 requirements.

In a "high tech" setup though it is not enough.

Why would anybody make a product range with different dosage rates, that's just plainly absurd.

From a product usability point of view it's a bit rubbish.

However there is probably good reason for it. Some ferts you can make more concentrated than others and some ferts you require less of than others.

Now you could make the dosing the same across the range but that more than likely would mean diluting a lot of the products to make the dosing scheme match. Therefore the end user would actually be getting a lot less for their money. It is one of the downsides of having your ferts separated out like this is that it makes dosing more complicated.

So Seachem has 8 fertilizer products. How does anybody know which one or ones they need to make their plants grow.

So the actual video the guy is not really wrong, however he isn't really right either.

As someone that makes their own ferts and has used a bunch of different pre-made product ranges before I can see a lot of advantages to having separate bottles for different ferts.

For example a standard low tech setup. You probably only need trace ferts, which here I think is Flourish Comprehensive Supplement. For the majority of people that are just chucking some slower growing plants in their tank this will be plenty (with maybe a couple of root tabs for heavy root feeders).

Low tech setup with a very light fish load? You might need to add some nitrogen along with the trace ferts but probably not anything else.

Have a lot of red plants? May need to dose a little extra iron.

With a range like this you can mix and match to fit what your requirements are. This isn't as easy to use as saying just have 1 bottle for trace and 1 for macros but it does give you a lot more options and means not having to add things that you don't really need.

How do you ever figure out dosages and if you add more than one how do you figure out which one is being beneficial and which one is being detrimental
That's why I disagree with this guy. It doesn't look like the whole product range is designed for people that don't know how to figure out what they need.

If you don't know what you need the chances are all you need are some trace ferts. That though is the problem with "lean/low tech" setups, you can run into a problem with a lack of one specific nutrient and it then needs more advanced knowledge to work out what that is.

As to how you go about working that out the there is a bunch of ways to do it. From using test kits to get precise dosing down to going the EI route where you just make sure everything is in there. Then there is a mix of everything in between that. If you know your plants well you can sometimes tell what nutrients deficiencies (and sometimes excesses) you have based on plant growth.

Honestly if you want a "simple" dosing system ADA is absolutely the best. There is a bunch of stuff in the range that is unnecessary but their aquasoil+basic macro and trace ferts are incredibly simple and extremely effective.

Personally I find the EI philosophy of making sure everything is available the simplest but I tend to customise my dosing mixes to my water source and tank requirements. For example I like to use an active substrate like aquasoil, therefore I can follow the idea of EI but cut down how much Nitrate and Phosphate I add in because the aquasoil is providing a good chunk of that.

If by the end of the week my nitrate and phosphates are zero after doing the water change I can up the dosing a little. If they are detectable after the water change I can reduce the dosing a little. Takes a bit of time to dial it in and you have to adjust as you get more plant mass/growth but it's really not that complicated and once it's set its incredibly stable.

The other advantage to the way I do is is its super cheap. I just spent about £20 on ferts which will last me at least a year, if not more for my current tank. It would cost a LOT more doing it with any pre-bottled product.

Even if you are going low tech and only after adding some trace ferts to suppliment your water supply I would recommend getting a good dry trace mix and making your own. Works out a lot cheaper then buying it pre-bottled.
 

itiwhetu

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You don't even really need to bother with anything fancy. Just a spraybar near the water surface to give good surface movement and gas exchange will do the job of equalising CO2 in the water.

In a "low tech" setup good surface movement on the water surface is pretty much all you need to take care of your CO2 requirements.

In a "high tech" setup though it is not enough.



From a product usability point of view it's a bit rubbish.

However there is probably good reason for it. Some ferts you can make more concentrated than others and some ferts you require less of than others.

Now you could make the dosing the same across the range but that more than likely would mean diluting a lot of the products to make the dosing scheme match. Therefore the end user would actually be getting a lot less for their money. It is one of the downsides of having your ferts separated out like this is that it makes dosing more complicated.



So the actual video the guy is not really wrong, however he isn't really right either.

As someone that makes their own ferts and has used a bunch of different pre-made product ranges before I can see a lot of advantages to having separate bottles for different ferts.

