The Substrate Experiment - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-03-2015, 01:20 PM Thread Starter
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The Substrate Experiment

In connection with a test I am doing to try to solve why my star repens is melting. I am expanding the test to also see how different substrates grow different aquatic plants under similar conditions. Here is the details, I have Eco-complete a blend of fine grade and the traditional in the tank which will serve as the control, in each dish I have: Scotts topsoil capped with fine grade eco complete, a duplicate of that dish plus osmocote, Aquasoil, and a dish with brightwell (not pictured, getting set up early this week). Each dish will have a mix of stem plants and heavier rootfeeders like AR Mini, star repens. The tank details are a 26 gallon bowfront, with around 80 PAR for about 6 hours, dosed a lean E.I and of course injected with CO2. I will use this thread to document the differences in growth between dishes. I can probably fit one more dish of a substrate in the tank so if you have a desire to see your substrate of choice added please PM me to work something out. Some initial observations of the Aquasoil is that everything I move the substrate some type of gas (oxygen?)rises to the top.

[IMG][/IMG][IMG][/IMG][IMG][/IMG][IMG][/IMG]
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-03-2015, 03:26 PM
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Sup B..,following along bro...


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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-03-2015, 03:36 PM
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If you have 80 PAR at the substrate you need to dose more than "lean" EI doses of fertilizers. That is enough light that you should be trying to make sure the plants growth is not restricted by nutrients shortages. The point of the EI dosing method is to keep a small surplus of all of the nutrients available to the plants at all times, so only the light is restricting their growth rates.

Substrates leach whatever nutrients they contain into the water, so adding small dishes of different substrates doesn't show the effect of having any of those substrates in the whole tank. Also, the substrate has only a small effect on the plants growth unless there is too little of some of the nutrients in the water. And, one more thing, many plants have big root systems, for various reasons, so putting those plants in small dishes in the tank will either force the roots to climb over the edge of the dish into the main substrate, or it will restrict the growth rate of those plants.

This will be a fun project, but don't expect the results to mean a lot.

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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-03-2015, 05:16 PM
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Perhaps addition of a totally inert plain sand or gravel substrate will be useful ?

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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-09-2015, 03:34 PM Thread Starter
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Hoppy, I only plan to carry the experiment for a short time and don't expect the root systems to get that large by the time its over. So far I am not impressed by the brightwell. The plants have not shown much change. The plants in the aquasoil seem to be starting to bounce back but its way to early to compare them. I am surprised on how well the plants are doing with the soil capped with eco. The plants were not in the best shape when I put them in the cups so I expect the results to take a bit longer to start showing. [IMG][/IMG][IMG][/IMG]
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-21-2015, 12:28 AM
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keep us updated, but i can predict few things for you, if you have blended eco with some kind of acidic soil such as peat moss or organic soil then plants will do much better under these condition compare to eco complete by itself. if you are using organic soil with eco mixed which contain Nh4/No3 based Nitrogen then again this will boost the plant growth very well, acidic soil will protect the plant roots from getting burnt/melted. aqua soil on the other hand will do quite well, similar to organic soil and better than eco. however you might see very good results from organic soil by itself, but it gets messy. good luck

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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-21-2015, 01:08 PM Thread Starter
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I will give this a few more weeks, i am impressed with the aquasoil and the dirt so far. I can see the root structures in the aquasoil and they are pretty impressive. So far the brightwell is not doing that well at all.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-07-2015, 04:09 PM Thread Starter
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So its, been about a month since the start of the experiment. I have some pictures of the root structures in the various substrates. I will post each separately to avoid confusion. First, Aquasoil. I was amazed by the depth and detailed root structure of the plants. If the tub was larger and deeper I believe the plant would have done even better. This substrate is at the top of my list. [IMG][/IMG]

Bump: The stem in the dirt capped with eco complete was in between the eco-complete sized roots and the aquasoil. I think this is a great option for a more economic substrate compared to aquasoil. I do not have a picture of this.

Bump: The brightwell was my least favorite in terms of overall plant growth. Nothing I put in that tub seem to look great... BUT I was shocked when I saw the root structure of the plant I pulled out of it. If you are going to go with a type of aquasoil spend the extra $$ for the aquasoil, you won't regret it. [IMG][/IMG]

Bump: And finally the eco-complete. The root structures of every plant I pulled up around my tank were NOTHING compared to anything with the tubs, overall plant growth is average though. I'd even put overall plant growth better than the brightwell. Here's where you could really see the impact of an acid vs. alkaline substrate. [IMG][/IMG]
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-09-2015, 07:53 PM
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Thanks for sharing those results. I can't say I'm too surprised. I'm using eco-complete in my first planted tank. I got very good root growth in the first few weeks, but it has been terrible since then and my AR and stargrass seem to be growing all their roots out into the water column. Seeing these results is a bit of a relief that it's not just that I'm doing something horribly wrong with mine.

Do you plan to run this experiment much longer? It could be interesting to compare S. repens propagation rate.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-09-2015, 08:16 PM Thread Starter
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I have had some issues with star repens in my tank either due to an issue with my water chemistry or micros. I have had great success in the past with eco-complete. It would be challenging to test this due to the lack of space in the tub in relation to how big the root structures get.

I don't plan on removing the tubs anytime soon. I have changed some tank variables that could affect the plants but generally I do not think this consensus will change.
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