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So it's been a while since I suggested this idea (Poor Man's Amano
Substrate), and here's what I've been up to with it. I originally set up a
10-gallon and a 30-gallon with a substrate of pumice, peat and redart clay (
pay attention boys and girls, it's redart, NOT Red Art clay- the latter
having some kind of oil to keep it pliable). The plant order was screwed up
by- well we won't go into that again, will we? That was January. I tried a
number of trace mineral supplements designed for hydroponics, but everything
pretty much died on me, and it always darkened the water really bad. The
Anubius barteri that was supposed to be v. nana survived and slowly grew out
from two leaves to ten, but I fought a lot with pale leaves in the new
growth. I now believe that it is A. barteri v. barteri, as the stems are a
little longer than the leaves, rather than the other way around.
In late June I finally gave up on hydroponics fertilizers and got some
Natural Gold from Karl Schoeler, and in July the Anubias lost its pale leaf
syndrome. Then the jungle vals and cryptocorynes (lutea and wendtii red)
slowly started to come back from where I don't know. there are now eight
crypts of the original twelve and four jungle vals in there that had
vanished above the level of the gravel covering the PMAS. Some algae also
started coating the glass, but I recently added some more plants to compete
with the algae, and the good guys appear to be slowly winning.
So earlier this month I set up another PMAS tank. This one is a standard 55
gallon. The lighting is one Phillips 50AX (now known as 50 ADV Advantage)
and one standard department store aquarium bulb, I think it's a GE. This is
only 80 watts, but the AX is way bright. They are mounted in one of those 8
dollar Lights of America shop lights. I bent the outside edges of the
reflector inward, so the whole thing is only 6 inches wide. I have a second
shop light, but haven't set it up yet.
Filtration is a hydrosponge with a power head. CO2 is not yet running. I
have a system from wcf.com, I just haven't done any more about a bottle than
make some phone calls.
The PMAS was constructed thus: 2 inches of 1/4 inch pumice gravel. I added
900gr of pyrophillitic clay, rather than redart. It has more minerals, and
literally lacks nothing. Then I dumped 1-1/2 cups of dry sphagnum peat moss
on top and stirred the whole thing up. I topped that with one to
one-and-a-half inches of natural quartz gravel.
I received an order of plants from AAG last week Tuesday. It was in the mail
a little longer than normal, but plants seem to have survived. In the order
Temple (Hygrophila corymbosa v. "Stricta")
Echinodorus quadricostatus (broadleaf pgmy, or Cuban chainsword)
Aponogeton ulvaceous, 1 bulb
The parrots feather and pygmy swords were not in very good shape. The swords
were about 50% brown, and the parrots feather had dead leaves from the base
up about 8 or 9 inches, with about 2 inches of green on the top. Everything
else looked pretty good. The Aponogeton bulb had actually sprouted in the
mail. This made it easy to tell which end was up.
I stuck some half-sticks of Jobes fern spikes in around the crypts and some
of the other plants.
For the first three days there were only one angelfish and three Apistogramma
panduro in there for nitrogen load. Even following the dosing recommended
for the Natural Gold, nothing was going on except that the vals, chains
sword, and parrots feather developed a lot more brown leaves. I blamed it on
the lack of nitrate in my tap water, and added 4 small tetras, 8 hatchets,
and 4 corys. Of course, three days is not a reasonable period of time to
wait, but hey, I want it NOW.
So for the last week, things have gone well. The crypts haven't melted yet.
The parrots feather is now green for lengths as long as a foot, and are
starting to stretch out along the water's surface. The pgmy chains have lost
almost all of their original leaves, but have put out new ones. The vals all
have new growth. The crystal val's new leaves are about 14 inches long. The
corkscrews aren't growing as fast length-wise, but have more new stuff than
the crystal vals. The temple plants are branching out all over, and rooting
is starting to show when I pull one up accidently. The foxtail is growing
The thing that has me most impressed though is the Aponogeton. If I measure
22 inches for the tank, and deduct 3-1/2 for substrate, I figure the tallest
of the 10 leaves to be 16 inches long, from the base of the petiole to the
tip of the leaf. It isn't as "wrinkly" as the picture in the AAG online
catalog, but is growing at a phenomenal rate.
I'm thinking of trimming the dead stuff off the bottom of the parrots
feathers and replanting. Opinions, please. Should I do it now, or wait
until it roots and regains some strength? I noticed one of them has a little
stem shooting off near the base.
Also, do I need to think about going with 2 more 40-watt bulbs, or do I wait
until I get the CO2 running?
The 30 gallon has some of the leftovers from the plant order, and is doing
okay. It is running 2 30Watt Tritons. The new plants are mostly stuff that
wouldn't stay rooted in the 55. The old plants continue to improve and
recover since the switch to Natural Gold.
I have some Java fern in the "fish" tanks. I may tie a few small ones to the
driftwood in the 55. It won't tell me much about the substrate, but it will
look good on the "branch" I have running along the back.
I originally joined this list a couple years back (could it be that long
already?) because someone on the Apisto list suggested I could learn about
snails and algae control here. But I read, questioned, contributed,
experimented, killed some plants, and experimented some more. Then I read
the list some more, read the krib, looked at the planted tank photos on your
web pages, and read what you had to say there. I've never had plant growth
like this before, and I'm impressed.
Thanks to everyone for your patience and help.