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CO2 ppms, is 30ppm good?

Discussion in 'CO2 Enrichment' started by Tom Barr, Apr 23, 2007.

  1. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
    Staff Member Administrator

    Jan 23, 2005
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    Some folks have brought back to old topic we discussed many times going back to 1990's as "something new".

    When we limited PO4 then(except for myself), the demand for growth was considerably lower, that makes sense. Thus the demand for CO2 was much less.
    That makes logical sense. If the plant does not have enough PO4, the amount of CO2 will not matter. PO4 limitation is not that bad either.

    The reasoning for it on the otherhand was (induces algae was the claim). But limiting a nutrient/s can reduce the CO2 demand by plants. Given that CO2 causes many algae related issues, it is no surprise that so many folks blame poor plant health and algae on nutrients and routines,m rather than isolating and effectively measuring CO2 over the course of the entire day cycle.

    Nutrients are not ephemeral, CO2 most certainly is.

    How can one aquarist add high nutrients and have good success at high CO2 and such, while another tries and has algae and plant health issues, yet when tries a leaner routine, suddenly has success?

    Why might one case be algae/problematic yet another doing a similar routine have no such issues?

    Light and CO2.

    If you are not supplying good CO2, or perhaps you have much more light than you might think.the other guy etc......then limiting a nutrient will cause reduced CO2 demand and less nutrient uptake.

    Your tank will "right" itself.

    Now what might occur when you take the other tank with ample CO2/high light etc, and no algae/plant health issues and apply lower limiting levels?

    Algae and poor health for the plants.

    This model explains in logical simple sense why both methods appear to work if you are not critical and do not confirm and recheck things.

    Many aquarist do not, they solved their iassue, then run and tell everyone how they did it, and do not double check their data from the past and try and induce the resposes they see on purpose to check their hypothesis.

    So they believe, honestly, that the results suggest that say EI is great and that those other folks have issues. Likewise the leaner routines that some feel strongly about are better since "it worked for them".

    Neither group really took the approach as to why we might see a supposedly conflicting result in one method and that of another with respect to plant health and algae.

    The above accurately explains both, I tested this model a long time ago in the 1990's. I revisited it again recently for another client in Reno NV.

    Ironically, the client had both types of tanks and a simple test showed it.
    The client focused on CO2 for one tank instead of limiting and then other tank had more nutrients added.

    Now both tanks are running well and the client has reduced the lighting.

    When PMDD came out in the mid 1990's, I came along and found it did not do so well and was hard to keep that low level of NO3 in my tank for some reason.

    I'd eyeballed the CO2 and had PO4 also. My CO2 turned out to be about 20-30ppm and of course, I had high light as well(also had other tanks with low light, they did better most of the time till I started adding more CO2 to the higher light tanks).

    I reasoned that by removing the PO4 limitation, I'd also need to add more CO2 and K+, traces and KNO3.

    That is just plain common sense to scale things up.
    If you have 0.1ppm of PO4, 3ppm of NO3, and note, that's only one point in time throughout an entire day etc, then the CO2 is fine if you have 15ppm(also assuming an accurate measurement there).

    Now history repeats itself.
    And the folks repeating it appear unable to learn from the past and make the same assumptions and mistakes.

    Folks in SFBAAPS noted leaner routines than say EI worked and they used less light to do that. But what advantage?

    Less slower growth.

    But lower light is the best solution for reducing CO2 demand, go low enough and you no longer need CO2 at all.

    Some have used Excel in lower light tanks and bypassed the CO23 altogether and still have some decent growth rates. Some are more patient and use non CO2 methods.

    I think some argue that high levels of CO2 are bad for fish(30ppm etc), if so, then no CO2 should be added, as 15ppm is still bad under most definitions.

    It's(adding CO2 gas) not required to grow plants at all.

    Nor is high light.

    As we add more light, we now need CO2, and then we need more inorganic ferts etc.

    This is a very logical thing but some folks appear to confuse this relationship and claim "miracles of plant growth and health" without adding "anything" and that less is better, why the heck does that not apply fully to no added CO2 and less light then?

    That's where growth starts, not with PO4 or Fe etc.

    If you have not set things up right and are not testing well/calibrating etc, well, you might just happen upon a method, gert lucky and stick with it.

    Then argue those high EI levels are not needed.
    Sure, not for you and not when are limiting PO4 and have a reduced CO2 demand, even though you are not aware of it.:cool:

    Likewise, those that argue that high nutrients are needed for for lower light tanks are also wrong. They are not. Nor are they for non CO2 tanks, but they also do not hurt either. Those that argue they cannot add limiting lean levels to their tanks without algae are also right, but.............they can if they limit specific nutrients and thereby reduce their CO2 demand and NO3 demand etc.

    Methods are very similar, the dynamics define them in pretty straight forward and logical ways however.

