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Tropica substrate and liquid ferts

Discussion in 'CO2 Enrichment' started by George Farmer, Sep 9, 2006.

  1. George Farmer

    George Farmer Lifetime Members
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    Hi guys,

    I'm hopefully setting up my 33 gal. soon. I originally planned ADA Aqua Soil/EI but have recently been tempted by the new Tropica Aquacare range.

    Their substrate sounds similar to AS (clay-based) except it's used as a base layer topped with plain gravel. Migration won't be an issue as I'm going for a low maintenance layout i.e. Crypts, C helferi, moss, ferns etc. Here's a link - Tropica

    Their original TMG has been replaced with Aquacare Plant Nutrition but they now also produce Nutrition+ that contains N and P. This sounds ideal for a low maintenance set-up like mine where there's no great demand for water column nutrients.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. reiverix

    reiverix Lifetime Members
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    I think that's pretty cool-- my only concern would be the roughness of normal gravel, and how I think that plant roots get less damaged (at initial planting) when using substrates like AS/Florabase. Incidentally, the damage caused to roots during planting is also why I'm a bit turned off by Flourite-- and being that Florabase can cause weird stuff, AS it is for me. XD

    I think this is pretty cool though George, I'd just be careful in choosing the gravel to top it with. Maybe mix something with both large and small grains . . .

    BTW-- can't be bothered with maintaining stem plants? ;)
     
  3. George Farmer

    George Farmer Lifetime Members
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    I do have some great inert stuff. Black quartz, no sharp edges, 1-3mm grain size, easy to work with. You've seen my previous layout, I used it then over Dennerle Deponit. Worked a treat, glosso full-carpet in a month with only 2wpg T8.

    Interestingly PFK magazine want me to review their new product line so I'll be giving it a shot (it's free!) I've been in contact with Tropica's product development guy and he's given me some good info on it and answered some "awkward" questions too. A really helpful guy actually. I'll post some more tech. info later.

    Needs must I'm afraid. Two young children, dog, high-maintenance wife, career, writing, forums...........:D I need 30 hour days.
     
  4. reiverix

    reiverix Lifetime Members
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    Haha, I can understand dude. That quartz sounds great-- I can never find useful dark colored innert gravels at stores. Maybe I have bad luck. :confused:
     
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    If you can provide more info, that would be great, I'll be hanging out with the Tropica and Karen Crowd and taking them around to the Bay area for the AGA conference this Nov. So I'll plenty of time to figure most things out there and try to forge a strong connection and shipping/business relationship, we need something to counter ADA in the USA as far as a product line.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  6. George Farmer

    George Farmer Lifetime Members
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    My pleasure Tom. And perhaps you could share some of your scientific understanding with regards some of the biochemistry etc. Not my strong point I'm afraid. :eek:


    I asked how the substrate could remove nutrients from the water and apparently help prevent algae.

    Answer (paraphrased) - The clay particles in the substrate are positively charged with cations (typically with K+, H+, Ca2+ etc.) - these cations can be exchanged, so that the clay particle can take up for example an ammonium (NH4+). The plants can through their roots release H+ to the clay particles and instead take a K+ or an NH4+.

    What I understand from this is that, for example, ammonium that we know is a big algae trigger (20x more than NO3) is converted by the substrate by releasing the H+.

    Another thing that was mentioned is suffering plants release nutrients from their cells into the water, and this can cause the algae.

    So does this mean that even plant deficient of nutrients or light ("suffering") release their own store of nutrients? Why is this? Is is CO2 related? i.e. low CO2 starves the plants, especially in high light, causing the suffering and therefore the release in the stored nutrients. The plants don't grow leaving the algae to instead.

    My last question related to the actual bottles of the new AquaCare Plant Nutrition+. Is the NP seperated from the other nutrients? I understood that Fe and PO4 oxidise when mixed in solution.

    Answer - The bottle only has one section, and it contains also K2PO4 as P-source, while N comes from NH4NO3.
     
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Clay does make for a good CEC product, Cation exchange capacity.
    ADa uses it as well and Seachem etc, this allows the transfer of nutrients, but does it actively lock enough nutrients out of the water column to achieve this in terms of algae control?

