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Aquarium Plants

The Evidence

This article addresses using the Estimative Index Method in the new planted aquarium and how to achieve success with it.

Matt Helgeson's Tank
Matt Helgeson's five month aquarium pictured above and achieved by using our setup advice

Estimative Index Method of Fertilizing Aquarium Plants

I have been in contact recently with one of the moderators of the forum, seeking his advice and counsel on various aspects of aquarium plant husbandry, fertilizing techniques and care. He wrote the article Dosing with Dry Salts(dry fertilizer powders), made famous by Mr. Tom Barr. His advice to me was to up the fertilizer dosing amounts, use back to front, circular water flow, lengthwise(using canister spray bar and hydor koralias (10 times the size of the aquarium for the flow rate)), fluff the plants to remove any buildup of organic matter (brown dust) produced by the CO2 interaction, remove any leaf debris immediately upon discovery, up the CO2 as high as I could (30 -40 parts per million), and of course do the fifty percent water change weekly.


Well folks, it works! I have not seen such vibrant, healthy plants using any other method! Now I am stubborn to a point, he and others say only eight to nine hours is needed of lighting, and to go with lower (2-2.5 watts per gallon) rather than higher light (3 + watts per gallon). In his defense I will say he is advising beginners to lower light levels and states that. He stated to me that he uses higher light levels and doses three times the amount of the estimative index! I am running 192 watts (No reflectors, but gull wing white finish), over an eighteen inch high aquarium, three inches of substrate, so fifteen inches from top of the aquarium to the substrate, bulbs actually sit 2-3 inches above the top of the aquarium. I am running the lights 12 hours! I am hitting with fairly heavy doses of CSM + B daily, (needed because without it plants (heavy planting) were not looking colorful enough, liberal with Nitrates and phosphates, not really even measuring doses much, but making sure that nothing was lacking.

Plant and Fish Selection

Plants in the aquarium include Ludwigia Cuba, Nesea Golden, Pogostemon Helferi, Echinodorus Bolivianus, Echinodorus Quadricostatus, Elatine Triandra, Hygrophila pinnatifida, Lindernia Rotundifolia Variegated, Glossostigma, Pogostemon Erectus, Ericaulon Setacum, Pogostemon Stellata, Staurogyne repens, and a few others. Fish are Galaxy Danios!

The Bottom Line

So what is the bottom line? Use the EI (Estimative Index method) Method (UKAPS Article, Click Here), or no need for test kits, do the above things mentioned(lighting levels sufficient for good growth would be T-5 fixture, bulbs times two, or three bulbs if it is a higher aquarium), and you too can have beautiful living art in your home, an underwater garden, living colors with beautiful tropical fish swimming through them, "emerald shimmering" in an otherwise sedate room in your home! Contact me for help on fertilizing ingredient purchase, or dosing if need be. You can reach me at FERTILIZER INFORMATION

Aquatic Scapes
P.O. Box 1115
Faribault, MN 55021
Telephone: 507-331-5801
Fax: 507-384-3146

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