03-15-2012, 04:28 PM
Planted Tank Jedi
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Houston, Tx
Have you done the visualization exercise yet? If you haven't, stop reading and immediately refer to post #1 and do it! If you have, then great! you're ready for me to move on to the next step, which starts with an important question:
"How do I start?"
How do you start out your planted aquarium optimally for success?
Most people understand that it is easier to start right the first time, rather than dealing with the problems that occur when you get off to a rocky start. You need to get the aquarium to stability and growth as quickly as possible. Master this skill and you will enjoy beautiful layouts, look over it, or ignore it, and your planted tank will be an emotional battle from day one.
STEPS TO STABILITY:
STEP ONE: Bacteria
The most vulnerable time for your planted tank is when you first set up. We need to cycle the tank with beneficial bacteria, not only for the nitrogen cycle (ammonia), but also for synergistic bacteria which grow and thrive amongst plant roots.
These bacteria form a "micro-filter" in your aquarium that work for you to break down negative elements and create positive ones that help your plants grow with health and vigor and your fish to be healthier.
Action Step: the quicker you can provide this bacteria, the faster your aquarium is stable and the less chance for algae.
STEP TWO: Chemistry
Water balance (pH & kH) is critical. Neutral water has a pH of 7. Alkaline water is above 7, and acidic water is below 7. Too much acid and the plants will fry like an egg on a skillet, too much alkalinity and the plants will bleach out. The healthiest pH ranges for planted tanks is about 6.7-6.8 (slightly acidic).
On a less extreme example, higher kH and pH values (alkaline) makes it harder for plants to grow. Why? Imagine the mineral values in typically really high kH and pH water literally blocking the cells of plants, making it difficult for them to absorb nutrients, anything above 7.6 pH is usually harmful. A pH that is too low leads to plants burning themselves (browning out, etc) on the water. These values are typically between 5.8-6.2 (excepting in certain rarer plant conditions, I'm only talking about averages).
Action Step: the closer you can maintain your standard pH & kH values to a pH of 6.8 and kH of 2, the more effective co2 distribution and nutrient absorption will be!
Pro Secret: ignore pH values taken while co2 is in the aquarium: the lowering of pH from co2 does not have a harmful effect on the "real," pH. Don't worry if your co2 levels push your pH readings down into the "low" acidity ranges.
Health Reference: the human body's healthy pH is 7.35 to 7.45, even tiny variation outside of this requires the body to adjust the pH values (requiring more energy and making you less energetic). Even a minor change outside of this pH would result in death! It's a good thing our body works to regulate that pH just like our body temperature!
Health Tip: Most of the foods we eat are highly acidic. Stress also increases acid levels in the body. Eat more alkaline foods and you'll see a big boon in energy. Which foods are alkaline? Greens! Who knew there was a really good reason behind Mom complaining to make you eat more vegetables?
STEP THREE: Nutrients
It would be silly to think that plant's can't grow without nutrients. Just imagine how long you can live without food. The nutritional aspect for plants is largely covered by nutrient rich substrates such as Aqua Soil, which cover all of the essential macro nutrients required for plants to grow.
Later on, I'll show you what nutrients specifically are being provided, but in the mean time just know that Aqua Soil takes care of this for you without the need for you to worry about it. Of course, if you want to create your own substrate that will require more research.
Action Step: Investing in the best substrate system you can gives you the best advantages for success. Never short-change your substrate, because otherwise you will have long term issues.
Pro Secret: Pro's Cheat. Yes they CHEAT! They never go into a situation with a planted tank without making sure they have rigged the odds in their favor and neither should you.
Substrate system completed in the aquarium.The magic is below the substrate.
Make sure you continue to read every word, and next time I'll go underneath the soil into the setup of the substrate system so you can learn to cheat to win like the pros.
Fun Exercise: Look at an aquarium, now picture yourself shrinking and going deeper and deeper into the aquarium. The fish become larger, the plants become monolithic. You're still getting smaller, so small that you can't be seen without a microscope and visualize what you see: billions and trillions of other organisms the same size as you, working, growing and synergistic-ally processing elements. Imagine them lighting up in concert like electricity and steadily expanding to the exact needs of your planted tank. Watch them as they go through their life cycles: living, multiplying, dying. Recognize that this is the very foundation of your aquarium.
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P.S. if you've found these techniques valuable, help share the information with new comers by linking back here in your own journals when you use my techniques!