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[APD] RE: High Tech Tank....8 Years Later!

Hello all,

I have doing some research and it seems I have NOT seen any information on
substrate life expectancy, especially in regards to Dupla Laterite and
substrate heating. My newly planted tank substrate is 8 years old and 2
weeks after the initial planting, my Glosso is spreading like a carpet and
will have to be thinned soon! :)  I know George Booth has written a few
things on his experience on Laterite, but I'm very curious to see how his
and other substrates are performing over a long period of time?  So far so
good though for me, BUT time will tell once again!

Also in my previous post, I mentioned the HUGE advent of fertilizers now
available.  I purchased Kent Freshwater Plant and Kent Botanica Fe.  My
Lamott Fe Test kit is enroute, so I'm afraid to add anything just yet until
I observe and understand what my requirements are? Any feedback on the Kent
product would be welcome.  I also have been reading much here on Potassium
levels. Back in 1994, I never heard much on this topic.  I know my Kent
Freshwater has this nutrient as well.  Also, a question for George or anyone
who still uses Dupla 24 daily drops.  I have 4 bottles left of this, is
there any kind of shelf life, or for that matter is it now needed with the
Kent Freshwater I will be using?  Thanks all!!

Vic Di Cosola

Message: 11
Date: Thu, 27 Nov 2003 00:19:46 -0800
From: "Vic Di Cosola" <clutch24 at adelphia_net>
Subject: [APD] Topic: High Tech Tank....8 Years Later!
To: <aquatic-plants at actwin_com>

Hello all,

My name is Victor Di Cosola and this is my first posting here and I'm glad
to see the incredible postings thus far.  8 years ago I set up my one and
only High Tech Tank after I read the "Optimum Aquarium," and of course
Amano's first book shortly thereafter and I was hooked!!

My tank is a 55g tall, 36L x 15W x 24"H.  My tank was set up in 1995 using
the Dupla Laterite for the bottom layer, substrate heating cables, dupla
fertilizers and VHO lights (96w 2x) from ICE CAP.  I remember a plant man at
that time named Mike Jakowski from Delaware Aquatics. (I know I'm hacking
his last name.) He was a great guy and I heard because of family issues, he
got out of the business sometime back.  He was the very FIRST person I know
who was able to bring in Glosso's back in 1996.

The first year of this tank went fairly well without the addition of Co2. (I
just ran out of money and wanted to do the automated routine).  After the
first year, I purchased the Co2 system with a  5lb bottle from my local
"Air-Gas" supplier, regulator, solenoid, needle valve etc. Immediately, the
plant growth was superb!!  My tank mostly was the stem type with Hygro's,
vals, swords, some Nana's.  I wrote a few articles at the time about my
tank, took many pictures for Aquarium Fish Mag and met some wonderful people
on-line at that time with "CompuServe".  At that time we alsdo called it
"CompuSpend!" ;-)

Well 4 years went by with new jobs, routines, etc. and I let the tank go
dormant. The tank sat for a LOOONG time dark, a VERY few fish, no Co2, or
water changes for 6 months at a time.  2 years ago, I did the DREADED thing
I thought ME of ALL people would never do and stuck plastic plants in! So
here I was with a supposed high tech tank worth several thousand dollars
with plastic plants! "Way to go Vic," I thought to myself. ;) At least the
roots of the plastic plants were staying warm; My Sandpoint substrate heater
was working like a champ!!  LOL  In fact, that was the ONLY thing working in
ANY type of automated function. The ICECAP ballast had long since shorted
out and my Co2 bottle just got foul looks from occasional guests who thought
they were plant experts by telling my plants looked beautiful and aked me
what type were they!!"  geez

Well, (taking a breath, too long of a post)....Sorry, just excited about
getting back into the realm of my planted tank again....One month ago I
decided it was time to make my tank beautiful again.  After all, I had
EVERYTHING sitting ready to go.  I did a month worth of research, reading
what had changed in the planted tank sciences.  First thing I noticed was
the ENORMOUS availability of plants that were not commonly available to the
U.S. such as Glossostigma, Riccia, etc.  The second thing I noticed was an
AWESOME light reflectors; especially the ones sold from a gent named Kim
from AH lighting (He is a GREAT guy!!)  My VHO NEVER had reflectors; they
were just stuck on the underside of my canopy lid. (I never thought I needed
them back then.) How wrong I was with a 24" high tank! My Glosso's NEVER did
much growing back then like Amano's, now I know why.  The third thing I
noticed (which I have MANY questions about now) is the ENORMOUS amounts of
fertilizer products out there!!  Wow.

