Helping my son with a science project. - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 31 (permalink) Old 11-14-2007, 02:49 AM Thread Starter
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Helping my son with a science project.

Ok, we all know that certain substrates are better than others for growing plants. This project is to help educate my son, as well as his class mates, and hopefully everyone that sees it.

This is a 5th grade project. So it's not going to be elaborate, it's not gonna have co2. It's going to use 1 10 gallon tank, 4 different substrates, and one 13watt ahsupply lit kit. Low light!

Ok, so heres the questions. Should I divide the tank in 4 strips? Or should I divide in quarters? Uh, lets see if I can better explain. Like + or like | | | | ??

Since this is going to be low light, it's just going to be using relatively low light plants. I'm thinking just a bunch of cabomba in each cell. There will be NO FISH in this project as all the schools (in Florida anyways) does not allow anything alive to be tested.

Ferts - This is another problem I have. Should I use regular dry ferts? or substrate ferts?

I do not want to use a filter either. This shouldn't be a problem. Atleast I don't think it will be.

Any suggestions?

I woke up one morning and realized my living room turned into a fish store!!! HELP!!!!
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post #2 of 31 (permalink) Old 11-14-2007, 03:09 AM
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This is just me, but I would think if you were going to test the different substrates, wouldn't you want a rooted plant for testing, rather then a stem plant? Perhaps instead of cabomba, you use a few of the same crypt species, or dwarf sag. Something along those lines. I can't see cabomba being all that helpful in the long run for substrate testing IMO.

As for setup, I'd go | | | |


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post #3 of 31 (permalink) Old 11-14-2007, 03:25 AM
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I would do it in rows, make the dividers just tall enough to divide the substrate dont make them go to the top. Then put in a powerhead to circulate the water. The tank and plants will do much better with water moving around. You need water movement.


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post #4 of 31 (permalink) Old 11-14-2007, 03:38 AM
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IMHO, being a 7th grade life science teacher. I would go with a bare bottom tank. The specimens need to be placed in seperate containers (taracotta is always a good choice). As far as ferts, it would have to be in the water column. This way the ferts are a constant, not a variable. This way all of the specimens have the same availability to the nutrients. If you 'treat' the substrate, it is not a experiment of the substrate. I would love to hear the results of this experiment. Please post the results, or PM me with them.


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post #5 of 31 (permalink) Old 11-14-2007, 03:48 AM
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Not familiar with AH lights, but I would imagine, based on other lights, that the light at the edges of the tank would be less intense; i.e., if going in rows ||||, the two middle sections would get more light than the two on the ends. I'd go with a + division.
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post #6 of 31 (permalink) Old 11-14-2007, 03:52 AM
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I would do seperate tanks... If you don't have tanks, you can just use seperate jars.
Different substrates have different effects on the water. Plants absord nutrients from the leaves and the roots. To have a good experiment, you'd need a control, and a bunch of experiments. You can't have them all in the same tank.

And choose your plants appropriately too.. Cabomba is a stem plant and will absord mostly through the leaves so substrates aren't an issue. <- correct me if i'm wrong.


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post #7 of 31 (permalink) Old 11-14-2007, 04:01 AM
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I'd think that, for example, if you used aquasoil, whatever nutrients are in the substrate would leech out a bit and be available for plants that are not actually planted in the aquasoil. I would vote for a lot of jars, with repeated substrate/plant combinations. Need more than one sample in case one of them fails.

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post #8 of 31 (permalink) Old 11-14-2007, 04:33 AM
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I'm currently running a substrate demonstration using;
various quartz, clay, and lava stone based substrates.
I placed a bit of plant tablet fertilizer under each grass
plant in order to even out the advantage that substrates
already packed with nutrient may bring to bare. each
portion is about 5oz in a 9oz hard plastic juice glass.
I'm not dosing added ferts or Co2 in this 2wpg tank,
because I'm trying to encourage in gravel propagation.
this tank has no fish, only RCS shrimp and Spixi snails.



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post #9 of 31 (permalink) Old 11-14-2007, 06:38 AM
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I'm fairly new to planted tanks and also to this forum, so please bare with me, and everybody please correct anything I have wrong as it will help me become more knowledgeable as well.

Dividing the Tanks
The + would be better at controling the lighting, but the |||| design would much it much easier to see what is going on without moving the tank. To make things easier for the kids, I would go with |||| and try to find a way to fix the light issue. This would probably require additional lights though.

