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Substrates, Lights and Javas

drew grant wrote:

>Just a question on this discussion regarding "root bound tanks" and rotting
>Has there ever been any discussion or thought of actually mechanically
>aerating the substrate, if you will. And by that I mean, say, taking the
>prong end of an algae scrapper and selectively inserting it into the
>substrate, loosening things up gently? Wouldn't this enhance aeration and
>also free up some rooting area and diminish some of the anoxic condition?
>especially for those who are not running heating cables or re-planting alot.

Well, first you have to look at your improvement goals for the substrate.
A root bound substrate and a "rotting" substrate are not at all the same
thing.  A root bound substrate will already be TOO aerobic because the
roots carry oxygen into the substrate.  It is not the susbtrate that has
become compacted, it is sheer root volume.  Sticking an algae scraper into
this root mass will do nothing other than damage roots.  I see no benefit
to the plants or the substrate.

If, ITOH, you have put together a a poorly designed substrate with too much
clay, too much organic material and/or too fine sand, the substrate may
indeed become compacted.  In this case, the roots will not be able to move
easily through the substrate, and anoxic areas might very well develop.
Where this could be fixed by poking around in it, I doubt.  More likely,
you'd just release toxic substances into the water column.  IMO, a much
better approach would be to use a gavel vac, and actually suck the gunk out
of there.


Subject: Light confusion!!

>I'm trying to build my own light fixture for my 55 gal, After talking with
>Carlos Munoz I decided t-8 bulbs would work well.  The problem is that I
>want to mix the types of bulbs up a little. I would like to have two
>actinic bulbs and two daylight bulbs. 

There is no reason that I know of to use actinic bulbs over a planted
aquarium.  They are designed to emit blue light similar to what is found in
deep water on a coral reef.  They are more expensive, and have no benefit
for plants over "normal" bulbs.

>I have found a source for T-8 actinic
>bulbs but none for the daylight. does anyone know where to find them.

There are lots of dayligh equivalent T-8 bulbs.  Sylvania, Phillips and GE
all make them.  The serial# for the GE 5000K bulbs is SPX50.

>        I also plan on using a reflector inside the hood I'm building does
>anyone know what to build a reflector with or is it better to buy a
>reflector kit.

Either painting the inside of the hood glossy white, or lining it with
mylar from a craft store works well.


Java fern

>No offense taken.  I knew it *could* be grown attached to a rock or
>but I thought the rizhome (sp?) could also be planted like a terrestrial
>Else, how could it spread?

Why would the rhizome need to be burried in order for it to spread?


>Java moss

>        I tied java moss on to a piece of driftwood. It really looks good
>        It is starting to over grow the log and thread into other plants.
>I've seen java moss take over an entire tank, so What is the best way to
>shape or prune java moss so that it looks good on the log, but doesn't over
>grow the tank. The reason I ask is that cut off piece's seem to attach
>themselves and start growing in new places of the tank all the time.

Like any other plant, the secreat is to thin it out frequently.  It won't
take over a tank unless it's allowed to.  I don't cut it.  I pull through
it gently with my fingers removing loose strands until I get it to the
density I want.  It looks much nicer this way than if you give it a "hair
cut".  And you're right, when you cut it, there are lots of little bits
that _will_ settle in other places and begin to grow.

Karen Randall
Aquatic Gardeners Association