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Akadama - A cheap substrate

JamesC

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MasterMoriarty said:
Is there any reason why dry ferts couldn't be spread over the layer of peat instead of Osmocote?
It's not something I've ever done or would recommend doing as the high concentrations may 'burn' the plant's roots. Osmocote is pretty cheap and works for several months so would be a lot better to use. ADA uses somthing similar in their Power Sand as do Tropica in their capsules. Chances are that using powders, they would soon dissole and find their way into the water column anyway.

James
 

leemonk

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Wow........

Massively interesting thread. I was pointed here by George Farmer from my thread:

viewtopic.php?f=21&t=6695&p=74322#p74322

I'd like to ask some questions if I may as some of the terms and phrases here are way over my GSCE chemistry knowledge :(

Firstly, I am starting over (to a degree) in my tank. What this means is that I want to replace my current substrate with something else and then to immediately put my fish back in. I say this because I beleive from what I have read already this may influence the materials I would need to use.

I have a Juwel 180 rio tank.

I beleive I should be following this path:

1st Layer - Tropica Susbstrate - Though I need some advice on the depth of this.
2nd Layer - Sphagnum Moss Peat
3rd Layer - A spinkling of Osmocote or Miracle Grow tabs (I have the small ball ones as shown in someone elses post already - are these okay).
4th Layer - Mulm - Should I dilute this first ie mix with a little water and fill the tank a little or should it be more of a texture that sits ontop of the tropica?
5th Layer - Akadama.

Is the above correct, both in terms of order and need?

Firstly, will this be okay to immediately put fish back into? and what will i need to watch out for over the following week. (ps. I have London tap water ie very hard)
Secondly, I don't want to soak the Akadama for a week, so I am assuming that the Tropica and the Miracle grow will provide all the nutrients needed?
Thirdly, having read your (James) comment regarding nutrient boosts only really being needed on a new set up, say in a years time, can I simply put in a 'few' more root tabs or will it need lots or maybe none?

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Regards

Lee
 

JamesC

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Hi Lee,

Tropica Plant Substrate already contains sphagnum moss peat or something very similar so you can drop that. It also contains N and P nutrients so you can also drop the osmocote. You could though if you wanted still add a sprinkling of osmocote in with the Tropica Plant Substrate to give it an extra boost. I've seen someone else do this.
Mulm is always a good thing to add to a new substrate as it gives it a great kick start. The more solid it is the better so don't dilute and add it to the Tropica Substrate as well.
I've never used Tropica Plant Substrate so I'm afraid I can't be much help there.

Once the Akadama is in you can add the fish straight back in. This is what I did with no probs. You will find the KH of your tank water will drop quite a bit for a few weeks. Just keep doing plenty of water changes and this should help stabilise things out.

You sholud have plenty of nutrients for a while in the substrate so you don't have to worry too much there. After a while you can use the Miracle Grow tablets which is what I use as I don't have the mega bucks to spend on the off the shelf products.

I've never really been that convinced with expensive substrates. Yes at the start they are great, but after a year I can't believe there is that much difference between them and a cheap fired clay like Akadama. Depends what your goals are? If you want to constantly create new scapes and are happy changing (and spending the money) on the substrate then Aqua Soil or Nature Soil are the way to go, but if like me you plan on keeping the same tank going for a few years then a plain fired clay substrate is a better option IMHO.

James
 

leemonk

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Hey James,

Thanks for the quick response!

One thing I would like to ask based on your reply. If I were to drop the Tropica Plant substrate, what would I need instread?

The reason I ask is not nessesarily a money issue its more of a learning thing. If I put in tropica, then hey presto, I'm half way there without learning anything, but if I look for alternatives that produce as good a result, then I have learnt something new.

If Tropica is dead cheap, then needless to say, its stands to reason that I should get it, however, if its not on the cheap side then its best to learn something and save money!

Also, do you have any advice on the depths I might need?

Regards

Lee
 

leemonk

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I finaly got some of the Akadama. I got it from this place http://www.windybankbonsai.co.uk/ which is based in Carshalton, which might work for you Surrey / South & West London people!

Nice chap and some great examples of Bonsai.

It was £11 per bag, so a little more expensive than other places, but it was about 30 mins around the corner for me.

