AGA 2019 Vin Video Presentation - Page 3 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #31 of 138 (permalink) Old 06-28-2019, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Saxa Tilly View Post
The first two-thirds of my talk was a summary of my Rotala Kill Tank experiments, which was set up to figure out why Rotala stunt so often for so many people. The last third was a summary of takeaways from my 'social media database' and finding commonalities in tank conditions of experts and semi-experts who grow Lythraceae (Rotala, Ammannia, and Cuphea) without any tip stunting under a wide range of conditions.
Vin thanks for sharing here. I always look forward to hearing your latest.

Couple of questions and thoughts. These experiments all focus on Lythraceae. Are there similar experiments with other groups of plants? Should there be? Or is the position that if Lythraceae do well, everything else should as well?

Iíve discussed Wallachii with you before, and have never had much luck with it. Since I lowered KH (from 4.0 to less than 1.0), I added a small bunch. Have had it going for about 6 weeks, and while not perfect, itís alive, growing, and better than any other time. Makes sense given your comments.

Iíve also had Rotala Macranda Variegated for over two years. Most of the time at KH 4, and only recently at lower levels. Dosing over that time frame has been anywhere from NPK 27-18-42 to 12-5-13. Itís seen micros from CSM+B at extremely low levels (0.12 Fe weekly), to custom micros at 1.05 Fe weekly (current 0.525). Itís never really missed a beat. The only time I had a serious issue with it was when I experimented with higher B in my micros. Stunted it and lost all color in hours.

So are all Lythraceae created equal? It seems to me there are lots of shades of grey even with that family.

Which leads me to the next thing I have wondered about and your thoughts. If you perfect a Wallachii experiment, and find the parameters to bring out the absolute best in it, how does that translate over to the average hobbyist with a tank full of 20 or 30 different species? Will that same environment bring out the best in each of those?

IMO thatís where it seems things get tricky. Different tanks, different substrates, different plants, different source water, different fish loads, different light intensity, different maintenance habits, pretty much different everything. I just havenít seen a ďrecipeĒ that works for every situation. Do you think there is one?

Iíve been experimenting for a few months with much lower macro dosing. All in all, things have gone well, which I think is partly because of my lower KH. But I have noticed some groups, like Ludwigia, are not as robust as they once were. Iím actually going to be boosting things up a bit to see how they react. But if I do so and it works, will Wallachii suffer? My guess is yes.

So I guess my point is the tricky thing to me is providing the right mix to bring out the relative best in as many species as possible at one time. That is my goal and seems to be the goal of the average hobbyist here. And we all seem to have winners and losers, and sometimes we donít know why. It seems to me it would be helpful if there were more information available on prime conditions for other varieties of plants. Might help folks choose plants more wisely given the soup they are providing, and explain why some fail.

Anyway, sorry for rambling. I try to relate these experiments to my own tank, and I am sure others do as well. But not many are focused on Rotala/Ammannia/Cuphea, so trying to figure out how to relate all this to the average hobbyist like me.
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post #32 of 138 (permalink) Old 06-29-2019, 02:40 AM Thread Starter
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Wallchi grown in Flourite, KH 2, GH 4, PH below 6, dosed custom recipe by me. His tank lacked colors due to lightning but wallchi grew very well and required frequent trimming.


Ammania sp. I believe one of them is golden and not sure about the ID on the 2nd one, this one grown under Marchner based modified recipes. I did few experiments on these sp. It was also observed that these guys stunt quite easily if you dose a big dose in single dose.
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DIY Trace/Micro/Macro Recipe
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Last edited by happi; 06-29-2019 at 02:54 AM. Reason: More update
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post #33 of 138 (permalink) Old 06-29-2019, 08:45 AM
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Higher KH is definitely a limiting factor, but what is "high" KH? The KH out of my tap is about 3-3.5. Is that high? Hmmm
Most plants will be perfectly fine at 3 KH. But my talk and my current obsession are the more finicky Rotala, Ammannia and Cuphea, which will find 3 KH to be somewhat borderline if you want to dose heavy into the water column. I haven't yet figured out responses to 1, 2, and 3 KH for these plants.
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post #34 of 138 (permalink) Old 06-29-2019, 08:56 AM
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There is no definite number. It is rather a linear rate of deterioration with increasing KH.

When I use slightly KH leaching substrate, I can see on wallichii shape the increasing KH levels. Usually, 0 Ė 1.5 dKH is fine, at 1.5 Ė 2.0 dKH it starts growing little smaller, at 2.0 Ė 3.0 dKH it looks bad, and at > 3.0 dKH it stops growing. This is with CO2 and very strong light intensity.

