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The "Biodynamic Aquarium"

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by Tom Barr, May 2, 2008.

  1. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    As I help other clients with larger scale terrestrial landscape and agricultural projects, I've been returning back to some concepts of sustainability. As always, I apply what I learn there to aquatic systems as well.

    This concept is discussed and explained here:

    Biodynamic agriculture - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Now the spiritual mumbo and all might appeal to some of you, but I think we need to keep in mind that we are looking for results and good logic, not marketing baloney here.

    Like many product lines and aspects, not all of it is worthless, often there are several parts that are really useful. the same was true for Dupla and ADA.

    Some of the ideas and things they say cannot be true or at least make you really wonder what they heck are they selling you:p

    That said, this line of reasoning defines a non CO2 planted tank approach very very well.

    I would consider such a tank using soil etc to work to this end far more than the CO2 enriched systems, KNO3 dosing etc.

    The rates of growth are much lower.
    Unlike terrestrial systems.........this is why these systems can work very well in farming and less so in aquariums.

    However, besides that trade off, the input output ratio is extremely small, smaller than any other aquarium method or style there is really.

    Ponder that notion for some time.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Lord Walter Northbourne’s book, Look to the Land. Organic farming is based on the ideas of soil fertility, biodiversity, and stopping the use of toxic, synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.

    I do not buy into the cosmic spiritual crap, fine if you do, but it sounds much like a reactionary response to mechanization and large scale production of food.
    Still, there are good concepts to be found within some of the readings.

    Our tanks are small ecosystems.
    We can control all aspects without that much effort compared to farms etc.

    Can we claim to be approaching things this way and add CO2 at the same time?
    I do not think so.

    I think the Non CO2 soil tank does however, achieve this goal very well.
    Now if you have a solar powered battery to run the aquarium, then you'd be really talking.

    It can be done.

    I think I'll do a project and use solar powered pumps and light to try a nice tank out using these tenents.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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  4. naman

    naman Prolific Poster

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    Some make houses from recycled cardboards or wood etc lasting for 30 years only and call this “sustainable architecture”. This is NOT sustainable building. The one made of 100’s tones of steel and concrete which has incredible value for humans and lasts for 200 years forming city’s streets for centuries, passing from family to family several generations, IS sustainable.
    Even “green building” concept not always right. Most architects just can’t withstand to here that crap on sustainability, as it is mostly misinterpreted. But they can’t argue with government and clients and forced to do a lot of stupid things.

    Don’t bee fooled by that sustainability baloney made this way.
    To make those electronics to use Solar energy they dig moon craters on Earth, yeah?
    I leave 2 miles from the one: 500+ meters deep and miles miles miles long… this rocks.

    Go for Solatube® (the best one) or SunPipe® and you will have tones of light 12h a day, more than enough for “non co2 soil tank”.
    There are even Solar-Powered Attiñ Fan module available to run aquarium pumps.
    It is very simple and will work just fine in CA, or Japan.
    You can have a planted tank 10m under the ground in a bathroom, or in the garage without windows.
    And this tank will have natural cycle of winter-summer growth variation.

    Especially this could be very good thing for a BIG planted public tanks as a second source of light in addition to MH-HQI, similar to sky window above Takashi Amano’s home tank. I thought of this idea for years from now.
    Sorry for your roof… ;)

    If you stick to photocells it is possible to fit lamps inside Solatube®, but you are shifting than from pure sustainability concept.
    See LED Lexel® also.

    No? Want to keep your roof at place? J
    Than use technology of light… without lamps, and be the first one using this for a planted tanks, suitable even for a high-tech planted tank:
    "Hybrid Solar Lighting (HSL) technology uses a solar concentrator to collect and distribute sunlight into the interior of a building via plastic optical fibers.”

    It is a Solar Collector Unit + Fiber Optic Distribution Cable.
    Used even for GreenHouse Lighting, Delivers 1000 micromoles of Sunlight or 50,000 Lumens of Sunlight, no UV, no IR wavelengths etc., color Rendering Index 100, typical CCT 5500K.
    … but $$$.