Interestingly, the chap selling the stuff was hugely apologetic about the increase in price (used to be £8), which we then had a laugh about once I told him what I was using it for and the cost of an actual 'Aquatic' soil...... I guess its all relative.

Lee
 

Bluedave

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Akadema is a great substrate, I had a 500 litre set up a few years ago with Akadema, plants really did flourish - also mixed some laterite in with it as I was using mostly Ech. species.

I would encourage people to give it a go if they can get hold of it.
 

lincsflier

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Hi James just looking at using EC as have 4 bags at work sitting doing nothing that I can have :D . As the tank is 8 x 2 x 2 need to try to keep costs down where possible would it work if I used Akadama as a bulking with the EC or better to sandwich it as it were between two layers of Akadama.

Or is there another route that I haven't mentioned?.

Cheers
Dave
 

JamesC

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Mixing substrates always looks rubbish after a while, especially a black one and a red/brown one. EC really doesn't contain much in the way of nutrients as people seem to think. I would go for one or the other.

James
 

a1Matt

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I purchased some Akadama recently, but have yet put it in my tank (160l,1wpg,low tech - no water changes). I'd appreciate it if someone (am thinking James C of course, thankyou for this awesome thread :D ) could cast an eye over my plan of attack and point out anything that looks a bit doolally...

What could I use as an alternative to peat as a base layer (in conjunction with osmocote granules). I was thinking pond soil, will this fulfill the same purpose?
The reason I do not want to use peat is that I can not find any! (at least not in small quantities). I also understand that it is not sustainable.

My non water change response to the KH drop I am likely to encounter is:
Make up a weak Potassium Bicarbonate solution and trickle it in a few times a day until things stabilise. I figure that will be the easiest way to raise KH without stressing the shrimp and fish unduly. I have a persistaltic pump kicking around, so this is the 'least effort method' for me as well.

If my GH drops then I will add some gypsum to the solution and trickle that in as well.

I am presoaking with gypsum already by the way, in order to minimise any KH drop.
 

JamesC

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a1Matt said:
What could I use as an alternative to peat as a base layer (in conjunction with osmocote granules). I was thinking pond soil, will this fulfill the same purpose?
The peat is there to provide favourable conditions for the plant's roots and not for nutrients, even though it does provide some. Pond soil won't work as it's not acidic. You only need a fine sprinkling of peat. The idea of the peat and mulm combined is that it kick starts the substrate into action. It's not imperative that you do use it, it does help though in the early days of a substrates life. This is what I used - SPHAGNUM MOSS PEAT FOR CARNIVOROUS PLANTS 900 GRAMS and is quite cheap.

a1Matt said:
My non water change response to the KH drop I am likely to encounter is:
Make up a weak Potassium Bicarbonate solution and trickle it in a few times a day until things stabilise. I figure that will be the easiest way to raise KH without stressing the shrimp and fish unduly. I have a persistaltic pump kicking around, so this is the 'least effort method' for me as well.
I'd be careful adding bicarb as it may cause even more problems. Your reasoning is the same as ADA's. Aqua Soil does a similar thing to the water's KH as Akadama. Brighty K contains potassium carbonate which buffers the water to compensate.

a1Matt said:
If my GH drops then I will add some gypsum to the solution and trickle that in as well.
Should be fine

a1Matt said:
I am presoaking with gypsum already by the way, in order to minimise any KH drop.
You may actually find that the KH hardly changes if you presoak it.

James
 

a1Matt

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Thanks James.

I will stick to the sphagmum moss peat as per your advice - not a problem at all now you have supplied me with a link to it :)

That is good to know that I can prevent\minimise my KH drop. Maybe a better plan is... once i have finished presoaking drain off all the water, and add fresh tap water. leave it for a day and see if the KH drops. If it does just repeat the soaking and testing process.

This is going off topic now, and is a lengthy question, but if you have time I'd appreciate your input again...

As I am running no water changes, if my plants need something I have to put it in the water. I currently dose the water column weekly with:

Monopotassium phosphate
potassium nitrate
AE trace mix
gypsum and epsom salts. (The calcium is a new addition to my regime, I never needed this when I was running EI. calcium and phosphate go in on a separate day to everything else)

I get a nagging feeling that something is still missing though. Two things spring to mind:

1/ Chloride (I had no idea plants needed this until reading your remineralising recipe).
2/ KH - mine is slowly but surely dropping and at some point (about 3 months at the current rate) will hit 0.

