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Old 04-13-2012, 01:04 AM   #451
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Haha, nice play Ptjameso
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Old 04-13-2012, 06:02 AM   #452
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Just a quick picture update today. The aquarium is much closer to balance now and I'm at two squirts green brighty step one and special lights, 3 brighty k.

Not much work to do anymore, will prune some Friday on the first water change of the week.









Enjoy!
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Old 04-13-2012, 07:34 AM   #453
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Wow it's incredible how fast your HC is filling in! Mine still doesn't look this thick and it's months older! The tank keeps looking better and better.
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Old 04-13-2012, 06:56 PM   #454
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I'm glad you pointed this out, Frank. Every successful method acknowledges the need for all life on this earth to have a carbon source. We are all carbon based life forms, after all. They just do it through different methods. High tech uses pressurized Co2. NPT uses dissolved organic carbon (DOC) that accumulates in the substrate.

If you want to be successful, I would recommend using something like Miracle Gro Organic Potting Mix, and capping it with inert gravel. Just using an inert gravel alone is probably asking for failure.

In my opinion, dirt tanks work well, however it's nowhere nearly as nice to scape with as Aquasoil as you have to be careful about disturbing the soil or digging up plants with large root structures.
Carbon is absolutely essential - we need to cover certain bases and make sure those things are supplied well for the plants, bacteria, etc in order for them to grow.

It's akin to rounding out a diet. Sure you can live for a bit without eating vegetables, but not very healthy and you will suffer for it. It won't be long before problems crop up that require even more intensive correction than had you bothered to eat some greens in the first place!

I won't use miracle gro or any other soils. Going this route will mostly be inert sand with the proper bump up in fertilizers to compensate. I might be getting ahead of myself, but I'm pretty sure I can pull off Power Sand + bacter 100, clear super, tourmaline bc and get the relative same amount of growth rates as aqua soil.


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Originally Posted by talontsiawd View Post
Frank, I think there are 2 definitions of "Low Tech". I think it's because technology has come a long way so it's not hard to find cheap lighting, it's not hard to get good filtration without spending a fortune, better substrates have come about that may not even cost as much as epoxy coated gravel, etc. Even CO2 is becoming cheaper.

I think 1 mentality is all about budget. I have $xxx to spend and I will make a tank out of that.

I think the other is that I want a tank to suit my needs and therefore I don't need to spend my money on all this expensive stuff with planning. I think the second is more "accurate" to the idea, using lesser technology to get a result, which is only cheaper by nature (and that has it's appeal as well).

I, for example, consider low tech to be lower light, very little fert routine, no CO2. I make my tanks around this idea, not to be cheap, but because they are easy to setup, easy to maintain, and with good planning, you may never get enough algae to ever worry about even cleaning the thing. I own two that I have to clean my outside glass much more often than the inside glass (which is infrequent).



My point is this, low tech has really become a dated word at this point. This is because everyone has a different opinion. Again, someone like me would consider an ADA tank with a canister, lily pipes, AS, and any other high end gear you can throw at it "low tech", assuming the lighting was low enough to not require CO2. I don't see crazy technology here, it's just expensive.

On the flip side, others may see low tech as an AGA tank, gravel, root tabs (which cost more in the long run than a better substrate), T8 lighting, and an internal filter. That is about cost.


Maybe someone who has been in this longer than me has a better explanation but the whole "low tech" and "high tech" has always been about advancement in lighting (which in turn would require CO2 on the high tech side). Even when I started, many people were still using T8's, T5's were just becoming common, and T5HO's were not really used. High light was MH for the most part. Reading my books with an older publishing date really show me how different the hobby has become in even the last 5-6 years.

I am just saying "low tech" seems like it has a different definition to each person. It's going to be hard to really come to a conclusion in this thread as to what would be appropriate. I would just stick with what you consider to be "low tech" and go from there.
Well here's the thing. Soon I'll be setting up the 60-P I received as a gift from Luis Navarro.

