The *BEST* (Tom Barr's) low-tech start-up tank method. Easy to read beginner's guide! - Page 2
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Old 01-14-2013, 01:10 AM   #16
Hoppy
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Having just re-read your excellent article, and after a year of keeping a low light tank, I see something else that would improve the article a lot. It can be difficult to decide on what plants will do well in such a tank. I found that many plants just don't seem to make it, even though I thought they would be good candidates. So, if you were to add a list of plants you have found to work well in that type of tank, that would be very good. One group of plants that would be especially useful to know of is low growing, carpet plants. You did note that HC didn't do well, as I would have guessed, but some of the photos seem to show dwarf hair grasses doing well. Do they really?

There is a big list of "low light" plants in this forum, but, unfortunately the list was mostly made when people considered light only in terms of watts per gallon. A 20L and a 20H tank are both 20 gallon, but the light that would be low light on the 20H will almost certainly be high, or at least, medium on the 20L. Any new list should, in my opinion, include only plants found to do ok with 20-35 micromols per sq. meter per second of PAR.

I'm about ready to re-scape my 65 gallon tank again (I'm bored) and I think I want to do a dry start, possibly with Aquasoil, then follow this method with the tank. So, any information that improves the article will be very helpful to me.
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Old 01-14-2013, 12:46 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoppy View Post
Having just re-read your excellent article, and after a year of keeping a low light tank, I see something else that would improve the article a lot. It can be difficult to decide on what plants will do well in such a tank. I found that many plants just don't seem to make it, even though I thought they would be good candidates. So, if you were to add a list of plants you have found to work well in that type of tank, that would be very good. One group of plants that would be especially useful to know of is low growing, carpet plants. You did note that HC didn't do well, as I would have guessed, but some of the photos seem to show dwarf hair grasses doing well. Do they really?

There is a big list of "low light" plants in this forum, but, unfortunately the list was mostly made when people considered light only in terms of watts per gallon. A 20L and a 20H tank are both 20 gallon, but the light that would be low light on the 20H will almost certainly be high, or at least, medium on the 20L. Any new list should, in my opinion, include only plants found to do ok with 20-35 micromols per sq. meter per second of PAR.

I'm about ready to re-scape my 65 gallon tank again (I'm bored) and I think I want to do a dry start, possibly with Aquasoil, then follow this method with the tank. So, any information that improves the article will be very helpful to me.
Hi Hoppy, Yes, I do agree that a list of plants would be beneficial. Unfortunately, I don't think I would be the best person to make that list as I have only had the one tank and I haven't been very adventurous with the plants that I used. Dwarf Hairgrass works really well in a tank with Excel supplementation, but once I transitioned away from Excel and made it a true low-tech tank, it started to die out. Certainly the anubias and java ferns work very well, though they grow quite slowly. Perhaps I should start a forum thread asking for input from other members in this sub-forum to get an idea for what plants have worked out for them in their low-tech tanks. Also, I read your comment about substrates:
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The most effective substrates are the fertile ones, like ADA Aquasoil, Fluval Stratum, mineralized topsoil, etc. If you do the simple mineralizing process on ordinary topsoil you have an excellent bottom layer for a substrate. Top that with a high CEC substrate, like Flourite, and you have an almost unbeatable substrate.
Could you clarify that bit about mineralizing the topsoil? Is that the same as cycling the topsoil. I remember that when I wrote this article, ADA Aquasoil was getting very popular but a big thing with it was to cycle it to get rid of ammonia, etc, before you established your tank. I left it out at the time as it seemed a bit complex and challenging for someone completely new to planted tanks. At the time, it seemed like you really needed to know what you were doing if you were going the route of aquasoil. Unfortunately I haven't followed up on substrate developments in the past few years along with best practices.

If you could give me some more details or point me to some forum threads here or on Tom's site, I'd be happy to read up some more and update the article. I just want to make sure that I don't end up getting someone in over their heads by recommending fertile substrates that need more initial prep work. So I'd appreciate your suggestions on an idiot proof guide to setting up a fertile substrate based tank
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Old 01-14-2013, 03:20 PM   #18
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just attempting a 10 gal lowtech excel tank with both vals and riccia. Will they just grow poorly with excel or flatout not grow/die?
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Old 01-14-2013, 04:01 PM   #19
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http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=152027 is a good article on how to "mineralize" soil. Mineralizing means converting organic nitrogen compounds to inorganic nitrogen - nitrates. The article explains how to let bacteria do it for you, or you can bake the soil in an oven to accomplish the same thing faster, but with a good possibility of stinking up the whole house.

ADA Aquasoil contains ammonia, which leaches out into the water for a couple of months or so. That means you need to do lots of water changes for the first couple of months after setting up the tank. But, if you do a dry start, much, if not all of that process is accomplished before you ever fill the tank with water. (I think I am remembering right on this - perhaps someone will correct me if I'm not.)

The problem with deciding which plants do well with "low light" is that there is no easy way to define what "low light" means, without using a PAR meter to measure the light. Some people's "low light" tanks, where plants X, Y, and Z grow well, may well be "medium" or higher light when a PAR meter is used to measure the light. Maybe, the better list would be plants that do well with no added CO2?
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Old 01-14-2013, 05:47 PM   #20
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Thanks a lot Hoppy. Will read up on that and add to the article. I agree about the low light comment, but the problem is that most of us don't have PAR meters, and probably 80-90% of PT enthusiasts probably stop at the WPG type rules and CO2 levels when determining what plants to attempt growing.