    Tom Barr
  2. laka

    laka Prolific Poster

    Jan 21, 2007
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    So Tom
    If one uses EI method and dosages on a low light ,low CO2 tank then the inference is that there will not be an algae outbreak. Is that correct? ie. excess nutrients, as in this scenario depicted are not the cause of algae problems as long as the fert. levels stay within EI limits in conjunction with 50% weekly water changes.
  3. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
    Staff Member Administrator

    Jan 23, 2005
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    Ask yourself "why might it cause algae" to begin with.
    Why would a low light tank, with plenty of CO2, nutrients etc would get algae?

    Now reverse this question, look at the other side.

    "Why might a high light tanks be less stable in terms of CO2 and nutrients and have a higher potential for algae?"

    More light= more demand for CO2, then that causes more demand for NO3/NH4, then that causes more demand for PO4 and so on down the line.

    Plants are able to adapt to low, med or high nutrient levels and optimize their metabolism quite well.

    As long as those low/med/high levels are stable and you have good CO2/moderate to low light etc.

    A large part of nutrient related issues stem from those nutrients not being stable over time. Plants will adapt and settle in to many different concentrations.

    The other issue is a question of utility, is it for faster growth(that's why we add CO2, to fertilize plants, not to control pH as Dupla once claimed........) and some want to suggest that it's just for aesthetics.

    Tom Barr
  4. defdac

    defdac Lifetime Members
    Lifetime Member

    Aug 25, 2006
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    How many mmols/m2 is "less light", and how much is "normal light"?
  5. laka

    laka Prolific Poster

    Jan 21, 2007
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    So light is the engine that drives CO2 demand followed by fert. demand. Deficiency of one or another equals algae.
    DFac wants to know what measurment is high and med and low light.
    I would like to know where did this 30ppm CO2 optimal level come from? It seems that it is taken as gospel this is the ideal to strive for. Assuming ferts are in excess as is the case with EI dosing ,and light is a "high" intensity light >3wpg, then how will plant growth be affected say at 10 vs 20 vs30ppm CO2?
    Does it follow an exponential curve? Is there a level of CO2 that once reached will not show a measurable increase in plant growth rate?
  6. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Jan 24, 2005
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    If you go a lot higher than 30 ppm the fish really suffer from it, in my opinion. I suspect that 40 ppm is still acceptable to the fish, but I'm quite sure that 50-60 ppm is too much. All of this based on my own observations. Given that a drop checker is only accurate to 25-40 ppm when it says you have 30 ppm, it doesn't really pay to try for much above 30 ppm.
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
    Staff Member Administrator

    Jan 23, 2005
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    Average light would be about 150-200, higher light, 300 or more, lower light 50-100.

    The Behemoth has 850 and is why he will keep having issues until he puts the screen to block the light. You can give folks advice, do the scape, but they are ultimately responsible. Even at the farthest reaches 4ft deep, 225!

    My highest light on my personal tanks has been about 450-500.

    Most aquatics max out at 600, full sun is 2000 or so.

    Tom Barr
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
    Staff Member Administrator

    Jan 23, 2005
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    It came from myself, several others, many had reported increased growth beyond 10-15ppm which was fine....if you had 1.5 w/gal of NO FL's T12 bulbs at the time.
    And/Or if you limited PO4 seriously as to limit CO2 demand.

    It also comes from a seminal paper from Bowes that did the research that showed the max photosynthesis for 3 fast growing(therefore higher CO2 demand) submersed weeds saturated at around 30-40ppm of CO2.

    the paper is here:

    Comparison of the Photosynthetic Characteristics of Three Submersed Aquatic Plants 1

    You'll note that the max O2 levels off at about 55-60mM of CO2. That's about 25-30ppm of CO2.

    You'll also note that most of the plants also level off at about 600 micro moles of light. Adding more light will not produce more growth.

    Also note the light graph from sun up ton the first hour.
    Most submersed plants are not subjected to a short noon day burst of light for a 3-4 hours etc as Amano claims. They are exposed for longer time frames and are present in open fields, not dense jungle, some plants do grow in streams with some cover on the banks, but the is ample sunlight for most of the day cycle.

    I've gone to locations where plants grow, I've studied and done research in there sites, there are no plants in the denser regions and darker spots, they grow where there is light.

    This paper is so good and quite excellent, Van, Haller and Bowes are all very very highly respected researchers that all specialize in aquatic plants. I know Haller and Bowes personally, they taught several classes I took. Bowes ripped me over the allelopathy argument Walstad claimed, and rightly so.

    I will not make such mistakes again:)

    Tom Barr
  9. sherry

    sherry Guru Class Expert

    Feb 23, 2006
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    how do I translate this discussion to watts per gallon? or see my other thread. I have followed your advice to all corners save for this one.. I am willing to try. help me understand please.
    20 inch cube. one 96 watt cf
    one fixture 2 40 watts cf (one with 10,000 6700 k bulb one with actinc for color)

    I have at my disposal one 25 watt fixture that fits the tank again cf

    do I turn off the extra 40 watts. or go more radicle and swap the 96 watts out for the 25 and leave the 40?

    is a sudden change going to shock the tank?

    how will my "highlight" plants do?
  10. defdac

    defdac Lifetime Members
    Lifetime Member

    Aug 25, 2006
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    It's not linear at all, so you will have to resort to quite advanced math.

