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Interesting blog

dw1305

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Hi all,
There is a planted tank enthusiast who has recently started posting on <"Apistogramma forums">.

He has <"a blog">, where he discusses problems with plants like Ludwigia sedoides, that I think might be of interest to many members here.

I had a quick "google", and his day job is as a scientist working for the University of Alberta.

cheers Darrel
 

geoffbark

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Interesting read, will follow!

Note.. click on archives to continue reading his blog.
 
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zozo

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Very interesting read. "use farts not ferts" :D:D:D I think I may use that as my signature. I thought I'd read a while back that experimenting with ammonia didn't have a great outcome although they were probably using a mixed system of biological filtration on top of EI dosing. Interesting to see that adding just enough ammonia even purely using fish waste negated the need for nitrogen which we've all became accustomed to and ammonia is a better food for plants if you like because the plants don't need to waste energy converting the nitrate back to ammonia.

So then who's going first :D I can see a few members pulling out a spare tank they have sitting around and testing this out. Not sure how this would sit with potassium? there doesn't seem to be any mention of it other than traces.
 

zozo

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Long time ago till the 1980's or something it was pretty common practice not to fertilize an aquarium.. The whole point was not doing water changes and the ammonia etc will build up on its own. Back then Sagittaria was the most common i beleive actualy the only carpet plant around. The first 2 to 6 months you won't see much happening put than plants start rocking the boat and the whole tank from corrner to corner carpeted with Sag. 6 months after that delicate fish start getting sick and dying. If the hardy ones started to die we called it old tank syndrom and started over.. :)

My experience, bright light in a non co2 aquarium can work, experimenting myself at the time with a daylight lit tank under a roof window.. No fertilizer wont work, simply because of the water changes needed to keep the tank healthy long enough.. The stocking can never poop up against the water changes needed.

One shouldn't play with the health of the fish to find out where this break point is.. So for the sake and respect of them you need to do regular WC's.

That's my take on the concept... But still very interseted in his long term conclusions.

And actualy the bacteria fart indeed while makeing ferts, that the methane the tank/filter produces.. So Ferts and Farts go hand in hand.. :D
 
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Daveslaney

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Interesting blog.
I started using urea to replace some of the no3 in my EI dosing based on Nuno M recipe in his crystal mountain journal. The plant seem to respond real well to the different source of nitragen. But you have to keep the quantity of urea in the mix low and dose at or close to lights on so the plants get chance to utalise it before it gets processed by the filter.
Using to much also seems to make BBA rampant in my experiance.
 
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Long time ago till the 1980's or something it was pretty common practice not to fertilize an aquarium.. The whole point was not doing water changes and the ammonia etc will build up on its own. Back then Sagittaria was the most common i beleive actualy the only carpet plant around. The first 2 to 6 months you won't see much happening put than plants start rocking the boat and the whole tank from corrner to corner carpeted with Sag. 6 months after that delicate fish start getting sick and dying. If the hardy ones started to die we called it old tank syndrom and started over.. :)

My experience, bright light in a non co2 aquarium can work, experimenting myself at the time with a daylight lit tank under a roof window.. No fertilizer wont work, simply because of the water changes needed to keep the tank healthy long enough.. The stocking can never poop up against the water changes needed.

One shouldn't play with the health of the fish to find out where this break point is.. So for the sake and respect of them you need to do regular WC's.

That's my take on the concept... But still very interseted in his long term conclusions.

And actualy the bacteria fart indeed while makeing ferts, that the methane the tank/filter produces.. So Ferts and Farts go hand in hand.. :D
The way I read it I don't think he was advocating no water changes but a reduction. My understanding was small amounts of ammonia was a better food for plants than large amounts of nitrogen because plants don't use energy feeding on ammonia so the tank was ran nitrogen free, nearly.

No filtration so the filter can't Rob the ammonia before the plants have access to it but still plenty of circulation Via a pump.

What do you think or have I picked that up wrong?


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Floating plants also playing a big part in purifying the water.

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zozo

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The way I read it I don't think he was advocating no water changes but a reduction. My understanding was small amounts of ammonia was a better food for plants than large amounts of nitrogen because plants don't use energy feeding on ammonia so the tank was ran nitrogen free, nearly.

No filtration so the filter can't Rob the ammonia before the plants have access to it but still plenty of circulation Via a pump.

What do you think or have I picked that up wrong?


