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Step 2: chose a method and learn it well

Discussion in 'Are you new to aquatic plants? Start here' started by Tom Barr, Apr 5, 2007.

  1. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Once you have decided on a method, you should read up as much as you can on the method, ask around if you wish, see what the general consensus might be about it.

    I divide several methods into roughly 4 arbitrary groupings:

    1.Non CO2 fully planted tanks with lower lighting(2w/gal or less): good for lazy but smart folks or folks that know they just do not have as much time to garden and tend their tanks. The growth is slow so the work is less. I personally love this method.

    2. "Excel" planted tanks, this is not CO2, but offers plants some carbon to increase their growth rates. It also is good for inhibiting algae for any planted tank. Low light works very in conjunction with this method. Moderate growth rates and easy to keep tanks.

    3. Low light CO2 plant tanks. These offer excellent gardening growth rates with less work. Many winning aquascapes are in this group.

    4. High light CO2 enrichment, lots of growth and demand. Can be very time consuming to keep and maintain the tank in a stable state over the long term.
    It does not imply that this method is in any way better, from a management perspective, it's actually much worse.

    Once you have chosen and goal, explain that goal to other folks when you ask questions and seek advice. Tell them that you use CO2 or not, how large is the tank, how much plant biomass you have, what fertilizers you are adding, and they will be much better able to help you.

    CO2 scares new folks and many try everything under the sun to avoid it's use while claiming to want to increase plant growth by adding lots of light.
    There is good intention, but this is a recipe for algae virtually every time and lot of frustration. Learn to use CO2 if you even think you want to add more light.
    It's not hard nor that costly over time.

    Plant biomass: do not wait for the plants to grow in and fill in the tank, do not add one small sword plant and expect it to have the same effect as 300 stem plants.
    Pack the tank from day one, do not be cheap on this part. Many are fearful and thus only add a few plants to see if they grow, sometimes they do, many times they get covered with algae after awhile. By adding a lot of plants, you reduce algae. They block the light, they remove the NH4 that induces algae spores to germinate rapidly and provides for a much better environment for your fish.

    Even some seasoned plant hobbyists sometimes forget to add enough plant biomass themselves. If you are worried about losing the plants or killing them, they are much easier to bring back from algae or other issues and are pretty cheap(use the cheapy plants if you are scare, but use a lot of them). You should do your homework and read up on what you need to do prior to getting the aquarium set up for plants.

    A good start will prevent added labor and cost later, do it right the first time.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Step three: your assigned homework

    There are articles here on the BarrReport that address most methods. You are new to this, so give yourself a break, you are learning and things will be tough at first for you to understand. Most hobbies have a steep learning curve, do not give up and quit.

    While some might be a heavy read, do not be fearful of chemical names. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate after all, we only use a few fertilizers, perhaps 4 at most, so it's not that bad. Potash of nitrate is KNO3, farmers add it to grow wheat etc.
    Just know you may need to add a few things to help the plants grow.

    Getting familiar with the names and acronyms is par for the course.

    Here's a listing of those acronyms:

    http://www.barrreport.com/articles/856-those-chemical-names-acroynms-add-more-if-you-see-one-i-missed-2.html

    PlantGeek.net - Glossary

    Homework:

    [The Krib] Aquatic Plants

    Aquaria FAQ

    Steve's site is excellent:
    Aquarium Plants | My views, Steve Hampton, on how to succeed with aquarium plants

    DFW Aquatic Plant Club - Articles

    SFBAAPS References Page

    Aquatic Gardeners Association : Aquatic Plant Links

    AquaticQuotient.com

    Rex's:
    Rex's Guide to Planted Tanks

    AquaticQuotient.com

    Aquarium Advice :: View Topic - Read This First: Resources and References





    Please note, the goal of my site is to offer new plant folks a place to learn, but most sites address newer folks already, we are primarily interested in advancing folks beyond the newbie stages and on to the advanced stages which is rarely addressed on various forums. Thus we tend to discuss more specific in depth topics and I put out a review articles each month that goes into detail about various topics related to planted aquariums.

    But there is also no reason why we cannot help new folks also:D
    So do some background reading first, then ask questions next.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. morainy

    morainy Subscriber

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    Hi Tom

    I would like to try a low light, no CO2 planted tank (with or without Excel) following your method. I read about your method in a post on another forum, where someone created two tanks, one following your method and one following Diana Walstad's.

