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38 gallon Dry start method and old and new ADA aqua soil differences

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by Tom Barr, Apr 7, 2009.

  1. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    You can see clearly where the old sediment is (16 months old) and where the new sediment has been added. I left a layer of old ADA Aqua soil on the bottom 1", then added about 3x this amount on top and sloped up towards the rear.

    The vertical height difference is 11 cm.
    Tank is 20"H, 24" L: 18" D, 38 Gallon rimless. You can see the filter intake and outflows. Light is 80 micromol 12 ours a day and will be reduced to 70 micromol and 9 hours once flooded.


    You can see dramatic differences between the older ADA As and the new. I' had the idea to seed the new with old, looking back, this was a mistake.

    I added liquid ferts to the spray bottle, so the front edge is coming back. I also got BGA quickly. I added some EM to the spray bottle and hit it for 4 days to kill it back (entire tank, not just the front).

    The difference between the rates of growth and leaf size is very apparent(not so much in the pics here, but a little). I disturbed the front edge some, but it was a mess and I vacuumed up the older soil where there was no rooting. Nothing would grow well there. I figure it will fill in well once the tank gets flooded and run down to the nub where the front and bottom glass meet. Never liked the look of sediment on the front panel and will give a nicer slope look.

    The growth rates will equilibrate later once the tank is flooded because I add ferts to the water column and the sediment will leach nutrients everywhere.

    I did not predict the ADA AS was that depleted, but.........it really was a huge difference. So I'm doing a pot test later at the lab to see.

    You can test and see the differences in nutrient depletion between the old and new ADA AS. Yes, there's still growth at 16 months, but's about 10% of the new ADA.

    Anyone wanna buy 30 lbs of old 16month ADA AS from me?

    :redface:
    Argghh, I'm a lousy salesman ain't I?

    You can do pot test in terrarium settings to isolate the sediment/water column interactions, address the CO2 issue, so that the test is independent of other factors other than sediment fertility.

    This way you can compare them and their effectiveness to grow various plant species. It's also easy, cheap, no water changes, CO2 fiddling/assumptions etc, no added light if you place them outdoors etc.

    You can sample older sediments vs new, sand, flourite etc
    You can also add sprays of foliar nutrients to simulate water column uptake also.

    So the test at the lab should help address the question as far as growth weights based on dry mass. I'm not going to do tissue analysis etc. Nothing to involved. And........ I have plenty of old depleted sediment to try and do something with now. Sure ya do not wanna buy some?:redface:

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  2. PaulB

    PaulB Subscriber

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    Hi Tom, is the fitting in the bottom of the second photo a loc-line fitting?
     
  3. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Yes,

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  4. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    I recall reading that Amano replaces substrate after a year or so, but I always assumed that was because he was rebuilding the whole scape. Maybe he also found that ADA soils have a limited life as a nutrient rich material.
     
  5. Craster

    Craster Junior Poster

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    I wonder if there has ever been a controlled test of the various popular substrates in planted tanks under as identical as possible conditions to each other, measuring the available nutrients at 6months, 12months, 18months. Would be pretty interesting to see the results.
     
  6. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I did a short term study.
    Sort of weird results.

    Thing is, a pot test is best, but to do a controlled sediment test, you need to have a flow through system where most of the water is being replaced.

    Otherwise, nutrients from one sediment leach and influence the results from the others. Plants can and do take up nutrients from the water column. So you must account for that. You can run all the water through a DI filter in a closed lop so that there's nothing in the water column at all.

    These are not practical systems for aquarist however.

    Then many simply outright forget about the water column differences.

    Rather than looking at growth of the plants, which is possible, it's better to simply see at the highest level of growth, eg, high CO2, fast growing species(aquatic weeds), high light, lean nutrients and then over time, take 4-6 samples from the sediment and measure what is left that is avail;able for the plants.

    That's what I did for ADA AS. 1# for the starting point: new ADA AS, and 16 month old ADA AS.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  7. eyebeatbadgers

    eyebeatbadgers Junior Poster

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    This may sound silly, but would it be possible to "recharge" the sediment with a nearly saturated solution of the necessary nutrients we typically add to the water column?
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    No, not really, you recharge only the surfaces, you'd have fold the nutrients into the clay otherwise. It's the internal source that has the bulk of the nutrients, not the surfaces so much.

    So to measure this, you dry the sediment at 70C for 24 hours, then grind to a power, then re suspend the sediment and measure the nutrient content.

    You cannot put the grains back together easily:)

    If you powdered the clay, then rolled them back together and enricghed it prior, then yes.

    In practical terms.........

    We just add more water column ferts(all along or more as the tank ages), or tear the tank down and replace the sediment once every 1-2 years.

    In some cases, you can add frozen mud cubes or sticks etc, or pour Osmocoat grains in there with a tube etc etc.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    The BGA that grew on the old sediment (but never the new), was cured via EM tablet added to a sprayer and misting the water with EM on the infected area.

