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QQQUUUUAADDD 12-11-2012 01:02 AM

Tom Barr's Low Tech (already have fish)
Hi guys. I have a 10 currently setup with CPDs and MTS (the substrate). The MTS is driving me crazy with brown fluff and it's just too messy for me. I'd like to try Tom Barr's Low Tech No CO2 method. I'll be following this - The problem is, it says to allow the tank to cycle for some time. I already have a mature filter and fish so could I bypass that cycling step? Don't want to kill off my expensive CPDs... Also, recommendations on a good substrate to use? No ADA as it's out of budget. Thinking about onyx sand... How would I go about making the switch?

QQQUUUUAADDD 12-11-2012 01:35 AM

Could a mod please move this to the Low Tech Forum?

Thanks! :)

kwheeler91 12-11-2012 04:05 AM

Did you cap your substrate with sand or some small gravel at least? As long as you do that and dont dig around all the time it shouldnt be floating around your tank. Another possiblity is that you have diatoms, a type of algae. In that case you just need to get things in balance. Otocinclus love diatoms and would be small enough for a tank size. A baby bristlenose or rubberlip pleco would also do the trick.

Capped mts is one of the best budget friendly substrates you can have, and you can always buy some root tabs to replenish or assist it and supplement with column dosing to increase its longevity.

If you still decide to swap substrates and use something inert that will not leech ammonia, you can use your old filter and squeeze out your sponge in the tank or leave a little of your previous substrate behind to help with colonizing the new substrate. Ive done this many times when swapping gravel or starting a new tank. If you have plants that will help a lot and just go light on the fish food for a few days. You can even get away with not feeding them for a 3-4 days to let the bio filter catch up.

If you use aquasoil or the like you will have to wait to add fish. As for removing the mts, which I dont recommend, just tank the big part off the siphon and use just the hose by sucking on it to start it, the suction is greater and should rip it right out without any mess.

QQQUUUUAADDD 12-11-2012 07:03 PM

I'm sure the brown fluff isn't diatoms. I just want to know how I would go about switching to a Tom Barr Low Tech when I already have fish.

Could I cap the MTS with say, Flourite or Onyx Sand and just go from there?

plantbrain 12-11-2012 08:08 PM

CPD are small and get sucked up when removing the sediment.
Unless you made a mess of the sediment and just hate it etc.......I'd just leave it.

You can still add a small amount of ferts to the water column either way.

I'd siphon the sediment out and leave the fish in other wise. I'd not uproot the plants, but also not suck them into the siphon obviously.

you might need to do a few water changes to get it all since this can be slow going, do a 50-60% water change , then refill, then go after the rest of the sediment to be removed.

A few times of this, all of it will be sucked out.

Larger siphon hoses= do not get clogged, smaller ones do.

I'd just rinse the sand real good. Black flourite sand is nicer than onxy IMO.
But it's not any different cost wise as the bags run 15-25$ and you get 1/2 as much as say the ADA AS which runs about 40$, but are 2x the size/volume.

No reason you cannot use both the sediment and the water column also.
Both work and both work together.

QQQUUUUAADDD 12-11-2012 08:09 PM

I've figured out that the brown fluff is mulm! I'll collect it and save it when I setup the tank with new substrate. I plan on doing a layer of peat with mulm, then my current MTS, then Flourite. How does that sound?

I see your point Tom. I'll try the Flourite black sand. I'm going to remove all fish and plants and pretend like I'm setting up a new tank.

Also, is Flourite black sand like the grain size of PFS, or is it more like gravel. Would it be suitable for pygmy cories?

QQQUUUUAADDD 12-11-2012 09:08 PM

Anyone see a potential problem with the substrate?

kwheeler91 12-11-2012 11:07 PM

I just dont see the problem with the mts. As long as you put a cap on it there shouldnt be a problem if you dont dig around in it every other day. the mulm will settle into the cap as long as it is a sufficient depth. Also make sure your mts isnt too deep. The mulm cant penetrate mud and thus will float around your tank. Making sure dead leaves are cleaned up on a regular basis and not over feeding will also help keep the mulm level down. Proper filtration and flow will also help to eliminate the problem.

QQQUUUUAADDD 12-12-2012 01:55 AM

The sand I used to cap was Tahitian Moon Sand. It's very fine so it got blown away very easily exposing the MTS.
Should I mix the TMS and MTS then cap it? Or should I try to remove all of the TMS and then try to cap just the MTS with Flourite black sand?
Could I add some leonardite (black diamond) on the bottom of everything sprinkled with mulm? I want to gain as much info as I can before I do anything.

kwheeler91 12-12-2012 02:55 PM

I dont think mixing the sand and mts would hurt anything. Its possible that the dirt will settle back down below the sand over time, but im not 100% on that. I think your best bet is to use whatever sand you find pleasing to the eye and just make sure you have a good amount of flow/filtration to pick up debris/mulm. Sand doesnt really hold mulm all that well especially as it gets settled in, so I would worry to much about grain size, more so about filtration. Keeping a cleaning crew of maybe otos or some shrimp would really help too because they will constantly clean the plants, keeping the mulm stirred into the water column to be caught by your filter.

So my advice with you is if your plants are growing well and you like the looks of the substrate you already have, get a small cleaning crew and upgrade your filtration before you swap it for gravel, and maybe a heavier sand would be best. If you dont want to fool with removing the moon sand I would go ahead and mix it up as long as you dont mind that you may have a triple strata substrate in the future.

What filter do you have on the tank?

QQQUUUUAADDD 12-12-2012 07:48 PM

I've got an AC30.

QQQUUUUAADDD 12-13-2012 07:00 PM


QQQUUUUAADDD 12-13-2012 07:42 PM

How would Safe T Sorb work as a cap?

QQQUUUUAADDD 12-13-2012 08:48 PM

I've decided on my sediment. An MTS/sand mixture capped with Flourite Black Sand. So basically all I need to do is remove the fish and plants, mix the sand and MTS, cap with Flourite, add mulm, and add fish and everything. Which layer would the mulm go?

QQQUUUUAADDD 12-14-2012 06:55 PM


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