    Unfortunately, I have never used this amazing products in my architectural practice… :(
    Consult at local architectural forums or firms.

    And why you do not consider east CO2 method?
    Sure with some “sustainable way made sugar” I mean… And bell type reactor.
    Not too much, but for 7-10ppm would be ok.
    Still no dry/liquid fertilizers dosing – just rich substrate.

    And earthworm castings instead of soil is much better, even mineralized (BTW, good reading - first time I see someone calls for low labile organics in substrate to do not have rotting and ammonia outbreak – main problem with garden soil rich of very labile organics, this trick made 20 years ago but until now not used widely as it need lots of labor and easily replaced with EC).

    Why wee need to run filter pumps 24h day?
    Maybe using open type filter (sump) with “aerobic” technology with Kaldens K1 filter media for Moving Bed Process® (PDF 986Kb) or a sump with Matala® mats realizing Hamburger Mattenfilter concept will do the trick. No need to run pumps 24h/day - no need for accumulator.
    Considering very low energy consumption of pumps, they will turn on from photocells at 5am and turn off at 20pm = up to 15h a day.

    BTW, recently I developed Sump for a BIG planted tanks (>400L) based on Hamburger Mattenfilter technology using Matala® mats + EstroSieve as a mechanical prefilter module (in perspective) to escape from maintenance and cost problems posed by canister filters.
    Maybe this sump can withstand long electricity shut offs, if no - Kaldens K1 technology can be used… Much better than Fluidised Bed FIlter.
    This Sump construction is amazingly easy and beautiful, low maintenance and cost.
    CO2 is misted in-line by Hydor Ario glued to prefilter lid on Hydor SELTZ II pump (I called this combo “MISTer PUMP” J )

    No “cosmic spiritual crap” – just technical considerations.
    Hope this would be useful.


    naman
     
  5. naman

    naman Prolific Poster

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    Here you go…

    Lights:
    Solatube® device
    (I just can’t imagine how much less bills for electricity will get ADA’s Gallery if they use controllable Solartube®’s)

    OR Luxury $$$ but no reconstruction needed for a roof:
    Hybrid Solar Lighting (HSL) technology, no lamps

    OR solar powered battery.

    Pump:
    - propeller pump, extremely low energy consumption and very good “wide beam” water current as from ADA’s Lily Pipe (which I know you hate)
    - used for internal filter or HOB, so there is no need for high pressure pump
    - if this pump would be electronic as TUNZE® propeller pumps it could be connected to TUNZE® automatic switch to DC current energy source – accumulator, and will work both when 100% needed electricity exists or just 20% (?)

    - to lower energy demand for pumping water HOB filter should be used,
    - and fixed to side of a tank with drilled holes in ѕ lower part for IN and in upper part for OUT with propeller pump standing in this hole.

    Filter:

    “HOB Sump”
    - big volume, size equals to side pane of a tank
    - with “boiling” Kaldens K1 media in it (OR instead of Kaldens K1 media make in this HOB Hamburger Mattenfilter from Matala® mats)
    – minimal energy needed to “boil” Kadens K1 and…
    - no back pressure at all
    - mechanical prefilter is from Black or Green Matala® mat to exclude back pressure
    - propeller pump with lowest energy consumption among all pumps
    - with tight lid to keep CO2 at place.

    If you want to have Kaldens K1 media really “boiling” set propeller pump backwards – in lower hole directing stream inside of “HOB sump” from bottom to top (up-stream). Less current in a tank also.

    OR for higher bioloads :

    “Dish type Sump” with Matala® mat under the tank
    - not “box type” sump, but “dish type” with…
    - very low water level, water moves through Matala® mat from top to bottom (downstream) and than pumped back to the tank from behind of a mat
    - with a flat Matala® matt at the water surface…
    - and surface area almost equals to tank’s bottom to minimize detrimental effect on bacteria culture during night pump shut offs (pump working from solar energy)
    - installed very close to tanks bottom to lessen energy demand for pump.