Without CO2 and under low light it grows ok in 5 dKH water, looks green though.
Sounds very familiar.

In my earlier post with the two wallichii pics, what I failed to mention was that the KH was zero or pretty damn close. The pH was in the mid 3s. Yup. You read that right. R. wallichii does just fine at zero KH and pH of 3.6 or so. But this pH is not sustainable long term because many nutrients become increasingly less available once you go below 4.5 or 5. After a few weeks at pH 3.6, wallichii was the only one thriving. Many of the other plants started to slow down...along with biological filtration... and that brought on some algae. Easy fix though. Try KH of 0.5 to 1 or so and your pH at max CO2 will be around high 5s to 6. That's a nutrient friendly pH.

Oh I had several species of rainbows at pH 3.6. No issues.
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post #35 of 138 (permalink) Old 06-29-2019, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Greggz View Post
Vin thanks for sharing here. I always look forward to hearing your latest.

Couple of questions and thoughts. These experiments all focus on Lythraceae. Are there similar experiments with other groups of plants? Should there be? Or is the position that if Lythraceae do well, everything else should as well?

Iíve discussed Wallachii with you before, and have never had much luck with it. Since I lowered KH (from 4.0 to less than 1.0), I added a small bunch. Have had it going for about 6 weeks, and while not perfect, itís alive, growing, and better than any other time. Makes sense given your comments.

Iíve also had Rotala Macranda Variegated for over two years. Most of the time at KH 4, and only recently at lower levels. Dosing over that time frame has been anywhere from NPK 27-18-42 to 12-5-13. Itís seen micros from CSM+B at extremely low levels (0.12 Fe weekly), to custom micros at 1.05 Fe weekly (current 0.525). Itís never really missed a beat. The only time I had a serious issue with it was when I experimented with higher B in my micros. Stunted it and lost all color in hours.

So are all Lythraceae created equal? It seems to me there are lots of shades of grey even with that family.

Which leads me to the next thing I have wondered about and your thoughts. If you perfect a Wallachii experiment, and find the parameters to bring out the absolute best in it, how does that translate over to the average hobbyist with a tank full of 20 or 30 different species? Will that same environment bring out the best in each of those?

IMO thatís where it seems things get tricky. Different tanks, different substrates, different plants, different source water, different fish loads, different light intensity, different maintenance habits, pretty much different everything. I just havenít seen a ďrecipeĒ that works for every situation. Do you think there is one?

Iíve been experimenting for a few months with much lower macro dosing. All in all, things have gone well, which I think is partly because of my lower KH. But I have noticed some groups, like Ludwigia, are not as robust as they once were. Iím actually going to be boosting things up a bit to see how they react. But if I do so and it works, will Wallachii suffer? My guess is yes.

So I guess my point is the tricky thing to me is providing the right mix to bring out the relative best in as many species as possible at one time. That is my goal and seems to be the goal of the average hobbyist here. And we all seem to have winners and losers, and sometimes we donít know why. It seems to me it would be helpful if there were more information available on prime conditions for other varieties of plants. Might help folks choose plants more wisely given the soup they are providing, and explain why some fail.

Anyway, sorry for rambling. I try to relate these experiments to my own tank, and I am sure others do as well. But not many are focused on Rotala/Ammannia/Cuphea, so trying to figure out how to relate all this to the average hobbyist like me.

Hey Gregg - I'm laser focused on Lythraceae. I'd like to play with Alternanthera eventually because that's another plant a lot of people have trouble with. But for now, everything I'm saying applies ONLY to Lythraceae.

I'm also finding that Lythraceae is not monolithic in their growth requirements. Wallichii and pedicellata are very different beasts. A. pedicellata and artificial cultivars of R. macrandra actually pout when there isnt enough nutrients...while wallichii do really well.

Having said that, in tanks where I have 'fixed' Lythraceae, the other troublesome plants like AR and Ludwigia glandulosa have flat leaves. The Osmocote Kill Tank grows damn near everything flawlessly despite hard water and no water column ferts...because all the goodies are in the substrate. But when that substrate is depleted it will be like it ran full speed ahead into a wall. It will end quickly and badly. We all thought I was bonkers to try that tank. I was the most skeptical. But, boy, it was absolutely the most eye opening experience.

It is difficult to bring out the best in all plants at once without very low KH and substrate feeding. Cuphea is a classic example - what fixes its leaf shape and form will wipe out some color. If you want perfect leaf shape and bright red color in Cuphea, you gotta rely on root feeding.

