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RE: Spacing Plants, Iron tests, & Needle Valves

> I have numerous plant tanks and yesterday someone asked me 
> how closely they
> should be spacing their plants. I was about to answer and 
> realised I don't
> have a definite answer. I have never thought about it, I 
> throw stuff in a
> tank and it grows. I of course try to aquascape in my own 
> special way but
> the question intrigued me.
> I suppose the guideline differs from one plant to the next. 


You are too right.  Differs by plant.  You can think of rules of thumb
though.  Like most stem plants look best around an inch apart.  Preferences
vary though.  Swords need lots of root room (I'm particularly thinking of
melon sword, Amazon might need less). I gave my melon swords about a 6 inch
diameter from the base, but that didn't exclude shallow rooted short plants
from that circle.  Some plants love to be crowded too.  I think of Val. and
Sag. species which produce chemicals to inhibit other plant growth locally,
except their own kind.  Ultimately, whatever distance you choose, make sure
you like it.  If plants look too far apart, move them closer.  If they grow
up and need more room, just move them... no big deal.

> Could anyone tell me if there is another iron test kit that 
> is accurate
> enough to measure iron level to calibrate PMDD without 
> costing as much as
> those mentioned above?
> Tomoko


You really just want to know that you have some iron present.  You don't
really need to know more than that.  Serra has a cheap iron test kit for
$10.00.  It works, but don't count on accuracy.  Again, it is not too
important, because you just want to know that you have some free iron
available in the water.

I had the Serra Fe test kit, and was happy with it for the $10.  I did find
that I had to let it sit for a few hours to let color develop.  I've since
purchased the Hach Fe kit, and have been pleased with it.  If you want
accurate results, you pay the price for the kit.  It comes in a good case,
has nice color wheel, and such.  I think it cost me around $40 (it's been a
few years since I bought it).

> Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2001 09:18:42 -0800 (PST)
> From: Craig Welch <cheapskateking at yahoo_com>
> Subject: Needle valve advantage
> I have had my tank going for about two years now and
> THOUGHT I was using a needle valve this whole time. I
> think now that I was mistaken. Apparently, when you
> are talking about a needle valve you are talking about
> a valve that goes right after the regulator which can
> take a fairly high pressure and drop it down to a few
> bubbles per second (such as an ARO NO1 or Nupro). I
> started out by just dropping my pressure from the
> reuglator down to about 5 psi and then fine tuning the
> bubbles with air air stone "regulator" (little
> plastice blue needle valve made by Lee's for $.99). I
> later replaced this with a $4 brass one from Home
> Depot. Recently bought a real needle valve and figured
> that it would be easier to adjust than the one I had.
> I didn't realize that they don't work under low
> pressures (i.e. 5 psi), which I guess is why they
> "dump" when your tank gets low. Right now I just
> started using two of the little blue jobs in sequence
> which gives me excellent flow control and I leave my
> regulator set at 5 psi. My question is this, what is
> the advantage to using a needle valve over the kind of
> thing I have set up now, especially when you factor in
> the cost and the "dump" possibility? Just curious.
> Craig 


Actually, the brass valve you bought at Home Depot is indeed a needle valve.
Difference from the Nupro one being precision and materials.  Your valve is
less precise, but what do you expect for $4 vs $40 or more.  A needle valve
doesn't necessarily need to be hooked directly into the regulator or high
pressure for that matter.  In fact, my setup is just like yours in that I
have a hose barb on the regulator, which feeds line, that has the needle
valve in-line.  It's worked great for a number of years.  The best part
being that you can split the line between the cylinder and the needle valve,
to supply more than one tank.  Each tank would get it's own needle valve, so
each would be metered independently.  Feeding five tanks with one CO2
cylinder is great!

Back to the $4 needle valve though.  The precision difference also plays
into setting it correctly.  As you know, it might take a little more time to
set, but then it's done.

Mark Pearlscott