fw:Re: Aquatic Plants Digest V1 #278

Forwarded for Karen Randall.  Karen, you sent this to 
aquatic-plants-owner at actwin_com (by mistake, I assume.)


 Shaji Bhaskar,                                             bhaskar at bnr_ca
 BNR, 35 Davis Dr., RTP, NC 27709, USA                      (919) 991 7125

---forwarded message---->
Aug 31 20:30:00 1995
From:       'krandall at world_std.com'                          (BNR400)
Subject:    Re: Aquatic Plants Digest V1 #278

 Subject: Re: Peat Alternatives


> > From: stevensj at calshp_cals.wisc.edu
> > 
> > I imagine that using dead leaves might be no less convenient than peat,
> > but they may make a better substrate which doesn't float around the tan
> > & get in your filters like peat does.
> What do people think about the appearance of such a substrate?
> Natural looking, of course, but *too* natural?  I like a certain
> amount of artificial neatness in the aquarium. 

While I am passionate about _learning_ about native biotopes, the more I 
learn, the more I am convinced that most are not very "pretty".  Like you, I 
have come to appreciate the beauty of an aquatic "garden" for my display 
tanks.  I think that's one of the reasons Ammano's work appeals to me so 
much.  He uses plants and aquascaping to _suggest_ a natural setting as 
opposed to trying (usually unsuccessfully) to recreate a biotope.

To each his own, I guess!<g>
Subject: Re: nutrient diffusion into substrate

> I think there are at least two issues. (1) Will the substrate go
> anaerobic without circulation intervention (passive diffusion is 
> sufficient, no heat coils), and (2) will nutrients enter the 
> substrate passively (through diffusion) in sufficient quantities 
> to replenish those nutrients adsorbed?
> My opinion (my guess, really) is that (1) is "yes" for laterite, "no"
> for vermiculite, and (2) is "not relevant?" for laterite, "I don't
> know" for vermiculite.
> While diffusion may not be adequate for nutrients (I don't know), 
> it surely must be for O2 (too many tanks on this list have 
> substrates that have *not* gone anaerobic, even though no circulation
> method was employed).

Sorry Charley, (sorry, I couldn't resist<g>) but I've had tanks set up for 
years _with_ laterite, and _without_ substrate heating and have not had any 
problems with anaerobic substrate.  It is my feeling that once the plants 
have developed a good root system, _they_ move enough water through the 
substrate to prevent anaerobic conditions.  

This is _not_ necessarily that same as moving enough water to adequately 
recharge the substrate with micronutrients.  From the small amount of 
experimenting I've done with substrate heating, I believe that it is 
beneficial to plant growth. (if all other parameters for plant growth have 
been optimized)

I have a hard time with the anaerobic substrate line, since I have yet to 
see an anaerobic substrate in a well set up healthy planted tank without 
organic material in the substrate.  Here we seem to be in agreement.
> No, I don't want it to become a religeous war.  I really want to
> get some input on whether the inherently porous nature of vermiculite
> will allow for old substrates to remain sufficiently oxygenated,
> and that in time, nutrient supplements can charge the high CEC 
> potential of vermiculite to a point at least equalling laterite.
> In short, I *honestly* want to know that long-term, can vermiculite at 
> least equal the effectiveness of laterite because of its higher
> CEC and more porous nature? 

I think that until someone (better yet, a number of someones) set up side by 
side duplicate tanks, one with laterite and one with vermiculite, and run 
these tanks in the same manner for _at least several years_ we will not know 
the answer to that question.

The problem with all of this is that so many methods work "OK".  Most of us 
find a method that works for us, and follow it as George suggest, with 
"religious" fervor.  Since few of us set up side by side tests and control 
all other variables, it's hard to say what works "best".  *THAT* in a 
nutshell is what Dupla charges extra for ;-)

> ------------------------------
> From: "David Huie" <David.Huie at Bentley_COM>
> Date: Wed, 30 Aug 95 20:00:57 EST
> Subject: Re: Aquatic Plants Digest V1 #261
>      I have a beautiful specimen of the "red mellon sword" echonidorus 
>      osiris red (I think) and it had been growing beautifully until I move
>      it to the other side of the tank.  Since then, the new leaves still 
>      look great, but the old leaves have become riddled with hundreds of 
>      1mm holes--


> right before I did the big 
> transplant when all the problems started.  I have a feeling much of 
> these problems relate to the increased light level in the tank....must
> have accelerated a dormant problem.

Making a number of change in a tank at the same time, (moving plants, 
changing lighting, changing nutrient replacement routine) is never a good 
idea.  It becomes almost impossible to track down a specific problem.  I 
would suspect that you are seeing snail holes as the snails munch on dying 
plant leaves caused by the changes that have taken place.  The fact that the 
new growth looks good is encouraging.  I would keep things as stable as 
possible, and wait for a while. Echinodorus are, for the most part, tough 
plants.  They should recover in time with good growth conditions.

In the future, if at all possible, try to make only one change at a time!


> Subject: Re: vermiculite, laterite and $$$


> Circulation thru the gravel may be desireable, but it is definitely NOT
> required. At least for the experienced aquatic gardener <g>. But, I am > 
curious enough to want to try artificial circulation some day. I even have > 
the cables and a transformer and some 7w heaters for the Randall system. I
> just need the time to set up the tanks.

In fairness, we should probably call this the "Christensen method".  After 
all, he talked _me_ into trying it!<g>

> BTW, I tried vermiculite not as a sponge to soak up nutrients, but as a
> substrate "conditioner," just like it is used in house plants - to open up 
> the soil and keep it from compacting.  I mixed the vermiculite with sand > 
and peat in the lower half and used clean sand in the upper half. I wanted > 
to create an O2 deficient environment. 

As I've been reding this post, I've been thinking to myself why does it have 
to be all or nothing?  I would think some benefit might be gained by using 
vermiculite _and_ a perhaps smaller than usual amount of laterite.  The 
nutrients in the laterite could serve as a non-organic "starter" until the 
vermiculite has time to become charged with trace elements.  In the mean 
time, it helps keep the substrate open.  I would think this could be 
beneficial with or without susbtrate heating, as I've never heard _anyone_ 
suggest that a compacted substrate is a good idea ;-)

>The vermiculite/soil tank is getting torn down this weekend.
> Maybe I will try artificial circulation!

Why is that tank being torn down?  How long has it been set up?  Let us know 
how the roots look, and the condition of the substrate.  Inquiring minds 
want to know!<g>


Re:  Problem Form Idea

When I was over on Fishnet, we had a "Check Up Form" that people could fill 
out and submit if they were having a problem with their planted tank.  That 
way we could help them without playing 20 questions.

What do people think of doing the same kind of thing here?  We could either 
put it in the FAQ, or maybe ask Erik if it could be stored in "The Krib".  I 
don't mind helping people trouble shoot, but if I can run through the whole 
tank set up at once, rather than getting the info piecemeal, it's usually a 
lot easier.

We could either have people post the answers here, or some of us could take 
turns handling them through E-mail.  What do you all think?