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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I started aquscaping by trying to mimic high tech tanks and guides for them. What this led to was way too much maintenance and a tank that got algae way too fast.

Long story short, I've found myself with a nice balance of what I'd like to call "medium tech".

I water changing my tank every 3-4 weeks and add a single dose of ferts at that time. You know, a dose you might do 2-3 times a week with a high tech plan. When I change is directly related to how much algae shows up on my glass or plants.

My light's PAR is about 65 at the base, I still pump enough co2 to drop the ph by 1, and I have a filter too. So it's not low tech.

Of note is that I have fish and shrimp which I believe is why I don't need to add much fertilizer. My Rotala grow about 4-6 inches a week.

Is this novel or has anyone else found themselves in this state too? I see very little need to ever go completely low tech now that I've found this peaceful balance. I was overdoing it and adding way too many ferts for way too long because I blindly followed high tech guides.

Side story - a fish died in my tank about 3 weeks ago but I didn't realize. I did notice that my water had that fishy smell for a day but didn't think much of it. Then, in the next week I had about 25-50% more algae than normal. This made me trigger a water change a week early. I was concerned because I thought I had a nice flow going and didn't know why I needed to change it so early. A couple days later I found the spine and skull of the fish laying on the substrate and everything made sense.

Moral of the story - knowing your tank and balance is much more important than sticking to a strict schedule or attempting to overule mother nature.
 

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Opinions will vary, of course, but I believe that the “tech” nomenclature is based upon whether or not CO2 is injected. In this sense, there is only “high tech” and “low tech.” I don’t believe that light is used as a defining aspect, although “high” light is usually found in “high tech” setups. So, I would still define yours as “high tech”, even though your light is just getting into the "high light" region.

I change 50% every other week and dose enough selected nutrients to bring levels back to where they were before the w/c, much like you do. However, I do dose daily to maintain my target levels, but the maintenance aspect of this is eliminated by the use of an auto-doser. Prior to the auto-doser, I front loaded, as you do. I have no noteworthy algae, so nothing I do is triggered by a change in algae, unlike your algae signal. I wonder if you might be better served by employing the PPS method of using TDS changes to signal the need for a water change, rather than using an algae threshold. You might avoid the algae development once you fine-tune the TDS level required.

I have about double your substrate PAR and a pH drop in the 1.2-1.3 area. My growth is about 6-10 inches / week on my background stems, so I do have to chop it every week or so.

I abandoned EI, long ago (many of us have), in favor of meeting much lower nutrient target maintenance levels and I do count NO3 and PO4 from the fish in the target levels.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply @Deanna. Many good points.

For high vs low tech, I consider low tech to have no filter, no co2, no added ferts and low light. I was trying to kind of find the middle ground of that and a high tech EI plan. Maybe the fert and water change is more of just an EI thing.

I haven't tested tds regularly in a while but that might be something I could lean on in weird cases in the future. The only things I watch these days is the ph drop and temperature to make sure my co2 tank and inline heater are working, respectively.

I used to to test nitrates, phosphates and attempt potassium every day. Phosphate test didn't work well because it wouldn't tell me how much was in my soil. The levels dropped very quickly after dosing. The potassium tests just seems to never actually work as expected.

I just wish I would have listened to the tank a year sooner. Besides the tank initially balancing with diatoms or thread algae, every other algae type seems to imply too many nutrients and ferts added. NOT a "lack of ferts to allow the plants to out compete the algae". I look back at that and cringe!!
 

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I have no filter other than mechanical filtration to catch debris. Sounds like you have an active substrate? Initially, many active substrates will absorb PO4. If not, sounds like your plants were hungry for it. If you do have an active substrate, that may be why you don't need to dose much ...until it runs out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I do have aquasoil and was dosing phosphate daily as an experiment. I could never get it to stay in the water to be measured an hour or more after dosing. I had terrible algae build up from that dosing too. Tons of blackbeard and bga.

Looking back, everything I did wrong and experienced was mostly from over dosing ferts. Once I gave up and chilled, algae disappeared and plants sky rocketed instead of stunting or dying.
 

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Personally I have never used CO2 and I only use a little bit of flourish advance here and there. Never in the amounts they suggest always less than half. I give my aquariums plenty of light (10 + hours with nothing fancy, cheap led aquarium lights) I run a couple sponge filters and an airstone. I definitely went through an ugly stage with a few of my planted aquariums. In the beginning before the plants established the algae grew like crazy.
Regardless, I try not to do many water changes. I do weekly parameter checks and unless there's a reason I let it be and only top off. My goal is to create a complete ecosystem within my aquariums so they essentially take care of themselves in the long run. It's all mostly low tech but I do the occasional plant trimming and replanting stems, maybe scrub the glass and add some rooting agent here and there so I'm with you on the mid tech! Most would consider my methods low tech even though I do use lights, filtration and some ferts 🤷‍♀️ then again depending on what platform you're looking at, high tech is the only way to go so anything that's not maximum effort is considered low tech 😂
 

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1 drop of pH is still a lot, I for my self considerate my tank "med tech" fallowing your naming and I dose only betwen 5 and 8 ppm of CO2, about 0.1-0.3 drop in pH. Carbon is very important and I dose even in my dirt soil tank, very little 1 drop every 4 seconds in an 10 gallons and I have surface agitation.
 

