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[APD] RE: substrates/water column

"Cool with me:)
Sorry, I could have made it clearer, pleading for clarity is often in great
demand behind the typed word.
The spoken word is much better for communicating."

How true!

"Depends on the balance. If you are out of whack  in another area or have
another source of nutrients from somewhere, this can change things.
I use to feel this way in the past also."

This is probably the case, I have simply found a way to balance my water
column dosing/errors with substrate fertilization. But coming from mostly
substrate fertilization in my past low light tanks it was expected....

"I'd argue you'll have less troubles at lower light, promise:)"

Indeed, I have no problem maintaining low-moderate, non-carbon enriched
tanks with only substrate fertilization. My tanks with CO2 or Excel,
regardless of amount of light do require some water column fertilization.

"You also have 10 years in.
You ain't no newbie.
Still, a newbie won the AGA contest:)"

Indeed! Actually it's funny that while we're discussing this topic I am also
discussing similar issues on an Italian group where the general consensus
over there is that phosphates and nitrates are a bad thing to have. Everyone
is using RO and resins to hit rock bottom with these elements. And this is
coming from people with high light and CO2! Personally I feel it's due to
the companies not indicating the contents of their fertilizers over there.
Perhaps it's easier after all for a newbie to come in, adopt the Tom Barr
method and have a successful tank than it is trying to let go of older
beliefs and experiences that have led to now questionable conclusions from
the past. What's the saying,....... it's harder to teach an old dog new
tricks :-)  I feel it's no secret anymore how to grow plants, the winners of
these contests and future aquascaping contests are going to have to be real
artists in layout to stand out of the crowd. Take me for example, I can grow
plants but I'm not very artistic, so if my 16" crypt is sitting in front of
my lobelia, as long as both are healthy I don't move them :-)  I think James
brought together both healthy growth and a very nice and unique layout that
shows talent beyond the ability to just grow plants.

"How do you test the substrate for nutrient levels?
How do you re set the tank consistently?
You generally wait till you see a problem with the substrate, the water
column is like preventative Dentisity, don't wait till you have a
problem/cavity. "

Although I have yet to have a problem with overdosing the substrate, I wait
until I see deficiencies in some of the plants before adding more to the
substrate. I have obviously also gotten used to a trend with my tanks,
keeping logs really helps with this, and I know when time is coming to
replenish the substrate. I still reset the tank with a 40% water change each
week. Several months ago I played with all my nutrients, one by one I raised
the level of an individual element, noted any changes, then dropped it to
near 0, noted changes again, then to the next element. In doing this I also
experimented with jobes sticks and when it was time to remove them, I did a
very thorough vacuuming of the substrate and back to back water changes in
order to keep vacuuming. But besides that, I never vacuum, never touch the
substrate and never had to reset it. Very rarely I have laid a new thin
coating of gravel on top of old if I see any signs of nutrient loss from the
substrate. But I keep a deep substrate and all the tabs are pushed down to
the bottom glass so this only happens when I'm "playing" with my ferts.

">>You don't need Flourish tabs if you use Flourite?
I'll stand behind this."

I knew you would :-)
Just like I would never completely abandon substrate fertilization in my
low-medium light tanks ;-)

"Let's figure why it works. Tap water? NO3 and PO4 and water change routines

I think I already mentioned most of it. I do weekly 40% changes on my high
light CO2 tank, tap water contains 5ppm NO3 and no trace of PO4. Water is
very soft and I bring it to KH4 and GH6 using baking soda. CO2 levels are in
the 20-30ppm range, I dose Flourish, KNO3, K2SO4, Fleet Enema, Epsom Salts
and CSM+B a day after water changes. I bring levels close to your levels, I
then maintain them using an automatic doser (3 daily doses) filled with a
mixture of the above. Flourish tabs are added about once every 40-50 days
(10 tabs spread out evenly across the 55gal substrate). In my low light tank
on the other hand, I do monthly 25-30% water changes and add flourish tabs
every three months (15 tabs evenly spread for the 90 gallon). Tap water and
other parameters have never been tested for. All I know is that NO3 levels
are always steady at 0-5ppm so I know I  have a nice balance between plant
uptake and organic waste. This is THAT tank which I only see once a month so
low maintenance was key for me, I usually spend more time regardless of the
type of tank but have to admit this tank has far exceeded even my own
expectations. I think it has to be among the most successful low light tank
I have ever set up, specially if you consider the amount of attention and
care it doesn't receive.

But I'm mostly interested in any improvements I can make to the high light
tank, it's growing plants just fine with no problems at all, but
improvements are always welcomed :-) and testing new methods are always fun.
The substrate is a little over 2 years old and about to be torn up and moved
to a new 75 gallon tank. The new tank will have a lot more lighting too so
perhaps I will see the benefit of dosing only the water column more so than
I do now.

Giancarlo Podio

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