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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I am planning to completely redo my 55 gallon planted tank over this winter. I will be running the same AquaClear 110 power filter, pressurized CO2 and Hagen T5HO 2-bulb light fixture with a total of 108 watts suspended some 10 - 12 inches over the hinged glass lids. Also have lights and CO2 on timer for 8 hours and run an air stone late night / early morning before CO2 starts up for the day.
I will be changing from the present substrate/gravel mix to a thin layer of CaribSea FloraMax over small chunks of clay for added iron topped with EcoComplete. I will also have stones and mopani wood.
I saw a video by Corvus Oscen which made a lot of sense to me - he is big into ion exchange. He stated that people in the hobby set up a substrate add plants from all over the world and expect them all to grow well. He said that it does not make sense to just plant a bunch of mixed plants especially Swords that will just deplete the nutrients from the substrate. This method will just make the tank break down and cause algae growth.
I would like to try and plan better this time to add slow and medium growing plants that will flourish over time and will look good - any ideas on this plan? Sorry I do not know what happened to the font size and boldness for this thread could not edit correctly. Thanks to all members for any ideas / advice! :D

 

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Only the general concept.
Yes, plants will remove nutrients from the substrate. That is how they survive. All over the world.
When the soil has a good cationic exchange capacity then the nutrients are held in a way that plants can get them. As some nutrients are added via water column dosing, they work their way into the substrate and take the place of the nutrients that the plants have removed.

So he is right in that plants deplete the substrate (especially a substrate without cationic exchange capacity) and can then be deficient in certain nutrients, and grow poorly or even die. The altering levels of nutrients and the plants' responses sure can be linked to increasing algae growth.

But that is not the end of the story. Set up the tank with good reserves of nutrients then replace the nutrients as the plants use them, before they reach the low level that induced deficiency in the plants. If you have slow growing plants then you might not need to be quite so diligent in staying right on top of replacing those nutrients that the plants are using up. If you have fast growing plants then you will need to be quick to replenish the nutrients those plants are using.

When I was switching fro very low light to better conditions for the plants, including adding carbon, I also started dosing with the EI method. I altered the recipe to accommodate the other sources of certain nutrients, but basically was supplying plenty of excess fertilizers then doing a big water change weekly. Most of the tanks have a high CEC substrate (Soil Master Select, Eco Complete). I ran the tanks this way for a couple of years.
When I slowed the dosing the plants continued growing well for several months. The high CEC substrate had accumulated a good level of reserve nutrients.

I think this is a good thing to consider in setting up a tank. Make sure there are good reserves of nutrients that will be released slowly into the substrate.
Continue to add nutrients to replenish the substrate before it is totally empty.
 
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