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RE:slow substrates

>About 5 or 6 years ago, I tried comparing a soil substrate without
>supplemental CO2 with a gravel/laterite substrate without CO2 to see
>which produced the best results.  The soil was better in both quantity
>and quality of plant growth.  So now all of my tanks have soil as a
>significant element in the substrate.  However, the growth and quality
>of the plants does slow down after 12-18 months.  If others on this list
>have noticed the same thing, I would appreciate hearing their
>Joe Hildreth

Yep, me too with soil/peat added. Especially the peat with no CO2. I was
always paranoid after my hacks that some nutrients were getting into the
water column from replanting causing algae. These were not exactly the right
notions- I know now. 

Flourite by itself in a non CO2 tank did well also. I would like to do a
peat-flourite no CO2 tank sometime. An interesting method that Dan
Resler(sp?) suggest awhile back was to add CO2 (such as the DIY yeast
method) for only the start of your set up and once your jungle has been
grown- stop adding it. Limiting the CO2 is much like what is often found in
nature and algae doesn't appear if your not adding much nutrients to the
water column. In lakes and ponds with very heavy plant growth the algae
doesn't have much chance to get a foot hold. You also don't need to do
nearly as much hacking and trimming since removing the CO2 slows growth way
down. This is very nice for many folks. Fish loads should be light and the
lighting tends to be from 2-3 watts per gallon. The only thing I have done
is add fish food to the water column and nothing else. No water changes etc
except every 2-3 months. The main thing is to have a lot of plant mass
growing well in there before you turn off the CO2.

I think perhaps focusing more on the nutrients in the water column and/or
adding a jobes may also help a stalled soil tank. Something with iron also
such as the SeaChem tabs or clay balls etc. I just don't have any soil tanks
anymore now. 

My sand and mulm tank does well. I do add a jobes every now and then to
it(3-6 months). It's the basic 2-3 mm sand and the plants are C.
affinis/C.aponogetifolia/C. wendtii and some Java moss. Just fish food and
the water change every month to two month about 20%. Growth is slow but
steady. No algae etc.
Simple is good.
Tom Barr