Benefits of nutrient rich substrate? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-24-2008, 03:33 PM Thread Starter
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Benefits of nutrient rich substrate?

Hey all,

Another question or 2 from someone still learning, and I apologize in advance if this has already been covered!

Is it pointless to have a substrate for plant growth for plants that only soak up their nutrients from dosing ferts in the water (if there are those such plants)? I've read that some swords for example either need nutrient rich substrate or tabs because that is how they get their nutrients, but some other plants get their nutrients from the water column?? Is this correct?

For example, if I use Flourite under the sand in my substrate but maybe no plants that get their nutrients primarily from their roots, is the Flourite even beneficial to the aquarium? Does the Flourite and/or other soil release any kind of nutrients into the water column?

Do most/all plants get their nutrients from roots and the water both or just one or the other? If there is a difference, is there an article/list/site I can find out which plants are which as far as how they get their nutritients?

I'm mostly wondering for future reference when we get yet another tank whether it would be worth it to invest in something like Eco, Flourite sand or some other soil for all plants or if it only benefits depending on which plants are wanted.

Geez, hope that all made sense.
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-24-2008, 03:55 PM
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All plants can draw nutrients from the water column or through roots (floating plants obviously need nutrients in the water column). IMO it's easier and very effective to feed large plants with big root systems (like swords) through the roots, but it's not necessary if you're dosing the water column.

I personally like a nutrient-rich substrate b/c it gives me more leeway to neglect water column dosing yet the plants still can take in their nutrients from the substrate.

Pick and invest in your substrate based on your goals. You can be successful with any of the conventional substrates; nutrient-rich or not.

A high CEC is very desirable in a substrate, since that will pull nutrients from the water column and retain them for the plants. Tom Barr has done tons of research in this area and I'd recommend reading through some of his posts and threads in this forum?





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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-24-2008, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by stlfishlover View Post
Hey all,

Another question or 2 from someone still learning, and I apologize in advance if this has already been covered!

Is it pointless to have a substrate for plant growth for plants that only soak up their nutrients from dosing ferts in the water (if there are those such plants)? I've read that some swords for example either need nutrient rich substrate or tabs because that is how they get their nutrients, but some other plants get their nutrients from the water column?? Is this correct?

For example, if I use Flourite under the sand in my substrate but maybe no plants that get their nutrients primarily from their roots, is the Flourite even beneficial to the aquarium? Does the Flourite and/or other soil release any kind of nutrients into the water column?

Do most/all plants get their nutrients from roots and the water both or just one or the other? If there is a difference, is there an article/list/site I can find out which plants are which as far as how they get their nutritients?

I'm mostly wondering for future reference when we get yet another tank whether it would be worth it to invest in something like Eco, Flourite sand or some other soil for all plants or if it only benefits depending on which plants are wanted.

Geez, hope that all made sense.
These are all very good questions and I am still experimenting with different setups to conclusively confirm one way or another.

Tom Barr has grown plants for years in just about all kinds of condtions and substrates imaginable. He confirms that plants do best when they can access nutrients through the roots as well as the water column. So, to answer your question, having a rich substrate combined with water column fertilization should certainly be more beneficial than just having one or the other assuming that all other factors are conducive to plant growth- sufficent co2(after experimenting I am convinced that pressurized c02 is your best bet rather than DIY c02), good plant density, and appropriate lighting - 3watts per gallon is the yardstick, but you could probably get away with 2watts per gallon, which would probably give you greater protection against algae outbreaks, and appropriate water column fertilization(I suggest Estimative Index but you may have to play around with the suggested frequency, amount or duration to get the right balance depending on other factors: amount of c02, lighting, and plant density).

Now having said that most people grow plants quite well in substrates such as fluorite, eco-complete, soil master select, schultz aquatic soil, and even plain sand and gravel. Keep in mind that just because a substrate manufacturer claims that a substrate is rich in nutrients does not mean that those nutrients are unlocked and necessarily bioavailable to plants. The only exception to this is ADA Aquasoil, and this may account for why many people, including myself, who have grown plants in other substrates, find that ADA Aquasoil gives them the best results. ADA Aquasoil is not without problems, but if you properly setup a tank with it and have patience, IME the results are certainly worth it vs fluorite or SAS.