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Dunno if you picked anthing up wrong, it's quite a blog already, didn't read every letter of it yet. And i'm probably not sceintific enough edducated to say he's wrong or contradict any of what he says.. But what i did read, i think he already answered his own question before the started. And that is, we can't fully replicate nature with a closed system as an aquarium. Every natural body has a natural water supply and a drain which never is static. No matter where it comes from it always is depended on it's source which likely is rain etc. and ferts from it's source up the road and what it supplies by itself.

Personaly i have no means to experiment with reduction of water changes.. I rather be safe than sorry when it comes to that and add some ferts if the plants tell me they need it... :)
 
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He seemed to be experimenting how plants would grow with no nitrates and low co2 but using high lighting. As you say streams are fed nutrients from decomposition etc but the plants he was trying were coming from a body of water where there was little co2 and nitrogen but the plants still thrived and tried to replicate this in a tank.
It does look a risky game. It went on to say that running an abundance of ferts puts a tank in eutrophic mode which algae thrive on whereas using no nitrogen with two thirds coverage of floating plants to suck it out and little biological filtration to rob ammonia that a balance could be found running on just the ammonia which is easier consumed by the plants and keeping the PH low with a little co2 and oak leaves to prevent ammonia toxicity.

Will be interesting to see where it heads, to start with had the usual algae problems but haven't we all. Seems to be clearing up though.

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Tim Harrison

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Yeah, very interesting blog...I've always wondered how it's possible to create an artificial system without injected CO2, and still get similar plant growth to that seen in natural/semi-natural ecosystems. I've noted over the years that Darrel has achieved something similar with his high light, low-energy tanks, which I guess depend on high plant biomass and lean dosing methods.

I've done something similar, with a nutrient rich substrate, and I got fairly rapid growth, but not necessarily as compact as I would have liked. It's worth considering as well that high light can also reduce a plants CO2 compensation point, so that may help.

In my experience, I don't think it's particularly sustainable and the author keeps referring to a potential crash of the system so I'm guessing neither does he, but so far so good. I noticed that after about 3 months different species of algae started to get a hold and I started to loose the battle, but that's without the intervention of SAE and my plant biomass could have been higher which would have made the system much more robust and able to fend off algea...rapid uptake of available nutrients, shading, allelochemicals etc.

I also reckon that tannins, humic substances and DOCs released from soil based substrates and oak leaves are probably great algae inhibitors too and contributors to available CO2. So what he's advocating is entirely possible.

It also set me thinking about the whole oligotrophic vs eutrophic debate as well, and how it often tries to compare nutrient enrichment via organic compounds with that caused by inorganic fertilisers. I've never been convinced it's a very helpful comparison, especially where algae vs plant growth is concerned. One is likely to cause algae the other not so much.
 
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Would be cool to invite this guy to the forum and let him know we are interested in how this goes so we can all follow his work.
 

Daveslaney

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I think in such a system with little or no GH and KH and a PH running below 6 a bio filtration would become redundant anyways? So plant only filtration is the only real option. So this is how the plants would get the nutrients from the water produced by the fauna.
Micros would come from the substrate I guess.
The floaters are not co2 or light limited so they are a safety net as such for a system like this so will draw the nutrients from the water if the submerged plants fail. If you injected co2 into the system to increase the submerged plants growth rate the sumerged plants fert demand would outway that being supplied so extra dosing would be required and this is not the objective.
But as its a closed system with little or no water changes I think the organic waste produced by the plants will lead to algae problems. The only way to dilute this to a managable level and prevent algae in a closed system is with water changes?
This is just my take on it. Very interested to see how it plays out though.
 
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It did point out somewhere how much water changes could be reduced using floaters compared to WC's in a Discus tank. From memory it was 1000x more nitrate removal from the floaters which was compared to very large daily changes to achieve the same reduction using WC method.
 

Tim Harrison

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I think once you've invested enough energy in a system to stabilise it, it can become very robust and self perpetuating, kinda like Mr Latimer’s sealed bottle http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencet...garden-thriving-40-years-fresh-air-water.html.

I've had several high-energy tanks that have gone for months without water changes and gone form strength to strength with pretty much zero algae, they usually have a massive plant biomass by then tho'. Obviously I wouldn't necessarily advocate such laziness...experimentation as a rule:rolleyes:

Way way back in the day, when we didn't know better, my low-energy soil substrate tanks went for many months without water changes (just top ups) or fertz; plants and critters thrived, and again no algae to speak of despite a very nice build up of mulm.

