Dose less, not more - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 232 (permalink) Old 11-20-2011, 10:18 PM Thread Starter
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Dose less, not more

So I posted this data at the tail end of sewingalot's controversial 'types of fertilization methods'. However, I think most members were so sick of the ongoing bickering in that thread that they stopped bothering to read it after the first few pages.

My point is that if we examine the water analyses of tropical habitats that the majority of aquarium plants originate from, it's evident that mother nature provides far fewer nutrients to plants than members of this forum do.

The following data is from Christel Kasselmann's book "Aquarium Plants." The first data set was produced by scientist at Tetra and the second is from a habitat study published by Furtado and Mori.

*Note that values in mg/l are approximately equivalent to parts per million (PPM)

Rio Guapore, Brazil

Plants: several species of echindorus, cabomba furcata, eichornia diversifolia, and limnophila indica to name a few

Values:

Conductivity: 22 microsiemens/cm

Ca Hardness: 0.41 dH

Mg Hardness: 0 dH

NO3: <3 mg/l

PO4: 0 mg/l

K+: 0.35 mg/l

Fe: 0.21 mg/l

Tasek Bera, Malaysian Peninsula

Plants: several species of cryptocoryne, blyxa aubertii, hydrilla verticillata, barclaya motleyi, potamogeton wrightii

Values:

Conductivity: 14.2 microsiemens/cm

Ca Hardness: 0.05 dH

Mg Hardness: 0.06 dH

NO3: 0.107 mg/l*

PO4: 0.624 mg/l

K+: 0.56 mg/l

Fe: 0.64 mg/l

*there were also very low level reading of NO2 and NH4

Secondly, here is a like to a fantastic thread on a Polish forum comparing the growth of plants with 'limited' and 'unlimited' nutrients as per the EI method.

http://www.holenderskie.pl/forum/viewtopic.php?t=27953

**copy and paste into google translator****

The thread is incredibly long and english doesn't directly translate into polish very well, so I'll give you the crux of the findings:

1. Plants in the high N and P tank grew more quickly, but exhibited longer internodes and poorer coloration.

2. Excess P can potentially stunt certain plants like didiplis diandra.

3. High light along with low nutrient concentrations does not promote the growth of algae.

4. Maxing out your CO2 isn't very important.

My own experiences are similar to the findings of this hobbyist: essentially, very high light tanks with lean water column dosing produce the best looking plants and reduce maintenance.

So, my question is why do so many hobbyists insist on dosing high levels of nutrients, injecting tons of CO2 and using low/medium light?
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post #2 of 232 (permalink) Old 11-20-2011, 11:04 PM
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So is there any data on the sediments in these same locations and does this include typical values all year, or just at the time the folks decided to take the measurements?

You leave out the sediments and other critical aspects, then it really no longer supports such contentions

Kasslemann made a big deal with water column, but then did not bother to test the sediments(I asked her directly in person). The plants are obviously growing and the ferts need to come from somewhere. She turned and went the other way quickly. If you study aquatic weeds, you know they are growing well, they must be getting the nutrients from somewhere, the water or the sediment. Also, while the habitat for the plant sis rather small, the river is really massive and unidirectional massive flow, so the plants never run out of the very low level of nutrients really........whereas we do not have this option for aquarium management.

Rather than testing and relying on other folk's data, why not test and see for yourself?

I have Erios, wimpy Rotala's, Hydrothrix, and a dozen other stem plants that are considered tougher.........and yet I can garden and scape very easily and without much effort, but...I am consistent.



I have no issue growing any species you can name. Some plants do quite well in lean or rich sediments, or lean or rich water column also.

The polish claims on D diandra are entirely false, I have some of the densest D diandra in my 120 Gal and SAPS, SFBAAPS members have seen it in person, there's no such issue. All it takes is for a few folks to falsify such claims to invalidate them as the sole reason.

This is VERY easy weed to grow in EI or most any other routine.


Yawn...........


Funny, I have 7ppm of PO4 in this tank.......just look at all that stunting.........

3. I agree on that, but neither does high nutrients and high light, nor does low light and low nutrients..... either.........
maybe it's less to do with nutrients as far algae?

