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Plant failures and mineralized soils

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by JDowns, Apr 24, 2009.

  1. JDowns

    JDowns Lifetime Charter Member
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    I guess it would be necessary to be specific since the answer for each plant species may be variable. So lets analyze Tonina Fluviatilis.

    Obviously this Tonina grows just fine in ADA, Florite, worm castings, etc. Now it has been stated that you cannot grow this species in a specific mineralized soil. This discussion got derailed elsewhere, so I would like to discuss it here and keep it on topic.

    Where might the failure point be. I find it unfortunate that someone would skip a perfectly fine method if that plant is a part of their goals.

    Now I don't think we can rule out CO2. Let alone ever rule it out.

    Could it be OM content? If so what approach can be done to correct the problem.

    Could it be lack of available nutrients in the water column until roots are established? Or does this species have a dependency on wc nutrients?

    What other scenarios might there be?

    If we can narrow down a causation here maybe we can apply that "fix" to other problematic species that tend to fail for others. Therefore enhancing the method for "all".
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    In all honesty I think the sediment did not fail and has not yet with specific species.

    Has not for me anyway;)
    My tanks have it.

    There's no good reason it would due to the sediment alone.
    Now, if you try some different dosing routine, or do not bother to add enough or add to the water column, then the likelyhood of failure is higher. Perhaps some will do okay, others well, some not so well, but that's not the sediment's fault.

    This is not however, due to the sediment, rather, the trade off of not adding ferts to the water column or only certain ferts...........

    So you cannot blame the sediment.

    Relying too heavily on sediments or water column..............rather than more common sense approach, has been the argument I've made to add plants, and it works............

    But most arguments end up being they do not wanna add ferts to the water column, or think that means more labor./water changes etc.

    Not the fact that adding water column ferts is a rather wide range of options, (lean, med or rich), testing, or water changes to manage things.
    I use both and have for a long time and I have no issues with any plant species.

    I mention this as a helpful suggestion.

    Damn, you think I've not tried rich sediments?
    I have 985 pots of rich sediments at the lab right now. Not 2, not one, 985. I had to wash and process 24 x 5 gal buckets and screen it. Worm castings where pretty well documented as to their usefulness and utility, this is no different.
    This method goes back 50 years or more. I have never been non supportive of rich sediments. I have railed against those that claim water column nutrients cause algae, because it is plainly falsifiable. Many of these folks using enriched sediments like to claim this, but the real issue is that it's easy, and for some, easier. Some do not claim it is a method that prevents algae, rather an easier way to add ferts, I agree, but this also reduces the demands of water column dosing, they are synergistic, not exclusive of eachother.

    That's why it's so easy for me to grow any thing like a weed.

    I do not see any hobbyists doing pot test, soil test and comparing different sediment types with the plants etc. I've written about doing it and provided a few papers I did on it. I've detailed out the methods to do this in much more controlled conditions. It's easy and most hobbyists can do that and see. I am a strong advocate of both locations for nutrients, not just one.

    There's a good reason for that.
    Nutrients are only part of this also and over rated, light/CO2, as well mentioned in another thread was spot on. DIY sediments are nice, and if you stay in the hobby for a few years, you owe it to try them. It will help.

    But do not shut out other methods you know work as well and consider blending them with this either............I've done both, a long time in fact........ and together things work better. For any species, and it's easy to manage.

    Optimal OM is no more than 10% FYI and generally less, but more than about 5%.
    How do I know this? Maybe cause I read research and do my specific research on sediments and aquatic weeds:cool: And have practical field work(more than I care to mention) and test we have done at the lab for years now.

    When folks can give specifics and real data, they tend to know something, when they do not, get personal, don't answer the questions, semantical games.......
    That does not ever answer the question;)

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. JDowns

    JDowns Lifetime Charter Member
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    This is what I feel is important to pass along.

    I see no reason why a method, and in this case, a nutrient enriched sediment should have limitations placed upon it, when those limitations can be overcome by enhancing the method to fit each persons goals. If no dosing is your primary goal then its important to understand the limitations based on that goal. If the primary goal is to be able to grow any species you want, then a routine would need an adjustment. And understanding that if you do chose to dose, and dose at a level that brings success, that you should not fear negative effects in the causation of algae, nutrient balance (after all none of us measure the nutrient uptake from the soil itself so that arguement is null), etc. But we shouldn't place our failures on others based on our goals. That should be left up to the individual based on their needs, with all the available information at their disposal to make their own decisions.

