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Re: Fertilization of substrate in a new tank

> Date: Tue, 05 Sep 2000 12:37:38 EDT
> From: Sylvia

> Unfortunately, filtering a tank with an outside power
> filter...eroded sand away in areas, exposing some of
> the osmocote...

You know for yourself what an avid fan I am of the KL method. It's been so
successful in my larger tanks that I, too, have been experimenting on the
smaller ones. But I must confess to having no success either across about
the last year's worth of attempts. The two I'm most prone to are green water
and thread algae.

> Apparently osmocote grows _Great_ green water...

Oh yeah! In fact, a couple of my outdoor cultures started on nothing more
than a few beads in the bottom of a 5-gal bucket.

> Part of the problem may be that, in small tanks like a
> 10 gallon, you're not adding 4-6 inches of substrate or
> more, and it may be too shallow for any bottom layer
> fertilization. Any fertilizer added to the *bottom layer* is
> just adding it basically to the water in any case...

I've come to this very conclusion on any tank in the 12-in height range (I
have some 20-gal longs, same height - been replacing my 10s with 'em on top
of that 'cause the bottoms (10s) keep falling out).

> Or it could be the consistency of the kitty litter, which
> is very light and no doubt the osmocote didn't stay put.
> Or it could be that osmocote itself is a problem.

I think the aim is to have the nutrients mobilize through the substrate to
some degree. That would point to a problem with the layer depth, as you've
reasoned. Otherwise, the problem would be as apparent in a large tank with
deeper covering.

And I've tried replacing power filters with air sponges (at strange angles
too in such a cramped space) to eliminate the erosion. Didn't matter. One
tank I didn't mechanically filter at all - _same_ story.

It's gotten to the point where, when someone mentions algae and KL in the
same document, my first reaction is to ask, "How deep is the top layer?".

I don't really believe that the problem is limited simply to KL, though.
Just that KL seems to focus all of the possible errors into a single
methodology, often because people (in the *general* sense) will act in ways
contrary to the recommended procedure. As a glaring example, how many
neophytes will cover KL with sufficient sand only because they've heard all
of the "horror stories" about compaction and decomposition gasses?

Using a shallow tank with this method only exacerbates the problem. Put in
an inch of KL (the least I'd go with), top it off with 3-4 inches of sand,
leave enough airspace at the top for hood and equipment, and pretty soon you
find yourself with only 6-7 inches of water column. Not very appealing to
the average aquarist, and a definite restriction when choosing plants for

> It is probably best to not do a lot of substrate enrichment
> in a small tank such as this. Maybe _after_ planting and
> setup, insert (part of) a jobes stick very close to heavy
> root feeders only.

I'd have to echo this advice - dang it! And I was hoping to eventually add
variety to some of my Dwarf tanks and what- not.

What I *am* finding the shallow tanks very useful for - KL and all - is
trying my hand at emergent growth under bog conditions. You know, I've never
actually tried to flower a Crypt...


David A. Youngker
nestor10 at mindspring_com

> Okay, I guess it was a bad idea. You never know till you
> try and fail.

Thomas Edison would say that failures are extremely useful in pointing out
the ways that *don't* work, but Homer Simpson takes a more pragmatic

"If you don't try, you never have to worry about failing."