soil vs substrate for lowtech?
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Old 07-22-2015, 09:15 AM   #1
lowkey
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soil vs substrate for lowtech?


I want to do a lowtech tank next time, but I can't decide on Walstad style soil base or a traditional aquatic substrate.

Could somebody please advise me regarding the following to help me decide?

  1. Do you still get the co2 'boost' from waste breakdown with traditional substrates (like Flourite or Eco-Complete) as you do with mineralised top soil?
  2. Is there any way to mitigate the chance of pulling soil into the water column/mixing layers when moving/removing plants?
  3. If I did use soil - does the cap layer need to be inert (sand, gravel etc)? Or could I use something like black flourite to get the appearance I want?

thanks
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Old 07-22-2015, 10:10 AM   #2
Onyx165
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capped soil and aquatic substrate tanks are both pretty easy to use, they don't differ by too much. To answer your questions:

1. No, because fluorite and eco-complete do not contain organics
2. Not really, unless you increase the size of the cap, but then the plants roots can't reach the soil.
3. Again, fluorite is inert, so you could definitely use it to cap soil. But really you can use anything you want to cap soil, it doesn't have to be inert. My current tank is miraclegro capped with eco-complete.
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Old 07-22-2015, 10:52 AM   #3
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Thanks Onyx.

So from what you've said, am I right in thinking that the only source of carbon in a non-soil lowtech is from dissolved atmospheric gas? (and a small amount presumably from the fish 'exhaling')

In which case it seems like it would be a) an order of magnitude slower in growth than a soil lowtech tank and b) beneficial to have low water temperature & run airstones and plenty of surface agitation to maximise co2 dissolution. Yet it doesn't seem like anybody does this.
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Old 07-22-2015, 02:06 PM   #4
Raymond S.
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I do and have since the first tank I had when 15.
But in one of the two 10g tanks I supplement it/w Excel.
With a fairly good amount of plants the rate that it is absorbed is a bit slower than the plants will use it I believe. And I don't think there's any real difference by using lots of air or circulation or just a fair amount of it.
I just use an air stone to drive my filter. In both they are DIY built in bio only.
Then also in the tank without the Excel there is no faster growing type plants.
I'm actually going to stick my neck way out here in a couple of months/w a new builb
in 10g again, but with dirt this time. Before I get you thinking I've completely lost it,
I'll say that I intend to cover the entire bottom with one and in some places two layers of river rock. In fact that's my lastthing I need to collect of the materials for this.
But where the sticking my neck out part comes in, is that I'm capping the dirt/w dirt.
But they will be under the rocks...so...
MGOCPM for the bottom capped/w MGOTS(organic top soil).
You can minimize the disturbance of the sub by just pulling the plant out very slowly.
But you might want to cut off the roots of a plant that has been in ther for more than 6 months. Those roots are all over the tank. Not runners but ant regular root that you cut off will just decompose to ferts.
I call Low Tech...(s)low tech so just don't expect any but faster growing plants to grow
like one or two inches a week.
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Old 07-22-2015, 02:36 PM   #5
AquaAurora
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Best advice I can give: If you like to tweak your aquascape don't do a soil based tank. It will make a mess especially if you try to move big rooted plants like well established: crypt, swords, and bulb plants. Speaking from experience I have a low tech soil based 2-3g bubble bowl with pygmy chain sword (it goes nuts in there) last fall I tried to pull a few out, the roots pulled up a LOT of soil with them, I have to completely gut and redo the tank with new soil and cap. Soil tanks are best for set and forget or minor trim ad replanting but not uprooting and shifting plants around.
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Old 07-22-2015, 10:25 PM   #6
Onyx165
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowkey View Post
Thanks Onyx.

So from what you've said, am I right in thinking that the only source of carbon in a non-soil lowtech is from dissolved atmospheric gas? (and a small amount presumably from the fish 'exhaling')

In which case it seems like it would be a) an order of magnitude slower in growth than a soil lowtech tank and b) beneficial to have low water temperature & run airstones and plenty of surface agitation to maximise co2 dissolution. Yet it doesn't seem like anybody does this.
Its true that you'd only be getting CO2 from dissolved air (and very very minimally from fish respiration), but I certainly wouldn't say its an order of magnitude less than a soil tank. In both soil and inert substrate tanks, carbon is primarily coming from the atmosphere, unless you add it in.

As raymond mentioned, you can always add excel to boost plant growth if this is important to you. Or focus more on slow-growing, low-light plants.
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Old 07-25-2015, 01:38 AM   #7
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Just my 2c - non- nitrifying bacteria produce CO2. The level builds up at night and is used by plants during photosynthes. There's not so much CO2 in the water, something I have had to put up with, but I have had a lot of success with Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Potting Soil covered by an inch of sand. It does create a mess when uprooting plants with big root systems, but there are ways of getting mostly around that covered above.
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