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A reflection - putting it all into one scape

JoshP12

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Hi all,

I wanted to compile a reflection of all my "phases of the tank I have/tank" and start a new journal putting everything I have learned into action in a brand new scape in the same tank.

Some history from day 1 and what I learned:

1) Tried to be a pro with a dry start:
1661016151526.png


Dry starts melt ...
1661016174337.png

Plants didn't grow ... so I called seachem ... turns out they need NPK:

Plants need NPK:
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It didn't look like I imagined ... turns out CO2 is a thing:
1661016292012.png


Begged for a bigger tank:

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Thought I was fancy with the negative space ... just before this, I learned that plants need light ... was afraid to use it and ran the lights at 10% - nothing grew.

Now we're talking ... Flow must be a thing ...
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I guess I am supposed to dose EI oh and sand is for the weak ...
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Too cheap to buy other plants:

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Alright I'll try out something harder .... macrandra mini butterfly you were the death of me ... HC blast you ... Aromatica oh you are so pretty ... Damn ... CO2 is very hard.

1661016459926.png


Everything grows but this stupid macrandra ...
1661016604052.png



hmmm ... It's all growing but the water is cloudy. ... learned about bacterial role ... boom bust cycles with planned water change/UV killing/association with particular algae ... still have no clue how to do CO2 ... fish were stressed for more of the latter life.
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macrandra mini ... you suck

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That's it ... I am doing this right!

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So it grew ... but still cloudyish ... Upped to 4x lights

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Alritey ... finally feel like I got the hang of this ... had tested lean/rich dosing and had slightly played with CO2.

Let's plant ...
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It was this version that I destroyed with CO2, spawned the algaes, changed plant forms and learned loads. Final play with GH influencing plant forms ... it does ... but it's relative to the rest of the params.

These are easier:
1661018119872.png


This was last optimal:
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<--but I didn't have to dissolve calcium ...and probably had to water change a bit more often ... but it was auto water change and auto doser ... and I had to pay more attention to stunts/deformities ... but I didn't have to dissolve calcium or pull out GH booster ... and left the thing automatic.

Then I stopped changing water, stopped dosing, removed CO2, and watched ...
1661017021493.png


Learned about natures ebb and flow ... fed loads of food and watched which plants took over the top, which ones died ... of course the more demanding species died first ... Erio etc.

~ 8 months later the entire tank had bred ... though I watched certain species respond to changes -- example was having spraybar spray directly into water to mimic rainfall and maximum O2 ... for most of the tank ... no labyrnth fish breed --- then I increase water level and suddenly sparkling gourami babies ... bubble nest + agitation?

1661017152476.png


Crypts and Buce survived ... LOL

And now for the next chapter.

Lights: 4x AI prime (1 is brand new and higher PAR and better coloration, 1 struggles to put out cool white light ... will have to think about plant placement under these beams)
Tank: 65 gallons 18 inch deep, 36 inch wide, 24 inch tall ... ABSOLUTE WORST DIMENSIONS ... so I will be building a black "sump inside the tank" out of plexiglass with a weir on top and run one side of the canister in it to hide temp/co2/etc and then have one output on the front right hand side of the tank with black plexi covering the front of the tank. The idea is to take part of the width out of perception. In that same way, I will stack up soil at least 10 inches to again lift my entire frame of reference to mimic something as close to optimal dimensions that I can for scaping.

ADA:
1661017395634.png


Probably mimic the 75P.

I will also have to adjust where I put lights ... so probably put the weak one dead centre where I have that stupid bar across the top of my tank and then sprinkle the other three properly.

Water change: There will be a hidden pump permanently in the tank so I can run 80% water out and then I'll run the tap directly in with a tap on the side of the tank ... I am far too lazy to be lugging pumps or buckets. Frequency will be as needed - probably 1/day for the first month and then ween off as needed.

Water params: Water is roughly 9Ca/2Mg coming out of tap and also 1.5ish KH ... probably just dose it up 5Mg call it a day.

Ferts: Daily micro CSM+B super concentration solution at .015 ppm Fe daily as proxy for rest dosed at lights on. NP will be roughyl 1 ppm nitrate and .5 phosphate and ~ 16 potassium at all times ... dosed at water change and then topped up to percentage of water changed. If weekly water change, then will dose 10% of the pre-mixed solution daily and then pull water out probably 90% ish, then dose back to targets ... rinse and repeat.
1661018228383.png


CO2: Timed with lights and run through canister filter.

