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Old 04-20-2006, 05:30 PM   #1
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Low tech without soil

Does anyone have a low tech planted tank without using soil beneath the gravel? I like the soil-layer appoach described in the book "Ecology of Planted Aquariums," but I have already set up my tank with plain gravel and a bit of laterite and don't want to redo it now. What are the limitations of low tech without soil? Any pros and cons? What plants can you expect to grow? Any nutritional defficiencies without the soil?

Thanks for your help.
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Old 04-20-2006, 07:40 PM   #2
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Soil is not an absolute must for low-tech aquariums. Soil-enhanced substrates can reduce the amount of root fertilization you do, but your gravel/laterite substrate is just fine and should allow you to grow any plant you like.
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Old 04-20-2006, 07:50 PM   #3
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Agreed. IIRC even Ms. Walsted has recommended that soil-less tanks be used for a first low-tech tank on her forum at AB.
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Old 04-20-2006, 07:59 PM   #4
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I've suggested it some years back.
I determined the rate of growth differences this way between various methods, such as CO2, vs no carbon enrichment and Excel enrichment methods.

I outline this on the public non commercial side at the BarrReport.
See on non CO2 methods.

Tom Barr
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Old 04-20-2006, 10:38 PM   #5
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I followed Tom’s approach as outlined on his website (non-CO2 methods) two months ago.

I am delighted with the results – virtually no algae and the plants are growing just fine.

However, I do have a little more light than Tom recommends – I have 3.25 watts per gallon on a 20 gallon high with the light suspended about two inches above the tank.

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Old 04-21-2006, 12:29 AM   #6
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My substrate is tahitian moon sand and it seems to be working OK. I push some fert tabs near the roots of the plants that are heavy root feeders. I had already started my tank before I knew much about the possibilities of enriched substrates, and I already had the tms. I really don't want to go mucking about with changing it or adding to it right now (6 ft long 100 gal tank). I'll amend it in the future, I'm sure, but for now, it's fine.
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Old 04-21-2006, 07:24 PM   #7
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I did setup up my planted tank 3 years ago with plain aquarium gravel. After a intial high-tech setup it converted to low tech after one year. Plant grow slowed down alot as a result. You have to see which plants do like your setup. But it can be done.
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