For example a standard low tech setup. You probably only need trace ferts, which here I think is Flourish Comprehensive Supplement. For the majority of people that are just chucking some slower growing plants in their tank this will be plenty (with maybe a couple of root tabs for heavy root feeders).

Low tech setup with a very light fish load? You might need to add some nitrogen along with the trace ferts but probably not anything else.

Have a lot of red plants? May need to dose a little extra iron.

With a range like this you can mix and match to fit what your requirements are. This isn't as easy to use as saying just have 1 bottle for trace and 1 for macros but it does give you a lot more options and means not having to add things that you don't really need.


That's why I disagree with this guy. It doesn't look like the whole product range is designed for people that don't know how to figure out what they need.

If you don't know what you need the chances are all you need are some trace ferts. That though is the problem with "lean/low tech" setups, you can run into a problem with a lack of one specific nutrient and it then needs more advanced knowledge to work out what that is.

As to how you go about working that out the there is a bunch of ways to do it. From using test kits to get precise dosing down to going the EI route where you just make sure everything is in there. Then there is a mix of everything in between that. If you know your plants well you can sometimes tell what nutrients deficiencies (and sometimes excesses) you have based on plant growth.

Honestly if you want a "simple" dosing system ADA is absolutely the best. There is a bunch of stuff in the range that is unnecessary but their aquasoil+basic macro and trace ferts are incredibly simple and extremely effective.

Personally I find the EI philosophy of making sure everything is available the simplest but I tend to customise my dosing mixes to my water source and tank requirements. For example I like to use an active substrate like aquasoil, therefore I can follow the idea of EI but cut down how much Nitrate and Phosphate I add in because the aquasoil is providing a good chunk of that.

If by the end of the week my nitrate and phosphates are zero after doing the water change I can up the dosing a little. If they are detectable after the water change I can reduce the dosing a little. Takes a bit of time to dial it in and you have to adjust as you get more plant mass/growth but it's really not that complicated and once it's set its incredibly stable.

The other advantage to the way I do is is its super cheap. I just spent about £20 on ferts which will last me at least a year, if not more for my current tank. It would cost a LOT more doing it with any pre-bottled product.

Even if you are going low tech and only after adding some trace ferts to suppliment your water supply I would recommend getting a good dry trace mix and making your own. Works out a lot cheaper then buying it pre-bottled.
Sorry way to complicated. This is why I have a natural neutral base, don't vacuum, and allow my fish to feed the plants.
 

xxBarneyxx

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Sorry way to complicated. This is why I have a natural neutral base, don't vacuum, and allow my fish to feed the plants.
Complicated is relative, but I don't disagree with you.

What you are doing works great, until it doesn't.

If your source water is lacking trace nutrients your plants growth is going to suffer, that means they wont be taking up the macro nutrients either.

If you don't select the right plants you are also going to have a bad time. That in my opinion is the hardest part of the low tech approach and is the part that for many is "complicated".

Getting the right plants to match your lighting/Nutrient levels that will take nutrients out quickly enough without dying when the nutrients are gone can be difficult.

I don't claim to be an expert in any of this, I mostly go by my own experience and in my experience low tech planted tanks can be more of a pain to keep healthy and growing then high tech tanks.

That's not to say they are difficult or don't work either but it isn't quite as simple as it first seems. Then when something goes wrong (plants die, algae outbreaks) you need to have all that other knowledge anyway to sort it out.
 

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I would like to do a quick response on the Seachem "Flourish" line/range of several "nutrients," before I respond in detail to your post #18 @xxBarneyxx .

Seachem (and other manufacturers too) produce these products because so-called plant experts say they are needed, and when the consumer has money to spend on what they have read is "needed" for a planted tank, manufacturers will provide them. What gets missed and is not understood by the majority of consumers who are being led down this garden path is that the situation between low-tech (natural) and high-tech is very different. But even more importantly, aquatic plants have need for 17 nutrients but some of these are needed in a very specific proportion to each other. Adding too much of "x" can be as detrimental to the plants as not having enough of "x," depending upon what nutrient "x" represents. There are certain nutrients which, if they are being over-dosed, can cause plants to shut down assimilation of certain other nutrients.

