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Non CO2 methods

Discussion in 'Articles' started by Tom Barr, Mar 28, 2005.

  1. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Tom often mentions Leonardite as a good bottom layer for a substrate, but I don't like it at all. I think the purpose is to get more organic carbon in that area of the substrate, something Leonardite is noted for. But, the constant leaching of yellow water is too much of a disadvantage for me. I never have had that problem with ordinary river silt. I was never able to get adequate lighting on the 10 gallon tank I had the Leonardite in, so the plants didn't have much chance to grow well, and they didn't. It is entirely possible that if done correctly Leonardite would result in better plant growth. I have no idea what the optimum or minimum amount to use would be.
     
  2. PhillyB

    PhillyB Prolific Poster

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    I have fairly good growth in my 20 gallon. The yellow water is too much though, entirely disturbs the look of the tank. I am going to stick with it a bit longer and see if I can get it to clear up but things look doubtful at this point. :(
     
  3. pacific12977

    pacific12977 Junior Poster

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    How much do you have in your 20g? I was thinking like maybe just a very small amount, just kinds dusted on the botom of the aquarium and then your 2-4 inches of flourite might be just enough to get the tank started, but not have long term water colouring effects? I dont know....lol
     
  4. PhillyB

    PhillyB Prolific Poster

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    I have between .5" and .75" of Leonardite, definitely more than a dusting. It is capped by about 2.5" of Onyx Sand. I am still working with the activate carbon in the HOB filter to see if that slowly clears it up. Trying to keep that filter clean by rinsing weekly, and changing the media bi-weekly!
     
  5. BobB

    BobB Junior Poster

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    Hi Tom, I read your article with great interest especially since I don't have to use CO2. I am setting up a 60G tank with ADA amazonian soil and power sand. It will also have 2 96W bulbs each one has its on power cord. My question what plants would be best for me. I will be using Excel!
     
  6. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Excel is not a non CO2 method, however, there is some crossover.

    Excel will allow water changes, strict non CO2 does not encourage water changes, which is a plus benefit for using the method.

    If the water is yellow, then activated carbon will take care of that pretty fast.
    SeaChem matrix carbon is among the best.

    Note, you can bake carbon to recharge it in the over, make sure it's as hot as your over can go and run it for 1-2 hours or so. This will not fry all of the organics, but will roast many and recharge a fair % of the carbon for reuse.

    Many do not like the sink or the idea of their home oven being used this way.
    They might just say go buy some more carbon:)

    So Excel will help if you need to do water changes.
    Yellow water= carbon for the pure non CO2 method.

    Bob, the 60 gal has way too much light.
    Use T5's, say 2x 39 W. More than enough and place them about 12" or so apart, do not use them at 3" apart distance, modify and spread out the hood if needed.

    Excel would be wise there also using the ADA AS for 2-3 months. Do not try it with the 96 watt lights unless you plan on using CO2.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  7. Mr Fishies

    Mr Fishies Junior Poster

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    It's a few months into my attempt at this method and I've been having issues with algae (new tank, no surprise) but my real concern is the near complete lack of growth from all my stem plants, H.difformis, L.repens, B.monnieri, but C.balansae and some A.nana with roots into the gravel seem to be doing OK.

    So I assume the crypts and anubias are "getting a bit to eat" from the gravel (Eco Complete), but the stems are starving. Did I miss my dosing calculation? For a 75G with a 96W AHS CF kit over it, is dosing 1/8tsp of KNO3 and 1/16tsp of KH2PO4 once a week way off?

    Also, the KNO3 I found is the granular lawn fertilizer looking stuff rather than powder which the KH2PO4 is - maybe I'm under dosing because of all the air spaces between the little beads of KNO3?

    Anyone have any thoughts, suggestions, ideas. It's been steadily getting worse and my patience waiting for things to turn around has perhaps let it get worse than I should have. There's a pretty good coat of brush algae forming in places and I was thinking of spot treating with H2O2, but I understand unless I correct the issue it's just a band-aid.
     
  8. SuperColey1

    SuperColey1 Guru Class Expert

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    I am trying this method at the moment (only set it up last night) and I have a couple of questions.

    Can I get away with lightly planting the substrate if I have the water surface covered with Riccia to compensate? Will the Riccia counteract?

    I haven't used a nutrient rich substrate, just mulm, leonardite and then playsand and am intending on dosing the water column once a week.

    Is just Crypts and Ferns in the substrate.

    This is intended as a Fry tank so will only have Cory Fry and a few shrimp in it. Not much waste to provide nutrients.

