Non CO2 methods

Tom Barr

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I liked the Onyx sand with a little leonardite at the bottom.

Up to you and if you dose once a week anyway, it's not going to make as much difference what you use for the sediments, at least you will get more out of the sediment you have no matter what then.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

sunset

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Tom Barr;2203 said:
While much of the attention and aquascape seen on the web focuses on CO2 enrichment in their methods, Diana Walstad presents an excellent arguement for the apporach of a non CO2 enriched planted Aquarium. We should also extend this to include Excel and carbon enrichement liquids as well as acetate which allow some algae to exist without any light or CO2 and grow heterotrophically (like us). She discusses not needing test kits, water changes, pruning often, dosing, work that most aquarist do not care for.

What? You mean no water chnages? Yes, that's right.
No testing? Yes, that's right, but you can if you wish.
Not much pruning? Yes, that's right, the plants grow much slower.
No dosing? Generally yes for many easy to care for pland species(I'll discuss this much more later), the fish waste represents the dosing and you feeding them daily adds the nutrients.

So why don't more folks do it?
I'm not sure, given the goals they say they want when setting up a planted tank.

CO2 is a bit like a drug addiction that hobbyists get hooked on. That's fine, but this non CO2 approach will give an excuse to have another tank that needs less attention and is cheap.

I suggest folks coming from either the non CO2 or the CO2 enrichement approaches to give the other method a try and see what benefits it has.

CO2 and non CO2 tanks work for all the same reasons, but........
They grow at different rates.

Based off of my testing, I'd estimate close to 5 to 10 times slower than a CO2 enriched tank at 2-3 w/gal.

This rate of growth is such that the fish waste alone is enough to supply the needs for the plants. If we added more light then the CO2 would start becoming a more limiting factor and allow algae to grow better (algae need higher light to grow well in non CO2 enriched systems wereas the plants are much more limited without CO2). A lower light level is required, generally about 1.5 to 2w/gal is good.

We also need a balanced fish load and feeding routine since this is our main long term input of plant nutrients. Fish food varies in it's amount and ratio of nutrients. This is not an issue unless it becomes limiting. Very often since non CO2 tanks get neglected, they have trouble growing certain plants. If these nutrients are not allowed to bottom out(Say PO4 or NO3), then many of the species folks suggest cannot be kept, suddenly can be kept in non CO2 tanks but they simply grow slower.

Rather than suggesting allelopathy, Fe algae limitation of PO4 limitation, I will say none of this exist. Rather, non limiting nutrient levels for plants will provide better conditions.

CO2 will limit both plants and algae, the lower light and high plant biomass density will provide a better place for the plants and a worse place for the algae. CO2 and non CO2 tanks work well and are algae free namely due to high plant biomass that is relatively healthy. This plant biomass removes NH4 from the fish waste.

We can add KNO3 and KH2PO4 and show that in a non CO2 tank, excess PO4, NO3 (and Fe) do not cause algae blooms. We can add NH4 and induce a bloom just like a CO2 enriched tank.

This assumption and knowledge frees us from limitation of nutrients which ultimately does more harm to the plants' health and well being, allowing a better environment for algae to grow.

Doing water changes adds CO2 back to a CO2 limited tank.
Plants and algae both can and do adapt to low CO2 environments and induce genes to make enzymes that concentrate CO2 around Rubisco, the CO2 fixing enzyme. When we add the CO2 at higher levels back, this causes the plants and algae to destroy the low CO2 enzymes and start growing without of them since they no longer need them to fix CO2 form the KH ( the -HCO3).
Why keep all this machinery around if you no longer need it? Doing weekly water changes "fools" the plants and helps encourage algae more. Algae are faster to respond to low CO2 than plants.
Once the plants do adapt, they can do well.

Soil substrates are popular with non CO2 users and they work well but peter out after about 6-12 months. They help the plants get established initailly abnd supply nutrients that are other wise lacking in the beginning before many fish are added and the tank has had a chance to accumulate waste.

I suggest onyx sand as it added Ca, Mg, and Fe, and I add mulm/detritus freshly from another established tank to add bacteria and cycle the tank immediately. I also add a form of organic material other than soil. The bacteria that break the waste down need a source of carbon as an electron donor besides the elements in the waste. Like us, they need their carbs as well. As these bacteria break the carbon and waste down, they consume O2.
This lowers the redox values in the substrate freeing up Fe2+ and other nutrients.