That's why I'm a bit hesitant to compile a list myself. Perhaps I'll just add some of the no brainer low light plants for now.
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Old 01-14-2013, 07:38 PM   #21
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D. Walstad has a list of plants that manage on bicarbonate alone in her book.
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Old 01-14-2013, 07:56 PM   #22
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just attempting a 10 gal lowtech excel tank with both vals and riccia. Will they just grow poorly with excel or flatout not grow/die?
Val's and excel do not mix ...the Val's will melt


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Old 01-14-2013, 08:10 PM   #23
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I was glad to see this revived discussion on the DSM/non-c02 approach. I have been very pleased with this approach. I look forward following this thread, though, due to my limited experience, I am not sure I have much to add that hasn't already been noted.
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Old 01-15-2013, 12:34 PM   #24
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Hi Sudeep,

My first post in this forum and i would like to extend a big thank you for your excellent article. I've been into low tech tanks for a number of years but hasn't really been able to grasp any of the points mentioned in your article.

Since reading, i had been dilligently following it as a guide and have seen better plant growth etc and able to grow lots of new species. Have also recommend to many friends your read and very confident the benefits from it.

Thank you once again.
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Old 01-15-2013, 04:28 PM   #25
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I was glad to see this revived discussion on the DSM/non-c02 approach. I have been very pleased with this approach. I look forward following this thread, though, due to my limited experience, I am not sure I have much to add that hasn't already been noted.
What plants did you do a dry start with? From the photos of your Edge tank, I don't see which ones would work with a dry start, and low light.
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Old 01-15-2013, 04:44 PM   #26
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I did the dry start with crypts primarily as the rooting plants. A wendtii, a good amount of parva, and one more variety in between those sizes (willisi or lucens or a hybrid, hard for me to tell.) I also had a few anubias that sent their roots into the substrate and did very well with the dry start.
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Old 01-16-2013, 01:20 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cherabin View Post
Hi Sudeep,

My first post in this forum and i would like to extend a big thank you for your excellent article. I've been into low tech tanks for a number of years but hasn't really been able to grasp any of the points mentioned in your article.

Since reading, i had been dilligently following it as a guide and have seen better plant growth etc and able to grow lots of new species. Have also recommend to many friends your read and very confident the benefits from it.

Thank you once again.
You are very welcome. I'm glad it's helped you and your friends

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What plants did you do a dry start with? From the photos of your Edge tank, I don't see which ones would work with a dry start, and low light.
That leads me to another question Hoppy...do you have a list of plants that work well with the DSM? I checked Tom's website forum thread where he had originally started the discussion (and in which I had posted my results a few years back), but I was disappointed to note that there hasn't really been any more updates/discussions on that thread. Has DSM gotten more popular since then and are there any resources/threads with a list of plants, or is it scattered about on a smattering of forum threads?

After having gone the DSM way with my hairgrass foreground on my first tank, I don't think I'd go any other way when starting a planted tank. The only difficult part is having the patience and discipline to wait it out while your plants establish themselves and take root and start multiplying. The additional benefits of having nitrogen fixing bacteria established via this method is also really nice because you don't then have to worry as much about ammonia and nitrites due to (1) the presence of these bacteria via DSM and (2) Due to your already well established plants due to DSM that will be quick to take up any ammonia/nitrites in the water column.
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:42 PM   #28
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You are very welcome. I'm glad it's helped you and your friends


That leads me to another question Hoppy...do you have a list of plants that work well with the DSM? I checked Tom's website forum thread where he had originally started the discussion (and in which I had posted my results a few years back), but I was disappointed to note that there hasn't really been any more updates/discussions on that thread. Has DSM gotten more popular since then and are there any resources/threads with a list of plants, or is it scattered about on a smattering of forum threads?

After having gone the DSM way with my hairgrass foreground on my first tank, I don't think I'd go any other way when starting a planted tank. The only difficult part is having the patience and discipline to wait it out while your plants establish themselves and take root and start multiplying. The additional benefits of having nitrogen fixing bacteria established via this method is also really nice because you don't then have to worry as much about ammonia and nitrites due to (1) the presence of these bacteria via DSM and (2) Due to your already well established plants due to DSM that will be quick to take up any ammonia/nitrites in the water column.
I, too, have been looking for some kind of list of "dry startable" plants. The only ones I can recall reading about that work well with a dry start are carpet plants, like HC, glosso (which I tried with some success), dwarf hairgrass, and another one I can't recall the name of. But, none of those are great low light, non-CO2 plants. There are mosses that can do well as carpets in low tech tanks, but they aren't dry start plants.
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Old 01-16-2013, 06:27 PM   #29
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In my experience, crypts have worked very well as "dry-startable," non-carpet plants. They love growing emergant, put out extremely impressive root systems (which I believe is key to DSM success, right?), and transition well to a flooded tank. These are non-c02 and low-light compatible. Parva would take a long time to "carpet", but works well as a fore-ground plant.

My 50g linked below was a dry-start done entirely with crypts, anubias, and ferns. No carpet plants. The ferns were kinda meh for the DSM, as they didn't root very well. The anubias rooted like champs, and are growing like any other plant in substrate.
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Old 01-17-2013, 04:21 PM   #30
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As DetMich had informed me, to find which plants work for Dry Start Method you can look at plantfinder by selecting "Can be grown emersed: Yes".
http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...c/plantfinder/
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