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Re: A Low PH Tank

Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001 04:09:33 EST
From: Zack K.

>     There was a short exchange about this recently, but
> I'm really interested so I thought I'd try for more : )...

>  Have many, or any ?, of you kept a low ph plant tank-
> say around 5.5 ph or so?...

[note - a couple of swaps in Q-order for ease of response]
Down to the mid-4s, for breeding purposes. Not as successfully as the pH
ranges you're interested in, however. Or perhaps I should modify that a
little - if you choose your plants carefully, and establish them _before_
you take it that low, you can keep "some" that low.

> How about a pretty-heavily colored blackwater plant tank
> (via peat filtration) in that ph range?...

Does peat-filtered _and_ extract-supplemented count, particularly in a tank
full of roots and bogwood?

>     -at this ph range, do the organic acids in 'blackwater'
> from peat filtration have a signif. oxygen demand?

Never encountered an aeration problem, so I've not bothered to investigate.
"Oxygen demand" of a chemical decomposition reaction in this case doesn't
seem as approppriate a consideration as perhaps the _biological_
decomposition of certain organic *carbons*. If this was the intent of the
question, then it's basically a non- issue as well. That's because

>     -are bacterial diseases noticeably supressed under
> conditions that might otherwise lead to them?

humic-rich "blackwater" is noted for its bacteriostatic nature. Like the
"stasis field" used in Starfleet sick bays, it's more of a "hostile
environment" than it is a bacteriocide, so it robs them of the conditions to
establish rather than killing them outright.

This leads to an overall "sterility" of sorts - no bacteria means the start
of the food chain is broken. Bacteria feed infusoria and rotifers, etc.,
ending in seemingly few opportunities for successful brood rearing. Enter
such interesting traits as Symphysodon fry grazing off their parents'
flanks, or some forms of Channa that feed their firstborn with all their
"siblings" as unfertilized eggs.

The degree to which this is established in your own case is, of course, a
matter of the final pH and the concentration of humics you reach. So it's a
little difficult to "predict" whether

>     -does mulm, fish poop, etc. breakdown?

will occur in a more-or-less "normal" fashion. Gotta warn you, though - even
down as low as the mid-4s, I've had breakouts of _cyano_bacteria around some
of the wood. I wouldn't set too many plants within contact of the wood that
can't stand an occassional "scrubbing" to pull it off. But since I'm
shooting for _breeding_ tanks at those ranges, I've not bothered to "fine
tune" them for _algae_ relief.

As the water _does_ become more hostile to "conventional" bacteria (lacking
a better term right now), you'll not see "decomposition" eliminated,
however. Jungle water is almost like the jungle itself - wounds are far more
prone to fungal and mold attacks than infections. So, although "conditions
may not lead to" maladies such as septicemia, a wound to the fish is every
bit as vulnerable as it ever is.

Now, when something is excreted into the tank, instead of watching it "melt"
to mulm you can do the aquatic equivalent of "watching the grass grow" as
it's slowly turned hirsute.

_Internal_ infections seem totally unaffected. One would expect that,

>     -have you kept any tetras in those conditions
> (bleheri rummy-noses by any chance?)?  Did you
> notice any differences in them there, compared to a
> neutral ph/clearwater plant tank?

The change is dramatic - especially at breeding. Hmm...what's the closest
picture I could draw? The bleheris. Lucky you mentioned them. Take a tank
full of _true_ H. bleheris and look at them under a 5000K "Daylight". You
can barely see enough of the red to tell it extends past the gill plates,
and the fish's sides look almost a ghostly pale white, sometimes flashing
solid, other times almost translucent.

Now put them under a Gro-Lux.

The red covers the entire head, behind the gill plates and well into the
body, tapering to a thin red line that slowly fades almost halfway down the
body. The "white" sides fade to a much more translucent, slightly "fleshy"

"Darken" the scene by looking through a squint at the tank until all you can
see of the Rummies are bright red "flags" darting in and out of the plants -
no, or a very faint, body outline. _That's_ a Rummy in *those* conditions.

The more iridescent the fish, the more dramatic the change. And camouflage
"strategies" become more apparent. Under the right conditions, a school of
individual Cardinals or Neons can fade into a shimmering cloud of blue
flashes, looking more like the flashing scales of a much larger fish than a
mere collection of "blips". Perhaps "safety and confusion in numbers" isn't
the _only_ conclusion you could draw from schooling behavior with such

Head and Tail Lights? Glowlights? Can you say "Tinkerbell"?

A good diet doesn't hurt, either.

>     -what kinds of plants were you able to keep?  How
> did they do?

Well, I've posted on this a couple of times - and I think I've perhaps
monopolized enough time with this one. So rather than reiterate them in this
instance, I'll hold off for a moment. After all, I'm a little curious to
hear from others on their attempts myself. I'll send a follow-up a bit


David A. Youngker
nestor10 at mindspring_com

...speaking of unfinished business, this last time I "crashed" I left a
conversation hanging with Ivo about his sand. Now that I'm able to get back
on line, I thought to mail him about it. But in sorting out my backlog, it
seems there were a few people actually interested in the thread. So I'm
tossing it back to the list in case Ivo or others would like to bring me
back up to date on the situation...

totally y'all's call...