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[APD] RE: Soil and Diana Walstad

I have found soil to work well.
But if you think about these types of tanks in terms of start up and
equilibrium, the soil does add a lot of nutrients for plants to get
established well, then when the soil runs out, the plants are already well
established root systems.

You can do a similar thing with CO2, add it and other nutrients to the
water column, then stop.
As long as the light is not too much, this will work well also.

I've found the non CO2 method works well using peat/onyx/floiurite

I do add about 2-3x as much peat and mulm to these and the substrates are
deeper generally.
But if you use deep substrates in general, you can rely on the substrate's
contribution to the plant nutrient sink if it's a non CO2 tank or not.

Many folks, newbies included have done very well with non CO2 tanks with
soil and sand.

I suggest folks try them.
If you have had some experience with CO2 etc, give these a try, I find them
quite rewarding.

But you will want to follow the guidlines, less light(1-2w/gal NO FL's),
good deep substrate, pre soak the soil(Paul's suggestion), 2-3
weeks(removes much of the NH4 and other chemical and redox issues), PLANT
HEAVY from the start, heavy as you can. Too many folks skirt this one with
most any method with planted tanks. Add some floating plants, 10-25% is
good, use good hardy plants, don't use the more touchy plants. Back off the
water changes to nil. 
Have a good fish load in there. Have some algae eaters in there(this will
convert the algae into plant food) as the algae will also grow slower so
the herbivore will be more effective per critter. A small filter for water
movement works well, generally a HOB is what I've used. 

Generally if you follow those guidlines, things go well.

You can use a number of substrate layings.
I've used soil and sand, at 1" soil to 2" sand. This worked very well.
I've used Kitty litter/soil mixed and sand in similar depths. This worked
very well IMO.
I've used Flourite and peat and mulm, this has been my favorite for non CO2
tanks to date.
Generally about a 1" layer and then 3" of flourite on top.

I'll often cram in Java fern/moss/Anubias in darker places when planting
and make certain I have added a lot of plants from the get go.

Non CO2 tank have less, sometimes much less, demand for nutrients relative
to CO2 and light for the plants. 
Therefore uptake in much slower and nutrients in the water column can be
maintained at much lower levels and still satistfiy the plant's growth

These tanks can survive easily with a good fish load and regular feeding.
These tanks rely _much more_ on remineralization of waste/dead plant leaves
than inmorganic inputs.

If your goal in more a natural organic ecosystem, this method is for
you.There is some play that you can do with this, but the underlying
pricples are similar for this type of tank without CO2 being added. 

A low light richer substrate CO2 enriched tank is a nice median range tank
type that deserves more discussion here.
This tank can do well with or without large water changes. 
It can get by often with weekly dosing after the water change, algae growth
is slow and light limited while plants have maximum efficiency of both the
water column AND the substrate.
Basically the plant is limited by the light, but not enough to harm the
plant. This allows the plant TIME to assimilate the nutrients and
transloacte them into the plant's tissues.  

Claus mentioned this and I have as well. So has Geroge Booth and Karen. 

New folks need to follow the rules more with this non CO2 method/be
patient. Re setting a soil tank is no fun and due to variables involved,
often folks have more trouble with this one.

But I think it's worth the trouble and certainly is not overly difficult.

It'd be nice to see a non CO2 category for plant tank competitions.
Perhaps that might encourage the method.

Tom Barr   



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