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I'm setting up a 5G nano low tech planted tank. My previous tank used to be a 55G low tech tank where I followed Tom Barr's non CO2 method pretty close and things worked out quite well. The only thing that was annoying was the yellowing caused by the fact that I used leonardite.

Since the 5G is gonna have similar plants, etc. I'm thinking of more or less sticking with the same method of doing things, the only thing I'd like to get rid of is the yellowing of the water.

So I'm wondering ... what would be the result if I didn't use leonardite (or peat or soil)? According to Tom's article (http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/433-Non-CO2-methods) it provides a source of carbon for the bacteria that live in the soil, thus allowing them to reduce the oxygen content in the soil and allow better nutrient exchange between the soil and roots. Would the "crap" in the gravel of an established aquarium be an alternate source of this carbon? What else could I use to provide this carbon source (that won't yellow water) ... or do I even need it?

Thanks,
Harry

P.S. The gravel that I will be using is black flourite.
 

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My 55G tank used Toms method with soil master select (SMS) as the only substrate and it's done fine for 1.5 to 2 years now.

The tank I'm currently working on, I plan on using mineralized top soil as substrate, it's cheap and works very well.
 

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Soil without peat would be counterproductive. Depending on what you mean by "soil", but the most you are going to find would be 15% Organic Matter. Peat moss is 100% Organic Matter and the decomposition provides the carbon. Using soil with low Organic Matter would require almost the same Excel Dosing as if you used only substrate.

I would vote for using peat moss instead of leonardite. You could also use something like purigen once in a while to remove some of the yellowing. Personally I use peat moss, but I am thinking of breaking down the tank and switching to leonardite just so I can get the yellowing and an "Amazon" feel.:hihi:
 
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