    With my upcoming lightcalculator it's a breeze though, it's currently in beta so be gentle please:
    GTKTest Application

    With a total of 96 watts + 2x40 watts = 176 watts with half decent bulbs and decent reflectors (AH-supply for example) you will get over 500 mmol/m2 PAR and over 300 mmol/m2 PUR. These values depends highly on which bulbs you choose.

    Oliver Knott seems to be doing around 120-150 in most of his high light tanks.

    Most Swedish tanks are having trouble reaching over 50 - so when they (me too until my calculator) read that Barr recommends less light we are already having severe problems having any growth at all, and thus blame the ferts and kills fish with CO2....

    "Less light" to US-people really means "insanly high light" to us...
  11. dazzer1975

    dazzer1975 Prolific Poster

    Apr 22, 2006
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    This is one of the best, simple and straightforward posts regarding co2, lighting and ferts yet.

    There is so much crap about regarding this that maybe people will take a bit more note as to what is actually required to grow plants, and not just grow plants FAST to the detriment of all other living things within our tanks.
  12. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
    Staff Member Administrator

    Jan 23, 2005
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    This is very true.
    ADA, most folks in Europe, pretty much everywhere else except the USA...........

    I get many folks running around trying to finger CO2 or nutrients for their woes when they cannot balance crazy high light.

    More light = more CO2 demand and nutrient demand.
    It is a very very straight forward, logical relationship.

    Yet many piss and moan, argue with me over it and never want to consider that high light is a management issue. Many claim they need it for red color plants.
    That's just not true, as shown in many tanks elsewhere, it does work, a little patience and nice manged growth rates is the trade off.

    Less light also allows more flexibility in anyone's routine.
    One thing that less light allows: you may run your routine lean or rich, sediment or water column or a mix of both methods.

    Using very high light like my 110w PC lights on a 20 gallon tank(450micromol at the water's surface, 10cm distance from source, 35cm deep tank) allowed me to explore the upper ranges and push nutrients/CO2.

    Using that very high light information allows us to see what is critical and why some folks might have issues and what they can do about it if they insist on high light. Many folks do well with lower light and then they increase their light and have many issues with algae etc.

    Note: I use high light, but namely for exploration and test, not management.
    I also do not blame nutrients for my woes, rather light => CO2.

    There is a lot more to CO2 than many believe as well. You can regulate it with nutrients, but that makes much less since in terms of plant growth than doing so with less light.

    You can also regulate CO2 using CO2 mist and better current, reactor dissolving methods, flow patterns etc, good surface movement to prevent excessive build up while also adding some O2.

    Such exploration helps/ed further the hobby by taking such high light data/understandings and then returning to lower light systems and applying such methods.

    This provides a far more robust effective management for the critical issues, basically getting the most out of your lower light tank and allowing a better understanding to change a routine and manipulate things.

    Using high light made it much easier than trying to tease apart and much more subtle system at low light. But I do not suggest folks use high light unless they want to test(very few really do).

    Tom Barr
  13. naman

    naman Prolific Poster

    Nov 12, 2005
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    Funny, but Today (April 25, 2007) I am finishing my article in Russian about this stuff.

    Quote: "Why might a high light tanks be less stable in terms of CO2 and nutrients and have a higher potential for algae?"

    Tom, you are digging in wrong way I think, but pretty close... Really.
    Absolutely agree that slower growing tank is more stable. The question is Why and How to limit plants grows. Look at the Ole Pedersen’s research SIL_poster_2004.pdf . You WILL grasp WHY. Small pictures – big conclusions. And PJAN’s (PJ Magnin) explanations about ligtning peak at APC, and think about why T.Amano limiting growth of plants… and HOW :) If not, I can give a Clue.

    Before you blame me:
    If we can’t see algae in Amano/Barrs/Knott’s etc tanks it doesn’t mean they do not grow. They DO. If not, C. japonica and Otos will dye in a couple of weeks.
    Amano tanks have high light + hight CO2.
    Amano is limiting growth of plants with short PEAK of intense lighting. (as PJAN – Holland plant physiologist, and as mother Nature at last..)
    He keeps Very low PO4 and NO3 and gets very stable tanks comparable to high N + High P tanks. Why?

    For me it IS tricky to explain even in my native language. See what say’s Pedersen’s data in SIL_poster_2004.pdf and PJAN, and reverse his motivation about WHY and HOW you SHOULD LIMIT plant’s growth. You will understand that in high light tanks with lots of CO2 you need more N than very high PO4 dosing as folks do and have problems with stability and algae explosions when suddenly have less CO2.
    You can’t limit growth with low light intensity because this makes them unhealthy.
    You also have to limit plants growth in special way. Plants growth will be less, but certainly still Very Good. And plants will have SIX times growth increase RESERVE in case of PO4 peak or lack of CO2 at ANY time. I guess Pedersen’s data really can help in understanding of PJAN’s approach.