    What I'm wondering is, have you published a book that I could purchase, and then refer to? Or, is there a place on this site or elsewhere where I could follow some step by step instructions and also read about the science behind your method? I have read various posts by you on various forums but I really need to find all the basic information in one place that I can keep going back to and if you have written a book, I would like to order it.

    My background: I have had aquariums since I was a kid in the 1970s. At first, I had plastic plants. About 10 years ago, I started keeping java ferns and anubias in a low light Eclipse. They did great with no care at all. Now I have 6 aquariums raning from 5 gallons to 36 gallons. All of them are planted in a kind of random fashion (that is, with ignorance) and the plants mostly seem to be doing well after several months. (One plant is not going to make it.)

    Now, I would like to landscape a tank properly, producing something that is low maintenance but leafy. If it works well, then I'd like to redo one of my tanks that seems to be a wisteria jungle.

    However, I do not have a green thumb. I must be able to read about everything first.

    Can you point me in the right direction?

    Many thanks,
    Maureen
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    In many respects, they are similar, but one focuses on the sediment, the other on the water column.
    That is the main difference. I've extended it recently to include sediments + water column dosing.
    Much like all methods listed above. I've never thought that one was better than another really, but wanted to explore the water column more in thepast since so many blamed it for Hell on earth and every problem they had with aquarium plants.

    Now that was pout to rest for non CO2 and CO2 enriched system, I can go back with good knowledge of risks and issues(or lack of them).

    Using a long term root source(sediment, whether it's dirt from out back, worm castings, ADA AS or similar brands, adding some Osmocoat etc) and water column dosing offer advantages of both and the remove the trade offs of each, they work synergistically together.

    Most things/methods "work", question is, how can we improve on them and make management easier?

    No book, as of yet........Barr Report monthly(not many the last 1.5 years due to school research demands) newsletters are about 30 deep and have a lot of info, maybe 450 pages of topics. Heavy reading, not coffee table reading.

    Maybe some day, but it'll be out of date rather fast by the time everyone get s a copy.
    Diana's book is good but she also is considering a 2nd edition.
    Many things she'd like to change since 1997!!!!

    Well, you can buy Diana's book, she self published, and you can read the non CO2 method in the EI section of the sub forums.

    Both work well and have similar points.
    We disagree on a few points.
    But much fewer than most.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  5. morainy

    morainy Subscriber

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    Subscribing to the Barr report

    Hi Tom

    I subscribed to your report. (I am not drawn to coffee table reading.) Don't worry if your reports are infrequent. I have already benefitted many times from your posts all across the internet.

    Maureen

     
  6. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Well, it will take you awhile to get through the existing reports.
    Buy Diana's book also.

    $ well spent.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  7. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    And post in the forum before you start and after you have read on these methods

    Also, think well about CO2, to maybe later move non CO2, much easier and stable
     
  8. darren-bennetts

    darren-bennetts Junior Poster

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    Hello Tom
    i finaly got around to looking your site up and here I am
    It looks like we are kindred sprits !!
    I have a young family 3 boys under 6 so do not have much time between hothouses and family.
    great advice will link to your site on my web page.
    Darren
    Perth Western Australia
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Well, do not stop reading an article here or there.
    It will help. No need to try and read it all at once.
    Take your time.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  10. dbazuin

    dbazuin Guru Class Expert

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    How about using pressure CO2 and exel (or easycarbo) at the same time?
    Can that be done?
     
  11. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    Yes, many do it. Excel is ok for a small tank, low light setup. On bigger tanks/high light, compressed CO2 is cheaper and a better source of carbon for plants
     
  12. ArnieArnie

    ArnieArnie Prolific Poster

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    Hi everybody,

    So I have tried this current set up
    -low light
    -excel
    -CO2 (DIY)
    -EI

    But I noticed how hard it is to keep a stable CO2 level and also I keep battling with some amount of GSA and BBA. The plants grow like crazy (even with low light) and I need to trim a lot.
    So I was thinking to switch to non-CO2 methode. 2 things holding me back, HC is now a nice carpet (hopefully it will stay this way) and I have sand as substrate. I wonder if sand will work for a non-CO2 methode. It is nothing like ADA soil which can trap nutrients and hold (IMO) a better bacterial community.

    Your opinion plz

    edit: also shrimps don't reproduce that well since I started the current set-up.
     