Lights: 10 minute ramp up, 10 minute ramp down, 8-10 hour photoperiod.

Soil: All my old soil, I will remove, dope up with NPK miracle gro, bag up in Nylon painting bags and create a strong base to support a preliminary layer of black earth from local garden shop and then top the entire thing with 1-2 inches of aquasoil. The soil from my tank is a mixture of Tropica aquasoil and fluorite, crushed dragonstone, some random pebbles and some rocks.

It currently sits filled with soil while I get the bags delivered, and plan how to cut and place the plexiglass.

Thanks for letting me post!

Josh
 

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JoshP12

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It made me move …

Soil: Decided to try the Fluval ... support the local shop instead of the big chain. I'm basically using it as a soil cap instead of gravel. The black earth is weed free and I am guessing no additives - I mean it shouldn't have any ... not overly concerned though when I plant I may omit it if I decide. Depends.
1661102543861.png


The real soil ....
As I started to dig out the tank I realized how much soil I actually had in there.
1661102526991.png


If anyone is curious:
1661102651212.png
< --- old layer had just about everything including the kitchen sink in it ... tend to have this ritual now that I use my oldfilter media and plunk it in my new soil ... surface area for some critters perhaps ... old activated carbon, I even chucked in some dragonstone for iron


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What I learned about soil - you only get 1 chance to make it right ... so do it right.

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.... Fold rinse repeat until you can see lots and lots of pellets in there. We only get one shot and 10 inches deep, rest assured I am not getting root tabs in there --

1) I use cheap chinese knock off tweezers and they bend
2) I am lazy

It is easy to do another week of water changes but it is not easy to get more ferts into your soil. Leaving it moist ... loasds of microbiology in there ... it might die from the NP burst but I only want the strongest bacterias in my tank --- or they will just contribute to the NP and feed my future, stronger generation.

One issue with using this soil is the crypts ... like a dandelion, one or two will pop up ... but anyways, the roots can become worm food and hopefully be nice food for my plants until it comes from the depths and pokes out of my HC carpet, wrecking my scape.

Well ... off to dig out some more.
 

JoshP12

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And we begin ...

Way to much soil (I dreaded removing it all -- it took several days):
1661693973215.png


I dreaded cleaning the tubes (It's been at leasat 6 months if not more since I touched them):
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<-- my little hack toothbrush in a tube -- in a tube!
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No schematic but it will be assembled today so I will show the full photos later:
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This is the back right hand corner weir where my intake, temp, etc will all be hidden -- behind the plexiglass in the front will be a little box where the pump will be hidden to do auto water change and also the output to push water into the tank.

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\


I went with ADA 75-P Dimensions.
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So that means I need ~ 6 inches of substrate before I begin the actual substrate scaping portion.

Reefer buddy came over and helped me do the work on the plexiglass (we cut with a jigsaw) -- he also brought me some activated carbon! Huzzuh! Into the substrate it goes (great surface area and high CEC to get those nutrients locked ... when the roots find them they will be so happy! Bacterias etc

Collected knock off diffusers over the year or two:
1661694295805.png
<--- I'll use old faithful ... give it a bleach call it a day.

I seem to care a whole lot less than I use to about "good equipment" ... not sure why.

Looking at these bottles gives me the heeby jeebies ... remembering all the disaster and mixing and ferts that it took to come to a very simple realization ... dose ferts, be consistent, enjoy your tank.

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Will be mixing 2x solutions ... 100mL will be my dosage ... dosed with water change (if no water change, then 10mL daily).

The old days ... first tank - 5Gallon, second was 10 Gallon:
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They are alive!
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<-- funny story ... wife said I could only have 10 gallon tank but my lights weren't growing plants so I bought that strip lighting and attached it to the lid of those el-cheapo tanks ... plants grew a bit better LOL.


Boxwoods will be happy ...
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Media was clear:
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It moulded ... lol
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<--- wasn't concerned ... I could bleach it etc but I just am not worried. I used to bleach tubes and all that but it's just unneccesary ... the last photos I took of the tank ... I used a canister filter that I hadn't even cleaned from the previous tank ... it just doesn't matter --> what matters is your day to day maintenance in the tank and the love you give it and the consistency.

Now, flow clogging is real .... don't get the wrong impression.

And the bleaching begins:
1661694585132.png
<-- purigen is probably 1 year hasn't been touched ...getting the full on bleach treatment ... I'll remove it today and refill so I don't deterioate the purigen itself but let's make it nice.

