In Part II of this three-part series, we discussed EI dosing but now we move on to our favorite dosing system for aquarium plant fertilizers: Neo-EI
With Neo-EI aquarium products, you are provided with pre-mixed concentrated liquid fertilizers which are not combined into a single solution (i.e. they are not combined into an All-In-One solution). Your macro-nutrients are provided in three separate bottles: Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. Your micro-nutrients are provided in a single bottle of liquid solution. Often aquarists will also keep a fifth bottle of solution, an iron additive which is added only when required (overdosing iron is a bad idea and causes leaf deformation).
This is our favorite fertilizing method for aquarium plant-keeping for several good reasons. First of them is that there is no measuring and mixing of dry powders every time you want to dose your aquarium, which in most EI systems is 6 times a week! This means that three times a week you must measure out dry powders for your Macronutrient dosing, and another three times a week you must measure out and dose your Micronutrients. That’s a lot of measuring powders and plenty of opportunity to get your mixes wrong!
With Neo-EI dosing, all of that is already done for you in a lab-controlled environment so all you must do is dose your solutions. You can even combine your three macronutrients first and then dose them into your aquarium if you like. Often Micronutrients are not dosed on the same day that you dose Macronutrients, so combining your Macros and Micros together just prior to dosing is not recommended.
Another reason we love Neo-EI dosing is that it prevents hobbyists from dosing dry powders directly into their fish tanks – never a good idea! When dry powders are dumped into aquariums, hot spots occur, and this leads to burned plants and can even kill some more sensitive species.
Worrying about obtaining shady powders from unscrupulous sources on the internet is also a thing of the past with quality Neo-EI products. More and more fertilizer powders are discovered to not be pure, or to be composed of undisclosed substances that you don’t want in your aquarium. This is especially true of EI powders available online.
No matter which aquarium plant fertilizer system you ultimately settle on, it is best to make sure you can commit to it. All-In-One fertilizers are simple to use, but that is the only advantage they have. They are often responsible for overdosing your aquarium and causing huge outbreaks of algae. The EI method is very precise, and you can dial in your numbers very well by using it, but it is also very cumbersome, and you must always worry about the quality of the dry powders you are getting off of the internet. With the Neo-EI method, it is both easy to dose and extremely precise, so it borrows the best of both worlds from its two cousins.