After eradicating 1000's of snails that had accumulated over the years, I
vacuum cleaned my substrate every other day for 2 weeks with 50% water
changes and 3 cleanings to my Fluval 403. I was also VERY curious to see
what my Laterite was doing on the bottom.  Mike from Delaware aquatics had
told me way back when that he and others were NOT believers of Dupla's
"claim to fame" of the Laterite they were selling.  Some claimed the
substrate would rot or just go solid over time.  So here I was 8 years
later, VERY curious what the bottom layer had done.  Under intense vacuuming
3" down, where my approx. 2" layer of laterite had been STILL clouded up
when I started disturbing it.  I probed throughout the whole tank and found
no hard spots. Not to say there could be, I'm just not educated enough on
substrate material composition to know what REALLY has happened to the
substrate all these years.  I do know the Sandpoint substrate heater has
ALWAYS been working over the last 8 years so convection flow has been
constant in the laterite.  (I would like to hear what the experts here might
have to say on this.)  Anyways, I decided to progress and order my lighting.
Three 36" 96w fixtures were ordered.  I filled up my Co2 (glad the "Air-Gas"
company was STILL around!!) I found that my old Solenoid AND regulator were
toast and bought new ones.  Hooked my American Marine Pinpoint pH controller
up (calibrated it) and within a week, I had my levels where I needed them.
pH of 6.8 to 6.9, (started out at 8.1 from the tap), and  KH-6/GH-3 with 3
to 4 bubbles a second of Co2.

Next came my beautiful piece of driftwood I ordered from Aquarium Driftwood
that resembles and incredible mountain peek that spans 19" up from a plateau
base, just awesome!  My plants were next were there are only 3 species,
Glossostigma, Zephyranthes candida and Riccia.  I ordered 70 potted of the
Zephs and 75 of the Glosso's and 50 clumps of the Riccia.  I never forgot
the golden rule YOU MUST PLANT HEAVY at the beginning!! I will not let the
algae demons awake from the dead!! ;0  My layout (hopefully) will resemble a
grassy meadow ("Glosso's") with an outlining forest ("Zephs") approaching a
VERY tall mountain with a lush green foreground ("Ricccia") of the beginning
base of the mountain.

After one week as I look into my tank, I FINALLY got Glossostigma to grow in
a BIG way and NOT upwards, but horizontal.  My Zephs are still in a bit of
shock it seems, some browning of stems and dark brown tips to some of the
strands.  The two 96w bulbs are to the front of the tank and the other
96-watt is toward the back so I'm hoping the Zephs will cope with the
lighting. I have NO fish to speak of in a general sense but stocked the tank
with 20 Amano shrimp and 30 Red Cherry shrimp, as well as 7 Neritina
reclivata snails. I'm pretty shocked at how well the snails have eaten up a
few small green spots from the acrylic walls! These guys REALLY work!  I
needed these in 1995!!

My biggest question (if you got this far, sorry) is fertilizer.  I still
have 4 bottles stored up of the Dupla 24 and also talked with many industry
aquatic plant folks and purchased two Kent products. Kent Freshwater and
Kent Botanica Fe. Of course I will follow EXACTLY what the recommended
dosage is and ONLY use half at first (if needed.)  Currently I have NOT used
ANY fertilizer this first week, but my first 50% water change is due
tomorrow and I'm very unsure if the Kent products is what I should be using
or for that matter, the initial dosage required for this new planted tank?
Years ago, all I used was the Dupla 24 daily drops and all was fine in the
growth area. I did not see much yellowing; translucent leaves etc. or algae
growth. I had a pretty good balance at that time. With the aged Laterite I
have, increased lighting now penetrating the substrate due to awesome
reflectors, I guess I will take the "wait and see approach."  Any input from
the seasoned plant vets would be welcome.  I also would like to post some
pics of my newly set up tank.  Is there a good place to do this at?  I would
like some newer folks to see and maybe learn from my mistakes along the way
over the last 8 years!   Thanks all and sorry for the looong post, NEVER
again!!  ;)

Vic Di Cosola


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