The *BEST* (Tom Barr's) low-tech start-up tank method. Easy to read beginner's guide!
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Old 08-12-2011, 06:55 AM   #1
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The *BEST* (Tom Barr's) low-tech start-up tank method. Easy to read beginner's guide!


For folks that have come & gone thru EI, pressurized CO2, etc, and want something lower maintenance (as if you have a life outside of your tanks lol), this is the best article I've found (this is Tom Barr's low-tech method in a nutshell, the "opposite" of Tom Barr's EI if you will).

The low tech method is applying the same principals but with different variables (lower lighting, low ferts, no co2, & no h2o changes), this article is a great summary; it will make more sense to those who have a background in EI, but even for any beginner, if they follow this article, the challenges to a healthy tank will be minimized).

Sudeep Mandal's *EXCELLENT* summary of Tom Barr's Musings

This is my 46g tank that I started 4 months ago, using the steps outlined in Sudeep's article. As you can see, moderately planted from the beginning (fairly heavy but could be heavier), break in w/ low light hours, etc.



This is my tank now, 4 months later. As you can see, not all the plants have survived (dwarf tear's didn't make it, val's barely making it, sag has thinned, dwarf clover doing ok), but, everything else going well. No h2o changes (just RO top-off's), ferts 2x weekly, 6 hours of 10K & 6.7K daily, daily feeding. A few otto's, and 10 nerite snails help out a ton. My lily's just started melting, so, I'll still have to make some small adjustments, but the low-tech method, with its slower pace, will allow you MUCH more time to identify problems and react before algae takes control.

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Old 08-12-2011, 07:08 AM   #2
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I gleaned this article some time ago. It's a good article. And a great place for many just starting out. A jump point if you willl.

Kind of like the first bike with training wheels for confidence ... after a while takem' away see how you do.

Thanks for sharing.

Best wishes,
Wes
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Old 08-12-2011, 07:14 AM   #3
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Thanks Wespastor. Someone could also avoid some of the tank startup issues by going "dry" at the beginning if they wanted (but the method described above works ok also): http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/ge...lgae-free.html
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Old 08-12-2011, 03:27 PM   #4
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Non CO2 and the Dry start method (DSM) do go VERY well together. More so than amplified CO2 gardening methods.

I'm also curious why folks squabble on and on over wanting to avoid water changes and whine about pruning and maintenance, but then avoid this entire topic or poo poo it like the Plague.

Lack of patience, too much a CO2 scaper snob fan boy.......

You can scape at a very high level with non CO2, just takes longer and you need to learn different gardening techniques, be more patient with plants etc.
It amazes me more do not use this method, ironically, it's often the more advance folks who come back and try it these days. You can still have your gas and do this too, have 1 CO2 gas tank and then a few non CO2, this way you do not get overwhelmed.
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Old 08-12-2011, 03:31 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post
You can still have your gas and do this too, have 1 CO2 gas tank and then a few non CO2, this way you do not get overwhelmed.
This is what I have, and I'm thinking that when the CO2 runs out, I may go back to low tech on that tank too. I can't keep up with the growth in the CO2 tank!
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Old 08-12-2011, 08:51 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Betta Maniac View Post
This is what I have, and I'm thinking that when the CO2 runs out, I may go back to low tech on that tank too. I can't keep up with the growth in the CO2 tank!
You may not be able too.......but many simply do not want to deal with excessive rates of growth, the DSM allows you to quickly grow the plants in, then non CO2 keeps them there.

This is a wise approach, not low tech really or lesser a skill, or aesthetic.
It's just plain sensible in an often un-sensible hobby.
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Old 08-13-2011, 03:18 AM   #7
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That is a pretty comprehensive description of low light tanks, but I do have some disagreements with it. For example, the lighting he recommends, in watts per gallon, should be considered to mean little except for standard light fixtures sitting right on top of standard shaped tanks. On extra long, or breeder, or extra high tanks, those numbers will be far from correct. And his statement that CFL bulbs are less effective than T8 bulbs is clearly wrong.

And, it isn't CO2 that is the criteria for low maintenance tanks, it is light intensity. If you use 20 micromols per meter squared per second PAR lighting - close to the minimum you can use for growing plants with no CO2, and only for "low light" plants, you can still get much faster growth, for almost all plants, still with minimal algae problems by adding CO2 to the tank. The ideal tank has low light with moderate CO2 concentration - in my opinion - and DIY CO2 will work for that for all but the really big tanks.

He also misses the boat, in my opinion, in recommending a substrate. 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.

