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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-16-2010, 01:20 AM Thread Starter
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mineralised top soil

i have been running a tank with mineralised top soil and want to know if you have to dose ferts into the water or does the mineralised soil provide enough ferts through the plants roots.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-16-2010, 01:26 AM
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Depends, but you probably shouldn't have to.

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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-16-2010, 01:48 AM
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Depends on your plants, but most people just dose a little bit of potassium.

I run low light on my tank with MTS so don't dose anything. I am going to give some of my larger Crypts some root tabs, though.





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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-16-2010, 02:22 AM
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I've got mineralized top soil under Eco-Complete in my 29g, with high light and pressurized CO2, and I dose around EI levels. I did stop dosing anything for about two weeks, just to see if it would work out, and it did not work out. Algae popped right up. Could I probably get away with dosing less? Yeah. It's working well though, and everything is happy, healthy, and balanced, so I'm not changing it.

Anyway, I think the moral of that story is it's going to depend on your particular situation and tank setup.

Feeling adventurous? Maybe check out my current
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-16-2010, 02:54 AM
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Eventually even a very rich substrate will get used up. I would dose. Then the substrate can get replenished with the fertilizers the plants remove.
By keeping it up you are providing a cushion that the plants can draw on for example when you go on vacation.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-16-2010, 03:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian D View Post
i have been running a tank with mineralised top soil and want to know if you have to dose ferts into the water or does the mineralised soil provide enough ferts through the plants roots.
read this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Barr
Non CO2 methods

While much of the attention and aquascape seen on the web focuses on CO2 enrichment in their methods, Diana Walstad presents an excellent argument for the approach of a non CO2 enriched planted Aquarium. We should also extend this to include Excel and carbon enrichment liquids as well as acetate which allow some algae to exist without any light or CO2 and grow heterotrophically (like us). She discusses not needing test kits, water changes, pruning often, dosing, work that most aquarist do not care for.

What? You mean no water changes? Yes, that's right.
No testing? Yes, that's right, but you can if you wish.
Not much pruning? Yes, that's right, the plants grow much slower.
No dosing? Generally yes for many easy to care for plant species(I'll discuss this much more later), the fish waste represents the dosing and you feeding them daily adds the nutrients.

So why don't more folks do it?
I'm not sure, given the goals they say they want when setting up a planted tank.

CO2 is a bit like a drug addiction that hobbyists get hooked on. That's fine, but this non CO2 approach will give an excuse to have another tank that needs less attention and is cheap.

I suggest folks coming from either the non CO2 or the CO2 enrichment approaches to give the other method a try and see what benefits it has.

CO2 and non CO2 tanks work for all the same reasons, but........
They grow at different rates.

Based off of my testing, I'd estimate close to 5 to 10 times slower than a CO2 enriched tank at 2-3 w/gal.

This rate of growth is such that the fish waste alone is enough to supply the needs for the plants. If we added more light then the CO2 would start becoming a more limiting factor and allow algae to grow better (algae need higher light to grow well in non CO2 enriched systems whereas the plants are much more limited without CO2). A lower light level is required; generally about 1.5 to 2w/gal is good.

We also need a balanced fish load and feeding routine since this is our main long term input of plant nutrients. Fish food varies in it's amount and ratio of nutrients. This is not an issue unless it becomes limiting. Very often since non CO2 tanks get neglected, they have trouble growing certain plants. If these nutrients are not allowed to bottom out(Say PO4 or NO3), then many of the species folks suggest cannot be kept, suddenly can be kept in non CO2 tanks but they simply grow slower.

Rather than suggesting allelopathy, Fe algae limitation of PO4 limitation, I will say none of this exist. Rather, non limiting nutrient levels for plants will provide better conditions.

CO2 will limit both plants and algae, the lower light and high plant biomass density will provide a better place for the plants and a worse place for the algae. CO2 and non CO2 tanks work well and are algae free namely due to high plant biomass that is relatively healthy. This plant biomass removes NH4 from the fish waste.