    I have made this CONCLUSIONS:

    (assuming that intensive light is a MUST and the most stable factor in the tank – i.e. “set and forget it”, CO2 is more tricky thing)
    - We are persuading the aim of STABILITY.
    - Good growth is better than Crazy growth, so we have to limit plant growth. (we know - Ñrazy growth is really easy to achieve)
    - When CO2 and light is OK there is no difference whether we have lack of P or N: plants growth will be the same – Good (not Crazy). Later you will see that It means Stability.
    - Limit growth of plants to Good with short peak of INTENSIVE lightning PEAK of 3-5 hours (not by lowering intensity!) as PJAN suggests and Amano do (6-8hrs). Among stability now you can CUT PLANTS less frequent and composition IS much more stable, yeah…
    - This method of limiting growth do not lead to algae problems and pure plants health. Plants need less P and N buffer so easily withstand keeping not Crazy growth, but still Good growth.
    - This way we can keep really low PO4 and NO3 concentrations like Amano does and much more stable almost total absence of algae…
    - In high light tanks and short peak you MUST have more N than P - use PO4:NO3 ratio about 1:20-25, rather than 1:7-15 like EI suggests. This way plants will have SIX times reserve of growth rates when PO4 will suddenly increase (overfeeding, small water changes etc)!!! Seams like plants have mechanism to compete with algae eating up PO4 as soon as they have enough CO2, light AND especially N, starving them to death. Shifting to P will quickly exhaust N and you will have blue-greens or in case of lack of CO2 growth virtually stops and algae thrives.
    - When in high light tank CO2 drops and there is less N but a lot of PO4, plant’s growth in any way drops to SUCH a low level comparable to absence of light and N+P at all(!) in comparison when we have a lot of N and low P !
    - It explains why it is still have sense to limit algae growth by limiting PO4 in high light/short intensive peak tanks by slight shifting P:N ratio to N (1:20-25) and liming light Peak, regardless of whether you have a lot of CO2 or not. This is a crucial point. I mean this recalls an old theses that in a planted tank we must control growth of algae by limiting phosphate availability AND keeping nitrogen [N] available at ANY time, regardless lots of CO2 or not!
    - Substrate with high CEC will buffer excess of N (NH4+ as predecessor of NO3) and give it to plants when they need it. Even more stability.
    - To get a Crazy growth in first month or two just give A LOT of CO2. Plants will do the rest.
    - NO3 is not less factor of stability than high CO2 concentrations. IT IS by presented data. (NH4+ is real algae trigger)… Or I am wrong?

    You will be reworded with much more STABLE ecosystem and COMPOSITIN.
    Is this what we are struggle for?

    Now I see WHY T.Amano have lower plants growth (and PJAN), but very healthy plants, more beautiful and stable tanks than pushing growth to the Limit. The trick is keeping 6X RESERVE of growth increase in case of excess of PO4 and/or lack of CO2.
    You are still talking about limiting light intensity, not lighting peak.
    You are still talking about that we can’t limit ferts (to much PO4 in my humble opinion), but not about ratio P:N.

    Quote: ”If the plant does not have enough PO4, the amount of CO2 will not matter. PO4 limitation is not that bad either.”

    Yes! If we have low CO2 but enough N plants still grow quite Good, like in case of high light+high CO2 and lack P or N - Not totally stops if lots of P in the same case.

    May be I am completely wrong (aware that Riccia Fluitans is not like any other 300 species You tested), but if someone take attention on Ole Pederson’s data once again he could make a lot of interesting conclusions.

    Andersen T, Pedersen O (2004) Higher CO2 concentrations alleviate co-limitation of light, N and P on growth in the aquatic liver wort Riccia fluitans L. XXIX SIL Congress. 8-14 August, Lahti, Finland, see poster SIL_poster_2004.pdf .
    From this figures you can make dozens of conclusions… And every one will be right.
    Making of the Old Chinese Garden by PJAN - post 1
    post 2
    post 3
    post 4
    AQUAGARDEN | Il picco d'illuminazione, di PJ Magnin - traduzione ed adattamento a cura di Andrea Cinetto

    Not as smart as you might think, :)
    Ruslan I. (sorry for my English)
  14. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
    Staff Member Administrator

    Jan 23, 2005
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    "- This way we can keep really low PO4 and NO3 concentrations like Amano does and much more stable almost total absence of algae…"

    But taking EI or excess levels of NO3 and PO4 and applying it to lower light, not crazy light, also produces the same absence of algae as the best ADA tank.

    Taking it a step further, at low light, we also get even improved results.

    It is the light that drives the system, not the low nutrients.

    20-25:1 N:p is deceptive, vs 7:1.

    I've measured plenty of plants, not all plants have the same ratio, and most, and this is common knowledge, I know Ole and Troels both agree here also, I spent 4 days taking them all over California last fall............we did not disagree about anything plant related.

    One thing we did agree on was that hobbyists, not sceintist often confuse things.
    We know the relatedness between plant growth and the variables ands can explain them for various routines.

    While you tout ADA's low levels of N and P, you overlooked a source that is not nearly as lean or low, the sediment.

    You can have nutrients for a given light level anywhere in the system, it does not matter, but you must have them to sustain growth.

