Use of organics in tanks? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-27-2015, 02:27 PM Thread Starter
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Use of organics in tanks?

I have a huge hobby in biochem, but I'm not an expert on the subject and no formal education on the matter. For the past few years, I've been feeding my front lawn a mix of organic protein animal feeds (e.g. soybean meal, alfalfa pellets, corn gluten meal) with a huge success and neighborhood envy with how thick dark green my turf looks. That got me thinking, why not apply some of the same concepts to my planted aquarium?

I know the microbe life in your lawn's dirt are a little different than in the aquarium, but organic matter breakdown is still possible from what I've observed (though a little slower). I assume you would want to avoid high levels of Nitrogen. Alfalfa meal however seems like a good choice to put in a pill tab, and use as a root tab. The NPK is most of the time 2-1-2, which is a nice lower level dose for stability (for us non-CO2 users). There's also the added benefit that alfalfa breaks down and provides, iron, calcium, magnesium, sodium, and other trace elements. If I should avoid any nitrogen at all, a lot of fruit skins would be just as good (e.g. banana, apple, grapefruit). The more attractive point is the price, as I usually grab a 50lb bag of alfalfa pellets for $15.

Any thoughts or any one actually doing something like this already?


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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-27-2015, 04:58 PM
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Dry chemicals, KNO3, KH2PO4, and a trace element mix, are very cheap. Enough of them to last a year costs maybe $10. Based on that I don't see any benefit to switching to organics which have to decompose in the tank before the plants can benefit from them. Also, organics tend to decompose to ammonia, which can be harmful in an aquarium, and some of the breakdown products can color the water yellow or brown.

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-28-2015, 04:17 AM
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To be honest, I use plenty of organics on my own lawn, and also get great results.. Personally, I think the biggest difference is the micronutrients that naturally occur in them.. I've tested my soil, it is low on Zn, Cu, Mn and B, but has lots of Fe.

My neighbors tossing down bags of commercial lawn fertilizers get NPK, and Fe, but usually no other micros.

In the planted tank realm, we generally supplement micros directly with CSM +b, along with calcium sulfate and magnesium sulfate. This gets us the micronutrients, without the ammonia production caused by decaying organics.

New to planted tanks, avid gardener/tinkerer.

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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-28-2015, 08:50 AM
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I think adding organics to break down (which is generally what we try and avoid) would lead to algae outbreaks....
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-28-2015, 11:17 AM
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Miracle grow organic choice is about as far as I go with organic soils and I normally mix it with peat/cat litter to get a bit more life from the soil.
Most say that the soil peter's out from nutrient standpoint after a year, but with the mixture I use, maybe three year's.
Noted the other day that my val's and crypt's, along with the water sprite are growing more slowly than they were for the last three year's so I plan to re-do the tank this weekend with same mixture for substrate.
Will give me a chance to re-paint the back glass,and attach lighting support to the back of the stand rather than the ends.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-28-2015, 11:48 AM
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Sounds like it's experimentation time, to me...
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-28-2015, 03:22 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qwe View Post
Sounds like it's experimentation time, to me...
The other's are most likely right. Since the protein content is extremely high, I know when proteins break down, it results in ammonia. I'll still throw some in a cup of water and test it, but I think I know the results.
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