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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey folks,

I searched this topic extensively, both through google and on TPT. I found nothing. Hopefully, some of the long-time veterans of Amano philosophy/strategy (eg. Barr, Senske) can help clear up my confusion.

If you've been in this hobby for more than 24 hours, you know about Takashi Amano's contributions. But, as I read through my archived TAG magazines, I see that all of his tanks are VERY low in nutrients.

For example (one of many): TAG volume 16, number 2, page 8: description of a 120cm, branchy-wood, open-top aquarium, with 160w lighting - NH4 (ammonium) = 0mg/l , NO2 (nitrite) less than .02mg/l , NO3 (nitrate) = 1mg/l , PO4 (phosphate) = 0mg/l. , COD = 6mg/l.

Plants for this tank include many crypts, lilaeopsis sp, eleocharis sp, sagittaria sp, polygonum sp, and microsorum sp. The only "additive" mentioned is ADA Brighty K.

In my experience, these nutrient levels would be catastropic. My plants suffer miserably when nutrient concentrations are this low level for more than a few days.

I have theories on how Amano accomplishes healthy tanks with such low nutrient levels, and I'm sure you do, too. But, I want to hear something from the horse's mouth. So, please, if you have first hand knowledge of how/why Amano keeps his tanks with said nutrient levels, share.

Thanks
 

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Perhaps with the Aquasoil he has managed to maintain a continuous nutrient cycle.

Every minute of every day, small quantities of nutrients are leached into the water column, providing low, but constant levels of nutrients. Perhaps just enough to prevent algae.
 

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i'm reasonably new to the planted tank idea but i wonder if its from the uptake of the plants, and what he's listing is the running average. It would seem to me that it would spike up when added then drop off as the plants utilize them. I'm just not sure how fast the uptake is. From what i've seen on stem plants it looks to be pretty fast with good light and CO2.

Just my thoughts on the idea, interesting question though, i've only recently started reading the small print on his tanks and understand what it all leads too :).

jason
 

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Hey Ted, I have lots of personal opinions on this topic but no first hand experience on Amano's reasoning.

I remember seeing a topic, say last summer or so possibly earlier about this. It ended up having to do with the plants he used and the substrate.

He used mainly root feeders (ADA AS is good for nutrients)
And moss and anubis (Small nutrients Req.)

So I think he thinks his plant selection very thoroughly...

So what threads have you found? I think the thread I was thinking of came about just when ADA stuff was really getting ready to come over here in the USA

-Andrew
 

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I think a large part of the success in those tanks is due to the substrate additives and just the quality of the water.
 

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I don't think Amano's tanks actually grow for as long as people think. I think his tanks are put together using plants that already are of a good size. IMO his growout period is probably about a month max. I doubt he is starting with small trimmings like you and I do. When it comes to publishing mags and books it's all about the photo. Most of those tanks are probably torn down right after the photo shoot. Of course this wouldn't apply to tanks that are mostly groundcover based. That does take awhile to grow.
 

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I question the methods used to obtain such test data.
They are not testing where the nutrients are either.
What the heck.

Temporal and spatial issues are confusing many hobbyists that are simply unaware that you can have several locations for nutrients in an aquatic system, they all work and the rate of growth is also a defining factor as well.

In a nut shell, plants will and do grow well with nutrients, they need to a sufficent supply based on the driving growth rate, this starts with light, then CO2 and NO3/K and so ion down the line.

You can deliver them via roots and/or leaves or both locations.
There is no conflict with any growth model by having them in one location or the other, just that they are present.

At higher light(such as natural systems), you will place more demand for this and adding the nutrients to both locations should yield the highest growth as shown in terrestrial systems as well as aquatic ones.

Amano and Dupla and many others have made claims that anything other than low water column nutrients for N and P = algae blooms when it excess.
Perhaps this is a hold over from fish only aquarium keeping.

