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Rotala Kill Tank

Discussion in 'Journals' started by Pikez, Oct 21, 2016.

  1. Greggz

    Greggz Lifetime Members
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    As usual, fascinating update Vin.

    Still trying to wrap my head around what is going on in there.

    Maybe I missed it, but what is the lighting like in this tank (PAR, duration)??

    And have you ever tested the water column? I would be curious to see what those levels are.
     
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  2. rajkm

    rajkm Article Editor
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    That slime algae had been my issue with osmocote too.
    I do want to understand why you think it’s because the osmocote balls got exposed?
    From what I understand, soil will bind as much as it can in its limited CEC zones, everything else in presence of water will leach out. Unless osmocote is releasing very little, which is getting consumed just as fast so not much is leached in water.
     
  3. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    This is the only explanation I have. Over-the-top, unlimited, grossly overfed water column does not produce giant foliage. Whereas a few Osmocote balls and clay soil by the roots seem too.
     
  4. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    Lighting is two 48" Finnex something or other. About 100 PAR on the substrate if there are no plants. Now, the substrate is dark, dark, dark from all the overgrowth.

    No, I have not tested the water column. There is definitely some O+ leaching. How much? I don't know.

    I did a 90% water change today though...the first in I have no idea how long. Did not bother to clean glass, trim, or clean filter. NO time. There is also no fish in there. Hasn't had fish in there since summer, 6 months ago.

    I take back all the nasty things I said about Osmocote in the past. Mea culpa. (Of course, this tank has a LOT more than just O+, but it's what's primarily making the plants look like 1970s East German gymnasts).
     
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  5. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    I don't mind that algae. Most algae eating fish and shrimp feast on it. If I had 20 Amano shrimp in that tank, it would be squeaky clean. But I have no shrimp. So I manually scoop it up and put it in the next tank with all the herbivorous cichlids. They inhale it.

    If that is the worst thing Osmocote does, I am cool with it.

    In all the tanks I've kept over the last, oh, damn...I'm old. I've never seen this algae stick around after the first couple of months' instability. I used to freak out about it. I don't anymore. I recently converted a 180 that I had cichlids in, to a plant tank with just BDBS (thanks to @burr740, I am a convert). It has a bunch of types of algae. They will all go away. It's the normal course of events.

    However, in Oscmocote tank, this algae has hung around. It is the ONLY tank where it's hung around after the first couple of months. So, I'm making a very strong connection between this algae and Osmocote.

    Remember, I put the O+ at the bottom and added 2 inches of Fluval Stratum and a ton of other crap. So some of the O+ nutrients gets CEC'd onto the soil. And, yes, some of it will get leached out. Since I dose NO MACROS into the water column at all, whatever leaches into the water column presumably gets consumed. BUT!! The water lettuce I used as a leaching indicator went from having 2" diameter leaves to having dime-sized leaves to looking really sad and pathetic. So there is not a LOT of leaching. Just some. I'll happily take it.

    Now, I know there will come a time with the Fluval and the O+ gets depleted. I don't know when that will be. Another year? It'll be ugly when it does. There will be decreased growth. More algae. Some annoyance. I will have to tear down the tank and toss everything.

    I'll start over in a heartbeat. Except I'd cap the O+ and clay with BDBS next time.
     
  6. Phishless

    Phishless Lifetime Member
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    @Pikez root fed ammannia species seems to be the ticket except for the golden variety in my tank.
    Senegalensis is a constant producer of many stems of which I've had to start tossing to the trash to avoid over-growth.

    I use Miracle-Gro general purpose that also has similar pellets to O+.
    The tighter BDBS cap is a better choice by far, I'll never use other.

    I've never added a clay to the base though it's on my list of things to try.
    Where I camp with the horses has an extreme amount of clay based soil.
    Been meaning to bring some soil home from there and give it a try. :)

    Been changing little water on my end too.
    I should really do more but I also dose EI with extra.
    Not happy with a depleted water column on my end, but TDS is always dropping so I dose quite freely.

    How is the ludwigia peruensis that I sent doing these days ???
    Was that a green example in another post? It grows perfectly fine when green too!
     