    So if you have a plain sand inert substrate, you still have a nice growth, see James winning entry using EI:

    James took my advice directly:
    2003 AGA International Aquascaping Contest

    He had only 8 months in the hobby.
    I have plenty of my own examples as well as do others.

    So can you still grow plants just fine at low light and EI?
    Sure. I've done it very easily with non CO2 set ups as well.

    The point and argument I've had with some of the comments many have made over the years about excess nutrients, and the scientist also agree, is that we are not limiting algae by reducing NO3 or PO4. The Plants define the system, not the nutrients.

    We can have low nutrients in the water column and rich in the sediment.
    We can also have no nutrients in the sediment and a lot in the water column.

    Both are similar in stability as far as algae is concerned.

    Algae are not limited in either case, but you may think so, they are not, a long long way from it actually. Plants leach nutrients, they act like pipes funneling nutrients up and out of the sediments. Sediments also leach nutrients into the water column at low rates, generally at such low levels they are easily feeding algae but beyond your detection limits with test kits, even if you are very careful.

    These relationships are well known to science.
    They also apply to aquariums and observational evidence ansd test I';ve done have shown that for well over a decade.

    You speak of stability yet the same stability applies to EI when you reduce the light levels also.

    Additionally, the same exact methods to induce algae work for both systems, they are independent of the sediment's nutrient concentrations.

    Many find algae more present in new tanks with richer sediments also, this is due to NH4, which is also supported by many test dosing that to the water column.

    CO2 flux also can mimic that in an otherwise stable system, adding more NH4 to the system that is now available for algae gametes and spores to germinate.
    If there is a sudden decrease in CO2, then the plants will down regulate their NH4 uptake as well as other nutrients.

    This can be measured and seen for a host of nutrients.

    Thus if a tank has a production rate of NH4 from fish waste and the plants take up most/all the NH4 and maintain the stability of the tank, suddenly if you mess with the CO2, you can have an algae bloom.

    This explains why based on what is known for plants, algae and NH4 experimental data. All the NO3 and PO4 in the world has not been shown in a planted tank to induce algae.

    We have added 3-5ppm of KH2PO4, no algae.
    I have added 75-150ppm for several days and 3-4 weeks in several studies, no algae. EI has been around and solved many folks algae issues going way back, as well as adding KH2PO4 to the 1-2ppm range.

    Aquarist often lack the control and knowledge to test many such relationships.
    So they think it might be something else..........or they happen upon some method that works for them yet do not understand "why" it works.

    I've long been concerned far more with "why" than scapes, but I like those as well.

    Still, managing growth rates is something I have a very good understanding about, I keep non CO2, low light CO2 , medium light CO2 and high light CO2 tanks and have keep these off and on in various configurations for decades.

    I've also long complained about aquarists using too much light:mad:
    So have other aquarists such as George Booth.

    You really have not said anything that suggest what I've said is wrong. You have overlooked the sediment source however in ADA tanks.

    You can have a wide range of ratios present with less light or a non CO2 tank.
    Since easier management is the goal, why not use non CO2 methods purely?
    After all, plants grow slower and are easier to keep. No water changes needed etc.

    How can you use that argument against say the richer nutrient routines vs the ones that place them into sediment, and just the NH4/NO3 and PO4, not any of the other nutrients? I mean if you accept that lower light, CO2 and nutrients are "better" as your goal?

    The Dutch clearly have a long history of nice well scaped non CO2 tanks going back into the 1940's.

    I've taken non CO2 tanks and added KNO3 and PO4 at high levels for extended time frames and also not been able to produce algae blooms due to those nutrients.

    If you ascribe cause to algae, it needs to work in all cases. I've run plenty of replicates, perhaps thousands at this point and am unable to induce algae based independently on those two nutrients.

    So a one time error does not apply here.
    It does apply to those that claim these nutrients cause algae in planted tanks however.

    BTW, Ole's system with Riccia is hardly similar to the planted tank and as you stated, it is only one species.

    Tom Barr
  15. naman

    naman Prolific Poster

    Nov 12, 2005
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    James entry I would mark as “Quality” and “Highly professional” in terms of plants health and absence of algae (Art is only were is the Craft, you know). It has a very high light levels also due to big high of the tank.

    1:7 is P:N, - I say PO4:NO3=1:25.
    So EI has PO4:NO3= ??????
    BTW – did you tested with spectrophotometer ADA liquid ferts on P:N ratio?

    I didn’t say very high light, but short peak of intense light, the rest time is low light to do not stop plants photosynthesis totally.

    Quote: “…unable to induce algae based independently on those two nutrients.”

    How you did that than (yes I know about NH4)? Fore example high light + lots of CO2 mist + normal ferts dosing + regular 30% WC + healthy substrate and canister filter tank can have algae, what is the reason? (I have read a lot of you posts already…) Or Crazy growth of plants WITH crazy growth of hair algae…

    Quote: “You really have not said anything that suggest what I've said is wrong.”