Perfect example is Dennis Wong's tank (I'm in Singapore BTW as I type this). He has super soft water, high light, good CO2, very light water column dosing but what really sets his tank apart from all that is the deep (6") of soil. A few inches of raw soil topped with Aquasoil AND he inserts Osmocote beads INDIVIDUALLY under most of his plants. Every single thing he puts in his tank grows well. Frankly, I cannot think of a better way to grow plants. When he posts pretty pics on FB, most people trip over each other to ask about his lights! Lights?! Who cares?! When you see pretty pics of a super healthy tank, people should be asking about KH and substrate. Then ask about water column ferts.

I think you have inert substrate (?)...sorry cant recall. I am not surprised that Ludwigia start to peter out with increasingly lower macros. Greedy plants.

Hope my rambling was helpful.
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post #36 of 138 (permalink) Old 06-29-2019, 11:20 AM
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I'd like to play with Alternanthera eventually because that's another plant a lot of people have trouble with.
Thanks for the response and +1 on Altenanthera.

I can keep it alive, but never really flourishes. I am sure there is a key, but decided not to chase it and just enjoy the plants that do well.
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post #37 of 138 (permalink) Old 06-29-2019, 03:50 PM
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Its really refreshing to hear a counter-argument to the "root-tabs are a waste of money" crowd that argues this is true in all cases.

Those members have been silent in this thread. Wonder where they went?
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post #38 of 138 (permalink) Old 06-29-2019, 10:01 PM
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HCl is an option!
Even if it can be safely run through a doser pump in the sump, there's still going to be a shock to the inhabitants during WCs. I'm limited to using a water changer tap connection, absent a major plumbing upgrade in the basement, so the tank will fill with tap and only slowly lower as the doser kicks in afterward.

Anyone have a formula for determining ending pH when lowering KH by one degree? I need to reevaluate fauna options if I do this, perhaps plants too. Would be nice to have some Tonina.

Getting back to the hobby and up to speed.
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post #39 of 138 (permalink) Old 06-30-2019, 12:59 AM
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Even if it can be safely run through a doser pump in the sump, there's still going to be a shock to the inhabitants during WCs. I'm limited to using a water changer tap connection, absent a major plumbing upgrade in the basement, so the tank will fill with tap and only slowly lower as the doser kicks in afterward.

Anyone have a formula for determining ending pH when lowering KH by one degree? I need to reevaluate fauna options if I do this, perhaps plants too. Would be nice to have some Tonina.
You have a sump just dose it directly in the sump manually -1dKH @ a time.
Inhabitants should not be bothered.
@Immortal1 posted something like 3ml per 20 gallon = -1dKH
I followed and it was about spot on.
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Growing is not that difficult.
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post #40 of 138 (permalink) Old 06-30-2019, 03:33 AM
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Its really refreshing to hear a counter-argument to the "root-tabs are a waste of money" crowd that argues this is true in all cases.

Those members have been silent in this thread. Wonder where they went?
Root feeding is probably a poor feeding method for few types of plants - floating plants and obligate aquatics like Vallisneria. However, some obligate aquatics like Blyxa benefit from root feeding. Some Eriocaulaceae like Tonina and Synonanthus have such poor root development that they are probably best nourished thru water column. Pantanal is another one that can grow a foot of stem to every inch of root, so it too is just as well water-fed.

I will openly confess to being anti-root tabs and Osmocote as recently as a few years ago. My thinking back then was that root tabs and Osmocote have unpredictable release profiles depending on substrate disturbance, type of substrate, and depth of substrate. 4 inches of BDBS is probably much better are sequestering root tabs than 2 inches of fluffy Aquasoil.

Sometime later this year, I plan to set up 3 or 4 sixty gallon tanks with very rich substrates and no water column dosing. Some with just MTS and others with MTS and Osmocote. I will test for nutrient leaching into water column using ICP-MS. Did that with the original Osmocote Kill Tank and saw ZERO ppm nitrate in the water...suggesting leaching was absent or Osmocote was depleted. But that was just one reading a few months after set up. Did not test it regularly.

Don't take my word for it. I am regularly wrong...and will openly admit it. Try it and see how it works for you.
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post #41 of 138 (permalink) Old 06-30-2019, 03:48 AM
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Thanks for the response and +1 on Altenanthera.

