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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-02-2012, 07:00 PM Thread Starter
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back to low-tech

Hi all -

I've gone from low tech to high tech and now back to low tech. I am feeling good about it! I have some fairly easy plants coming together - some hygros, vesuvius, anubias. I think all of these plants will be fine under low light, but I'm trying to decide if I should fertilize or not.

I just swapped out the substrate for safe-t-sorb which I am loving! So, I think maybe some root tabs will go down just to help things get started. But as for adding ferts, I'm not sure sure.

The tank is stocked with about 20 Cardinal Tetras, maybe 6 Oto's, 5 Kuhli loaches, and a growing population of neo shrimp plus the usual MTS explosion. It's a 54g corner tank, so there's plenty of room

I wonder if I can get away with having no ferts at all on this tank, that would be pretty nice!

- Dave

"The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods." Socrates

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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-02-2012, 07:13 PM
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What lighting will you have? That is the primary thing that determines if you need to dose anything. Do you plan to use any CO2? If you do the plants will grow faster, requiring more nutrients.


Last edited by Hoppy; 08-02-2012 at 07:13 PM. Reason: typo
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-02-2012, 07:19 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Hoppy,

I have retired my CO2 system (and it's for sale if anyone wants it!) so no CO2. I have T5NO plus a bit of LED to light the back of the corner tank. At substrate I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 9-15 PAR at substrate depth of around 21 inches.

I know that the fish themselves contribute to the available ferts in the tank. Is it possible that with fairly low light and no CO2, the livestock in the tank may be enough to keep the plants growing (healthy, but slow)?

I am loving the low-maintenance feeling of the tank now, so this would be terrific!

thanks, DAve

"The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods." Socrates

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-03-2012, 04:44 AM
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Sources of fertilizer in a low tech set up:

Fish food. Digested by the fish or fallen to the substrate and digested by bacteria. Good source of N, P and traces. Not so good for K, Fe or C.

Water changes, depending on your tap water.
GH >3 German degrees usually means there is enough Ca and Mg. If there is any doubt then a separate Ca test would sort that out. If the water is softer, then use a GH booster. Natural water with a somewhat higher GH often has other minerals such as K and traces. Not always, though. Some water has Fe in it, but not always in a form the plants can use.

Decomposing leaves, and carbohydrate fish food: Good source of C at the levels needed in a low light tank. Just barely enough, so supplementing C might be one of the first things you do.

Added fertilizer: The sources listed above are often too low in K and Fe. I would start by dosing those, anyway. And C. Excel might be a reasonable source of carbon. Fertilizer tablets under the soil would be a very good way of ensuring the rooted plants have fertilizer.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-03-2012, 01:33 PM
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In my organic soil based tanks I now add CSM+B w/added Fe at water changes and or with top offs along with K2SO4 dosed for 15ppm (about every 2 weeks).

Inert substrates I dose NO3 10ppm and KH2PO4 2-3ppm at each water change along with the trace listed above. After that when I test parameters PO4 is all that ever seems to drop.

seems to work for me

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2-75g planted, 5-55g planted, 5-20g planted, 110g w/30g sump, 8-10g, Refugium, doghouse/newbie
2012 update adding table top pleco pans & a 90g (Nutz)
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-08-2012, 01:23 PM
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Low tech makes you to hink more and analyse the system carefully. Everything has to be in right balance and develop the natural way. You only replace water as needed, add or remove certain plants and watch your fish. It is good on the budget, too.
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