The diffuser get's a special treatment ... 50/50 water/bleach ... just because -- but again if you pay attention it's not going to matter.

That's all for now!
 
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JoshP12

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What a week? Time seems to be moving fast and furious ...

Oh that purigen and diffuser ... I forgot them for a week in bleach - lol.

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I always keep 1 bottle of seachem prime on hand to just drop the liquid on top of the diffuser - works like a charm. I use seachem safe (the powder) for everything else. I just lob it in to the purigen with fresh water and then it clears right up. Will check this AM how the purigen looks and rinse and repeat.

--- pre prime (1 week of bleach):
1662373486012.png



Filter: I was thinking oh I can buy new foam and get a nice tight fit ... ol' faithful ... same sponges from old tanks too ... might be a bit cheap lol.
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So here is the tank:
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<--- will adjust lights soon.
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<-- gas exchange twice ... (fill test)
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OOOO -- what took me so long ... cannister o-ring was busted, had a major leak due to pressure change in the weir chamber on power on and off ... pulled out, vaseline, cleaned, all good -- have back ups coming in mail.

Likely useless:
1662373700224.png




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<-- smelled like real manure ...it worked.

Getting old (need a stand to save my back and 2 water bottles):
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Gradual slope into a triangle shape (that I likely won't follow).

1662373787155.png



Boxwoods are responding well to fish tank juice:
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Tossed some rocks in (went down this AM, plugged water change pump in (siphon) unplugged, came back it was drained, wiggled the rocks around will re fill later -- so convenient).

1662374109878.png



You know I really do want to have all those wild sticks all over like those scapes but when I look at them I go wow, then I go what about the maintenance and uproot and replant and when my daughter runs into me and I crack the stick and then I bleed - lol.

Anyways, friend said I can't just toss in dirt this time - I need to have some hardscape.

Thanks for reading !

EDIT: NOOOO!!! I forgot to put the activated carbon on top of my old soil and underneathe the brand new soil. Will go and do that slowly before adding more.
 
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JoshP12

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Done.

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You know ... it's all about the plants and I think proper plant selection and maintenance can make any hardscape placement beautiful - but what do I know about hardscape -- hah!

Sometimes you just need to go with it and move on with life!

Going to fill and "dark start" simply for me to watch the water move without lights on and let those activated carbons soak up all the local nutrients.

Purigen still in the gargage ... probably go and seachem safe it for another few days and then maybe add it to the top of canister (just don't want to have to add it, then let it "help" the startup, then have to bleach it AGAIN ... just do another water change (in the works is figuring out how to water my garden automatically with the water to have zero waste) instead and then use fresh purigen later.

On plant selection:
I think I am just going to go to the local store and pick up whatever they have (they source from local people and I sold many of my plants there often to stock them) not going to worry about having HC peaking out of monte carlo to create depth (unless they have it). I can get those tropica cups and place the big time order and all that to get "healthy" plants on startup and this is really important to be honest ... especially to make sure they can resist ammonia burn from off gas from soil and even to have nutrient store to grow properly and adapt etc etc ---- it really is, but -- no big deal.

I don't think I am there yet from an artistic perspective to put energy into all that planning - hopefully one day.


The fun stuff:
Ok so what do we do about ferts!!!

Part of me is thinking we go Golden Ratio - because we can do whatever we want. You can go extremes too and then just compensate with more water change and exhaust soil faster ... but I want my soil to last as long as possible.

My Ca is 9.4 --- water report but I mean I am just guessing water gallon anyways (it isn't 65 anymore), so the remineralize will be inaccurate. Close enough.

1662382225014.png

Ca: K --> 1.66
Mg: K --> .61
... it's too perfect.

How much N and P? I can probably get away with dosing very little for a very long time throw co2 in the driving seat and just take it easy ... but if I overfeed, I may run into an issue if my co2 is off. I do not want to run EI levels of N and P in here ... it's too much work. Part of me feels like running 6/3 for N and P. But it's also quite vigorous --- Maybe 2/1 seems a bit better and just ride that out. Need lots of P on startup for root formation (daily waters with re-dose should keep up with it + substrate has it).

Ok here is the thing, if I go 2/1 and my rotalas (which I plan to have) go red instantly, then I don't know how far away I am from excess state. If I go 6/3 that's pretty good, but I need more co2 for that for sure which is fine.

