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[APD] Re: Aquatic-Plants Digest, Vol 12, Issue 22

I said"

>>"I did not say this "to add 2-3 inches of soil or 1/2" humus layer.
>>Maybe 1/2 -1" of soil or peat on the bottom and some mulm for a non CO2 aquarium with a 3-4" cap of >>sand/Flourite, Turface/sand mix etc, maybe 1/2-1" of kitty litter/mulm and a cap etc."

>My apologies Tom, i was completely recalling from memory and did not mean to misquote you, my bad.

Nothing personal, just wanted to make clear my position/advice.
I swear I'm not 1/2 as crotchety in person:-)
For me, it's about the plant issue, never a personal one.
So my apologies for this web communication that misses so much of the actual meaning and tone. 

>Truthfully, I'm a tad confused between the 2 methods of c02 and non-co2 setups. I have been running a 10g >high light co2 setup for the last year with great results thanks to your methods. I want to try a bigger tank (29g) >low light setup also using DIY co2 but with a soil based substrate, I was basically going to follow Diana's method >except I'll be adding DIY co2 to the filter intake, I like the faster growth :) Is this a good/bad idea? Why?

Most folks are Cameron.
Your idea will work well for the 29 gal.
It's nothing like the non CO2 method or as some refer to as Diana's method. 

That approach is centered around patience, lower mainteanance and balance with the fish/food and the plants.
Adding CO2 changes that since it increases the growth rate generally beyond what fish waste alone and a substrate can supply.

I think even the non CO2 method can be helped along with additions besides fish food if you want to tweak them further but it's not needed to have nice looking tank.

But back to your tank, you will want to get some KNO3, traces, PO4 source(enemas, KH2PO4 etc) which you already have.

Adding soil to a tank is not really going to help if you have a good amount of nutrtients already in the water column and dose and add CO2 etc.

It might help for a back up if you forget to add nutrients, but plants take awhile to switch over to root feeding, perhaps a week or so. 

I would suggest less, perhaps 1/2" of soil, plain old stuff in a bag or some richer looking stream sand somewhere relatively clean will work. Personally, I'd just add some ground peat(3 handfuls) and use the mulm from your existing tank.
Then cap that with 2-4" of 2-3mm sand etc. That' all you'll need and that will make less mess.

>"You say adding a carbon source to reduce redox in the soil...I'll go and search the archives for what you mean >by this, I'm obviously a bit fuzzy round the edges when it comes to redox and all that soily stuff :o Thanks for >any clarity offered and apologies again for the misquote earlier on.

>Warm regards
>Cameron James

Well, the techincal aspects of soil and why it works and biogeochemistry gets complicated.
Many folks that use soil or peat often WANT and simple hands off approach and do not care about all this.

CO2 users come along and want to mix these two methods and think they can jump from one to the other. Generally this is a very bad idea.

But I'm pretty familiar with wetland soil biogeochemistry and have had course work and worked with the top people in this field in the western hemisphere. The carbon cycle is quite complex and the main thrust of the cycling in wetland soils.

By adding a carbon source(this is not like adding CO2 to the water column nor a substitute) to the substrate, you provide a more reduced environment. This is due to bacterial actions. As the bacteria gobble up the available O2, the substrate layers become layered with high er redox/O2 near the surface and lower below. 

This can make some ions more available to plants like Fe3+=> Fe2+.
Plants can do this on their own also.

The bad part about layering like this is when you uproot.
This is why porous substrate grains like Flourite or Dirt Cheap MPV Turface(8-12$ for 50lbs) make great substrates for tanks that get replanted and worked over often vs a soil tank. 

Inside each grain there is a layer and this layer is protected. 

But unlike the layered substrate, ther eis no organic matter in there and that takes sometime to develop.

So I suggest adding peat/soil/leonardite(or lots of mulm) etc when you set the tank up. This jump starts these processes and by the time the bacterial cycling is going full swing, the small amount of OM(organic matter) from the peat/soil etc has been used up by the bacteria.

This way you get the cycling you need without a slow start up/new tank issues etc, and without the darn mess associated with mud/soil/peat in larger amounts.

Soil or any carbon source has a finite life in your tank. When the carbon is all used up by the bacteria, then it will no longer provide any reducing power, but generally by then, the tank is cycling well in non CO2 and CO2 tanks.

Then other processes take more significance(fish waste etc) 

We can go on and on about this but ultimately just add a little OM to CO2 tanks and 3-6x more to a non CO2 method.

Mud pie, mummm........

Tom Barr





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