Clearly they never tested their own hypothesis on this, adding these accordingly should induce algae, but that has not been observed in well over 15 years. Yet they continue to make such claims while quietly adding NO3/PO4 for some cases in recent years.........

Test methods are very poor, I see no methods list.
Sounds like they had some conclusions and then went about looking for data to support them rather than testing them.

They also did not test the nutrients where they count in these methods: in the sediments. C Kasslemann gave a long presentation about the water column nutrient levels/parameters for swords plants in natural systems.

She suggested that these plants do not prefer water column nutrients and that they live in oligotrophic environments. I asked her if she had measured any pore water of sediments in all of her studies and field trips as is basic protocol for wetland ecology. Her answer: "no".
Asked what was in powersand Amano said "power".

This means they do not know or have and are not telling anyone about it.
In both cases, that leads me not to trust them.

Neither have done any algal studies.
So I'm not sure what their logic is for low water column nutrients as being some sort of advantage nor have they offered any explanations to date that remotely match observations.

There are several methods available for sediment measurements for wetland soils for N and P.

My main issue is seeing how well the plants grow in a soil vs ADA AS condition and with respect to the water column.

How can we fairly judge the water column under a wide range of limiting conditions? I do not think you can. I think that we have to have a standard
control here for the water column.

CO2
K+
Ca
Mg
B
etc

Are all water column nutrients, folks add Traces all the time as well.
The resolution to show limitation of algae is beyond the best hobbyists kit for N and P. The nutrients are taken up so fast that testing the water column will tell you nothing. Yet the water column often is only determinant basis for dosing programs for many aquarists ironically.

ADA does not suggest extensive measurements in their routines, "watch the plants and add just enough".


Using acid extraction to measure plant bioavailable P and N are commonly used in horticulture of sediments to determine relative fertility.

ADA's data numbers also just do not add up using things like the KH and pH and CO2.

I can see an over estimation of CO2 occurring, but not under estimations.
That's so improbable I have to serious question such data and when such measures where taken.

I started off doing very well in this hobby with the water column without knowing "why". I could have stayed on that path and spent my time scaping more. Jeff really does not care nor Amano nears as I can tell about why, just that what they do works and allows them to scape and do a nice tank.
Jeff freely fesses to that and Amano sure gave that impression both times he was here in the USA
I'm concerned about a larger management issues in aquatic horticulture.
The why is very important in understanding and development of even better methods to grow plants, how to address a much wider ranges of issues.

Unlike many, I have many methods that I use to grow plants, and this allows me to compare each methods' trade off/s and focus on the best management for a particular goal.

There are many folks in this hobby with many goals, trying to bully folks into one method is ethically bad and wrong. Further, no single method will be right for everyone's goal. I commonly suggest and support non CO2 methods, Excel methods, marine systems, EI methods, test method suggestions, substrate water column issues etc, algae control, tap vs RO etc.

Some clowns have accused me of bullying folks into a single method etc, but if they look at the management issues, what's the best cheapest and gives the best results, I fully support my contentions there. If the clowns cannot, then they shall remain clowns.

Clown theory:tongue:

I've changed my advice as I learn more. Many never do sadly.
They go back and instead of rejecting their old falsified hypothesis, they run around looking for data to support their conclusion.

Ted showed some serious doubts about the gas in a CO2 reactor that I had made a hypothesis about, I still do not know what it is, but I'll be finding out soon (Gas analysis here is now available in a friend's lab, but I'll have to break out the Reactors and collectors again, but I have growth chambers at the lab now, so that will be a lot easier).

But it's not about pride, it's about figuring out what is going on and why.
Make lots of hypothesis and then try and prove them wrong. If they are, let them go and move on to the next and try and get to the bottom of the issue.
Do not hold on to them so personally and be ego driven.

Be curious as heck and doubtful of yourself.

Regards,
Tom Barr











Regards,
Tom Barr























Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Ted showed some serious doubts about the gas in a CO2 reactor that I had made a hypothesis about, I still do not know what it is, but I'll be finding out soon (Gas analysis here is now available in a friend's lab, but I'll have to break out the Reactors and collectors again, but I have growth chambers at the lab now, so that will be a lot easier).