4. I'm not sure what maxing out CO2 means really, I add just enough for a particular tank, sometimes this is 60-70ppm, sometimes 40ppm, depends on the tank. Also depends on the plant species involved.

I have little issue growing any species and gardening with it, I dose these so called issue level ppm's and find no adverse effects.

Maybe I have a magical wand that grows plants?

Regardless, the point is in the results above, it does not state why they had problems, of which there maybe be MANY, it only states, very precise, and clear.....what it cannot be due to solely independent of other factors.

EI or ADA, or most methods are not particularly precise, nor do they need to be. Aquarist mess many things up and blame nutrients for it, does not mean that nutrients are the blame.

Unless you are careful and test each one, step by step to see if it's true, you cannot know and even then.....all it takes is for one or two people to falsify what you thought was true.

You can rule out and falsify a hypothesis like thos eproposed, and I think you can see clearly the lack of support the above 120 Gallon ilustrates. Rather than squabble, let's pony up and show results that support your contention rather than starting off with a "pre drawn" conclusion.

You add things, test and see if you can disprove your hypothesis. If you cannot, then you tentatively accept that hypothesis as true.........but, that does not imply you did not have an issue in your test methods......nor that it is true. All it takes is for someone who does add high PO4 to D. diandra to blow that claim out of the water.

We have plenty of local members who can attest to the results also.

BTW, what are your CO2 and light levels since you state that they are very high?

Mine sit at 50-60umol in the above tank. Same as ADA's tanks.
Amano seems to manage and eek by with his scapes at these same light intensity curiously. The top ranking ADA contest tank has 40-50umol of light.
Rich sediment is also dosing high levels of nutrients, just a different location.

Just because low ppm's of nutrients exists at that point in time of the grab sample/season, does not imply that habitat is always like that , nor does this imply that it is best for horticulture either.

ADA tends to use the sediments more than the water column.
I use both, but ADA and myself do seem to use the same light, the same water changes and the same care routines and focus on gardening. I arrived at this stuff independently.

Seems like good advice to me.




Regards,
Tom Barr
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post #3 of 232 (permalink) Old 11-20-2011, 11:37 PM
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Originally Posted by snausage View Post

The thread is incredibly long and english doesn't directly translate into polish very well, so I'll give you the crux of the findings:



1. Plants in the high N and P tank grew more quickly, but exhibited longer internodes and poorer coloration.



2. Excess P can potentially stunt certain plants like didiplis diandra.



3. High light along with low nutrient concentrations does not promote the growth of algae.



4. Maxing out your CO2 isn't very important.



My own experiences are similar to the findings of this hobbyist: essentially, very high light tanks with lean water column dosing produce the best looking plants and reduce maintenance.



So, my question is why do so many hobbyists insist on dosing high levels of nutrients, injecting tons of CO2 and using low/medium light?


I hope that your thread goes better than mine did. I never really got a chance to discuss anything as I bailed it once it became another fert war. It would be wonderful if this topic could actually be discussed without the same old rhetoric spewed ad nauseam. Those that want to make it into the same old argument should in reality be ignored or directed to my old thread to vent some more. That is the only way you'll get a positive conversation going in my personal experience. Oosurfin was an excellent example of how to carry on a productive conversation even though he didn't agree with everything being said. It would be great to see more posts like that on here.

I agree with you 100%. What I find extremely ridiculous is the claims our hobby makes such as eutrophication does not actually exist. Many of these claims made on here is based on heresay or one group of findings, not actual cold hard data. I've found scientific article after article disputing more than half the claims made on here. Nice to see you are willing to bring up a new idea!

This is what I have personally found with adding nutrients into the water column. Leave these tanks alone for a few weeks or longer. Don't dose, forget to adjust anything and see how quickly it degrades. Take a tank that is mostly substrate fertilized, and do the same thing. Results speak for themselves. These tanks that are fertilized through the water are mostly unstable and not able to take even the slightest bit of neglect. It works, but not unless you are willing to put the time into it.
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Last edited by sewingalot; 11-20-2011 at 11:45 PM. Reason: typo
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post #4 of 232 (permalink) Old 11-20-2011, 11:48 PM
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There are many ways to successful planted tanks. Old news, but that's what makes this so interesting, and leads to neverending discussions of what's "right" and what... not, supposedly.

