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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After a lot of reading on this forum, I've come to the conclusion that this hobby is very challenging for newbie and the experienced alike. It always boils down to a difficult balancing act of Lighting, CO2 and Nutrients. The reason why it's so difficult to balance our tank is because our tank parameter always change - i.e., changing biomass, plant growth, plant pruning, adding more fish, water change, and etc..

EI attempts to take nutrient out of this equation, by always supplying enough to the water column so that the plants won't starve and there's always an abundance of nutrients. This worked great for many people but not everyone because CO2 and lighting are the two variables that are out of balance. The other complaint I’ve read about this approach is the massive weekly water change. PPS approach attempt to add only what is needed, but the difficulty with this approach is that it involves a lot of testing and using reliable LaMott test kit which can get very expensive.

All this makes me wondering if there’s a more simple approach. I’ve read articles about how plants in Amazonia Jungle thrive in conditions of zero KH and water that are devoid of nutrients. Yet, plant growth is lush and green and algae is non-existent under intense lighting of the sun. Plants in those condition, gets all of their nutrients from soil. My approach is to mimic nature. I believe larger root mass equates to better growth and plant's health.

With that reasoning, my idea is to built a super deep tank that would have not inches but a FOOT of rich soil substrate like ADA aqua soil (maybe we can modify this a bit with super rich bottom layer and progressively less rich soil on the top to avoid nutrient leaching). The current issue I’ve read with Aqua soil users are that they become depleted after a year or two of use and that water column fertilization are still required such as 5ppm of Nitrate and Potassium dosing. Well, if we had a FOOT of substrate, I reason that plants can get all of their nutrients from the soil and it would take a long long time before all the nutrients are depleted. That way, water column nutrient can be kept to near zero and we can blast all the light that we want without causing algae. I've acutally tested this with my Metal Halide under condition of zero water nutrients and even running at 12 hours photoperiod, I did not get any aglae like GSA or GDA.

A very deep tank would not look very pleasing at first but we can certainly built a special housing that would cover most of the substrate and only show the planted section of the tank.

I like hear your thoughts on this idea.
 

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Children Boogie
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it's been done and you don't need a foot of soil.
All you need is a nutrient rich substrate, ada, top soil etc.. with lots of plants and moderately low number of fish. The idea is that the food you feed the fish has a lot of the nutrients plants need so you are replenishing the nutrients through fish food & waste.

I've had 2 tanks that ran on nothing but fish food, zero water change, and no CO2. Well, I do make partial water change when I make a mess in the tank when I pull out deep rooted plants.
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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You're bound to develop anaerobic spots and hydrogen sulfide pockets with that deep a substrate.

If you don't want to have to dose ferts then just control the light levels and set up a simple low tech or even a "Natural Planted Tank" as described by Diana Walstad.

I don't use CO2 or dose ferts in any of my own tanks, I stick with low tech setups and the plants get what they need from the bioload.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Actually, my thinking was to apply this for a high tech tank with a lot of lighting and good Co2 injection. I've read too much cases, where people upgrad to T5 lighting and then, to only realize that their lighting was too strong and promoted algae growth - particularly GDA and GSA.

Based on my experience, I think out of the three variables, CO2 is the easiest to control. Balancing light and nutrients level is harder because of the ever changing biomass and nutrient uptake level. If there's too much lighting, and not enough nutrient, and low CO2, algae will grow and vice versa.


For me CO2 has been pretty easy to control once I've figured out how to. I simply make sure there's a high water turnover or circulation, so that there's no dead spot. I make sure that I'm using an efficient reactor to difuss all the CO2. Lastly, I get a 4dkh reference solution for the CO2 indictor and set my bubble rate to acheive a lime green color. I found out that KH/PH chart is not realiable if you have very low KH.

Lighting and Fert on the other hand has been very tricky. I first started out with MH and then got a really bad algae bloom and stunted growth. I like other realize that too much lighting is actually counter productive. So now, I've reduced my photoperiod to 8 hours and using PC lighting.

The idea behind very deep substrate is to minimize the effect of all three variables. I want to be able to run high intensity light without worrying about algae outbreak. I want to reduce the amount of water change because with low water column fert, water is always maintained at pristine level. I want reduce my marco and micro dosing, and with deep subrate, you don't need to dose. That's my reasoning.

Granted all this Aquasoil would cost a fortune, but there are DIY articles about making your own mineralized soil.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
BTW, I'm not happy that I need to reduce my photoperiod to 8 hours and change my lighting from Metal Halide to Power Compact. But this was the only way for me to control algae growth. If it was up to me, I rather run everything at 5WPG :icon_mrgr
 
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