Add too much organic matter and O2 and you get O2 levels that are too low and cause issues for your tank. Soil also has NH4, this we know to cause algae in higher amounts and it does not take much! Ways around this: don;t use soil, it's messy and has NH4/urea. Boiling the soil for a few minutes will oxidize the NH4 to NO3. Allowing damp soil to be spread thinly outside for few weeks(3) will allow the NH4 to be converted into NO3 by bacteria.
Peat moss, ground peat, works well also.

The other options are add lots of mulm instead and leonardite.
Leonardite is great, it last a very long time, adds a slow release form of carbon, matches the gravel's color, sinks easily poses no issues if you disturb and uproot plants.

You should always add fresh mulm to any new tank. Add some form of carbon as well, pre soaked/boiled soil, pre soaked peat, leonardite.

Dosing:
Since the plants are the same as they are in a CO2 enriched tank and we know the rates of uptake are there, we can scale down the rates for the non CO2 dosing routine.

I removed all fish and critters from the test tanks, I dosed only with KNO3m, and other inorganic fertilizer so that I would see only plant uptake and inorganic ferts contributions to the plant's health.

Going back and assuming 80-90% of the nutrients will come from the fish load, I added once a week KNO3/KH2PO4.

While trace mixes can be added, I decided to use SeaChem Equlibrium instead.
It has Fe and Mn as well as Ca/K/Mg/SO4.
I will add about 1/4 teaspoon per 20 gal tank once every week or two.
This greatly enhances the growth of the plants.
I also will add about 1/8" and 1/32" teaspoon of KNO3 and KH2PO4 respectively once a week or two.

The plants will repsond very well to this routine. You can let the tank go for awhile and not dose to purge any excesses that might have built up over a month or two or you can test to see rather than do the water change.

DW does not suggest dosing, but adding 2-3 things once a week or two, certainly is not that tough???? the plants do gain a lot and then you can grow most any plant in a non CO2 tank.

From here if you want more growth, Excel is a good option. You can add about 2-3x as much ferts then.
What is KNO3 and KH2PO4. How much does it cost?
 

turbomkt

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VaughnH;18860 said:
KNO3 is potassium nitrate, a great source of both potassium and nitrogen. KH2PO4 is mono potassium phosphate, a great source of phosphorous and potassium. You can buy both from:Rex's fertilizers for sale or Greg Watson's Aquarium Fertilizer:

You should also check with your local planted tank club! I'm pretty sure SFBAAPS, and I know SCAPE, carry macros. :)
 

Tom Barr

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The new present owner of AquariumFertilizer.com is a local SFBAAPS member:)
I think there are only he and perhaps 2 other original foundering member left that are somewhat active. Maybe 4-5 of us left.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

Saraja87

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This is an awesome thread, thank you for posting!

I've been looking everywhere for information like this since I have a non-co2 injected tank and can't figure out what to dose. My aquarium is a heavily planted, heavily populated 110 tall with 260 watts of power compact lighting and a mulm/laterite/natural river clay/gravel substrate.

I say it's heavily populated with 56 fish, 18 of which are 4+ inches but this may not be everyone's definition of a large population. I assume it's heavily planted because I can no longer find my substrate lol.

What would you dose in a tank this size? Even with all my fish, my nitrates are still 0 and I'm not sure if my lighting would be considered high or low. I also don't usually do many water changes, if any.

Specs:

Nitrate: 0
Nitrite: 0
Ammonia: 0
PH: 7.1-7.2
GH: Unknown
KH: Unknown

Light Period: 10-12 hours
Bulbs: 4 x 65 watt Sunpaq Dual Daylight 10,000/6,700
Filtration: 2 x Fluval 404
Chiller: 1/3 hp (I live in Los Angeles :p)

Dosing:
Flourish 2x week
Root Tabs x 36
I have excel but don't dose it because I have vals.
 

VaughnH

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You really have more light than is usually used without CO2 injection. For that size tank you have a high light intensity, unless that light fixture is raised above the tank a foot or so. If it is just a couple of inches from the water you would normally be using pressurized CO2 and EI dosing. But, if you are doing good, and don't have algae problems, I would be reluctant to change anything now.
 

Tom Barr

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Hi, I posted some advice and some things to consider on TPT.
You need to figure out what you want to do for CO2 and DIY and then chose a method here.

Regards,
Tom Barr

Saraja87;19367 said:
This is an awesome thread, thank you for posting!

