A Nagging Question Reguarding Soil

aquabillpers

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VaughnH;31598 said:
How is having not enough plants to make use of the nutrients differ from dosing to excess per EI with a tank full of plants? Don't both involve having more nutrients in the tank than the plants are using? I know you have been convinced that you are correct for some time now, but I am still having trouble understanding the logic.

I thought this was settled too. I thought that it was generally agreed that "excess nutrients do not cause algae" applied only to environments in which there were a lot of plants. There are numerous environments in nature where bodies of water that have few plants but get agricultural runoff, turn green from suspended algae when there is sufficient sunlight.

Now, I will hedge a bit and allow that (probably) one of those nutrients has to be ammonia, but I am not sure of that.

A few years ago I accidentally spilled about 1/4 bottle of Flourish into a planted 20 gallon tank. The formerly clear water turned to a very nice green color and stayed that way for about 3 days, when it cleared by itself. I assume that the plants were very happy for a while.

Why don't aquariums overdosed with nutrients via EI develop algae? I don't know. Maybe the amount of excess nutrients has to reach a critical mass before the algae can get a foothold, and the EI approach, with water changes, doesn't let it get to that point. I wonder what would happen, algae-wise, if the dosing continued without water changes?

I do note that some of the posts here and at other places by people who use EI are about algae problems.

Vaughn, what can I do to convince you that in some cases excess nutrients do cause algae? With what in this post do you disagree?

Bill
 

VaughnH

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aquabillpers;31600 said:
Vaughn, what can I do to convince you that in some cases excess nutrients do cause algae? With what in this post do you disagree?

Bill

That is a good question. I'm not sure what my answer is, but I do know that my first introduction to EI was back when Tom described it on APD, and I was impressed by his finding that he could increase the concentration of nitrates and phosphates to 3-4 times his recommended concentration without causing algae. That is what convinced me I wanted to use that method. Mistakes in dosing wouldn't cause my tank to become a green and black algaescape.

I know natural bodies of water do get algae and that is most often blamed on phosphate runoff from farm fertilizing and cattle waste. But, my impression is that the real reason for the algae is the influx of ammonia.

I have accidentally overdosed phosphate by thinking I was dosing nitrates, and nothing bad happened. I have also used rich EI dosing without really heavy plant mass, and I didn't get massive algae infestations, just my normal nuisance growths. I have also reduced my dosing to half and less of EI and nothing good or bad happened. So, one thing I am sure of is that overdosing or underdosing will neither cause an algae outbreak 100% of the time, just based on what I have seen. Whether either will cause algae some times is something I can't say, just based on my experience.
 

VaughnH

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JDowns;31594 said:
I'm trying a different brand this time. I purchased ZeoBest instead. Was a longer drive but I like the color better. More of a dirt tan. It also appears to be heavier and stickier.

I used a five gallon bucket, drill half inch holes around the base an inch apart. Use a paint strainer net, fill half way, and rinse. Was very quick to rinse this way. Good advice from the pool supply guy.

Took my less than a half hour to fully rinse 75lbs.

I found a source of ZeoBest very close to me! The photo of it on the web page does look a lot better than the sickly green of Zeosand. And, it seems to have a better CEC than Zeosand, but I suspect that is just a difference in test methods. I plan to use the ZeoBest when I reset up my tank very soon. Thanks for the tip!
 

JDowns

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I think I'll start a photo journal once the tank gets started. Could be of interest to follow it progressionally.

I made 3:1 ratio Zeosand:Wormcasting.

Boiled the wormcastings and removed the initial massive foam and small floating debris. I boiled for a half hour periodically stirring and removing any foam. Eventually the foaming stopped, this is the guide I used previously to stop the boiling. Then used two 30 gallon tubs filled half way with the rinsed Zeosand, and added half of the boiled castings to each tub. I added enough water to keep the mixture runny. Then used a mechanical mixer to stir the mix to an even consitancy. I let that sit for a few hours and drained the top water off.