We can add KNO3 and KH2PO4 and show that in a non CO2 tank, excess PO4, NO3 (and Fe) do not cause algae blooms. We can add NH4 and induce a bloom just like a CO2 enriched tank.

This assumption and knowledge frees us from limitation of nutrients which ultimately does more harm to the plants' health and well being, allowing a better environment for algae to grow.

Doing water changes adds CO2 back to a CO2 limited tank.
Plants and algae both can and do adapt to low CO2 environments and induce genes to make enzymes that concentrate CO2 around Rubisco, the CO2 fixing enzyme. When we add the CO2 at higher levels back, this causes the plants and algae to destroy the low CO2 enzymes and start growing without of them since they no longer need them to fix CO2 form the KH ( the -HCO3).
Why keep all this machinery around if you no longer need it? Doing weekly water changes "fools" the plants and helps encourage algae more. Algae are faster to respond to low CO2 than plants.
Once the plants do adapt, they can do well.

Soil substrates are popular with non CO2 users and they work well but peter out after about 6-12 months. They help the plants get established initially and supply nutrients that are other wise lacking in the beginning before many fish are added and the tank has had a chance to accumulate waste.

I suggest onyx sand as it added Ca, Mg, and Fe, and I add mulm/detritus freshly from another established tank to add bacteria and cycle the tank immediately. I also add a form of organic material other than soil. The bacteria that break the waste down need a source of carbon as an electron donor besides the elements in the waste. Like us, they need their carbs as well. As these bacteria break the carbon and waste down, they consume O2.
This lowers the redox values in the substrate freeing up Fe2+ and other nutrients.

Add too much organic matter and O2 and you get O2 levels that are too low and cause issues for your tank. Soil also has NH4, this we know to cause algae in higher amounts and it does not take much! Ways around this: don;t use soil, it's messy and has NH4/urea. Boiling the soil for a few minutes will oxidize the NH4 to NO3. Allowing damp soil to be spread thinly outside for few weeks(3) will allow the NH4 to be converted into NO3 by bacteria.
Peat moss, ground peat, works well also.

The other options are add lots of mulm instead and leonardite.
Leonardite is great, it last a very long time, adds a slow release form of carbon, matches the gravel's color, sinks easily poses no issues if you disturb and uproot plants.

You should always add fresh mulm to any new tank. Add some form of carbon as well, pre soaked/boiled soil, pre soaked peat, leonardite.

Dosing:
Since the plants are the same as they are in a CO2 enriched tank and we know the rates of uptake are there, we can scale down the rates for the non CO2 dosing routine.

I removed all fish and critters from the test tanks, I dosed only with KNO3m, and other inorganic fertilizer so that I would see only plant uptake and inorganic ferts contributions to the plant's health.

Going back and assuming 80-90% of the nutrients will come from the fish load, I added once a week KNO3/KH2PO4.

While trace mixes can be added, I decided to use SeaChem Equilibrium instead.
It has Fe and Mn as well as Ca/K/Mg/SO4.
I will add about 1/4 teaspoon per 20 gal tank once every week or two.
This greatly enhances the growth of the plants.
I also will add about 1/8" and 1/32" teaspoon of KNO3 and KH2PO4 respectively once a week or two.

The plants will respond very well to this routine. You can let the tank go for awhile and not dose to purge any excesses that might have built up over a month or two or you can test to see rather than do the water change.

DW does not suggest dosing, but adding 2-3 things once a week or two, certainly is not that tough???? the plants do gain a lot and then you can grow most any plant in a non CO2 tank.

From here if you want more growth, Excel is a good option. You can add about 2-3x as much ferts then.

Smaller hang on the back filters work well.
One thing many folks setting up any planted tank seems tom over look, plant densely from the very start, do not wait for the plants to grow in!
Add some cheaper plants till the main display plants grow it and slowly remove the "starter plants" as needed.
Set up the substrate well, this is the main part of the non CO2 tank.
Feed the fish well. Add algae eaters, they will work many times more efficiently since the algae grow slower under non CO2 conditions also!