    My gut has told me that the limitation in the water column is a primary causation. If a plant is lacking roots then where is the uptake of nutrients going to come from until roots are established? This seems to effect some species rather then others. I'm sure this has to do with nutrient transport and storage in varying species, and also that some species may require a minimum level of water column supplementation in order to survive.

    I understand your approach towards a balance in both locations. This not only approaches limitations, but also allows the plant to optimize uptake by having availability in both locations. Is there a noticable/significant energy savings in nutrient transport in a dual availability system?

    If the goal is no water changes then tailor your dosing to meet that need. If the goal is less water changes or a prolonged time period between changes, then make those adjustments. I see there being alot of flexibility here while still having success with this species or others.
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Yes, well put.

    I'd be more careful here.
    When you have a new set up, the leaching rate from the soil will be high, so there's a low level continuous release of nutrients.

    To address that issue, which is typical in flowing systems, and even if the No3 is at 0.25ppm, far beyond the detection limits of most test kits in the aquarium trade by 5x, if not more.........is adequate to prevent limitations.

    So while some might assume there's no impact because their cheap method does not detect N in the water column, it does not imply there is none there.
    This is a common situation in natural systems where we test and do research.
    You cannot say too much without addressing that and the lower levels of leaching, etc.

    This range is a common ppm for Florida springs for example, where there's no nutrients in the sediment, but a very low, but continuous amount in the water.


    But all species, as far as I know, do pretty good with water column alone. The water column extends down into the sediment for root uptake and vice versus.
    Unless you scrub the water column clean, or isolate the root zone, you cannot avoid some of each method location occuring.

    Sediments such as DIY MS also are pretty variable I'd say. no one test their soils for N or P content or leachability.

    So there's a massive amount more guessing going on here than with say water column, which is easier for hobbyists to measure.

    My point here is is that might have much less to do with the MS, and a lot more to do with the various N and P etc concentrational differences between MS's from each person.

    You, nor any of these folks have ever bothered to test to see if the comparison's are even fair. I have measured the delta clays I use......, they are typically rich in P relative to N(3:1 to 5:1 ranges N:p), but we see little N limitation since the water is loaded with N........

    Thing is, folks using MS assume(most from what I've read) that all the MS used are equal/the same, that cannot possibly be true, so what are you really comparing here?

    Apples and oranges?

    It's a bit like the old light arguments, using a light PAR meter gets around that.
    W/gal really does not. With ADA, we found a much lower than expect ranges........which led to some bad conclusions, on everyone's part, mine included, but.......I bothered to test and ask the question and see.

    Same thing here, you have to ask the question, see, test, and confirm, otherwise you will get into trouble.

    Perhaps there are some back door methods to get around of it.


    I think Ole and myself and most aquatic botantist would argue yes.
    Then again, it might depend more on the plant in question, for Egeria? Hydrilla? Nope......Erios or Tonia? Perhaps.........

    So generalizations for weeds is likely okay, but for more specific species?
    No, I think we cannot say unless we do the testing.

    Yes, I do as well, for any of these goals. I would caution as to being so inflexible as to not try either case(no water column or trying the water column as well as MS). The trade off to add water column ferts is really reduced once you add a rich sediment, because you have a back up for each of the two locations, so you can run things lean in the water column, avoid water changes, or do them and dose richer(or stick with lean, your choice).

    In most all cases, adding a richer sediment will make dosing much easier and supplying nutrients easier.

    You cannot argue that point.
    If you skip dosing the water column, this makes things much easier and forgiving.

    You cannot argue that point either.

    If you make the assumption that there are preferences in root vs foliar uptake of specific nutrients, then adding them to both locations will address any such issue.
    Both cases are met there either way. You cannot argue that much either.

    These are all safe assumptions.

    Unsafe ones assume that things like water column dosing is "bad", " is "hard", "causes algae outbreaks or leads to their encouragement", that their is a lot of importance on nutrients/dosing, all MS's are the same, water changes are "bad", not doing water changes is "bad", "testing is bad".

