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What (if anything) should I add to 3M Color Quartz?

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I'm about to setup a new tank, and it will be specifically for soft-water shrimp. Being that I live in central Florida, and my tap water is liquid limestone, I'm thinking I should add something to my substrate. I'll be using 3M Color Quartz (t grade), which I know is inert, so I was thinking about adding a layer of peat, or laterite, underneath? Does this sound like a good idea? What can I do, short of using RO water, to prepare my tank for softer conditions?

Also, is there a difference between laterite, and peat that can be bought at Lowe's?

This will be the first time I've done anything other than dump a bunch of Eco-Complete into a tank and call it a day.

:hihi:
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Oops, I forgot to mention those details... no it will be low light, no CO2. It's a 45g tall tank, and will only have a 2x39w HO T5 fixture over it. I plan on keeping this one real simple.
 

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I'm about to setup a new tank, and it will be specifically for soft-water shrimp. Being that I live in central Florida, and my tap water is liquid limestone, I'm thinking I should add something to my substrate. I'll be using 3M Color Quartz (t grade), which I know is inert, so I was thinking about adding a layer of peat, or laterite, underneath? Does this sound like a good idea? What can I do, short of using RO water, to prepare my tank for softer conditions?

Also, is there a difference between laterite, and peat that can be bought at Lowe's?

This will be the first time I've done anything other than dump a bunch of Eco-Complete into a tank and call it a day.

:hihi:

The biggest difference it to watch out for ferts and additives in peat coming
from a big box store that will ruin your day make sure they say
no-fertz/additives on the bag. I get mine from a local nursery that
actually understands what I'm asking for.

I've never added peat or dolomite to my substrate but it should only work
to enrich your substrate not your water column but you should probably
take a look at the threads on "Mineralized Top Soil" that can explain it
better.

I add my peat to my 55gal pre-mix barrel when I'm filling my breeder tanks
that way I can monkey with the water before it gets to the fish.

- Brad
 

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IME, C02, high light, and high plant density increase the need for a nutrient rich substrate and or water column fertilzation. If you have a high light setup with c02 injection and high plant density and fail to keep on top of water column ferts or have a nutrient dense substrate to compensate, you will end up with huge algae issues and plant deficiency symptoms. This much I am sure you know based on the beautiful high tech algae free tanks you setup Church.

With a low tech, non-c02 tank, low light tank, things are different. You only need to fertilize once a week(about the equivalent of one dose of EI macro and micro ferts). Some folks keep a tank stocked to capacity and only dose trace minerals and state that they have no issues. Personally, I don't believe that you need to place anything under your 3m Quartz as long as you fertilize once a week and dose excel for carbon.

I have a 5 gallon hex that is doing fantastic and it is a low light tank. I followed Tom Barr's recommended low light set up and I am extremely impressed and pleased.
http://www.barrreport.com/articles/433-non-co2-methods.html

I have a Oto Cat and 3 Amano Shrimp in that tank and they are as healthy as can be. The plants are very healthy, zero algae, and growing at a rate that places minimal demands on me to trim. One thing that I noticed tough is that a nutrient rich substrate from the start did make a difference eventhough it was a low light tank. It seems that the substrate really stimulated deep root dispersion, similiar to what you would see if you placed terrestrial plants in really good soil. Once the plants laid out deep thick roots into the substrate, their growth appeared to get healthier and healthier as time went on. The only algae that appeared was green dust algae but this cleared up on it's own within a month of appearing.
 

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Church, I'd honestly go with reconstituted RO/DI water rather than just trying to use peat with our liquid rock water if your goal is to breed softwater shrimp. Peat can only do so much for the TDS, and IME it can be difficult to achieve water parameter stability, since you'll have to keep replacing it. If you still want to give it a go, I'd run a separate tank just for mixing it up and you'll have to continually test the bejeebers out of the water to get peat amounts just right each time in order to maintain stability.

Pretty sure that laterite is inert as far as pH and hardness go. Laterite is just clay that's high in iron content.
 

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Church, I'd honestly go with reconstituted RO/DI water rather than just trying to use peat with our liquid rock water if your goal is to breed softwater shrimp. Peat can only do so much for the TDS, and IME it can be difficult to achieve water parameter stability, since you'll have to keep replacing it. If you still want to give it a go, I'd run a separate tank just for mixing it up and you'll have to continually test the bejeebers out of the water to get peat amounts just right each time in order to maintain stability.

Sure RO/DI is fine as long as you have deep pockets. My rural MO water is
pretty hard [PH 8 - GH 20dh] maybe not LA hard but hard enough and I
know how expensive RO/DI is for me that's why I pre-mix/heat/age my
water so I can spend more money on plants and fish.

And I'm going to have to disagree with your "peat can only do so much"
comment have you actually used peat at all or if you have correctly?
Sticking it in a filter or sock and putting it in your tank is the wrong way
to use it and dangerous as all get out for the living things in the tank.

If you pre-mix your water with boiled peat (the old fashion way) you can
hold a consistent PH/GH in all your tanks or at least I do. The only way
that's probably better is if I ran C02 in my pre-mix water but that's a bit
more crazy than I want to get yet.

