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Re: plant selection, setup, and planting schedule

>>The mix is peat moss, top soil, charcoal, and aquarium gravel.  I was
considering adding something like laterite (preferably a cheaper
substitute), but I've been told that the iron in the soil should be enough.
I was hoping that the gravel and charcoal would provide CEC.  By
nutrient-hungry I mean Echinodrus, but I would aslo use this for just about
anything that can draw nutrients from the roots.  I was planning on using it
for Crypts also, for example.  I wasn't planning on using the pots for the
Anacharis.  What plants would you suggest I not use the mixture and simple
plant directly in the gravel?<<

Well you can still plant most stem plants in pots for easy removal and
trimming. Some stem plants will actually root pretty deep and send out
offshoots. Problem is that many of these need to be constantly pruned and
replanted, throwing out the rooted bottom and starting over with the cutting
to keep thick, bushy growth...(cabomba, ambulia, foxtail) I dont think
Anarchis, Egeria, roots very deep and it soakes up nutrients from the water.
Egeria najans seems to grow much better rooted, (not floating) under low
light  than Anarchis does. (thanks to Tom Barr I have a whole tank full of
this stuff now, as well as taking over my container pond!) I think I am safe
saying here that most stem plants draw their nutrients through their leaves.

I think your mix is pretty high in CEC, iron, and organics as it is. How are
you keeping all this soil and peat weighted down in the pot and not turning
into a muddy mess? For all the lurkers out there that doesnt know what CEC
is, I will give my unscientific definition:

Cation Exchange Capacity quantifies the ability of media to provide a
nutrient reserve for plant uptake. It is the sum of exchangeable cations, or
positively charged ions, media can adsorb per unit weight or volume. It is
usually measured in milligram equivalents per 100 g or 100 cm3 (meq/100 g or
meq/100 cm3, respectively). A high CEC value characterizes media with a high
nutrient-holding capacity that can retain nutrients for plant uptake between
applications of fertilizer.  In simple terms a high CEC medium is like a
sponge, absorbing nutrients for future plant uptake. Peat, Vermiculite,
Perlite, clay, laterite, and soil can all be good CEC mediums. See Jamies
article! I read somewhere that charcole can release or leech anions...maybe
someone else can elaborate on that. Steve Pushaks studies is also a good

>>I read the article and it helped alot.  Perhaps I should also address the
question to Paul and see what he thinks?<<

I have his email address somewhere. I have been going thru a lot of crappy
computers lately and losing email addresses in the process.

Robert Paul H
San Jose, CA USA