This site is supported by the advertisements on it, please disable your AdBlocker so we can continue to provide you with the quality content you expect.
  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. We are after as many aquarium plant images that we can get, doing so will assist us in completing the aquarium plant database.

    https://barrreport.com/threads/aquatic-plant-images-wanted.14374/
    Dismiss Notice

Worm Castings Are Alive! (Justin Didn't Read Enough)

Discussion in 'Talk to Tom Barr' started by justin.sterling.scott, Mar 29, 2010.

  1. justin.sterling.scott

    justin.sterling.scott Prolific Poster

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2010
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    0
    Local Time:
    4:08 AM
    I got some new plants in the mail from Tom and was eager to plant them. One of the things I needed to do was add some soil type stuff beneath the gravel. Rather than mess around with freezing cubes and stuffing them beneath the gravel, I chose to tear it all down and rescape.

    I chose worm castings and an organic compost material.

    I think this would have been allright had I read anything about worm castings and how to prepare them for use in an aquarium.

    I put a very single layer of gravel on the glass, maybe a half inch of castings fresh out of the bag, then another half to three-quarters of an inch of compost over that before covering all with gravel. Once I began filling the tank, I noticed how cloudy it was and figured that was to be expected. The next morning, however... maybe if you were to dump some coffee and milk into your tank, you'd have the same look; much worse.

    So, then I look up worm castings on the forums and see that a recommendation is to rinse and boil it first.

    What I'd like to know is the following:

    1. Will the water settle out with normal filtration?
    2. If not, can I clear it up with heavy water changes?
    3. Am I putting the system at risk for various "infections" of harmful microbiota?
    4. Is there a danger for fish being introduced to the tank; how long should I wait?

    Any thoughts are greatly appreciated. I don't want to break it down again, clean it out, and start over. But I will if it's a "hell in a hand basket" type situation.
     
  2. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2009
    Messages:
    821
    Likes Received:
    1
    Local Time:
    4:08 AM
    1- yes
    2- yes
    3- YES
    4- YES: hard to say how long, bacteria, parasites, virii...

    I won't try fish there personally, live creatures that risk their lives
     
  3. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2007
    Messages:
    5,623
    Likes Received:
    18
    Local Time:
    4:08 AM
    Hi,

    I vote for a redo.......if it were me, I would.

    Sorry, but think it is the safer path......
     
  4. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2009
    Messages:
    821
    Likes Received:
    1
    Local Time:
    4:08 AM
    Redoing is hard to decide, but it's even harder if you don't do it in the begining. A good start is the key to avoid further time consuming problems.
     
  5. justin.sterling.scott

    justin.sterling.scott Prolific Poster

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2010
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    0
    Local Time:
    4:08 AM
    First Time Quality... It's a Lifestyle

    As it turns out...

    I broke it all down. I'm glad I did, too. The muck under the gravel stinks... and I'm thinking H2SO4 style stinky. Whatever the case, Jonny found the threads I needed to read, I read them, and I'm convinced that doing it right the first time is key. Duh...

    Anyone currently interested in this thread would do well to read the following in their entirety, as the questions I posed are guaranteed covered by them:
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread...ight=earthworm

    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread...ues-dosing-etc

    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread...l-with-non-CO2

    Trial and error are a great way to learn. .oO(I'll never do that again!) But if you can spare yourself the pains... do! I tend to get obsessed about something and jump in headfirst, forgetting that I like to do research and cover my bases. This is what happened. I can't make any promises, 'cause Life is Interesting and Unpredictable... but I'd like to do a photo journal of my Dry Start Method. I imagine it will take all spring and most of summer, but I think it would be nice for people like me who read pictures as often as they read words. I need time and resources to gather plants and produce my sediment. Thanks, All, for your time and patience with me lately. I enjoy this forum and find nearly every post helpful.
     
  6. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2009
    Messages:
    821
    Likes Received:
    1
    Local Time:
    4:08 AM
    Good decision to restart.

    Patience is important during DSM: resist temptation to immerse it after few weeks and don't add living stocks before many weeks (2months?) after immersion.
     
  7. justin.sterling.scott

    justin.sterling.scott Prolific Poster

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2010
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    0
    Local Time:
    4:08 AM
    I know that humidity is important. In the case of my house being around the 68-71 degrees Fahrenheit range, should I be heating the tank from below, so as to warm the substrate and cause it to evaporate, thereby creating the necessary humidity? I put some plants into a 10g with the sediment I plan to use as a sort of practice run. Most of them wilted/shriveled within a couple of hours. I noted that there was no vapor caught on the glass or plastic wrap that covers 9/10 of the top of the tank.

