Low tech dirted aquarium struggle - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-08-2020, 12:04 AM Thread Starter
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Low tech dirted aquarium struggle

I have a 36 gallon low tech dirted aquarium that I'm struggling with. I also have a low tech aquarium that's balance and doing fine which is not dirted. I had hoped the dirted aquarium would have been successful but it's been up for 7 months and doesn't seem to want to take off. Most plants have little growth and beard and hair algea is having a blast. The tank has an inch of Miracle Gro Organic and is capped with black sandblasting material. It has a finnex 24/7 se light on it and we'll planted. Most plants just grow slowly or disappear. I add no supplements to that tank.

The other has the original finnex homemade root tabs and I auto dose I ml of the low tech Thrive liquid fertilizer. It's balanced and lush.

Any thoughts?

I'll post pictures
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-08-2020, 12:06 AM Thread Starter
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This one is dirted and unbalanced
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-08-2020, 12:08 AM Thread Starter
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This one is not dirted and doing well

I need to.figure out how to post the second picture. Sorry
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-08-2020, 01:49 AM
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I had a 5g cube with the same substrate, used a 13 watt cfl bulb in a clamp lamp right on the hood+ it got afternoon indirect light from the windows. I also had a heater in there keeping it at 76-78F which I'd seen recommended to help with growth from a youtube video of a no tech soil tank. I think it was footheflowerhorn?

Packed with stems, and some other things that didn't take off (true darf sag (stayed under 2") staurogyne repens, blyxa, some stems names I can't recall anymore. They got removed, so I ended up with myro. matt. growing gang buster along with ludwigia red and limnophila aromatica close behind.

Because of the soil base I was really able to push it with the light. I also was very aggressive with water changes, first few weeks every day, then 2x a week, then 1x a week. Would increase water changes after a heavy trim and replant until new growth took off again (about 1-2 weeks). Finally took it down because I am so lazy about trimming.

I'd suggest increase water changes, if you can change the outflow from your filter to go directly over the algae covered plants sometimes that helps (sometimes doesn't). If the plants with algae are older leaves that are starting to die back just trim them off.
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Due to photobuckets new bs cost for use of images on forums I have deleted all photobucket accounts. I apologize if you enjoyed or found my photos helpful.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-08-2020, 02:48 PM Thread Starter
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Ok I'll try the waterchange direction. It is possible some of the plants are just not suited
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-14-2020, 03:50 PM
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What kind of water do you have? Dirt has a high cation exchange capacity that can lower the KH of water initially. So it may be that the water in your new tank is softer than the water in your old tank--which may account for why plants doing well in one tank aren't doing so well in the other.

Also, IME having dirt doesn't necessarily mean that stem or floating plants are getting all the nutrients they need, so you may need to supplement liquid ferts to the water column. NilocG's Thrive is a good low tech all-in-one fertilizer that works well for me. If that doesn't work, you may want to do some testing to see if anything is deficient in the new dirted tank.

Hope this helps--good luck!

Last edited by Desert Pupfish; 02-15-2020 at 12:08 AM. Reason: edit
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-14-2020, 04:51 PM
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Just as the water we use is not the same, dirt and the plants that we use are not all the same. Dirt has different nutrients and plants may use those nutrients in different amounts as time goes on. so that can complicate what we each need to do as all tanks are slightly different water/ nutrient/ plant combos. One type plant may get what it needs from the water, another from the dirt and another may not need that particular nutrient in nearly the same quantity, so that pretty much rules out any one specific fert combo that is sure to work for all plants. Most are a combo the things most plants need and they do work for most tanks. But I like to be more targeted with the ferts I add so I like the cheap and flexible nature of dry ferts as it allows me to "play" the amount of each up and down to find what really perks up each tank.
Looking at dry ferts may seem to be complex but I find it is not at all hard using the online calculators for the starting levels and then just have a range of the basic ferts on hand to add. I have plenty of water on hand and hate to pay to have it shipped to me in liquid ferts!
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-14-2020, 11:31 PM
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This is the reason I went with ADA Aquasoil (Nature Tank edition) rather than dirt.

I read the Walstad book (twice), I really wanted to try dirt but there's too many folks out there with issues similar to yours.

The Aquasoil worked out really well. I'd still like to try a (regularly) dirted tank sometime.

fwiw I found a product with I think the same properties as ADA Aquasoil at less than half the cost. Can't remember the name right now but will look it up if you're interested.

Sent from my Pixel 3 XL using Tapatalk
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-14-2020, 11:52 PM
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Let us know if you want to try organic potting soil some time.

Cheers

Style: Organic potting soil, sand, gravel, wood, plants, moss, snails, shrimp, small fish, dual siestas
Tech : Small tanks, Fluval Plant 3.0 Nano, Top Fin MF10, Eheim Skim 350, Tunze 3161, Neptune Apex EL
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-14-2020, 11:52 PM
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Agree you need to up water change for next 3-4 months probably and start light 1/4 strength dosing of thrive.

Most soils people use are to rich in organics out of bag. In terrestrial plant use their fine, but when used in aquarium they really should be flushed with water until they run semi clear, at least for a week to let them leach excess humic compounds. Your going to need to do that now in tank and it’s going to take a while. Use a fine mesh strainer and leach/prep/mineralized soil before you even set up tank can put you months ahead in having a stable soil tank.

If you can think about running big bags of carbon in filter also along with big water change. You’ll need to change out carbon weekly though.
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