Originally Posted by driftwoodhunter
Tom, may I ask a few questions on your comments? Very newbie-basic questions, but I only came over from the dark side (aquarium gravel and plastic plants) since finding this site. I added plants thinking it would make life more pleasant for the fish, but without knowing why. So on the first comment; A good fish load can suffice as water column dosing also in a non CO2 soil tank.
I have non CO2 dirt tanks, low/medium light (par). One of the things that always gets me confused when I read about ferts is the macro/micro difference, and what wouldn't be supplied by the soil, fish, or the osmocote tabs I use for my crypts and swords. So unless my plants show obvious nutrient deficiencies, I don't need to do water column ferts? (which I don't now). I pair my plant selections to match my lighting, so I don't have to fight that battle. But how do I determine when I've found the right fish load?
You do not need to add ferts with a dirt style tank, but doing so in small amounts poses no issues I've seen in a well run non CO2 tank. NO3 will run low after about 1-2 years and then more fish feeding will help offset that.
Some dose GH booster once in awhile or Traces.
Not required, but can make the plants a bit nicer.
Fish load: I tend to suggest an overabundance of algae eaters which will also eat left over food. I use common sense here and experience.
I'd not add 6 Discus to a 40 Gallon tank, I'd maybe add 20 nice tetras or 10 rainbows etc. Then a bunch of shrimp, algae eaters etc.
Which leads into; Then you could do water changes or not as long as the fish load/feeding was moderately low relative to total tank volume/plant biomass. How does one know when they hit that magical balance?
There's no magic.
You simply use common sense and error on the lower side and then progressively add more fish/food and see. Plants will tell you. Yellowing leaves on emergent pennywort for example, time to add more N.
Nice green color= things are doing well.
Gardening is common sense based really. Watch. Observe.
Will it be because the water tests will show no accumulating ammonia/nitrites and the nitrate readings stabilize?
Pretty much, assuming your N testing methods are correct.
N can be anywhere from the single digits to 40 ppm etc without any issues.
Main thing is that they do not have large swings.
Most times, in non CO2 systems, they run low, not high, but if you over load the fish and under load the plants.......well.............
Common sense, set things up so you have to add more N, not remove it.
I still have a heavy fish ratio to plants, but I am adding plants as I can. In the meantime it just means more frequent water changes. However the last few times I've done water changes in my 125, the readings have been identical both before and after the w/c. (0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 40 nitrate.) Some tell me the nitrate is too high - so I keep doing water changes - some tell me it's ok because of my pH. (6.8) I should add that I also have a Hamburg Mattenfilter as well as a Marineland Emperor 400 HOB in the tank, and behind the HMF I have bundles of Matrix bio media. I'm sure that adds to my nitrification bacteria, helping to compensate for my current light plant-to-fish ratio. The 125 tank also has 1/3 surface coverage due to floating Brazilian Pennywort.
Sounds like you have too many fish frankly, if you have 1/3 area coverage with a floating pennywort, you likely need to change things if the NO3 is in fact 40 ppm. You can use that plant as a good indicator of plant health and N.
I hope this isn't a thread hijack - I thought it might help others if they have the same questions! Now I'm off to check out the Barrreport link
Thank you for your time ~
The article I did on non CO2 is specific to not having soil as the basis, rather, water column ferts. Same general approach, but dosing once a week with a small dose of ferts, basically 1/10 to 1/20th EI.
This way, folks can use plain sand etc, but a mix of both sediment and water column yields the best results IME. Which is also true for land plants.