    I'm trying it out to get the experience/handle on it... but I don't want to fail completely. Misting should help, correct? What do you think of the temp?
     
  8. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2009
    Messages:
    821
    Likes Received:
    1
    Local Time:
    4:08 AM
    Temp is not an issue. Cover the tank completely at 99% (assuming 100% is not possible) and aerate it once a day, should solve the humidity issue. If it is too humid, try to make a small hole somewhere.

    I used a plexi top. I glued on the borders of the top some of the foam you put under a tank, between glass and the support. That foam make the closing complete. You can then make small holes (really small) until you find the perfect humidity level. But, aerating 1-2x/day should be fine even with a complete hermetic top
     
  9. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2009
    Messages:
    3,210
    Likes Received:
    1
    Local Time:
    4:08 AM
    An Observation

    Hi,

    The advice you are getting is first rate. This is a long term endeavor patience and starting right are important. :cool: My friend Jonny is first rate!

    I would encourage you to add some heat, assuming these are tropical plants. I know many do not, but in dozens and dozens of iterations I have found that even small amounts of heat make a positive difference, including reducing cyanobacteria and mold.

    If they are available and you can afford them terrarium heaters are excellent, but even a cheap (waterproof) heating pad under the tank (remember to remove prior to flooding) and covering the tank with towels or blankets can make a big difference. :gw

    Good luck,
    Biollante
     
  10. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2009
    Messages:
    1,078
    Likes Received:
    4
    Local Time:
    4:08 AM
    Any recommendation on what foam we could use?

    -
    S
     
  11. Tug

    Tug Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2009
    Messages:
    1,150
    Likes Received:
    9
    Local Time:
    4:08 AM
    One Mulligan and Some Mulligan Stew

    If it's reading it is, helps me with these soils, I'd rather be in a heap of shit. Better to redo, learn something about soil and plants now. Shout out - BIo, smell, taste, grow, etc. HC when grown out of water, likes that elusive soil that does not dry out - yet it is well drained. The leaf can suffer from water spot when moister gathers on the plants leaf. Moist, well drained soils are important to HC. Maybe tilt the aquarium a little in one direction during the dry start. Foam. Sorry, we don't need no... stinkin' foam. Use Duct tap (Gaffer tape works, too). :eek:
     
  12. justin.sterling.scott

    justin.sterling.scott Prolific Poster

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2010
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    0
    Local Time:
    4:08 AM
    A Little Heat, A Little Love... A Lot of Time

    Tom linked an article from Tropica regarding CO2 and Light experiments. Reading that led me to the rest of the articles at Tropica's site... which led me to an article written about propagating crypts. In this article, the author recommends building a box with two light bulbs that sits below the tank. He said that these two bulbs would keep the tank about 5 Celsius/9 Fahrenheit degrees warmer than room temperature. Then, it occurred to me yesterday that some folks use a heating pad beneath peat pots when starting vegetables and such garden plants. $13 bucks after tax gets you one from Fred Meyer that fits perfectly below a 10 gallon tank.

    I may have already lost the plants. We'll see what happens. The C. wendtii, E. vesuvius, etc. look haggard. But plants are nothing if not survivors. I misted them, the sediment is moist, they're getting plenty of light, and the temperature should be in the low 80's F with the light on. I'll seal it up tight to increase the humidity and add time.

    Would there be a benefit to adding DIY CO2? Seems like there would be. Let me know what you think. I reckon this would be easy to do.
     
  13. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2009
    Messages:
    821
    Likes Received:
    1
    Local Time:
    4:08 AM
    Tape won't work if you tried it...
    Plexi tops, even a 5mm thickness one, will flex under the heat of the lights and with time. This will make openings along the sides of the tank, between the plexi top and aquarium glass borders.

    If you use a plexi top, you have 2 options:
    - solder the 4 plexi borders with metal U shaped bars, the U large being between 5-6mm, this will prevent the plexi from curving
    - cut a band of the foam you put under aquariums, and stick it to the plexi borders with some double side sticking tape. The plexi will curve but the foam will reduces air gaps

    Here's a pic of my top:

    [​IMG]

    Using cellophane films is an alternative I started with like many. But, over the weeks/months, it is really non practical, having to redo it regularly. Depending on tank size, cellophane film is even worst.


    Hope my approximate english doesn't make things hard to understand. Hopefully the photo expalins better what I mean.

