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Observations of an experimental planted tank

Discussion in 'Articles' started by kstringer1974, Oct 27, 2007.

  1. kstringer1974

    kstringer1974 Junior Poster

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    I like to believe that I've reached an interesting point in my level of understanding of the hobby. I've moved on from that "copy other's work" phase and have begun to enter into an experimental phase that is giving me a crash course on chemistry (as it pertains to aquatic gardening).

    I have chosen a nice little 30G tank as my experiment tank. I wanted to start out with some new forays into substrate mixes. Let's just say that experiment 1 was okay, but didn't accomplish my objective and experiment 2 was a dismal failure. Sadly, experiment # 2 was so bad, due to very high concentration of organic material, that the lovely smell of rotten eggs (good ol' H2S) permeated the upstairs portion of my house. Anyhow, lesson learned, wife and kids made fun of me...made adjustments and moved on the substrate composition # 3.

    Here are some of the things I've noticed so far with this tank that I both wanted to share and hopefully get some feedback on:

    1. Due to the high level of H2S in substrate # 2 (I'm guessing this is the reason), my Cabomba carlininea (sp?) pretty much rotted away. Broke my heart but I cut the healthiest parts of the stems off and replanted them in substrate # 3. I'm curious as to how likely it is these plants can be saved. I realize there's really no way anyone can answer this, as there are too many variables. I was just wondering out loud.

    2. I did not do a complete and utter sterilization of my tank after substrate # 2. I cleaned out everything I could (which involved the physical remove of 99% of the substrate) and did a full water change (obviously) after putting in substrate # 3. I did not add dechlorinator during the refill of the tank. My logic was that chloramine/chlorine is in tap water specifically to kill off bacteria, algae, and other micro-organisms. That being the case, I figured any "bad" bacteria left in the water column from the previous substrate would be eliminated. Interestingly, I did a test on the level of chlorine in the tank two days later and it tested at zero. My test can only show a maximum level of 0.5 ppm but a baseline test on my tap water confirmed it at this level. Is it possible that the plants I have absorbed all of the chlorine in the water? Does anyone know what level plants uptake this micronutrient?

    3. Pearling...How I miss it so. So it's been three days since substrate # 3 was put in and I have noticed that none of the plants appear to be pearling. This is a high light, CO2 injected tank with a nutrient rich substrate (which I'll detail soon). My Anubias barteri appeared to form a few small bubbles, but it was the only plant in the tank to do so. Is it possible that the transplant of my little darlings 3 times and being subjected to the awfulness of substrate # 2 has put them into a state of shock? Is it likely that they will recover?

    4. Fertilization - when should I start adding ferts to the water column? My basic philosophy at this point is I should give the tank time to settle in (for better or for worse), but any advice on this topic is greatly appreciated.

    Tank Specs:
    30G
    Lighting - 2x96W CF 6700K full spectrum on for 12 hours/day
    CO2 - DIY Yeast Method (creates rather high concentrations of CO2, but I'm working on getting that to the 25-30ppm I've seen recommended by the guru's of this site)
    Substrate # 3 Composition: (note - I kind of gave in here as I hated to see my plants continue to suffer. I'll do someting more experimental once this tank has stabilized for a while)

    Main Rooting Level - Mix of Flora Base, thin layer of Spagnum Moss (enriched with Miracle Gro - yes, I know...potential for algae blooms due to dump of nutrients, but it's all I had available), and gravel (small to pea sized - mix of two different types).
    Top level - Flora Base (thin layer - I put this down to provide something my dwarf baby tears could root in. It didn't look like they could take root in the gravel I had because the pieces were too large).

    Last question (and I apologize for being so long in this post, I tend to be a stream-of-consciousness type of writer) is back to the chlorine/chloramine question. In my Yeast method of CO2, I have never added dechlorinator to the water in the old soda bottle yet the bacteria thrive without fail. How is this possible if chlorine is supposed to kill bacteria? Is it that the concentration of chlorine is insufficient to destroy some bacteria or are some bacteria simply immune to chlorine?

    With great thanks to all,
    -Kevin
     
  2. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    You have 6.4 watts per gallon and DIY CO2. It is going to be hard to avoid algae with that setup, no matter what substrate you use. If you cut the light wattage in half you have a slim chance to avoid algae, because 3.2 watts per gallon is still too high without doing everything else just about perfectly, and DIY CO2 never does qualify as just about perfect - it does not maintain a constant ppm of CO2 in the water during every day's photo period.

