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Need assistance with a non-co2 setup please

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by aman74, Feb 22, 2007.

  1. aman74

    aman74 Prolific Poster

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    Hi all, I've been enjoying the site so far and would like to get some opinions on my new tank. This might end up kinda long, so sorry in advance for that. I have questions about different issues, but I don't want to post too many threads so I will try and make this concise and hopefully Tom and the rest will lend a hand.

    My goals aren't very lofty. I don't need to keep any certain type of plant nor do I desire fast growth, other than if that is necessary during setup/cycle. This will probably house some crystal red shrimp. I live in Cleveland, OH (USA) and I believe the Ph is around 7.2 to 8 in the summer, I need to double check this and find out my gh/kh. Any recommendations on test kits? Not sure if I can dose with shrimp and I'd rather not do too much dosing if I can avoid it. Hopefully there will be a nice bio-load to help with that.

    -I don't have a current tank setup so I won't have any mulm and I'm apprehensive to use some that comes out of a fish store due to disease. I read the non-co2 article and it mentioned the mulm for all the substrate options I believe.

    -I was thinking Soilmaster/Turface/Schultz for the savings as I may do 2 tanks. I was going to add leonardite to that. A thread about wildly lowered PH has caused me pause about the Soilmaster. Any thoughts?

    -Also considering Onyx with the leonardite. Does Onyx raise the Ph?

    -And finally Aquasoil if I can swing it financially. Would leonardite and mulm be recommended with ADA or is it not necessary?

    -Most likely this will be a 15 standard or 20L. Would like to do multiple 10's if I could find a nice rack, but have heard repeatedly that the crystals like a larger tank for breeding. Also the 20L is nice visually.

    -I've heard Tom mention that one 24" T5 HO with a nice reflector would be good for a modest sized tank, but I haven't been able to find such an animal with an enclosure. Most T5 options are still limited to the big multi-bulb setups or retrofits. I'm sure the market will change eventually and I'm curious to see what the price on those new Hagens will be or if they will even come to the states. Anyone know of a single T5 HO hood?

    -I believe 65 or 55 watt CF is too high wattage for this setup's goals. And the 36 watters are too short for the 20L, but maybe if I go to a smaller tank they will be good.

    -Any thoughts on the Coralife T5 NO strips with 2 bulbs? That would give me 36 watts with a shiny reflector, but not parabolic. Most likely I am going to use the stands available for most of these lights and raise them off the tank and use a glass canopy. Would 36 watts be enough raised off the tank and through glass?

    -How do most of you cycle your tanks? I understand that if you stock heavy with plants right away you cycle almost immediately? Are fast growers a requirement for that? Not sure how to approach this, I've heard of adding ammonia etc...How does aquasoil change the cycle method?

    Thanks much for reading. Sorry about the length, but I feel it's importand to mention the goals and expectations I have to give you an idea on how to help me create a balanced setup.

    Peace, Anthony
     
  2. eddtango

    eddtango Prolific Poster

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    non CO2

    There's an article here on your inquiry, its titled "Non-CO2 methods".
     
  3. aman74

    aman74 Prolific Poster

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    Hi there, please note in my post that I have read it. My questions are to narrow things down and get more specific recommendations.
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I'd use 2 x normal output FL's for lighting instead, a cool white and maybe a Triton.

    If you do use a T5, make sure it's high, about 4-5" above the water so that the light will spread out more before going into the water.

    Flourite or Onyx would likely be the best bet for you here.
    Onyx will add Ca and Mg as well as KH.

    You may use peat and a little soil if you wish as well.
    Mulm is not big issue, a dirty old sponge filter would be nice though.

    What is a big issue: adding enough plants from the start(pack it!), picking the tank clean in the first 10 days or so, no water changes, adding easy to grow plants etc.

    Add a little bit of ferts, 1-4x a month, add lots of herbivores, SAE's, Amano shrimps, otto cats etc.

    Then after things settle in good, add the CRS's and remove the others.
    Take you time there. Patience is rewarded.


