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Re: CO2, fertilization and substrate questions from Chuck

Charles wrote:
>  What would one consider to be a good
> mechanical/biological filter for a planted tank?

Charles,  Plants are a good biological filter.  You really don't need 
more if the plants are growing well.  They'll take care of the 
ammonia/nitrates.  In fact, you may have to add some!  For 
mechanical filtration, a canister filter works nicely for me.  No 
surface turbulence which would create loss of CO2, quiet, easy to 

Charles also asks:
> I am a new born to the world of aquatic plants. I'm pretty confused about
> trace elements and nutrients. I'm doing alot of research through books and
> product labels but I'm having a hard time figuring out which compounds are
> important to add to the tank and which ones are unneeded/excessive. Could
> someone with a little experience post a list of the major trace elements and
> nutrients that are important to a planted tank? Also what is the best way to
> ensure I have adequate levels of said nutrients in my tank without having an
> over abundance of them?  

Have you checked out the Krib website?  www.thekrib.com   Lots 
of info there about fertilization.  Basically, the macronutrients are 
nitrogen and potassium; micronutrients are iron, magnesium, 
boron, manganese, calcium.  Personally I use the PMDD 
described in the Krib website to supply nitrates, potassium, 
magnesium, and boron. I use Seachem Flourish instead of the 
trace element mix described in the PMDD recipe.  It's easier for 
me.  And I have laterite in the substrate, as an iron source and to 
facilitate uptake of the other nutrients.  

All these nutrients are important.  You will have to test the water 
and look at your plants (good growth? yellow leaves? deformed 
leaves?) to determine whether you need to add anything.  I know 
that's not a black-and-white answer, but I can't give you one 
because every tank is different.  Every person on this list has a 
different way of supplying nutrients to their plants, and different 
water conditions.  What are yours?  Lots of info on the Krib site.

Chuck's final question:
> Ok here is another question for the experts.  What would you all consider to
> be the best all around substrate for a planted tank? I realise there are many
> ways to build a substrate, but what's a good all around way for a beginner to
> build a substrate and have reasonable luck?

Can't speak from experience on this one, but if I were starting a 
new tank, I'd try Seachem's Flourite.  So far have heard only good 
things about it.  

Best of luck to you.  
Cathy Hartland