[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: My small change on soil substrates

Karen wrote in reply to me:

<my stuff snipped>
> I have to say that if you get by with pruning a 10G tank with that much
> light and all those fast growing species every 3 weeks, you are getting
> _far_ less than the growth that could be expected in the wild.  And far
> less than could be expected in an optimally balanced aquarium either.  Of
> course, you may be purposely retarding growth, but from your post, that
> doesn't seem to be your goal.

Firstly I've got a lot less light than exists in the wild. I use the 
watt per gallon measurement because most people on the list are 
familier with it. Being accustomed to growing land plants in 
convirons, I usually work in watts per square meter surface area.

Yes I am deliberately retarding the growth of the plants. Thats why I 
stopped adding fertiliser. Its also why the lights are on for only 9 
hours per day. For some reason my CO2 production has never come 
anywhere near the levels reported by people on this list. Anyway 
before I cut back, I was removing 8-10 inches of plant every two 
weeks. I don't want gigantic growth, the tank is too small and too 
heavily planted for that.
> I'm glad you're enjoying your tank, and I'm glad that you are happy with
> the growth you are getting.  But I don't think that the growth rates you
> are reporting do anything to advance the theory that soils substrates
> produce "better" plant growth in the aquarium.

Yes it does work for me. Like I said, I've had to throttle back on 
the growth. I regularily get people coming in here and asking when 
I'm going to prune my jungle.
> Again, I'm glad that the algae doesn't bother you, but it's not a
> resounding endorsement of the method either.

The algae in the substrate is inevitable considering the levels of 
ambient light light in my office. The thread algae is my fault 
entirely. It came in with some Eleocharis about four weeks ago. I 
suspect that the reason its fairly happy is due to the growth 
throttling I'm performing on the anthophytes.
> It certainly is true that dirt from the back yard is cheaper... if you
> don't count the worth of your time to process it.

Dig soil, mix with vermiculite, put in tank: 15 minutes at R12.70 per 
hour = about R3.18 or $0.60. Besides, half the fun is using the 
soil substrate in the first place. This tank will only be running for 
another year anyway and it was cheap. The most expensive stuff was 
the two Biolux lights, which are cheaper than aquarium lamps anyway, 
and the plants.
> As George has mentioned, and I've said numerous times on this list, there
> is _no_ reason that people should feel that it is necessary to endure an
> "initial algae bloom" .  I've set up dozens of tanks, all showing growth at
> least as good as what you describe, (many better)  with "low fertility, low
> CEC" laterite/gravel substrates.  _NONE_ of them have experienced algae
> problems even in the initial phase.  The shortest term of these tanks has
> been @ 9 months, (school tanks taken down at the end of the school year)
> the longest term tank is now 7+ years old.

The algae bloom was inevitable here. The tank started off well and 
without algae, then two weeks later,  one night after a rock concert, 
I decided to pop into my office to check email at about 2am and found 
the tank leaking. I transfered most of the substrate the next day 
into an unused tank, but a lot of the nutrients were dissolved and 
inevitably entered the watercolumn. Also I don't try to get rid of 
algae from the plants. We've set up another tank in much the same way 
here in the office, and it has no sign of algae at all. The key to 
soil substrates is to not to disturb it too much initially. Now I can 
lift a plant, and sure, some mud enters the water, but no algae 
grows. Other than the Hair algae, and we use it for first year pracs 
so it doesn't go to waste.
> The _only_ tank that I have had ongoing stability problems with of one sort
> or another for 2 1/2 years now, is a soil based tank.

I wouldn't say that my soil tank is unstable. If anything its 

Sounds more like you have a case of bad luck than a problem with the 
basic premise. How fertile was the soil you used?
> I know that there are people who like soil substrates, have found a good
> local soil supply to work with, and have learned to manage soil substrates.
>  But it is just one of a number of methods that can work very, very well if
> handled properly.  It is my belief that laterite/gravel substrates are much
> easier to manage, particularly for the novice.  I know for a _fact_ that
> one can achieve _excellent_ growth in a laterite/gravel tank.

Just as you can with soil substrates. I'm not saying there is 
anything wrong with the laterite/gravel substrates. I just find the 
soil substrate to be more fun, and ahelluvva cheaper than laterite at 
R200 per bag. I'm going to be trying out a local brand of kitty 
litter as well in a small tank
> >Sure my substrate isn't natural. I wouldn't use pond mud if you paid 
> >me too, especially here in SA. All those Noo-Noo's are a bad idea in 
> >what is essentially an artificial environment.  
> And that was where I believe Olga started this conversation.<g>

Like I said. Pond mud is a bad idea. Better to use terrestrial soil.


Jacques Gerber
Botany Department
Rhodes University
South Africa

Dept Tel#: 046 6038596
Dept Fax#: 046 6225524
Home Tel#: 046 6225000