Akadama - A cheap substrate

spider72

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Hi guys.

James, as you know, my friends on polish aquatic plant forum are carying out experiment with cat sand (which appears to be idea over 10years old). Because it is made of similar clay like akadama, we are watching this topic closely, especially on the subject how to enrich this type of substrate in nutriens. Tom's idea of using osmocote looks like good solution, but my friends pointed out that type of osmocote which you proposed has very high phosphorus level in relation to nitrogen (no worries about potassium) N:p:K 14:13:13. I found on other forum Tom's post http://www.aquaticquotient.com/forum/sh ... stcount=13 pointing to this type of osmocote

Plantbrain said:
Adding Osmocoat vs PS to the ADA AS should produce similar effects based solely on nutrients, PS possesses osmocoat like material in it.
Adding some peat+osmocote ought to do the trick vs using ADA PS.

Osmocoat:
Osmocote® Azalea, Camellia, Rhododendron Smart Release® Plant Food

Soil and peat have long been used, so has kitter litter(a nice clay).
All quite successfully, but is it due to the substrate, or the water column, or both?

which has N:p:K 9:9:6, - no better, still quite rich in P in relation to N. Details here http://scottsti.com/en/08_resources/fac ... Food06.pdf

As we can see from the leaflet main source of nitrogen in osmocote is Ammonium Nitrate and Ammonium
Phosphate which in water will produce NH4+ cations. As we all know this kind of substrate will catch NH4+ cations due to it's CEC properties, but PO4-3 and NO3- anions can leak making even worst N:p relation in the water column, which can be cause for some trouble. Some guys are saying that more appropriate is to use osmocote whith N:p:K relation closer to Tropica capsules N:p:K 15:4:7,5 as those been specificially developed for aquatic plants, like for example:
- this one called OSMOFORM1 http://www.scottsprofessional.com/en/range/101 N:p:K 19:5:13+Mg+Traces
- or this one http://scottsti.com/en/08_resources/fac ... Food06.pdf N:p:K 19:6:12 no traces

Or maybe these NPK relations don't matter because of other processes in substrate which I have no idea about? Or maybe nutriens release rate is so slow that there is no chance of leaking of excess of phosphorus to the water column?

These are the questions for which answers I am looking for and would be good to know yours thougts on this subject guys.

PS: BTW what is SMS stand for?
 

Carphunter57

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I have a similar product as the substrate in my tank. Danish molar clay is used as cat litter (the pink stuff, normally scented) it is also used in industry to soak up oil spillages and is cheap as chips and unscented Lol. ;) ;)

30 litre (20 kgs ish) from Partco motor factors £7.50. ;)
 

JamesC

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SMS stands for Soil Master Select. It's a soil enhancement product that is used in places like baseball pitches. Think it is only available in the States and Canada. Going from memory an aquatic plant supplier has brought the product and has changed the name and selling it for loads more money. SMS is what got me interested in finding a cheap substrate here in the UK.

I never really thought about the ratio's in osmocote to be honest. They are supposedly slow releasing so wasn't too concerned about leakage into the water column. Even with all my added osmocote I've not noticed any NO3 or PO4 increase in the water column. I'm not 100% sure if there is any benefit from adding the osmocote but it's so cheap that I'm quite happy to add it any way.

Thanks for posting the osmoform info. I will look into it more.
James
 

JamesC

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Carphunter57 said:
I have a similar product as the substrate in my tank. Danish molar clay is used as cat litter (the pink stuff, normally scented) it is also used in industry to soak up oil spillages and is cheap as chips and unscented Lol. ;) ;)

30 litre (20 kgs ish) from Partco motor factors £7.50. ;)

There are many products that can be used. Oil dri is for soaking up oil spills and has been used as a substrate - http://www.oil-dri.co.uk/frames/data/tds037.html

James
 

plantbrain

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spider72 said:
Hi guys.

James, as you know, my friends on polish aquatic plant forum are carying out experiment with cat sand (which appears to be idea over 10years old).

Yes, the idea came from Dan Q, long ago.
Did it, used it, worked great.


Tom's idea of using osmocote looks like good solution, but my friends pointed out that type of osmocote which you proposed has very high phosphorus level in relation to nitrogen (no worries about potassium) N:p:K 14:13:13.

