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Walstad, EI and water quality

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by kitty, Mar 9, 2007.

  1. kitty

    kitty Junior Poster

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    Hi

    Having experimented with a Walstad style fish tank over a year ago and not really getting the results I desired, (most of my plants appeared to melt:eek: ) perhaps due to my poor combination of high light 3.5w per g in a 120l tank, little C02 (P.H 8.0, K.H 20) and not enough nutrients (NO3 & PO4 0) I have decided to give the EI method of dosing a try. However when I started looking into the quality of my tap water surprisingly I discovered when the water source I use for my tank was recently switched to soft water (GH 0) my plants actually appeared to benefit and grow better then they had proceeding:confused: . I was wondering if this could be due to the relatively high levels of P04 2.5 (Full readings below) as I had always believed that such a sudden change to a low GH in comparison to before (see below) would cause the plants to disintegrate? If this sudden improvement is due to the Po4 is it worth me using the soft water for my tank and, adding something to boost GH, instead of the very hard water GH 20 which I have always used before with very limited successes:confused: ?

    I was planning if I used the harder water to dose KNO3, KH2PO4, aim for C02 around 30ppm and TMG for traces rather them seachem flourish (I heard the algaecide properties of seachem can have a bad effect on mosses:confused: ? which I plan to have a large number of in my asian biotope tank) However I was unclear of the dosage I should be aiming for with my moderately bright light and if I should be adding anything else such as extra K or P?

    Thanks for your time, any advise or comments welcome

    Soft Water Hard Water
    PH- 7.5 PH- 7.5
    N03- 5 NO3- 5
    P04- 2.5 PO4- 0
    KH- 12 KH- 12
    GH- 0 GH- 20
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Humm..............you are not suppose to do water changes in a Non CO2 method.
    So the water you start with should not matter much if at all.

    Likewise, the CO2 method allows the soft vs hard issue to go away because you are adding CO2..........

    So in both cases this is not an issue due to tap.
    If you do frequent water changes on a non CO2 tank, I would expect plant and algae issues.

    Yes, you had 2x as much light as you should on the non CO2 tank, that was doomed before you started.

    So you need to decide which method you want to do, the CO2 method will increase the growth rates by 10 fold.

    Each method has it's trade offs.
    EI is not for non CO2 methods, see the articles tab in the forum here for more about that.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. kitty

    kitty Junior Poster

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    Hi Tom

    Thanks for your speedy reply:) , perhaps I was unclear in my first post :eek: in My Walstad style tank I went for about 5 months at a time without changing my water, however testing it a couple of days after a water change the results I mentioned in the begging of my post were what I found.
    I experimented using floating plants to cut down the amount of light reaching the bottom of the tank, so although I experienced moderate algae, many of my plants seemed to melt a couple of weeks into my experiment and I had very little or poor growth with the others, leaving me in the end with only Amazon swords and vallis.

    The water test results at the bottom of my post are from more resent testing of my tap water (I have now started to change my tank water more frequently as I started to looking into different methods of running a planted tank set-up) from two different sources, In which I was unsure as to the effect or importance such a low GH would have on PH and the importance, or lack of, in my chosen plants ability to cope with soft water in combination with my planed EI, CO2, ADA aqua soil approach. Would they be able to uptake nutrients as easily, and would one water type involve less chemical dosing than the other.

    Thanks again for you time:cool: .
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    GH should not have much impact on plants, none on pH etc.
    As long as you have enough for growth.........GH are plant nutrients, Ca/Mg.

    If you had not done a water change for 5 months, did a large one, that would be a possible reason for issues.

    The KH should have been gone KH, not GH in general, causes issues for some plants, but most in the non CO2 tanks do well with a source of KH which tends to be removed fairly quick.

    I think the light is the larger issue here.
    You can get rid of that and add less or add CO2 and go EI.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  5. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    Hi, Kitty,

    You were trying to combine the Walstad "slow growth" method and a fast growth, high light approach. That can't work.

    The standard "Walstad" approach calls for low light and only those nutrients that the fish and the soil provide, with infrequent water changes. "Fast growth" is the opposite of that.

    Your nutrients zeroed out because the very high light gave the plants a huge appetite. They consumed what food there was, and then starved to death.

    As Tom said, both approaches work and each has advantages and disadvantages. But you can't do both of them in the same tank.

    The "slow growth" approach can be very rewarding. You might think about giving it another try, with less light and, of course, a soil substrate.

    Good luck!

    Bill
     
  6. kitty

    kitty Junior Poster

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    Hi

    Thanks very much for your replies:) . I agree my use of high light and assuming the use of floating plants would cut out the excess was probably my mistake, I had a soil substrate of cactus compost which I could see working with CO2 bubbling out occasionally, but it probably was not enough as you say. When I fist started off with plants in my aquarium about 5 yrs ago I had similar issues, with plants melting, which I put down to a plain gavel substrate, very low light and my own inexperience:eek: , however with the same reaction in my Walstad style tank I had wondered if water was the issue. I think due to my high light levels already present and my wish to experiment with aquascaping I will give EI a try and if there are no real disadvantages to using my artificially softened water, I will use that due to it being a nearer water source. Can you give me any advise as to what I should be thinking about dosing, or the amounts I should be aiming for.

    Again any advise or comments appreciated
     
  7. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Artificially softened water? If that means by use of a NaCl water softener, it isn't going to work well at all. If the softener uses KCl it might work ok. Do you know how your water becomes soft?
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I was afraid of that............I wonder though..........the GH should be zero and the KH will remain the same or higher.

    Still, she had better growth after, not before.
    I do not think that was it so much, I know high KH will infuence things, but not GH.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  9. kitty

    kitty Junior Poster

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    Hi all

    I believe my water softer functions by use of salt:( However this is the water I am currently using in my tank. Results of my testing of my soft water are at the bottom of my first post.
     
  10. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Ugh, can you by pass this water softener?

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  11. kitty

    kitty Junior Poster

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    I can use the harder water (which is not plugged into the water softener) details also indicated at the bottom of my first post.
    As it is the softer water I have currently been using for the past couple of water changes should I not be noticing some negative effects already, or do they take time to register?

    Perhaps the improvement I am seeing in my plants is not due to the water at all but the fact I swapped my weak flow internal filter to a strong external over Christmas in preparation for my planed move to EI, that is the only other thing I have changed as I currently still have my soil under layer and 3.5w lighting.
     
  12. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I tend to doubt that removing GH and adding salt would give you a noticable positive result in a non CO2 tank, whereas the filter etc, that would/could.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  13. kitty

    kitty Junior Poster

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    Hi Tom

    I appreciate all your help:cool: . Can you give me any advice as to the levels of dosing I should be aiming for my harder water, 120l, 3.5w tank?
    I was aiming towards a higher end target nutrient level, due to my strong lighting, about 5ppm NO3 through KN03, 1ppm PO4 through KH2PO4, trace through TMG (would this be the best trace method for my water type?) and CO2 around 30ppm, depending on the plants reaction.
    Is there anything else I should also be thing about adding such as extra k (am I adding enough through KNO3 without testing for it?) I’ve also heard even hard water can benefit from extra Mg.

    Thanks for your time.

    Tap water-
    PH- 7.5
    NO3- 5
    NO2- 0
    PO4- 0
    KH- 12
    GH- 20
    FE- 0
     
  14. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Sounds about right.
    Yes, adding a bit of epsom salt would likely help some.
    Say once a week 1/4 teaspoon per 80m liters of tank.
    If you use KNO3, then you do not need to worry about K+ pretty much unless you have low light and high fish loads as well, typically even then, you still do not need extra K+.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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