Just one thing I wanted to mention... you can't really take data from a billions gallon river, and try to apply it to our intensely planted tanks. You will be hard pressed to find a collection of plants like the tank examples that Tom posts in nature.

In any case, nobody forces you to excessively spoon powders into your tank. A long time ago we were all content with 5-10 ppm of NO3.


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post #5 of 232 (permalink) Old 11-20-2011, 11:59 PM
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There are many ways to successful planted tanks. Old news, but that's what makes this so interesting, and leads to neverending discussions of what's "right" and what... not, supposedly.
Hey Wasser, you bring up a great point here. Do you think this is a part of the hobby that will always be debated as it is more human nature to do so? Or do you think there will eventually be a new method discovered in the long term? I often see the lighting progressing, the tanks and even co2 equipment. Yet, it seems the nutrients is always argued. It is rather amusing to me.

Here is a question though. Why can't a river be used as an example to grow plants? Couldn't you set up a biotope and only grow those plants and mimick just those water conditions? I think often times, some plants require more or less of one nutrient and that explains why they may not fair well in certain environments. Kind of like if you give tomatoes too much nitrogen.

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post #6 of 232 (permalink) Old 11-21-2011, 12:07 AM
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Why can't a river be used as an example to grow plants? Couldn't you set up a biotope and only grow those plants and mimick just those water conditions? I think often times, some plants require more or less of one nutrient and that explains why they may not fair well in certain environments. Kind of like if you give tomatoes too much nitrogen.
(imo) For most it's a boring tanks without a wide range of plants.


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post #7 of 232 (permalink) Old 11-21-2011, 12:22 AM Thread Starter
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Tom Barr,

The figures presented for the Tasek Bera system are averages from 4 years worth of data, so no, the data isn't a one time snapshot of conditions in Malaysia. The Rio Guapore data is from analyses taken by Tetra in July of 1987; Kasselmann mentions that july is a period vigorous plant growth in this system. She does not elaborate on Tetra's statistical methods, so we don't know how many different samples were taken.

If you actually read my post or Kasselmann's book, you'd realize that she didn't do this testing herself, but simply reported the findings of other researchers. So when you asked her why she didn't take corresponding soil samples, I'm assuming she realized that there wasn't much of a point answering questions posed by someone who didn't read her work.

The same goes for the findings posted on the polish thread. If you had deigned to read it, you would have realized that the author initially thought an increase in Fe levels caused the didiplis to stunt, but further testing showed that it was more likely due to high PO4 levels.

As far as your 120g tank goes, it's odd that the downoi is about one third the size of the stems. That wouldn't seem right to most people, especially the polish hobbyist, whose d. diandra puts yours to shame.

To everyone else: Please read my post and the thread on the Polish forum carefully.
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post #8 of 232 (permalink) Old 11-21-2011, 12:44 AM
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Very interesting thread snausage, thank you. Looking forward to reading more into this. Good healthy stuff.
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post #9 of 232 (permalink) Old 11-21-2011, 12:59 AM Thread Starter
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It would be wonderful if this topic could actually be discussed without the same old rhetoric spewed ad nauseam. Those that want to make it into the same old argument should in reality be ignored or directed to my old thread to vent some more.


This is what I have personally found with adding nutrients into the water column. Leave these tanks alone for a few weeks or longer. Don't dose, forget to adjust anything and see how quickly it degrades. Take a tank that is mostly substrate fertilized, and do the same thing. Results speak for themselves. These tanks that are fertilized through the water are mostly unstable and not able to take even the slightest bit of neglect. It works, but not unless you are willing to put the time into it.
I welcome the old arguments so long as they stick to the facts and stay on topic. What I really want to avoid is people derailing the thread by asking whether such-and-such an amount of nutrient x, y or z is adequate or arguing over what one another's agenda is.

I've had the same experience regarding tanks with a decent amount of nutrients in the substrate. I used to be on the road 2-4 days a week, so I just started dosing nutes in response to any apparent deficiencies. I basically only dosed traces and the most minimal amount of N, P and K for quite some time and the plants looked great.
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post #10 of 232 (permalink) Old 11-21-2011, 01:09 AM
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I am looking forward to seeing this thread progress. It will be interesting to see where it goes. I am finding that if a plant can survive me, it can survive anything. That's what I am learning. Anyway, to stay on topic, do you have more articles such as the one you posted? I will say that I read it twice when you posted it over in my thread and was impressed at the amount of data they gathered. I would love to read more. Any point in the right direction would be appreciated.