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  7. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    Your glandulosa/peruensis is doing fine. It's a plant I struggled with 20 years ago. But I can't kill it now...it does not like low macros or weird changes. It responds to stress by shedding lower leaves. When grown under heavy shade, it gets similar looking to polycarpa, which your guys in GWAPA have plenty of.

    Clay...avoid if you can. I made the mistake of adding a few pounds of red Mexican pottery clay that I bought from Amazon.com. It was fine as long as I did not uproot anything. But I made the mistake of planting some Lagenandra toxicaria in the Osmocote + clay tank. The damn plants got too big and I had to yank them. Out came lots of Fluval stratum clay beads, a giant pinkish brown cloud of Mexican pottery clay, and countless balls of O+. Oh well. I did two back to back 90% water changes. Things seem to have settled down a bit.

    But as far as Ammannia and Rotala, this Osmocote + tons of other nutrition junk in the substrate has been a phenomenal success. I throw away massive quantities of both Ammannia and Rotala. No stunting.

    This is by far the easiest way to grow these plants.

    If you go back and read the 50+ pages of this journal, you should come away with the same conclusion. Lots of nutrients in the substrate with nothing in the water column is the easiest method.

    The most difficult method? High KH water + inert substrate + EI.

    Most other methods fall somewhere inbetween in difficulty.
     
    #1067 Pikez, Jan 15, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2019
  8. Phishless

    Phishless Lifetime Member
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    Polycarpa is a stunning red plant in enough light. Rose/pink top half but the bottom half is still green.
     
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  9. Greggz

    Greggz Lifetime Members
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    Vin question for you.

    If you were setting up a dutch type tank today (or any high tech planted), say something similar to the mix in Burr's tank, would you go with this method??
     
  10. burr740

    burr740 Micros Spiller
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    I think the other stuff in the sub is having more of an effect than you think, or than the O+ actually is. Ive started out a few tanks with gobs of O+, not quite as much as here but still a lot. And its never allowed me to skimp on the water column. Nor has it ever saved a plant that was struggling without it. Definitely not any stem varieties. Lagenandras and sword plants are the only ones Ive ever seen it make a noticeable difference with. Also never seen a correlation with bga.

    I also suspect O+ doesnt last very long submerged in our aquariums, month or two at best. Might last a little longer in fine sand than say course gravel that gets more water exchange.

    So I think a big part of what you're seeing is from the dirt etc, rather than the O+

    Obviously a lot of speculation here though
     
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  11. Greggz

    Greggz Lifetime Members
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    Funny Joe that was going to be my next question. Would any of this carry over to inert substrates?

    My gut says no. I just know I have messed around with root tabs a few times, and personally never saw any difference in my BDBS tank.

    But regardless, I do love this experiment. Not sure what it means, but sure is interesting.
     
  12. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    Hey Gregg - for a Dutch style tank, no, I would not repeat the Osmocote approach because Dutch style tanks require a LOT of uprooting which will eventually release the sequestered nutrients from deep in the substrate into the water column. And once the water column is as rich as the substrate, after all, i have at least a pound of Oscmocote and a few pounds of other nutrients down there, you may begin having algae and tip stunting and necrosis in Lythraceae.

    This approach is fantastic for low-labor-input, set-it-and-forget-it type tanks, be they high tech or not. My guess is that the tank will sustain itself for a year or so. After that, I will have to spend a few hours completely re-doing the tank. It'll take half of a Saturday. But you're good for the rest of the year on very little ferts and water changes. Also, better if you have plants you can mow, prune, trim, rather than uproot.

    Once I am done killing in the Kill Tanks, I will set them all up like this for farming or species maintenance (odd species that I found or collected that no one else does or wants...but I don't want it lost to the hobby.) because I am able to grow the pickiest plants with this approach. In hard, alkaline tap water, no less. I am not kidding when I say this is the most successful tank I have ever had. And I started keeping plants in 1987. Yes, I am 94 years old.

    So, yes, I will definitely be setting up more tanks like this.

    Having said that, I set up a new tank a few weeks ago. Another 180 gal cichlid tank that I've converted to plants. It is 100% BDBS with nothing else in the substrate. Tap water. Very light ferts, low to medium CO2, medium light. I'm adding roughly 2-0.2-1.5 (NPK) every other day and Seachem Comp & Iron per label instruction. Lythraceae are doing well. Ammannia gracilis stems are thick as fingers with 6" leaves and A. crassicaulis is not stunting.