Tomorrow I'll lay it out on a tarp in the sun to dry. Then remix with the additional clay, and let it sun dry again. I don't plan on using dolomite or potash, since I reconstitute RO with GH Booster, and the castings already have a source of calcium and magnesium. And there is no need to go over K in the soil anymore.

According to my "F" in math I should have enough for a four inch layer. Which is more than enough since I have a massive piece of driftwood that takes up alot of the footprint. That and I'll mix the new soil with about an 1" worth of old soil for the bacteria.
 

VaughnH

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What grade did you get in Alchemistry, to go along with the math grade?:)

Do you ever look in a mirror, expecting to see long white hair sticking straight up all over your head?

I'm beginning to understand why Alchemistry used to be so popular back in the dark ages.
 

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JDowns;31603 said:
I think I'll start a photo journal once the tank gets started. Could be of interest to follow it progressionally.

I made 3:1 ratio Zeosand:Wormcasting.

This will be interesting to me to see how this goes. I've never used this combo.
You can also mix the WC with 3:1 sand and then cap that layer with another 2" of pure Zeosand. This makes a bit less mess if you are chronic plant mover.

Boiled the wormcastings and removed the initial massive foam and small floating debris. I boiled for a half hour periodically stirring and removing any foam. Eventually the foaming stopped, this is the guide I used previously to stop the boiling. Then used two 30 gallon tubs filled half way with the rinsed Zeosand, and added half of the boiled castings to each tub. I added enough water to keep the mixture runny. Then used a mechanical mixer to stir the mix to an even consitancy. I let that sit for a few hours and drained the top water off.

Tomorrow I'll lay it out on a tarp in the sun to dry. Then remix with the additional clay, and let it sun dry again. I don't plan on using dolomite or potash, since I reconstitute RO with GH Booster, and the castings already have a source of calcium and magnesium. And there is no need to go over K in the soil anymore.

According to my "F" in math I should have enough for a four inch layer. Which is more than enough since I have a massive piece of driftwood that takes up alot of the footprint. That and I'll mix the new soil with about an 1" worth of old soil for the bacteria.

The K2SO4 can be "folded" into the clay manually and it'll stay put relatively well, but roots just do not take up K+ from sediments in any study I've seen. Ask any Aquatic Botany person and they will all say the water column virtally without exception. It might diffuse out slowly, but this lacks any control.

Also, consider adding maybe 5 grams/table spoon of Osmocoat per sq ft or a tad more on the very bottom. This has some NH4, but leaches slowly, it'll be a bit like an ADA sediment due to this but not nearly as much NH4. and it will settle down later. Add the ground peat on the bottom also, say a good fist full per sqft. And the Mulm(live batria).

If you get good root establishment fast, the zeosand should really do wonderful and keep the tank very stable like a gaint filter.

Kitty litty is also highly recommended for a cheap DIY ADA type of sediment.
This can be amended with macros and organics also and will absorb a fair amount.
Like soils, it can be a bit messy, but works very well.

These are not new things, ideas, concepts, they have been done in the past.
And you can use this info to help a new sediment mix you might toy with.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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aquabillpers;31600 said:
Why don't aquariums overdosed with nutrients via EI develop algae? I don't know. Maybe the amount of excess nutrients has to reach a critical mass before the algae can get a foothold, and the EI approach, with water changes, doesn't let it get to that point. I wonder what would happen, algae-wise, if the dosing continued without water changes?

I do note that some of the posts here and at other places by people who use EI are about algae problems.

Vaughn, what can I do to convince you that in some cases excess nutrients do cause algae? With what in this post do you disagree?

Bill

I'll take Bill's side and play devil's advocate for a bit here.
Some examples gleened from the research are some Danish lake studies and Florida lake studies(Both shallow with and without plants).

In each case, it is where there is a relatively low % of sediment coverage where algae dominated. So, if you have about 20-30% of the lake's area infested with aquatic weeds, then it typically will have low algae if the system is stable(no hurricanes, draining, sewer inputs etc).