    O Gosh! No, and even didn’t tried. The aim is not to argue with scientist (no so stupid yet) but to connect two methods. Not advertising “lighting peak” system in any way (I am not invented this) – just asking on different method (which works for ADA and PJAN) of limiting plants growth and why it works. I saw that you are too saying limiting plats growth gives more stable tank.
    EI REALLY works, as well as “lighting peak” or Amano system do. Both of you just right, but may be someone “righter” in terms of METHODS of limiting plants growth – with short peak or less light – with less light we can't grow demanding plant species.
    Virtually that is the ONLY difference. This is what I mean saying “…you are digging in wrong way”. :)

    Quote: “I mean if you accept that lower light, CO2 and nutrients are "better" as your goal?”

    No. Just shorter period of intense lighting + lots CO2 + some liquid ferts which seems gives opportunity to do not worry about CO2 drop (I use “east + mist” method) or raising PO4 levels. And keeping some lower PO4-NO3 levels to do not feed algae while plants slowed down growth after trimming etc.

    Quote: “But taking EI or excess levels of NO3 and PO4 and applying it to lower light, not crazy light, also produces the same absence of algae as the best ADA tank.”

    Super answer! Seems like it is. I HAVE TO try it among “lighting peak”.
    But what about algae blooms when CO2 drops for a while? I see that main problem with EI from posts here. It makes keeping algae-free tank harder. Is this why you saying so much about keeping proper CO2 supply again and again? Plants growth Crazy and they do not have growth reserve, starting leaching nutrients almost immediately? This is the reason of algae blooms, not high nutrient levels in water, again.
    I sold on “lighting peak” system (and ADA) because in my understanding limiting growth to Good (not Crazy) gives RESERVE of plants growth in case of CO2 drops and/or increasing nutrient supply, esp. PO4. It’s “insurance” for Stability. Give some more nutrients and plants just blow up fore a while with biomass keeping things right.
    Keeping very high growth rates leads to very high maintenance job also (cutting, reducing dosage, than adding Fe2+ etc.) – it’s a hard job.
    Here we can understand why someone blaming that ADA system gives less growth – they do it intentionally (not in first two months). :)

    Lower PO4:NO3 levels do not mean to such extent to starve algae to death. Limiting algae with very low nutrients levels really NONSENSE. I mean lower PO4 and having some more NO3 to have plants reserve of growth to Dominate over them, even if CO2 is low for some time.

    I think among hobbyists (me too 4 years ago) exists MISCONSEPTION that we are “starving algae to death” comes from the fact that we are doing very big and frequent water changes first weeks keeping water lean of nutrients. Definitely NO. We are just taking away excess nutrients from algae to limit their growth while plants do not start to grow YET and/or not formed large Biomass (later we rely on fish poo, or dosing PO4-NO3 if it is not enough). Projecting this approach to entire lifecycle of the tank is COMPLETELY WRONG. This leads to starving plants, NOT algae, and getting algae again and again. That’s it.

    So, higher nutrient levels do NOT lead to algae problems... while plants keep growing.
    If not, what then – NH4 only? Keeping plants growing to do not leach nutrients and give a chance for algae attaching them? Is this what makes ANY system work (EI, ADA/PJAN’s/low-tech etc)? Than ADA system and EI is the same thing – the difference only in where is the most nutrients are - in substrate or water column. Result is the same – plants growing, algae not?

    Am I wrong in adding to explanation that lower nutrients (in water) leads to less algae, but not in motivation – Good growth is better than Crazy growth? Do you agree with this?
    If plants stop growing for some reason we do not get algae blooms the next few days? Don’t it logical and gives more stability? Why than scientist PJAN/ADA advocates low nutrients levels (in the water column) + short peak of intense lighting and it works not worse than EI?
    Substrate can’t be rich for a long time and no one tank can leave for a long time without liquid ferts (with low fish load).
    And this is You tested that EI (or simply higher doses to water column)) + rich substrate (AS with or without PS) really gives BEST growth rates comparable to EI + pure gravel? BTW: ADA or PJAN in any way saying to do not dose ferts in water column – they say to dose some less and if there is a lack of nutrients from fish poo, with lower P:N ratio too.

    Short peak helps to prevent plants from radically slower growth rates and leaching nutrients (THIS leads to algae blooms - not excess of nutrients in water column) in case of lowering CO2 levels for a while - this is a problem which encounters again and again EI users. Or not?
    Long lower light intensities do not allow to grow demanding plant species also.

    Than may be you correct me and say why PJAN’s/ADA method works? May be even at APC and give us a note? I really whant to test it, the same as EI + low light. How would You comment Ole’s data and PJAN’s posts?

    May be the answer is: Start with rich substrate to have large biomass very quickly with less nutrients in water for algae, and later rely on liquid ferts + short peak? Virtually this is what ADA says… Repeat: I see WHY T.Amano have lower plants growth (and PJAN), but very healthy plants, more beautiful and stable tanks than pushing growth to the Limit.

    Now I see there is no difference with EI or ADA/PJAN’s methods: plants needs the same things. The only difference that You are advocating liquid ferts (water changes is the same) saying it is possible to succeed without rich substrate (absolutely true). It IS very helpful, esp. for beginners or if you are doing tank for 8-18 months.

