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Lower bioload, more water changes?

Discussion in 'Aquatic Plant Fertilization' started by ForTheHalibut, Nov 30, 2017.

  1. ForTheHalibut

    ForTheHalibut Member

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    The tanks I keep are all dirted, no pressurized CO2, no liquid ferts, with medium to low bioload of fish and shrimp. I rarely have to do water changes on these tanks, because most of the nutrients is locked up in the substrate and plant densely enough to keep nitrates at bay.

    In the interest of minimizing maintenance even more for my 30 gallon, I found a new home for my dollar sunfish a few months ago. Now my 30 gallon dirted scape is just plants and ~5 carbon rilis. I was hoping that this new super low bioload would reduce the need to perform water changes, but I've found myself in a bit of paradox.

    My stem plants thrive in the dirt, but my non-rooted plants started to struggle in the mostly inert water column, which now tests very low, if at all, for nitrate. I found myself having to dust off my powdered ferts and start dosing the water column, something I have not had to do since transitioning to dirt. The routine I had learned for liquid dosing, and indeed the routine that seems to still be the prevailing doctrine, is to dose more than I think the plants might need and then perform frequent water changes to make sure nothing in the water column remains in excess. So as a consequence of reducing my bioload, I now have to perform more water changes.

    Does anyone know a fert dosing regime that will allow me to actually benefit from my lower bioload? Hopefully I will eventually have a large enough carbon rili colony to keep the plants fed, but what should I do in the interim? As a dirt evangelist, this is a very embarrassing predicament to be in.
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I add a small bit of ferts each week to the water column for this reason, the soil will run out of N also, but it'll take a year or so.
    This small amount relieves the serious strong stress of limitation.

    Pennywort is an excellent plant that will quickly turn pale without ample N.
    Floats etc so no need for soil or rooting it. I have not changed the water for months in my 10 gallon even with a high bioload and dosing.
    TDS is 170, my water changed higher light CO2 enriched and fert tanks are 415 uS. Tap is about 100.
    You can likely use a TDS meter and add small pinches and keep it within some range pretty effectively and while it does say what is missing, or in that uS, it gives a general idea.

    And TDS is VERY easy to measure...........

    Re read the non CO2 water column method in the article section

    Might help to look at the dosing.

    Figure about 1/20th EI.
     
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  3. ForTheHalibut

    ForTheHalibut Member

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    Thanks! This is exactly what I was looking for. Just to clarify, are you suggesting that I use pennywort as a canary for N deficiency? That's an interesting idea - I'll certainly try it. Will any hydrocotyle do?
    It's about time for me to get a TDS meter.
     
  4. bshenanagins

    bshenanagins Junior Poster

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    I have hydro tripartita in my low tech with capped soil. It is doing very well with no dosing other than micro’s. However I do have a betta and two badis, but I can’t imagine they add too much to the bioload. But I’m sure the food helps also. I’d say it’s def good indicator of wether the column has enough N since it’s floating, at least in my tank.
     
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  5. Rodgie_III

    Rodgie_III New Member

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    Hi,

    I'm basically new in planted aquarium talks, just about a year of research so far. And currently finishing on reading the "ecology of planted aquarium" by Diana Walstad.

    Now with your problem, I believe if you feed your swimming buddies more than enough plus have some shrimp or snails that can break down the uneaten food to smaller particles so that the bacterias can use them and turn them into nutrients for plants. This might remove the need of water changes because of the fear of accumulated nutrients from water column dosing. Doing this too can add more Co2 for plants.

    This are just my new ideas I got from the book. Anybody can correct me if I'm wrong.

    Kind Regards,
    Rodgie
     
  6. ForTheHalibut

    ForTheHalibut Member

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    Yup, big fan of Walstad. Good book. I can't add more shrimp because I do not want to mix different neocaridina species together. Waiting for this colony to grow out more. I could just dump more fish food in, but I would rather use a calibrated mixture of liquid ferts to feed my plants rather than desiccated fish remains.
     
  7. Rodgie_III

    Rodgie_III New Member

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    Correct me if I'm wrong on this. But I think, when you reduced your bioload. You also reduced the amount of Co2 that bacterias gets to excrete when they metabolize. Because there's lesser food source from them that were coming from the fish poop. So, maybe the deficiency you are observing Is also from fluctuating Co2 from water changes weekly.

    I think I would put good amount of fish food still for the benefit of the bacteria not just the invertebrates. You get two things in doing this, nutrient and Co2 for plants. And I won't worry too much about water changes. Since that tank have been established already.
     
  8. ForTheHalibut

    ForTheHalibut Member

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    The only plants in this tank that require extra CO2 are plants that are capable of absorbing interstitial CO2 from my dirted substrate. The plants that are experiencing the problems that lead me to create this thread do not have high CO2 demands - indeed, they show clear signs of nitrogen deficiency.

    I am trying to move away from keeping fish and using fish meal products. I will not be using dead fish as fertilizer.
     
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