    Chlorine in the water at the level we usually see in our tap water does not kill the yeast used to generate CO2 (it isn't a bacteria), because too many people successfully use plain tap water in their CO2 generators.

    You didn't mention how densely planted this tank is, but it is always, in my opinion, a good idea to begin fertilizing from the first day of setting up a new planted tank, perhaps at reduced dosing levels until the plants are visibly growing. Unless those plants start growing very soon the fertilizer you put into the substrate is very likely to start some serious algae blooms - my opinion only, again. If you disturb that substrate enough ammonia/urea will leak out to trigger a green water bloom.

    I suggest that you study the EI dosing method described in the forum of that name here, and use that method for fertilizing.
     
  3. kstringer1974

    kstringer1974 Junior Poster

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    Vaughn,

    Thank you for the feedback. The current occupants of the tank are:
    1x Laceleaf (fairly large)
    1x Red Rubin Sword
    1x Anubias barteri
    1x Cryptocoryne wendii
    10-14x Wysteria (planted in two fairly close knit bunches)
    4x Cabomba carolininea

    I have to admit some confusion over your answer regarding yeast not being bacteria. My understanding is that though yeast itself is not a bacteria, the process of fermentation that occurs using the DIY yeast method is indeed a bacterial process. Bacteria consume the sugar and as a by product release CO2. Of course, I have noticed that whatever chlorine content is in my water, it has not hampered my CO2 output in any way. I have been debating on hooking up my CO2 cyclinder and regulating CO2 to 25-30ppm but since this tank has no fish in it at this time, I did not think that any CO2 fluctiations (high or low) would be of any serious impact.

    I followed your advice and added liquid ferts based on the EI method. I have stocks of PMDD ferts from a previous planted tank.

    The algae problem to date has been insignificant, but I agree with you that any disturbance of the substrate would most likely change that quickly. I'll try taking one of the bulbs out and monitoring the progress of the plants.
     
  4. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Fluctuating CO2 levels from day to day during the photo period don't harm the fish, but they do cause algae blooms. That is why DIY is so hard to use without using several bottles with staggered start times.

    Yeast is a living organism, and it does the consuming of sugar to make alcohol and CO2. Bacteria is a different type of organism. (I'm not an expert at all on that subject, but I think I am correct.)
     
  5. FacePlanted

    FacePlanted Guru Class Expert

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    I surely noticed that when I tried fiddling with an improv co2 reactor that didnt work right, and took out my ceramic diffuser, my co2 levels were not high enough throughout the entire photoperiod. My drop checker was blue-green in the morning and maybe yellowish enough by the very end of the day (some days not). This was for about 2 or 3 days. I said to heck with it and replaced my glass diffuser. When I put the diffuser back into the tank, my co2 levels were where they should be for the entire lighting period. Basically, there was a disruption of adequate and stable co2 for 2-3 days. After these few days, and I replaced the diffuser, I had clumps of BBA springing up all over the tank. As well as some thread algae. But since the co2 was now consistent again, the BBA never spread any further than its initial outburst, and has since died back (with a little help from my friend Excel :D ).

    I use pressurised co2, and at least in my tank, I saw the induction of BBA after the brief disruption of co2 stability during the photoperiod. I think that diy yeast co2 can be sufficient if levels are kept stable more importantly than really high. Using multiple yeast generators, and efficient co2 dissolution techniques is probably the key to this.

    Regarding chlorine, I tend to THINK (I dont really know) that neutralizing it is more important for the fish, rather than for the bacteria or plants. I have washed my bio sponge from my whisper HOB filter in chlorinated tap water many times, with no noticeable negative effects. I have also thrown plant clippings in buckets of untreated tap water, and water all of my house and yard plants with untreated, chlorinated tap water, all of which do fine. BUT, I have never put fish in a tank of water in which the chlorine hasn't been neutralized. Maybe they would do fine, but fish (and inverts/shrimp) just seem to me like they would be more sensitive to this than bacteria and plants. Bacteria are just so prolific anyways, same with yeast in diy co2 bottles. Plain tap water has never negatively effected it (yeast) in my experiences.

    I'm not really any kind of expert, but I do have some experience....and there it is.
    Great discussion fellaz!

    -Mike B-
     
  6. Elinston

    Elinston Junior Poster

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    Yeast is a kind of fungus, like mushrooms and molds, it has cell nucleus which bacteria does not have.
     
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