- 2 x 36" Finnex Stingrays, mounted on legs on tank rim
- 2-3" sloped front-back Eco Complete Substrate (5 bags, for average 2.5" depth)
- 1 x Eheim 2217 filter with inline Hydor heater and a Fluval surface skimmer
- Dosing per Tom Barr Non CO2 Methods:
While trace mixes can be added, I decided to use SeaChem Equilibrium instead.
It has Fe and Mn as well as Ca/K/Mg/SO4.
I will add about 1/4 teaspoon per 20 gal tank once every week or two.
This greatly enhances the growth of the plants.
I also will add about 1/8" and 1/32" teaspoon of KNO3 and KH2PO4 respectively once a week or two.
I will test my water with GH/KH, for some advice - i notice there is no additional iron in the Tom Barr dosing. Do you think this will all be satisfactory?
- Thinking about doing an Ammonia cycle with just substrate and wood in tank before buying plants and fish. With a Low Tech Low Light tank will plants pull up enough ammonia for a "Silent Cycle" instead?
Is there a big downside to going with Eco vs Aquasoil? The problem with Aquasoil is the frequent water changes needed for the first month or two, and the amount of maintenance on my (high-tech) tank is what necessitated me leaving the hobby in the first place with a growing family. Even if it's only 4-6 weeks, large water changes a couple times a week or more will be a SIGNIFICANT factor in substrate selection. If Eco Complete will be just fine with water-column dosing only, without a significant decrease in tank health/balance/growth in the future, I would be happy with it. I noted that Barr used Onyx sand for his testing purposes.
i feel like if you are willing to drop the $$$ on aquasoil it would absolutely worth it in the long run. takes a few months for planted tanks to become established and starting out is never easy anyways... putting in a bit extra work in the first month or so will likely pay very large dividends in the future.
also, my obligatory 'eco complete sucks' must be mentioned here. i would go with something cheaper / easier to work with vs eco complete if you are bailing on aquasoil.
also keep in mind that ammonia is toxic to plants as well... in excess plants can get burned by it. not sure what the levels are that this can occur but be wary if adding a lot of ammonia to a planted tank. IMO you should be doing frequent water changes when starting a tank / getting it cycled anyways so an extra few weeks of this is worth it for benefits of a great substrate.
I see tons of people on here saying that EcoComplete sucks, and I definitely understand that it has its downsides, but for what you're describing I think it would be fine. Just use root tabs so that it isn't totally inert and you'll be golden.
I do think that 2x stingrays might be too much light but that will come down to how long you want them on, splitting the timers, and things like that.
The overlap from the stingrays will be a lot of light for low tech. Your plants won't uptake the ammonia fast enough to render your cycle useless. Test ammonia daily and keep it dosed up to 2-4ppm depending on who you ask. Lastly, Tom Barr's non-CO2 dosing includes equilibrium which has Fe (iron).