    If i were to re-attempt a true Dutch tank, I would go with BDSM...wait, no, BDBS with strategically placed root tabs + very light water column ferts. Or secondarily with fresh Aquasoil + again, very light water column ferts.

    Tom has tried for a long time to convince the Dutch masters to switch to Aquasoil type substrates. They all politely nod their heads. Yet, none of them do. They all hear out Tom, but when push comes to shove, they all stick with inert gravel with clay balls or root tabs shoved under hungry plants. Having said that, they've all entered the new century and have embraced high tech CO2 fertilization (albeit at lower levels than Americans are told to), adding KNO3 and KH2PO4 at roughly 25% EI strength. So, they are not science or tech averse. They simply pick and choose what works for them. And clay soils have not been embraced. If you go to Asia, virtually every plant tank is run on active clay soils.

    So, to answer your question, no, not for Dutch style tanks. But, yes, definitely for farm tanks or if I want a guaranteed growth environment.
     
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  13. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    Yeah, you are probably right.

    I keep harping on the 'one pound' of Osmocote at the bottom. But if you go back and look at the picture of how I set up the tank, there is a TON of other stuff. Gypsum, Azomite trace minerals, Mexican clay, several pounds of mineralized top soil. I damn near put Bat Guano in there just for the jokes.

    The Fluval Stratum releases some N over the first few months. But given how robust growth still is, there is still a LOT of nitrate in the substrate and that could come mostly from O+. I did not add any other source of N besides Fluval Stratum, MTS, and O+.

    So, yes, all the other stuff is helping. But the primary source of nitrogen remains O+ in my opinion. If I am right, that should run out in a couple of months. It's been 6 months since I set the tank up and N has not run out.
     
  14. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    I think I may have done the thread disservice by calling this an 'Osmocote' experiment. It was catchy, so I went with it. It would have been better to explain the nuance and say 'ultra-rich and ultra-complex' substrate with lean water column approach.

    Recall that I was partially inspired by visiting Dennis Wong in Singapore, where he uses a couple of inches of garden soil under his Aquasoil...AND adds O+ balls below each plant individually. His water column is really lean. I wanted to take that approach and crank it up to 11 to see what I could learn.
     
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  15. SingAlongWithTsing

    SingAlongWithTsing Junior Poster

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    lol I warned you man


    will there be a separate thread for the 180 vin?
     
  16. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    The Red Mexican Clay leak was fixed quickly. Couple of back to back water changes and some vacuuming with a Python did the trick. It's like it never happened. In retrospect, now that I know how easily it is fixed, I will use red clay again. It's worth the hassle. The Cost/Benefit is favorable even if you disturb the substrate...especially if you don't plan on uprooting Crypts, swords, or Lagenandra type plants with massive root systems.

    No plans to start another thread on the BDBS 180. I don't have the time to start something new atm. But if I learn anything about 'killing' Rotala, I will share here. So far, I can say that dosing really low ferts is working just fine. So far, I've been adding 2 ppm nitrates ever other day! That's it. The tank is un-cycled and it's going thru its various phases of algae. But the plans are growing (slowly) without any tip deformities.
     
  17. Justin gililland

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    Ive personally used red clay as a base for my 120 but in the form of flourite red. Same benefits of extra fe for anaerobic bacteria to be made available aswell as a high cec to compliment the AS only issue is uprooting exposes red pebbles no clouding luckily but still try not to touch it
     
  18. Mário Martins

    Mário Martins New Member

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    greetings from Portugal
    I loved every page I read of this post.
    I noticed several situations that are happening to me in my aquarium of 600 liters Dutch.
    My AR also stopped growing and the leaves were bent.
    My water is gH 14 and so I always had a lot of trouble keeping some species.
    Now I'm using RO and I notice that the plants are much better. I'm gH5.

    after reading this post I confirmed some of my suspicions:

    the water should be soft


    the addition of fertilizers is important in soil and little in the water column


    we are adding much more ferts than are needed

    ammonia plays a very important role in the growth of plants and so perhaps planted aquaria should have circulating pumps and particulate filters. So the ammonia was not converted into nitrates left over for the plants. A little what happens in nature.
     
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