Ada aquasoil for Low-tech tanks - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-01-2015, 06:48 PM Thread Starter
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Ada aquasoil for Low-tech tanks

Would there be any problems with using aquasoil in a non-co2 tank?

And this seems to come in "clump" form instead of loose, powder type soil. Would you be able to cap aquasoil with sand, or would the sand eventually make it's way to the bottom?


Once the aquasoil runs out of nutrients, how long could you use it as an "inert" substrate? Can one use aquasoil indefinitely(such as eco-complete) as long as you insert root tabs?
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-01-2015, 07:06 PM
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Would there be any problems with using aquasoil in a non-co2 tank?

And this seems to come in "clump" form instead of loose, powder type soil. Would you be able to cap aquasoil with sand, or would the sand eventually make it's way to the bottom?


Once the aquasoil runs out of nutrients, how long could you use it as an "inert" substrate? Can one use aquasoil indefinitely(such as eco-complete) as long as you insert root tabs?
You should be able to use any kind of substrate in a non-CO2 tank.

I have Fluval Stratum in a nano, which has particles almost exactly like Aquasoil in size and texture (I have Aquasoil in other tanks). I capped the Fluval stratum with fine gravel, the gravel is slowly sinking when the substrate gets disturbed esp. The stratum/Aquasoil is very light and makes its way up. The larger particles also tend to do that in any type of mix, dry or wet.

Have not personally used Aquasoil long enough to comment on your last question, but I expect the limiting factor would be the physical structure of the Aquasoil itself. At some point, I expect it to break down into very fine silt-sand particles? I'm sure there's someone out there who has experience with this.

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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-01-2015, 07:14 PM
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While I've never used Aquasoil myself, I know The Green Machine (or at least according to their videos) has used it in their tanks for several years running. Even rebuilt a tank with the old substrate. I assume it's a mixture of mostly clay which has the ability to absorb nutrients. I've been experimenting with Flourite/Kitty-litter myself, under MGOC, and capped with sand, with really good results. I've always been curious of someone sprinkling iron/KNO3/CSM+B under a pure kitty litter (clay) substrate and seeing how explosive the plants get. In my opinionated theory, it would work just as well as the ADA stuff.


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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-01-2015, 07:34 PM
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no you will be fine

low techs work the best with good substrate like that because they usually use a lot of root feeders

As a general rule if you mix substrates the finer one will make its way to the bottom over time


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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-01-2015, 08:59 PM Thread Starter
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I expect the limiting factor would be the physical structure of the Aquasoil itself. At some point, I expect it to break down into very fine silt-sand particles?
This is what I meant to ask, I just didn't know how to word it. So would this breaking down of the aquasoil cause it to cloud up the water even with the slightest disturbance?
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-01-2015, 09:19 PM
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This is what I meant to ask, I just didn't know how to word it. So would this breaking down of the aquasoil cause it to cloud up the water even with the slightest disturbance?
Aah!
Sorry, I don't really know. Right now I am getting some clouding when I replant on the Aquasoil so I expect it to continue happening later too. Might not be as big an issue when there's more plant mass (both roots in the soil and leaves near the surface), but I'm just guessing here.

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-02-2015, 04:54 AM Thread Starter
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Aah!
Sorry, I don't really know. Right now I am getting some clouding when I replant on the Aquasoil so I expect it to continue happening later too. Might not be as big an issue when there's more plant mass (both roots in the soil and leaves near the surface), but I'm just guessing here.
Ah got it.

In a low-tech tank, would the aquasoil need to be capped with anything for any particular reason? Or could the substrate just be exposed to the water column? And would doing weekly water changes(tap water: ph 7.8, kh 7,gh 10) cause the soil/tank to prematurely lose it's nutrients, or cause ph swings(due to the ph lowering property of the soil)
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-02-2015, 05:33 AM
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AS will be fine in a low tech tank. That said, I feel a lot of people think low tech tanks benefit from a high nutrient substrate because lack routine fertilization. I have found similar results from regular gravel to top soil, root tabs, etc, never used AS. In each case, even stems have a much more substantial root system. Many of my low techs were not necessarily low light, getting good colors with stems, I just feel the lack of CO2 makes for a much smaller need to fertilize, water column or roots. That's not to say I would not choose AS, I like AS. It's just probably unnecessary and a bit expensive. I like the look myself which is a big part of choosing any substrate. I would give it a try. Even in my high tech, now gone medium tech (lower light, CO2), it still seems to have plenty of nutrients, rarely feed the water column, have yet to put root tabs in either, plants are healthy and growing well.