I look forward to reading your analysis. I brainstormed possible methods to do a gas analysis myself, but when all was said and done, I simply didn't have the proper tools.

Thanks to everyone for your insight.
 

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I look forward to reading your analysis. I brainstormed possible methods to do a gas analysis myself, but when all was said and done, I simply didn't have the proper tools.

Thanks to everyone for your insight.
None of us really do the tools and clever ways around it are not going to be a happening anytime soon. Given the solubility of CO2, I doubt the hypothesis myself, but I have to try and test it anyway to rule it out before moving on.

So I will use an IR gas analyzer at the lab once I get a set up there that I can use for this and then customize the CO2 reactor to withdraw gas to the analyzer.

We all see the gas pocket build and shrink daily, but we still do not know what the gas is.

As far as CO2 mist theory, well, I have proven that one using O2 meters and good accurate CO2 ppm measurement methods.

O2 is a good in situ measure of plant production/growth/pearling.
I had about 21-44% higher O2 difference than with 31ppm CO2 alone in 4 tanks.

That rules out CO2 liquid phase.
Bubbles might be breaking the diffusion layers around leaves etc also but as far as increasing growth is concerned, I know that it does do that vs plain CO2.

These tanks had the CO2 mist+ aqueous phase done 1st, then after had the CO2 aqueous only added to the same tanks to account for variations in species, water/current etc, you use blocks and test that way rather than having to do two identical replicates at the same time(pretty much impossible). That way the error in O2 production due to increased biomass will be slanted to the tank with a little bit more plant biomass(the CO2 aqueous phase treatment only).

The same can be done with the aqueous phase of CO2, skew the CO2ppm higher than the mist.

Simple test really and one that addresses assumptions and has consistent results.

For O2 comparisons, I used a YSI data logging DO meter.
This measured the DO every 20 minutes. I took the differences of a bell shape curves between treatment to determine the DO change.

This integrates the entire day's worth of O2 production for the control vs the treatement. It would nice to do a similar method for the CO2 reactor gas build up so I'd like to add that as well.

I have not really done much with the CO2 reactors lately though.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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This is totally taking the topic off course, but Tom, what is your experience with dual phase CO2 use? Misting as well as aqueous dissolution. I would tend to think overkill, and i have far from a controlled environment, but i would like to try it.
 

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It's worked very well for many.
Lacking much knowledge about other systems than my own, I'm content to work with my own and chip away at each component.

So when someone asks if excess PO4 causes algae, I know that it cannot be that at least.

When you add dual phases, you cannot tell how much of the CO2 enters as gas or a liquid. All you can do is measure indirectly with O2 evolution and measure the aqueous CO2ppms. You assume that the rest of the increase in pearling/growth is due to the gas phase.

That does not tell you what about the gas phase causes the growth increase though.

It could be the breaking up of the boundary layers better etc, or more CO2 gets to the plant faster, more is transferred via the gas phase across a diffusion layer etc.

But as to the effectiveness, it seems pretty clear to me that 20-40% more growth is certainly a good thing. It also can solve some nagging issues for folks with chronic algae or other CO2 related problems.

Many that have assumed their CO2 was okay are surprised to see the difference.

If you where not limiting CO2 and had good nutrients, then you would not see nearly the same impact, but still some.

The current in the tank and plant species can be variable etc, but the bottom line is that it does work and improves growth.
And not just for a day or two, it keeps the growth high.

Once CO2 is good and stable, then the plants really get cooking and the uptake of NO3 etc gets going.

Paul Krombholz did a study back in 1966 where he found that plant growth dry weight was maximized at 20-80ppm of NO3 for several species of aquatic weeds. 20-30ppm is what I suggest also.

At 5ppm, there was 4.2 less growth, at 10ppm, there was 2.2 times less growth than at 20ppm. This was in Limnological Botany 1975.

