Re: "Innoculation of substrate" principle

> Bruce Hansen <bhansen at oznet02_ozemail.com.au> wrote:
> <snip> I have a friend in Townsville who regularly adds a handful of his =
> old substrate (deliberately including local tubificids) to all his =
> newly-potted aquatics, especially Crypts. He grows them in 5 feet of =
> water and tends them in a wet suit with a weight belt. If you are ever =
> over here and want to see C. beckettii that grow 15 - 18 inches high =
> just let me know and I will give you his address.
> He swears by the innoculation of substrate principle.

Wow!  Neat setup.  I want one.  :-)

I've only "innoculated" new tanks from old tanks, but I've grown
more interested in this "innoculation" from "natural" sources,
namely lakes, ponds, and streams.  Some of this list's discussion
of "freshwater reefs" echos most of my goals.

On innoculation, though, I must wholeheartedly agree:  Although
there are many chances to introduce diseases and parasites, the
astounding biological diversity in even a tablespoon of pond muck
(even though most of that diversity is merely bacteria and micro
organisms) is an effective way to introduce impossibly complex
processes into the tank.  These processes are impossibly complex
partially because we haven't even identified or catalogued many
of these species, and because the processes are (often) infinitely
inter-woven (so distinct processes are often impossible to

I've spent a bit of time with the US Department of the Interior,
and you'd be *amazed* at the species that aren't catalogued.  You'd
never believe the stuff we don't know:  we're pretty good on
mammals (especially the large ones), and alright on game fish and
trees.  We know the names of many of the larger reptiles.  However, 
we're hurting on the catalogue of forbs and grasses, and not good at
smaller reptiles and smaller fish; we're terrible at insects, and we 
haven't even attempted many of the smallest plants, fungi, or 

Recall that a simple campfire will literally sterilize the soil
underneath it.  Even if you remove the sometimes high levels of
toxic compounds left over from the rapid oxydation of combustible
material, the 2'x2' area of soil under the campfire may remain
sterile for 5-10 YEARS, even though inches away there is a healthy
bacterial and fungal presense.  Out here in the arid west, that
same spot may remain sterile for 15-90 years (no kidding).  That's
also a problem with forest fires:  burning is ok, but burning too
hot (from high fuels loading) sterilizes the soil and it's tough 
to re-establish the bacterial and fungal colonies and cultures 
over 1,000 acres.

Of course, we all know that most terrestrial plants do very poorly
in sterile soils (almost all of them die).  This establishment
of a "culture" from tank innoculation from a biologically active
riperian area seems only fitting.  I believe it worth the risk
of disease and parasite, unless you want the "cleanest" and most
orderly of tanks.

cbay at jeppesen_com