I'm inclined to agree with the idea of using separate tanks, to control the nutrients from leaching into the water column. If you wanted to use 1 tank maybe you could use silicon and sheets of glass that go from the bottom to the top and keep the water from mixing. If you go with individual tanks, four 2.5 gallon tanks might work ok as long as you have shorter plants.

Plants
I agree with everyone about using rooting plants if you want to test the substrate. As I'm new to planted tanks I'm not exactly sure how grain size matters, but I've heard this can be an issue with certain plants, but then again, if your testing substrates this is all part of it I guess.

Fertz
My first thought on this was why use them at all. Can't you get plants to grow ok in just about anything if you use a fertilizer? One of the benifits of certain substrates over other ones is that they contain essential nutrients from the beginning. Then again I think the benifits of some substrates is that they are able to absorb nutrients from the water column for the plants to use later, so maybe it would be important to use fertilizers. Maybe you could try using no fertz at first and then after a while adding them. This might help determine which substrates are better initially and which ones can better absorb nutrients for the plants.
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post #10 of 31 (permalink) Old 11-14-2007, 08:58 AM
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At first, I agreed with the general consensus of separate tanks. But I thought about it, and if you do separate tanks, then a lot of the variables will be different. I.e. ferts amount, position of lighting, nutrients. However, at the same time, if you just put dividers, as fishscale mentions, some substrates like aquasoil has nutrients in it that could move onto other substrates or water column, skewing your results. So I guess to truly single out substrate as the only dependent variable, you'll have to be very exact with separate tanks.

For ferts, it seems kind of dangerous, because being once a very mischevious 5th grader myself, I could've thought up of at least 5 stupid things to do with it.

1. Dare my friends to drink the liquid dose or lick the powdered form, or do it myself.
2. Put it into the teacher's morning coffee.
3. Dump it on the school lawn during recess.
4. Dump all of it at once into the tank.
5. Give it to some kid who doesn't know what it is, telling them it is magic water.



So unless there's a safe place to store it, I wouldn't recommend it. Even then, what if some kid who was as crazy as me tried to drink the tank water? Also, ferts can have different effects on substrate. I'm thinking of CEC values. For example, sand has a low CEC value compared to peat moss. So that could mess up your results as well.

But it's only a 5th grade experiment, so it probably doesn't matter whether it's separate tanks or dividers. Every other variable is really simple to keep constant anyway.
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post #11 of 31 (permalink) Old 11-14-2007, 01:16 PM
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You can use animals in experiments as long as they are not harmed.

But, why put fish in???

It will only give you another variable.
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post #12 of 31 (permalink) Old 11-14-2007, 04:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dekstr View Post
But I thought about it, and if you do separate tanks, then a lot of the variables will be different. I.e. ferts amount, position of lighting, nutrients.
not if you do it right... Mix a big batch of water & ferts.. Then divide the water into the individual containers.... They'll all have the same water.

And you'll get inconsistent lighting in a tank too..
I'd recommend just using sunlight... It's free.


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post #13 of 31 (permalink) Old 11-14-2007, 05:34 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, so scratch the cabomba, and go with a rooted plant. I can thin out some vals from my big tank and use those.

I forgot about the substrate leaching out. I planned on using 4 substrates. River rock, sand (most likely pool sand), SMS, and Eco. These are readily available in my area.

I like the cup idea inside the tank. This way I can keep all 4 in the middle of the tank so that they all each get equal amounts of light. But this still doesn't solve the problem of leaching Eco. Dangit. Back to the drawing board...

Ralph - Must be our county then. It's mandatory no animals period! Can't even do the rat in the rotating maze to get to the cheese experiment!

I woke up one morning and realized my living room turned into a fish store!!! HELP!!!!
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post #14 of 31 (permalink) Old 11-14-2007, 06:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Khandurian View Post
go with a rooted plant. I can thin out some vals from my big tank and use those.
I would choose a sword plant.
onion plants often wilt like
crypts when re-acclimated.


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post #15 of 31 (permalink) Old 11-14-2007, 06:31 PM
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River rock, sand and SMS are all innert, right? So there should be no difference in the growth? Maybe you should try testing some other variable than substrate? Goodness, I hate to come tell someone what's wrong with an idea without offering a better solution, sorry.

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