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Non-CO2 method

Discussion in 'Are you new to aquatic plants? Start here' started by PK81, Jan 27, 2009.

  1. PK81

    PK81 Junior Poster

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    Hi All,
    I am new to this forum but not to fishkeeping. First can I say this is an excellent site (being an environmental microbiologist myself any site which refers to papers in Applied and Environmental Micro and knows the Nitrospira story is to be applauded!).

    Anyway I am setting up my first fully planted tank and would like to go down the low light non-CO2 route. I have kept fish for many years but never really bothered too much with the planting side of things. I now want to revamp my 180Litre (47US gallon) tank to a planted low tech set-up. I have been reading extensively.

    My lighting is 2 x35W T5s giving about 1.5wpg. My problem is substrate. I cannot get fluorite, eco-complete or onyx sand anywhere - I live in Northern Ireland and we do not have a fantastic choice in aquatic shops. I can get JBL aqua base or red Sea florabase. I wanted a darker substrate. One shop said they may be able to order the fluorite/onyx sand in but it would be expensive. My two questions are:

    1. If I can get a special order which is best black fluorite, eco-complete or onyx sand. I will not e able to see samples.
    2. If I cannot get these what should I go for to follow the low tech approach.

    My tank has a black background and I will be keeping tetras/forktail rainbows.

    Many thanks for the help.

    PK
     
  2. SuperColey1

    SuperColey1 Guru Class Expert

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    aquaessentials.co.uk will ship to NI

    Loads options then :)

    AC
     
  3. PK81

    PK81 Junior Poster

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    Great thanks for the info and quick. Will check out postage etc. Any thoughts on which is best to use. Hard to judge on pictures alone.
    PK
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    UKAPS is also a group that you will want to join up with.
    There are 3 main methods to do the non CO2 approach, likely 5 or 6 really, but I'll list 3 main versions.

    Also, a good book for you with your background recently came out was by Reddy and DeLaune, Biogeochemistry of Wetlands, 2008. Very up to date and we be of use to you in your field and for the hobby. Everything you want to know about sediments in wetlands with plants.

    I know Reddy and took his course in grad school on this book which was the format he used.

    The main versions of non CO2 are: non nutrient sediments, like silica sand, hardened clays(Flourite/SMS), or Zeolite even, some have exchange capacity, maybe a little iron, but mostly bacteria which function as a nutrient source and control CEC as organic matter builds up.

    You can speed this up in the initial stages by adding peat as described in the method here, then dose the water column a little (2-4x a month etc lightly).

    Another method uses soil, sandy loams from a river delta, delta clays etc tend to work well if possible. Soak in shallow tray with water for 3-6 weeks or so to mineralize, or boil 10min, or cook in over for 1 hours. All 3 do basically the same things (oxidize the labile material), but the longer biological method will likely be the best.

    Another method, and the wisest approach, is to use a little or both methods, sediment + water column. In the past, many would say that nutrients should be kept out of the water column to limit algae, this is not possible, algae are like bacteria, you are not going to limit them unless you get extremely low/ loading rates(eg from fish waste etc). Algae will grow very well in either case, the difference is that the plants will suffer.

    Plants, not the nutrients define the system(when present in high enough
    % and in good health), so care should be focused on their needs, not avoiding algae(indirect consequence of of poor plant care).

    Nutrients can come from sediments and the water column and each source buffers the other nicely. Many on line will support either or method, but rarely both for some reason, those that know the water column does not induce algae, and then those that believe enriched sediments do. However, clearly, both folks cannot be right and looking at the evidence for research where plants are present, you can easily disprove that algae are in any way limited.

    So then it becomes apparent...that we can use both methods without fear of algae, pick the tank full of easy to grow plants/weeds, getting the benefits that each method has and less/few negative trade offs.

    Some folks have high fish loads also, do large water changes often, and do okay, generally with specific species of bicarbonate using plants also, without much problem. There are a few other methods as well.

    10% floating plants also helpos a great deal, no light or CO2 issues so they mop up any variation that might affect the submersed species.


    I'd suggest a 1 cm layer of sediment like delta clay + 3 parts 2-3 mm sand/zeolite/hard cooked clay, mix this well, then cap with the same sands used to mix. Add about 1 handful of ground peat moss to each 25 cm square of tank bottom also.