I've been looking everywhere for information like this since I have a non-co2 injected tank and can't figure out what to dose. My aquarium is a heavily planted, heavily populated 110 tall with 260 watts of power compact lighting and a mulm/laterite/natural river clay/gravel substrate.

I say it's heavily populated with 56 fish, 18 of which are 4+ inches but this may not be everyone's definition of a large population. I assume it's heavily planted because I can no longer find my substrate lol.

What would you dose in a tank this size? Even with all my fish, my nitrates are still 0 and I'm not sure if my lighting would be considered high or low. I also don't usually do many water changes, if any.

Specs:

Nitrate: 0
Nitrite: 0
Ammonia: 0
PH: 7.1-7.2
GH: Unknown
KH: Unknown

Light Period: 10-12 hours
Bulbs: 4 x 65 watt Sunpaq Dual Daylight 10,000/6,700
Filtration: 2 x Fluval 404
Chiller: 1/3 hp (I live in Los Angeles :p)

Dosing:
Flourish 2x week
Root Tabs x 36
I have excel but don't dose it because I have vals.
 

Saraja87

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Sep 20, 2007
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I'm gonna go with no CO2 for right now and go for a more natural tank. I might try pressurized in a year or so when my wallet has recovered and I have more time to play with it. For right now, is there a light dosing regime I could follow to help the plants and discourage the algae?
 

Tom Barr

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Depends on how much biomass is there, any algae present, algae eaters etc.

Some yes, but it depends.
I really have not heard what all is actually in the tank etc.


Tom Barr
 

Saraja87

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Inhabitant List:

- 6 Angels
- 4 Blue spot/Opaline Gourami
- 3 Congo Tetras
- 2 Gold Barbs
- 4 Rainbows (unknown type)
- 8 Colombian Blue Tetras
- 2 Bleeding Heart Tetras
- 6 Rummy Nose Tetras
- 2 False Upside Down Catfish
- 2 Bushy Nose Plecos
- 13 Marigold Platys
- 1 Female Betta
- 1 Florida Flagfish
- 1 Leopard Danio
- 1 White Tipped Tetra


Plant List:

~ 6-7 Amazon Swords
~ 20 Crypt Balansae
~ 15 Jungle Val
~ 50 Americana Val
~ 20 Red Ludwigia
~ 15 Sunset Hygro
~ 75 E. Tenellus
~ 4 Red/Brown Crypt Wendtii
~ 2 Green Crypt Wendtii
~ 7 Anubias Nana
~ 1 Anubias (long narrow leaf)
~ 1 Anubias (BIG Plant, tall with large heart shaped leaves)
~ 2 clumps Java Moss
~ 1 Aponogeton Ulvaceous
~ 2 Crinium
~ 7 Bacopa

Decoration:

- 2 Large pieces of driftwood
- 4 lava rocks
- 1 pot for the Cories
- 4 inches laterite/river clay/gravel



EDIT: Haha I have yet another green water outbreak! Is this a sign that I should be using pressurized co2?
 

Holdingwine

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Nov 22, 2007
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I have naturally hard, high GH water out of my tap. Would it be alright to use Equilibrium as well or would I be better off with another trace element mix such as Flourish?
 

VaughnH

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Equilibrium is not a trace mix. It is a GH booster, which you don't need if you have a high GH. Other trace mixes are Flourish, Tropica Plant Nutrition Liquid, CSM+B, etc.
 

rusticitas

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Saraja87;19392 said:
Haha I have yet another green water outbreak! Is this a sign that I should be using pressurized co2?

It may be that your light is high and you have a high fish load, their waste products -- basically ammonium (or is that ammonia? I keep getting them confused) -- is causing the algae/green water outbreak.

Just an initial thought...
 

imnlfn

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Nov 25, 2007
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I've been keeping freshwater aquariums for six or seven years now, though I still consider myself an amateur.

I'm in the process of setting up my first heavily-planted tank. I was getting totally frustrated trying to figure out a CO2 system for the least amount of hassle and money when I came across this thread, so I decided to see how appropriate for a beginner a non-CO2 set up really is.

I've decided not to buy the 78W T5 light I was considering and will go with the 60W T8 light I found instead, which puts me right at 2W/gal (it's a 30 gal tank, 36" long). I'm going to have to drain the tank and scoop up the flourite in order to put down a layer of peat first (my plants should be here by FedEx on Friday, so I don't really have time to hunt down some leonardite), but that's really just as well since the flourite could probably use more rinsing than I gave it (cloudy water).

