Akadama - A cheap substrate

Nick16

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i think i will just mix the osmocate with the jbl. and then put the akadama on the top and do plenty of water changes!
what is mulm?
 

Nick16

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just get the sponges and squeeze it onto the substrate? woud i do this before the akadama goes ontop? would i do this even if im going to grow stuff emersed? i want to try growing things like glosso for a week or 2 without much water and see what happens, but im not sure that i understand the whole emersed thing as it cannot be sone with stems as well? is that right?
 

Themuleous

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Basically yes. Or if you have non-planted tanks, use the water you get from a gravel vac as this is laden this mulm :)

I would put it on top of the aquabasis and under the akadama, in the 'middle' of the substrate.

I would do it even it you want emersed growth first.

Emersed growth would technically work with stems its just that they wouldn't have the water to support them. It works well with glosso and HC as the plants dont need this support. Emersed is how tropica grow their plants :)

Sam
 

Nick16

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is there a massive benefit with this, as i want to order some glosso and probably some pogo helferi, but then i want lots of stems like rotala and alternanthera and e.tenellus. so i would have to place two orders and subsequently pay more for the postage. if there is no massive advantage it might as well not bother. but i like a challenge and i could do the foreground with these emersed and then do the rest as a later date. is it worth growing glosso and PH emersed?
 

JamesC

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Ed Seeley said:
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?
First post fifth paragraph says:
Akadama has a very good CEC (Cation Exchange Capacity) value which means that it will pull out of the water any cations, eg Mg++, Ca++, K+, etc and hold onto these making them available for the plant's roots. The Akadama works similar to a cation exchange resin used in domestic water systems for softening water except rather than exchange magnesium and calcium for sodium ions, it exchanges magnesium, calcium, etc for hydrogen ions. The exchanged hydrogen ions then react with any bicarbonates in the water causing the KH and pH to drop. Also due to magnesium and calcium being held by the Akadama the GH will drop as well. After a period of time and a few water changes the water parameters will settle down.
Does that make sense? It's the hydrogen ions (acid) being exchanged for Ca and Mg that causes the KH drop. Pre loading the akadama with Ca and Mg greatly reduces the exchange once placed in the tank. I tested this on two tanks - one untreated and one treated. Can't remember the exact KH but it was around 6 and it dropped to zero overnight in the untreated akadama and stayed the same in the treated stuff.

James
 

Ed Seeley

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JamesC said:
Ed Seeley said:
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?
First post fifth paragraph says:
Akadama has a very good CEC (Cation Exchange Capacity) value which means that it will pull out of the water any cations, eg Mg++, Ca++, K+, etc and hold onto these making them available for the plant's roots. The Akadama works similar to a cation exchange resin used in domestic water systems for softening water except rather than exchange magnesium and calcium for sodium ions, it exchanges magnesium, calcium, etc for hydrogen ions. The exchanged hydrogen ions then react with any bicarbonates in the water causing the KH and pH to drop. Also due to magnesium and calcium being held by the Akadama the GH will drop as well. After a period of time and a few water changes the water parameters will settle down.
Does that make sense? It's the hydrogen ions (acid) being exchanged for Ca and Mg that causes the KH drop. Pre loading the akadama with Ca and Mg greatly reduces the exchange once placed in the tank. I tested this on two tanks - one untreated and one treated. Can't remember the exact KH but it was around 6 and it dropped to zero overnight in the untreated akadama and stayed the same in the treated stuff.

James
Ah right James. Yes makes perfect sense. Thanks for clearing that up.
 

Spider Pig

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Thanks for the reply.

Not sure if you've answered this already or elsewhere, but how have you found this substrate compare to commercial ones like ADA?
 

JamesC

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ADA Aqua Soil wins with no contest. I just refuse to pay the amount of money that they want for it so look for cheaper alternatives. With other substrates I'm not so sure there is such a great difference, but having a substrate which has nutrients is always going to be of benefit. Substrates like Eco Complete only have iron and other trace elements and don't contain any N or P, so these will need to be added via the water column or root tabs. A lot of other planted tank substrates don't really contain that much even though the manufacturer's like to claim they do. Mainly they have iron. Very few if any have N and P. ADA being the exception.

IMHO nutrient rich substrates are only of benefit in the early days of a planted tank. After six months to a year there probably won't be that much difference between them and Akadama.

James
 

Antoni

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OK, I have been reading twice this topic and one question appear to me:
If the absorbing power of akadama so good, is it not a good idea to add a thin layer of earthworm castings underneath (as Tom Barr mentioned somewhere )and to solve ina cheap way the supply of nutrients?
I'm sure that the osmocote will release nutrients under control and the EC will not, but as I can't find osmocote over here is this not a good idea?

Also is it not going to be possible to provide all the needed nutrients by water column fertilization? Im going to use EI as a method. Or maybe there will be not enough water circulation through the akadama?
 

Themuleous

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Yes, water column fert dosing can provide enough ferts for the plants. Having a plant substrate just gives you added security that the plants will be able to access all the nutrients they need. It is also very helpful should you intend to use heavy root feeders like ech species.

Sam
 

JamesC

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I don't see any reason why you can't use earthworn castings. I've never used them myself but know they used to be popular some years ago. My main concern is that they might be a bit messy and clog the Akadama. I just chose Osmocote because of it's slow release properties. There are plenty of other manufacturers who also produce slow release fertiliser capsules. Maybe have a look in a local garden centre. They aren't actually required as my first test tank I setup just used Akadama and all the plants thrived in it.

If you are dosing EI then yes all the nutrients can be supplied via the water column. Akadama will absorb a large amount of various nutrients from the water column making them available for the plant's roots, but this takes time. Having an initial supply of substrate nutrients is always going to be beneficial. I would guess that there should be good water circulation through the Akadama as it is very porous and also because of it's grain size

James
 

Antoni

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Thank you very much!
Well I will have a look around the garden shops and will see what can be found.
I'm using EC at my recent scapes and I'm pretty happy with it, but it will be better if there is a product with slow release properties.
What about the tablets that the specialized brands as Dupla, JBL and so on are selling?

Regards
 

Antoni

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No problem at all!
I have found osmocote, but in a wholesaler and now waiting for him to figure a way to give me a small amount like 2 lbs.
Nick I hope you liked it?!
 

Themuleous

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Your best bet for akadama is a good bonsai shop, if they dont have it in, Im sure they could order it, it seems to be highly regarded in the bonsai world, although they think its expensive!!! :lol:

Sam
 

Antoni

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Actually I have found Akadama, my problem is finding osmocote over here. Only wholesalers seems to have it and they sell to the big garden centers. I also didn't understand why we need the sphagnum moss in conjunction with osmocote? Can we not use it on it's own or with regular peat?

Regards
 

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