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Please help me to understand "balance"

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by toffee, Jun 7, 2016.

  1. toffee

    toffee Junior Poster

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    Based on my past failures, I am trying to gain some understanding:


    Fast grow = more light,


    More lights necessitates more CO2 than whatever fishes can produce.


    More light and CO2 induced fast grow also depletes fertilizes generated by fishes which necessitates fertilizing.


    If one "could" match the amount of light to what CO2 and nutrients (fert or poop) that the resident fishes can produce ... then fert and CO2 could be minimized if not eliminated? So how can one determine what amount of light to provide so plants could strike that balance with the fishes?


    Let's say one has a 180g tank with 20 pearl gouramis, 60 rasboras, four giant swords, and three jave ferns, how would we know what amount of light would be just right to use up the CO2 and fert produced by the fishes? or with the amount of fish load, 4 swords and 3 JF is too much as there wouldn't be enough to even keep all of them alive.


    Thanks for helping.
     
  2. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    Yes, more light = fast growth. More CO2 = fast growth. More CO2 + light = really fast growth. Great! What's not to like, right?


    Except, at very high light and high CO2, and high ferts, you start walking the proverbial tight rope. Sure, it can be done. And many do. What happens in these instances is that ferts and lights become the easy piece of the puzzle. CO2 becomes the bottle neck, unless you really, really know that you're doing. And tanks that have spotty CO2 or occasionally limiting CO2 become algae magnets, even if plants appear to be growing. If you can find balance with high light/CO2/ferts, then it's very rare, difficult and stunningly beautiful. But you'll have to be a Master at CO2 delivery.


    It's a lot easier to find 'balance' and inner peace if you try to lower your light to what the tank produces or can handle. You can find balance by gradually lowering light so the fert needs are not limiting with some additional K and traces. It is unlikely that you'll get enough CO2 generation out of the critters themselves to sustain a gorgeous tank. You will probably need a little CO2 addition. If you're light limited, then you won't need much CO2. Low CO2, low ferts, and really low light is a very economical and simple way to find balance. Say 25-30 PAR at substrate. But you will be limited to fewer plant species.


    Another slightly more high-tech way to find balance is to add generous amounts of ferts and CO2 and be light limited. Say, 50 PAR at substrate. This is a good compromise. Easy to find balance. But more work than above. Wider plant selection.


    WIth your specific example, it is very hard to say. Mostly because you'll be CO2 limited and that aint pretty. Especially if you have airstones, or lots of surface turbulence. If you're careful about keeping the CO2 in the water, you may be able to swing it with 25 PAR at substrate or less. The ferns will be fine. Swords probably.
     
    2 people like this.
  3. toffee

    toffee Junior Poster

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    Thanks Pikez, this is the tank that I would like to copy. It's huge, may be 10ft to12ft long with 3ft tall. Mine would be smaller, say 240g, 8x2x30" tall if not 24" tall. 3 to 4 Amazon Swords only as plant, drift woods and fishes. No discus. Objective would to enjoy fishes and grow swords under Barr's non-CO2 approach, with no CO2, and infrequent water changes.


    I don't mind adding dry fert and root tabs which is like feeding fish. But would like to use lights and fish waste as the limiting factor, I am will accept slow growth, or more likely spend a bit and buy the giant mother plants to start with.


    The thing is that swords are tall, and tank deep, so how much light is enough or too much? Being a fish centric tank, one would like to see the fishes also that means more lights, compounded with swords aren't heavy water column feeder, more a root feeder, would that mean nutrients in water column to enable algae?


    [​IMG]
     
  4. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    I don't see any reason why you cant do the same or come close. Keeping fish load low will be key. You will need occasional root tabs or K + traces to the water column. You will have to let the plants tell you if there is enough light.


    Swords are perfectly fine in inert substrate with 100% water column feeding. But if you're worried about water column ferts causing algae then you can easily rely on root tabs.
     
  5. toffee

    toffee Junior Poster

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    You are right Pikez, for planted tank enthusiasts. This tank is quite entry level, big tank with just swords. Although it's a good looking tank. Being a big tank that needs big fishes I might have a solution for that too:


    What about planting the giant motherplant swords in these 9.4"x9.4"x4.9" deep containers ( next size down would be 7"x7" x 3.6") I can drill two holes on the top lip for the plant and root tabs. Probably some small tiny holes on the sides for roots to reach out. I can use different growth media in the planter and leave the rest of tank with sand.


    By using a container with lip, the plant could stay put even if I would to have strong cichlids that likes to pull and tank plants.


    [​IMG]


    [url=http://www.rubbermaidcommercial.com/rcp/products/detail.jsp
     
    #5 toffee, Jun 8, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 8, 2016
  6. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    You could. I've grown Crinum and Swords in cichlid tanks this way, but it's a matter of aesthetics.
     