I'm still not entirely clear about the specific steps I need to take, whether and what I need to be testing, whether I need to perform water changes, and whether and what I need to be adding, but I suppose I'll be able to gather that information over time.

Anyway, thanks for the idea and I'll post updates about how it's going.

-M
 

VaughnH

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A non-CO2 tank should not get regular large water changes, because tap water contains some CO2, possibly more than the equilibrium value in an open container of water. So, each time you replace a large quantity of water you are adding some CO2, which means the tank water CO2 concentration would be fluctuating. And, that can trigger some algae blooms. Just add enough water to replace evaporated water. Then, if you see a need, do a big change once or twice a year.

Since you won't be adding large quantities of tap water periodically the GH in the tank can get too low, as the plants use the calcium and magnesium in the water. That means you will want to dose some GH booster periodically.

Plant growth will be very slow, so the plants won't be using up nutrients very rapidly. This means you don't want to follow a EI type dosing scheme. Instead you will want to dose nutrients lightly once a week or every two weeks. And, if you have a big fish load you probably won't want to dose nitrates and phosphates at all, letting the fish waste and excess fish food provide those nutrients.

Those are the things I recall about non-CO2 tanks. But, I'm sure there is more.
 

imnlfn

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Nov 25, 2007
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VaughnH;21078 said:
Those are the things I recall about non-CO2 tanks. But, I'm sure there is more.
Thanks, Vaughn. It's easier for me to comprehend the information in small doses, especially without a great deal of explanation why thrown in, too, since much of that just tends to be beyond me at this point.

I'm prepared for the slow plant growth and will appreciate not having to prune and cull on too frequent a basis. In fact, having had only artificial plants until now, any sort of growth should seem just short of miraculous...at least initially. ;)

I won't have a very high fish load to start, only 15 to 20 total inches or so (depending on how one counts a 6" tall angel), so I'll have to look into potential fertilizers to use. I plan on adding more fish when the tank is more established, though, so maybe I will be able to taper those off some in the future.

Thanks again for your help,
-M
 

imnlfn

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Nov 25, 2007
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I put all the plants in the tank this past Saturday and all the fish on Sunday. At least all the fish seem to be doing OK so far: After only two days, the plants are already beginning to brown a little. I probably won't be able to get any KNO3 or KH2PO4 before this coming weekend, so if that's the problem, I hope they can hang on until then.

I have one of those tags that's supposed to continuously show pH and it's currently registering 8+, which has me a bit worried, too. I'm going to use my test kit tonight to see if the tag is worthless or not.

Here's the current contents and configuration of the tank:

Fish
1 angelfish (5")
1 pleco (9")
2 cories (2")
1 swordtail (2")
2 zebra danios (1.5")
4 blackskirt tetras (1.5")
1 platy (2")

Plants
8 Corkscrew Val
8 Jungle Val
3 Amazon Sword
1 Red Rubin Sword
2 Anacharis
3 Cabomba
3 Narrow-leaf Ludwigia
5 Tennellus Chain Swords

Equipment
30 gallon long tank
1" peat under 2.5" flourite substrate
Whisper hang-on-back filter
150W Stealth heater
2x 30W T8 fluorescent lights
non-CO2

I don't know how long the Ludwigia will be around, since the pleco seems to think they're the tastiest treat he's had in some time. The Corkscrew Val and Anacharis were looking a little pathetic when I received them, so I don't have high hopes for them, either.

Basically, I just wanted to post an update, though I do have a question: For what sort of time period should I be leaving my lights on? I usually have them on for about 14 hours a day, though I see people on here leaving them on for as few as 8 hours.

Thanks!
-M
 

Roger21

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Jan 31, 2008
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QUOTE:

"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"

Hello, I've been running a 20G non-co2 tank, like the one described above from an earlier post by Tom in this thread, for about a year now with very good results. (The only problem I seem to have is some of the plants, mainly the java ferns, are getting holes in the leaves.) My question is this: For my traces I have been using Seachem Flourish. I now notice that Seachem also makes Flourish TRACE. In general, should I be using this instead or should I stick with what has been working? (And would the TRACE product help more with the holes in the leaves, perhaps?) Thanks!
 

VaughnH

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Flourish is better than Flourish trace, because it is more concentrated. At least that is how I see it.