    AC
     
  9. tedr108

    tedr108 Lifetime Charter Member
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    AC,

    I made up for initial sparse planting in my non-CO2s with anacharis and hornwort floating around -- these plants hang out near the surface for the most part. These plants also give me a needed partial light blockage, because at 1.8wpg, my non-CO2s are higher light than I really want. If the riccia or any other floating plants can handle the lower light, it will work. Floating plants seem to pull more NO3 and other nutrients out of the water -- that makes sense, since they have unlimited CO2. I usually have some sort of floating plants in my tanks (water lettuce and some other little plant with spines on its leaves) -- they don't exactly flourish in the lower light, but they do grow slowly and propagate. I think you will find that floating surface plants will end up blocking almost all of your light as they take over. The anacharis and hornwort that I use only block some of it, so the plants in the substrate may be better off because they get more light.

    Crypts grow in my non-CO2s and spread, but very slowly. If you are going mostly crypts, you'll probably have to plant quite a few. If you wait for them to fill in, you'll probably be waiting a long time! My bread and butter non-CO2 substrate plant has been corkscrew vals. They require maintenance, however, because they will take over my tanks in about a month. I get the feeling that these vals do very well for me because I have 20G long tanks, and they reach the surface easily, where they get plenty of CO2.

    These non-CO2 tanks are so forgiving that it is almost ridiculous, especially if you have a few algae eaters, like shrimp. I just kept playing around until I found something that worked for me. Algae has never been an issue. Haven't done a water change in months -- that's a big plus.

    I ended up dosing a lot less nutrients than I expected, by the way. But, I do have a higher fish / shrimp load in my non-CO2s than you will -- at least until your cories start growing. My fry do great in my non-CO2s -- CPDs (galaxy rasboras) and panda cories. My shrimp breed like crazy too.
     
  10. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    If you have more than 1 tank or so, breed, have non planted tanks etc etc, the non CO2 tank approach is really easy to add. It's actually less work once things are going.

    So adding a non CO2 planted tank to the list is not some labor intensive chore or added burden, cost much etc.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  11. Mark Webb

    Mark Webb Junior Poster

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    Hi Tom, can you show me any examples of large tanks using no CO² or water changes? I have a 220 gallon tank which I am keen to start up but I cant entertain 110 gallon water changes on a regular basis.
     
  12. topfrog007

    topfrog007 Junior Poster

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    Hi all,

    I've successfully implemented this method in my 55G for over a year and a half. Although I had an outbreak of BGA and green spot, they were my fault for being on vacation!

    I recently acquired a 240G tank and plan to implement this method again. I had a few questions:

    The tank is a 240G tall (72"L X 32"H X 24"D) I plan on using 3X175 Metal Halides with the possibility of adding 2 T5 VHO's (40W I think) Will this light be sufficient for such a tall tank?

    This second question has to do ferts. In my 55G I have Turface Pro league as the substrate while dosing the recommend amount once a week of Equilibrium and KNO3 and KH2PO4.

    On my 240G I was thinking of using Mineralized soil as substrate capped with Turface, do you all think that this would work for a low tech, no C02 method? If I do decide to use the Mineralized soil, should I still dose the Equilibrium/KNO3/KH2PO4?

    TIA!
     
  13. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I know some folks, but they neglect the tanks a lot.
    That is the issue with many of the larger tanks, the plants are secondary really.
    Large fish etc.


    But it works the same way............

    Most that spend the $ for larger tanks, also spend the $ for CO2 etc most times also, so there's bias there.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  14. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Too much light, 1w/gal of T5's is enough.
    I'd still dose a little GH booster, KNO3, KH2PO4 once a week, not much though with MS. Maybe 1/4, 1/4 and 1/8th of each respectively.

    Traces: 10-15mls 1-2x a week etc after things are doing well.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  15. Mark Webb

    Mark Webb Junior Poster

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    Many thanks Tom. I am not concerned about cost of CO² and I am prepared to use it if it will work better, just that I am aiming for low maintenance. Happy to do water changes but not too often if it can be avoided. I want to achieve a good plant display but not too fast growing, with Congo Tetra, Rainbows.

    Would you recommend using RO Water or is Dechlorinated Tap water sufficient? My tank is 72"x30"x30". Can I ask your recommendation for lighting - amount and type, bearing in mind that I dont want lots of light to achieve growth, just enough to give good plants and a healthy tank. Will the 1w per gallon rule still apply with 30" depth?
    Regards
    Mark
     
  16. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I think many find that water changes are something they are not willing to give up entirely.

    I also think that Excel etc is a bit impractical cost wise for larger tanks.

    So slower growing, easy to care for plants, eg, Vals, Anubias, Bolbitus, Java fern needle leaf etc, Crypts, Amazon swords all fit this bill pretty well.

    Some of these can grow fairly quick in good conditions, but lower light slows things down a great deal with CO2 enrichment.

    So low light + good cO2 makes a nice trade balance between the methods.

