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Driftwood instead of soil as the non-CO2 methods.

Discussion in 'Non-CO2 Methods' started by paludarium, Jun 19, 2014.

  1. paludarium

    paludarium Guest

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    After growing aquatic plants for more than 4 years with Walstad's method, I tore down my tank and started another experiment since February, and this time with driftwood but not bottom soils. It is well known that both bacterial and fungal decays of driftwood decorations in the tank produce CO2, and driftwood indeed plays an important role in the wetland ecosystems. I would like to know if driftwood or wood chips alone will provide enough CO2 to grow aquatic plants. I placed the driftwood or the wood chips in the filter basket instead of in the tank as the decorating materials. This is my non-CO2 tank with driftwood method and EI. In the past 16 weeks, many stem aquarium plants did quite well, as you can see in the picture. Interestingly, I failed to grow difficult plants such as Rotala macrandra, Alternanthera reineckii and Isoetes taiwanenss, and Proserpinaca palustris is not so healthy. However in my previous setup with Walstad's method or soils, Alternanthera reineckii, Isoetes taiwanensis and Proserpinaca palustris flourished for years.

    My non-CO2 tank with Walstad's mothod:
    [​IMG]


    My non-CO2 tank with driftwood methods:
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    You can try intermediates. Carbon, leonardite, peat, etc, these were somewhat popular more back in the 1980's and 1990's.
    They "rot" slower or hardly at all...........

    Worm castings also was a popular method around 1998-2002 with Brazilians. They boiled the castings for a few minutes first to oxidize it and remove any NH4.
     
  3. paludarium

    paludarium Guest

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    Actually I've tried another non-CO2 tank using both soil and driftwood years back. Most of the plants in that tank were splendid, however, the plants looked ordinary in the later tank set up with soil only. I would like to verify that the driftwood is also an important source of CO2 supply in the low tech tank. I was by no means the first one came up with the idea of using driftwood or wood chips as the carbon source. The Dutch aquarists did.

    Erich
     
    #3 paludarium, Jun 20, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2014
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    The issue I think has less to do with CO2 and more to do with Nitrogen sources.

    Organic labile soil will have more CO2 production also, but this only last perhaps 1-2 months tops.
    NH4 will last a few months, maybe a year tops.
    Most clay loam wetland soils become N limiting over time.

    You can try dosing some KNO3(2-4 ppm as NO3) or urea(0.5ppm as NH4) say 1-2x a week and see.
    That will quickly tell you if it's a CO2 issue or a N issue.
     
  5. paludarium

    paludarium Guest

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    Very interesting. I postulated that soil in the tank, just like in the wetland, traps and then locks carbon, and that is the reason why we can grow plants with Walstad's method or soil for years. I always use low light for my non-CO2 tanks, only 1 bulb of T5HO 39 watt for my 40 g tank, and I also have been keeping lots of fish, so N limiting is less likely in my tank.

    Actually I am dosing KNO3 and K2HPO4 2x a week in my new non-CO2 tank with driftwood. The plants were not so splendid as my previous experiment with Walstad's method and without any fertilizers.

    Some of my plants in the non-CO2 tank with bottom soil and driftwood as the hardscape:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Erich
     
    #5 paludarium, Jun 21, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2014
  6. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Well , you could add more fish and shrimp to the driftwood soil tank, that should remove some of the limiting factors. CO2 production in the soil tanks is limited, this is good for a few months at most, but over time, the soil is RAPIDLY oxidized, and any slow, hard to decompse carbon sources will NOT produce much CO2.

    In other words, after 1-2 months, there is VERY little CO2 from soil based tanks.
    O2 is required for that also.

    It's the same thing with folks that use mineralized top soil(MTS), they mineralize it, which is to say specifically, they OXIDIZE it.
    This takes about 3-4 weeks.
    NH4=> NO3
    CrHr=> CO2.

    There's not a lot left after a few weeks.

    So there's just not much CO2 contribution thereafter.
     
  7. paludarium

    paludarium Guest

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    IMO, the activity or oxidization of bacteria increases from the water to surface sediments and decreases rapidly with increasing depth in the sediments. That means the soil will not rapidly be oxidized and remains anoxic, unless we stir up the substrate due to replanting, the soil continues to trap or lock carbon. Maybe the roots of the plants release oxygen into the soil faster than I can imagine. But if after 1-2 months, there is VERY little CO2 from soil based tanks, how do we explain that with pure soil and without any driftwood as hardscape I indeed grew plants for more than 4 years, then all stem plants vanished in a very short time? I did add nutrients to the tank in order to rule out the deficiency and tried to save the stem plants, but without any additional CO2 supplement, I eventually failed.

    Erich
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Plants grow slower, but you seem to imply we are getting all this CO2 out of the sediment when there's just not a labile source of carbon. That's impossible.

    Plants still grow with non CO2 enriched methods, certainly WITHOUT organic soil as an additional source of CO2.
    Think about it.

