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[APD] Re: dirt, moderate CO2, and moderate light

On Tue, 29 Mar 2005 12:00:58 -0500, TW wrote

> "Long term" may be a misnomer on my part, but those 
> dirt tanks do seem to be troublesome for a while after setup. And 
> then they peter out and require fert supplementation. Doesn't look 
> carefree to me.

The whole thread you cited covered a period of three weeks.  There's no
possibility of it addressing "long term" problems.  Three weeks would be a
pretty quick setup time for any new large tank, dirt or no dirt.  Further, in
that time the tank was drained, refilled, replanted and variously messed with
a number of times.  Stability is wanting.  Problems can be expected.  In fact,
they have probably just begun.

There is a potential for problems with setting up soil-based tanks.  For that
matter there are problems setting up any aquarium.  It's very common for tanks
-- regardless of the approach used -- to go through a setup period that lasts
several weeks.  Most of the problems that are likely to come up in soil based
tanks are similar to those you find in other tanks -- except of course for the
unbalanced fertilizers, plumbing that doesn't work quite right, figuring out a
CO2 system and so on -- things that don't apply to soil-based low tech tanks.
 The biggest problem I had with soil-based tanks was the colored water, which
lasted a few weeks then went away.

Soil-based tanks do change over the long run.  I only have one soil-based tank
left and it has been set up for 13 years this summer.  Throughout its history
it has been the most trouble-free tank I own.  The tank was set up for five
years or so before it lost most of the unique character that the soil gave it.
 After that it still remained largely stable and trouble free.   

Please don't use the subject of posts to Diana's forum at AB as an indicator
of problems with her method.  Sites like AquaBotanic exist mostly to help
people with problems, so the posts are about problems.  Its the same for the
general forums and for the forums that concentrate on more technical topics. 
It's as true at APC as it is at AB.  In fact, it's true of APD.  Judging from
the content of letters here one might wonder why anyone tries to grow plants
in aquariums.

> I was just commenting that 
> Walstad's method isn't as carefree as it might seem because the 
> definition of 'dirt' is not there yet.

I'll agree that soil-based tanks are not entirely care-free.  I'm not sure
that the definition of "dirt" has much to do with it.  Commerical substrates
available these days are pretty variable, and I don't see that variations in
dirt cause many more problems than variations between different sorts of
commercial products.

Besides, Diana does encourage people to use potting soil.  That narrows the
definition of 'dirt' pretty substantially.

Roger Miller
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