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[APD] Estimative Index

This may be a stupid question, but I have to ask anyways.

I have a 29 gallon tank, on which I use the Estimative Index (Barr Method) for my nutrient dosing. The problem is this: ever since I've started using the EI, I have not been able to keep dwarf cichlids (apistos specifically) alive for very long. I have tried everything I can think of -- the water parameters should be ideal. pH 6.7, very soft water, heavily planted .... I've tried drip-acclimating them, floating bags, acclimating with the lighting off; everything I can think of.

Could the higher nitrate levels sustained by me using the EI be stressing the fish out? I had one pair that only lasted 2 days, and another single male that only lasted a week. I feed live foods (microworms and viniger eels) and my catfish and shrimp are all fine; my aspidoras and cherry shrimp both breed with consistency. Could I have gotten some bad apistos? I know the LFS keeps them in local tap water (very very very hard, pH 8.2+) and maybe going from soft water to hard water back to soft water was what did them in. I want to get this worked out, because I am very fond of apistos and rams, and would like to get some of either kind.

Does anybody have any suggestions?



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