1" per gallon is a good rule of green thumb for fish stocking levels.
These tanks often look better on any given day than the CO2 enriched tanks.

The lower light and lack of gadgets and maintenance make these tanks much more efficient and cheaper for folks. If you leave for a week, the tank does fine as is. No worry.

Maintenance routines:

Dose once a week(optional)
Add evaporation top off water
Snip tops off plants that get too unruly.
Feed fish daily.
As dirt and growth get further out of hand, you can uproot and do a big hack and rearranging, do not do this more than once every 3-6 months. Do a water change right afterwards.
You may have to remove some algae manually every so often but the algae grows slow also.

That's it.


Regards,
Tom Barr


^ this should be sticky.

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-16-2010, 09:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
Eventually even a very rich substrate will get used up. I would dose. Then the substrate can get replenished with the fertilizers the plants remove.
By keeping it up you are providing a cushion that the plants can draw on for example when you go on vacation.

Can fish waste and fish food provide enough in low tech along with the mineralized top soil?
Have read reports of the mineralized topsoil providing years worth of growth, with perhaps only occasional root tabs and waste from fishes ,and foods ,in low tech tanks with plants that are selected for said low tech tanks.
Would think in low tech the plants would use nutrients at much slower rate.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-16-2010, 11:31 AM
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again, it all depends on the technicalities of the tank. High tech, or low tech. Intense lighting, or low lighting. co2 dosed or not. fast growing stem plants, or anubias nana. too many factors to be generalized. Even in low tech your MTS could be depleted rapidly with the addition of a large rooted plant such as echinodorus, and thusly need root tabs or water column fertilization to replenish nutrients in your substrate.

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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-16-2010, 01:43 PM
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I decided to post this after reading the Tom Barr quote posted by oldpunk78.

Diana Walstad posted this into my tank string over on APC.
"I see that you are adding fertilizers (Excel and iron). I believe that they are unnecessary in view of the rich substrate you've provided and the fact you're not using CO2 injection. Excel overdosing can cause problems for fish, and iron at 0.6 ppm can stimulate algae.
Perhaps your method (where natural processes have been mostly ignored and overridden) will work. However, the El Natural method will also work, and it doesn't involve all these manipulations."
Her book holds wonderful information and her methods without question produce results.

(imo) The purest views that are rigid and hold that any varation on a system or method of tank keeping is wrong would only apply to 'cookie cutter aquariums' which in my experience is nearly impossible to achieve.
My 'high tech' 75g tanks are bookends to a living room entertainment center. Filled within a week of each other. Same light fixtures (same bulbs), fed by the same CO2 system (seperate controllers), same light timer, same fish stocking. Tried to maintain identical water parameters and the tanks are totally differant in they're dosing demands based on slight changes in plant configuration. Planted the same plants in both tanks and watched the growth shift between them untill they looked completely differant within the first year (then I gave up on the twin tank dream).




Giving a bump to the water column fertilization on a mineralized soil system hurts nothing and in many cases helps level things out. Do you have to do this? Maybe not starting out but as it ages I think you do. I put together a 'Walstad' style 55g using potting soil and a 110g using mineralized soil kits from Ken here on TPT. Both started to show problems with growth. K2SO4 seems to be what was used up first in both tanks based on what fixed the issues.
The potting soil held for 13 months before nutrient problems started. The MS held for about 8 months.