And the only reason any of this actually matters (since as this grows, the N uptake will increase) is so that if I trim big, I don't have stressed fish (they won't be stressed at 6 N when the whole tank is growing -- but if I trim back everything (which may happen since it may get overgrown since life is crazy), then it will. And it will be the co2 demand from the N that inadvertently will stress them since you have less plants taking it up but also your original set point for CO2 when tank growing vigorously was determined by N and full tank -- if N is 2 instead of 6, you have less on that upper bound after trim will have more free co2 in water but will still be less than if 6 in full tank. This is all rediculous though because you can just turn down the co2 ... but the whole theme of this thread is to think as little as possible for the duration of the tank and do as little work as possible.

And I could just have different bottles and adjust as time happens, but then I need to ... have different bottles and pay more attention.

I'm juggling between 1/.5 N/P and 6/3 ... let's go the middle road ... 2/1 it is.

For water estimate: visual is 16x18x30 inches and then that little compartment 6x 18 x 24 so roughyl 37 gal + 10 gal + some in the soil? Let's call it 50 for the calculation.

There they are:
1662383777081.png


Will get out the scale soon enough ... .

Once those are made, doser set up, shopping for plants, daily waters, sharpen the scissors, and watch nature unfold.
 

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John q

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I said at the start of this journal I suspected it would be entertaining and educational, can I add slightly bonkers to that list. Keep it coming Josh 👍
 

_Maq_

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"dark start" simply for me to watch the water move without lights on
Even better if you make it truly 'dark', throw a blanket over it - algae can't set up without light.
let those activated carbons soak up all the local nutrients
Activated carbon does not leak neither adsorb nutrients but adsorbs dissolved organic compounds.
Purigen still in the gargage ... probably go and seachem safe it for another few days and then maybe add it to the top of canister (just don't want to have to add it, then let it "help" the startup, then have to bleach it AGAIN
You can regenerate Purigen in hydrogen peroxide 1%. Tested.
to make sure they can resist ammonia burn from off gas from soil
If you cycle long enough, bacteria should nitrify all ammonium that happens to leak into the water column.
Ca: K --> 1.66
Mg: K --> .61
... it's too perfect.
It's not, in my opinion. Too much potassium. But we'll hardly ever learn because your soil is full of these.
Need lots of P on startup for root formation
For root formation, beside carbon, calcium and potassium are needed most.
I'm juggling between 1/.5 N/P and 6/3 ... let's go the middle road ... 2/1 it is.
The proper ratio of N & P is known and seldom disputed. It's N : P = 16 : 1 in molar terms, or NO3 : PO4 = 10 : 1 by weight. Yet again, it's just numbers, since we don't know the N and P content of your soil.
 

JoshP12

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Even better if you make it truly 'dark', throw a blanket over it - algae can't set up without light.
I don’t fear algae.
Activated carbon does not leak neither adsorb nutrients but adsorbs dissolved organic compounds.
And when a root finds it, it will be able to soak it all up.
You can regenerate Purigen in hydrogen peroxide 1%. Tested.

If you cycle long enough, bacteria should nitrify all ammonium that happens to leak into the water column.
I’ve done full dark start before - I’m just doing it until I plant which is essentially useless but I need to make sure the filter doesn’t leak.
It's not, in my opinion. Too much potassium. But we'll hardly ever learn because your soil is full of these.
That’s why we make good soil - so we can do whatever we want in water column and enjoy beautiful plants. I can say my tank is golden ratio everywhere 😂.
For root formation, beside carbon, calcium and potassium are needed most.
And phosphate!
The proper ratio of N & P is known and seldom disputed. It's N : P = 16 : 1 in molar terms, or NO3 : PO4 = 10 : 1 by weight. Yet again, it's just numbers, since we don't know the N and P content of your soil.
I skipped all attention to proper communication on this sorry.
 

JoshP12

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I said at the start of this journal I suspected it would be entertaining and educational, can I add slightly bonkers to that list. Keep it coming Josh 👍
Just having fun :). Should rename it chronicles of a crazy man.

I will say I’m absolutely thrilled that the weir works this well. And I can jam in power heads hidden to help with flow.

Hopefully if something goes wrong and we can’t fix it, we can backtrack a solution.
 

GreggZ

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Just having fun :). Should rename it chronicles of a crazy man.

I will say I’m absolutely thrilled that the weir works this well. And I can jam in power heads hidden to help with flow.