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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-02-2015, 05:42 AM Thread Starter
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AS will be fine in a low tech tank. That said, I feel a lot of people think low tech tanks benefit from a high nutrient substrate because lack routine fertilization. I have found similar results from regular gravel to top soil, root tabs, etc, never used AS. In each case, even stems have a much more substantial root system. Many of my low techs were not necessarily low light, getting good colors with stems, I just feel the lack of CO2 makes for a much smaller need to fertilize, water column or roots. That's not to say I would not choose AS, I like AS. It's just probably unnecessary and a bit expensive. I like the look myself which is a big part of choosing any substrate. I would give it a try. Even in my high tech, now gone medium tech (lower light, CO2), it still seems to have plenty of nutrients, rarely feed the water column, have yet to put root tabs in either, plants are healthy and growing well.
Thanks for your input. The reason why I became interested in using soil, is because people have been saying that it raises co2 levels in the water from decomposition. People seem to have an easier time carpeting plants like dwarf hairgrass in low-tech soil setups.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-04-2015, 11:59 PM Thread Starter
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Can you cap ada aquasoil with eco complete?

And I've heard that Aquasoil leaches ammonia for some time. Does this mean that once the ammonia is gone, the tank will be cycled with beneficial bacteria?

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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-05-2015, 04:53 PM
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A large amount of AquaSoil will kick out enough ammonia for the first two or three weeks to kill plants unless you want to change water every day or every other day. Using a lot of RO/DI water, I just let it cycle for two or three weeks without light, do a water change then plant and turn everything back on. When the plants take off, it is ready for whatever.
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-06-2015, 07:02 AM Thread Starter
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A large amount of AquaSoil will kick out enough ammonia for the first two or three weeks to kill plants unless you want to change water every day or every other day. Using a lot of RO/DI water, I just let it cycle for two or three weeks without light, do a water change then plant and turn everything back on. When the plants take off, it is ready for whatever.
What do you consider large? This person plants from the initial setup. Would he be doing these daily water changes?

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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-06-2015, 01:23 PM
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For me, large was five bags of AquaSoil in an 80 gallon. Ammonia up to 8 ppm. For a week or so. Guess my advice for any AquaSoil tank would be to change the water at least twice a week for the first couple of weeks. And yes, AquaSoil is a little bit dirty. Year and a half into current tank and AquaSoil still dirty when uprooting plants. Have taken to cutting plants off below substrate and replanting tops - no problems so far.
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-06-2015, 04:49 PM
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Aquasoil will generate enough ammonia to do the fishless cycle. Do enough water changes to keep the ammonia under 5 ppm.
Allowing the ammonia to rise to high is not good. The bacteria do not grow so well at higher levels.
Toward the end of the fishless cycle you might have also run to the end of the ammonia production from the soil, so you might need to supplement the ammonia to finish out the fishless cycle.

It is difficult to use a heavier material on top of a lighter one. Any sort of gravel, sand or similar cap will sink through any of the pelleted clay materials such as Aquasoil or montmorillonite clays (Safe-T-Sorb etc). The more often the substrate is disturbed the faster the cap will disappear.

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Here is the fishless cycle that grows beneficial bacteria.

Cycle: To grow the beneficial bacteria that remove ammonia and nitrite from the aquarium.

Fish-In Cycle: To expose fish to toxins while using them as the source of ammonia to grow nitrogen cycle bacteria. Exposure to ammonia burns the gills and other soft tissue, stresses the fish and lowers their immunity. Exposure to nitrite makes the blood unable to carry oxygen. Research methemglobinemia for details.

Fishless Cycle: The safe way to grow more bacteria, faster, in an aquarium, pond or riparium.

The method I give here was developed by 2 scientists who wanted to quickly grow enough bacteria to fully stock a tank all at one time, with no plants helping, and overstock it as is common with Rift Lake Cichlid tanks.

1a) Set up the tank and all the equipment. You can plant if you want. Include the proper dose of dechlorinator with the water.
Optimum water chemistry:
GH and KH above 3 German degrees of hardness. A lot harder is just fine.
pH above 7, and into the mid 8s is just fine.
Temperature in the upper 70s F (mid 20s C) is good. Higher is OK if the water is well aerated.
A trace of other minerals may help. Usually this comes in with the water, but if you have a pinch of KH2PO4, that may be helpful.
High oxygen level. Make sure the filter and power heads are running well. Plenty of water circulation.
No toxins in the tank. If you washed the tank, or any part of the system with any sort of cleanser, soap, detergent, bleach or anything else make sure it is well rinsed. Do not put your hands in the tank when you are wearing any sort of cosmetics, perfume or hand lotion. No fish medicines of any sort.
A trace of salt (sodium chloride) is OK, but not required.
This method of growing bacteria will work in a marine system, too. The species of bacteria are different.