    Plant heavily, add algae eaters later, after about 1 week or so.
    Note, you can do the dry start method(search here) and in 8-10 weeks the tank will be well grown in and cycled. Add water and a few other stem plants and you are set.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  5. PK81

    PK81 Junior Poster

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    Hi Tom,
    Thanks for the reply and the valuable advice. I will get that book. I currently have a PhD student looking at constructed wetlands for wastewater treentment. They work really well - the wetlands that is!! My interest is phosphorus by the way - how it is cycled in the freshwater/marine/wastewater systems.

    Anyway your reply is perfect. I have already registered with UKAPS. Aquaessentials will supply Fluorite black sand so for convenience I may go for this with the layer of peat of course. My tank with the current gravel has been running 10 years so I will get lots of mulm from this.

    I like the dry start method - when you say stem palnts you mean like Valisneria for example. Do Cryptocoryne and Anubias work as well as HC in this method? However i am unsure as to what to do with my filter. Nitrifyers are quite sensitive organisms and I would worry about freezing them at -80 without protection. Anybody tried this? Many thanks again.
    PK
     
  6. PK81

    PK81 Junior Poster

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    Hi All,
    Still thinking about substrates. Looling at either Fluorite Black or ADA Amazonia for my low tech set-up. The latter seems to be the most popular but how long will it last in the tank - will I have to replace it in 3 years? it will have to be shipped to me so cost is a consideration. Will it turn to mud after a while as well?

    Secondly as in my last post any suggestions what to do with my filter sponges whilst staring with the dry method - the filter is fixed in the tank but I can remove the sponges.

    Many thanks,
    PK
     
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Then Dr Reddy is the person to talk with.
    Have the candidate call or email him directly.
    Also, see the new book he just put out, an excellent section in PO4 cycling.
    Biogeochemistry of Wetlands, 2008.
    If you have students interested in these fields, certainly one of the top books to have on the "personal" shelf. Better than the 300 pages of ppt mess I had prior:)

    Well, it's mostly tougher organic matter and covered with bacteria, so the cycle will not take long.

    Yes, Egeria densa and Coontail will not work well until you flood the system.
    The sediment is saturated, so the bacteria have plenty of time to establish, the plant roots also establish and start pumping O2 down there, which aids in more bacteria and aerobic zones for them as well, and the O2/bacteria help mineralize the NH4 fraction well.

    Then you flood and drain a couple of times to flush things, then you are set.
    Roots are established, bacteria is well established, everything is ready to go.
    No transition period.

    Crank CO2, keep light moderate, add ferts to water column, add more stem plants that grow fast and root fast etc.

    Crypts and Anubias are all grown this way emergent, most all aquatic plants except perhaps Vals and Coontail, Egeria etc.

    When you are discussing the bacteria and temps, what do you mean by that?
    While sensitive, once they get established via the Dry start, they will dominate the sediment and most of the tank.

    If you want to cycle the filter during this Dry period, simply take some mulm and add it to the new filter, and place the filter in a small bucket to run. Add some dirt or ammonia (5ppm or so) and let it run and add about 5ppm of NH3 every 1-2 weeks. It will be very mature by the time you add it to the new aquarium.

    Fishless cyclying, but without adding a lot of NH4 to the tank itself(not wise, water changes, algae blooms etc etc). This is bucket cycling, it's not required if you do the DSM though.

    Plants create what is called a silent cycle, since they remove the NH4 directly........so not much NH4 is available for the bacteria to use. And plants also remove the NO3. So fishless cycling is not needed.
    Bacteria populations will adjust to the load of NH4 produced, but this is typically low when you add the plants and we add NO3 to add enough N for the plants, since NH4 is far more toxic and at higher light, a good method to induce green water algae blooms.

    In light, plants have plenty of ATP and NADPH to convert Fe and NO3 into usable forms rapidly, and the demand is not that great since we are CO2 and light limited.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr



    Regards,
    Tom Barr

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Really up to you about the Sediment, flourite will require more care with water column dosing, not that bad etc, and little mess with the sediment, uprooting cleaning etc. The ADA will be easier to start up and be messier if you move things around. Both sediments will gain from small water column dosing, you can also use mineralized soil and mix at 3:1 sand"soil after it's been mineralized, this gives it weight and keeps it from becoming too anaerobic, as well as much less messy. Add about 4-8cm of this and then you cap with another 3-6 cm of sand etc.

    Better than a solid layer 3cm thick etc, then capped with sand.