    Prune and trim, avoid uprooting, have some floating plants.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  5. aman74

    aman74 Prolific Poster

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    Thanks much!

    Are there any standard 2x NO FL fixtures out there besides the standard All Glass and Perfecto?

    That Coralife T5 NO appealed to me not so much because it's T5, but because it has at least a decent reflector and it comes with legs to raise it up. Also it's actually cheaper than the previously mentioned "standards"

    I was thinking Onyx and some BD Leonardite, I saw you mentioned 1 pound per 20, would I mix that or put the Leo down as I would peat?

    So I don't have to have fast growers? I'm thinking of your standard anubias, java moss and fern. Mostly because they are known to be easy.

    For ferts would I follow EI for this setup or just use an all around like excell or something?

    Will this tank cycle right away? I just don't like using fish to cycle and not sure if you meant that the herbivores would be a part of that process. Or maybe it will be a very mild cycle with all the plants?

    I'm curious why you don't believe aquasoil to be the best bet for me?

    I'm not questioning, I just like to understand the reasons for certain choices especially when coming from someone I can learn alot from.

    Thanks again,

    Anthony
     
  6. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    It's a non CO2 approach, that does not mean EI nor Excel.
    You can use ADA if you want, but I think you'll have better results with an inert/relatively inert substrate since you are not doing water changes and your plant growth rates are slow.

    Do not modify the method I suggested there, go to CO2/Excel methods, EI if you want faster growth.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  7. aman74

    aman74 Prolific Poster

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    Thanks again Tom, I'm narrowing this down now. My mistake was mentioning EI, I was thinking of that as normal ferts, not the minimal amounts you are probably suggesting I dose 1-2x monthly. I'll look into what those should be, I thought maybe Flourish...I'll do some more reading.

    Not doing water changes? I was going to hold off on them during the beginning as you suggested, but once stocked I imagine I will have to with a hopefully breeding shrimp colony.

    I think I will go with Onyx as you suggest. Should I mix in the Black Diamond or put it down like peat?

    And I may now have a source for some mulm to speed things along.

    So it's safe to put fish in relatively soon since I will be starting with a heavy plant mass? I've just read the articles about planting heavy right away giving an almost immediate ability to stock.
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I'd add the leonardite and/or peat dusting on the bottom, deeper is better for Onxy.
    4" or so is good.

    Some add Osomocoat, some use a little soil etc.
    You are not going to uproot much for the next few months, some it's not as critical as you may think.

    You can plant and do a good job there etc, then do a water change to clean things up, but then do not do them later. Top off for evaporation only after that.

    Pack the tank so that from the top view, you cannot see more than 5% of the gravel.
    Yoyu can add SAE's Shrimps etc right away(1-2 days), and also add some zeolite and activated carbon to the filter(not required but will help).

    I honestly do not care much for CRS's.
    They are too small(food) to be kept with most fish.
    Amano's are bad enough, these guys are even worse.
    Cherry's at least breed like flies.

    But neither cherries, bee/CRS's do much for algae.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  9. aman74

    aman74 Prolific Poster

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    I plan on breeding (hopefully) large amounts of CRS. So that's why I had planned on the weekly water changes which would deviate me from the outline non-co2 setup in your article. Do you think I can get away with no water changes with such a high bio-load?

    I realize that the water changes will affect which system approach I take with this tank. In which ways it changes the system maintenance and setup is what I'm trying to nail down.

    4" inches of Onyx will up the price a bit. If I use AS would leonardite still be of benefit? I'm thinking if not then I would actually save money not buying the black diamond and having to use less inches of substrate with AS.

    I will look up Osomocoat as well.

    I'm in the process of getting a water report as well and will see if that affects and substrate and inhabitant choices.

    Thanks for all the help and I hope this isn't an annoyance. I use the search function here and at other sites for many hours at a time, lol, so I don't want anyone to think I haven't put the time in.
     
  10. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Given your goal, why not just use CO2 and lots of water changes, ADA soil?

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  11. aman74

    aman74 Prolific Poster

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    I was just trying to keep it simple since I'm not yet concerned with getting fast growth, picky plants, etc...for this project.

