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Old 04-18-2006, 04:32 PM   #1
Cheese Sandwich
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'Low Tech': Definition & Typical Setup


Let us get this forum rolling with a general intro-level discussion of the low-tech concept. What is it, and what would a typical low-tech tank setup be.
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Old 04-18-2006, 04:53 PM   #2
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Well, here's a link to Tom Barr's exceptional article on the subject. It has a lot of good details on set up and maintenance.

Tom
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Old 04-18-2006, 05:13 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BluSponge
Well, here's a link to Tom Barr's exceptional article on the subject. It has a lot of good details on set up and maintenance.

Tom

Thanks, that is a good writeup, though I'm not sure I buy his argument against doing water changes (that it introduces CO2 to the tank, re-energizing algae which responds quicker to more CO2 than plants).
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Old 04-18-2006, 05:40 PM   #4
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I'm not sure it would always add CO2 back to a tank anyway, if I'm understanding my water board's water quality report, my tap water has from 0 (not detected) to something like 5mg/l of CO2. I'd pretty much say that counts as "none!" But the water changes would surely be fewer, and certainly not the comparatively huge 50% weekly water change EI folks use in any case.

I'd say there's going to be a range of low-tech, just like there's a range of hi-tech. One thing for certain, no CO2 injection; little if any ferts, as if you have a light bio-load I can see possibly adding a small amount of some all in one type thingie, although I guess you could always just feed more; lower light, in the range of 1.5-2wpg. Tom Barr (and presumably Diana Walstead, I've not read her book, it's on the "to do" list,) advocate a "rich" substrate as well.
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Old 04-18-2006, 05:55 PM   #5
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The article was the first thing I found that resemebled a comprehesive explaination, and is where the lights started coming on in regards to people mentioning a low-maintenance tank. Now, whether or not everything in the article is spot on remains to be seen. Just from reading posts around here, its very clear people have different experiences. But there are a few constants:

1) Lighting = 1-1.5wpg.
2) Rare water changes (maybe 25% once a month or so) -- instead, top off the tank when it gets low.
3) Very light dosing

I figure, like anything else, once you get it stablized and working, THEN you can experiment.

Tom
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Old 04-18-2006, 06:30 PM   #6
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To me: Low-tech is that vague point below High-tech where C02 becomes Optional.<--That is what I see as the High-end of Low-Tech.

I think if we are going to try to define "Low-Tech": We need to locate the "High-End" of it--because anything below it: is Low-Tech.

Low-Tech is generally considered: No C02 and 1.5-2watts/gal. Then the benefits of less water changes, less ferts, etc seem to be thrown in as just that: "Benefits".

What if I have 2.5 watts/gal.--Do I Need C02? Or is it optional?

To me, the dividing line seems to be whether C02 is Needed or not.....
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Old 04-18-2006, 06:35 PM   #7
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I hadn't heard that argument against water changes in low-tech tanks. Interesting. Can't exactly come up with an argument against it. Truth is, if plants are able to develop an internal mechanism to cope with low levels of CO2 in the water, it does seem to follow that introducing sporadic increases in CO2 could trigger a plant to shut down those internal mechanisms.
For what it's worth - I've increased the number of weekly water changes in my 55g in the last few months due to the addition of a few piece of driftwood that have introduced tannins and stained my water tea brown. Spot algae has become dramatically worse during this period. Whether it's due to the increased water changes reducing the plants low CO2 enzymes or not, who knows?
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Old 04-18-2006, 06:40 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GulfCoastAquarian
I hadn't heard that argument against water changes in low-tech tanks. Interesting. Can't exactly come up with an argument against it. Truth is, if plants are able to develop an internal mechanism to cope with low levels of CO2 in the water, it does seem to follow that introducing sporadic increases in CO2 could trigger a plant to shut down those internal mechanisms.
For what it's worth - I've increased the number of weekly water changes in my 55g in the last few months due to the addition of a few piece of driftwood that have introduced tannins and stained my water tea brown. Spot algae has become dramatically worse during this period. Whether it's due to the increased water changes reducing the plants low CO2 enzymes or not, who knows?
Might be due to the nutrients introduced by the driftwood.
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Old 04-18-2006, 08:47 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheese Sandwich
Might be due to the nutrients introduced by the driftwood.
Possible. Since I started the weekly 25% water changes, though, I've actually had to add KNO3 to keep it above non-detect levels.

Regarding definition of Low-Tech: To me, low tech has been eliminating CO2. That's sort of where I draw the line. Naturally, without CO2, your light levels would decrease as well in order to eliminate algae problems.
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Old 04-19-2006, 02:32 AM   #10
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I always thought "low-tech" referred to the equipment we use. A tank with upgraded lighting, pressurized CO2, and all kinds of ferts is high tech to me. A tank with only the lights that came with it, little or no added ferts, and diy CO2 is "low-tech". That is the way I have always looked at it. Just like a CD player is "low-tech" where a full home theater system is "high-tech"
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Old 04-19-2006, 03:48 AM   #11
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To me a low-tech setup includes

1) 2WPG or less
2) Co2 is optional
3) No dosing of ferts
4) Rare water changes

(Simliar to BluSponge's post but modified a bit)
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Old 04-19-2006, 04:04 AM   #12
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if your tank has fish in it, you should be doing weekly water changes whether you have plants or not. you have to take into account total dissolved solids, nitrate levels, etc.

i have 2.5wpg, no CO2, i JUST started adding Excel about a week ago, no other ferts. i have a slightly overstocked tank on fish, and i do 40% water changes one to two times a week. you can never do too many water changes. that is probably the reason i've been able to get away with not adding ferts, is because i am constantly replenishing the nutrients with water changes, as my tap water is very nutrient-rich.

i don't think ANY tank should go more than a week without a water change. its just not healthy.
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Old 04-19-2006, 04:29 AM   #13
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To me, Low Tech means no CO2 or Excel, change water once a week or once every other week or monthly if I am out of town. I never go longer than 1 month and I always change 50%.

I shouldn't have to trim plants but once every month or so and algae should be nonexistent. Light ranges from 1 wpg to 3 wpg (10Gallon tank has higher wpg but lux indicates it is still a low/medium light tank). I have 5 low tech tanks setup this way, all with low to medium fish or shrimp loads but heavily planted. Some plants I trim out of my 3 high tech tanks go in these and they actually grow better to my eyes. Didipilis Diandra is one that grows much more compact. Ludwigia Repens stays red but looks much more symmetrical. Ludwigia Cuba slows down considerably but still looks great. Anyway, a nice contrast between the high tech tanks in the same room.

Dosing is sporadic but I do dose small amounts of KNO3, PO4, TMG, Flourish and Equilibrium after water changes. I don't dose NO3 or P between water changes as I get enough from fish wastes and fish food for the slower growing plants. Substrate is Flourite in all 3 tanks.

Any new tanks I add now are low tech.
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Old 04-19-2006, 06:10 AM   #14
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To me, low tech means every thing is DIY. You dont buy fancy equipment. You stick to the min requirements & keep your focus on finding a natural balance w/in the aquarium rather than the flashiest top of the market set up. If your aquarium is stable and you have gotten to the point you dont have to do that much... youve done it.
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Old 04-19-2006, 12:30 PM   #15
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I'd have to go with the low lights (< 2WPG), which means that CO2 optional, and little or no ferts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenerSideofLIfe
To me, low tech means every thing is DIY. You dont buy fancy equipment.
Sorry, but I'm not sure I agree with this. I've seen some pretty high tech stuff done with DIY. ODNO lights, multiple DIY CO2 bottles, etc..
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