New planted column with VERY HARD water
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Old 02-12-2014, 02:27 AM   #1
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New planted column with VERY HARD water

I have been getting a lot of good information from this site so far and would like to get some opinions on my new tank build. I have questions about a couple different issues regarding TOM BARR's non-co2 method. I will try to follow this method as best as possible including the no water changes...

First of all, this is my proposed build:

Tank: 15 Gallon Column, measuring 13.5L x 13.5W x 19.75H
Lighting: 8w T5 + CFL modification
Filter: Aqueon QuietFlow 10 (will be upgrated to AC50 or 2313)
Substrate: flourite black sand (3 to 4" deep, sloping from front to back, using egg crate and yamaya stones to help keep the substrate from shifting)
Hardscape: yamaya stones and Branch wood of some kind
Flora: possibly ferns, mosses, anubias, crypts, vals, wisteria, anachris, frogbit, duckweed, dwarf sag, rotala, or anything else that can work with this depth of tank
Fauna: low bioload of RCS, ottos, school of boras sp.

Parameters of Tap water:

GH 22-25
KH 17
pH 7.4

Now to the questions:

1) I've been reading that the peat or leonardite layer is added to give the plants a carbon source right away. how necessary is this step? can I just use a dusting of peat as i have heard the leonardite can cause water discolouration, not to mention is a lot more difficult to obtain...

2) I've been finding conflicting info on substrate depth, so am I okay making the flourite black sand somewhere between 2" and 5" depending where in the scape it is? crypts will be the main root feeders... does this substrate have anaerobic pockets like other sands?

3) Given my VERY HARD water and GH and KH values, is it necessary to use Seachem EQ, or can i get away with Flourish Comprehensive instead for my micros? Is my tap water even usable for planted tanks with such high TDS? Should I mix with RO, given the species of flora and fauna that I want?

4) If I wanted to use the Flourish Macros, is there a way to calculate the amount needed to maintain the ppm levels suggested in the original non-co2 method?

5) This is my first tank of any kind for at least 20years, so I have no access to mulm or dirty sponges or used filters... how do I help cycle my tank? LFS? Seachem Stability?

Thanks for your patience,
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Old 02-12-2014, 08:14 PM   #2
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Hard water is not really a problem.
There are some fish that are going to do better than others, though. I would use something like Asian Rummynose or certain Rainbow fish relatives, certain Pseudomugils.
These fish thrive in hard water.

Plants are mostly just fine in hard water. The depth of the tank suggests that you make sure you have enough light. A small enough bulb to fit the top of the tank, but bright enough when that light reaches the bottom.

I would not bother mixing RO with your water unless you really want to keep soft water fish.

With water that already has high GH there is not any need at all to add more GH booster of any sort.

I think the Seachem products are labeled so you can figure out what dose will add how much of each nutrient to the tank.
As for figuring out how much of each the plants are using, testing is the only way.
Here is what I would do:

Figure out how much of each seachem product you need to give your tank the right levels to get started.
Write it down and think of it in ratios:
If you use 1 teaspoon of N and 1/8 teaspoon of P then that is a 8:1 ratio.
and so on through N, P, K, micros, Excel.
Then, dose and monitor the NO3. If the level is...
dropping... add more of all the ferts in the ratio you have figured out.
staying the same, perhaps between 5-10, maintain the dosing.
rising... reduce the dosing of all the ferts in the ratio you have figured out.

Here is where it gets tricky:
Fish food (and shrimp food) can supply some of most nutrients, but is low in K, Fe and Ca.
You do not need to worry about Ca.
But the other nutrients (K and Fe) might be in short supply. You might have to modify your fertilizing to dose more K and Fe, but less N, P and other micros.
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