All things being equal (imo) all tanks are differant LOL


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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-17-2010, 06:20 AM
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My apologies for any percieved Hi- jacking of thread for it was not my intent.
When the words low tech appear on other sites I have visited,interest or responses to queries about same are not always as forthcoming as one might hope.
Points are well taken with regards to my question.
Echinodoras (sp) or sword plants, I believe would do much better with a little more light than I am planning ,Approx 2 watts per gal of T5.
In any event, I believe I will incorporate water column dosing (flourish comprehensive) as well as the MS .
Plan on adding clay and slow release fertilizer (osmocote) along with MS and capped with fine pea gravel.
Am gathering info at the moment for I will be unable to give this a go until I have completed a move from my current apartment to childhood home left to my brother and I after recent passing of mother.
Am looking forward to the larger space to set up proper fish room.
Again, thanks for the help.
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-17-2010, 12:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadmaster View Post
My apologies for any percieved Hi- jacking of thread for it was not my intent.
When the words low tech appear on other sites I have visited,interest or responses to queries about same are not always as forthcoming as one might hope.
Points are well taken with regards to my question.
Echinodoras (sp) or sword plants, I believe would do much better with a little more light than I am planning ,Approx 2 watts per gal of T5.
In any event, I believe I will incorporate water column dosing (flourish comprehensive) as well as the MS .
Plan on adding clay and slow release fertilizer (osmocote) along with MS and capped with fine pea gravel.
Am gathering info at the moment for I will be unable to give this a go until I have completed a move from my current apartment to childhood home left to my brother and I after recent passing of mother.
Am looking forward to the larger space to set up proper fish room.
Again, thanks for the help.
2 watts per gallon of T5 is going to be very high light on most tank setups.

Most swords, however, are pretty low-light tolerant and don't need that much light. Some of the red ones will color up a bit better in higher light, and there are a few species that do need more light levels than others (Tropica swords and Red Devils come to mind), but most Echinodorus sp. can live in even 1 wpg of T8 light...

So my point is you can use that much light if you want to but it's not necessary.



I'm sorry for your loss.





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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-17-2010, 01:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lauraleellbp View Post
2 watts per gallon of T5 is going to be very high light on most tank setups.

Most swords, however, are pretty low-light tolerant and don't need that much light. Some of the red ones will color up a bit better in higher light, and there are a few species that do need more light levels than others (Tropica swords and Red Devils come to mind), but most Echinodorus sp. can live in even 1 wpg of T8 light...

So my point is you can use that much light if you want to but it's not necessary.



I'm sorry for your loss.
Many thanks Laura.

Light fixture is nova extreme with two 54 watt T5 freshwater bulbs and I am planning on placing them over 80 gal tank, or possibly 75 gal.
I previously had the fixture on 55 gal and believe it was indeed a bit too much.(grew all kinds of algae)
Am not locked in to using the fixture and or bulbs if I can Get possible recommendation for alternative with close to what will be needed to fit the plants needs.
I realize particular plants have different growth rates under different lighting but am trying to provide decent growth for most low to moderate light plants and am not looking for rapid growth measured in days, but weeks would be welcomed.
Believe the mineralised substrate along with slow relase ferts,capped with pea gravel and weekly or bi-weekly water column dosing will give this tank it's best chance with my low level of expierience or so it is my hope.
I am reading ,reading,and assimilating.
Once again Thank you and I welcome any and all opinions.
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-17-2010, 01:23 PM
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I run 108 watts of T5HO over my own 90gal and it's a challenge to keep stable w/out CO2. Substrate is mostly Flourite and I use root tabs for the swords, no water column dosing at all. I'm down to about a 6 hour photoperiod. Swords do well, however.






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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-17-2010, 02:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lauraleellbp View Post
I run 108 watts of T5HO over my own 90gal and it's a challenge to keep stable w/out CO2. Substrate is mostly Flourite and I use root tabs for the swords, no water column dosing at all. I'm down to about a 6 hour photoperiod. Swords do well, however.



Sounds as though I need to re-think my lighting.
No worries, Im in no hurry. With the exception of the lighting, I have everything I think I'll need.
Mineralised topsoil(soon as I soak,dry it)
Clay
Product osmocote (slow release fertilizer containing Nitrogen,Phosphate,and Potash)
Flourish comprehensive
Fine gravel
Root tabs (if needed)
It is the proper lighting that I want to get right from the outset.
CF lighting may be something that I need to explore.
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