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Old 10-27-2013, 04:23 PM   #1
jeremy va
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Hi-tech to Lo-tech transition issues?


So attached is a photo of a 65g. It currently has Co2 and 12 hours of light with a Build my LED fixture which means it is fairly high light I'd think. Substrate is a mix of potting soil and sandy/clay capped with eco-complete and there is a big old eheim on there. It is about 9 months old and the plants grow very strongly with no added ferts (the HC was 4" deep in places until I cut it back). There are no fish in there but there are some snails and daphnia so it is a "live" tank -- I had a few otos but moved them recently. I want to add some fish (probably 12 white clouds or celestials). I'm thinking of switching to a sponge filter and discontinuing the Co2 so I can use it (and the eheim) on another tank and so that if the fish breed I don't have to worry about fry getting filtered. Has anyone grown a dirt tank using co2 and then pulled it and, if so, please do you have any tips/warnings etc? I can't see why this would be a problem: the plants are rooted well -- in the long term I would need to think about fertilization but, in the short term I would think they would simply slow down their growth. A dozen or so little fish are not going to produce a ton of waste and between a large sponge filter and the plants I'd think the fish will be fine. Obviously, I'd have to make sure the sponge has a good colony of bacteria. Any experiences in this would be appreciated...
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Old 11-17-2013, 12:34 AM   #2
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I'm actually interested in this as well. Sorry I don't have an answer for you.

When you make the transition, let us know how it goes...
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Old 11-17-2013, 03:21 AM   #3
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No worries, doesn't look like anyone else had any ideas either (;-)
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Old 11-17-2013, 05:50 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by jeremy va View Post
No worries, doesn't look like anyone else had any ideas either (;-)
After I posted I Googled it, here is a thread that has some info:

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=100159

you can use Google to search through this web site. It is better than the built in search. Just type ( site:plantedtank.net ) after whatever you want to search for. I found that thread by typing:

transitioning a tank from high tech to low tech site:plantedtank.net


Anyways, did you end up converting your tank over to low tech? If so how did it go, plst pictures if you have them.
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Old 11-17-2013, 07:11 PM   #5
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Hi Jeremy,

Really nice tank and good HC growth. I didn't go through the whole thread suggested by discoveringmypath, but I think in general you want to maintain the balance between Light=>CO2=>Nutrients. Typically, people who are running high light and added ferts need to reduce light and then nutrients when the CO2 is removed. With less light, there is less demand for CO2, and hence less demand for nutrients.

In your case, your nutrients are only coming from the soil, so nothing to adjust there. So if you take away the CO2, all you can really do is reduce your light. The one thing that you have to be careful with is that you don't really know the intensity of the light you currently have from your DIY LEDs. If you could measure the PAR, then you'd have a much better knowledge of how to reduce your light. If your tank is currently at 90 PAR at the substrate, then dropping to 50 PAR would be a good reduction when taking the CO2 injection away. But if you are currently at 60 PAR at the substrate, then you may not want to reduce the light much further if you want to keep your plants from getting leggy.

Most all the plants I can see and identify in your tank can handle the reduce light levels. I've had an HC carpet like yours with only 40-50 PAR at the substrate once it's established. Your bg stems may not fair well though in reduced lighting.

In my opinion, unless you have vast experience with visually assessing a plant's health via it's growth pattern, then measuring with a PAR meter is the only definitive way to make a calculated guess as to how much to reduce your light.

Your only other option is to reduce the light with your best "intuitive" guess and watch the growth for a few weeks and see what happens.

Cheers,

-Jeremy
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Old 11-17-2013, 09:26 PM   #6
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The other thing I wanted to add in regards to your transition from high-tech to low-tech is the proposed sponge filter you mentioned... In my opinion, heavily planted tanks with little to no bio load don't need much in terms of filtration. But what they do need is circulation. Usually, the canister filter provides both. But you should be ok with removing the canister filter and switching to a sponge if you keep that side-mounted impeller; looks like a Vortech that you have?