As it should have, the issue is not the ratio, the issue is having non limiting levels of nutrients. It's not an issue until you try limiting levels in both the water column and the sediment :idea:
Otherwise, it does not matter.

Some seem stuck on that issue for some reason, but there's no basis for it in plant mineral nutrition.

which has N:p:K 9:9:6, - no better, still quite rich in P in relation to N. Details here http://scottsti.com/en/08_resources/fac ... Food06.pdf

As we can see from the leaflet main source of nitrogen in osmocote is Ammonium Nitrate and Ammonium
Phosphate which in water will produce NH4+ cations. As we all know this kind of substrate will catch NH4+ cations due to it's CEC properties, but PO4-3 and NO3- anions can leak making even worst N:p relation in the water column, which can be cause for some trouble.

Such as?
The issue missed here is that the rate of dissolving is slow. It is not like adding dissolved dry pure salts.
ADA has a similar product added to PS BTW.
Nothing new.

Some guys are saying that more appropriate is to use osmocote whith N:p:K relation closer to Tropica capsules N:p:K 15:4:7,5 as those been specificially developed for aquatic plants, like for example:
- this one called OSMOFORM1 http://www.scottsprofessional.com/en/range/101 N:p:K 19:5:13+Mg+Traces
- or this one http://scottsti.com/en/08_resources/fac ... Food06.pdf N:p:K 19:6:12 no traces
Or maybe these NPK relations don't matter because of other processes in substrate which I have no idea about? Or maybe nutriens release rate is so slow that there is no chance of leaking of excess of phosphorus to the water column?

These are the questions for which answers I am looking for and would be good to know yours thougts on this subject guys.

PS: BTW what is SMS stand for?

I think not worrying over minor issues like ratios is wise.
If the tap water you use is high in PO4, use the higher NO3 based product, if the tap is high in NO3, use the higher PO4 product and so forth.

It takes several months for Osomocoat to dissolve.
This is what we used for many lab studies to add N and P, generally we add a Hoagland's (solution modified) to hydroponic solutions. The rate of NH4 is very low and bacteria likely convert most of it to NO3.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

plantbrain

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BTW, the rates of diffusion are faster with warmer temps, and temp is the main issue for the rate for Osmocoat or similar products, long term release ferts etc.

Since our aquariums are temp stable, the osmocoat diffusion rates should be stable.
If you add a layer of osmocoat to the sediment, then ideally you would not be able to measure the water column ppm's, as the roots would ideally get it before then, so you'd have to take a sample with a pipette slowly and extract some water down near the product.

There's plenty if nutrients, you just can not measure it easily.
As fast as it's released, it's used up. This works pretty well in lower light tanks and provides some relief if you skip the water column dosing or dose a lot to the water column. But if you run a leaner tank, then limitations can arise much easier and this stuff becomes much more a concern.

Still, it does provide a simple safe mild back up for nutrients.
and you can always add more if you wish..........

Try the cat litter, works well and is cheap, look up Dan Quankenbush. He promoted it a lot.
It's a tad messy, and compared to ADA AS, I like the ADA look much better and the ADA has more nutrients, less mess.


Regards,
Tom Barr
 

Spider Pig

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Just to clarify Tom, are you saying that the use of the NH4 as the main source of nitrogen is not problematic as long as the other nutrients are in excess and so non- limiting? Did you find much benefit in using osmocoat in non-nutrient substrate and did you have any algae issues with it?
 

JamesC

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My 200 litre Akadama tank has been running for nearly a year now and I can report that all is well with the Akadama holding up well will no noticeable crumbling. When I do another tank with Akadama I will make one change in that I will add a sprinkling of Osmocote in with the sphagnum moss to provide some extra NPK for the plant roots. Osmocote is a slow release fertiliser that comes in small capsules.

I have read recently that Akadama is being used for pond purification systems and also for removing water pollutants from places like road run offs. It apparently has a great capacity for absorbing all types of compounds and not only cations as I initially thought. One compound that it has a great capacity to absorb is phosphate which is why it is used in pond purification systems. Could also explain why at first when I measured phosphate levels in my tank they always appeared to be zero. This is great for the plants if Akadama is used with a water column dosing method as the Akadama will provide nutrients for the roots on a long term basis. Another bonus which I have noticed at first is how clear the water was, most likely due to the absorption properties of the Akadama.