1b) Optional: Add any source of the bacteria that you are growing to seed the tank. Cycled media from a healthy tank is good. Decor or some gravel from a cycled tank is OK. Live plants or plastic are OK. I have even heard of the right bacteria growing in the bio film found on driftwood. (So if you have been soaking some driftwood in preparation to adding it to the tank, go ahead and put it into the tank) Bottled bacteria is great, but only if it contains Nitrospira species of bacteria. Read the label and do not waste your money on anything else.
At the time this was written the right species could be found in:
Dr. Tims One and Only
Tetra Safe Start
Microbe Lift Nite Out II
...and perhaps others.
You do not have to jump start the cycle. The right species of bacteria are all around, and will find the tank pretty fast.

2) Add ammonia until the test reads 5 ppm. This ammonia is the cheapest you can find. No surfactants, no perfumes. Read the fine print. This is often found at discount stores like Dollar Tree, or hardware stores like Ace. You could also use a dead shrimp form the grocery store, or fish food. Protein breaks down to become ammonia. You do not have good control over the ammonia level, though.
Some substrates release ammonia when they are submerged for the first time. Monitor the level and do enough water changes to keep the ammonia at the levels detailed below.

3) Test daily. For the first few days not much will happen, but the bacteria that remove ammonia are getting started. Finally the ammonia starts to drop. Add a little more, once a day, to test 5 ppm.

4) Test for nitrite. A day or so after the ammonia starts to drop the nitrite will show up. When it does allow the ammonia to drop to 3 ppm.

5) Test daily. Add ammonia to 3 ppm once a day. If the nitrite or ammonia go to 5 ppm do a water change to get these lower. The ammonia removing species and the nitrite removing species (Nitrospira) do not do well when the ammonia or nitrite are over 5 ppm.

6) When the ammonia and nitrite both hit zero 24 hours after you have added the ammonia the cycle is done. You can challenge the bacteria by adding a bit more than 3 ppm ammonia, and it should be able to handle that, too, within 24 hours.

7) Now test the nitrate. Probably sky high!
Do as big a water change as needed to lower the nitrate until it is safe for fish. Certainly well under 20, and a lot lower is better. This may call for more than one water change, and up to 100% water change is not a problem. Remember the dechlor!
If you will be stocking right away (within 24 hours) no need to add more ammonia. If stocking will be delayed keep feeding the bacteria by adding ammonia to 3 ppm once a day. You will need to do another water change right before adding the fish.
__________________________

Helpful hints:

A) You can run a fishless cycle in a bucket to grow bacteria on almost any filter media like bio balls, sponges, ceramic bio noodles, lava rock or Matala mats. Simply set up any sort of water circulation such as a fountain pump or air bubbler and add the media to the bucket. Follow the directions for the fishless cycle. When the cycle is done add the media to the filter. I have run a canister filter in a bucket and done the fishless cycle.

B) The nitrogen cycle bacteria will live under a wide range of conditions and bounce back from minor set backs. By following the set up suggestions in part 1a) you are setting up optimum conditions for fastest reproduction and growth.
GH and KH can be as low as 1 degree, but watch it! These bacteria use the carbon in carbonates, and if it is all used up (KH = 0) the bacteria may die off.
pH as low as 6.5 is OK, but by 6.0 the bacteria are not going to be doing very well. They are still there, and will recover pretty well when conditions get better.
Temperature almost to freezing is OK, but they must not freeze, and they are not very active at all. They do survive in a pond, but they are slow to warm up and get going in the spring. This is where you might need to grow some in a bucket in a warm place and supplement the pond population. Too warm is not good, either. Tropical or room temperature tank temperatures are best. (68 to 85*F or 20 to 28*C)
Moderate oxygen can be tolerated for a while. However, to remove lots of ammonia and nitrite these bacteria must have oxygen. They turn one into the other by adding oxygen. If you must stop running the filter for an hour or so, no problem. If longer, remove the media and keep it where it will get more oxygen.
Once the bacteria are established they can tolerate some fish medicines. This is because they live in a complex film called Bio film on all the surfaces in the filter and the tank. Medicines do not enter the bio film well.
These bacteria do not need to live under water. They do just fine in a humid location. They live in healthy garden soil, as well as wet locations.

C) Planted tanks may not tolerate 3 ppm or 5 ppm ammonia. It is possible to cycle the tank at lower levels of ammonia so the plants do not get ammonia burn. Add ammonia to only 1 ppm, but test twice a day, and add ammonia as needed to keep it at 1 ppm. The plants are also part of the bio filter, and you may be able to add the fish sooner, if the plants are thriving.
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