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Adding CO2 to a low/medium light tank is something more should do. It makes everything easier.

And good to hear you found an approach that is working well for you.

Curious, what types of plants are thriving in this environment? Any tank pics? Would like to learn more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Adding CO2 to a low/medium light tank is something more should do. It makes everything easier.

And good to hear you found an approach that is working well for you.

Curious, what types of plants are thriving in this environment? Any tank pics? Would like to learn more.
Everything is doing better now. I have:
  • Bacopa
  • Rotala
  • Anubias petite
  • Staurogyne repens
  • A couple variety of buces
  • Whatever the red lily pads are called
  • Java moss
The first things to do poorly when I was overdosing ferts were always the buce. The algae would collect on the leaf and bba on the edges of the leaves. The rotala, bacopa and staurogyne repens stunted/stopped growing. I had another variety or two of stem plants but they didn't make it through the ordeal.

The only thing that hasn't really come back well now that I've found this routine are the staurogyne repens. They exist, but grow slowly. I think they are permanently damaged. In fact, I will probably replant a new batch soon.

Plant community Plant Rectangle Vegetation Grass


As you can see from the picture, I'm less focused on grooming at the moment and just happy to have growth amd the ecosystem working. I trimmed the bacopa and rotala down about 3 weeks ago and they are back to that state.

Side note: bacopa powder is used as a mental helper/nootropic.
 

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I was working on an aquascaping dictionary for a little while then someone pointed me to an old thread where it had already been done. So many of the terms we casually throw around really don't have good definitions for them but rather a collective idea of something that could be a definition ;P

Anyway the term 'medium tech' is even more ill defined then most I have found. Some people take umbrage with the idea that their tank might be 'low tech' because they consider themselves savvy with technology and use smart plugs and apps to control aspects of their tank so they call their tank 'medium tech'. Other people use dirt which releases some co2 and then call that 'medium tech'. etc etc. In this case the OP seems to be saying that low doses of ferts and few water changes means his tank is 'medium tech'.

I don't think it matters much what its called but we do have pretty good definitions for low tech vs high tech and its 100% concerned with having injected co2 as already pointed out. If the OP is happy with his tank then that's all that matters. Personally I use my plants as the primary means of eliminating algae which means feeding them pretty regularly, keeping fast growing species, and doing lots of water changes to keep the water quality high for the animals.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
After reading this it has become obvious to me that the technology and effort were often tied together when talking about "low tech" or "high tech".

I guess what I have here is a low effort, high tech tank.
 

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Everything is doing better now. I have:
  • Bacopa
  • Rotala
  • Anubias petite
  • Staurogyne repens
  • A couple variety of buces
  • Whatever the red lily pads are called
  • Java moss
The first things to do poorly when I was overdosing ferts were always the buce. The algae would collect on the leaf and bba on the edges of the leaves. The rotala, bacopa and staurogyne repens stunted/stopped growing. I had another variety or two of stem plants but they didn't make it through the ordeal.

The only thing that hasn't really come back well now that I've found this routine are the staurogyne repens. They exist, but grow slowly. I think they are permanently damaged. In fact, I will probably replant a new batch soon.

View attachment 1032170

As you can see from the picture, I'm less focused on grooming at the moment and just happy to have growth amd the ecosystem working. I trimmed the bacopa and rotala down about 3 weeks ago and they are back to that state.

Side note: bacopa powder is used as a mental helper/nootropic.
The tank is looking very good.

The important thing is to see the mix of plants. In general low light low need plants. Which isn't a bad thing. They look healthy and happy.

It's hard to put tanks into catergories. I would probably refer to this as low tech with CO2......if that's a thing?? Growth kept in check with less light, and easy green plants that are getting a great boost from CO2. Probably takes very little maintenance, and a heck of a lot less complicated than high light.

Honestly is probably a great way to manage a tank that many would do well to emulate.
 

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Personally I have had great luck with my old "medium" tech tank! Although, I prefer classification based on CO2 and light level.

My old tank was a 46 bow front with mineralized top soil, moderate CO2 injection, and effectively low light. Technically running a Ray2 put me in the medium light category, but the C. Balansae and hornwort blocked so much light it was really more low light.
1032194


Not the prettiest tank but the upkeep was absurdly easy and there was no algae. 25% water change weekly, if I remembered or had time, leaner daily dosing, if I remembered... The most time consuming part of this tank was replanting the C. Balansae runners every week. That plant is a monster!

To me the key was the easy plants I kept - many varieties of crypt, dwarf sag, star grass, Ludwigia, lillies, apontogens, java moss, and swords (if my pleco wasn't in a sword eating mood). I also had great luck with water quality and algae after I started running purigen. I know opinons on this are mixed but it worked very well for me in this setting.
 
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