Nutrients compete for plant uptake so that a large excess of one may diminish the uptake of another. Excessive manganese, zinc or copper can induce iron deficiency in the plants, not because iron is not sufficient but because the other excess nutrients are causing the plant to cease assimilation of iron. Excess iron is known to reduce tissue manganese levels. Calcium and heavy metals compete for cellular uptake, so that the water hardness can affect metal toxicity and micronutrient availability. Anyone who wants the scientific study references will find them in Diana Walstad's book.

This is why Flourish Comprehensive Supplement and FlorinMulti are so good--they have the nutrients in proportions determined by botanists. Now, the macros are minimal so obviously not part of this, but it is the micros that seem to be the actual issue anyway.

A few members on this forum are frequently advocating more iron as the cure-all to plant problems. This is not necessary and it is not safe. I experimented with iron over two years in one tank, and twice I killed the floating plants by adding iron in addition to the iron already present--and in proportion to other nutrients--in the Flourish Comprehensive. Iron also increased black beard algae so there is a second reason not to use it outside of a balanced comprehensive supplement. And yet again, this applies to low-tech and natural method tanks, not high-tech which has a very different proportional issue.
 

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This is my response to post #18 by @xxBarneyxx , topic by topic.

Lighting. I agree. I would point out that the vast majority of high-tech planted tanks do not use floating plants, at least not from what I have seen or read especially when I was active on some of the plant forums like Tom Barr's and Rhonda Wilson's (at the time she wrote a monthly column for TFH) several years ago. They argued the floating plants deprived the lower plants of light. Understood. But the fish do not understand this. Amano's "Nature Aquariums" are works of art, but no fish should ever be subjected to life in one of them. Anyway, I agree this issue is much less of an issue in your tank in the photo, though it still remains a possible issue even there.

Fertilizers. There is no point in dumping in more of anything than what you need to do the job. The fact that significant water changes are "necessary" to remove excess proves my point, this is absolutely not good for the fish. When I was discussing this with Tom, he said that his planted tanks had very few or some no fish.

This aspect, "There is no real difference between low tech and high tech. The proportion amount of nutrients are the same, just in a low tech they are put in slower and taken out slower, in a high tech they are put in faster and taken out faster" I do not accept. It only takes a few seconds for "x" to get inside the fish. And I also cannot agree with a high-tech being more stable than a low-tech, nothing could be more unfactual. For more than a decade when I was testing, each of my tanks have been consistent with respect to GH, KH, pH, and nitrate. These numbers have never varied throughout the years.

CO2. Diffused CO2 is dangerous, I wish I could find that article that referenced then-recent studies. But I know the issue that the increase in CO2 during the night in my tanks causes, there is no way this is not impacting the fish.

Stress. Fish do not always die from stress, there is more than ample proof of this. Stress weakens them, but they can manage for months, even years, depending upon the specifics. B ut that is no reason to subject them to it when it is not necessary.
 

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This aspect, "There is no real difference between low tech and high tech. The proportion amount of nutrients are the same, just in a low tech they are put in slower and taken out slower, in a high tech they are put in faster and taken out faster" I do not accept. It only takes a few seconds for "x" to get inside the fish.
When Neale Monks says nitrates at or higher than 20 ppm impact fish, I accept that.
So with EI at the most you are adding 10ppm of Nitrate 3 days a week. More realistically very few people are running at that level so somewhere between 3-7ppm Nitrate 3 times a week. You have said yourself the experts say 20ppm or lower is acceptable so it's not like it is going anywhere near these limits.
The fact that significant water changes are "necessary" to remove excess proves my point, this is absolutely not good for the fish.
It's not so much to remove excess nutrients but to reset everything to a base level. As you have mentioned previously plants used nutrients in specific ratios. You have no way of knowing exactly what is and isn't being used. A 50% water change gets everything back to a pretty nice and even and "known" base level. Nitrate and Phosphate when dosed correctly are in no way "building up", they are getting used up way before that could happen.

And I also cannot agree with a high-tech being more stable than a low-tech, nothing could be more unfactual. For more than a decade when I was testing, each of my tanks have been consistent with respect to GH, KH, pH, and nitrate. These numbers have never varied throughout the years.
Sorry that is maybe a poor choice of words on my part. Lets see if I can explain better.

