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[APD] DIY Eco complete and Fertiplant ideas

Hey gang,

Scott Heiber queries, but I'm addressing the entire
> It kind of sounds like going back to the layer cake
> substrates of the past. Why so complicated?

It's not really complicated. I originally started
looking for a way to reliably deliver Fe at high light
levels. Liquid supplements just weren't getting the
job done as the intense light and high O2 levels were
just destroying it as fast as I could add it. I was up
to adding 140ml's *combined* (10ml/10ml daily) of both
Fe and traces to a 20g tank per week and still seeing
improvments. This particular set-up used plain gravel
in a shallow bed. 110w of PC's were used to light it.

The growth and color were amazing and I had *zero*
algae, but I would go broke if I continued to add
traces and Fe at that rate. I'd tried nearly every
substrate on the market before that, but I wasn't
satisfied with the cost/performance ratio. Frankly,
plain gravel with mulm performed as well as any of
them except Eco-Complete, IME. Further, alot of those
fancy substrates are ugly-- No thanks.

Having a rich, deep substrate was obviouly the answer.
I especially thank Erik Leung, Roger Miller, and Jeff
Ludwig, among others, for being so forthcoming with
their ideas on the subject. Amano has been using
similar base ferts for many, many years, btw. 

To get back on topic, it's not complicated. Out-of-bag
substrates with no additional materials are going to
become a thing of the past, I predict. This is
especially true for high light set-ups which I also
predict will become more popular once folks understand
how to control them better. The substrate is often
over-simplfied, which I also used to do. This is just
one piece of the puzzle, though. 

Making Fe available is the biggest issue aside from
the obvious stuff-- CO2 etc, the key to success in
effect, in high light tanks, and the brew outlined in
my post at Aquaria Plant Central makes concessions for
that. The macro loading was Tom's idea, btw. Could be
good, great, or insignificant, I don't know. Tom is
testing it, and Jeff Ludwig is going to run some
tests/experiments for us here. You'll hear more for

This brew could also be extremely useful for low-light
and non-CO2 set-ups, but that's outside my area of
interest at the moment. I'll let those folks make up
their own minds. 

Just to relay my own experience, I used the DIY
Ferti-Plant+ with an addition of activated carbon,
mulm, and a little worm castings under a deep (3-5"),
coarse sand bed on the same 20g I mentioned above. My
trace/Fe additions have been cut by 2/3 with better
growth and color which I wouldn't have believed.
Success, IMO. I will admit that initially there were
some unusual algaes that appeared but the tank seem to
be consuming them very quickly-- the plant growth is
spectacular. None of the really pesky algaes have
appeared. To be fair, the tank is quite young. 

Yes, there are a few components that need to be
assembled, but if you read the thread at the APC,
you'll see that *lots* of it can be brewed for really
cheap. It is also customizable for your situation and
locally available products.

Happy gardening, and best wishes,
John Wheeler  

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