I hope the author will update his otherwise very good article to include some of these points, plus a few others I didn't mention.
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Old 08-13-2011, 06:11 AM   #8
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Thank you Nbot ,Great info .
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Old 08-13-2011, 06:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoppy View Post
That is a pretty comprehensive description of low light tanks, but I do have some disagreements with it. For example, the lighting he recommends, in watts per gallon, should be considered to mean little except for standard light fixtures sitting right on top of standard shaped tanks. On extra long, or breeder, or extra high tanks, those numbers will be far from correct. And his statement that CFL bulbs are less effective than T8 bulbs is clearly wrong.

And, it isn't CO2 that is the criteria for low maintenance tanks, it is light intensity. If you use 20 micromols per meter squared per second PAR lighting - close to the minimum you can use for growing plants with no CO2, and only for "low light" plants, you can still get much faster growth, for almost all plants, still with minimal algae problems by adding CO2 to the tank. The ideal tank has low light with moderate CO2 concentration - in my opinion - and DIY CO2 will work for that for all but the really big tanks.

He also misses the boat, in my opinion, in recommending a substrate. 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.

I hope the author will update his otherwise very good article to include some of these points, plus a few others I didn't mention.
Yea, could use some tweaking, but at the time.........he was fine, I could say the same about myself and lighting too if I went back far enough for articles.

"Light meter? What the heck is that?"
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Old 08-15-2011, 05:38 AM   #10
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Careful, I recently used Sundeep's advice about Diamond Black. USE THE GRANULAR VERSION OF HUMIC ACID.
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Old 03-01-2012, 04:50 PM   #11
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Stumbled upon this via a google search, wanted to bump in case anyone else was doing this. Been following this guide with good results for the past 6 months.
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Old 03-01-2012, 05:47 PM   #12
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This is what I've been looking for a nice hybrid approach that is easy to maintain. Truth be told, I barely have what is considered a planted tank but it gets kinda boring if you only have anubias, java fern, and java moss to work with.
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Old 03-01-2012, 08:57 PM   #13
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This low tech approach is excellent. I've been using it to do a 125g tank with wild peruvian angel tank. I really love the minimal maintenance required, and the slow growth also works for me. Truth be told, there are many plants that will not just grow but thrive in this kind of setup, but in my experience, it's the wider leafed plants (as opposed to the rotala types) that do well with this. But nowadays there's many to choose from like the many different swords, crypts, hygros, mosses, and grass like plants. I think there's enough variety out there to do a stunning low-tech setup.
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Old 03-01-2012, 11:08 PM   #14
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it looks like sudeep may have gone back and revised his article? I see now mention of CFL vs. T8s, only that spiral CFL are less efficient than T5s, which I can agree with.
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Old 01-13-2013, 06:38 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoppy View Post
That is a pretty comprehensive description of low light tanks, but I do have some disagreements with it. For example, the lighting he recommends, in watts per gallon, should be considered to mean little except for standard light fixtures sitting right on top of standard shaped tanks. On extra long, or breeder, or extra high tanks, those numbers will be far from correct. And his statement that CFL bulbs are less effective than T8 bulbs is clearly wrong.

And, it isn't CO2 that is the criteria for low maintenance tanks, it is light intensity. If you use 20 micromols per meter squared per second PAR lighting - close to the minimum you can use for growing plants with no CO2, and only for "low light" plants, you can still get much faster growth, for almost all plants, still with minimal algae problems by adding CO2 to the tank. The ideal tank has low light with moderate CO2 concentration - in my opinion - and DIY CO2 will work for that for all but the really big tanks.

He also misses the boat, in my opinion, in recommending a substrate. 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.

I hope the author will update his otherwise very good article to include some of these points, plus a few others I didn't mention.
Quote:
Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post
Yea, could use some tweaking, but at the time.........he was fine, I could say the same about myself and lighting too if I went back far enough for articles.

"Light meter? What the heck is that?"
Hey Hoppy and Tom,

I don't know if you remember me from several years ago when I bugged both of you with lots of questions and tried my hand (very successfully!) at growing a dwarf hairgrass foreground for my LT tank using Tom's dry start method. I am infact Sudeep, the author of that article and unfortunately, I've been away from the PT community for several years due to a lot of changes on the personal front.

When i wrote that article, it really was more a way for me to collect all the great information I had gleaned from all my research online and put it in one place so I could go back and refer to it when needed. I have a terrible memory so it has served well. I never expected it then, but that article ranks very high on Google and a lot of people seem to be reading it to learn about building low tech tanks. I'm thrilled that it is helping people get started along their wonderful journey of planted tanks. I would love to update this article by removing any erroneous information and adding any new developments/best practices that have come up over the past few years.

Would it be possible for either of you to PM me or reply on this thread with any suggestions for what I should change/add? I'd also be happy to add links to any other forum threads or sites that might have more detailed information on certain aspects of low tech planted tanks under "further reading".

Cheers and thanks for all your help in getting me started with planted tanks. I'm glad I've been able to give back to the community in my own little way.

Best wishes,
Sudeep
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