I can't find the balance between healthy plant growth and algae and it is driving me crazy. - Page 5 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #61 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-23-2020, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Ddrizzle View Post
In walstad's book there is a page or so about hard vs soft water plants. The theoretical conclusion was that plants that require hard water will suffer in soft water, but soft water plants will not suffer in hard water.

I'm sure there are extremes that would damage any plant, but it might be worth a read if you're interested due to the explanation within.
Anything in the book is only relatable to an 'el natural' tank. I don't believe it translates to other methods.
I wouldn't go that far personally. I'd say everything applies until it doesn't. I look at high-tech with tap water as just speeding up the normal process outside of extreme circumstances.
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post #62 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-24-2020, 12:14 AM
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I wouldn't go that far personally. I'd say everything applies until it doesn't. I look at high-tech with tap water as just speeding up the normal process outside of extreme circumstances.
Well nothing wrong with a Walstad tank, but it really is in many ways the complete opposite of a hi-tech tank. It's been demonstrated quite convincingly that when we richly dose the water column in hard water many plants stunt severely, This wouldn't be recognized in a Walstad tank since the idea is not to dose the column. Also there are many plant species that you simply won't see in a Walstad tank due to light, co2, fert limitation of that system.
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post #63 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-24-2020, 12:18 AM
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I agree that aquasoils are easier for beginners. They can definitely build up a good amount of mulm and experience some breakdown, but I think a lot of the "mud" that people experience with aquasoils are due to never gravel vacuuming/cleaning the substrate. Felipe Oliveira and Dennis Wong both have good videos about cleaning aquasoils.

I can't comment on the longevity of aquasoil. I haven't had it turn to mud, but I also haven't had any aquasoil tanks for more than 3 years due to the frenetic pace at which I rescape my tanks.
It does seem to be great for beginners and, as @burr740 mentioned, can go longer than 3 years, but he heavily loads his water column which, as T Barr pointed out in a study, does continue to re-charge the sediment. I think that this would happen with any high CEC substrate. As I mentioned, for me, with much lower dosing, I don't think I would get beyond the initial period. Even ADA recommends finding a way to re-charge it after 2-3 years or get it out of there.

ADA also warns that, as it turns to mud, there is a high risk of cyanobacteria developing and to use that as an indication that it is time to replace it. However, I suspect that if you clean it thoroughly, you could pull out the the finer particles and leave larger particles that might encourage better circulation and extend the lifespan. Is that what you were referring to regarding the cleaning of aquasoils?

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It seems like you've been in this hobby for a quite a bit longer than I have and therefore think of things at a longer time scale with regards to substrate lifespan, consistency etc. Not trying to say you're wrong, just that we have different approaches.
Yes, I'd be happy if I could leave my substrate in place for either 1) the rest of my life or 2) until/if I get tired of it.

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It's been demonstrated quite convincingly that when we richly dose the water column in hard water many plants stunt severely
I've been under this impression as well but, as @burr740 just mentioned, his water is very hard (10 dGH?) and he heavily doses other nutrients to counter-balance the 40ppm Ca. We all know that his plants aren't stunted. If you have any comments on this, @burr740, it would be interesting to hear your perspective.
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post #64 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-24-2020, 12:30 AM
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I've been under this impression as well but, as @burr740 just mentioned, his water is very hard (10 dGH?) and he heavily doses other nutrients to counter-balance the 40ppm Ca. We all know that his plants aren't stunted. If you have any comments on this, @burr740, it would be interesting to hear your perspective.
I should have actually said high KH. The idea here is that the high KH does not play well with high ferts, which you wouldn't experience in a Walstad setup.
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post #65 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-24-2020, 12:43 AM
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I should have actually said high KH. The idea here is that the high KH does not play well with high ferts, which you wouldn't experience in a Walstad setup.
I was thinking the same thing in reverse - long day
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post #66 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-24-2020, 03:56 AM
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How much Ca and Mg do you have in the ADA tanks? Reason I ask is because low dosing routines or ADA style dosing just doesnt work for me. Even a recent 20L I set up with, at the time a lot of crypts and slow growing stuff, few stems here and there...it just doesnt work until I start pouring in the nutrients.

After several attempts over the years with similar results, the only thing I can think of as to why is because my tap comes with 40 ppm Ca. I can drop everything else but not that. My theory is because Ca is fairly high, other nutrients have to be dosed at higher levels to achieve the right balance. Maybe if I could roll with 10-15 ppm Ca it would work.

Because I believe you. I believe everybody else who reports good results with low routines. It just doesnt work in my tanks. None of them, never has, and it's always been a mystery to me why.