  7. toffee

    toffee Junior Poster

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    Containers could be hidden behind a large rock or drift wood for aesthetics. But being a big tank with bigger fishes and operate under Barr's non-CO2 concept with infrequent water changes, mechanical filtration may become an issue. How to keep the tank clean and water clear, perhaps some kind of water polishing filter that returns the polished water back to the tank?
     
  8. Dennis Singh

    Dennis Singh SynKing!

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    Lower the light you use, the better results you can achieve what you are trying to do. Like Pikes said, occasional root tabs. Plants and bio will be your filters for polishing the water crystal clear. Mainly your bio in your filtration here.
     
  9. toffee

    toffee Junior Poster

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    Thanks guys for helping. My plan is to convert a 9 ft x 2ft wet bar into home for a 8 ft aquarium. The bar has a sink, cabinets, an ice maker, and wall on three sides. To leverage the cabinets, the 8ft tank will sit 3 ft above floor and no space for wet dry. Canister only, perhaps two of them? unless I do an aquaponic type plant filter on top of the tank (which would be space friendly as I can have full use of the cabinets for storage. Media in plant filter can double as bio filter? LOL, I can grow mint in the plant filter and use them for cocktails. But a plant filter doesn't cover the mechanical filtration bit ....


    strungout, how low is low enough or just right? How about 2 x13w CFL or one 24" T5 on top of 2 swords? I am totally ignorant when it comes to LED.
     
  10. Dennis Singh

    Dennis Singh SynKing!

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    I may have missed it but what are your dimensions? not gallons


    On top of two swords either light seems to be good.
     
  11. toffee

    toffee Junior Poster

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    strungout


    If all goes well, the tank will be 8ft wide x 2ft x 2ft. with only swords as back ground plants, as the pic above. Probably 2 or 3 on the left and 1 or 2 on the right, similar to the photo above. So for the swords, I can use CFL or T5, in case of CFL, it could be a 13W per plant say 6 inches or so on top of it (see pic below) . Not sure if that would be too much light? Of course one could adjust the distance
     
  12. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    A good hardscape with swords as accent plants will do much better, do not just ponder the plants there.


    Swords are easy to grow.


    Use less, not more light.
     
  13. toffee

    toffee Junior Poster

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    For one of those giant "mother plants" swords, how much light is appropriate for a non-CO2 tank? I was thinking of a 13w cfl for each sword plant, but can reduce too.
     
  14. Julia Adkins

    Julia Adkins aquariumfertilizer.com
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    I will be watching this project with interest. I really like the idea of potting the plants in a plastic container with the stems through the lid so they are held in place but making it quite easy to replenish the root zone tabs without disrupting roots. Very clever!
     
  15. toffee

    toffee Junior Poster

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    @Julie Adkins


    Thanks Julie, potting the swords may restrict root growth, as result plants may not reach full potential. For me, I am betting an 75% sword is still plenty big enough, and this may be the only way cichlids couldn't pull it out. I could also use different media in the plastic tub or do some root trimming when it becomes necessary.


    I photoshopped big cichlids into that tank.

    GT tank.jpg
     
    #15 toffee, Jun 13, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 13, 2016
  16. Dennis Singh

    Dennis Singh SynKing!

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    Amazon swords get huge. I doubt a pot would restrict its growth, i think thats a myth. I don't know if the roots are strong enough to crack or penetrate but by this picture i believe they are. In here the erio penetrated or went through the seems of the acrylic. Makes me appreciate plants even more. This is just my opinion though, don't take it to heart. Size could be restricted and i could be wrong but i don't think by much. Maybe put some holes at the bottom of the container and then the roots can root into substrate too..


    follow up picture coming.....imgur seems to be down
     
  17. Dennis Singh

    Dennis Singh SynKing!

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    OBTLXJW.jpg


    and this is a erio


    swords have much stronger roots
     
  18. toffee

    toffee Junior Poster

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    By the way, how's swords' ability to handle or tolerate hard water?
     
  19. Dennis Singh

    Dennis Singh SynKing!

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    very well toleration
     
  20. 1077

    1077 Guru Class Expert

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    Have used 10 inch diameter clay pot's with large sword plant's (mother plant's) due to plant becoming root bound in smaller pot's.


    I chose pot's with no holes in the bottom to keep root's from exiting through the hole and then spreading their root's throughout the substrate which defeated my purpose of placing them in pot's to begin with (ie ) easy to move about.


    Believe the plastic tub's will want to float even with substrate added but could be wrong.


    I went to landscape store and selected ceramic painted pot's to help blend with substrate or plain terra cotta .


    I think few can appreciate what the root ball and or size of these mother plant's are, or are capable of being.
     
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