There is a lot of support for nutrient rich streams in Europe and in many lakes in the USA that have a high % of plant biomass surface cover.

It's just many folks did not look for such information 30-20 years ago and the books that are out are outdated and quite old, many with misapplied references and not good understanding of the primary research and how to synthesize it to the present issues in this hobby.


Regards,
Tom Barr




Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
New findings

Well, I obsessed and obsessed....

....and went and bought Nature Aquarium World - Book 1, 2, and 3.

Here's what I found:

Book one: Descriptions of tank nutrients: most state "less than 10 mg/L NO3. Not 1 mg/L, like all the AGA booklets state. Book 1 was first published in 1992 - possibly before that in Japanese, before ADA started to rock and roll. The substrates and fertilizers mentioned are NOT ADA products.

By the time book two comes out, Amano is no longer giving NO3 informtion in PPM. He is simply stating how much of his products he uses each week/day.

My speculative conclusions. Amano started off with a passion for the hobby only. He later saw dollar (yen) signs. Books 2 and 3, while being awesome inspiration material, are also glorified ADA catalogs. They give little hard data, only details of ADA products.

I'm basing my dosing on the tank parameters mentioned in book 1, before business got in the way; before it became necessary to keep secrets.

Less than 10 mg/L is very very very different from less than 1 mg/L!

If the "less than 1 mg/L" information was the result of a translation error, it should be corrected. If not, it should be explained or decloaked. If fertilizer methods changed over time, it should be given reasons. If I owned the company, I would be eager to explain myself, and make sure it did not appear that I deliberately misguided.

There is a obvious disparity that requires explanation. Until I get it, I will limit my Amano information gathering to aquascaping ONLY.

Those are personal conclusions. I offer no apologies. If you don't like mine, research the topic for yourself. I eagerly invite alternative explanations (based on your own research!).
 

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I have been doing some extensive experimenting with this. Granted I am not a scientist and my testing supplies are hardly super accurate. With all this stated my findings are sound for me and enough for me to express what i have seen.

Currently I am running 2 tanks with less then 5ppm of N in the water(probly closer to 2ppm...judging by my calculated dosing). My P is less then .5pmm also.

I started this experimenting with the same question as unirda. Another question i always had about amano's stated levels was his co2. Using KH/PH his co2 was always so so low. So i set out to see what i could accomplish with these levels.

Tank specs:

75 gallon with 220watt PC lighting for 10 hours.
KH 3
GH 10ppm
the tank uses flourite so i was able to use a controller without KH interference.
I ran my co2 at about 8-10ppms
dosing left me at a consistent >5ppm of N and >.5ppm of P at the end of each week. I ran this setup for 6 weeks. All plants grew full and healthy.
I also found that i had crystal clear water.....and ZERO GSA. VERY SLOW GROWTH, but very healthy.

50 gallon with lower light 110 PC lighting for 10 hours
kh 3
gh 10ppm
aquasoil for substrate. I estimate my co2 to be around 10-12ppm
dosing is even less in this tank. I dose about .5ppm of P a week and 5ppm of N a week.

This tank is growing even better. N in the water column is almost unreadable.

So it is absolutely possible to grow beautiful plants in very limited conditions. IME, i prefer the slow growth. I am a scaper, not a farmer. The slower the better IMO.

Over the next 6 months i will continue to tweak the system to see the effects. Recently, I planted the 75 with root tabs in three sections. Interestingly, a huge amount of NPK leeched into the water column. The fish seemed fine, but the 30-50+ppm of N in the water stunted almost every single plant and killed about 25% (some rare stuff unfortunately....sorry max) in my finely growing tank. I know I know.....more co2. Honestly, i am not playing that game.

Inspired by kekon, amano, cp1007, and edwards co2 myth thread, I am attempting to grow plants slowly and healthy while providing a low co2 environment for my critters.

The only draw backs have been some very slight algae issue......until i added amano shrimp. That ended that very quickly. And also very slow growth.

