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Diego wrote:

"The problem is i live in Colombia (not Columbia), and is hard to get
any test kits, the only thing comonly available is a wardley amonnia
indicator. Based on pure observation i know things could go better. I
have a 65 gallon tank with CO2 and plants only pearl when i do a water
change and add certain amount of LFS fertilizer."

I think you may want to add more CO2 till you have pearling presente.
pH and KH test kits would be very helpful if you can get them.
If you get pearling the last 1/2 of the light/day period  in your tank, that
is pretty close to what you want.
It's difficult to give you something like pearling as an indicator for enough
CO2 since the other elements, NO3, K, PO4 etc also determine pearling to a
lesser degree than CO2, but I think you may be alright in trying the pearling
Just watch your fish to see if you added too much CO2 etc.

I think if you turn the CO2 off at night when the lights go off, that will
reduce any long term CO2 build up. If you leave the CO2 on 24/7, all the time,
then there's a greater danger of overdosing the CO2.
By turning it off at night, that problem is greatly reduced.

You can feed the CO2 gas into a powerhead, small pump to dissolve the gas, and
plug the pump into the lighting timer or switch(if you turn it on/off
When the pump is off, the gas will no longer dissolve in the water.
You only need the CO2 when the lights are on.

I guess plants that are not heavy root feeders are doing ok since the
tank is pure gravel and i have an UGF. The others just arenīt suppose
to do well in this setup. It wasnīt supposed to be a planted tank,and i
am not ready to tear it down to change the gravel and replant everything."

Your tank is certainly CO2 limited from what you've said so far.
You can replant and add iron etc to the gravel later and remove the UFG if you
want. It's a big job. But you will be pleased later.

" I am going to experiment with the a small heavily planted 10 gallon
tank with only one betta that is definitely missing some macro
nutrients, everything stopped growing after doing great for about a
month, it has a combination of something i think works as flourite,
some  quartz  sand  and  common  gravel."

That sounds great. You can scale that up for the larger tank after feeling
comfertable with the ten gallon tank.

"But  how  do i combine my LFS fertilizer which supplies some micro and
some  macro  but  no  N without having any test kits, i am considering
ordering  some  but  don't  know the fish store that will send them to
this  part of south america, there was a discussion of some good tests
previously,  shiping costs are usually high, and it makes no sense to
buy a 10 dolar test and spend 15 or 20 dolars on shipping charges."

You can get around this using estimations and good sized weekly water
changes(which cause your plants to pearl a lot so this is a good idea anyway).

You'll need to get some KNO3 and K2SO4. I know you can likely get this locally
somewhere. Check farmacia's for enemas for PO4, KNO3(saltpeter) and maybe some
agricultural/fertilizer companies for K2SO4 or the KNO3.    

"Should i change my LFS fertilizer, since all the information i get is
from this list, the actwin site and some other good sites and some
Ecology of the planted aquarium
One of Amanos beautiful photo books"

I think you'll be okay with it.

"My LFS isnīt a good source since they couldnīt understand when i
talked about the diference between general hardness and carbonate
hardness and the relationship with CO2 and PH. That was a big
disapointment, although i got to point out that their show tanks have
beautiful  plants,  so i guess they got the empirical knowledge to put
the  whole  act  together.  I  even  overdosed  once,  following  their
recomendations  on  the amount of fertilizer, all my vallisnera turned
brown,  it  didnīt  die it just turned brown, and they are still brown
(it  has  been  two months) so they are alive but they donīt look nice
they look weird."

Well in the USA, LFS don't know much as a rule about CO2 and plants either, do
not feel bad.  

"This is my first post, i have been following the list for 3 or 4
months, and i like it a lot. I hope i did manage to write something
coherent since english isnīt obviosly what i use on a daily basis
and i wanted to tell a lot of things."

Don't worry about that. 
You can order some KNO3 or K2SO4 from the USA or other places, many will ship

Do you have yeast CO2 for the source of CO2 gas or bottled/compressed CO2?

You really should try to get some KNO3.
Add more CO2.

For the 65 gallon tank:
Add the following:

1/2 teaspoon of KNO3 dry powder 2-3x a week.
Add the trace mix 2-3x a week(about 2-3x what the recommended amount is on the
bottle likely about 10mls).
Add more CO2.
Add some MgSO4, Epsom salt(about 1/4 teaspoon) after a weekly water change(50%
of the tank's volume). Add some CaCO3(about 1/4 teaspoon)after the tank's
water change.
Add 1/2-3/4 teaspoon of K2SO4 after the water change.
Having more KH/GH will not hurt, having too little will.
CO2 is based on the fish and pearling.

By doing the 50% weekly water changes, the NO3, Traces etc will NOT build up.
Essentially you will re set the the tank each week with fresh nutrients.

Add the above KNO3 will give you about an extra 7ppm of NO3 each dosing(I
assume about 2-4ppm of NO3 uptake per day) so after 3 days or so, another dose
will bring it back up to the 5-10ppm range.

The water change at the end of the week will account for any dosing errors etc
that you make durning the week.

This method is quite accurate, to within about 1ppm of NO3, K, etc.

Most all test kits are not this accurate.

Now this does not tell what is in the tank itself, but at least you know the
plants have enough NO3, K etc.

Some experimenting will be needed to fine tune the tank but this will get
relatively close.
Adding algae eaters will always help also.

I believe there will be an article coming in Spanish of mine in Hydraplanta
and perhaps another Spanish/latin plant specific publication shortly.

Tom Barr

"Diego Carmona"