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ADA system: my speculations (very long msg.)


 From my trouble in controlling my new little tank, this message has just 
become a simple collection of considerations of the ADAŽ system as my 
interpretation sees it.

4 main points will be stressed here:
- substrate
- filtration media
- fertilizers
- general dynamic

in my little tank I used Power Sand Special S (450ml), just because in 
Italy only this one is available. If I had to choose, I'd prefer Power Sand 
just because I was told that it's less rich in nutrients than Special 
version (here ADA support can answer precisely). Apart from this, Power 
Sand is an ORGANIC fertilizer substrate, made mainly by pumice and peat. It 
should be evident to me that, apart from trace-elements (does it contain 
any? ADA can tell us!), Power Sand is very rich in nitrogen and phosphorus.
I stressed on "organic" word because there must be some sense in choosing 
an ORGANIC fertilizer instead of a mineral one. For sure it's more 
difficult to deal with an organic fertilizer (it would be interesting to 
know the C/N ratio), but it's "live" and can be easily and quickly attacked 
by bacteria which will transform organic compounds in inorganic ones which 
will dissolve in water column. Hence - in my speculation - the necessity to 
add BACTER 100 and CLEAR SUPER that are bacteria (nitrogen will be their 
meal) and activated carbon, which can easily adsorb JUST ORGANIC compounds 
till will be colonized by bacteria themselves.
What's wrong? it's the dosage!? Indeed the dosage depends on the plants we 
choose, the light and CO2 but, respecting the ADA suggested dose the tank 
simply goes out of control! No way! So something is missing here!... My 
tank speciments can be read below at the end of message, but comparing my 
dosage with that used by ADA in AJ vol. 33 (english version, or Nē36 
japanese version), I used half the dosage but still I have algae happily 
growing (with the same amount of light, with the same time of light, and no 
fishes!) in it.

filtration media:
ADA goes for a biological filtering but mainly uses activated carbon and 
rely on it. In the past (old AJ issues) activated carbon were used only on 
the first stage of tank setup then it should be replaced by Bamboo Charcoal 
(a far less agressive carbon), but nowadays activated carbon is a common 
filter media in all setups. ADA claims that a filter loaded with activated 
carbon makes the tank more easy to control. Why? Well, unfortunately ADA 
doesn't tell how often the carbon must be replaced; in other words ADA 
doesn't tell if the activated carbon have only an adsorbative short-term 
function or a long-term biological function.
Anyhow why activated carbon? Once again - I think - the answer should be in 
the substrate fertilizer: ORGANIC -> just the compounds activated carbon 
can easily remove! What's in the substrate is only for plants root, and 
what seeps into the water must be removed quickly! how? activated carbon, 
and frequent water changes. Under this hyphotesis it's clear that activated 
carbon has only an adsorbative function.

here again there is a close interaction. BRIGHTY STEP I contains almost no 
iron and it's suggested for the 1st 3 months of setup! 3 months of no iron? 
No way! Hence ECA, organic acid with iron and manganese (probably a 
gluconate)... here again: organic -> it will disappear quickly! (No matter 
how expensive it is!!!), if plants lose their turn, they won't eat! 
Bacteria and carbon will eat the rest for them! :)
Then after 3 long months, BRIGHTY STEP 2: why? Once again - I think - just 
because the chelated iron which is in STEP 2 will last longer than the 
weakly chelated iron of ECA ... so it's better to use STEP 2 when possibly 
the Power Sand has finished leeching nutrients into the water column.

general dynamic:
well.. things go complicated here. Let's say that the most of planted tanks 
function in a phosphate limited dynamic. You keep N-K at a sufficient level 
so that all the P available is uptaken by plants, and dose the trace 
elements to have photosynthesis activity that guarantees all the uptaken 
N-P-K to be 'burnt' by plants. Simple. (all my devotion to Paul Sears! :-)  )

Does ADA work this way too? Perhaps. But maybe - just maybe -in some cases 
it works in a different way: iron limited. Probably when there is slighty 
too much solid fertilizer, and the tank cannot work in a phoshate limited 
way because both N and P are not limited, one way (with filtration, and all 
the other things I wrote before) to prevent an algae bloom is to limit the 
presence of iron in the water column. BRIGHTY STEP I is extremely low in 
iron and can help in this situation. ECA can help too because it can be 
supplied on spot just when new buds are whitering, after all it won't last 
long in the water because it's not actually chelated, but rather
complexed to another organic molecule and the unused part will precipitate 
soon (taking away with itself some phosphorus). Activated carbon will take 
also a little part in taking trace elements too.

This way (if it's really applicable) of conducting a planted tank might be 
MUCH more difficult - I guess - than the "common" way of controlling it by 
phosphate limitation.

this msg. will be cross-posted on APList, AquastopList, and CCopy to ADA 
support as well. Just to have the wider readiness and the biggest feedback 

Best gardening to all !:))


PS: here is my setup infos:
I setup the tank just last Sunday (the 25th of Nov.), and it was like that:

tank: 45*30*27(H) cm , around 36 liter (~28 liters of water).
Substrate Fertilizer: Power Sand S special (450 ml), plus some Clear Super,
plus Penac W, Penac P (two grams each).
Substrate Gravel: Malaya Aqua Soil (around 5 liter + 1 liter of Aqua Soil 

Dennerle CO2 system (no pH-meter).

Ludwigia Arcuata (dennerle) (*)
Ludvigia glandulosa (Tropica)
Hemianthus micrantemoides (tropica) (*)
Micrantemum umbrosum (dennerle)
Hydrocotyle verticilliata (tropica)

(*) these plants came froma previous tank and had some blue-green algae on 
their leaves.

Filter: Fluval 103 with reduced outflow rate. Canister(1 liter volume) 
loaded in this order (from the bottom to the top):
lava pebbles (Eheim EHFILAV)
Activated Carbon (no brand)

Light: 4 fluo tubes 15w each. two full-spectrum(3000K), and 2 
tri-bands(5000K). 10 hours per day of light.

NO FISH (yet!)

Using only RO water, with added salt (Dennerle Osmose+ salts). Then I use 
only ADA Brighty K every day. GH=2, KH=2. pH=6.6. NO3=15ppm .
I change 1/3 of water daily.
As I saw Hemianthus new buds very pale, I added a little of ECA and a push 
of BRIGHT Step I.

But algae are slowing but costantly growing !!