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Non Co2 Methods

While much of the attention and aquascape seen on the web focuses on CO2 enrichment in their methods, Diana Walstad presents an excellent argument...
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  1. AZFish1

    AZFish1 Junior Poster

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    Re: Non CO2 methods

    Set up a "odds and ends" 20 long. Got peat and mulm in the bottom. Topped with 3" profile, onyx and flourite (onyx from another tank and flourite from a tear down) Had a single 24" tube VHO set up with an aquasun bulb from the tear down as well. Retro fit it into the full hood and there ya go! This is gonna be fun! I am gonna use just a power head to move the water and havent decided on a heater or not. I figure the "75 watt" VHO wont be too much since it is a) in a full hood and b) not using a decent reflector at all. A lot of wasted light but its what was on hand + I really like the color of the aquasun bulbs. Makes the fish and plants look great :)
     
  2. Laith

    Laith Lifetime Charter Member
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    Re: Non CO2 methods

    75w on a 20g is 3.75wpg. Even without a good reflector isn't this way too much for a non-CO2 tank?
     
  3. srozell

    srozell Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Non CO2 methods

    I currently have 2 20 gallon tanks set up with 125 Watts of light on each.

    I put the same types of plants in each.

    One tank is CO2 dosed in large quantities.
    Also dosed are Seachem Flourish
    Potassium Sulphate once a week with water change
    KN03 and KH2PO4 every second day
    Seachem Flourish every second day.


    One tank is a "Diana Walstad" tank.
    About once a week I dose the same things I'm dosing in the CO2 tank.

    After 3 months of observaions I have noticed:
    Water in the CO2 tank is crystal clear, while the "Diana" tank is slightly darker.
    After a few days water was green in the Diana tank, but cleared up after a coule days. This didn't happen in the CO2 tank.

    Plant growth has been close to progressing at the same speed.
    Algae growth in both tanks has been minimal, but there is a development of a type of branchy algae growing on the slower growing plants in the Diana tank.

    From experience, I know that the "Diana" tank will not hold in for the long term. I expect it to start slowing down in the next 3 months.


    Cost of the Dianna Walstead tank. $125.00 including the lighting.
    Cost of the CO2 tank (complete with pH controller) $1200.00.
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Non CO2 methods

    They(non CO2) start well out of the gate, you can add nutrients to keep them going though, start dosing SeaChem Eq, KNO3, KH2PO4 etc.

    It's amazing they do grow as fast as they do when you add the right nutrients once they begin to hit the lull.

    The same thing use to ocurr with CO2 methods till folks started adding PO4...

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  5. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    Re: Non CO2 methods

    In the Walstad approach, the eventual depletion of the soil nutrients is offset by the fertilizer that well-fed fish produce.

    I have one soil-based tank that has been set up for eight months and needs no dosing, and another 10 month old tank that has required dosing from the third month, although the amount needed is decreasing as the fish population grows and the plant growth slows down.

    All natural aquarium environments are different and perhaps more interesting than those with more controlled environments. Or perhaps not, depending on one's objectives.

    Bill
     
  6. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Non CO2 methods

    The fish waste alone is not a balanced source of plant nutrients.
    Some plants will grow, but many will not.
    The question I asked some years ago was why.

    The plants will do better if you add just a small amount once a week(this is not outting you or anyone out too much?) of SeaChem Eq and KNO3/KH2PO4.

    Nothing complex, nothing high tech, add 3 things once a week.
    This allows you to grow most any plant.

    It also removes the need and mess for soil should you go that route.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
    Nikolyator likes this.
  7. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    Re: Non CO2 methods

    Ms. Walstad and her followers claim that they grow aquatic gardens in soil tanks with only fish food for nutrients. As I said, I have one tank that has worked well for 8 months without dosing, and another that needs dosing. In the former, NO3 and PO4 levels have been constant for about 5 months. I think that might have more to do with the high fish population than with the soil in the substrate.

    I have another tank that was set up as a fry tank, with an inert gravel substrate and a few plants. It had bad BGA and other algae problems, I'm sure because of poor nutrient levels. After a few months I got sick of looking at it as it was. I treated the algae problems and dosed it to bring the NO3 and PO4 levels up to a reasonable level. Since then the 30 well-fed, adult guppies in that 10 gallon tank (I know, too many) seem to be producing what the plants need, because they are growing well without any additional dosing, and there is no algae problem.

    I intend to set up a tank using the method that Tom outlined, as soon as I can find a local source that sells Equilibrium in less than 5 year quantities.
    In fact, maybe two tanks: one with fish and one without.

    All natural tanks are different.

    Bill
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Non CO2 methods

    So you can have Gloss, A reineckii or hairgrass growing in there?
    \Lwet me see a nice field of that, then we can talk which method is able to supply the nutrients for all, not just some plants.

    I agree fish waste alone can supply some plants well.
    She and others concede that some plants wane for unknown reasons, I know the reasons..............
    She speculates, incorrectly, that allelopathy is a possible cause for this.
    If allelopathy is the cause, why don't I have trouble?