The only thing aquasoils really run out of is NH4. Everything else (sans a few anions which arent there to begin with) gets replenished from the water column dosing via the high cec. Unless a person is barely dosing the water column, then its a different story.

But with decent water column nutrients it will last years. I have a 4 year old ada as tank that grows plants just as well now as it ever did. The soil is dusty as hell from degrading a good bit. Nevertheless I can take a plant thats not doing well in sand stick it in there and it'll take right off
This is what I do. I make RO water and then I take tap which goes through my sediment and carbon filters and mix it with the RO until I hit 120 TDS. Doing this gives me the following parameters:

Tested with a Sensafe iDip 570 (one of the best pieces of aquarium equipment I've ever bought)


The Mg test is auto calculated by the software based on my CA and KH.
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post #67 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-24-2020, 04:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Ddrizzle View Post
In walstad's book there is a page or so about hard vs soft water plants. The theoretical conclusion was that plants that require hard water will suffer in soft water, but soft water plants will not suffer in hard water.
You have this backwards, or the book does. Hard water plants typically do fine in soft water. Soft water plants, like Syns, Tonina, certain Erios, etc -absolutely have to have soft water. By that I mean a very low KH.

Not talking about GH, which is the sum total of Ca and Mg (primarily) That may be what she means, idk. There probably is a handful of species that "require" a high KH, but I cant think of any right off hand.


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post #68 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-24-2020, 05:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Ddrizzle View Post
In walstad's book there is a page or so about hard vs soft water plants. The theoretical conclusion was that plants that require hard water will suffer in soft water, but soft water plants will not suffer in hard water.
You have this backwards, or the book does. Hard water plants typically do fine in soft water. Soft water plants, like Syns, Tonina, certain Erios, etc -absolutely have to have soft water. By that I mean a very low KH.

Not talking about GH, which is the sum total of Ca and Mg (primarily) That may be what she means, idk. There probably is a handful of species that "require" a high KH, but I cant think of any right off hand.
Yes, GH
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post #69 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-24-2020, 08:43 AM
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This is what I do. I make RO water and then I take tap which goes through my sediment and carbon filters and mix it with the RO until I hit 120 TDS. Doing this gives me the following parameters:

Tested with a Sensafe iDip 570 (one of the best pieces of aquarium equipment I've ever bought)


The Mg test is auto calculated by the software based on my CA and KH.
So you have about as much Ca as I do, which would indicate that my Ca level is not the reason low doing has never worked. The mystery continues...
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post #70 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-24-2020, 10:00 AM
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Itís not a mystery, itís all about balance/ratios.

You canít have high Ca levels and not bring Mg, K and micro up to balanced ratios to work with that Ca level. High Ca levels will block or partially block uptake of about 7-8 other nutrients, only way to bring system back into balance is either to cut Ca levels or bring other levels up slightly to reach equilibrium.

When a ecosystem is out of balance everything suffers, plant growth stalls, algae comes forward, declining water quality starts having a effect on fauna in tank. Eventually ecosystem your trying to foster in tank will collapse.

The higher the light and CO2 your running in that system the quicker that system collapse can happen.
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post #71 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-24-2020, 12:42 PM
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Itís not a mystery, itís all about balance/ratios.

You canít have high Ca levels and not bring Mg, K and micro up to balanced ratios to work with that Ca level. High Ca levels will block or partially block uptake of about 7-8 other nutrients, only way to bring system back into balance is either to cut Ca levels or bring other levels up slightly to reach equilibrium.
Yeah I still feel like this is the reason
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post #72 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-24-2020, 04:39 PM
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Yeah I still feel like this is the reason
I've been thinking about testing this theory out.

Like you, I can't seem to lower macros without negative results.

With my RO water, I can set any parameters that I want. Right now my Ca:MG is 30:15. Might try lowering everything in same ratios just to see what happens.
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post #73 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-24-2020, 05:21 PM
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Isn't the Ca:Mg ratio supposed to be 3:1 or 4:1 instead of 2:1?
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post #74 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-24-2020, 07:06 PM
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Isn't the Ca:Mg ratio supposed to be 3:1 or 4:1 instead of 2:1?
Per this conversation, the real danger is the raw amount being too high, less so the CA:MG ratio.
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post #75 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-24-2020, 07:13 PM
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My tanks do best with 2:1 Ca:Mg, which is just where it wound up using what Ive found to be optimum Mg levels, not to hit a certain ratio. K is also highly relevant. The more K the more Mg is needed. Most things do best when those two are close. My water column stays around 20 Mg and 25 K (icp tested)
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