Iron (Fe) is effective for intensifying the red color in red aquatic plants and the leaf color of the Echinodorus family of plants. ECA contains concentrated iron in a form that is very easy to absorb for the aquatic plants and the continued use of ECA prevents bleaching (a phenomenon that occurs during some trace element deficiencies in aquatic plants). Because iron very quickly dissolves in aquarium water, it isn’t effective as an aquatic plant fertilizer in large doses. This is why adding just a few drops of ECA at a time helps greatly improve overall aquatic plant health.
There are three scenarios where the dosing of ECA is beneficial for your aquarium.
1. Regular Dosage: when dosing regularly to avoid losing color in young aquatic plant sprouts, and to stimulate bacteria, once a week add 2 drops of ECA per 1.3 gallons (5l) of aquarium water (for example, 24 drops for a 60l (16 gallon) aquarium like Cube Garden 60-P. Here’s a few easy dosages: 8 drops for 5 gallon aquarium, 15 drops for 10 gallon aquarium, 31 drops for 20 gallon aquarium. An easy formula for your calculator is aquarium gallons / 1.3 * 2.
To evenly distribute ECA within the aquarium, drop ECA where the water is flowing out of the filter. ECA is heavy and tends to sink to the bottom of the aquarium, so using the water’s natural flow from the canister filter allows an even distribution across the tank.
2. Treating color loss or leaf whitening: If new buds or shoots of eleocharis (hair grass) or echinodorus species, or the loss of red in stem plants occurs, add 2 drops of ECA per 5 lit (1.3 gallons) of aquarium water everyday. When the color of the new buds is normal, return to normal dosage weekly.
3. When used with other additives or aquatic plant fertilizers: iron, manganese and other trace elements are required to maintain health in your aquatic plants. ECA is rich in iron, one of the elements in the highest demand for aquatic plants, but it does not provide all of the trace elements necessary. Therefore, using ECA with other aquatic plant fertilizers maximizes the effect of the product.
One example in an average planted tank with a lot of stem plants:
Alongside daily dosage of Green Brighty STEP 1 and Brighty K, add ECA according to the regular dosage in article 1. For plants like Eusteralis stellata with slower growing shoots, use Green Gain at every water change and ECA according to it’s dosage in article 2.
Notes about using ECA:
1. Aquarium water may have a brownish tint immediately after dosing ECA. This is normal and will subside quickly.
2. ECA does not contribute to algae growth, however if algae is rampant in your planted tank, it is recommended to stop dosing ECA until the problem has subsided.
3. Too much iron accumulating in the planted aquarium can be harmful for the aquatic plants. Therefore, it is recommended that you continue to do weekly water changes of 1/3 of the aquarium water while dosing ECA.