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Are they pulling our leg?

Discussion in 'Advanced Strategies and Fertilization' started by freemann, Nov 22, 2005.

  1. freemann

    freemann Junior Poster

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    First of all looking at the healthy super aquascaped tanks around the world I would like to say that I don't see only nicely aquascaped tanks but I tend to separate the tanks this days into 2 categories the "fern" tanks as I call them compromised of crypts, ferns, echinodorus some grasses, and some mosses. And the difficult plants tanks, with "difficult" to grow plants. The second type of tank was always the real challenge and the wonder for me. Now this days being able to grow most of them myself I really wonder do lots of guys that have this tanks lie to us? I know Tom has wondered and concluded in the past that some of this plants just won't grow with this near 0 pm NO3, PO4 and the rest tanks. Still this kind of data has been pretty confusing and have let to lots of failures for lots of hobbyists trying to imitate this conditions. The only factor that could be involved with this low column conditions and still growing difficult plants can only be rich substrate but this won't last long and usually brings other troubles with it initially and after 2 years or so substrate depletes and you will still have to revert to the column way. So do they lie to us or they do magic?
    Freemann :)
     
  2. Vladimir Zhurov

    Vladimir Zhurov Lifetime Members
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    Re: Are they pulling our leg?

    Freemann,

    I would guess that most hard-to-grow-but-relatively-fast-growing stem plant based tanks are photographed within 6-12 months after setup or earlier. After aquascape is mature and photographed - aquascaper will likely setup a different scape with fresh rich substrate. So substrate depletion will not be an issue.

    Regards.

    Vladimir.
     
  3. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Are they pulling our leg?

    Agreed, most ADA tanks are not 5 years old.
    Most tanks that are not maintained well, will go to pot fast.
    For photo's, folks generally do a lot of work and get things just right.

    Substrate ferts, hey, soil tanks work well for the first few months also, do work.
    Having nutrients in both places is a wise idea IMO.

    But doing that successfully and being able to uproot and move things around a lot is an issue.

    NH4 is the problem for me.
    ADA's PS and plain old garden soil have a fair amount.

    We can add osmocoat time release fertilizer to the substrate, not an issue.
    Many have used Jobes.

    I typically do a fair amount of ferns in my larger scapes and more stems in the smaller tanks.

    For a large tank(350 gal), I use a mix of both, I use Blyxa, Lobelia and Elatine, L cuba, Myrio's, Hygro's, L aromatica, Lace plants, many grasses as well as ferns/mosses.

    The tank looks like new and it's been up for over a year now.
    The sub is 100% flourite.
    Water column and high fish load.

    But I do not enter contest.

    Many aquarist are moving from fast growing stem plants to lower light fern type tanks that offer less work and more long term viewing pleasure.

    I ask Buon at the open house what he was after and he said that pretty much and this is what I did with what we had laying around.

    http://www.pbase.com/ebn/image/52553704

    This tank will need some vacuuming along the front and moss trimming there, but the ferns are easy to thin out and you get alot more $$ for them and there is less issue if anything goes sour/poor CO2 etc.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  4. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    Re: Are they pulling our leg?

    I have to say that some soil tanks last a lot longer than a few months. I have two that are well into their second year and are still going strong. The pruning is getting to be a pain, though, and the quarterly dosing of NO3 and PO4 isn't any fun either.

    Bill
     
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Are they pulling our leg?

    It'll depend on how rich the soil is, how much soil is added, and what rate of removal and export occurs as well as fish load and other nutrients added to the water column. This varies a great deal.

    Plant species also are variable when you limit the nutrients, many do not fair well, while many will.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  6. geministudios54

    geministudios54 Junior Poster

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    Re: Are they pulling our leg?

    The tank looks like new and it's been up for over a year now.
    The sub is 100% flourite.



    ...Hi Tom. Flourite vs Aqua Soil and PS, notwithstanding the vast price difference. Would there be any advantages to either substrate for a 140gal. set-up....How often in general would substrate have to be replenished...

    .....Thanx,,,,Jeff.....
     
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Are they pulling our leg?

    ADA stuff is generally easier for some plants and some folks. I have no trouble using either product.

    Since folks seem to have such a tough time in the start up, the ADA soils do better for most.

    I'm very conservative when approaching a so call miracle substrate, I've been around a long time and have seen folks jump on the bandwagon way too much.

    But even with that being said, the ADA substrates are good, nothing new there.
    Some claim they have never been able to grow certain plants and now they can.

    So in that sense, it's good, I like the look of it, but jesus.....it's light weight, it's like mulm.

    I do not enjoy planting with it at all.
    Like soil, you plant and then leave it alone and wait.
    Lots of uprooting in the start up months, very bad idea.

    But it does grow plants very well, better than flourite in general and macro nutrients to the water column. But there's the trade off with planting weight, cost.

    I'm seeing if the ADa soils do well with lots of macro's added to the water column.

    So far they do a little beter with nutrients added to the water column.
    So the combination effect(ferts to both places) is likely the best method.

    I suggested this many years ago.
    But folks scoffed at the water column ideas I had....but today many have found the water column gives then a lot of control that substrates never could.

    Substrate ferts do produce a good grow in phase for tanks, there is little doubt there, but so do water column ferts when properly used.

    The real issues is that substrate ferts are easy to use for most folks and the water column still supplies some nutrients also.
    Folks crank the CO2 and wait for the plants to grow in.