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post #11 of 232 (permalink) Old 11-21-2011, 01:11 AM
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I've had the same experience regarding tanks with a decent amount of nutrients in the substrate. I used to be on the road 2-4 days a week, so I just started dosing nutes in response to any apparent deficiencies. I basically only dosed traces and the most minimal amount of N, P and K for quite some time and the plants looked great.
this last part sounds strangely familiar but I've contributed what I consider success to taming my urge to go big on lighting.


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post #12 of 232 (permalink) Old 11-21-2011, 09:24 AM
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I think the "right" dosing partly depends on your own maintenance style; whether you like to do something with your tank every day or want to be able to leave it alone sometimes will determine what dosing method will work best for you.

Don't forget that in the wild, plants are often growing in murky water covered in algae, so they're probably getting less light than you think and their health is often poor. People can starve and still grow and reproduce, but they look best when they're healthy. Same with plants. Since we are trying to grow plants that look good, the conditions found in the wild may not be appropriate for an aquarium.

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post #13 of 232 (permalink) Old 11-21-2011, 10:36 AM
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Hard to mimick condition's in streams or river's inside glass box of water where there are no tide's, rain's,or runoff (rainy season) that influence nurient delivery or removal of excess nutrient's/pollutant's if any.
Some folk's speak of the downside to EI ( water changes), but in fact most folks who keep fishes along with plant's, perform weekly water changes anyhow, so this does not equate to much concern in my view.
Other's cite the daily dosing of water column as a possible detriment/hassel, but have no such issues with feeding fishes daily. (auto dosing eliminates some concern's).
Other's say we are polluting the water with chemical's when in truth,,,we begin polluting the water in closed system the moment fishes are added along with fish food's, that often contain's bunches of chemical compounds along with by-product's of amimal protein's.
I ask... why not provide plant's with food from both location's? why does it need to be one way or another?
If you are happy with the way your plant's respond, and wish to try another way then fine,these thread's contain much to consider and I enjoy hearing about the different types of nutrient delivery.
In closed system,, nutrient's must come from us in one way or another, Whether it is via substrates, or water column. becomes in my mind.. a matter of opinion's and while opinion's are a good thing, Not same method will maybe work for everyone.
I have a small tank with sand 20 gal and largely anubia,java fern,java moss.
Nutrient delivery through water column has proved more beneficial than sediment.
Also run low light,Non CO2 80 gal with enhanced substrate (Eco complete,Osmocote root tabs) and I also add approx 1/4 EI dosing once a week or two as per Tom's Non CO2 method.
High energy tanks, (like this term) also perform well with either method of nutrient delivery according to photo's/info provided with regards to their care.
Also have a sand over dirt tank 10 gal ,with assorted crypt's ,vals,anubia, penny wort, and Cherry shrimp's that receives only trace (Flourish) once a week and it does well also albeit a bit slower than the other's.
all tank's are polluted with fish,fish food,fish waste,nutrient's from one source or another,and all receive these on regular basis some leaner than other's.
Adding nutrient's to water column in my view, is no more tedious than feeding fish, and plant's will use them where they find them.
So now it seem's to me ,,that we are left with opinion's, which some seem to give more weight to.
This is good unless one begin's attacking other method's .
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post #14 of 232 (permalink) Old 11-21-2011, 02:31 PM
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post #15 of 232 (permalink) Old 11-21-2011, 02:39 PM
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Aren't most of the plants in the hobby ''semi-aquatic'' anyways? Except for a few species such as elodea which doesn't need high amounts of nutrients and lights? Most tropical rivers don't look like anything like our crystal clear planted tanks. We all go out of our way to grow & keep semi aquatic plants totally submerged...hence they need our help for tons of ferts, lights, & co2 to stay healthy.

My point is that it might be very true that in streams and rivers there aren't high levels of no3 & po4 because there aren't any demanding ''aquatic plants'' needing the nutrients but in our tanks with all these wimpy ''semi-aquatic'' plants, the needs are diffrenet.

Just my 2 cents
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