[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[APD] Re: why not fertilize a new tank right away?? -- late to the bait

I'll rise to the bait also, thinking that it might have been set for me as I've been promoting that lack of ferts at the start on forums recently.

I followed Chuck Gadd's advice in planting a new tank when I set up the 30 gallon tank in the elementary school last winter. That advice, in a nutshell and IIRC, is to plant, add lights and CO2, and no ferts for a few weeks, then algae eaters with no fish food, then fish and fish food and finally ferts when apparently needed. I think I actually added Flourish rather early in the second week or so and added substrate fertilizers soon after, after I noticed the wisteria (or water sprite?) was surrounded by a cloud of roots emerging from the gravel, apparently in search of the nutrients that the washed flourite/gravel mix did not contain. I had no algae at all until I added the Flourish so I backed off and used less the next week and the tank has been almost totally algae free (this summer with low ferts and no water changes being the obvious exception.) Because of this good expereince, I have pointed others to that source and heartily recommended following that plan.

All my other new tanks at home were set up, planted, and fertilized from the start and I recall a long period of various sorts of algae in most of them... no, make that in all of them excluding the one which was just moving an existing planted tank's entire contents into a bigger tank.

My theory of why this was so, coming from experience with terresterial plants, is that plants can experience shock at transplanting and if they are not actively growing it would be a mistake to add fertilizers which would then be consumed by algae. In the garden, this transplanting shock is probably due to root damage, leading to poor water uptake and wilting which may be irreversable -- clearly not a problem in the fish tank.

But for the new tank that is stocked with newly bought plants, many being emersed grown, the move from air to water may be a shock. I dunno, is there some sort of alteration of gas and water transport that has to be rearranged as a plant goes from above water to below water? The plant experts may know. What I saw in my new tanks that the emersed grown leaves got algae and decayed in the first few weeks. I snipped and clipped until the poor things were so close to bald that I had to stop. Maybe it was just the fertillizers that I was adding were going unused by those decaying leaves and so the algae grew to fill the breach, or the algae was working to consume the leaves themselves as the decay released nutrients they could scavenge. In addition, many of the submersed grown plants had broken leaves and such from mailing, just too many to trim them all. Even the plants moved from my own tanks suffered a lot of root damage as they were pulled up. Anyhow, I can see plenty of opportunities for the growth of the newly planted plant to be set back a bit.

So, the question is, if the plants are not growing yet should you be fertilizing yet? Or do you need to at least cut back the ferts to allow for the lower growth rates, since ferts without active growth ought to equal algae? I have certainly heard from time to time of folks who have done a harsh pruning and seen an algae bloom, apparently due to the now excess ferts in the water after the large removal of biomass from the tank. Your advice seems to be go for half-doses of ferts and then rapidly go full strength to get the plants up and growing. It reminds me just a bit of being told to shift into second and give it some gas, as a novice I needed a bigger lag time to be sure I was actually ready to release the clutch.

After carefully reading your post, I wonder if maybe it was the lack of mulm and peat in my new tanks that made the difference and led to the algae at the start, for the tank set up following Chuck's advice did have a bit of concentrated mulm added below the gravel while all the new tanks at home were cleaned Flourite. I've have come to the idea that mulm is simply aquatic humus, which in the garden is a physical place for the elements from fertilizers to reside until plants consume them, a sort of sponge to hold nutrients. So, perhaps the new tank with mulm and peat will have the ability to hold some excess nutrients without creating an alage outbreak while the new tank with only new gravel or Flourite won't have that absorbing buffer. My simple analogy may be in error.

As for the biomass of roots in the unfertilized tank, I can say that in the tank I set up, I was astonished at the visible roots around the wisteria. Really, it was a cloud of brown roots the size of a half a volleyball, more from the gravel than from the stems. They went away after I began adding fertilizers, but I didn't keep notes on this tank so I can't say how it happened exactly. It would seem that a plant would grow extensive roots in search of nutrients if there were not nutrients available from the leaves. This would be useful for a tank that was not going to have a lot of water column ferts. And if nutrients were easily available then roots would be for anchorage only or as a backup system for nutrients, at least in plants that could process nutrients that arrive without whatever processes occur in the roots.

Ann Viverette

Message: 7
Date: Thu, 14 Oct 2004 08:37:22 -0700 (PDT)
From: Thomas Barr <tcbiii at yahoo_com>
Subject: [APD] Re: why not fertilize a new tank right away??
To: aquatic-plants at actwin_com

If plants have the same growth rate without roots(when the water column is non limiting), how can they benefit a new tank with roots? While roots are produced regardless of where the nutrients are, a simple method I did for about 10 years with plants can help. RFUG's(Reverse flow UG's, see archives) basically remove the nutrients from the substrate and place it in the water column.

So this type of substrate has no nutrient content(the sand is 2-3mm silica, nothing added less some mulm mixed in that did not get blown out).

While 90% of the plants thrives, there were some differences in a variety of species. These did better with Flourite and other no flow systems, and the heating cables did the same as the RFUG overall.

So back to the question: why not fertilize from the very __start__ of a planted tank?
John suggested roots are good/better and I have stated that it does not make a difference in the start up.

Whether or not you have fertilizer in the water column is an issue. I think you will get more, not *less root growth*, if you add fertilizer to both regions(water column and a little in the gravel-mulm, leonardite, peat, bacteria, soil, etc) or just the water column, I've got many years growing tanks where the nutrients are in different regions and also both places.

So I would have to say fertilizing the water column is a good idea from day one of a new tank. If root formation is really that critical in a CO2 enriched tank that has a non limiting water column, why doesn't this causes issues when we replant?

Do we see algae due to less roots/more established roots?
What are we waiting for when we start up a new tank?

Generally bacteria. But if the plants are given what they need to grow well, then what role do the bacteria play? Why do we not see cycling in a planted tank? The plants remove all the NH4. Mulm and peat take care of the reduction and bacteria in a new tank.
Plants take care of the NH4, so..........what is left?

Will roots grow at faster rate/more biomass in ANY significant way without water column fert's in the first month vs adding fert's?
I doubt it.

The best thing I can figure is the roots add O2 and metabolites for certain species of plant friendly bacteria.

But we need less O2 _initially_ since the bacterial layers have not yet formed(hence the addition of peat and a little bit with the mulm-or soil etc, basically any organic matter), less O2 will help reduce trace metals, you do not want too much or too little reduction for optimal conditions.

So I think we can rule out O2(in older tanks with more mulm and detrital matter, this would play a more significant role) in a new set up(unless you added a lot of organic matter, eg soil).

So it gets back to the bacteria.
Well, how important are they and how significant do you think bacteria might be if the roots grew a little faster the first 4 weeks? Would this be significant?

I doubt it.

Tom Barr

--------------------------------- Do you Yahoo!? Yahoo! Mail Address AutoComplete - You start. We finish.


Aquatic-Plants mailing list
Aquatic-Plants at actwin_com

End of Aquatic-Plants Digest, Vol 14, Issue 20 **********************************************

Aquatic-Plants mailing list
Aquatic-Plants at actwin_com