But the common route to success is massive plant biomass, with floating plants or floating/emergent leaves.
 
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Maybe just me but I find that water changes aren't as important as filter and pipe cleaning although they do go hand in glove I suppose. Algae in my tank seem to get more of a foot hold when either are dirty and over due a clean whereas when they are both recently cleaned I can go a lot longer without a change if needs be. Pipes and filters are two biggest offenders when it comes to pumping crap into the tank. More than fish and plant waste I would say.
 

Daveslaney

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With no bio filtration nitrate production would be reduced also? As this is the end product of the filtration process.
Totally agree about the filter cleaning. Used to leave mine ages before cleaning so as not to disturb the bio media.Do mine monthly now. If you think about it pumping water through dirty media at say 10 times a hour has got to increase the organics in the water column.
Your plants can handle your bio filtration anyways;).
 
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With no bio filtration nitrate production would be reduced also? As this is the end product of the filtration process.

Yeah Dave, seemed to be the idea. The guy was using minimal bio filtration and just enough to push some water about and mechanically polish the water for clarity so it didn't rob the water and convert to nitrogen which he appeared to be trying to avoid.
I really should increase filter changes, WC's aren't that big a pain in a 100 ltr tank but filters are a bit of a ball ache especially when you have glassware. I sort of put them off as long as possible as every time I clean the filter I have this feeling of doom in case anything breaks :D I have spare lilly pipes and I suppose a spare filter wouldn't go a miss. I only change the filter when I know I have plenty of time on my hands which is few and far between in case anything goes wrong. I tend to change them at the weekend so if anything should go wrong you're snookered unless you go and get your pants pulled down by the LFS. Once was doing a filter change on a Sunday night and one of the taps broke :eek: Had to tie it on with wire and wait for a delivery the following week with constant checks for leaks, not nice. Some of the externals for sale in the LFS are a kings ransom. I think the most annoying thing is spares, they tend to cost more than a new unit. I was looking the other day for spares for my Aqua one Aquis 1250 and a spare impeller, sponges and taps actually cost more than I could get a new filter online, they're a bit like printers that way. :)

Note to self, treat myself to a new filter and keep this one I've had for years as a spare ;)

I know when I break down my filter even after a month the crap in there is unbelievable, crap in the tank gets broke down further by our friends the shrimp which break it up into smaller pieces or eat it which the biological process and plants soon take care of but the larger lumps and leaves etc get sucked into the canister and just sit in the bottom of it decomposing away which then just gets pumped straight back into the tank. +1 On filter management as a way of controlling algae. I just wish I practised what I preach. I reckon filters have a maximum they can cope with and after about 2/3 weeks they are at their limit.
 
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dw1305

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Hi all,
It did point out somewhere how much water changes could be reduced using floaters compared to WC's in a Discus tank. From memory it was 1000x more nitrate removal from the floaters which was compared to very large daily changes to achieve the same reduction using WC method.
There is <"scientific research"> on using Eichornia and Pistia to clean up waste water from tanneries, aquaculture, sewage etc., which shows that they are very effective and removing total ammoniacal nitrogen (TAN) etc.
With no bio filtration nitrate production would be reduced also? As this is the end product of the filtration process.
This is really the heart of why plants are so important, if you look at a lot of the adverse comment about plant filtration it is based upon the idea that it is either plants or microbes, but nothing could be further from the truth.

This is why I always specify that it is <"plant/microbe filtration">, they aren't mutually exclusive, they are synergistic. A planted tank has more capacity for biological filtration, because the plants are producing surfaces (particularly in the substrate) which are attractive to biofilms, where microbial nitrification occurs. That is also why I want people to get away from the idea that ammonia controls "cycling", it doesn't, it is oxygen, oxygen is the prime metric in bio-filtration.

When you have plants you have a system with high oxygen levels (plants are massively net oxygen producers) and you have more potential biological filtration.
Totally agree about the filter cleaning. Used to leave mine ages before cleaning so as not to disturb the bio media.Do mine monthly now. If you think about it pumping water through dirty media at say 10 times a hour has got to increase the organics in the water column. Your plants can handle your bio filtration anyways.
I clean my filter when the hoses are dirty as well.

cheers Darrel
 
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alan'67

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Sorry If I have missed the point, or just a bit dim but are you saying Darrel that oxygen is more important than ammonia to the biological bacteria in a canister filter?.
 
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