I keep a Vortech MP-10 on my 60L tank because the Fluval canister I'm using doesn't provide much in terms of circulation by the time it makes it through all the hard plumbing. Proper circulation does wonders for the tank: high-tech or low-tech.

Cheers,

-Jeremy
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Old 11-18-2013, 01:06 AM   #7
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The only thing I can think of is be sure to cut your light time wayyyy back. Maybe do 3 hours on, 4 off, 3 on for a while and then increase the light-on time until you start having issues with algae. If 6 total hours of light is too much and grows a bunch of algae then cut back, etc. Let us know how it goes!
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Old 11-18-2013, 02:14 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Careful View Post
The only thing I can think of is be sure to cut your light time wayyyy back. Maybe do 3 hours on, 4 off, 3 on for a while and then increase the light-on time until you start having issues with algae. If 6 total hours of light is too much and grows a bunch of algae then cut back, etc. Let us know how it goes!
Hmm, I've heard of other's having this same philosophy. It's not something I personally agree with, and not something I've ever felt the need to do. I keep tanks very similar to the one pictured by jeremy_va and I always run the lights at 12 hours a day. Mostly because with reduced light and co2, the plants need time to "collect" light and co2 and thus produce growth. I think cutting back on the light duration as you suggest would be more of a detriment to the growth in the tank.

That being said, when I run the lights at 12 hours a day, I'm very aware of how much light the tank is getting via PAR measurements. Perhaps, this drastically reduced on/off light schedule that you suggest is born out of people running lighting that is inherently too bright given their CO2 and nutrient balance.

I understand that you are offering an incremental approach at arriving at a suitable lighting level but, if it were me, I'd rather see my tank lit 12 hours a day. Just as easy to dim the LEDs than to turn the plants on and off.

Cheers,

-Jeremy
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Old 11-18-2013, 03:02 AM   #9
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Ok, thank you for the compliments and input. Going to have to do something about the name thing...(:-)

First, this all makes sense. I agree on the point about circulation especially; huge difference that the vortech makes and, while they cost an arm and a leg, they are worth every penny from what I can tell. I started without one and had minor but persistent algae in the corners and behind the chunk of locust that's in there. The vortech fixed that.

Second, based on the specs published by Build my LED the fixture emits a PAR of about 50 at the edges and about 80 in the centre which is more than some of the plants need and probably just fine for the HC. The photoperiod is about 8 hours right now but the room is very bright.

I've been reading up on this elsewhere and, while I have a fair amount of experience with "dirt" tanks and lo-tech this is my first venture into co2 and I must say it is fascinating. Since that photo was taken I've added some more plants and trimmed back the HC so it is much more even and less shaggy. The result is that the darn tank looks so nice I'm asking myself why the heck I'd want to risk taking out the co2 completely (other than gaining knowledge)! From what I've read, I can moderate the co2 (which I've done successfully as this one came together) so that the fish are happy. And I'll tweak the photoperiod if need be. There is no bioload to speak of from a dozen white clouds so I'm no worried about that too much.

The biggest problem with this strategy is that I will need to buy another regulator bcse I've got two more 4' tanks that I'm working on -- I was hoping to move the co2 set up to one of them. The new tanks will both be dirt but I'm going to use co2 on one and go lo-tech with he other. The main reason I like co2 is because I can bring the tank on so much faster after it is flooded.