Here are two good comparative papers:
In Florida:
http://fishweb.ifas.ufl.edu/Faculty Pubs/CanfieldPubs/macrophyte.pdf

And in Demark:

SpringerLink - Journal Article

Note where they suggest top down control is more imprtant EXCEPT where submersed macrophytes are present.

So it is the plants that define the systems, where present, not the nutrients.
This is the focus many aquarist try to tell many new folks or those having issues, focus on the plants, not the algae. Do not orry about the nutrients being "too high".

With non CO2, things take longer, but like any planted tank, a stable tank and good adaptation will account for successes.

I think we also need to be specific, which nutrients? We cannot say "all nutrients" or just nutrients in general. That does not tell us much or what we need to know.

As far as no water changes and EI, you start to get salt stress in plants and dead fish/shrimp. Same for Hydroponic solutions that keep evaporating too much without water addition and replentisment/change out.

As far as EI and algae, there is no single dosing method that avoids algae, there will always be folks that get algae using each and every method.
This is due to factors other than nutrients cause algae, this is the old tunnel vision with nutrient issue.

Lookat good meaure for light, look at good measure for CO2, or provide good stable CO2 conditions and the time to adapt.

CO2 wrecks havoc in every dosing method.
I'd say to the point it causes more algae, more fish death etc than anything else.
So why the fixation with nutients and not CO2? What drives CO2 demand in plants? Light, so why add more light and assume it is better?

These are not new concepts and new information. Yet folks wander off time and time again. I've been a nag about this well over a decade ago and still today.

This has not changed.
More evidence for it has however.

As long as there are enough nutrients for a given rate of growth for plants, things should be fine with any dosing method. Changing light and/or CO2 changes that and folks need to adjust the CO2 and nutrients to account for it.

Most do not.
Then have issues, mild medium or serious depending on how far off they are

Non CO2 methods are nice since they start with low light, easy dosing, no CO2 issues and hopefully lots of plants and few floating leaves, algae eaters etc.

So that takes out about 80% of the issues many have staring out with. But the rates of growth are slower, some like it, some love the CO2 gas and pearling like mad and seeing the plant growth day to day.

So there are some trade offs.

Still, algae issues will hapen in every method because of human assumptions ans failures, not the method itself, each can and should work well, you might not like the trade offs, (WC's, Testing, lower light, more CO2 etc etc), but you reall shoukd work with the assumption that they can and do work.

Once you prove that to yourself, then you get a better idea about algae, nutrients and how they interelate. Clearly each method works within some parameters.......just accept that it it does, just not for you.........at least for now...because you keep failing at it. Hopefully you learn from those failures.......that's how we learn, we make mistakes and try different things.

So that is part of the process, not evidence that a method does not work.
We already know and acept the assmption that it does faced with many observations.

I've never stated PPS does not work nor sediment based ferts.
I have stated trade offs, and why they work, and also that the underlying notion that excss nutrients in the water column are not a risk as proponents of either/both methods have both claimed.

I base my argument on logic, basic common sense, evidence and observation. Not belief, poor testing methods and poor assumption. Neither PPS or sediment folks have meaured the light or CO2 critically.

We use only sediment ferts at the lab and measure light, depth, O2, pH, EC etc, they get nasty algae rather fast in every case even with flow through continuous water exchange. But the light is pretty high also, but not that high compared to planted tanks, we shoot for about 200 micromol.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

VaughnH

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Tom, you said "The K2SO4 can be "folded" into the clay manually and it'll stay put relatively well, but roots just do not take up K+ from sediments in any study I've seen. Ask any Aquatic Botany person and they will all say the water column virtally without exception. It might diffuse out slowly, but this lacks any control." I may have read this before, but I don't remember it. Is this why ADA "Brighty green" is used with Aquasoil? And, does this make the idea of adding muriate of potash under a mineralized topsoil substrate a meaningless addition?
 