  13. jerrybforl

    jerrybforl Lifetime Members
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    BBA is lack of Co2! Spot dosing with excel helps kill it. Lack of current could be a problem as well. I asked Karen Randell via email once the same questions you are asking and this is what she told me. There is a fertilizer, cant recall which one, that sterilizes inverts. Check it and and see if you are using that fert. Hope that helps.
     
  14. fjf888

    fjf888 Guru Class Expert

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    I wouldn't use excel in a shrimp tank, I think there was a study done saying that excel reduced reproduction rates, it may be referenced here, then again so does CO2. Sand just means you need to dose the water column but you would not need to do full EI. Others would know better than I, but its my understanding that HC is at a huge competitive disadvantage for CO2, and unless its supplied the carpet will likely disappear.

    jerryb

    The only one that would make any sense would be any trace element fert that contains copper, like CSM+B. In the quantities necessary for a planted tank, I doubt KNO3 would have any noticable effect.
     
  15. ArnieArnie

    ArnieArnie Prolific Poster

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    Thanks for the response. The answers were actually what I was already thinking but just wanted some verification. I am going to give it a shot to stop the CO2 and see what will happen with the HC. If it is not able to compete than Ill start the CO2 again. What actually is harming the shrimps I would not know, maybe it is in my micro dosing. I don't actually measure stuff, just observe. And lately I observe shrimps having fewer eggs than before (fewer shrimps having eggs).

    Thanks!
     
  16. ianmacgillivray

    ianmacgillivray Junior Poster

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    hi just started first planted aquarium need help aquarium is 10 gallon 24 18 by 18 used 20 1b ecco complete planted heavily with straight vallis hygro corombosa water wisteria green cobomba lighting 15 watts for non co2 low tech parameters 6gh 6kh ph 7.8 turnover from filter about 12 times an hour running for 3 days was waiting for plants to settle but vallis looks like it is dying what will i do
     
  17. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Lots of folks....if they actually compare..............no CO2 vs CO2 see this. Problem is, many simply do not do this.

    See the non CO2 methods in the article and EI sections.
    In most cases, running it semi lean will work well for shrimp tanks.

    This assumes no water changes at all.
    Monitor TDS...........change water if it gets to 500uS.
    Drop to about 250.

    Repeat as needed.
     
  18. jazzmann79

    jazzmann79 Junior Poster

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    Hi All,


    I like methods 1,2,& 3. I would like to get good growth, but I don't have a great deal of time to devote to method 4,so I am going to explore those methods in detail, and see what kind of results I can get. As always, thanks for the great article.
     
  19. David Morton

    David Morton Junior Poster

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    Hi there - thanks for taking on newbies like me! This is my first posting. I have entered into planted tanks recently (Nov 2014) after a 30 yr hiatus from when I had non-planted but successful brackish water tanks....and before I knew of forums like this.....so not really knowing what I was doing I see that I didn't follow some of your great advice for newbies, ah well too late now in some respects. However, I am slowly getting on track. I have a two questions but I will give you the run down of what I am currently operating (again, I am sorry it will clearly show that I didn't know what I was doing): I have a 30 gal lightly planted tank (almost 1/2 planted now because of my first trimmings) with about 3"- 4" depth gravel substrate. I have an Aqua-Tech 30/60 HOB with pothos, bamboo and spider plants growing out of the top, floss pads but no carbon, and in the tank I run an airstone for a couple of hours am and pm because my wife and kids like the look of it. I have 14 fiah - an angel 3"; 3'' sailfin common pleco; 2 pepper corys; 2 danios; 8 black neons; I use the Fluval co2 88g kit with about 2-3 bps (only when light is on) with low lighting (1 T8 6500 K). Currently I use DIY osmocote root tabs (by my root feeders - 4 swords, 2 dwarf lillies) and Flourish (Comprehensive). Other plants I have are 10 stems of wisteria; 7 stems of ludwigia repens; 16 stems of cabomba; 4 anubias nana on driftwood; 5 sprigs of crypt. Water parameters that i have knowledge of is 8.2 ph (well water), 0.0 ammonia; temp is 79F. My question is that living in a rural area I have suddenly run out of co2 and it will be a week - 10 days before I can get another cartridge. Will this be a problem ( I'm thinking algae)? My next question is if moving into a dual T8 fixture and dry fert dosing might be too much considering my light density of plant mass, any recommendations? Thank you for your time and consideration to my questions.
     
    #19 David Morton, Apr 1, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 1, 2015
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