This setup uses 4x 8w Flourescent lights at 8,000k on a plastic hood. It's the original fixture from ADA for a 60-P from the early 90's. (This fixture is actually pretty awesome, it has a built-in 'chiller,' and you can manipulate which lights are on at what time, all 4, bulbs 1 & 3 or bulbs 2 & 4 to manipulate spread and bursts etc.

Now, let's fast forward 20 years. We have compact flourescent, metal halide, t5ho and up and coming LED's.

There hasn't been much that changed other than what the fixture looks like and energy efficiency. The lights pretty much grow plants within relatively to the same effectiveness. Mostly the difference in lighting is in shiny factor (i.e. shimmer from LEDs and Metal Halides), light intensity (soft light, hard light, bright light) and subtle color renderings.

As long as you have 8,000K lighting, you're pretty much good. You can do 6500 and 10000, but 8000K is about ideal.

So, technically the 60-P I'm setting up is "Low-tech."

Back then there was pressurized co2 too, the fertilizers were the same, the additives & power sand were the same (they actually predate Aqua Soil and were used with inert substrates) and the only significant difference between 1992 and 2012 is that Aqua Soil was invented and the style of the aqua scape.

A "high-tech tank," properly set up, following the Method I've outlined here, is relatively pretty low maintenance.

You go through one month of "hell," and after that you're more or less good. Things are stable and going steady.

The only significance is the difference in plants chosen. Slower growing plants versus faster growing plants. The type of layout determines maintenance requirements, but the techniques, methods and what not are the same regardless.

So you're still going to do water changes once a day for the first week

You're still going to stage fertilizer additions for a slow ramp up

You're still going to do a water change every other day on the second week.

You'll still do two water changes the third week.

And you'll still have gone through "hell month," to achieve stability and long-term balance.

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Originally Posted by Storm View Post
This is a really great point, and I wish more "high-tech" people would consider this. A lot of "low-tech" people aren't necessarily cheap. Maybe they just don't want to spend time every day maintaining their tanks. Maybe they don't want to have to trim growth weekly. Even if it only takes a few minutes every day, those minutes add up and you do end up spending a few hours a week maintaining a high tech tank. The beauty of a low tech tank is that you can go on vacation and leave it for a few weeks and it will probably look almost as good when you return. With a high tech tank, it will probably turn into an algae farm without regular maintenance.

My point is that we all have different goals when it comes to the hobby. Some people just want a nice tank to relax and look at, without all of the maintenance. Others want a tank that can win a contest and are willing to work on it daily. Your goals and commitment should choose the method.
The only thing I'll point up here is that irregardless, The Method is the same.

Maintenance requirements in trimming and upkeep is determined by plant choice and layout vision. Not by equipment or any other 'supposed method choice.'

The only thing that matters is getting your aquarium to a balance point. In this stability phase, regardless of lighting, equipment, vision, etc, all aquariums turn into low-maintenance aquariums.

Balance = stability = low maintenance.

The more plants you start with, the faster you get to low maintenance.

The more diligent you are in the first month, the more time you buy for yourself later.

The faster they grow initially, the longer the layout can be maintained algae free.

The quicker you remove initial problem algae, the less chance for algae problems occur later.


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Quote:
Originally Posted by pejerrey
the fx method?

Maybe one day the "fx method," tag line will catch on, hah!

I actually think "The Frank Method" is more suiting due to the upfront nature of these discussions and "The Method"
Hah! nice play on words / names.
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Old 04-13-2012, 07:00 PM   #455
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Wow it's incredible how fast your HC is filling in! Mine still doesn't look this thick and it's months older! The tank keeps looking better and better.
Hey Mluk,

I just took a gander at your journal, and for your first planted tank you're doing well.

Here's a golden rule for plants, not only HC:

They are social organisms which don't like to be lonely. The more buddies they have of the same species, the more they grow quicker and quicker.

