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re: Hi-Tech, Lo-Tech nonsense

> From: "James Purchase" <jpurch at interlog_com>
> I have recently (quite recently) gained enough strength to set up a number
> of 20 gallon tanks, with more to come (as time and energy permit). My hope
> is to set up tanks using Steve Pushak's soil substrate , Seachem's Flourite,
> Dupla's Duplarit, and Aqualine Buschke's Terralit. So far, I have two tanks
> running, one with Steve's layered subsoil, topsoil and gravel substrate and
> using PMDD as a liquid fertilizer, and another tank using a Flourite
> substrate and Flourish liquid fertilizer.

A tough contender!! I've heard good things about that stuff. Is it fair
to use clay fertilizer balls in the soil tank?? Seriously, if you
fertilize either of them in the substrate, its going to make comparisons
tough to make (unless you used the same fertilizer).

> I am following the indiviual tank's progress in two ways - with photographs
> and with regular water testing (using LaMotte and Hach test kits) and I

Excellent. Much easier than weighing samples and less invasive.

> shall be setting up a Web site where the progress of the study may be
> reviewed by anyone interested. I am not making any claims at this point in
> time - hopefully, the results will speak for themselves. But I do have one
> early observation of Steve's method - as noted on his web page, Steve states
> that organic material in a substrate can act as a sponge for Calcium. At
> least at this point in time (early though it may be) this seems to be at
> work in the tank that I have set up following Steve's method. The Alkalinity
> and Hardness of the soil based tank is much lower than the Flourite based
> tank and the soil based tank also has a much lower pH than the Flourite
> tank. Possibly, the peat moss which Steve recommends as an addition to his
> style of substrate is causing the difference. Note that at this point in
> time this is only an observation, not a conclusion.

I would agree with this observation. In fact, I think the next time I
would use somewhat less peat. Maybe only a cup or two. It has its good
effects but I'd like to see the initial effects moderated. Another
observation is that the calcium seems to go but I think the carbonate
stays. Does this make sense chemically? Or does the carbonate react with
something else like the free hydrogen ions?