    Some good delta clay sediment is best.
    soak for a few weeks, then use, or go straight to Dry start.
    Let it mineralize in the tank and allow the roots to help.

    See above for the bucket method for cycling the filters.
    Sediment: go with aesthetics and personal habits.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  9. PK81

    PK81 Junior Poster

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    Hi Tom,
    Thanks for the reply. Placed an order for the Reddy book today with our library. I saw the Pi chapter on google books. Looks excellent.

    Regarding filter bacteria. Your plan chimes with my thoughts. I was worried about just leaving the filters in a bucket without aeration. Generally when we are preserving our microbial cultures we will freeze at -80 in 15% glycerol. The glycerol acts as a protectant against ice crystal formation which can disrupt some but not all cells. -20 is no good, for some reason it affects the cells viability to a greater extent. But I think the bucket technique will work - I just wanted clarification.

    I think I am now about ready to go - just need the aquascape! Just one thing you said which confused me - you say below to 'crank the CO2' but I am planning to go down the non-CO2 route.

    I see where you are coming from with the DIY substrate, and will investigate locally. I still have a notion of going with the ADA Amazonia but this might be because I have been reading so much about it. Seemingly it leaks a bit of ammonia at the start but the dry start method should take care of this. My water has a pH of 7.4 and a hardness of 8 German degrees, 14 French degrees or 142 ppm as calcium carbonate - I don't know what units you use: this is slightly hard. Maybe I need Amazonia 2 - does it leach ammonia too.

    Again thanks for you thoughts. I wouldn't mind hearing your views on eutrophication sometime. You argue that nutrient excess is not a cause of algae but yet a vast amount of legilsation is based around limiting nitrate discharge to the marine environment and P discharge to the freshwater environment to prevent algal blooms. The experimental lakes area in Canada have done some great experiements on this. I am not an algal biologist so take their word on this - and use it as an argument to justfy my research into ways of biologically removing P from wastewater! But you might have an alterative view.

    PK
     
  10. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    If you go that route, you still can at sometime in the future if you come to that bridge. The same applies for using Excel. Use it well if you use it.

    You read about it because the CO2 and the pretty pics, not because it will give you some greater effect than wetland clays/loams.

    Those have peat and NH4 as well. ADA AS takes less work, it's easy to use and you can do the Dry start method without adding anything. The NH4 is gone in a few weeks due to mineralization, the filters are primed and ready to go, the plants are nice and well rooted, sediment has not moved.

    The KH and GH will gone way down, do not use the ADA AS II. Use the plain old original version.

    It's pretty much the same opinions express by the aquatic plant folks at IFAS.
    Crisman and Bachmann, Brenner, Hoyer, Haller, Bowes, Reddy etc.
    Florida has 7800 Lakes 4 hectares and over. That's a lot of data. They have low nutrients, medium and high nutrient systems, various loading rates, aquatic macrophytes, or not................examples where Pi loading is high and the results for those systems, which are generally not the same.

    But this is stable sub and tropical shallow lake systems, not northern deep, highly dimetic lakes with 2 turnovers per year. Wind, temp, water inflow, seasonal changes(dry vs wet seasons) causes all sorts of changes.

    I'm not so sure such legislation is well placed scientifically, ethically I'm more than willing to look the other way and leave things the way they are:)
    It depends on each system and the presence of aquatic macrophytes.
    I do not like seeing human source change done to natural systems.
    Let nature reclaim the ecosystem and we should stop our pollution input.
    In some systems in northern lakes, this is true, but in others, adding more PO4 will result in more weed growth, neither of which is good really.

    This is distinctly different from horticulture in aquariums however.
    These are very different goals and the ability to change things like lighting, CO2 are impossible. Not so in an aquarium. Very easy there.
    See the Florida lake example vs water level.
    Some folks in legislation did not like that paper after they started spending lots of $ on how to reduce PO4:)

    Well, P itself is not a toxicant, the secondary effects MAY BE. Depends on the system.

    Crismann argued what I'd argued without any real rebuttal(they agreed with me and where sort of surprised, but not really, at my view), that limiting P is not how to best manage Lake Okeechobee, one of the largest wetland pl;ant covered lakes in the world. I do not grow plants from Canadian lakes, nor do my light durations changes almost 2 fold seasonally, nor are my tanks that deep, and they actually have 30-50% or more surface coverage.

    If you add nutrients, you will get more production, but what type? Macrophytes or algae? Depends on what is already there to start with. and the level of disturbance, the water levels stabilization etc.