    No.

    Will it reduce nutrients vs sand? Yes.
    What happens if the exchnage sites are all full after some time?
    Things like this will make a difference.

    Stressed plants will leak a lot. Healthy plants tend to leak duifferent compounds, less N, more carbs. Stressed plants have many issues that are lacking in terms of NH4 uptake also.

    Odd they used NH4NO3 instead of KNO3.
    That is likely mightly diluted.

    Otherwise some clown will add way too much and kill their fish.
    NO3 vs NH4 is more like 200X or more in terms of algae inducement.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Any Pics of the substrate?

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  9. George Farmer

    George Farmer Lifetime Members
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    No proper pics yet. Here's the most we can get without asking them direct - http://www.tropica.com/pdf/aquacare/forhandler_guide_uk_web.pdf

    I think I'm going for a 2cm layer (2x recommended) topped with 4cm+ of quartz.

    Interesting on the NH4NO3. Perhaps KNO3 and KH2PO4 seperate would be safer then? I was just thinking of the easier all-in-one dosing.

    Is the NH4NO3 also likely to induce algae with mainly slow growers?
     
  10. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Well, Tropica fiolks will be here for the AGA conference and I'm taking them and Ole out to see some aquatic weeds.

    I'll ask for product samples etc and see if they bring some for us to view.
    TMG is wildly popular here and has been for decade or longer.

    I still use it.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  11. ramsvella

    ramsvella Junior Poster

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    Hi folks,

    I am really looking forward to hear some feedback on this new Tropic substrate. Here in Malta we have Seachem's flourite too but strangely enough since it has to be imported from the US, imports are not that frequent.. . maybe due to high freight and transport charges. Being a European country, it seems to be much easier to import Tropica range from Denmark.

    It would be interesting to know whether this clay based 'soft' substrate is long term like flourite or not.

    Thanks a lot for your scientific contributions,

    Ramon Vella
     
  12. Laith

    Laith Lifetime Charter Member
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    To me the Tropica substrate looks very similar to Dennerle's Deponit.

    What puts me off with this type of substrate (as it did with Deponit) is that it needs to have a layer of gravel on top... I avoid layered substrates like the plague because 1) I've never found any benefit from them, especially over products like Flourite (haven't tried ADA AS yet) and 2) I hate pussy footing around when planting or rescaping trying desperately not to pull the bottom layers up on top of the gravel and into the water column... :mad:

    Sorry, pet peeve of mine! ;)

    But I'm really interested to know what they've done to TMG as this is (was?) a great Fe + trace product that I use. I heard somewhere that along with changing the name they may also have changed the formula (someone mentioned that the new stuff has sediment, something I never saw with TMG)?
     
  13. defdac

    defdac Lifetime Members
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    Tom, what did they say about why they used NH4NO3?
     
  14. defdac

    defdac Lifetime Members
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    I friend of mine asked about the NH4 in Tropica Plant Nutrition plus and got the answer that Tropica have made scientific tests and found that NH4 doesn't cause more algae than NO3. And that nitrite shouldn't be a problem with many plants and stable nitrification.

    It feels a bit weird that two such opposite claims about NH4 exists.
     
  15. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Two simple questions that run counter:
    Why do we ever get green water then?
    Or why cannot we simply add progressively more and more fish load to supply our nutrient needs?

    Simple questions right?
    If NH4 is really not causing the issue, then what specifically is?
    I can consistently add NH4 and get GW.
    I can consistently add more and more fish and get GW.
    If it's not NH4, then what is it?
    I can add each nutrient, NH4 is the most likely candidate.

    I think what's happening though is not really that counter to what I've seen:

    Adding a little bit of NH4 to the substrate is not a large issues.
    Adding a lot is.
    Adding a little light, not an issue also, adding a lot, is.
    Getting away with substrate ferts, TMG and lean N&P water column with lower light is possible with fish loading only.
    Lots of large water changes will address NH4 dosing issues.
    Many do these lower light, substrate ferts in new tanks.

    ADA AS has NH4, so does PS( a lot more).
    So does soil.

