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Setting up a semi low-tech 40 gallon, substrate and a few other questions...

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by Ghostie, Jan 12, 2010.

  1. Ghostie

    Ghostie Prolific Poster

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    Hi all, I will be setting up a new semi-low tech 40 gallon tank with an eye on keeping it as low maintenance as possible. I would like to do a mix of Excel and dry ferts and soil based (or peat?) aquarium with no CO2 gas. I wanted to use a mineralized substrate, living in New York city makes it almost impossible to do since I don't have the outside space to actually make it. Should I use peat instead, or are there any other options I should keep in mind?

    I have had a semi-successful low maintenance 20 gallon tank for a year now using just red flourite as a base. This new 40 gallon tank will be mostly slow growing plants such as varius crypts, anubias mosses. Also with the wideness of tank lighting will be an issue, but I was considering this t-5 fixture since it has moveable reflectors, and I can hang it high enough that it shouldn't be too bright: http://www.aquacave.com/sunbeam-36-2-x-39w-br-t5-fixture-by-aqua-medic-2231.html . I have not purchased any thing yet, but here is my tentative list:

    40 gallon Seaclear acrylic aquarium
    Ehiem 2215 caniseter filter
    4 bags Flourite black sand (water in NYC is very soft, so this would help keep the hardness up)
    Hydor inline heater(keep the inside of the aquarium clutter free!)
    AquaMedic sunbeam T-5 (or go cheap with a coralife 36" T-5)


    Also, I could spend a lot of money just forget the Eheim 2215, use my old Eheim Ecco 2234 in conjunction with a VorTech MP10 powerhead for water movement.

    Thanks for looking!
    Rafael
     
  2. DaBub

    DaBub Guru Class Expert

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    A couple of things.

    Being t-5's that is still quite a bit of light, not awful but makes low-tech a bit more difficult.

    Excel and mosses do not get along, the primitive plants, mosses, ferns and 'worts are sensitive to Excel.

    I would stick with your old Eheim Ecco 2234 with a VorTech MP10 powerhead would be enough.

    Seems like peat would lower your pH more.
     
  3. Ghostie

    Ghostie Prolific Poster

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    Thanks for the response! I did have some trouble with the T5 I am using now over my 20 gallon even though it is only 20 watts. I eventually solved it by putting some tissue paper under it. Any ideas for an attractive light that would work well with a 40 gallon?
    What you reccomend I use under the flourite sand instead of peat? Potting Soil, leonardite, some ADA Aquasoil? I wanted somthing under there as back-up for my dry dosing.
    Thanks!
    ~R
     
  4. Left C

    Left C Lifetime Members
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    Hi Rafael

    Ken over at TPT was selling mineralized substrate kits. All you add is water and your topping substrate. He's already done all the work in his basement. If you want some, you should see if he has anymore left. Kyle has closed the thread so you'll have to PM Ken. If you want, tell him that I told you about it, but it might not carry any weight. I purchased a kit from him.

    Ken used to be called Torpedobarb. Now his name is TheCryptKeeper.

    http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/swap-n-shop/84030-mineralized-topsoil-kits-w-soil-included.html
     
  5. Ghostie

    Ghostie Prolific Poster

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    Left C,
    I emailed him, and he still had some available. How did his kit work out for you?
    ~R
     
  6. Ghostie

    Ghostie Prolific Poster

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    Hmm, well it appears he doesn't have any more available. Anyone ever use ADA Amazonia under a Flourite Black sand layer? I like the look and buffering qualities of Flourite, but want the nutrients of Amazonia.
     
  7. Ghostie

    Ghostie Prolific Poster

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    Hmm, after researching some more, I think I will try Osmocote on the very bottom of the tank, with the flourite cap. Which Osmocote should I use? There is a Osmocote Plus that has micornutrients along with the N-P-K.
     
    #7 Ghostie, Jan 19, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 19, 2010
  8. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    To Plus OR Not To Plus

    Hi,

    I have started using Osmocote Plus that is 15-9-12 plus micronutrients, under clay or worm poop mix and clay seems to be working well.:) http://www.scotts.com/smg/products/osmocote/OsmocotePlusPlantFood.pdf

    I had been using Osmocote® Vegetable & Bedding Smart-Release® Plant Food that is 14-14-14. http://www.scotts.com/smg/products/osmocote/PDF/Osmocote%20-%20F%20_%20V%20Product%20Page.pdf

    I have not used the Plus long enough to tell you the micronutrients make any difference, but it makes me feel better...;)

    Biollante
     
  9. Ghostie

    Ghostie Prolific Poster

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    Clay?