So I appreciate the help and suggestions but I'm going to chicken out on the switch!
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Old 11-18-2013, 03:18 AM   #10
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Keep us updates. I was debating going back to low tech one day just to cut down on trimming and maintenance
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Old 11-18-2013, 03:42 AM   #11
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The HC is very unlikely to survive if you stop the CO2. The other plants may make it, but when I have done that I have had lots of plant problems. Usually the other plants get leggy, the lower stems tend to rot, the leaves get much smaller, and the stem plants may break free from the substrate to attempt to migrate to better growing locations (which is doomed to failure!). I had the best success when I just started the tank over as a low light tank.
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Old 11-18-2013, 03:46 AM   #12
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Interesting. Glad I changed my mind!
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Old 11-18-2013, 07:07 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoppy View Post
The HC is very unlikely to survive if you stop the CO2. The other plants may make it, but when I have done that I have had lots of plant problems. Usually the other plants get leggy, the lower stems tend to rot, the leaves get much smaller, and the stem plants may break free from the substrate to attempt to migrate to better growing locations (which is doomed to failure!). I had the best success when I just started the tank over as a low light tank.
I agree with the part about the leaves of the HC getting smaller with no CO2. But, thankfully, I have never experienced anything like you describe when switching from CO2 to non-CO2. (With the caveat being that my tanks always have soil and qualified light.) But I am also more conscious of giving the HC more light than one might recommend when not injecting CO2 - around 65 PAR. The truth is, NOBODY, has ever recommended this to me in these terms… I wish they would have :-)

Tropica has a nice article explaining the energy trade-offs when gathering light and CO2 and how the plants can effectively spend more of its energy gathering CO2 if it is not also light limited… and vice versa. Ultimately, they conclude that limited light and rich CO2 is the best combination for optimizing plant growth and managing a planted tank. But you can also draw other conclusions regarding non-CO2 tanks in that you don't want to co-limit both the light and CO2. Better to give a bit more light so the plants can spend more energy fixing carbon. The study's results with riccia showed that there was a six fold increase in net growth when only increasing the light compared to the case when both light and CO2 were limited.

I've always taken this to heart and will commonly tell people to increase their light on their non-CO2 tanks when I can tell that the tank is limited in both CO2 and light. But a lot of people are gun shy with increased light on low-tech tanks: because of the threat of algae. But the common language to avoid this problem is: PAR. It's too bad that most people don't speak it.

It's ok, Hoppy, we don't have to rehash why people don't speak it… I get it. I'm just tired of that argument. A fair amount of hobbyists drop amazing cash on pH controlled CO2 injection and other tank gizmos, but they balk at the price of a PAR meter when it's less expensive than automated CO2 injection, and the one thing that could help them more in more situations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeremy va View Post
Ok, thank you for the compliments and input. Going to have to do something about the name thing...(:-)

So I appreciate the help and suggestions but I'm going to chicken out on the switch!
It is a nice tank… and as the saying goes: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. The challenge of converting to non-CO2 would be a good one, but personally I wouldn't go into it blind. But given that your tank is a soil tank and that you have some vague idea of what your PAR is, I think you'd have no problem turning off the CO2 and not adjusting anything else. But I'd bet $10 that your "bright room" would only contribute about 2-3 PAR when your target should be 50-60 PAR :-)

Cheers,

-Jeremy
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Last edited by i4x4nMore; 11-18-2013 at 04:41 PM.. Reason: additional comments
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Old 11-18-2013, 10:29 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by i4x4nMore View Post
Hmm, I've heard of other's having this same philosophy. It's not something I personally agree with, and not something I've ever felt the need to do. I keep tanks very similar to the one pictured by jeremy_va and I always run the lights at 12 hours a day. Mostly because with reduced light and co2, the plants need time to "collect" light and co2 and thus produce growth. I think cutting back on the light duration as you suggest would be more of a detriment to the growth in the tank.

That being said, when I run the lights at 12 hours a day, I'm very aware of how much light the tank is getting via PAR measurements. Perhaps, this drastically reduced on/off light schedule that you suggest is born out of people running lighting that is inherently too bright given their CO2 and nutrient balance.

I understand that you are offering an incremental approach at arriving at a suitable lighting level but, if it were me, I'd rather see my tank lit 12 hours a day. Just as easy to dim the LEDs than to turn the plants on and off.

Cheers,

-Jeremy
These are all good points. I guess what I was trying to say was, don't be afraid to adjust your light timing up or down if you're not getting the growth/algae results that you want. While 12 hours of unbroken light works for some people, I found a good algae/growth balance with a 4 hours on/4 off/4 on schedule and 12 hours on would be a bit overwhelming for my tank.
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