I can keep it alive, but never really flourishes. I am sure there is a key, but decided not to chase it and just enjoy the plants that do well.
Do you have any AR Mini now that you've lowered your KH? May be worth a re-try. AR Variegated, which has historically been even bigger pain in the ass for me, does really well in the Osmocote Kill Tank. Not sure how to interpret that, but AR is a plant that frustrates a lot of people. I suspect (but dont know for certain) that what fixes Rotala will fix it too.
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post #42 of 138 (permalink) Old 06-30-2019, 03:54 AM
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Those members have been silent in this thread. Wonder where they went?
Don't fret, they are still circling the carcass, none have landed yet!
Give them time.
Let things soften up a bit in the heat!
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post #43 of 138 (permalink) Old 06-30-2019, 04:06 AM
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Root feeding is probably a poor feeding method for few types of plants - floating plants and obligate aquatics like Vallisneria. However, some obligate aquatics like Blyxa benefit from root feeding. Some Eriocaulaceae like Tonina and Synonanthus have such poor root development that they are probably best nourished thru water column. Pantanal is another one that can grow a foot of stem to every inch of root, so it too is just as well water-fed.

I will openly confess to being anti-root tabs and Osmocote as recently as a few years ago. My thinking back then was that root tabs and Osmocote have unpredictable release profiles depending on substrate disturbance, type of substrate, and depth of substrate. 4 inches of BDBS is probably much better are sequestering root tabs than 2 inches of fluffy Aquasoil.

Sometime later this year, I plan to set up 3 or 4 sixty gallon tanks with very rich substrates and no water column dosing. Some with just MTS and others with MTS and Osmocote. I will test for nutrient leaching into water column using ICP-MS. Did that with the original Osmocote Kill Tank and saw ZERO ppm nitrate in the water...suggesting leaching was absent or Osmocote was depleted. But that was just one reading a few months after set up. Did not test it regularly.

Don't take my word for it. I am regularly wrong...and will openly admit it. Try it and see how it works for you.
I trust that you know much more than this newbie.

I have low-tech tank- a 180 gallon with earth-eating cichlids that constantly sift sand and shift plant roots. It is a challenge to get anything to grow. I do light water column dosing relative to many others; but, use root-tabs consistently.

Water is KH 3/GH 5.

I grow swords, crypt spiralis, valisneria, ambula, some ludwigia's and many types of java ferns, anubias, etc...
It is a challenge without Co2; but, my expectations are not real high.

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Originally Posted by Maryland Guppy View Post
Don't fret, they are still circling the carcass, none have landed yet!
Give them time.
Let things soften up a bit in the heat!
LOL! I can always count on you to make me laugh.
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post #44 of 138 (permalink) Old 06-30-2019, 04:13 AM
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Even if it can be safely run through a doser pump in the sump, there's still going to be a shock to the inhabitants during WCs. I'm limited to using a water changer tap connection, absent a major plumbing upgrade in the basement, so the tank will fill with tap and only slowly lower as the doser kicks in afterward.

Anyone have a formula for determining ending pH when lowering KH by one degree? I need to reevaluate fauna options if I do this, perhaps plants too. Would be nice to have some Tonina.
This is what I did:

You need a good KH test kit (LaMotte) and a calibrated pH meter. And a 5 gallon bucket.

Add a couple of ml of HCL to 5 gallons of water in the bucket, circulate the water in the bucket with a powerhead for a few minutes. Track pH and measure KH. Extrapolate to your tank size. If you do not go thru this exercise, you can overshoot, get to zero KH and then have leftover unreacted acid that causes issues.

Bigger issue is lack of safety precautions. If you are not careful, you could end up in the ER with one eye. But you cannot deny the efficacy of this old method. Inverts may have issues - I dont know. But fish are fine. I have dumped 75 ml of 2M HCL into 60 gallons of water without any issues. Fish were fine. There will be a sudden spike in dissolved CO2, so add the acid right after a water change and BEFORE turning on CO2.

My ghetto cheat sheet for figuring out how much HCL to add to my tap water.
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post #45 of 138 (permalink) Old 06-30-2019, 04:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Saxa Tilly View Post
This is what I did:

You need a good KH test kit (LaMotte) and a calibrated pH meter. And a 5 gallon bucket.

Add a couple of ml of HCL to 5 gallons of water in the bucket, circulate the water in the bucket with a powerhead for a few minutes. Track pH and measure KH. Extrapolate to your tank size. If you do not go thru this exercise, you can overshoot, get to zero KH and then have leftover unreacted acid that causes issues.

Bigger issue is lack of safety precautions. If you are not careful, you could end up in the ER with one eye. But you cannot deny the efficacy of this old method. Inverts may have issues - I dont know. But fish are fine. I have dumped 75 ml of 2M HCL into 60 gallons of water without any issues. Fish were fine. There will be a sudden spike in dissolved CO2, so add the acid right after a water change and BEFORE turning on CO2.

My ghetto cheat sheet for figuring out how much HCL to add to my tap water.
do we have to worry about how much Cl would be left over?
because I think if I try to drop my dkH from 11 to 3 i might end up putting approximately 100 ppm Cl into the water column


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