    Water levels stabilization has caused massive aquatic weed problems in many countries, but the trade off is irrigation water, flood control to prevent loss of life and property damage etc. Then we blame the weeds:)

    I'll cite a paper for you where he goes into it.
    The everglades is a different system with different issues, adding more P causes periphyton changes and also Caldium native grasses get replaced by Typha at higher P loading. The natural levels of P are about 3-10ppb or less, beyond testing detection ranges for most places. How do restore such massive ecosystems with PO4 removal methods technology we have today? They have Billion's$ in funding.

    So there's a great deal of neat well funded research in Florida, and it's also a 50 million $ a year aquatic plant trade, and plenty of lake replicates of arious trophic status.

    Here's some good references, I encourage you to contact and communicate with these folks.

    PO4:
    http://fishweb.ifas.ufl.edu/Faculty%20Pubs/CanfieldPubs/RBachTMDL03.pdf

    And trophic status.

    http://fishweb.ifas.ufl.edu/Faculty%20Pubs/CanfieldPubs/macrophyte.pdf

    These papers might blow your mind some and change your view.
    So...they are good reading for students to show and challenge their views and what we traditionally think to be the case. ;)

    So it's just not me alone in the wilds, there's good research that's been done and looked at, reconsidered etc.

    Another often cited paper in Philips 1978, a mechanism for the decline of macrophytes due to eutrophication.

    Philips wrote an awesome paper, however, they skewed the PO4 data. They included the fraction of PO4 from the pytoplankton in their water measurements, they did not add the same fraction of the macrophytes, so the high intenral PO4 in the algae biomass was included, and not the high PO4 inside the plants.

    This showed no correlation when you add the macrophyte % of the PO4 in there.
    If you take the PO4 out locked up in the plants, then it looks liek that low PO4 in the water is well correlated to good macrophyte growth!

    So there where methods issues with the paper, and skewing that occurred.
    Maybe it was lake level like in the above paper, not PO4, that's really the issue.
    I am more observational, I like to look and think a long time first. If a theory claims one thing, then I try and induce the result. If that does not work, I will want to know why and start questioning the hypothesis put forth critically.

    Here's IFAS's researcher listings, they have pdf's of many of their papers.
    Great bunch of folks and they have a lot of industry funding , governmental funding and private/academic funding.

    Here in California, we only have 4 % of our native wetlands left.
    Florida HAS WELL OVER 50%, BUT A LOT MORE.
    Good news is that many wetlands can be restored and rather quickly compared to many other ecosystems. It might take a long long time for the critters and inverts to come back however, but the function and plants can come back fast.
    So we can take back some of the destroyed lands and provide flood plain control, nutrient reductions, riparian forest, habit, pollinator habitats, natural parts for recreation and increased land values etc.

    Even large rivers can dramatically reduce the loading by 40-50% for even the Mississippi river by adding adjacent wetlands and flood control measures.
    After the 1993 flood and the Hurricanes, folks are seriously considering it and spending the $.

    Marine coastal systems really can take a beating from it though, they are much different than wetlands.

    This is why good mitigation before it gets there, good delta/estuary preservation is good as a buffer. That is a sustainable approach that benefits more folks and nature over time.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  11. PK81

    PK81 Junior Poster

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    Thanks Tom. I will check out those contacts / papers. I'm sure I'll have more questions regarding set-up!
     
  12. PK81

    PK81 Junior Poster

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    Hi Tom,
    Just realised but I am going to need an alternative to KNO3 living in NI. What is the ppm nitrate required for the low CO2 method. I was looking at Seachem Nitrogen (although this appears to be not all nitrate). If I know the ppm I can calculate the N load needed. Do you have any alternative suggestions.
    PK
     
  13. PK81

    PK81 Junior Poster

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    Oh can't get calcium or ammonium nitrate either by the way - the world is a crazy place
     
  14. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Errr yea.........they have good reasons for not allowing KNO3, redneck gun blackpowder shooter folks here and farmers would have a cow if they could not get it.

    Ca(NO3)2 works also + K2SO4.
    Check with Aquaessentials.com.
    Tropica also makes a brand for the macros that works well and is simple.
    You have to pay a lot for name brands and water however.

    Seachem is pretty dilute.
    NaNO3 also works, but rather high in Na.
    Ca(NO3)2 is better I'd say and easy to dissolve.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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