    CO2
    - east method, bottle installed inside HOB/Sump to equalize temperature, no need energy for heating
    - bell-type reactor with “breathing valve” as the most suited for this type of a CO2 supply (very stable dissolution regardless of east activity until there are minimal bubble count exists for a given tank’s volume, no overdosing, no tuning, no pressure needed)

    Some background reading:
    The Physics of Light Distribution in Hollow Structures; L.Whitehead



    That’s it, have no time anymore…


    naman
     
  6. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Because you do not need a CO2 gas tank to run a planted tank!
    And a non CO2 approach requires no test kits, and no water changes.

    The solar tubes I've seen here in action.
    They used a large fesnel lens and fiber optic cables to channel it.
    It's not cheap though.

    Some shade cloth and some glass awnings would do the trick for that and be much cheaper.

    But I still would need to the solar panels for energy to drive the tank's pumps.
    There would be no heater(in CA, it would not matter).

    Maybe you like CO2, that's fine, but the goal here is to reduce the inputs and outside aspects, including my meddling hands:eek:

    You could use the DIY method, that would work well, especially if you could use the fermented brew afterwards.

    I do agree with you about the buildings.
    Make it right and it should last.
    While some of the general ideas are pretty good and can be applied, some folks get way to carried away and do not think about the longer term aspects.
    We have started working towards this goal for a client's property.
    It has the makings to get close to many of the goals.

    Regards,
    Tom barr
     
  7. naman

    naman Prolific Poster

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    Hamburger Mattenfilter is perfect for realizing “Biodynamic Aquarium” concept because it’s main aim is to accumulate as much mulm as possible. This mulm will act as vitalized compost from crops in Biodynamic agriculture. And it has no need for cleaning at all (in fact you make very bad thing cleaning it) !

    For those new for Hamburger Mattenfilter I must stress some things.

    Matala® mats is just grate for this, but:

    - it is very easy to clean Matala® mats and this is just great for a very big pond filters, but for aquariums less in size than a small pond :)
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Well, depending on the loading rates, the sponge filters may need a good cleaning every so often.

    You can have too much "mulm". This is true for sediments as well as biomedia.
    Things can and do get reductive if you have too much. It clogs and the reductive by products are not good for an aquarium.

    You can have low load aquariums however.
    These work for years without cleaning them.

    Still, on most CO2 enriched systems, cleaning the mulm out every few months has a noticeable effect on the O2 levels, growth rates of the plants.
    On a non CO2 planted tank, the rate of cleaning is very low however.

    I think one of the key aspects in planted tanks and a good reason not to clean too much is that many of the smaller invertebrates that are hard to see or microscopic, not just the bacteria and fish alone, are stabilized and allowed to work towards cycling waste. Amano shrimp are very good shredders as well, as are most shrimp species.

    Still, if you have too waste coming in, the smaller critters and the bacteria(as well as the fish etc) are using a lot more O2 trying to break down waste.

    This has limits.
    I generally error on the low side for bioload (less fish/easy to keep species, more shredders, algae eaters, and easier to grow plant species). I can always add more food or fish as needed, but it's harder to try and force an over loaded system to work.

    Ideally, you could compost and reuse the plant trimmings.
    This is something I've been toying with for sometime.
    If the plant trimmings have been mineralized well prior, they work well.
    If you toss a lot of plant trimmings that are slightly decomposed, they can induce algae just like adding NH4(likely because they are loaded with concentrated reduced N that breaks down in dead plant tissue rapidly).

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  9. rusticitas

    rusticitas Lifetime Charter Member
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    Holy crap, this thread just blew my mind...

    Great! More infinitely fascinating things to keep me distracted from doing my job. :)

    Thanks. No, really, thanks! My job gets boring... ;-)
     
  10. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Read the threads linked here and then the links in those for more info, especially on the sumps.






    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  11. naman

    naman Prolific Poster

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    There are two mulms – “bad” one, and the “good” one.

