Originally Posted by GulfCoastAquarian
Definitely interesting. Mostly because this guy is using somewhat unconventional methods and having a certain amount of success with them. Does he actually use phosphate-based buffers regularly? Most LFS's change their display tanks water so often that the tank water parameters pretty much equal the tap water parameters, with negligble effects from conditioners of any kind.
I agree with him that regular sand can be just fine when supplemented with root tabs. Even the expensive stuff like Eco-Complete and Flourite will benefit from root tabs anyway, so lately I've been cheaping out with sand.
Not using CO2 - I doubt the plants spend enough time in the display tanks to show significant deterioration from lack of a Carbon source, but again - those frequent water changes (usually daily) probably help provide CO2 as well as traces.
What works in a store might not work at home since we generally don't have a staff on hand to change the water every day. That's just my theory on how this guy might be successful with his unconventional methodology.
Hi Sam, Yes he does use phosphate buffers for all his tanks and he only fertilizes the substrate. I suppose that any other fertilizer is from fish food and from water changes, which I'm guessing he does once a week but I'll have to confirm that during the next visit. If you have any other questions to ask him, I'll be glad to relay the message.
No, the plants are not deteriorating at all. Just to clarify, the plants are not newly arrived and tied up with metal ties and then shoved into the substrate (like so many other stores do). These plants are established, rooted into the sand substrate, and growing in...All the tanks are "jungle-like" in look and not "freshly planted" aquascapes. When you buy plants from him, you will be getting plants that are submersed growth, rooted into the substrate, and healthy. He will not sell you plants if they happen to not be doing so well.
Also, he does not have a staff to help cover. He and his wife are there everyday. His daughter comes in to help out, too, when she's not at school.
Another great tidbit about the store: The new fish arrive on Monday and he doesn't sell any of those fish on that day. If you ask, he will say, "Come back on Saturday or Sunday, and I'll hold it for you if it is doing well." He has a good variety of killifish, corydoras that i've never even seen before in my life (he had to pull out a book and show me the profile), and other interesting fish..