    Ok! I will try the Osmocote Plus then. What kind of clay do you use, and what is it for? Thanks!
     
  10. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Honest!

    Hi,

    I am not trying to be controversial, honest question, honest answer, honest.

    I use the Wal-Mart store-brand clay kitty litter. It is calcined diatomaceous earth. I like to soak it a week or so before use.;)

    You did not ask but being allergic to over-priced commercial substrates, I will tell you anyway.:gw

    Some variation of this is basically, what I use these days:
    • A thin layer of boiled peat (save the ‘tea’ fancy black water extract don’t you know), just enough so you cannot see the bottom of the tank.
    • If I am planting robust rootstock, therefore a deeper substrate, I place layer of soaked kitty litter, usually half-an-inch to an inch. The amount varies according to what I am planting, also I tend to vary the depth of my substrate within a tank according to what I am planting and weather I am using pots.
    • This is usually where I put the Osmocote Plus, I used to be a wus about it, but Tom Barr says use gobs, so I now use gobs, seems to work.
    • Depending on the plants, size of the aquarium, I use from one to three inches of Tom Barr’s worm poop recipe, make sure you boil the crap out of the poop. Generally I mix it with more kitty litter, I doubt I have done it the same way twice, again the mix is a lot richer than what I used pre Tom Barr and I have definitely liked the results.
    • I often plant the heavier plants at this point I have also left the soil uncovered, a little messy, but the grasses really like it, and planting is simplified.
    Depending on the plants and look I want, I cap it with, usually an inert material, gravel, something I can get at a home center or nursery. I do not recommend sand; there is a tendency to sift into the substrate.

    Hope this helps.:cool:

    Biollante
     
  11. Ghostie

    Ghostie Prolific Poster

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    Thanks for the response well thought out response Biollante. I have no problem with using less expensive methods, unfortunately apartment life in NYC rules out boiling worm poop for the moment. I do like the idea though (anywhere to get pre-boiled worm poop?) I assume a thin layer of Osmocote under Onyx sand would work fine? I am also still not against using ADA Amazonia under the Onyx Sand, but it would be more expensive and I don't really need the water softening qualities (our water is already really soft in NYC.)

    ~R
     
  12. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    Topsoil soaked for a week or two, with water changes, will make a fine substrate when covered with gravel.

    The best topsoil is the cheapest. Be sure there are no additives.

    Bill
     
  13. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Soak It Or Tell Your Nieghbors You Are Trying A New Mario Batali Recipe!

    Hi ~R, Bill,

    The same applies to worm poop, just soak the crap out of that poop. Two or three weeks should do the trick.;)

    Before the worm poop trick, I used 'violet' or 'cactus' soil mix, not as rich as the worm poop mix.:)

    Even with with soaking instead of boiling make sure to get the floaters out, stir occasionally. :gw Also soaking the kitty litter for this time is good.:)

    Biollante
     
  14. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Soil Is Good

    Hi ~R,

    Well, yes you could use Onyx Sand, but I really think the top soil at minimum gives a serious advantage. Onyx Sand can also be used as the cap for soil or clay also, just be careful about disturbing the soil during planting.

    Of course the peat may not be as important, given your soft water, though I find peat improves most soil combination s.

    I am sure ADA Amazonia is fine I am just allergic to outrageously priced substrates.:eek:

    Biollante
     
  15. Left C

    Left C Lifetime Members
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    You are a bit mistaken.

    Flourite doesn't change the pH and KH. Their Onyx Sand and Gray Coast Calsite (these are the same products with different packaging and GCC comes in a 3 kg larger bag) have a small impact on raising the pH, KH and GH.

    From: http://www.seachem.com/Products/product_pages/FlouriteBlack.html
    Flourite Black™ is not chemically coated or treated and will not alter the pH of the water.

    From: http://www.seachem.com/Products/product_pages/FlouriteBlackSand.html
    Flourite Black Sand™ is not chemically coated or treated and will not alter the pH of the water.