    If we have less surface area (and too much flow!) than needed for a given bioload HMF will clog and turn into plane sponge filter requiring often cleaning.
    We will have too much “bad” mulm in it (almost not biodegraded, high lability).
    The same as we have in a canister filter as nitrification byproduct - detritus.
    As canister is not good place for heterotrophs, it accumulates quickly.
    Too long without cleaning - and it will turn reductive.
    In a HMF made good a lot of “good” mulm – almost totally biodegraded, low lability mulm (micronized). It has to stay there as long as possible.

    As I say HMF have very active low labile mulm which works even better than mulm in a gravel.
    Making good HMF you virtually getting one more substrate surface aria of you tank in filter (!), and this mulm in HMF works just like the most valuable part of it – top thing layer of mulm laying on substrate.
    Even more, mulm in HMF is much more active – more flow, more oxygen, more organic food for “critters”.
    It works just like an UGF but without those disaster after several months.

    To do not clog HMF with large debris we need good prefilter. Than cleaning HMF virtually needn't.

    Composting trimmings with Earthworms is great for Biodynamics experiment, but I can’t see any sense in it for a common tank as we have Earthworm castings.
    We can make ferty steaks from this compost the same way as we do from earthworm castings – freezing it in 2ml syringes.
    In 90-s some guy made an experiment with trimmings (see TheKrib).
    As I remember he did not used proper mineralization methods or composting with eartworms.


    naman
     
  12. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    There's a lot of info about using Earthworm castings on the net for aquariums.
    Several of us used it here in the Bay area back a few years ago.
    I think many have opted to use ADA' AS in place of it.
    Some of the folks that used it well where a group of Brazilian aquarists, mostly for CO2 enriched systems, not so much the non CO2 approach , but there's no reason it will not work well there either.

    If you use a sump for the HMF, then adding a sock style prefilter with a 50 micron rating will help a great deal. On a smaller system, I used a simple coffee filter that gravity feed(just like a coffee machine) and prefiltered the sponge biomedia. Kept the tank spotless and was simple to use. Coffee filters are easy and cheap to use.
    Coffee and the filters are good for compost as well.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  13. naman

    naman Prolific Poster

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    As far as I know heterotrophs do not live for a long time in big quantities in a tank as they have not much optimal places to live in (mostly thing layer of mulm only). This is why it is recommended to put in an overstocked tank heterotrophic bacteria cultures regularly.

    HMF is an excellent base for heterotrophs, so tank will have constant supply of them to mineralize silt in a tank, not only in a sump preventing build up of non mineralized organics ("bad mulm" as i say). This is very good.

    Tom, what is the size of a bacteria?
    Why they use mostly 200-300nm EstroSieves, not 50's ?

    naman
     
  14. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Which bacteria are you referring too?

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  15. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I might have the ideal organic aquarium fertilizer that I will actually produce.
    I'll start another thread, but it will be the only liquid product available that's sustainable and organically produced.
    Fits nicely into this idea and concept.



    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  16. nealf_2000

    nealf_2000 Junior Poster

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    I am an aquatic ecololgist who is relatively new to planted aquariums, but the hightech approach has rubbed me the wrong way since I started. I guess one's stance on hightech depends on your basic objectives. If one is creating a miniature aquatic garden, then I guess hightech is fine. If one is trying to create a microcosm of a natural system, then the hightech approach is antithetical to your objectives.

    I got my toes wet with high tech when I started DIY CO2 injection. I bought a 65w PC light fixture for my 28 gallon tank. I think I'm done. I am very conscious of the wasted water with 50% weekly water changes (we are just recovering from a historical drought). I'm aware of the energy use of many aquarium setups. I'm ready to explore any methods of reducing the ecological footprint of my aquarium.

    - Incidently, living in a warmer climate, I am also very uncomfortable with the idea of introducing invasive species to local water ways. I wonder how many people in the planted tnak community also worry about invasive species and would be interested in exploring the use of local native species?
     
