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softwater guide

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by Martin, Dec 2, 2007.

  1. Martin

    Martin Lifetime Charter Member
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    Hi

    I am often asked about softwater plants, how, what, when, WHY..

    what parameters are best, what's the maximum gH, kH, pH, this and that..

    I have only the smallest amount of experience with SW plants, so I have a hard time giving sound advice..

    What say you people here.... Can we build a 'Softwater plants, and the way to go' guide that will benefit and help people looking to keep tonina's, erio's etc...

    I really must setup something at work to start testing and learning... just need to find the time.. I have the plants sitting emersed in one of our greenhouses...
    - side note... anyone kept softwater plants emersed? how did _you_ do it?
    I received SW plants from a collecting trip to Thailand, and they were sitting in a pot with normal water.. They weren't happy.. I moved them to a seperate container, and added Rainwater and ferts...

    Anyway... let's try and gather some of the best SW advice, so we can help everyone else who have the Tonina itch..
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I'm a bit leary of doing this.

    The reason is after being in this hobby for decades, I've seen many assumptions go down in flames.

    I've heard that such and such plant requires "soft water".

    This is simply wrong.

    "Soft water" is a very vague term to begin with.
    We need and should be much more specific.

    "Soft water" applies to both GH and KH in most cases.

    While KH may have a large impact on some species, GH can be quite high with virtually any species.

    I've found no issues with high Ca and Mg levels for Tonias, Rotalas, Erios etc etc.
    KH?

    Now that's really what this is much more about, I'd argue that higher GH's are better than low for any plant species.

    So what species prefer low KH's and what ranges are good where these plants thrive at these ranges?

    There is no cut and dry level here.
    Other things also play into this.

    Say, a plant does very poor ly at low KH's anyway, having low KH is not going to cure the person's issues.

    So low KH would have to assume you can do very well with the plant at low KH's and then raising the KH specifically, while keeping the OTHER PARAMETERS THE SAME, can be tricky.

    Alakalinity changes a few things, CO2 to some degree, and trace metals and bioavailablity of certain nutrients.

    So you may simply need to add more Traces and tad more CO2 with higher KH's.
    But this might be for a KH range between 3-6, whereas at 8-10 you might not be able to overcome things.
    At a KH of 3 or less, things might be easier to handle, CO2/traces/dosing etc.

    It really depends on how far away and how the person doses more than some defined KH.

    Still, I know folks are quite safe at a KH of 2-3 if you have the option that's easy.
    Just be careful how you apply the advice. There are often exceptions.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. Soggy

    Soggy Junior Poster

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    Does it mean that if i have around 15 dkH, I wont or will have trouble keeping those exotic plants that prefer low kH?

    I dont understand the implications of high kH to plants when im already injecting a lot of CO2. :confused:
     
  4. Martin

    Martin Lifetime Charter Member
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    Hi Soggy.

    injecting CO2 doesn't lower the kH.. it lowers the pH.

    you should read up on the CO2->kH->pH relationship to learn more on this.
     
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Martin, also, there's an issue with KH and sediments. Particularly ADA aqua soil.

    Some have reported that they have been able to grow Tonias easily in harder water using ADA AS. Now which species, and Erios I've seen, at least 2 species, and have experienced it first hand, had little troubles at a KH of 8.

    Now Tonias..........? This is another story.
    They seem pretty sensitive to KH, but how much?
    Many had suggested you need a KH or less than 1-2 in some cases!
    This is just not true.
    Some had suggested pH's at low as 5- 5.5 as the "cure".
    Again, very false.

    I do think a KH of 2-3 is the better optimal for any/all species, but here again, you should be able to find cases where folks have grown a number of species at higher KH's in good shape.

    Some plants simply do better at lower KH's, that's a list we could make and do.

    So things like R macrandra, R wallichii, Tonias, Erio secatum, perhaps a few others.
    But I've grown them in KH's of 5 also.

    So it's hard to define as folks have different beliefs on what is and is not good growth. there is not set standard and I think it's very tough to do that type of standard setting in this hobby.

    We need to speak **generally** here. About trends, and look at folks outside this trend to see if it might not be something else(say KH, not GH, or maybe folks did not have enough CO2, light, NO3 etc).

    Basically make some hypothesis and go look for any cases that might falsify them.
    Test some ourselves etc. Verify etc.




    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  6. Martin

    Martin Lifetime Charter Member
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    True Tom.

    now regarding R. wallichii & macrandra I have grown them in test tanks at kH11 with no problems at all... :)

    I do believe that people who are successful in growing Tonina's and Erio's in ADA AS will have a limited success over time... I agree that the sediment plays a significant role.. When I've experienced T's & E's melting it has alway been from the root and up, which could be showing that the plant need more acidic surroundings in the sediment than in the watercolumn. of course, this is a bit naive, since I haven't tested it.. but still, could be worth investigating.
     
  7. Soggy

    Soggy Junior Poster

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    Has the reason been discovered why high kH causes these exotics to melt in general? or are the melting effects specific to each type of plant? :confused:
     
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