Sub. Heat, Ammonium, Aquaclears, R.macrandra, Copper

 Subject: Substrate Heating

Dave Gomberg wrote:

> On Tue, 5 Mar 1996 15:39:02 -0500 you wrote:
> >So the tank is again without substrate heating. (oh well, it's
> >done fine without it for years) 
> Karen, if you are up for experimentation, this might be a great 
> to try a heating element (like a heating pad or ????) under the 
>  Since you are all set up for warm gravel anyway....

Well the tank isn't set up any differently than any of my other 
tanks except that it has (unuseable) cables in it.  But there's 
_no way_ I'm willing to risk (however slight the risk may be) 
cracking the bottom of an older, thick paned 70G tank in my family 
room with hardwood floor and oriental rugs!<g>  I can't afford to 
replace the tank, nor do I want to contemplate the ensuing 
possibility of divorce ;-)

In another 4 or 5 years, I'll take it apart again, and at that 
point _maybe_ I'll try cables again, but more likely, I'll just 
use the UGF/heater method... I _know_ that works, it's cheap and 
it's easy.

> From: Allen Sandifer <ibi007 at mail_connect.more.net>
> Date: Tue, 05 Mar 1996 17:18:03 -0600
> Subject: Re: Plants and Ammonia
> >Plants do use ammonium in preference to nitrate.  Also, just 
> >because you don't set up a dedicated biological filter, there i
> >_still_ lots of biological filtration going on in the average 
> >mature aquarium.  Nitrifying bacteria attach to every surface i
> >the tank.  I run my heavily planted, lightly stocked 70G tank o
> >single 350 Magnum filter, and have for years without problems.
> >
> From my understanding if the pH is below 7.0 ammonium is produc
> is above 7.0 ammonia is produced. If the pH of the tank is say 7
> ammonia is produced will the plants still use it?

Well, if I understand correctly, it's not a complete change, it's 
a sliding scale.  Below 7.0, all ammonia is in the form of 
ammoniUM.  Above 7.0, there is more ammoniA and less ammoniUM, 
until, at some point, it is all in the form of ammoniA.  I don't 
remember where that higher cut off is, because it's too high for 
me to worry about it.  But plants _still_ prefer ammoniA to 
nitrate too.  They will preferentially use the AmmoniUM first, 
then the ammoniA, then the nitrate.

> I have no intentions of setting up a tank without any filtration
> intended to use my Magnuim 350 for mechanical filtration. I did 
> that the basket would collapse if it was not filled, thanks for 

Glad someone else could profit from my mistakes ;-)
> Currently I have a 29g with the Magnium 350 and a Bio-Wheel 30 o
> couple of weeks ago I turned the Bio-Wheel off to see what would
> Checked the ammonia, nitrite, & nitrate levels yesterday, they w
> undetectable. My intentions was not to have no bio filtration at
> not to have any extra like bio-wheels etc. 

Your reading are what I would expect.  You don't need the extra 
biological filtration.

> My plants are doing pretty well in the 29g the way I have it set
> of lighting, no substrate heating, & no CO2 injection. I will be
> the livestock from the 29g to the 45g. I plan on putting 4 20w b
> for lighting so hopefully I can duplicate the sucess of the 29g 

Sound's like you're on the right track!<g>

Subject: Aquaclear vs Whisper

> I was wondering about the noise produced by the Aquaclear
> filters. I have several Whispers, and they are all quiet. I
> have one Aquaclear Mini, and it tends to buzz. Is it just a
> lemon? Also when I put CO2 into the Whisper it makes a
> racket each time a bubble hits the impeller. I no longer use
> that method. Does the Aquclear do the same?  If so is there
> any way around it? I do like the rinsable sponge instead of
> the throw away filters....

I think you've got lemon.  I have several Aquaclears of several 
sizes and they are all absolutely quiet as long as the water level 
in the tank is high enough that the return water doesn't splash.  
Even then, there's no mechanical noise, it just starts to sound 
like you're in the rain forest!<VBG>


Subject: Need Rotala macaranda help
> About four weeks ago, I set up my 40-gallon plant tank and every
> has grown very well except for a bunch of Rotala macaranda. The 
> not taken root and although some stems are throwing out new bran
> almost every stem is decomposing from the ground up. This was no
> healthy bunch to start with but I wonder what to do now. Should 
> topping them off and planting the still healthy portions? Thanks
> advance.