    I think more reps are required to make much conclusion as to specific species of plants. People use to say these same things not that long ago about water column dosing, but we later saw it was more due to light/CO2 issues.........

    I see no good reason a plant cannot do either location as the principle location.
    They are opportunistic. And it's much easier to add a lot of nutrients and keep them there for very long time frames with enriched sediments, MS, ADA AS etc.

    Tonia and R macrandra do excellent in ADA AS.
    We know that. I know that R macrandra does well in MS, I have not tried the Tonia, but I see little reason to think it would do poorly.

    Root growth and establishment is heavily dependent on CO2/light intensity, so if those are well met, then the plant has plenty of resources to make roots and add ample O2 to any type of sediment, but the % OM should be no more than 10%.

    That is likely the issue with some MS's(OM %).
    It's A SIMPLE test to do for a lab.

    But for the cost of that, you could buy the ADA AS.........

    So that's a trade off.

    Too little OM %, then you do not get the benefits.
    There's many unanswered questions and unknowns here.

    Running down the species listings is tough, folks have had many theories(some still do depending on their own personal success with various methods). If some one cannot grow P stellata in flourite, is it the flourite's fault?
    I do not think it is.........likewise, the ADA AS?

    We have examples of both, so we also need to look for examples where folks have grown these suspects in MS and had success.

    Then you focus on those systems for answers.
    Failure to grow well/do well does not imply you have had a good testing of the MS. If you have good growth, then you know it cannot be due to the MS......

    This is how you approach the test method here, not through failure, it might be you failed elsewhere, so the test was dependent on something else overlooked, not considered etc.

    So you try and falsify your hypothesis that R macrandra does poorly on MS.......
    That's how I would go about it.



    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  5. JDowns

    JDowns Lifetime Charter Member
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    I had not considered low level leaching. That is interesting. Your correct more reps would be required. But as you have stated. Unless we are willing to test the sediment, there really is nothing that can be concretely gained. So the trade off here is to go ahead and dose the water column, that way you address any possible limitations.

    Would it be a resonable assumption that with higher lighting and CO2 injection that during the
    light cycle the amount of nutrients leached may not be adequate, operating under no established roots?

    Are there considerations for Ca and Mg in the water column?

    I did a 80% water change after starting this discussion and decided to test a few nutrients one by one. I'm limiting the N dosage via KNO3 from .75 tsp daily to .25 daily. Trimmed the Tonina and replanted the tops. Five days in and lower leaves are starting to yellow from the stems out to the tips. Growth from the crown is normal. Growth is more elongated also. I'll continue this until Sunday. Then another water change, and resume normal dosing for another week. This should give a decent time frame to view growth along the stem for changes. Then repeat two more times, and see if its consistant. Same can be repeated for P and so on.

    This can be repeated again once roots are established also.

    Everything else in the tank appears unaffected, although everything else has established roots.

    [​IMG]

    When its happy under normal conditions.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Yes, this is not a bad trade off however. Some seem to imply that it is.
    Covering all the bases and staying ahead and on top of things, vs waiting till something is messed up is always a preferred method. Prevention is worth a pound of Cure. Or why wait till you have cavities? Brush those teeth now.

    Yes.
    That's why I dose the water column right away no matter what method(well, where there is water). Plants have enough reserves to add roots down initially, so you can go either way, but I like to make sure there's good availability of CO2./nutrients right away and no lulls.

    Some seem to suggest that adding things/nutrients right away causes algae.
    I've never found that to be true. why would it be? Algae are not limited in either case.

    Poor understanding about algae, their growth and limiting concentrations causes many myths. the focus here is on the plant's needs, not algae or how little you can get away with(unless it's a real labor issue, these can be avoided various ways also).

    Most tap has some of both, but it might not be much, GH booster, which adds Ca, Mg and lot of K+ can address that.
    I add this after any water changes/addition etc.

    I think you might be better off looking at growth under fully isolated conditions for sediments (use pots and 10-20 gal tank with 4-5 pots of each sediment type of interest, terrarium set up with wet soil,sand etc, independent of water column, CO2 etc, and you can do it outside in the shade, no electric etc, wait 8-12 weeks etc)... then compare. Then try a plain sand/flourite type of sediment+ water column and then mix the two together and test from there.

