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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am setting up a 75 gallon low tech, pretty much tom barr's style of low tech. I will have 56 watts t5no over it and running an XP3 as the main filter. I need to figure out the substrate now. I see he recommends to use a layer of leonardite or peat moss and mulm on the bottom, then a top layer of substrate. Well, which would be better...leonardite or peat and mulm? What is the purpose of this layer because I've been reading about this method but can't quite grasp what this layer is doing. Also do you think I should use eco-complete or flourite as my top layer? And how many pounds of either?

Also I know peat and leonardite lower ph and are naturally acidic causing my water to become softer and more acidic. Now my tap water is weird. It comes out of tap at a ph of about 7.6 or higher and a kh of 2.5 and a gh of about 12. Give it about 3 to 5 days of sitting out and the kh and gh are the same but the ph crashes to 6.0 and it seems like it will constantly decrease. It is crashing because of the low kh so I usually have to buffer my water to about a kh of 4 or 5 with a bag of crushed coral in the filter. Then I can maintain a ph of 6.6-ish, kh of 4-5, and gh around 12.
With this bottom layer of peat or leonardite, is my water going to become way to unstable and have ph swings like it does? Do I have to add anything like a bicarbonate or crushed coral to my tank or filter?

Let me know guys,
Bryan
 

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I'll only comment on the pH change of tap vs aged tap. Usually that's from CO2 in the water equalizing with ambient air.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It happens in my tank though as well. I think it is due to the low buffering capacity of the water. The kh is around 2 and the tank's ph will continuously drop it seems. If I don't have an coral in a filter bag the ph usually keeps dropping below my API test kit which is 6.0 as the lowest reading. A 6.0 reading is a decently visible yellow color and mine will become an almost clear, very very faint yellow. When I tested it with another kit it was dropping into the 5's.

That is why I am concerned
 

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But tap water just sitting without organic matter wont change much in that period of time, that's why I suggested IT might be degassing. This doesn't mean your tank water pH wont change.

Not sure what's in your tank but IMO it's pretty tough to get pH down below 6 without some additive or lots of CO2 injection. kh of 2 means you do have some buffering capacity.
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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I'd skip the peat since you have such soft water to begin with. If you're really concerned about pH drop you could put a little crushed coral or calcium carbonate-based substrate (dolomite or cichlid substrate) underneath the rest of your substrate. You probably don't really need it, but it wouldn't hurt.

Depending on what you choose for your substrate, you may not even need it. Onyx sand and Eco Complete are two good plant substrates with a high buffering capacity, so you wouldn't need any additional buffering.

Flourite black remains my personal favorite substrate to date. You'd need about 100-150 lbs for 2-3" in a standard 75gal tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I've never added any additives and my water has been like this before my co2 system was in place. Idk, I just want to know about the substrate and the effect of the peat or leonardite on my water and it's purpose in this low tech method.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks lauralee, I will just use the substrate like eco-complete or even the flourite black (never thought of that, nice option) and some mulm. What is the purpose of the leonardite or peat in tom barr's method of low tech?? Just to lower ph and soften water?? Or will I be missing out on something? Like does it have something to do with sediment nutrients or anything like that?

Edit: Looks like you got to that answer already...

Since you are awesome with this low tech stuff, what about my lighting. Should I use the 2x28 t5no, or single 54 watt t5ho, or would a 3x32 t8 fixture work great instead? I thought the t-8's would give a good spread. I also have a single 32 watt t-8 that came with the tank, so I even have that to work with.
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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I'd go with a fixture with more than just one bulb, b/c you'll have coverage issues with just one bulb over a 18" wide tank.

I'd go with 2 T5NO fixtures, personally. They'd give you the most options as far as playing with photoperiods (you may end up running one fixture most of the time, and the 2nd fixture part time), yet being sure you've got strong enough lighting to penetrate the tank depth.
 

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I googled Leonardite. http://www.healthyhomemall.com/leonardite.asp

It appears to be another source of humic acid, similar in function to peat- it can help lower the pH of substrate and provide a little bit of nutrient content.

I'd skip it given your water parameters.
 

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Algae Grower
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I am setting up a 75 gallon low tech, pretty much tom barr's style of low tech. I will have 56 watts t5no over it and running an XP3 as the main filter. I need to figure out the substrate now. I see he recommends to use a layer of leonardite or peat moss and mulm on the bottom, then a top layer of substrate. Well, which would be better...leonardite or peat and mulm? What is the purpose of this layer because I've been reading about this method but can't quite grasp what this layer is doing. Also do you think I should use eco-complete or flourite as my top layer? And how many pounds of either?

Also I know peat and leonardite lower ph and are naturally acidic causing my water to become softer and more acidic. Now my tap water is weird. It comes out of tap at a ph of about 7.6 or higher and a kh of 2.5 and a gh of about 12. Give it about 3 to 5 days of sitting out and the kh and gh are the same but the ph crashes to 6.0 and it seems like it will constantly decrease. It is crashing because of the low kh so I usually have to buffer my water to about a kh of 4 or 5 with a bag of crushed coral in the filter. Then I can maintain a ph of 6.6-ish, kh of 4-5, and gh around 12.
With this bottom layer of peat or leonardite, is my water going to become way to unstable and have ph swings like it does? Do I have to add anything like a bicarbonate or crushed coral to my tank or filter?

Let me know guys,
Bryan
something seems a little off with your ph worries. 7.6 out of the tap. is that a test taken after it's sat for a while? what's in the tank?(wood/rocks?)

as far as what tom was saying about adding pre soaked/boiled soil, pre soaked peat, leonardite.. i think he meant one of the three there as a source of carbon. if you are having ph drops, i would definitely stay away from the peat.

if i was you, i would just mineralize some soil. it works great. i also wouldn't worry about adding things to your filter until after you get your substrate in and the tank going. then you could add something to raise your ph if needed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
That is the test after a little less than 24 hours. It will steadily drop to about 6 over the course of about 5 days. No rocks or wood in my tank, just flourite. It's probably just my water.....it's not so great.

You said to add mineralized soil but that seems really hard and long to do from what I read. Is there an easier way to do it? What method do you recommend? How many pounds approx. do I need to make?
 

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Algae Grower
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That is the test after a little less than 24 hours. It will steadily drop to about 6 over the course of about 5 days. No rocks or wood in my tank, just flourite. It's probably just my water.....it's not so great.

You said to add mineralized soil but that seems really hard and long to do from what I read. Is there an easier way to do it? What method do you recommend? How many pounds approx. do I need to make?
a ph of 6 is fine. i wouldn't worry about that. mine is like 8.

you can boil your dirt, bake it in the oven, or just let it sit out. i guess if you you needed it done fast like in a couple of days, i boil and bake it a few times and call it good. i would think you'd need about a five gallon buckets worth for a 75g tank.
 

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i'm not sure how to do it exactly - lol. i would imagine what you're really trying to do is get it wet and dry it out a minimum of 4 times. i'm sure baking it would speed up the process. i would try 200 degrees until the mud is dry. repeat like 2-3 times. i would sift it too(before you get it wet) that way you'll remove a lot of the big pieces of wood/rocks.

maybe someone that has done it this way will chime in.
 
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