The other thing, which I am currently testing is whether plant growth tends to be better where methods are used to make nutrients easily accessible to plant roots. Besides using Aquasoil, the only other cheaper option that I can think of and am testing is to wrap root or fert tabs in a towel, and break them into small pieces. The small pieces would then be evenly spread over the first thin sprinkling of peat and positioned closest to the heavy rooting feeders to allow them easy accessiblity to the nutrients from the tabs. That layer would then be capped with a thick layer of regular substrate(fluorite, laterite, sand, etc.,) I am testing this with water column fertilization to see how well this works. Leonardite added to a substrate is something else that I am also testing as Leonardite is alleged to unlock nutrients in substrates and make them more bioavailable to plants. Too early to say, but I will have a better idea after 6+ months.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-24-2008, 04:49 PM
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"30 watts per gallon is the yardstick, but you could probably get away with 20 watts per gallon"

i think im misunderstanding i though it was like 2-4 wpg???
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-24-2008, 04:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reddragon1977 View Post
"30 watts per gallon is the yardstick, but you could probably get away with 20 watts per gallon"

i think im misunderstanding i though it was like 2-4 wpg???
Thanks for pointing that out, I corrected it. Sorry, I was thinking yardstick for 10 gallon.
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-25-2008, 11:24 PM
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Plants pull nutrients from both the substrate and the water column. A good substrate will help quite a bit and can be very circumstantial. Take Flourite for example; it's fairly inert and 'unlocks' slowly and over time. It's best used with water column dosing. Now ADA (Power sand and Aquasoil) on the other hand is leeching nutrients (primarily nitrogen) from the get go. It's purpose is to jumpstart plants in the early stages of growth...when you do NOT want to dose macros N & P. It's effect will wear out about the time biological processes have reached maturity. It's unique in the way that heavy macro dosing isn't necessary, but some dosing of macros is required as the tank matures.

It's my opinion that you want a substrate that provides what the plants need when they need it. ADA does this. I'll never use another glorified gravel substrate again.
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-26-2008, 03:41 AM
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Would adding a light sprinkling of Schultz Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss underneath the original Amazonia Aqua Soil be a good idea?

Also, could you add a light sprinkling of Osmocote too?

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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-26-2008, 04:08 AM
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I don't know that peat would benefit AS that much; it already contains plenty organics and lowers pH on its own?

I've never heard of Osmocote before- do you know anyone else who uses it in a planted tank? I would worry that there may be urea/ammonium content?





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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-26-2008, 04:25 AM
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sorry if im interrupting the thread.

After reading this, im i correct in thinking that Flourite black is pretty much inert or near it unless i use ei dosing methods?
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-26-2008, 04:31 AM
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No, Fluorite definitely has a nutrient content. 4 years and I"m still growing great lowlight plants in mine with NO fert dosing at all... This is from Seachem's website:

Concentration of nutrients in Flourite™
Aluminum
10210
Barium
124
Calcium
195
Cobalt
6
Chromium
13
copper
17
Iron
18500
Potassium
2195
Magnesium
2281
Manganese
64
Sodium
223
Nickel
12
Vanadium
15
Zinc
29


And this is the tank:






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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-26-2008, 05:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lauraleellbp View Post
I don't know that peat would benefit AS that much; it already contains plenty organics and lowers pH on its own?

I've never heard of Osmocote before- do you know anyone else who uses it in a planted tank? I would worry that there may be urea/ammonium content?
Here's some links about Osmocote discussions:
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/ge...aqua-soil.html

Osmocote is mentioned on pages 2 and 3: https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/su...da-thread.html

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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-26-2008, 05:57 AM
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Those threads were a great read- thanks!





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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-26-2008, 06:14 AM
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You're very welcome!

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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-26-2008, 12:03 PM
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Here is another thread at APC that discusses in detail the whole idea of unlocked and biologically available nutrients found in ADA AS vs fluorite. I think that House Of Cards makes an excellent point when he states that using ADA AS is like having continuous time released nutrients available to the roots and the water column. This greatly reduces the risk of deficiencies if you screw up water column fertilization.
http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...tain-many.html

The question has never been whether Fluorite has nutrients. It does. The bigger question is the bioavailability of these nutrients. For a low tank tank it probably would make little or no difference since plants grow so slowly they would uptake nutrients very slowly and the fish waste along with long term mulm formation in a properly stocked aquarium, although some may disagree but many with low tech inert substrates have found through first hand experience, is sufficient for plant growth. I think and am only speculating that ADA AS full potential would only be realized in a high tech, high light, pressurized c02 system where everything is running at warp speed and where there is little on no wiggle room for screwups with setups. I still plan to test a 10 gallon low tech setup and Excel dosing with ADA AS II just to see if it makes any difference. Another question to consider is whether something like a light dusting of Leonardite underneath something like fluorite or eco-complete would act as a catalyst and cause locked nutrients to more readily be available and accessed by plant roots. Lol, that entails a whole different project and setup.

Just my 2 cents.
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-26-2008, 01:02 PM Thread Starter
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Wow everyone, thank you tons for all of the info. Will be busy reading all the links but it really helps me in learning and making a decision on substrate.

Laura Lee, that tank is awesome. I love the foreground. What kind of light do you use? And pardon my ignorance, but what plant is that? The grassy stuff? Just wondering, when you say "Low light" and no ferts! Would love to have that kind of success.
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