The fewer of their friends that they have, the more depressed they get and the slower they grow.


I appreciate your kind words and admiration for my nano.
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Old 04-13-2012, 07:58 PM   #456
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Principle Two of "The Method," or "The Frank Method," as pejerrey named it.

All Organisms in the aquarium operate by the laws of minimums

In other words:

Bacteria will only grow to the available 1.) space 2.) food source 3.) molecules (oxygen, etc) necessary for survival.

Plants will only grow to the available 1.) space 2.) nutrients (N,P,K, micro nutrients) 3.) Carbon 4.) Light

Shrimp & Fish will only populate and survive to the available 1.) space 2.) food source 3.) molecules (oxygen, etc) necessary for survival

In order for all organisms to grow healthy and steadily, all of the proper elements must be in place for them to thrive.

So, let's take for example, bacteria:

If you have 1 unit of space, 0 food and 1 oxygen, then 0 bacteria are going to grow.

For plants, if you have 1 Nitrogen, 1 Phosphorus 1 Potassium, 1 of each Micro Nutrient, but 0 carbon, you're going to have 0 growth.

So on and so forth.

Now, these formulations aren't even like this. The reality is you might need 4 Potassium, 4 Carbon, 2 Micro, 3 Phosphorus and 2 Nitrogen and that = one unit of growth.

But for simplification, let's assume the 1 ratio.

Where does Algae Come into Play?

Algae comes into play when there is an excess of one unit, and a lack of another, or in other words, when there is inconsistency.

The most notable time table for the appearance of algae is an excess of NH4 (ammonium). This coincides with the initial setup of the aquarium when:

The Bacteria filter is not yet established.

The plants are adjusting to their new environment and are not uptaking as much ammonium/ammonia as they will otherwise (a nitrogen source).

Understanding those few sentences, means you understand why initially we do so many water changes for success, and why later you don't have to do nearly as much.

More application, Bacteria:

Bacteria will grow to the extent to which oxygen (for most beneficial bacteria types, we're speaking in broad strokes here), and food source (nitrogen, acids, ammonia, nitrite, etcs, some beneficial bacteria even eat carbon sources) are available.

The most overlooked portion of that, is two fold: space and food for non-nitrogen fixing bacteria.

First, space:

You want to invest as much as humanly possible in highly porous material for microscopic surface area for bacteria to infest. This is why eventually in the filter we switch to 100% Bio Rio and why we use power sand. This means we have one biological filter in the filter where water flows through and one at the root system of the plants (helping the plants synergistically).

This also acts as a back-up system in case one biological filter fails for one reason or another.

Redundancy = Stability = Less / No Algae

Two: Food

Most people focus exclusively on nitrifying bacteria. This is for good enough reason, as these bacteria are the most readily "seen," as for their effects. Not having them = fish death.

However, there are hundreds of different bacterium which perform hundreds of different tasks. These bacteria inhabit bio media, roots, plant leaves, live within plants, within fish, they're literally everywhere! The health of these bacterium, is directly proportionate to the health of your ecosystem!

This is why the successful aquascaper will focus on making sure they have as bountiful a food supply as the plants themselves.

In General, Bacteria are: water purifiers, filters, and organisms which convert toxic or negative elements into positive, useful elements for plants and fish.

I'll repeat, when there is an excess of one resource and a lack of another, this creates imbalance as the organisms only grow to the extent of the lowest common denominator. This means your aquarium is out of balance.

Excess = Out of Balance = Algae, which are Malthusian organisms, opportunistic bastards and will take advantage of this gap and spread quickly and virally when given an opportunity.

Balance = Health = Growth = Stability = Low Maintenance

The most vulnerable time for our aquarium is on set up. This is when things are getting adjusted, established and gearing up. Doing water changes more frequently up front, saves you from disaster.

The difference between disaster and success at the end of the first month is understanding Principles 1 & 2 and acting accordingly.