    DSM was made to make life easier. Really no need to bother with CO2. Either aerate once a day (CO2 concentration in air make it enough for the tank for many days) or let 1-2 holes with very limited size for air exchange. Once you get used to DSM, you could play with CO2 to accelerate growth, but it is really un-needed for just this purpose.
     
    #13 jonny_ftm, Apr 7, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 7, 2010
  14. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2009
    Messages:
    3,210
    Likes Received:
    1
    Local Time:
    4:08 AM
    Floral Foam

    Hi S, All,

    The foam I use is "floral Foam" not the bricks but the Styrofoam sheets. :)

    I will try to find the brand or better name. It is made by Dow.

    One problem with temperature swings is the condensation issue, condensation is not humidity (rather the reverse).

    Adding a shot of CO2 once or twice a day really perks up the process and tends to lessen the pest problem.

    Biollante
     
    #14 Biollante, Apr 8, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 8, 2010
  15. justin.sterling.scott

    justin.sterling.scott Prolific Poster

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2010
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    0
    Local Time:
    4:08 AM
    Is there a way I can be sure the humidity is right... or is it safe to assume that consistent temp, aerating once/twice daily, misting during aeration is adequate?

    Maybe I'm overthinking it. I like to think, so I can see how that might happen.
     
  16. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2009
    Messages:
    821
    Likes Received:
    1
    Local Time:
    4:08 AM
    Want an advice?
    Before planting it, cover it and make sure humidity is ok. Once plants are in soil, if it is too dry, they will die. Hygrometers cost nothing, get one you can calibrate, calibrate it as you will find in google and voilà. Target +80% to start with. After about 2 weeks, you can try to lower to 70-80% as it can reduce mold issues.

    If humidity is ok, you will see condensation on all glasses. It is very hard in dry climates to achieve a good humidity while avoiding condensation. My tank did well during 4.5 months dry with condensation. Keeping soil surface humid with no water and cleaning glasses every few weeks is enough. The more you have to mist, the more issues you'll have. If leaves can dry, it will prevent most issues
     
  17. justin.sterling.scott

    justin.sterling.scott Prolific Poster

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2010
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    0
    Local Time:
    4:08 AM
    duh...

    I'm sorry I didn't think of the hygrometer before. That's kind of a no-brainer.
    I bought a digital hygrometer/thermometer for $10 at The Home Depot. It doesn't have an adjustment knob/dial/button. I used the salt method of calibration as described here, which returned a relative humidity of 66% at a constant 70 degrees Fahrenheit. You get what you pay for...

    As for sealing the tank, I had Lowe's Hardware custom cut a $6 piece of glass. I bought a single 10 gallon tank at PetSmart, took it to Lowe's, measured it with one of their tapes, had the glass cut, test fit it, found it sat', returned the 10 gallon to PetSmart and took my new lid home. With the hygrometer in the tank overnight, I found the relative humidity this morning maxed out at 99%.

    I'll figure this out, yet!
     
  18. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2009
    Messages:
    821
    Likes Received:
    1
    Local Time:
    4:08 AM
    Non digital hygrometers are a better choice, more precise, can be calibrated and much cheaper

    99% is good to start (if reliable), then you decrease with small openings to avoid mold on the long run. The problem is if you open the tank often to change plants/hardscape... During those interventions, you need to mist plants. At very high humidity levels, water won't evaporate and can cause mold on the long run. Just don't mist often, target a 80% humidity and things will be fine

    Good luck
     
  19. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2009
    Messages:
    3,210
    Likes Received:
    1
    Local Time:
    4:08 AM
    Cheat? Me...

    Hi Justin,

    If you do not mind sharing, where do you live?

    Jonny’s advice is as always first rate.

    The advantage I have found in keeping constant temperatures is that it relieves many of the condensation issues. It is important though to be sure to ventilate, for most of us that means take the lid of and fan the tank a couple of times a day. :)

    Another trick (cheat?) I use is to set a small jar of water in one end of the tank and run an airline from an air pump into the jar with an air stone. (I confess another cheat on my part is to run a CO2 line in to the jar of water.) At the other end, I have an air lock or check valve that only lets the air out. :D

    As Jonny suggested giving yourself a few days or even a week or two before planting is all the better. :cool:

    Biollante
     
  20. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2009
    Messages:
    821
    Likes Received:
    1
    Local Time:
    4:08 AM
    Yes Biollante, I also used a water reciepient to add humidity, but didn't think at air pump. Condensation was an issue, but not much in 4.5 months emersion. So I didn't bother as I wanted it as easy as possible and not daily interventions
     

Share This Page