- Brad
 

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you can buy cheap ro/di units on ebay for ~150 shipped or less. yeah for every gallon of ro, you waste 2-3 down the drain, but you could always just use it to water your lawn or use it for hard water fish. if your water is liquid rock, its probably the easiest way to get consistant low kh water. i just keep a 20g rubbermaid garbage can full of ro for use with an airstone/bag of purigen going to age it.
 

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you can buy cheap ro/di units on ebay for ~150 shipped or less. yeah for every gallon of ro, you waste 2-3 down the drain, but you could always just use it to water your lawn or use it for hard water fish. if your water is liquid rock, its probably the easiest way to get consistant low kh water. i just keep a 20g rubbermaid garbage can full of ro for use with an airstone/bag of purigen going to age it.

And how much do you spend on new filter media and how many times do you
replace it a year? A $150 unit would be pretty small and would probably die
trying to filter my fishroom.

- Brad
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks, everyone, for the words. Okay, so Laura, I trust your judgment since you have first hand experience with the water I am using... I'm guessing that adding peat might end up causing more problems than it would ameliorate. That being said, I'm not looking forward to spending MORE money on MORE equipment, just to have soft water. I'm going to start looking for a RO unit, but if it's going to cost more than $100, I'm just going to give up my dream of collecting softwater shrimp. :(

Maybe I can rig up a rain-catcher on the roof of my new place, and then I can let good old gravity take care of my water changes? I need to study up on Tom Barr's methods, so thanks for the heads up, Homer Simpson. Also, thanks for the kind words, too! :)

I suppose that MAYBE because this will be low-tech, and no EI dosing, which means no 50% water changes, that MAYBE it will be okay just keeping a 50g drum filled with RO water I get from outside the Sweetbay Grocery. The lazy part of me is already rolling over to take a nap when thinking about the work of lugging gallons of water home from the grocery store.

Thanks again, everyone!
 

· Fresh Fish Freak
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You know, rainwater probably is a good option. I've heard some pretty impressive success stories with breeding very picky blackwater fish in rainwater.

You'd need a big barrell for storage though since we're at the end of the rainy season. I've never quite figured out how to do that and keep the mosquitos out, though I'm sure there's got to be a way?

It's not cheap, either, but using ADA AquaSoil might also get you where you want to be...
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
So what does AS have in it that would be able to do to the liquid rock what adding amendments to an inert substrate CAN'T?

Wow, that sentence made me dizzy... did it make sense? I mean, in other words, couldn't I just find out what makes AS good for this purpose, and then inexpensively recreate that using an inert substrate? (saving tons of $ in the process)

Because from the previous posts in this thread I've come to understand that adding stuff to the water might soften the water up, but at the expense of stability. How would AS circumvent that whole deal?
 

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So what does AS have in it that would be able to do to the liquid rock what adding amendments to an inert substrate CAN'T?

It's called Peat, they bake in a mud mixture that includes peat hence the
non-inert part.

- Brad
 

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bradac-filter changes on ro depend on amount of tds in the tap to begin with. my water is hard but not liquid rock so filters will last me 9months to a year. replacements are not that expensive at the orange borg or online. also, that little ro unit does about 100gpd. more than enough to top off. i service a five, 5 ea 10g, 5 ea 15g, 12g, 20g, and two 30g breeders with that unit. granted you wont be able to do massive water changes on all the tanks in a single day, i just stagger the major changes over the week. top off for evaporation takes maybe 5 gallons every other day or so.

i use AS in all my invert tanks as well, and ro is not the do all only answer, but it makes it easy to get a constant supply of low gh/kh (cheapo units do not remove everything). plus, just personal taste, but i do not care for the tea color you get from peat.
 

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Because Peat by it self won't do allot besides lower your Ph and over time
it will wear out. Take a look at the "Mineralized Top Soil Substrate" thread
here in the 'Substrate' section they add the following to there top soil:
Clay (Iron), Dolomite (calcium and magnesium), Potash (Potassium) which
will also wear out over time so water column ferts are still needed.

The reason I said it wouldn't do allot is because it's below the substrate
not in the water column it takes while for that to defuse out any it's easier
to control those swings with good water management.

I'm probably not explaining this very well so please forgive the grumpy one.

- Brad
 

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i use AS in all my invert tanks as well, and ro is not the do all only answer, but it makes it easy to get a constant supply of low gh/kh (cheapo units do not remove everything). plus, just personal taste, but i do not care for the tea color you get from peat.

Carbon will remove the tan color without upping the PH (another step in my
pre-mix tank). Plus Oak leaves will lower your PH as well and not look as
blackwater though the PH change wasn't as consistent when I tried it.

- brad
 

· Fresh Fish Freak
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Church,

I still haven't put together my AS tank yet to see how much impact it actually has on kH, but I've read several reports where AS Amazonia reduced the kH in people's tanks by more than 1.0 dkH- that's a pretty big drop.

I haven't studied the chemistry of it to be able to explain why, though.

And I agree with the points below- the nature of the processed substrate should help slow down and stabilize the impact of the AS on water parameters, whereas peat exhausts itself pretty quickly. I think if you go the peat route you'll need to be sure to make up a new batch every month.
 
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