    Folks have some issues until most of it is all gone due to bacterial oxidation and use Activated carbon/zeolite, water changes, mature filters(why might adding those to a new tank help after all? PO4? K+? cannot be CO2 or other things, O2? NO3? NH4?)

    If adding NH4 to a tank works so well, why bother with aquarium fertilizers at all? Shouldn't we just use terrestrial fertilizers?
    Why would pulling up a jobes stick or tossing one into a high light cause algae then?

    Now adding a tiny amount of NH4 is likely fine to lower light well planted tank.
    Since it's a tiny amount, it's not really going to a whole lot unless you have a lower light tank perhaps. If you add it namely to the substrate, the layer will settle and the top will be namely NO3 after 2-3 weeks and the bottom layer should turn anaerobic and be maintained as NH4.

    What happens when you pull up a soil based tank in the start up phase(first few weeks)?

    You can test and try it yourself.
    Do not take my word for it:)

    It's all about the dose and not the black or white add it or not mentality.
    A tiny amount is going to have less significant effect, putting into a grain like the ADA product likely would help some plants. And outer grain will not have NH4, only the inside after a peroid of time, the roots will still be able to get at the NH4 lock inside the grain though.

    As long as we have LOW DOSE of NH4, like fish waste levels(which tend to used ASAP and seldom if ever measured), there's little harm.
    High light also makes a large difference.

    Troopica is welcomed to offer an alternative explaination and also discuss specifics such as dose, light intensity, anmd plant biomass, water column levels and location etc.

    But I can say adding a little bit of NH4 is obviously not causing algae also, most folks have fish after all.

    I can also say why not use terrestrial fertilizers?
    why have those not been successfull if what they say is really true based on the above comments from Tropica?

    They would do themselves out of a business:p
    Adding a little bit and saying it helps is a bit misleading.
    If you add only a little bit to the water column, it's hard to get much impact, if you add more to the substrate and have it locked inside, then the plant roots can get at it.

    If you lock it inside individual grains vs a solid layer like soil, uprooting should not be such an issue.

    There's a lot mroe it than the simplisitic explanation recieved.
    I'm only hearing this 3rd party from Tropica(I know Troels and Ole, I do not think either of us saw any differences between what we talk about it about NH4)

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  16. reiverix

    reiverix Lifetime Members
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    If I overdose a few ppm NO3 I don't worry about it. There seems to be a really fine line on what is a suitable NH4 dose.
     
  17. defdac

    defdac Lifetime Members
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    What does that mean? That Troels and Ole thinks NH4 is bad, but that Tropica "science department" made a NH4-based fertilizer anyway?

    This doesn't compute at all.
     
  18. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    It's all about the dose.
    I do not have their macro ferts here.
    I suspect and know Claus well enough to know he's not going to put much in there. He's always errored more on the conservative side.

    After all, we do have fish and they do produce NH4, but do you ever see any in the water column?

    No.

    I just talked to Troels and Ole not more than 2 months ago.
    We drove all over the CA coast and I took them to see many natural ecosystems.

    I have no clue as to the context of the question posed nor the response.
    I can easily repeat my test and give the data if you are going to repeat the test.

    I can promise you if you add enough NH4 and enough light, you will get algae.
    You will also get dead or sick fish.

    Again, it is all about the dose.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  19. defdac

    defdac Lifetime Members
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    Aha ok. That clears up most of my confusion. Thanks Tom!
     
  20. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Well, I still do not know the context of conversaion, so I guess sure thing, you are welcomed.

    Claus figures it this way for the conservative concentrations:
    you can always add more, but most of the line is geared for the newby, for the
    expert or high growth/light tank, he figures they know they have more growth and will add more nutrients obviously.

    Problem is, even experts follow the directions too literally:rolleyes:
    You add more ferts when you have more growth.more CO2/more light etc

    NH4 is a squrriley nutrient.
    You can add it, sure. You can even add it as the sole supply of N for plants, some added .5-0.8ppm per day and then did 80% daily water changes with no ill effects.

    The more light, the higher the dose, the more fish, lowering the CO2 with NH4 dosing etc, these all will help induce a number of algae species if you keep pushing things.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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