    Like PO4 excess = algae, if I aded PO4 I should see algae, but I don't.
    If I try and grow these same plants that do poorly in non CO2 tanks, why am I not having trouble?

    Thus it cannot be allelopathy if that is what is preventing the plant from growing in my tanks...

    Yep, I'd expect this.

    Ahhh, now you are thinking!
    This will greatly help you see the difference between what the fish loading will add vs the inorganic nutrients.

    I have done this for a few years now.
    That's how come I know what needs to be added.

    You can order EQ from most mail order places, 500grams runs 5-8$.

    Yes, so removing the main input variable, the fish load/food/waste, takes care of that.

    This gives you more control of the inuts and outputs.
    The water chanegs are still not done, weekly dosing is adequate also(not too hard of a routine!)

    Diana has done a fair amount of work and research, but without testing a control with out the fish etc, knowing what plants need at higher CO2/light values, you really are guessing.

    That's fine when the growth rate is slowed down, but the main factor in the success is the lack of water changes.

    That slows down the uptake rates so that if something does not make it, it will take a long time, liklewise any nutrient deficency takes a long time to appear and it can be remedied by adding more fish/fish food etc in general, or you can add SeaChem EQ and a little KNO3/trace/KH2PO4 etc as well.

    Fish food alone is very easy and what many seem to desire to achieve the balance, but a better balance can be achieved without that fish centric attitude and philosophy.

    Balance the needs of the plants first(plantcentric thinking), then feed the fish whatever.

    The fish waste is secondary, icing on the cake and when you dose once a week at small amounts of inorganic ferts, this uoptake of fishj waste is further maximized and the tank does better and grows better.

    This allows you to keep a non CO2 planted tank with more plant species in better health, higher growth rates(but not insanely fast!), better aquascaping designs and layouts, with only a small dosing weekly routine and less variation in the soil type since I suggest using Onyx sand/leonardite/mulm/peat.

    Less mess, easier to move plants around, more plant species etc, these are not small gains...............

    That's worth a lot for only a few simple modifications.

    Similarly, I did the same thing to Paul and Kevin's PMDD's theory.Overall, the idea was great, just needed a few small changes and some clarity abiout why things were occuring.

    Both the PMDD and the Non CO2 method's reason's as to why algae grow and what plants need etc are incorrect.

    The same will occur with non CO2 methods as it did in CO2 enriched systems and is happening in Marine planted tanks also.

    Which is cool, since now we can grow at many different rates, have far more control over what we can keep, different routines to suit lazy and more amibitious folks.

    Ultimately this means more success with planted tanks.
    I will say Paul and Diana did extremely well, I'm just tweaking things to make them consistent and stable and going back and testing the notions as to why.

    From that, I know what are the main players in the system/method and then know how to go about tweaking it.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  9. defdac

    defdac Lifetime Members
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    Re: Non CO2 methods

    What about nightly buildup of CO2? In the morning the CO2-level could potentially be substantial with very low surface agitation, and if that is so it would be good with above normal circulation-levels in low-techs?
     
  10. Ian H

    Ian H Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Non CO2 methods

    But low tech = no CO2...................so it shouldn't be an issue surely.

    Ian
     
  11. defdac

    defdac Lifetime Members
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    Re: Non CO2 methods

    I mean the CO2 from the substrate/filter and fishes. But perhaps it doesn't add to much of CO2 anyway.
     
  12. Ian H

    Ian H Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Non CO2 methods

    OIC! No problems from the fishes as long as the're not vastly overstocked. Should be no issues from the substrate either.

    Generally I've found it good to have a gentle water current in my tanks. I think the nutrients are distributed better.

    Ian
     
  13. Rider

    Rider Junior Poster

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    Re: Non CO2 methods

    I have a non-CO2 45 gallon biotope tank. The substrate is soil from the river in question, covered with gravel from the river bed. Even the decorative wood came out of the mud. I stocked it with plants and fish from the catchment.

    The tank is unheated, so mostly sits at 18 to 22 deg C. The lighting is two 36 Watt fluorescent tubes with a very efficient reflector.

    I have been having some problems with algae. It consists of very fine green threads or very thin, almost transparent, films mainly trailing from the plants. I can get a lot of it out by twirling a satay stick through the water and entangling the algae, but that is obviously not going to get rid of it.

    OK, Tom, can I suppress the algae with the right concentration of nitrate / phosphate / iron / whatever else? What do I test for, and what are the target values?
     
  14. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Non CO2 methods

    I think you have enough nutrients, but need more plants, eg, floating plants, at least 10-25% of the surface.

    With non soil based substrates, I know what types of nutrients the tank needs and the rate.

    NH4 is an issue with non CO2 soil based substrates.
    Uprooting, leaking etc can cause issues. Stale soil after a few months also causes issues.

    How old is the substrate and what types of plants/% planted is the tank?