If you're unsuccessful after the first month, you'll spend the next six months playing catch up.
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Old 04-13-2012, 08:36 PM   #457
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Is there any reason why the carbon source cannot be Leonardite?
I'm not sure that you saw this Frank and I think it's an important question for a budget tank. Thoughts?
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Old 04-14-2012, 12:09 AM   #458
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I'm not sure that you saw this Frank and I think it's an important question for a budget tank. Thoughts?
Hmm, I haven't used Leonardite before, however, it seems like it is primarily for restoring deadened environments, and aiding in the capacity to absorb carbon through the soil.

The important thing to understand here is that our aquariums rarely contain the carbon levels naturally that exist in the wild.

However clear super is a source of carbon so with using clear super then you would have a carbon source immediately. Which does turn a light bulb on in my head as another side effect of clear super: a carbon jump start to the roots.
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Old 04-14-2012, 02:25 AM   #459
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Originally Posted by Francis Xavier View Post
Principle Two of "The Method," or "The Frank Method," as pejerrey named it.

All Organisms in the aquarium operate by the laws of minimums

In other words:

Bacteria will only grow to the available 1.) space 2.) food source 3.) molecules (oxygen, etc) necessary for survival.

Plants will only grow to the available 1.) space 2.) nutrients (N,P,K, micro nutrients) 3.) Carbon 4.) Light

Shrimp & Fish will only populate and survive to the available 1.) space 2.) food source 3.) molecules (oxygen, etc) necessary for survival

In order for all organisms to grow healthy and steadily, all of the proper elements must be in place for them to thrive.

So, let's take for example, bacteria:

If you have 1 unit of space, 0 food and 1 oxygen, then 0 bacteria are going to grow.

For plants, if you have 1 Nitrogen, 1 Phosphorus 1 Potassium, 1 of each Micro Nutrient, but 0 carbon, you're going to have 0 growth.

So on and so forth.

Now, these formulations aren't even like this. The reality is you might need 4 Potassium, 4 Carbon, 2 Micro, 3 Phosphorus and 2 Nitrogen and that = one unit of growth.

But for simplification, let's assume the 1 ratio.

Where does Algae Come into Play?

Algae comes into play when there is an excess of one unit, and a lack of another, or in other words, when there is inconsistency.

The most notable time table for the appearance of algae is an excess of NH4 (ammonium). This coincides with the initial setup of the aquarium when:

The Bacteria filter is not yet established.

The plants are adjusting to their new environment and are not uptaking as much ammonium/ammonia as they will otherwise (a nitrogen source).

Understanding those few sentences, means you understand why initially we do so many water changes for success, and why later you don't have to do nearly as much.

More application, Bacteria:

Bacteria will grow to the extent to which oxygen (for most beneficial bacteria types, we're speaking in broad strokes here), and food source (nitrogen, acids, ammonia, nitrite, etcs, some beneficial bacteria even eat carbon sources) are available.

The most overlooked portion of that, is two fold: space and food for non-nitrogen fixing bacteria.

First, space:

You want to invest as much as humanly possible in highly porous material for microscopic surface area for bacteria to infest. This is why eventually in the filter we switch to 100% Bio Rio and why we use power sand. This means we have one biological filter in the filter where water flows through and one at the root system of the plants (helping the plants synergistically).

This also acts as a back-up system in case one biological filter fails for one reason or another.

Redundancy = Stability = Less / No Algae

Two: Food

Most people focus exclusively on nitrifying bacteria. This is for good enough reason, as these bacteria are the most readily "seen," as for their effects. Not having them = fish death.

However, there are hundreds of different bacterium which perform hundreds of different tasks. These bacteria inhabit bio media, roots, plant leaves, live within plants, within fish, they're literally everywhere! The health of these bacterium, is directly proportionate to the health of your ecosystem!

This is why the successful aquascaper will focus on making sure they have as bountiful a food supply as the plants themselves.

In General, Bacteria are: water purifiers, filters, and organisms which convert toxic or negative elements into positive, useful elements for plants and fish.