  17. tedr108

    tedr108 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Nealf, you make good points on high tech aquariums as far as energy use and water waste. Personally, I'm planning on a big low tech tank as soon as I can save up the money and work out the many details, because it is appealing to me also -- mostly because I'm lazy, I suppose. :D Low maintenance is good for me timewise, and there are the added benefits of less waste.

    However, the high tech tank environment is natural in some areas of the world, and we are just duplicating those environments. There are high light areas with CO2 springs and plenty of nutrients. If those areas did not exist, the plants we use in a high tech tank would not exist in their current form. So, I still see high tech tanks as natural. Some of the high tech plants are beautiful, and we will not be able to duplicate their look in our low tech tanks.
     
  18. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Well, you understand that folks have different goals, that's the 1st step with making the rest of the hobbyists more aware of the issue.

    Way too many run off the deep end with high tecgh gardens and think that's best.
    Much likie farmers who think more yeild is best.

    If you have ever followed what I do and where I got and the photo's I post on natural systems, you'll see I'm very much on this side of the fence.

    However, gardening is still something I like also.
    My impact is low, the wastewater is used for landscape irrigation for the plants, compost and soil.

    It is not "wasted", it is simply cycled to the next phase.

    I'm developing an organic macro (low NH4) sustainable fert as well for the water column. Soil sediments make a lot of sense but you can mix a small amount and use the other methods I suggest within the Non CO2 approach.

    If low in/out is the goal, then you cannot beat the non CO2 method approach.
    It wins on most trade offs, and if you have the patience, it can also do very well with scaping.

    I try not to be reactionary and put off by so called high tech approaches, each method and it's components should be objectively viewed and understood in practical terms as well as more in depth.

    If you use a lot of water, find a post use for it.
    I use 190 gallons per week or so and that all ends up on my yard and for my plants indoors. It also helps to humidify the dry air here inside.

    The folks next door have their sprinkler on even if it rains:rolleyes:
    They dump lots of herbicides on it to keep weeds down, they are terrible.
    They use at least 1000 gallons a week if not more. My Landlord is allowing me to redo some things to reduce the urban runoff and reuse water, as well as change out water hungry plants for natives that need much less water and look great year round.

    ADA suggest doing 50% weekly water changes.
    Amano does not suggest doing any other "no water change" methods.
    where the water goes after you pour it down the drain(wastewater treatment and then it's often reused somewhere again) makes a big difference.

    The composted liquid ferts I've seen are pretty good and I may make them from Azolla as I have some feed operations that are interested in using it for feed.
    I'd like to feed/trade/sell to poultry farmers here.

    We have some sustainable chicken farms not too far from here.
    That + Azolla makes a great mix. Then it's mineralized to remove the NH4 and OM to very low levels and can be used for aquariums. Ideally, I can get them to invest in an aquatic plant farm to deal with their waste and water issues while providing them with a very high quality feed. They add a good deal of other aquatic weed suppression and a good source of PO4.

    Cluck cluck, I like chicken:p
    Of course I do not associate with any common "street chickens", only the organic sustainable raise birds that drink wine and discuss eye laying in coffee shops:eek:

    Regards,
    Tom Barr








    .
     
  19. naman

    naman Prolific Poster

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    Heteros and nitrifying. Mayby they use 200-330nm sieve to do do not remove useful cultures attached to particulates in water column?

    naman
     
  20. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Yes, I suppose, but given all the other material in there and the ultra fine filtering, that would get clogged rapidly.

    However, you do not need to have pure bacterial sieving.
    The particulates they are attached to are not detrimental, a food source and surface area for them to attach to. Thus the "mulm" itself would be fine to use.

    You can dry out mulm from a filter sponge and use that.
    It will rapidly recolonize and act as a well mineralized organic layer.

    I suggested this back in the 1990's and really have not done much with it since about early 2000's.

    Drying it out is a bit of work and you need to collect it etc, but if you have another aquarium that's established already, this step is really not needed, you can use the fresh mulm instead. All you need is some bacterial inoculum with a little organic matter(some reduced carbon) to keep them going.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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