Sorry that my post was less the scientific.......but this is what i am finding and i am more then confident in my eyes:)

Let me know if you have any comments.

jB
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
That was a great post, Jason!

If you start your own thread re: this experiement (and I strongly suggest you do), please PM me so I don't miss it. I have dropped a tank from 15 to 5, and plan to maintain it there and see how things go. IMO, 5 is still a loooong way away from "less than 1 mg/L".
 

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Very interesting Jason. I must breakout my test tubes. Are you primarily using AP tests? Are you drawing on KH/pH for the CO2 calc? Must be. I thought many have assumed it isn't all that accurate. But I agree with trusting your instincts and eyes/ experience level. One can guage a little even by bubble speed on CO2.

On a recent re-start, I have been trying to use the JB go slow methodology. So far, so good. Crystal clear water myself.
 

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That was a great post, Jason!

If you start your own thread re: this experiement (and I strongly suggest you do), please PM me so I don't miss it. I have dropped a tank from 15 to 5, and plan to maintain it there and see how things go. IMO, 5 is still a loooong way away from "less than 1 mg/L".
At the end of the testing, I intend to do a more formal writeup with some pictures. I will certainly keep you posted.

I think the key is lower co2. In a lot of ways it was frustrating.....very slow growth and the unknown....i felt like a newb again.

I think we all agree that plants need NPK....or they wouldnt be called macros;) I think what is confusing is that amano believes in substrate ferts more then column dosing. AS has a pretty good amount of macros in it, so i would think that 1ppm of N is really pretty close to what he has rolling. Also, his co2 is very low by american standards. And his lighting is lower as well. I know everyone will say "What about those 150MH pendants!!"......well if we look, they are all over 12" away from the water surface;)

In the end I will attempt to find a happy medium....somewhere around 5-10ppm of N and 15ppm of co2. I think amano is still afraid of P, and it has been proven by others and driven home by Tom that P does not cause all out algae like previously believed. I think that amano has some GSA issues because he is afraid of P. I would like to dose a little more then amano and way less then the current US standard.

Betowess - I am using Hagen kits. I have some lamotte kits that I am calibrating them with(thanks Erin) and a triple beam scale to be balls on with my dosing (assuming the fertilator is correct).

And you are right about the KH thing....but then again....nothing is accurate in this ridiculous hobby.:) So as you say, i am just estimating.

There is a small cult of us that are moving the pendulum back towards lower levels of nutrients. Its easier to control IME.

jB
 

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I hate to add to this because what I have to offer it is unfounded, unscientific observations. But....

I have been running my Nitrates at 20ppm, Co2 at 30 to 40 ppm (Kh/Ph method) at P accordingly. With ADA aquasoil and powersand in my Mini-s (2.5g) with the 27w Mini S light at 8 hours.

I would clean the GSA and BBA bi-weekly and couldn't get the tank to settle.

2 weeks ago I did a good cleaning, dropped my Nitrates to less then 10ppm (tap measured at 10ppm with AP test), dropped my Co2 to 1/2 the bubble count and stayed constant with fleet, Brighty K, and Step 1 dosing. The thing is running so much clearer now. I just have a tiny smidge of gsa and the BBA is receeding. Plus, as Jason noticed, growth has slowed a bit but it's pretty dang good looking.

Now, I'm not offering up these numbers as proof of anything. All I'm saying is that in my instance running lean, alla Amano, worked in my tank with my water. I'm curious to see Jason's write up on his findings. Plus, as Jason said, I'm finding it easier to balance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I hate to add to this because what I have to offer it is unfounded, unscientific observations. But....
Your observations may not be scientifically experimental, but they are derived from first-hand experience with ADA products. That's all I ever requested, and all we can really hope for at this stage. Thanks for sharing!

Again, another case of nutrients maintained on the low end, but still not in the realm of "less than 1 mg/L". Still, the conversation is moving forward.
 
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