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[APD] Methods that bridge the gaps

There are two main divisions in FW plant keeping:
CO2 or no CO2(Carbon enriched eg "Excel" might be included here).

Then these are subdivided into fert routines.
Substrate fert's and water column ferts.
Substrate ferts make sense for non CO2 methods much more due to slow growth
rates=> supply= growth RATE
Every tank has Water column ferts of one type or another(K+, GH, Fish
waste, etc).
CO2 enriched tanks make more sense using water column ferts since growth
RATE= supply, and the substrate will run out fairly quickly.
Yea, you can supply it for a while, but you have to force a method and make
it tougher on yourself to do so. 
This method is popular with folks that still believe and cling to the
mythical notion that excess nutrients cause algae in a well planted tank.
There is nothing wrong with adding the nutrients in there though. But it's
not to get around algae in any way. 
At high growth rates that are associated with CO2 enrichement, it is wise
to dose regularly before a problem starts since the growth RATES are so

Due to this fast RATE of growth, plants run out of something very fast,
then they stop/slow down growth, then you get algae.
Add higher light, then it makes this even more critical. Much like oral
hygine, do you wait till you have a cavity or do you brush your teeth
daily? Maintenace of the nutrients is very similar. I've reasoned out a
decent method to estimate the nutrients so you don't need a test kit even,
Chuck's calculator helps the Chemically challenged. 

Non CO2 tanks can handle much more abuse and different fert routines since
the RATE of growth is so slow, the lighting is less. Both of these make it
possible to balance fairly well the fish waste production with the plant's
growth RATE with no algae issues.Algae growth is slower(limited with CO2
and light), therefore herbivores can harass algae at a faster rate per
critter adding less NH4. NH4 ratio uptake is very high in a non CO2 tank vs
a CO2 enriched tank requiring less energy to Nitrogen uptake/assimilation
into Amino Acids. 

This was a goal of many planted aquarist back when I started keeping
fish(1970's). Many fish only folks think that is what/should occur also. 
Seem plausible and logical. 
I went back, removed all the fish and dosed small amounts of GH/KNO3, PO4
and a tad of traces 1-2x a week and had great results on a non CO2 tank
The volumes of dosing are smaller vs a CO2 planted tank.  But this type of
tank can be dine with little to no dosing other than fish food. Some plants
might not fair as well if that is your sole source. Even a non CO2 tank can
benefit from some dosing other than fish waste. 

You can obtain a robust growth rate, not as fast as a high light tank, but
a nice rate of growth and very healthy growth using low light and CO2.
This gives the grower a nice middle ground so that they can get away with
less water changes(if that is their goal), more wiggle room with dosing,
more reliance on a substrate fert routine(if that is their goal), less
light= less algae, less CO2 demand=> more CO2 wiggle room, more % of
nutrients from fish, easier pruning schedule(less growth rate), less
electricity and lighting cost.

This tank type bridges the gap for those folks that kick and scream about
water changes, forget to dose, like substrate dosing, don't want so much
work etc, but still have the nice plants associated with CO2. 

All the plants essentially do fine at 2w/gal of NO FL's, add a reflector to
that and that makes a nice easy to grow tank+ CO2. 

So you have: 

Fast growth, high light + CO2, more water column dosing
Medium growth, low light+CO2, a number of dosing routines
Low growth, non CO2, slow growth, number of routines but the easiest is to
let the fish add the ferts with an ocassional top of of tap water, GH/K+

All 3 can look very good.
You can get away with more water column or substrate dosing for each
routine to some degree.
This gives folks 3 easy methods to suit most folk's routines and taste.
Light make the most since if growth rates are too fast for your taste,
nutrient deficiency issues, algae etc are problems for you.
Reduce the lighting, and then you can control most issues.

The nice thing aboyut learning high light method is that you have to do
well at the CO2/nutrients.
Then finding out what works there and applying it to a low light tank,
makes for a super tank that's easy to take care of.
Many worry they cannot grow the stem plant of the month or thinking red
plants need 4w/gal or more. 

Tom Barr



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