    Why would a non CO2 tank grow well with organic soil vs a driftwood soil if the CO2 where the same in both cases?
    Ferts mostly.

    CO2 is very limiting in either case.
    CO2 builds up at night, then the plants rapidly remove it after 1-2 hours when the light comes on.

    That cycle, not so much the oxidation of organic matter, over time............is the key.
    Plant species plays a large role also.

    Many are more tolerant than others of that cycle.

    Soil will hold most all the ferts except N, for many years.
    So if you have fish, shrimp etc, and feed them well, then you really have less to worry about.

    If not, then you need more/all the ferts once a week or two.
    Simple solution.

    But it has less to do with CO2 than DW implies in your case.
    Soil will support more heterotrophes than driftwood or plain sand might, so there's going to be some differences, but not that much.

    A good filter, surface turn rover, wet/dry filter etc, that would add more cO2 passively than soil over the 24 hour cycle.
    Also, it would add more O2, so more available to oxidize organic matter.
     
  9. paludarium

    paludarium Guest

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    So N is the main limiting factor in the non-CO2 tank?

    Unfortunately I did not see any plants getting redder while they were withering, but the broken leaves and stunt growth reminded me of C deficiency instead of N. In fact I have added all ferts trying to save the stem plants before uprooting all of them, but eventually I failed. I only did water change ONCE in past 4+ years in order to move the tank to another location.

    Before I really tore down the tank, I carried out another experiment trying to verify whether the carbon was the main limiting factor. On the same soil substrate in the same tank, I added nothing but daily dosing of glutaraldehyde, the new stem plants did grow dramatically within 2 weeks. But I happened to find that Cabomba piauhyensis just like Riccia fluitans, was very vulnerable to glutaraldehyde.

    On days 3 after replanting of the stem plants, glutaraldehyde was the only thing added into the water column:
    [​IMG]

    Two weeks after daily glutaraldehyde doisng:
    [​IMG]

    Erich
     
  10. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    If you have strong limitations, like no CO2, then the plants will have a tough time taking up other ferts also, some plants will beat up on others.
    They are better adapted to different limiting factors, Milfoil and Cuba growing fast are unsurprising.
    They are both very aggressive growing weeds.


    Might simply be that adding taller stems and more of them, less of those more weedy species might be the only reason for the issues with those species.
    You do not appear to have similar species in the 1st set of pics between those two tanks.

    Most of the plants would do well together in the older tank version, not so well if you added them to the new tank.

    Try removing them and then try a few stems of the Mermaid weed and the other touchier plants. Remove the other stems. You do not need to remove the moss of Anubias however.
    Bulb changes? That can up the PAR a lot after 4+ years too.

    Some species get along, others beat up on the other.
    This is why many have trouble growing lots of species together in non CO2 tanks whereas we have no issues without CO2 enriched tanks growing ANY species together.

    Bowes,Haller, Van's 1976 paper pretty much explains why some Cabomba did poorly whereas Milfoil and Hydrilla did very well under low light. Those plants species get the CO2 1st and are able to grow much faster at lower light levels and thus get the limited CO2.
     
  11. paludarium

    paludarium Guest

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    It took me some time to review my journals of that tank in the past 4+ years.

    I believed that C limitation was always there in the non-CO2 tank. But for the N limitation, here are some of the pictures I dig up in my journals.

    Countless snails on the bottom, these snail thrived in the soil or the benthic zone, they stayed or hided deep in the soil during the daytime, and only showed up on the surface of the soil in the midnight. I believe they lived on the debris which contained not only carbon but also nitrogen.
    2953229_orig.jpg

    Another picture showed that after 4 years some of the areas deep in the soil became dark or black, was it a sign of the oxidized soil?
    2740766_orig.jpg


    Another example.

    I moved Proserpinaca palustris from the dark background to the bright middle area. After 3 months it produced distinct types of leaves in response to changes of the location. Were the thin, narrow and highly dissected leaves signs of nitrogen deficiency?[​IMG]

    Erich
     
  12. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    The mermaid weed changes are somewhat telling, this plant I've seen in many many locations in Florida, they call it a weed for good reason.

    2009 image looks more like you might find in a CO2 encihed system I would say, the later, a cooler tank, lower CO2.

    That's less a sign of N and much more a CO2 related issue.
    What else other than sediment is different between then and now?

    Snails are like us, they will eat carbon/reduced carbon specifically, carbohydrates............
    Oxidized into CO2. Like us.
    They help break down the materials into smaller fractions to be mineralized, N is certainly a part of that.

    Plants do appear to be more CO2 limited vs the soil.
    But............soil binds a lot of other things and the hardness/KH might be a factor also.

    there are many possible things going on there, so CO2 differences alone...........not always easy to isolate.
    But so far, I have not seen anything that falsifies a difference in cO2 production between the wood vs the soil.

    If I were to predict which tank had better plant growth, I'd pick the soil.
    More ferts.
     
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