    May be I am wrong again, but I think there is ARTIFICIALLY made very BOLD demarcation between EI and ADA/PJAN’s system and this leads to misunderstanding among hobbyists and useless argues between them.

    Phrase: “…hobbyists, not sceintists often confuse things.” should be placed close to the button “Submit Reply”:)
    We are not so cautious with terms and often oversimplifying things also.


    Thank You for such an interesting answer. Lots of these things you already told hundreds of times /still being patent, hope mine is not the last straw :)/, but not from point of view of intentionally limiting plants growth with “lighting peak”.
    I would have been subscribed for looong time ago, but all those banking things and PayPol (opened for ex-USSR just couple of months ago) is Real Pain for me:mad:

    Off topic: I have tried liquid macros based on organic N (amidic form) PO4:NO3=1:15 as Seachem and getting huge growth, but with twisted leaves. Why? K and micros is Ok.

    Big posts, but rarely.
    Sorry for drawing so much attention to posts on another forum.

  16. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
    Staff Member Administrator

    Jan 23, 2005
    Likes Received:
    Firstly, I must say I like your enthusaism!
    Do not lose that.

    Yes, I hope more will not merely argue and be a critic, rather, explore and experiment.

    We already have plenty of critics:rolleyes:
    What we do not have is more people experimenting in a good way to answer questions with the tools that hobbyists have available.
    We all learn that way and have a better understanding of the relationships with nutrients, CO2 and light.

    I spoke to Ole at length about that that is why he and many other scientists do not converse much with hobbyists. We have to explain ourselves and hobbyists often misinterpret what we say as well. I know other experts feel the same way often times, and many simply do not have the time.

    I could likely respond better if I did and cared more, but this is me and I come off harsh on line many times and type fast so I do have time.

  17. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
    Staff Member Administrator

    Jan 23, 2005
    Likes Received:
    Continued from the last post...........

    I think it is a good method and allows for folks with "high light disease" (HLD )
    to get some of the effect without really taxing their tank's system.
    You have "partial" HLD in other words, haha

    But you can do fine with a little more regular light and no high light 3-4 hour blast at all. The cost for having such lighting systems is also a hard thing for many to do.
    Many do not have the money for that.

    So we look at a general model for plant growth that can be applied to all types of methods, not just ADA's, or EI, or a non CO2 method.

    Then you can fairly judge the mechanisms of plant growth and development and better manage and save your self a lot of $$$.

    Or add more light for 10 hours instead of 3;)
    Which will be more stable?
    A low light tank or a high light tank at high or low nutrients?

    So why waste the $ for expensive lighting, high electric cost etc, when a low light tank can do the same thing with or without high nutrients?

    Is it really the nutrients that we should be blaming here?
    Or the light?

    I'd always argue the light.
    That is what plants out compete algae the most for in natural systems, Bowes, Haller, Ole and the rest us know this.

    I think some folks are merely just looking for hypothesis and data to support their idea that we should add ferts to the sediment and maintain low nutrients levels.

    You should always use test to refute your ideas and test things, not just merely have a conclusion and then try and find facts to support them ;)


    But algae are not PO4 limited in our aquariums, they never have been.
    You can test this and see it.
    You can manipulate light, you can manipulate other nutrients etc, but if you test PO4 and claim it has some effect on algae, we should certainly see this result when I dose 3ppm of inorganic PO4 from KH2PO4.

    I have used low light/CO2, high light CO2, and non CO2 systems and have never found any relationship between plants and algae dominance.

    I have never been able to induce algae, other than green spot algae due to very low levels of PO4, not higher levels, is well over 12 years now.

    No algae of any sort.

    Algae spores and gamete germination are being suppressed by environmental cues, but it's not from PO4.

    There is zero evidence for that in natural lakes that are well planted also, see Bachmann et al 2006. They found no relationship among hundreds of shallow vegetated lakes and N and P and algae.

    If you add more PO4 to a lake with 50% surface coverage, all you get is more plants/ and weeds, not algae. If you have no plants, then you will get more algae.

    But few studies look at both nutrients in the context of tropical temperatures, shallow lakes, and plants/algae.

    I did my Master's degree at UF where these same people have their labs and worked a room or two over from them.

    Sure, you can build up a reserve of nutrients in the plant vacuole, then blast the light and still have good development.

    But you need to have a special lighting system for this, many do not have that.
    Why is this needed is my question say versus a simple lower light system that has a little bit more light, than the low light setting and not have to use a dual system?

    That cost a lot and then we can have stable good slow growth all day long and not "pulse" our plants daily.

    Why is there an insistence on high light and low nutrients as being "better"?
    That makes no sense.

    Does not matter if you use a spike or not, simply use low light all day and you get the same effects with less cost and less electric and with higher stability.

    Yes, I think the translation got us both! Hehe!
    I think I do understand better now.
    I hope I addressed the issue better for you.

    Oh yes, those will make a difference.
    I suggest adding nutrients to both locations(water column and the sediment) for plant growth, let the plants decide.