James
 

Nick16

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JamesC said:
My 200 litre Akadama tank has been running for nearly a year now and I can report that all is well with the Akadama holding up well will no noticeable crumbling. When I do another tank with Akadama I will make one change in that I will add a sprinkling of Osmocote in with the sphagnum moss to provide some extra NPK for the plant roots. Osmocote is a slow release fertiliser that comes in small capsules.

I have read recently that Akadama is being used for pond purification systems and also for removing water pollutants from places like road run offs. It apparently has a great capacity for absorbing all types of compounds and not only cations as I initially thought. One compound that it has a great capacity to absorb is phosphate which is why it is used in pond purification systems. Could also explain why at first when I measured phosphate levels in my tank they always appeared to be zero. This is great for the plants if Akadama is used with a water column dosing method as the Akadama will provide nutrients for the roots on a long term basis. Another bonus which I have noticed at first is how clear the water was, most likely due to the absorption properties of the Akadama.

James
where can you get osmocote from? and is it good? never heard of it or sphagnum moss!
 

Nick16

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i was looking at garden direct but wasnt sure if that was the right stuff! but ts cheaper from green fingers anyway, cheers sam.

i am planning my 4 foot at the mo and have jbl aqua basis and then akadama. but i was wondering is there other powders that i should use to help the growth like osmocote for example. i have black gravel which will cap the akadama in between 'the islands'

where would osmocote go? is there any other things i should get? and where would they go?

so far its

bottom: jbl aquabasis
osmocote in here?
middle: akadama
top: Black gravel
 

Nick16

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il stick with the osmocote then!, well what layer would it go? ontop of the aquabasis? also how far will 1kg go in a 120x40 tank?
 

JamesC

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Akadama can be used fine by itself or you can add the following to help speed things up. You can either add all or some of them as it doesnt really matter.

In first go:

Sprinkling of sphagnum moss peat - provides acidic conditions favourable to the bacteria and plant's roots.
Sprinkling of Osmocate - provides NPK (including ammonia)
Mulm - to biologically kick start the substrate. Best poured onto half inch of Akadama to prevent too much disturbance to peat and osmocote
Akadama - add to required depth

Rather than using the peat and osmocote you could use a commercial product like Tropica Plant Substrate.


il stick with the osmocote then!, well what layer would it go? ontop of the aquabasis? also how far will 1kg go in a 120x40 tank?
Best mixed in with it. 1kg is loads. You should only need a couple of handfulls at most.

HTH
James
 

Spider Pig

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Can you use the sphagnum moss peat straight from the bag or do you need to treat it some way before using it in an aquarium- i.e. does it have any nasties that need to be boiled out?
Is there any specific brand that's good for aquaria or is it all pretty much the same stuff?
Also if you're using the peat moss and the osmocoat is there any need to load the akadama with ferts like soaking in nitrates etc.? I assume not.

Sorry for the mass of questions but for a big tank this looks like the way ahead as ADA is way too pricey for me at the moment.
 

JamesC

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Spider Pig said:
Can you use the sphagnum moss peat straight from the bag or do you need to treat it some way before using it in an aquarium- i.e. does it have any nasties that need to be boiled out?
Is there any specific brand that's good for aquaria or is it all pretty much the same stuff?
Also if you're using the peat moss and the osmocoat is there any need to load the akadama with ferts like soaking in nitrates etc.? I assume not.
Yes use straight from the bag.
I just brought some off ebay. Make sure it is sphagnum moss peat and not just sphagnum moss.
Soaking the akadama in calcium and magnesium sulphate is to reduce the initial KH drop and not to load the akadama with nutrients. I've now learnt that akadama absorbs PO4 big time so you could add some of that if you choose to pre soak. A lot of people don't bother pre soaking and just do plenty of water changes in the early days to help prevent to much of a KH drop.

James
 

Ed Seeley

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JamesC said:
Soaking the akadama in calcium and magnesium sulphate is to reduce the initial KH drop and not to load the akadama with nutrients.

James

Sorry to be picky (or dim :lol: ) here James, but how will soaking it in Calcium and magnesium sulphate reduce the initial KH drop? KH is a measure of the carbonate hardness, Ca and Mg are measured via GH, general hardness. Wouldn't soaking in CaCO3 or KCO3 be better to act as a buffer, or even putting a small bag of aragonite in the tank or filter during the initial phases of the tank's life?
 

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