Will I have problems with my DIY Base Substrate? (Update) - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-06-2009, 02:49 AM Thread Starter
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Will I have problems with my DIY Base Substrate? (Update)

Could I get some help with this?
I have a 20 gallon long tank. I wanted to do a planted tank with Bolivian Rams and Corydoras - Amano style.
What I ended up doing was making a homemade fertilizer substrate with clay/sphagnum moss/blood meal. Basically working the clay into the moss to coat it and give it some iron. The sphagnum is to give the roots anchor and the meal gives he roots nitrogen/potassium/phosphates.
Here's the substrate layers.
1. Thin layer of pea gravel from Hardware store.
2. About 1-2 inches of the clay/moss/meal mix.
3. Another thin layer of pea gravel.
4. 1 1/2- 2 inches play sand from Lowes.

My plants I have are a pot of micro swords(spread throughout half of the tank), 1 bacopa, 1 ozelot sword and a small banana plant.

Other specs are
1 DIY air driven box type filter
1 DIY hood w/ 2 - 13W / 800 Lumen CFLs
I also feel the need to have a DIY CO2 system.

If the fish dig up the sphagnum mix are they going to get some deadly gasses? How will the plants do?

I'm trying to get some additional advice. All I've really heard is you are going to have some nasty problems!!!! And the guy is not explaining what he thinks is going to happen.

Also, I've noticed a coating of fuzz or spores??? on everything except the sand.

Thanks for reading this post!

Last edited by MacroShrimp; 03-16-2009 at 03:39 PM.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-06-2009, 01:40 PM
 
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It is probably too late for you and while I admire your courage in experimenting with such a layering. Personally, I would have gone Natural Planted tank(good soil capped with peas size gravel/pool filter sand) or mineralized toposoil, sticking with the recipe as closely as possible, right down to the same brand soil if possible. I would only suggest that as the methods suggested are generally tried, tested, and proven methods that "most" have had success with.

As far as your question, since it looks like your tank is already setup, I would wait and see what happens, as things may get worse before they get better or totally go to the dogs, in which case you may have to start over or take serious redemial action(frequent water changes, blasting the tank with c02 injection, slighly lowering your light levels/tweaking intensity and duration until things stabilize and possible water column fertilization.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-06-2009, 02:24 PM Thread Starter
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WooooHooo!

Thanks for the Information. I appreciate it!
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-06-2009, 02:25 PM Thread Starter
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BTW, Fish have NOT been added yet.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-06-2009, 04:43 PM
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The problem with blood meal is that it is an organic material which has to breakdown to release the nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium compounds needed by the plants. One of the first compounds that will be released is ammonia. If you can keep that out of the water, isolated in the substrate, it probably won't cause any problems. But, eventually you will pull out a plant, or accidentally disturb the top layer of substrate enough to release the ammonia into the water. Then you will have green water.

I agree with Homer, that you can just wait and watch, to see how it works. I wouldn't add any valuable fish to the mix, though.

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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-06-2009, 06:11 PM Thread Starter
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I read somewhere, certain plants like egeria densa absorb much of the ammonia and nitrites from the water. Are there better plants than others for absorbing these chemicals?

Are there shrimp or snails that survive high ammonia/nitrite enviroments....and don't eat plants....that eat algae?

If I removed the blood meal from the mix would that mixture work?
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-06-2009, 08:23 PM Thread Starter
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The more I read on algal spores I think this will be a great learning experience!

Should I dose with a DIY CO2 system?

I do want to get some algae control snails/shrimp.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-16-2009, 04:23 PM Thread Starter
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Drained tank and replaced substrate with smooth gravel.
The gunk I removed from the tank reminded me of digging up sewage pipes. However, everything DID stay in place and it was layered very well.
I suppose the water I threw out would have made a great black water product but the containers which were required to contain the smell haven't been invented yet!

I trimmed the dead foliage from the plants and removed the sand from their roots. There was a lot of new growth to grow off of. I used 3 small terra cotta pots for caves and burried them a 1/3 of the way down. The ozelot sword was placed between two of the 'caves' for more privacy, they look like they are in great shape! The micro-swords are placed in the front left corner. Most leaves were trimmed .5"-1.5", unless it was new growth. The bacopa and banana plants were just physically de-algae'd. No chemicals.

Finally, made a DIY CO2 system. Used a 2L Mountain Dew bottle and a 20 oz juice bottle(for a pressure buffer). Then I used a plastic dome with a circle cut in the top(like the kind you get on top of a Starbuck's 'whipped cream' drink). I cut a circle of filter(that was bigger than the circle in the dome) and placed it inside the dome. Then I put the air hose through the circle and pushed it through the center of the filter for a tight fit. Then I placed a DIY air stone on the end of the hose. NOTE: the air line also has a check valve in it. And the air stone isn't working as an airstone.

The CO2 collects under the filter mesh and sits there for a few minutes. When the bubble gets really big it escapes in a big pocket.

If the CO2 sits in the water for a while will it disolve into the water? How fast does CO2 dissolve? Because it's not really disolving as a big pocket.

I found the pressure buffer concept online somewhere, I don't remember. Does anyone know of this plan or where it can be found? I would like to check my work.
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