    The same is true for regular Flourite™, Flourite Dark™ and Flourite Red™.


    From: http://www.seachem.com/Products/product_pages/OnyxSand.html
    Onyx Sand™ ... Being carbonate rich, Onyx Sand™ provides an advantage to any plants able to utilize bicarbonates. ... Onyx Sand™ is not chemically coated or treated and will not alter the pH of the water. ????? This sentence contradicts their GCC product's description for some reason. ?????

    From: http://www.seachem.com/Products/product_pages/GrayCoast.html
    Gray Coast™ Calcite is an all natural calcite substrate for all types of marine, reef and tropical aquaria. Its chemical composition will assist in stabilizing calcium and alkalinity while preventing large pH declines.



    Amazonia comes in a powder form, if you need it.
    http://www.adana-usa.com/index.php?main_page=afa_product_info&cPath=12_21&products_id=100
    http://www.adgshop.com/Amazonia_9_liter_Powder_Type_p/104-041.htm


    You asked if anyone topped Amazonia with Flourite Black Sand. Usually sand goes to the bottom of the aquarium and the larger substrate gravels end up on top. I'm not sure how these two will do.
     
  16. Ghostie

    Ghostie Prolific Poster

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    Ok, you convinced me Biollante to use the worm poop method, I will even buy a cheap pot to boil it! I think I will need 5 lbs or so for a 40 gallon. I just mix it 50/50 with sand (Onyx sand?) How deep? An inch? I think I will still use Onyx sand, maybe 3 or 4 bags. I read the how to worm casting substrate by Tom, and he didn't seem to add anything else. I also decided to go with the Koralia 1 instead of the MP10 to save $160.

    R
     
  17. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Non-Reactive

    Hi R,

    Just make sure the pot is non-reactive. ;) Use good quality worm poop, as in 100%.:)

    Depth of substrate depends on plants and what you want accomplish. An inch is fine. I generally like two inches or so for general purposes. ;)

    While Tom Barr said whatever he said, wherever he said it, however a good glob of Osmocote Plus will not hurt anything, especially if you are thinking this is a long term tank. Personally I tend to add a little bone meal, vitamin B1 and some really nasty Alaska Fish Fertilizer, most do not.:gw

    Biollante
     
  18. Ghostie

    Ghostie Prolific Poster

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    Non Reactive?

    Stainless steel is non-reactive correct? I probably don't want a cheap aluminum pot...
     
  19. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Wash Pot, Cook Spaghetti!

    Hi,

    Aluminum is not a good idea. :( Stainless steel is excellent. :)

    I know it is a hard sell to people, but seriously the worm poop (refer to the poop as castings) is not going to damage anything.

    First, 100% worm po... castings, won't harm you, boiled they are sterile, wash the pot and it is ready to cook spaghetti. If you forget to wash it, well just tell your guests the sauce is made from organic products, cannot get more organic than worm poop! :rolleyes:

    However, the more projects our spouses have witnessed, the harder the sell! :p

    Biollante
     
  20. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    Hi,

    You can see results from my first try with earthworm casting in the link in my signature. I followed Tom receipe.

    I have some comments to add to what was said above:

    - You have to use a thick layer of a sand over that nasty casting to avoid a huge leaking of organics in water. This is very important

    - You should never uproot plants with this kind of soil. Just cut them to the soil and let the roots in sand, they will constitute further organic matter to plants. Avoid digging/syphonning deep in the sand also

    - This was never discussed before, but there's a real big issue with this rich organic substrate. If you put a layer that will contact the front/lateral glasses of the aquarium and you have some daylight riching the tank, a BGA can invade the organic layer and maybe later the tank. BGA can develop in anaerobic conditions and extreme low light conditions. With the organic matter in contact to tank glass sides, it will find its ideal conditions. I had to cover now the bottom of the tank with some decorative material. I strongly advice to put the earthworm casting in a hill like setup so that no trace of the castings will be appearant when you're looking through the glass sides of the tank

    Finally, hope you solved your light issues. But, in a non CO2 setup, you shouldn't exceed 1wpg of T5 in my opinion. Excel won't be enough on a 40gal and needs too frequent dosing for a low maintenance tank as you wish
     
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