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[APD] How to find your tank's individual needs using EI

It's been awhile since I suggested for folks to try **less** using EI, since generally most issues are caused by limitations.
In the past many of us were very conservative, adding just enough as so not to induce algae or see plant deficicenies. The prevailing thought at the time was that excess nutrients caused algae. We know this not to be true today. I've explored the upper ranges, often to far beyond any practical level folks may experience even if you really mess it up.
While many wish to simply keep a tank and have nice plants, others seek to learn more.
Others feel that EI is a shot gun approach, rather, seeking to add the needs of their individual tanks. 
Well, here's a simple way to do this with EI(estimative index) to tailor it to each individual unique planted tank.
The utility is that you don't need a test kit.
You can confirm with a calibrated test kit if you wish, but it's not needed to do all sorts of testing with nutrients.
With EI, I assumed that the dosing amount was the maximum amount of niutrients/CO2 and light folks might ever aded to a planted tank.
So this would target everyone's tank well, but some feel it's a bit wasteful, simply want to experiement, want to see if these deficencies are true or algae can be induced etc.
I think it's a good learning process for many and helpful in helping other new folks.
Many enjoyed stunting their plants trying to get the red color induced:-) But folks can see the differences at semi limiting levels and know what nutrients they need to add by simply looking at the plants. Some might prefer this 1/2 starved look and want to know what their nutrient dose needs to be to achieve that.
Some folks like   
Okay, recall the advice given for the dosing traces like Flourish?
We add 5mls say per 80 liters of tank 3x a week.
This is a maximum rate or a good startring point for any tank.
>From here you go step wise downward in the dosing volume.
You do this in 3 week minimum time blocks. Traces are the most difficult to assess, so give it the most time.
KNO3, KH2PO4, GH, CO2 qare much more dramatic and you'll see the effects sooner, but take the experiment out to 3 week anyway.
So Test 1: 5mls 3x a week for 3 week.
Note plant health
Test 2: 4mls 3x a week
Note plant health
Test 3: 3mls 3x a week
Note plant health
Test 4: 2mls 3x a week'
Note plant health
Test 5: 1ml 3x a week
Note plant health
You keep doing the dilutions till you see a negative plant response.
Once you see that, add the previous higher amount of dosing and that will be your minimal amount needed without seeing a deficiency.
All the other nutrients must be in excess in order for this to work!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Do only one nutrient at a time(or light or CO2 if you wish also) as the variable.
You can use dry powder like the mls, use less and less.
The main thing is to be consistent with whatever dosing amount you use.
This will actually be more consistent than any test kit!!
We have to draw the ppm ranges from the test kits to assume what the plants need.
So that's another step.
EI gets around that extra step and it's associated errors which are many and ppm ranges do not always correlated well with plant health. Something I've maintained for quite some time.
Test kits are for confirmation of the observations and neeed calibrated mto be sure they are accurate, even then, organic fractions and complexation can cause plant availability issues.
Trace elements are perhaps the best example of this. Few even bother testing for Fe.
Now the routine can be done for any parameter easily.
Within roughly 12-15 weeks you can figure out most of the nutrients for any tank.
Doesn't matter what the fish load is.
Doesn't matter if you use test kits or not.
Tailor's the needs to suit each individual tank's unique requirements.
Teaches you what each deficiency looks like and when  and what you need to add more of.
But no one needs to do this process to have a nice tank, but you also can know and learn alot from this very simple process.
If you are adding the minimal amounts, you likely can go longer without a water change since you don't need to reset the excess ranges, even if they are insanely high before any negative response occurs.
Other examples of test:
Vary the frequency(but not the total volume for the week) of dosing from every 12 hours, 24, 48, 72, 96, weekly etc.
This will tell you how long these nutrients will remain in the system in bioavailable form.
I've done this in the past before going back to school, I know what I needeed to know have forgotton some of this, but some folks might find this useful.
We did this in the past for PO4, Fe, NO3 etc.
It ain't nothing new certainly, but for many newer folks, it sure is new.
You can see on the past postings here what was done. 
Try it and you'll know and it does not require you to hurt the tank much or induce algae.
Main thing is to do this slowly and consistently. Don't get brash.
Make sure the other nutrients are non limiting during the testing peroid(easy to do with EI).
Tom Barr

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