    You can grow plants very well with only one of those locations very well also, and with lower light, solely soil substrates.

    Many do.
    As you increase light however, you become more dependent on inorganic sources of nutrients in the water column(CO2, NO3, PO4, Fe etc)

    No problem with the other post/forum.
    I no longer go there due to a disagreement with the site's owner.

    I think I have covered why ADA's method works well, I also sell ADA here in the USA to local fish stores.
    I do know the method.

    I also do not tell them all this either, they are a business and want to sell things folks want. I do not lie either however.
    You have to pay me a lot of money to lie

    Amano advocates adding "just enough" nutrients to the water column, this is done by slowly adding progressively more and more nutrients till the plant health is where you want it.

    He thinks like the Germans before him did, that high NO3 and PO5 cause algae in the water column.

    This is wrong and not true and test show this and have for decades now, as well as research on natural systems and lakes with plants.

    That is where I run into conflict and argue with folks about this issue.

    What we do is not "nature", it is Horticulture and Horticultural Ecology is far different and has different levels of nutrients/relationships etc.

    Sadly, instead of accepting that they are wrong or more than likely , their on line supporters, they change the focus of their critique and change their question to attack high nutrient levels.

    First they claimed algae
    Second they claimed fish health
    Third, now they claim management and stability.

    I mean I think I've offered more than my fair share of support and consistently shown why the methods work, how to set up up the test etc, both my own and theirs as well as others such as non CO2 methods which require less pruning and easier routines and maintenance and at a much reduced cost.

    When someone argues with you and loses and then comes back with a different claim each time, it shows they have not tested it.
    It also shows an agenda, not a test .

    They are never satisfied and keep getting mauled in the argument.
    They can keep coming back but I'll still be here testing and refuting the claims.

    If you make a claim, I would hope that someone would bother to test their own hypothesis and not just accept what has been said before.

    You need enough control to test and measure things well also.
    Poor cO2 causes all sorts of problems.
    Too many fish/not enough plants.
    Inconsistent dosing.
    Too much light

    And so on, then when they switch to less light or a noon time spike of light, their "problems go away".

    Was it because of lighting or that you have too much and did not add enough PO4 and CO2 for that light level?

    If you wanted less growth rate, simple add less light.
    That was the cause, not having high PO4.

    I am able to explain pretty much most all the dynamics for every method there is.
    That includes most marine tanks as well with macro algae.

    Tom Barr
  18. naman

    naman Prolific Poster

    Nov 12, 2005
    Likes Received:
    my brawser hang on and I made a mess...
    See Edited my previewus post, I thought it haven't been posted! :(
  19. PMD

    PMD Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Jan 16, 2006
    Likes Received:

    Words can barely express my appreciation for your thoughtful insights on light, CO2, and plant knowledge in general, but why did you introduce the cartoon to illustrate your points?

    As a scientist I am sure you know that there is no such thing as the "creationist method" anymore than there is an "evolutionist method".

    Neither a creationist nor an evolutionist has a certain method that they use exclusively that is not used by the other side. Both ideologies use suppositions that can influence their reasoning. Incorrect conclusions can result, even unintentionally.

    Clearly, the cartoonist is attempting to show that the evolutionist takes the high road when it comes to scientific investigation. Is that really true? Six centuries ago there were progressives that challenged the prevailing wisdom of a flat world even though scientists said it was flat and everyone “knew” it was flat. Today, there are progressives that challenge the prevailing wisdom of an evolutionist world. Perhaps the evolutionists are correct and perhaps they are not. As more data comes in over the next few centuries, perhaps we will learn the truth.

    The cartoon is a bigoted attempt to juxtapose two different ideologies in a pejorative manner.

    Is there really a reason to bring evolution into this forum? Let’s not go there!

    Thanks for the tremendous insight you have brought to those of us who have an interest in creating beautiful underwater gardens.


  20. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
    Staff Member Administrator

    Jan 23, 2005
    Likes Received:
    You are entitled to your view, I am entitled to my views. I am free to express mine.

    The point is the reasonableness with what you have at the present time: Paul Sears was reasonable about PO4 limitation. That meant I could test that hypothesis and not have to wait six centuries.

    Rather than being a critic only, try testing things and showing that you are right, be creative enough to show the world was round, like Columbus and the ancient Greeks long before him. We can see that as a ship travel away the bottom and slowly to the top of the mast disappears from view. That suggest that the world is round, not flat and it's testable. There are some that still believe the world is flat. It's a free country however and to each their own. I do not suggest anyone does not have the right to believe what they want, but I do ask that are able to support their position with a reasonable argument.

    The point is not a debate over Evolution, the point is debate over all science.
    Do something to help resolve the issues, whether they be evolution, plants and aquariums, chemistry, physics etc. Test things, make hypothesis, come up with solutions rather than accepting things, think for your self.
    Being a critic does little, anyone can do that. I do not have 600 years. You don;t either. That applies to Evolution as well as aquatic plants.
    If you are willing to argue, you should be willing to focus that passion and test such relationships to see if you are right or not.
    If you find me a better cartoon to show this point, I'll replace it.

    Tom Barr

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