    Easy to care for, so if you forget to dose, do not have the CO2 just so, forget to do a water change for a week or two, no big deal!

    Using some nutrient rich sediments like ADA AS, or MS etc.......helps prevent any issues for dosing the water column least you forget also.

    Hard plumbing the water changer into the large tank is also EXTREMELY wise.
    This way you turn a valve to drain 50-70%, turn another to refill(or have a float valve to add till it is full).

    Makes the water change very easy and takes virtually no motivation to do it
    Such tanks are easy to care for and easy to manage.

    Plant growth is health, and you can sell Bolbitus Anubias and Java fern easily on line. Fish health is also awesome.

    This aquarium has breeding discus etc, all those angels are F1's, never seen any other tank.

    resized82420082.jpg

    Low light + CO2 gas + easier to care for plants.
    Tank is so large, that it's hard to work on though.

    A 240 Gal is much easier however.

    You can also pick and chose most any plant species of types to be kept together with CO2, and you get better./more growth and the ability to use even less light vs non CO2 methods.

    Basically the plant can allocate more resources to catching light instead of trying nab CO2 since CO2 gas is being enriched.

    You can do all the water changes you want this way, or.........not.
    But it's available and easy to do if you chose.
    And working larger tanks, it's much easier to do anything inside, with 1/2 the water removed. This is aquatic gardening, so getting in the tank and working it and gardening is part of the deal.

    Light drives all growth, so start with good stable T5 lighting where you can add say 1w/gal, 1.5, and 2-2.5w/gal but switching on 1-2-3 banks of lights.
    This gives you all the possible options to manage plant growth.

    Same with CO2.

    Here's my Congo tank, it has those same attributes you are after:

    resized60cube4-25.jpg

    1.8 W/gal

    Here's the same light on another Brass tetra tank:

    60cuberesized2.jpg

    I can go several weeks without water changes, or do them 2x a week if I want to whip them into shape. With the higher fish loads, good feeding, I cut the EI dose to 1/2 or so.

    I also have less light which means less CO2 demand and less nutrient uptake/demand also. So less is needed.

    I use tap water, it's high quality here, sierra snow melt, stuff you'd want to drink.
    I've always used tap water even where the tap is rock hard.

    So you can simply watch and see how long you can get away without a water change also, and then do a good sized one. Takes some experience, but it's not that hard if you watch the plants and fish good.



    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  17. Mark Webb

    Mark Webb Junior Poster

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    Thats great information Tom, thank you so much for taking the time to do this. I was finding it difficult to find a route to go down with various options with substrate etc but this has now defined things for me. Tap water in my area is not that great. The TDS reading on the tap is about 350. I will give it a go with tap water and just add dechlorinator. Adding KH+ etc to RO water will be very costly.

    Your tanks look great. I would be very interested in the detail of your setup and your maintenance regime. What is the location of the large Discus tank?

    Mark
     
  18. Brian20

    Brian20 Guest

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    I have the two methods. The only changes between two methods (cycled and balanced aquariums) is the plants grow rate. The CO2 system the plants grow faster and take the nutrients munch faster so is needed to fert it a lot. In the other hand tanks without CO2 plants grow slower and there always have nutrients depending the quantity of fish and substrate nutrients. I really like the CO2 method to have fast grow. We not are prohibited to make modification to this metods so we can make mods that can be useful. Example, using a nutrient rich substrate like mineralized soil to a High tech tank can be very useful if you have a lots of plants or dutch aquascape, also fert the water column. The plants will look great always because if the water column lacks from one nutrient or many nutrients it can take it from the substrate, also root system will be more developed. The best way to grow plants is imitating the nature and having a plenty of "plant food":)
     
  19. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    A tank that is 30 inches front to back poses unique problems as far as uniformity of the lighting is concerned. I think I would try for 2 rows of T5 light along the length of that tank. Those rows should be about 14" apart, not just a fixture with 2 closely spaced tubes. If you use T5HO lights, each with individual reflectors for each bulb, you would probably have about the right amount of light for non-CO2, and the fixtures could be a 48" + a 24" in each row. Or, you could use 2 bulb fixtures instead of one bulb fixtures, and suspend the fixtures several inches above the tank. The latter gives you the most flexibility. One more option is 6 foot 80 watt T5HO bulbs, with either two of them separated by 14" or 2 bulb fixtures, separated by the same amount. Both should give about the same intensity.

    Don't think "watts per gallon" since light is not like fertilizer - it doesn't mix with a volume of water to give ppm of light. Instead it just shines down through whatever is between it and the substrate, to give an intensity that drops off with the square of the distance the light travels.
     
  20. Mark Webb

    Mark Webb Junior Poster

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    Thanks for that Vaughan. Would you suggest going with non CO2 with this tank? If I were to go with CO2 how would that affect the lighting requirements?
     
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