    I also noted 2 other ADA As tanks had new BGA cases, same aged sediments, even with good KNO3 dosing. the KNO3 dosing was upped and it has not returned.

    ADA As has low N relative to P.
    So this goes back to the low N issue and BGA.
    Perhaps organic matter also built up over time in the ADA AS.

    I noted this in other ADA AS and ADA AS+PS sediments other folks have also.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  10. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    ADA Aqua Soil is billed as having a high CEC; that is, it stores excess nutrients from the water column until they are needed by the plants.

    Assuming that the old Aqua Soil was from a tank that was dosed following EI procedures, why did it become depleted of nutrients? Maybe the predecessor tank didn't have nutrients added to the water column? Something doesn't quite add up here.

    I've had a soil-based tank last for over 3 years, the original nutrients in the soil being replaced (I assume) by fish doo and water column dosing when required. Crypts were still going strong - too strong - when I took it down.

    Bill
     
  11. SuperColey1

    SuperColey1 Guru Class Expert

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    I was going to ask the same as Bill :) I have had my Tropica in the tank through 3 scapes since September 2007 so is now nearly 20 months old. I grow mainly Crypts yet they show no signs of problems. I do however dose EI.

    I though ADA AS was a similar thing to the Tropica (although Tropica comes nutrient poor but sucks in nutrient so I believe.)

    AC
     
  12. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I think Crypts and Anubias are bit different, they have low rates of growth, and can allocate reserves through those massive tubers/root rhizomes(storage).

    They also are fairly aggressive within their space. Years ago, Crypts and swords where the main plants.......this was due to low light tolerances, and no CO2............so they did well.

    The carpeting rate of HC is independent of all factors other than..........the sediment itself using the DSM, this is unlike all other methods as the CO2 is independent(has to be) and no water column dosing.

    So you can see the differences really well.

    I do not know precisely why the difference is so large, I speculate the difference is due to limited nutrients, maybe the difference is due to peat content and pH?
    I would have to take tissue samples to be sure if the sediment was limiting to the critical levels.

    The DSM is the only pure sediment method, eg no water column dosing or labor involved. Trade off is no water, but if you do not care much about fish etc, hate water changes etc, it's ideal.

    You can also do pot test.

    Try this Bill and see what you think:

    Take some of that old 3 years sediment, then make some new fresh sediment, then take a couple of stems, Crypts etc, and compare the differences in the pots and semi sealed terrarium. simple, no real work once you pot the plants etc, it's warming up so you can grow things outside now, so added extra LIGHT etc.

    Then run say 4-5 pots of each type and see.

    Easy.

    Answers the relevant question and have independence of light/CO2/water column, only the sediment nutrients are at work there.

    Then you can easily measure differences.

    I did a simple flask rest to this extent, then followed by weights and tissue % for N and P. 100 Grams of sediment, 200mls of water, and then placed in a glass box.

    Wait, then measure after say 8 weeks.
    You can compare the leaf count, or the total estimated biomass, or dry it at 70C in the over carefully and weigh later.

    CEC only affects where the plants can get at the nutrients at the exchange sites, not the internal space inside each grain. The tank I used had a lot of light/CO2, fast growing biomass, different species so that can influence things.

    At lower light, good fish load, Crypts etc, I'd expect longer usable life span.........this is not to say that the even at 16 months, the Hc will not grow vs the other it will...........it still grows, but there's a noted difference vs the new sediment.

    You need a reference to compare the old sediment with, not the fact that it still grows plants. Also, you might just want good growth initial, then slow it down later on.......once things fill in.

    Non CO2, reduced light etc.........all good methods to reduce rates of growth, but nutrients can be used as well.

    Light/CO2/nutrients can all be used to increase growth rates or reduce them.........
    Depends on that goal of the horticulturalist.

    Most want more growth rate, but these plants are weeds as I often say.
    I like using less light personally.

    It's the cheapest method and cost me the least.

    Give the pot or flask test a go, you will fine it fairly useful, really easy etc.
    You can also run a DI water/plain sand, and rich Hoalgland's solution for the flask or a very rich sediment with a plastic cap, foam tight fitting plug to prevent leaching and enrich the sediment with Osmocoat or KNO3/General fert etc for N and P.

    Then the sediments will fall somewhere in between these two points.

    Now you can get somewhere and answer the questions with a test and the data you get.

    You can take this a step farther also, send the sediment off for nutrient analysis for N(NO3/NH4), P(extractable), Fe, etc. Or the tissue of the plants and see if the critical concentrations have been met for N and P.

    These are typical methods used to answer such questions in research and see what might be going on in sediment.

    Ironically, many assume I'm a water column only guy, but I am into every facet, I am an Agriculture Scientist. That certainly includes test on the soil, if these folks know so much, and I'm just some hack, where are their solutions and test methods to answer the questions?

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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