In a low tech tank, if something goes wrong, i.e an unexpected nitrite increase. It takes a lot longer for the plants to process that.
In a high tech tank if the same thing happens because of the faster plant growth and uptake in nutrients the problem is dealt with a lot quicker.

I didn't mean to imply that it was inherently unstable.
But I know the issue that the increase in CO2 during the night in my tanks causes, there is no way this is not impacting the fish.
Would be interested to hear what issues you have with increased CO2 overnight.
 
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Byron

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So with EI at the most you are adding 10ppm of Nitrate 3 days a week. More realistically very few people are running at that level so somewhere between 3-7ppm Nitrate 3 times a week. You have said yourself the experts say 20ppm or lower is acceptable so it's not like it is going anywhere near these limits.

This misses the point. Ideally nitrate for all the fish we keep should be zero or as close to zero as possible. Nitrates above 1 or 2 ppm do not occur in almost any tropical habitat. I worry sort of about using Flourish Comp because it has nitrate, but it is certainly much less that what anyone adds with EI. My tanks have for years measured in the 0-5ppm range, which for all I know may be 0 rather than higher.

It's not so much to remove excess nutrients but to reset everything to a base level.

I don't know what else one could call it...this is removing the excess to a base level. EI adds more nutrients than the plants need, that is the purpose. That is how Tom Barr explained it to me anyway, when we were discussing water changes.

In a low tech tank, if something goes wrong, i.e an unexpected nitrite increase. It takes a lot longer for the plants to process that.
In a high tech tank if the same thing happens because of the faster plant growth and uptake in nutrients the problem is dealt with a lot quicker.

I don't know why nitrite would suddenly increase, I have never had nitrate above zero in 30 years. But for the sake of the discussion, let's assume it does. Plants are not going to be able to take this up for probably 24 hours, regardless of the system (low or high tech). They need to change the nitrite back into ammonium, then they can use it. They do this with nitrate too, as they cannot use nitrate. It takes them roughly 24 hours to "switch gears," and they resist doing this because of the extra energy loss it involves. I'm not even sure they would do this in a high-tech system as there would be an abundance of nitrate and they have already switched gears for this; using nitrite would not likely be any advantage. Tis may well hold for low-tech too, depending upon the ammonia/ammonium level.

Would be interested to hear what issues you have with increased CO2 overnight.

In my tanks, CO2 is produced primarily from the breakdown of organics in the substrate, plus the CO2 from respiration of fish, plants and some bacteria species. During the day of course, meaning when the tank lighting is of sufficient intensity to drive photosynthesis, this CO2 is used up fairly quickly. In my tanks it seems to be depleted after about seven hours; it is still being produced obviously, but not fast enough to match the ammonium (nitrogen) and other nutrients. CO2 is the limiting factor in my tanks, and as I don't intend to ever add it, I worked out the balance to prevent algae, and seven hours does it.

Once the tank light is off, the photosynthesis ceases, so CO2 is no longer being taken up by the plants, but it continues to build up. I had never really thought of this as an issue, until one morning when I happened to be in the fish room just after the tank lights came on, and I noticed all the Corydoras in the 70g were respirating much too fast. It hit me that there was likely an oxygen shortage in the water, so I adjusted the filter return to provide increased surface disturbance. Problem solved; the CO2 is now being partially driven out. Doesn't seem to have affected the plants, but a few years ago there was the thinking that the gas exchange was not as detrimental as some have assumed, provided it is not excessive.
 

Myraan

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I don't know why nitrite would suddenly increase, I have never had nitrate above zero in 30 years. But for the sake of the discussion, let's assume it does. Plants are not going to be able to take this up for probably 24 hours, regardless of the system (low or high tech). They need to change the nitrite back into ammonium, then they can use it. They do this with nitrate too, as they cannot use nitrate. It takes them roughly 24 hours to "switch gears," and they resist doing this because of the extra energy loss it involves. I'm not even sure they would do this in a high-tech system as there would be an abundance of nitrate and they have already switched gears for this; using nitrite would not likely be any advantage. Tis may well hold for low-tech too, depending upon the ammonia/ammonium level.
Interesting

I suppose that's why a fast day works so good for water quality.
 

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