Hopefully if something goes wrong and we can’t fix it, we can backtrack a solution.
Great journal! I am really looking forward to seeing where this goes.

The proper ratio of N & P is known and seldom disputed. It's N : P = 16 : 1 in molar terms, or NO3 : PO4 = 10 : 1 by weight. Yet again, it's just numbers, since we don't know the N and P content of your soil.
I've been around a while and don't understand how you can state those ratios are seldom disputed? Most of the best tanks I follow and the best plant growers I know in the hobby have NO3:pO4 somewhere closer to 3:1 or even 2:1. And K is almost always higher than both. IME magic ratios just don't exist. Too much depends on the particular tank and the particular plants in that tank.
 

JoshP12

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Dosing solutions made ... I hate that scale. I purposefully added the wrong amount of magnesium just to smite it. Instead of 76grams I added 77grams. That'll show it.

Potassium sorbate --> 1.4g you say, I challenge you 1.8g -- if I get bacteria build up in 2 months, I am going to 2g. The potassium from it won't skew my daily potassium ... hehe.

Now I did realize a big whoops ... my RO unit remineralizes so my water for my dosing solution has probably Ca and Mg ... NOOOOOOO Golden ratio is off lol ... I tried.

I should add that my CSM is a 2L solution with ~5g of CSM added -- it puts me at a 20mL dose per day (with CSM, larger batch solution with higher concentrate is better ... actually was conversrations with @GreggZ where that clicked for me). Vitamin C in, with the sorbate first, then the CSM. Unfortunately, I forgot to mix the bottle before adding in the CSM ... just hoping my pH was below 7 ... but again my substrate will cover my 2 month solution or what have you and top off anything (won't have rhizosphere quite yet - need bacterias to assemble - so really just banking on the available stuff if there is any ... probably not in the aquasoil but in my ferts I added to the soil).

That's about it? I think it's just plants now.

It will be lights ~ 8 hours full intensity. CO2 with lights. Temp -- probably 24-25 celcius 75-77 fahrenheit ... I could go lower or higher (if I choose some fish that demand it), but not entirely sure I care to chill them out just to slow down the system and potentially get tighter plant forms and less algae ... when I can probably achieve it without dropping the temp -- we will see. Temp does help keep the column clean and growing ...

I did make a remark on another thread that I will go by feel and not use a DC or probe or drops or anything (feeling a bit scared here) so I may as well do it. I do have 1 visual so it is a bit of a cheat -- but I can see the diffuser ... so I can always guage how much co2 is going into the tank by what I see going into the canister. Bubble counter is dry and I don't plan to fill it.

Tank is super cloudy, you can almost see the ammonia -- had I planted, probably need to run 2x water a day to feel comfortable.
 

Geoffrey Rea

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Great journal! I am really looking forward to seeing where this goes.

Indeed 😎

Nice to see someone pushing the envelope a bit @JoshP12 . Will be interested to see your results. Just play it safe buddy and keep those arms out of the tank for a bit 😆
 

JoshP12

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I beg your pardon, but wasn't it YOU who had started about nutrients and their ratios? And if you're trying to avoid discussion, why do you start a journal in the public? Make your own journal on your harddisk and nobody would bother. What do you think? Ain't it a perfect solution for you?
Yes. I said I’ve grown plants in all extremes and I’m picking golden ratio because it’s fun.

And I’ll post later today about why I’ve made the choices I’ve made. And it has to do with a balance between fish keeper, life, and the results I want.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Fiddling with the power heads this eve … arm felt tingly.
I'd guess the "tingly feeling" is some form of charge leakage (@zozo ?).
The ammonia is real - be safe if you try this at home lol. @Darrel ........ No one reading this thinks you can see ammonia lol.
I'm not going to say <"I told you so">, mainly because I've been on the <"naughty step"> on another forum, but you might be able to smell it? Old style sewage farms (and intensive Pig / Poultry units) can really <"make your eyes water">.

cheers Darrel
 

JoshP12

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Hi all,

I'd guess the "tingly feeling" is some form of charge leakage (@zozo ?).

I'm not going to say <"I told you so">, mainly because I've been on the <"naughty step"> on another forum, but you might be able to smell it? Old style sewage farms (and intensive Pig / Poultry units) can really <"make your eyes water">.

cheers Darrel
Charges are all good - I was being a bit silly.

Frankly I’m rather pleased with the nutrients in the soil and would prefer this over something much leaner.

I’ll give it a big whiff this AM and let you know!
 
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