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  15. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Non CO2 methods

    The CO2 build up from night is used up in about 20-60 minutes when you turn of the lights.

    Then the plants go into CO2 limited mode and stay there.
    If you add this and a large water change( and/or expose the plants to air), often this will greatly increase a lot more than night time equilbration alone.
    The amount from fish/bacteria is relatively small compared to a water change and the fish/bacteria and diffusion take place during the day as well, not just at night.

    It's not an algae issue, it's a plant issue. Messing with the plant's adaptation will cause them to shut down and slow their growth until the environment stabilizes.

    Plants do best in stable locations.
    Hundreds of years even and this has been documented in FL springs. Clear constant temp water, ample light, same CO2(some are high CO2, some are low CO2, some medium, but all are fairly constant and have lots of plants.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  16. Rider

    Rider Junior Poster

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    Re: Non CO2 methods

    The substrate is only about 2 months old. Most of the plants seem to be doing quite well, considering the transplant shock. In fact, some are pearling.

    I suspect that I might not have enough plants. A lot of the foreground is still bare, as I wait for the many cuttings to grow and spread. It won't be long before the front half the soil area is covered. The back half is dominated by Myriophyllum crispatum and two different species of water ribbon with floating leaves. In terms of bio-mass, they are the biggest plants in there. I do not have any floating plants. I could put some azolla in there, but it's hard to get rid of later!

    Last time I tested for ammonia, the test kit showed barely detectable levels. I'll check again.

    What do you mean by uprooting and leaking? I'm not at all surprised that some of the newly planted fauna died or lost leaves, but could dead plant matter in the water upset the chemistry?

    I'm not a low-tech, natural tank zealot. If you have any recommendations for water chemistry, I'll dose accordingly and taper off once the plants have grown enough to take care of it.

    Thanks :)
     
  17. stcyrwm@adelphia.net

    stcyrwm@adelphia.net Prolific Poster

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    Re: Non CO2 methods

    Tom,

    You say that adding Flourish Excel is an option if you want more growth. This would be a middle ground between Diana Walstead's system and the hight light, high co2 option. Would you have the same middle ground option dosing co2 at a lower level - say 10 to 20ppm? Or is there something about the Excel that makes this an option and not low co2?

    Thanks, Bill
     
  18. bobby269

    bobby269 Junior Poster

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    Re: Non CO2 methods

    Thank you for this article.

    I'm going to try your method. I have some tmg, will this be sufficient( plus
    equilibrium) Or should I add something else with it?

    If I start excel ( 60 gallons of water) tank what amount do you suggest.
    ( what would 7-1 mean for this tank.
     
  19. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Non CO2 methods

    Excel is not a Non CO2 method, I consider it part of a middle ground to CO2 enriched method, carbon enrichment if you will(rather than CO2 enriched).

    You can and should do water changes if you use Excel.
    If you have low light, then you can get away with longer water change intervals, say one every 4 weeks or so.

    NH4 test kits will not show an algae bloom during or after the fact, only before, so you need to be looking for it before it happens, not after.

    The substrate is only 2 months old and is getting close to stabilizing.
    So the issues are not going to persist if you keep going and correct the algae, add more weds etc.

    Do not worry what type, just add something that's easy to grow and phase them out later.

    For dosing a non CO2/non Excel tank, I've given a rough guide, once a week dosing etc, a smidge of the ferts basically and a fish load.

    Fish load alone can do it and adding a little KNO3 etc can really help over time.

    Excel can use EI directly at about 1/4 dosing amounts 2x a week and likely be extended up to 2-4 weeks water changes. But if you have issues or want to keep things looking good and on top of it, do weekly water changes and see how well you can get the tank looking, then try backing off the water changes later if you wish.

    So a 20 gal using excel would get:
    2 w/gal light
    Dose 1/8 teaspoon KNO3 1-2x a week
    KH2PO4, 1/16th, 1-2x a week
    Traces, 2mls 2x a week
    SeaChem EQ 1/8th once a week
    50% weekly water change
    Dose 1.5-2x the rec dosing for Excel.


    Etc
     
  20. bobby269

    bobby269 Junior Poster

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    Re: Non CO2 methods

    I started a 65 gallon tank 8/7/2005.Lighting is 116 watts.Substrate is 1/2 gravel and 1/2 flourite.It is loaded with plants growing at the rate for a non-co2 tank,
    except for wisteria which grows a lot faster.
    KH=8.9 GH=10.5. I add nitrate and phosphate and equilibrium weekly. Seldom is phosphate need.Everything is green no visible algae even on the glass. So it seems to be performing like Tom suggests.
    I have many Anubia plants one of which has yellow around the edges of the leaf.
    I added 1/4 tsp of TMG which seems to have helped a lot.( once a week for two weeks) I am considering using TMG more often. If so what is a safe amount? If I do include TMG in the dosing would it be okay to continue adding nitrate, phosphate and equil.

    Thanks in advance for your help.
     
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