    I'm open to the idea if that would indeed be an easier option even if it didn't appear so at first glance. Wouldn't that entail more dosing?

    Is it best to use straight AS or is a peat product and osomocoat still a good idea?

    I'm a little apprehensive about the Co2 and CRS as well.
     
  12. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    CO2 is safe if you use it right.
    Given that you want to do frequent water changes and have a nice planted tank, + CRS's..... seems like the best option to me.

    Low light will make it simpler, CO2 demand is not nearly as high nor as critical, nor is dosing.

    If you used the ADA AS, CO2, 1.5 w/gal, dose 2x a week(about 1/2 the EI amounts or even 1/3), that would do fine.

    That's the middle ground area that sounds like would fit your goal.
    It's actually a very good method for anyone. Good growth of most every species, manageable growth rates, CO2/nutrient demands, lots more flexibility.

    Problem is, no listens to me and many of the other folks about using low/less lighting, they all end up with 3-5w/gal and then ask why they have so many issues:rolleyes:

    I can tell folks to use less light till the cows come home, I can explain it and it makes logical sense, but do they actually take the advice?

    Nope. Most think more is better. More is not better, it's just more work.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  13. aman74

    aman74 Prolific Poster

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    Last night I was thinking about all the different approaches I've read about and figured there had to be a nice middle ground somewhere for me, since I figured the water changes are what will throw me off if I tried to go real low tech.

    Low and behold I log on here and see that you have posted exactly that! This has been a great help. Sorry it was a little round about. I shouldn't have posted "non-co2 setup", since intitially I didn't realize that the water changes would be the deciding factor.

    I'm with you on the low light and I want to be at 1.5, since I have to go with what's available that might put me at 1.8, hopefully this will be ok.

    Since this will be at most a 20 gallon how do you feel about Excel? I imagine Co2 will be cheaper in the long run, but I want to try my hand with all this first. I'm a long time hobbiest, but not much with plants.

    I did track down some numbers from the water divisions website. They are about a year old and don't specify which plant they come from. I think there are 4 in Cleveland and we use Lake Erie, not sure if they would vary much. These are the numbers I got:

    Ph: 7-7.6
    Gh: 6.7
    Kh: 4.4

    I found this very interesting since everyone always says our water is so hard, but isn't 6.7 somewhat soft? And isn't the Kh just barely getting to the point where it would be a good buffer at 4.4? My understanding of these issues is very limited.

    I'm going to go get a test kit, hopefully one of the ones that has multiple tests in it to save some dosh. Any recommendations amongst the typical brands of Seachem, AP, Hagen, Tetra? I'm looking at Ph, Kh, Gh, probably ammonia and nitrite, but these seem limited for my use other than to be extra sure the tank has cycled...Nitrate seems to be valuable, but are they worth it when just buying a cheapo?

    If those readings are correct, should they come into play with my decision on substrate? Onyx seems like it would be a nice buffer, but then I've heard of it buffering too much when adding Co2 as the Ph drops.

    AS has the opposite reputation. If I go AS do I still add the peat? I'm not really sure where as differs greatly from the other options as far as additional nutrients. Are there organics in it? I heard it raises ammonia at first.

    I'm looking at Soilmaster/Turface as well since if I do multiple tanks there would be significant savings. Other than it being a little light it sounded like it would be pretty good, but then I saw that some have had there Ph drop with it. People speculate that the quality and contents may differ with what batch you get and unknown propertied could be a problem. Any thoughts on this one?

    I'm actually getting ready to buy the stuff now and not just read about.

    big thanks,

    Anthony
     
  14. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Tap is fine.
    I'd use CO2 vs Excel.

    CO2 is cheap and easy for a 20 gallon tank.
    See the internal DIY CO2 reactor and just do that DIY approach.
    Weekly water change, add ferts 2 x a week, that's it.

    Plants will grow well.
    The ADA AS will do well, I'd not bother adding peat, although you can.
    Cost about the same as the other products(Other than SMS).


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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