I'll repeat, when there is an excess of one resource and a lack of another, this creates imbalance as the organisms only grow to the extent of the lowest common denominator. This means your aquarium is out of balance.

Excess = Out of Balance = Algae, which are Malthusian organisms, opportunistic bastards and will take advantage of this gap and spread quickly and virally when given an opportunity.

Balance = Health = Growth = Stability = Low Maintenance

The most vulnerable time for our aquarium is on set up. This is when things are getting adjusted, established and gearing up. Doing water changes more frequently up front, saves you from disaster.

The difference between disaster and success at the end of the first month is understanding Principles 1 & 2 and acting accordingly.

If you're unsuccessful after the first month, you'll spend the next six months playing catch up.
IMO, this is one of your most important points yet. super quality, keep it up.

though perhaps a better way to look at algae is not as a disease which afflicts out of balance tanks, but rather as a function of the ecosystem attempting to correct that imbalance. after all, we have all seen that when the underlying cause of an algal bloom is fixed the bloom subsides (some faster than others).
the only issue is that the algae competes with our desired flora, and makes it harder for us to maintain that desired livestock at peak health.
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Old 04-14-2012, 11:41 PM   #460
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That's a very good outlook on algae, Marko.

I share a similar mindset when algae appears in my aquariums where it's not a deal breaker or something to get frustrated at or hopeless.

However, many peoples first real issue is an abundance of algae and to teach methods of easy elimination, then the mind shift occurs when they can be successful a fighting it back
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Old 04-15-2012, 07:47 AM   #461
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I named it "The FX Method"


(Francis Xavier method)
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Old 04-15-2012, 09:33 AM   #462
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What are you going to do about the middle Rock? It looks covered in some sort of rust, are you going to leave it like that?

How would you clean such a thing?

Also, how many Otos do you have in that tank? Do they ever swim up to the surface for air?
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Old 04-15-2012, 05:10 PM   #463
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As far as algae on rocks, I have seen the most used tool is a toothbrush to brush it off if it changes the scape to where you don't like it
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Old 04-15-2012, 07:39 PM   #464
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What are you going to do about the middle Rock? It looks covered in some sort of rust, are you going to leave it like that?

How would you clean such a thing?

Also, how many Otos do you have in that tank? Do they ever swim up to the surface for air?
There are two oto's, minimum I use is two since they are social fish and get depressed alone. They chill and do the oto thing: hang out in one spot, move a little, hang out, move. Every now and again swim to the other side. They never go to the surface. Their favorite spot is near the intake or behind the main stone. I think they like the flow and cover.

The color is a combination of green and brown algae. Easy to eliminate. When the aquarium balances, those types do weird things. There will come a time when it looks like the algae "repulses" themelves off the rock and into the water, which when removed eliminates them.

Short of waiting for that, a quick fix is to drain the tank down and take a tooth brush with some h2o2 (peroxide) in it and scrub it off gently without getting the h2o2 on the plants.



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Originally Posted by Ozydego View Post
As far as algae on rocks, I have seen the most used tool is a toothbrush to brush it off if it changes the scape to where you don't like it
Yep! Eventually Amano's will eat it too, but the hard green algae is typically a bit harder to deal with and just requires a little scrub.
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Old 04-16-2012, 06:23 AM   #465
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Just a few photos for you guys at the end of week 4.

I didn't do a water change this weekend since I forgot to bring home RODI water and refuse to contaminate with tap.

In short this is an excuse, don't do this.

But the tank will be just fine until Monday, the tank id more or less in stability now and there's only easy algae present. If I get lucky, fish will be added this week.



I did, however trim the riccia down to keep it in check with the rest of the scape as well as a few non-perfect blades of tennellus and it's runners.

Also, added two more tiny stones of riccia to round out a few spots that need more texture.



Week 4 is over! Just need the miss to catch up and the vision is getting closer to the final picture.
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