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Non CO2 discus tank

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by Andrea67, Apr 17, 2005.

  1. Andrea67

    Andrea67 Junior Poster

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    Since I'm quite unsatisfied by the actual look of my discus tank, I thought that time for a new setup has come. It's actually 2 yrs old but I'm suffering some BGA problems and arrested development of plants. Fortunately fish feel nice and keep on breeding :p.
    The tank is around 220 lt (60 gal) with metal halide 70 W and no CO2. My focus will be on creating a nice environment for the discus and have at the same time some plants with not too high requirements. I'd skip any fast growing and/or stem plant in favour of echinodorus, crypto, fern, vallisneria.
    It could be called a typical "low-tech" tank.
    Let's talk about the substrate: my choice would be for a fine (but not too much) quartz sand. Grains dimensions: 0,5 to 1 mm.
    I'd like to use some Seachem tabs under plant roots. A sort of "ad hoc" fertilization for each plant.
    What I'd like to understand is if I need some supplement for the substrate to help it cycling/starting... I've read something in Tom's article concerning Leonardite. Could you recommend its usage and in which quantity? Could it replace the mulm for starting?
     
  2. wunderkind

    wunderkind Junior Poster

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    Re: Non CO2 discus tank

    I would think in sand you would have to worry about dead zones with no oxygen, thus no bacteria. maybe a layewr of lterite on the bottom, then some pea gravel over that, then sand on top. The two bottom layers would be thin, but might help.


    And possibly substrate heating.
     
  3. groovyfishguy

    groovyfishguy Prolific Poster

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    Re: Non CO2 discus tank

    I Ran a 55 gallon planted tank with crypts in it with a sand substrate for 6 years without any problems. Many say it is a bad idea but my experience was different.
     
  4. derekparr

    derekparr Junior Poster

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    Re: Non CO2 discus tank

    I don't think a .5 to 1 mm sand is even close to being too small... not even in theory. I use a similar thickness sand in all my tanks that comes from local creeks. It looks natural (go figure), easy for the plants and fish to move in it, and it doesn't vacuum away. And the best part is the price. Which if course, there is none. You'd probably want to boil it first, since you have discus, but I've been lazy in the past and have just rinsed it when using it outside or with cheap fish. And I've not had any troubles.

    It might not work to put sand on top of gravel though, it tends to fall between the spaces between the pebbles and you just end up with gravel on top until all the spaces between the pebbles is filled, at which point the purpose of putting the gravel underneath is void.

    I don't believe anything is needed to be added to the substrate specifically. You just need to fertilize with what ever method you decide on that doesn't add any extra NH4 and enough of everything else. Of course you might be interested in the Walstad method which utilizes a soil layer under the sand/gravel to help provide that for at least the first year give or take a few months.

    -derek parr
     
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Non CO2 discus tank

    Low tech(non CO2) Discus tanks need large tanks with less fish and that are not over feed.

    Otherwise the tank is simply never going to balance.

    I like 2-3mm sand. This seems to work best.
    Flourite and other brand name subs are better able to cycle waste than non porous substrates, Leonardite is mainly a carbon supply for the bacteria in the start up phase and NA to your tank.

    You can add it if you want to, but it'll make little change.

    Based on what you have said and assuming you will not lower the fish load and feeding:

    Good sized water changes weekly if possible.
    I'd keep the Swords and ferns.
    I'd attach lots of weeds to driftwood, namely java fern, Bolbitus etc, add Anubias in the darker sections.

    Swords in the open areas.

    I'd add CO2.

    Now you might think this will add more work, no, not if you use easy to care for ferns attached to driftwood, these require little maintaenance and folks will buy them off you for good $!

    They grow slow and are easy to deal with.

    Plant choice can reduce the work load and provuide for a nice long term aquascape. The sand can still be used also.

    With your light, the CO2(or excel) would greatly improve plant health and uptake of waste with only a small increase in actual work and more likely less, it's easier to prune the weeds than the algae, no?

    Something is going to grow in there, you have a choice of what.

    By adding CO2, this will allow you to get the most out of the light you have.
    By chosing easy slow growing plants, that will reduce the work load as well as only having a low level of light.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  6. Andrea67

    Andrea67 Junior Poster

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    Re: Non CO2 discus tank

    Thanks all of you guys for your opinions! :)

    Concerning substrate: I'll go for the quartz sand 0,5-1 mm as I told you (see here http://www.acquaingros.it/edisplay/cat434.htm mid page code AZ053). No further layers of leonardite, laterite etc.. Fertilization will be only flourish tabs under plants.
    Concerning water changes: Tom... :( I'd really like to skip weekly water changes with this tank! I'd rather go for at least 15 days water changes. What do you think? Why you think that weekly changes are required?
    Concerning plants: I have some vallisneria left from the previous tank so I think I could re-utilize it. Then, I agree with you and go for bolbitis, java fern and anubias in shadow areas. Swords will be my choice in open areas. What about crypto: nothing at all? I also have another option: nimphea zenkeri. Comments?!?
    Concerning CO2: I really would skip it... I know in the long run it'll be far more expensive, but for the moment I'd go for Excel. What would be your recommended dosage to have both beneficial effect on plants and no risk to hurt discus?
    Last: I assume that macros (N,P) come from food and fish waste. What about K? Do you think I should add some K2SO4? And micros? also included in food/fish-waste/tap water or some supplement could be necessary (namely Flourish)?

    Planned day for new set-up: May, the 6th!!!
     
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Non CO2 discus tank

    Because you have big cichlids and you feed them a lot and have too many in a small glass box. You will be able to balance it with fewer fish.

    Changing the water every 2 weeks will still give you algae.
    Either go with an CO2/Excel method or go with the non CO2 approach, none of this sitting on the fence.

    If you want more fish in a smaller tank, do the water changes.
    If you don't want to do the water changes, reduce the fish loading.

    You do not get both and healthy plant growth. There are trade offs.

    dose excel according to directions, CO2 is cheaper in the long run, cost after set up is only 10$ per year perhaps. You seldom mess with it also and it allows much more control in terms of nutrients and feeding and fish stocking levels.

    You will add SeaChem Equilibrium, it's loaded with K, Ca, Mg, Mn, Fe.
    You will also need to add a little PO4, fish food is heavy on N, not P.
    For non CO2 methods, this would all you might need.

    If you switch to CO2, you can dose perhaps 2x week and do water changes once every 2 weeks also.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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