    It's a decent system.

    I've encouraged folks to try and take another look at soil since many see an ADA tank and automatically assume that scape is easy if you use all ADA products.

    Still, ADA's soils are not that pricey compared to other items ADA sells.
    I'm still looking for a cheap alternative to the ADA soil and powersands.
    Powersand is not much, some osomocoat like balls, lots of peat, tannins, some bacterial dry cultures, and basic grey pumic.

    The ADA soils are clay, unfired/uncooked, not hardened like the Flourite, Soil master products.

    I use grow some very nice hair grass in very lean water with kitty litter, it bugged folks.

    But I prefer a mix of both if the cost was less I'd suggest it more and if the material weighed more, I really suggest it to folks.

    I give it a 9 out 10 still.

    But every soil/macro nutrient source has a limited time frame before it needs renewed, I think for many of us, we are lazy, forgetful types, this makes a good back up for us!

    But the issue that really bugs me about the proponents of substrate ferts, they imply that lean water columns are good for fish/plants etc and reduce algae.

    This is simply a big fat lie and they have not tested these ideas.
    I know they have not, because I have tested these parameters many times.

    Fish watse can definitely help as can a good build up of decayed plant material etc as time passes.

    We might not remember to add ferts, but most feed their fish.

    Still, many of the tanks do have that way too clean I just set it up look.
    But if you keep up on them, they can look that way.

    There are many folks out there that will work a tank hard and long.
    Don't underestimate them! Many have only been in the hobby a year or two.



    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  8. Laith

    Laith Lifetime Charter Member
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    Re: Are they pulling our leg?

    So if one has a Flourite substrate how would one go about adding nutrients to it in a way that does not cause issues everytime you move a plant or vacuum?

    Flourish tabs?
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Are they pulling our leg?

    It's adding macro nutrients that presents the issue.

    The probvlem with ADA, soil etc are ALL the same, they add too much NH4 to add and remove and uproot often.

    If they made osmocoat with no NH3, all just NO3, then we could do something.

    Hey, jobes sticks do work..........but they are the last thing I want to place under a sword, but if you want to place them under certain plants and not uproot for a few months, they do work.

    That's nothing new.
    If you vacuum and do a large water after you uproot one or uproot a substrate rich tank, then you can do very well.
    Again, nothing new.

    Folks tend to over focus on one method or the other(water column, substrate, EI, PPS, non CO2 etc).

    The reality is folks use some of each.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  10. Laith

    Laith Lifetime Charter Member
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    Re: Are they pulling our leg?

    Flourish Tabs have N, PO4, K etc so it does have macros. What I like about the Tabs is that they don't fall apart and dissolve so less dumping into the water column if plants are moved around...
     
  11. freemann

    freemann Junior Poster

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    Re: Are they pulling our leg?

    I have used soil (from deciduous local forests - thick and rich and nice smelling) mixed with 1-2 handfuls of laterite (3-4 cm on bottom with 4 cm gravel on top) for at least 50 aquariums mine and of friends here for the last 25 years. Most had MH, (lots of light) and some even had slow flow of CO2, in none of this tanks but one I have used column ferts (there 1 ppm NO3 and the rest following, I used to add the ferts in the dosing pump once evry 2 months and forget about it. It is in the gallery the 138 lt), I would just dump the soil after removing big things from it, and waited, initially there would be lots of algae but in about 3 months it would go for good never to come back again (very “clean water”) and this tanks would start to grow incredible plants, and last for 2, 3 years even with no problem. Well never took photos of this tanks but I tell you plants would run wild on them (I had not stellatas and the weirdos then).
    This last big tank of mine (in the gallery) I decided to do it according to Tom advice (peat with mulm and fluorite on top) one mistake I prolly made initially, was to wash fluorite to well this removed all the powder iron from it. But still I find this 200 euro substrate completely useless, I really have the feeling it carries no nutrients it is just another "dead" gravel (by the way it’s CEC is not that high aswell), my idea was to avoid dismantling the tank every 2 years (I hate getting tanks started up). But I really think I would have had a much better start if I had added soil under instead of peat specially now that I discovered the trick of letting the soil rot in a bucket and do WC for a month or so before using it, this really makes the initial algae much less of a problem (the uprooting I find also not to be a problem cause the soil would be deep enough), I was thinking also that some activated carbon initially would help as well. Also I think there was something always wrong this days that I think back with iron in this tanks specially after the first year, I think it is the first that goes missing (yes I know I have involved an iron lack obsession this days well not my fault) but thinking back I see that some of the problems I used to see on some of this tank were iron deficiency first and maybe they could be avoided by addition of it.
    I think that no rich substrate could mean a less buffered system and we are all forgetful sometimes aren’t we? Also this way someone could avoid starting up with that much ferts in the column initially and thus avoid some algae explosions. So maybe a combination of rich substrate with ferts in the water column could be a good alternative running the column a bit on the lean side maybe 10 pm NO3 and the rest following? (I kind of have the feeling also that 25 ppm NO3 and the rest following on the column keep the tank a bit hot for some algae specially diatoms, bba at least for me or maybe it is the fact that I never cleaned the substrate for 2 years now (but I don’t want to clean it never did before). Could that be true?
     
  12. Cornhusker

    Cornhusker Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Are they pulling our leg?

    those red pencil's are AWSOME! good looking tank. regards,cornhusker :) :)
     
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