I am at a loss about what further to add, how much and how often. or indeed whether I am worrying about nothing :rolleyes:

Would a sensible approach be to make up a 25l container of RO water with your remineralising recipe, and then use this to top up my tank with weekly (I only add 1 or 2 litres a week from evaporation losses, or 10 litres if I clean the filter that week).

Should I alter the recipe in anyway as this is top up only?
Should I make the concentration stronger so that it can remineralise the whole tank (160l) and not just the 2l I am adding.


(my first thought was to just dry dose Calcium Chloride and potassium bicarbonate\carbonate weekly)
(I want to use RO for topup and not tap, as I can then leave it sitting ready for use in a dark cupboard ready for use, tap I let sit for a day or two to get rid of CO2 in it which I find inconvenient)
 

JamesC

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I've never really done a tank with no water changes so can't really answer your questions to a great extent. Yes you could add calcium and magnesium sulphates but remember that the sulphates will just keep on increasing over time. May or may not be a problem, I don't know. If your KH is running low the adding a bit of calcium carbonate won't do any harm. It's a sod to dissolve as it's almost insoluble, but you should only need a small bit. Or as you suggested calcium chloride and potassium carbonate.
Do you have fish? Reason being is that fish food contains a lot of goodies that plants like.

I wouldn't worry too much. Give it a go and see what happens. It's going to be a learning curve which hopefully you'll be able to share with the rest of us.

James
 

a1Matt

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Thanks James I appreciate your candid response. I think I will start adding some calcium chloride and potassium carbonate (in tiny amounts). Do not expect feedback for a couple of months, as it can take that long to see results from dosing changes in my tank! I will be switching over to akadama at the same time, so it will not be a controllled experiment.

An observation I can share already is...
I always expected that with no Co2 the plants would experience 'dwarfism' and indeed they did. My Swords and crypts halved in size.
Then when I started adding calcium regularly the plants grew halfway in size between the 'non-Co2 dwarf size', and the 'Co2 size'.
They also grew x2 faster than expected with non Co2 but nowhere near x10 co2 level growth rates.
They were in visibly good health before and after calcium.
I assume this means the plants were working hard to convert chemicals internally without the calcium and not concentrating on growing.

So.... I expect that if adding calcium chloride and potassium carbonate has any effect that it will be a further increase growth rates and or the size that the plant grow to.

Other non co2 observations are that crypts and swords are more stable and their colours are slightly richer. Stems are just as healthy, but they suffer from dwarfism more, and growth rates are more affected.

When I say no water changes, I mean no regular water changes. For peace of mind I think I will carry out 50% every 6 months or thereabouts, this will remove anything that might be building up slowly over a long time (like the excess sulphates for example).


I have fish, but very few - I only feed them a tiny amount once a week or so at the moment (I check regularly and they are all fat)
 

GreenNeedle

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James

I remember Sam had problems with HC in Akadama. I just read a thread on APC where someone is asking why HC isn't growing yet everything else is and they are using akadama.

Do you think there could be a link? No idea what sort of link it would be if there was one though. lol

AC
 

JamesC

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Sam has now changed over to Eco Complete and still his HC doesn't grow. I had HC growing in Akadama and it grew so fast and furious that I got fed up with it and ditched the whole lot. Akadama is relatively new as a substrate here in the UK but over in the far east it has been used for a while. Even Amano used it until he started selling his own Aqua Soil.

James
 

Bluedave

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JamesC said:
Akadama is relatively new as a substrate here in the UK but over in the far east it has been used for a while.

Thats quite interesting, I was using it about five years ago, got it from my LFS but they haven't stocked it since! Where are people getting it from now and for how much? I might try it again.
 

aaronnorth

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Bluedave said:
JamesC said:
Akadama is relatively new as a substrate here in the UK but over in the far east it has been used for a while.

Thats quite interesting, I was using it about five years ago, got it from my LFS but they haven't stocked it since! Where are people getting it from now and for how much? I might try it again.

Try Kaizen Bonsai.
I think 14l is about £18 posted
 

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