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I assume so as to why ADA adds K+. They sort of treat K+ like a trace element adding just a little each day, why they do not do this with Ca and Mg in unknown to me, I tend to consider them the same type of nutrients in most respects, and dosing GH booster which is a mix of the 3 seems to suggets it also.

I do not see any evidence of any type suggesting excess K+ causes any issues. But why add K2SO4 to sediments? I really do not know why some have taken that path, will not hurt though.

But neither will adding it to the water column and it's hardly "labor", takes 10 sec or so when you feed fish.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

tedr108

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Now I have an in-the-back-of-my-mind, nagging question...

I didn't do anything fancy with my substrate in my 20G non-CO2 -- it is simply Seachem Black Flourite. I can't imagine I'm getting much in the way of nutrients from that stuff -- it seems more like shards of glass or marbles than anything else (the regular flourite seems more likely to have nutrients). I dose the macros and micros in very small quantities, using Tom's general guidelines for non-CO2s. I have zero algae, do zero water changes -- I really couldn't ask for more in a low-maintenance, healthy tank. So, why should we bother with trying to get nutrients into the substrate? Perhaps it gives you more margin for error in fertilizing -- also, I imagine you might have a bigger selection of plants to work with, as a number plants have not done well for me in the non-CO2. At this point, I'm basically stuck with: corkscrew vals, anubias, java ferns, willow moss (similar to Xmas moss), anacharis, and some floating plants. But, I'm perfectly happy with that. At this point in my life, low-maintenance is my highest priority, so I'm willing to make sacrifices.
 

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I'll stay away from adding Potash and Dolomite. Since I can't grasp that it is actually needed.

Osmocote Plus has both Macro's and Micro's with some chelated / non chelated Fe. So that would be an interesting addition.

I boiled the last of the castings. Which should push me close to 2.5:1 castings:zeosand.
Going to try both Japanese Hairgrass and Glosso for foreground type plants.

Not sure which stems I'll be keeping just yet. I do know the C. Furcata, P. Stellatus Broad, and probably R. 'Green Narrow".

I'll probably start this next weekend. Should give my last trimming enough time to grow out to give me some nice healthy stems to start with.
 

JDowns

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For lighting I think I'll go either two ways.

160w for 8 hours with a noon burst of some type. I can run two different banks of 2 bulbs to get different spreads. Then overlap the two banks timewise to get a burst.

240w 8hrs no burst. This is my current wattage/hours. Which seems to do just fine. Although it is a little faster for growth rates than I wish.

I plan on twice a week 50% wc for the first month. Then back to weekly 50% wc's.

Standard EI for 150g tank. I may adjust this for the first month to accomadate the double wc's?

Most of the wood that is in the tank if not all of it will remain. This will also help on initial bacteria colonization.
 

JDowns

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VaughnH;31616 said:
What grade did you get in Alchemistry, to go along with the math grade?:)

Do you ever look in a mirror, expecting to see long white hair sticking straight up all over your head?

I'm beginning to understand why Alchemistry used to be so popular back in the dark ages.

I blame my math failure back then due to Nikki. My attention span was quite bleak. :p

Actually I look in the mirror now and wonder how hair can grow in your ears so fast. :eek:
 

JDowns

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VaughnH;31602 said:
I found a source of ZeoBest very close to me! The photo of it on the web page does look a lot better than the sickly green of Zeosand. And, it seems to have a better CEC than Zeosand, but I suspect that is just a difference in test methods. I plan to use the ZeoBest when I reset up my tank very soon. Thanks for the tip!


I would recommend this over the ZeoSand brand. It is much nicer to plant in, and definatley heavier, but still light that any moderate to heavy flow will push it around. I planted this morning/afternoon/evening :p, nothing has come up yet, not even Blyxa.

I'll start the journal tomorrow. I definatly didn't rinse quite enough though. Its still a little cloudy.
 

VaughnH

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I struck out on ZeoBest. Their distributer is located very near me, but apparently no dealer in this area sells the stuff. I finally gave up and just used regular pool filter sand.