R. macrandra is hard to transport without damage, and it's hard to 
start get stared from a sickly lot.  Still, if you're getting 
_some_ new growth, it's an encouraging sign.

> When I planted them, I stripped off two sets of leaves and stuck
> stems in the substrate with tweezers. I am using a sand substrat
> grains) 1-inch thick over a sand/vermiculite mixture (much finer
> mesh) 1-1/2" thick. There is a 1-1/2" layer of the fine sand and
> below this. I added a sprinkling of crushed lily tablet to the m
> layer. Temp is 67F. pH is 6.5 and stable. There is CO2 from DIY 
> solution. dKh is 5. Oh, yeah, there's lots of light.

It has been my experience that this plant needs a rich substrate 
to grow well.  My substrate set up is similar to yours, and when I 
planted R. macrandra directly in the substrate, it never did 
particularly well.  I started potting it with soil and some 
micronized iron or laterite, and it now it grows like gangbusters. 
I've found that within about 3 months, the R. macrandra in any 
individual 4" pot has become totally pot bound, and starts to slow 
down.  At that point, I toss out the now solid plug of roots (with 
the soil completely hidden inside.  I fill the pot back up, 
replant the stems, and off it goes again.  

In between repotting, the stems grow up to and curl around on the 
surface of the tank.  I think the growing tips are prettier than 
cut stems, so What I do is have enough stems in each pot that when 
I pinch back, I can do about half the stems, but do them down 
quite low.  That way, the cut off part will branch into two new 
growing tips, and in the mean time, I still have tall ones going 
up to nearly the top of the tank.  The stems removed can be added 
back to the pot during the first few weeks, or as the pots fill 
with roots, the stems can be used to start new pots.

 Subject: Copper in tap water
> Karen Randall wrote...... 
> > The vals I've seen collected from the wild came with seashells
> > imbedded in their roots, which gives you an idea of the kind o
> > water they were growing in. (some of the clams were still aliv
> > So i suppose it could be the soft water causing them a problem
> > know it is also intolerant of copper, which is why I can't gro
> > it.

> If  I am not mistaken Karen you wrote on the several occasions, 
> cannot grow some plants because of high copper content in your 
> (Boston?) area water.

I'm not on MDC (Boston) water, which until recently has been 
pretty good for plants, although I've been told they've started 
monkeying with the pH.  Our town has it's own wells (3).  
Depending on which well is being used, the amount of copper 

> Why don't you try to remove (reduce) it?? 

I do, and I have been more aggressive about it in the past.  For a 
long time, I pretreated all water first by filtering through GAC, 
then Cuprasorb.  This worked pretty well, and I still use this 
method in the summer time if it gets really bad (can get to 3ppm)

But it was a lot of work.  I now use double doses of Novaqua at 
water changes.  Novaqua binds copper (among other metals) and I 
can get the levels down to .25ppm most of the time.  The trouble 
is, that my substrate is full of precipitated copper, that is an 
ongoing problem even if the water tests pretty close to )ppm 

> can just add a drop of iron chloride. You have to be carefull th
> because in this process hydrogen carbonate is consumed and this 
> lead to a fall of Ph value (on overdose only).  As far as I can 
> this is the only side effect that you should be concerned with. 
> am not mistaken Dupla sells this product under the trade name 
> "Duplacrys". I have never bought it myself (no need for this wat
> but I think it should work just fine.

Does this work differently than Novaqua?  I would think that the 
bound copper would still be in the tank, and that in the reducing 
environment of the substrate, it would still be taken up by the 

> If you are concerned about adding chemicals to your water (I kno
> always am) perhaps some of the chemists on the list may care to
> elaborate on this; dosing etc...

I would LOVE a "magic bullet" for my copper problem, and if this 
is it, I'd love to hear from somone with experience with the 

Until that point, I have made a conscious decision to stick to 
plants (and fish) that don't mind my water conditions.  My tanks 
are too spread out, and in the living areas of the house to make 
pretreating large quantities of water anything less than a major 
task.  There are more species of plant that _will_ grow in my 
tanks than I can fit, so I've decided it's silly to turn myself 
inside out for the ones that don't do well.  

And copper isn't _all_ bad... I have _never_ had a case of ich in 
any tank since we moved to this house, snails die on contact with 
my water, and red algae wouldn't even _consider_ moving in.<G>

Karen Randall
Aquatic Gardeners Assoc.
Boston, MA