Pool filter sand WITHOUT root tabs ?!?! - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-01-2013, 03:59 PM Thread Starter
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Pool filter sand WITHOUT root tabs ?!?!

Will plain pool filter sand with nothing below it eventually grow heavy root feeders well? Am I correct in believing that the plants will begin to draw the nutrients down to the root area?

(I know from reading valid scientific studies, and from my testing, that this happens with the nutrient NitrAte in soil rooted plants but don't know if it applies to all of the nutrients, in sand rooted plants, and results in healthy growth and consumption of NitrAte from the water column)

I don't want my plants to take their fertz (especially NitrAte) from the substrate. I want them to take it all from the water column. The reason being that the plants in my tank are there, first and foremost, to filter the water and cut back on the required water changes. This is because I have a heavy load of large fancy goldfish which. If it were not for the plants I would be changing massive volumes of water very regularly.

(I dose traces, hardness, excell, P and K but not N into the water column)

I know that leaf feeders would work but prefer the look of root feeders and want to try.

My second two part question is This:

Am I correct in believing that adding root tabs to the substrate would slow the absorption of fertz from the water column by providing all the plants need at the root? Or would they continue to draw in as just much nitrogen (as nitrate) from the water column even if it is also available at the roots?


(I think I once was advised that healthy plants will absorb N beyond their need and store it and therefore better fertilized plants will remove more N that less fertilized ones)

Finally, if none of the works well;

Should I fertilize the roots with only trace, P, and K and let the N in the water column be the only source of N?

Thanks in advance! I know there are a lot of questions here. I do try to look up the answers to my questions through searches but my situation is kind of rare and the answers are hard to come by. Not that many people try to keep fancy goldfish in nicely planted tanks because it produces so much nutrient. Most forego the plants and/or change massive volumes of water.

PS. I had soil below sand before and it worked well, consuming all of the excess NitrAte. Unfortunately, the inability to vacuum the sand cap let to an overaccumulation of waste in the sand which prompted me to try this new approach. I have read that heavy root feeders do well in PFS without root tabs after a few months, but want to check that here among the folks I trust.


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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-01-2013, 07:02 PM
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I can only comment in saying I've had great success with just pool filter sand with some heavy rooters, though my species list isn't large. nor do i feel qualified in answering the rest yet. I don't co2 inject, only fert now and then.

I'm not into the image, but into the hobby...
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-01-2013, 07:08 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you. I would like the specifics which you cannot provide, but I don't need them. You let me know that this will work, somehow, and I really appreciate it.


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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-01-2013, 08:55 PM
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For what it's worth, all I can say is that I've had planted discus tanks for several years using nothing but PFS as substrate. During that time, I used root tabs very sparingly, and at times was very lax in replenishing them when they should have been, so I'm quite certain there were little or no nutrients being supplied at root level much of the time.

Still, I got reasonably good growth with low/medium lighting & only moderate water column fert dosing on a weekly, or at times, a semi-weekly basis.

Pics of this tank, for example, were taken approx. 8-9 months after set-up, after placing just a couple of root tabs into the sand at the outset:

http://s1105.photobucket.com/albums/...3RedSnakeSkins

Why don't you give it a go, and see how it works out ?
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-01-2013, 09:22 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you. Again, very encouraging stuff. Thanks for the pics too. Very nice look. I am going ahead with it. The tank is already planted. Again, I don't need to know the way it works. These replies have boosted my confidence a lot. I only want to know how it works so that I can maximize the efficiency. I imagine some of the nutrient works its way down by itself and some is transported by the plants. Perhaps knowing the specific processes wouldn't help anyway. I will post my results sooner or later in my signature link.


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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-01-2013, 09:43 PM Thread Starter
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Now there is a photo link to the tank in my signature below. It only shows a section of the tank but there really isn't much to look at yet anyway.


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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-01-2013, 10:10 PM Thread Starter
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Well, I finally figured out what terms to google and answered most of my my own questions. With one or two very rare exceptions, aquatic plants can get all of their nutrients through the leaves. Root tabs can help some plants grow faster, but it is not needed. The only question I have remaining is:

Will root tabs cause the plants to take more, or less, nutrients from the water column?


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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-01-2013, 10:50 PM
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I don't have an answer for that, but I expect it depends on what agents/elements you're dosing into the water column, and what compounds are in the root tabs you're using.
One would think that plants will basically take/use whatever they need from what is available in either or both types of the fertilizers.
Rooted plants of course, will no doubt readily take up elements from the tabs, while non-rooted, like Anubias & java Ferns, will take all their nourishment from the water column.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-01-2013, 11:00 PM Thread Starter
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I get what you are saying. It is intuitive and I agree, but someone once told me that plants take up more fertilizer than they need and stockpile it. Therefore dosing tabs to the roots might actualy tend to lower my water column nitrate levels by ensuring they are not nutrient limited.


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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-01-2013, 11:05 PM
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The Triforce of plant growth consist of CO2, light, and nutrients.
1) Depends on age of tank
2) Depends on how much lights and CO2
3) Water column or substrate, some plants shoot roots or grow in the direction of nutrient sources.

Pool filter sands do help plants root, but depending on plant, sand might affect plant-ready available nutrient. This goes back to how deep your substrate is, age(bacteria diversity that provide plant-ready nutrients), and root tab chemistry (if using any)

What sort of plants do you plan on keeping?
What is your current tank/light setup?
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-01-2013, 11:19 PM Thread Starter
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Check, check, and check.

Three inches of new pool filter sand in a 24 inch tall 80 gallon with a 20 gallon sump, three four foot t8 bulbs in a crap fixture sit right on top. I dose excel, K, Cal/Mag sulphate and flourish comprehensive. My tap provides P. My fish provide plenty of N. I will add Java ferns, a lot more Anubias and Crypts, and maybe some vals in the future.


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