    You likely already have some experience with water column and some with sediment locations, so this is the next step, but it's hard to tease what causes what in the water column, you can play with testing and dosing for a long time.........but..........and this always gets everyone...............myself included, the CO2 needs to be confirmed and stable over time.

    That alone can cause the results you see.

    If the system is say PO4 limited, the demand will less for CO2, so you might be tempted to think you get better growth with less P.

    If the CO2 is independent, you should see more growth with increasing P, never less(unless the P is 200ppm or higher etc, some really high amount).

    So that CO2 is a stickler. Light can be measured fairly easily. So can nutrients.
    Dosing can be manipulated like you did also.

    Plant species differences are also at play here.

    Many different variables and 2 different nutrient locations, no way to validate CO2...........it's a tough thing to be sure about.

    Having done HC a few times using the DSM, I note very different growth when the tank is flooded, much faster growth rates, but the same if not less total dry weight biomass. I have to trim after a week or less after flooding it.
    It also grows extremely well in a tank where the CO2 is independent, since it grows on some wood emergently. And it grows extremely well ona diet of EI dosing, no NH4, sediment etc.

    Take a look at Tropica's and most of the growers plant stock listings.......those are all grown emergent.

    That should tell you something, that these plants should do well with root uptake alone when CO2 and light are independent.

    So I think there's some other issues occurring, that are not plant species related.
    I see no reason or rational that explains the differences folks are having with some species in MS sediments.

    I do see experimental issues and things that are not confirmed.
    Try making sure the CO2 is good, really good and that the other issues are not causing any confounding effects.

    Then keep trying.

    A successful grow out of the chosen plant will falsify the hypothesis, which is what you want to try and do here.

    E stellata use to be one of those hard to grow plants folks had lots of issues with, today many grow it without any problems. they made these same types of claims about it, but in the end, the better folks became at it and learning that it was them and their assumptions, not the plant's requirement, we understood much more.

    I think and would predict the same for MS.
    Some have issues with some plants and think it's the sediment.
    Perhaps, but I would not hold my breath or suggest that to be the case yet.
    I'd need to test things more.

    Many of the folks using MS, much like the ADA loyalist and ADA AS/PS cabal, do not want to do much manipulation, just sit and watch things grow in. They have a more hand's off approach in mind when they chose that method. that's their goal, fair enough, but it does not suggets that adding things, or manipulating the system will not help or improve things, shed light as to watch components are really help or not, in other words, there's no way to tease apart the how, the why and how is responsible for what.

    Many in that crowd do not care, they just care that it works acceptably for them.
    But if you want to learn more and tweak things, you need to do more than that.
    Many hobbyists don't, I'd say most...........but then you cannot say too much either, only that it works for you and you had issues here/there etc, but when a few start to test and see results that show otherwise, then the mob can be swayed. Of course, there are always a few die hards that will not give up..........and those folks are good as well, if helps to look at it in every way that's positive for good trade offs.

    Then you given it every chance that you can and can then go back later and look at it fairly.

    Regards,
    Tom barr
     
  7. JDowns

    JDowns Lifetime Charter Member
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    All good points.

    I'll have to wait to do seperate tanks. My two extra 30g's are currently in use growing Stauragyne under different conditions, to satisfy a question in my mind, along with it growing out in another tank at a local LFS. Interesting growth patterns. :rolleyes:

    Pot tests are a great idea.

    Light meter is on the way for testing an upcoming tank project. So that will help.

    Addressing CO2 testing will be a matter I'll have to dwell on.
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I've dwelled upon it more than I should have.
    Try the pot test if you honestly want to test sediments.

    It has far fewer confounding factors introduced and while some might argue the issue of being submersed, without the CO2 data, it's a pretty hard thing for them(or anyone without some lab equipment and some time and work), to answer, so those wind bag critics cannot answer crap either and only add doubt, not solutions. Which is not really helpful.....we can always heap doubt on any and everything. Being able to answer something specific is far more useful. Even if the trade off is emergent growth, it's still a plant, the same species and the sediment is still submersed.



    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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