Low maintainence, long term sustrate

Discussion in 'Substrates' started by idris, 16 Jan 2011.

  1. idris

    idris Member

    Joined:
    3 Jan 2011
    Messages:
    673
    Location:
    Herts
    My new tank will be low-ish tech. It's deep (2'6"), lighting will initially be about 1.5 W/gal and It may eventually have preasurised CO2. (These are decisions that are, for the moment, too late to change.)

    My goal for a relatively low maintainence tank and I'd rather not be replacing substrate in a year when nutrients have run out. And I'd rather not have to go through high volume water changes that seem to be needed for EI. From my reading it sounds like akadama may be a good bet if I use decent fertilisers. But is it good for a long term set-up?
     
  2. mdhardy01

    mdhardy01 Member

    Joined:
    9 Dec 2009
    Messages:
    546
    Location:
    essex
    You could just use an inert substrate with something like the tropica
    As a base layer under it ? This contains some micro nutrients but has
    A fairly good cec so will absorb nutrients and store them from the
    Water column ?
    Quite a few members use this method with good results including myself
    With the depth of tour tank you might have difficulty with some plants
    As you would need very high lighting for that depth and not having
    Co2 will just encourage algae. You could look at going lower light low tech
    With plants like java fern, crypts and anubias which grow well
    in lower light situations then you wouldn't have to worry too much about
    co2
    Have a look at the low tech section of the forum for more info
    Matt
     
  3. dw1305

    dw1305 Expert

    Joined:
    7 Apr 2008
    Messages:
    9,223
    Location:
    nr Bath
    Hi all,
    &
    Yes, I think any substrate with a good CEC will do the job. I don't think any of the nutrient rich substrates (or Osmocote) will work over long time scales.

    The only way to have a substrate that continues to provide nutrients over a time scale greater than about 12 months, would be to have a fairly deep substrate that was rich in clays and organically bound nutrients (probably in the form of persistent leaf litter).

    In a deep substrate of this type (one with a high "Redox potential") you may get localised areas which are de-oxygenated, and in which the the reduction ("Red") reactions that make a lot of micro-nutrients available occur. You would also get the aerobic breakdown (oxidation ("ox")) of the humus liberating nutrients.

    The down side of this would be that it wouldn't be a system where you had much control, and you would have initial high levels of ammonia, and continuing high levels of DOC.

    cheers Darrel
     
  4. idris

    idris Member

    Joined:
    3 Jan 2011
    Messages:
    673
    Location:
    Herts
    Matt - low light plants (like those you mention) are top of my list. Certainly for the short term. The plan is that if the plants struggle I shall look at adding CO2.
    I'm aware that the height ofthe tank may give me issues, but I went for max volume before I'd considered plants. Oh well. Adding more light will be complicated, but so will explaining why.

    Darrel - How deep is deep? (I think I've got room for about 40cm ;) )
    Probably a daft question, but what do you mean by "persistand leaf litter"? Adding leaves to the tank, allowing dead leaves from tank plant to rot down, or something else?
    What "control" would be lacking with a deep, clay based substrate?
    as for initial ammonia levels, I'd read elsewhere that this could be a good thing as it helped the cycling process.
    (And for the record, you lost me a bit on the 3rd paragraph ... but thanks anyway :) )
     
  5. mdhardy01

    mdhardy01 Member

    Joined:
    9 Dec 2009
    Messages:
    546
    Location:
    essex
    I think as long as you stick with the low light plants your lighting
    should be fine it's only if you wanted to grow more demanding plants
    like glosso or hc ( carpeting plants) that you would need to think about
    upping the lighting
    As long as your flow and distribution are good you should have no problems
    just remember that adding co2 will drive the plants to uptake more nutrients
    If you keep to low tech low light growth is slower but there is less nutrient demand
    Matt
     
  6. mdhardy01

    mdhardy01 Member

    Joined:
    9 Dec 2009
    Messages:
    546
    Location:
    essex
    P.S
    You might want to think about getting a long pair of tweezers and scissors
    For planting and plant maitenance otherwise a snorkel and mask might be needed on a 30 inch deep tank
    :lol: :lol: :lol:
     
  7. dw1305

    dw1305 Expert

    Joined:
    7 Apr 2008
    Messages:
    9,223
    Location:
    nr Bath
    Hi all,
    Persistent leaf litter would be leaves like Oak and Beech (or their leaf litter), where they have a lot of structural carbohydrates, which don't degrade very quickly.

    Deep would depend upon a sorts of factors. I've tried to find a better description, that will explain the processes that will happen in a deep relatively undisturbed substrate. <http://www.woodrow.org/teachers/esi/1999/princeton/projects/microbe/win_col.html>.

    The control issue is just that you won't be able to add or turn off the nutrient supply very easily, think of it like cooking on an "Aga", rather than a gas powered cooker.

    cheers Darrel
     
  8. idris

    idris Member

    Joined:
    3 Jan 2011
    Messages:
    673
    Location:
    Herts
    Thanks guys.

    Matt - I was expecting to buy some Rena clip/scissors http://www.seapets.co.uk/products/a...pers/rena-long-handled-clip-and-scissors.html .. but do you think I could use a toddler instead?

    Darrel - So is putting oak leaves into the tank any better than liquid ferts?
    I read that page, but TBH it was all getting a bit sciency. I understand you're going to get strata, but I confess I didn't really get a sense of how deep "deep" actually is. 1"? 3"? 6"?
    As for control, I may be missing something fundamental, but unless you're going for EI, do you really have any real level of control?
     
  9. Radik

    Radik Member

    Joined:
    26 Oct 2010
    Messages:
    588
    Location:
    London
    Idris check out this topic in events section XV-th Meeting of Water Plant Lovers Club in Wroclaw (Poland), there is mentioned what substrate they are using and they rate it as low maintenance. It is a bit work but close to mineralized top soil which you can google how to. It suppose to offer long term fertilization low maintenance. Cheers
     
  10. dw1305

    dw1305 Expert

    Joined:
    7 Apr 2008
    Messages:
    9,223
    Location:
    nr Bath
    Hi all,
    No, definitely not liquid fertilisers would allow you to deliver exactly the amount of nutrients that you want, when you want them. I like a few leaves in the tank as these provide surfaces for biofilm to develop on and feed shrimps, fry, Otocinclus etc.
    I think anything over 6" is a deep substrate.
    This is an interesting question, it really depends how you define "control". I would say I have a pretty good idea of the nutrient status of my tanks (all low tech., no CO2) mainly because I am managing them to be nutrient deficient. My aim is to keep the level of all nutrients low, but not so low that the level of nutrient deficiency will stop plant growth all together. Realistically my tanks are always nitrogen deficient, and probably deficient in P, K, Mg (and possibly Fe) as well.

    For when to feed I use a combination of the "duckweed index", and measuring the conductivity. I aim to keep the conductivity in the 100 - 150 microS region and when the Limnobium looks like the plant in the bottom left hand corner of the image I feed with KNO3 (to give 2ppm K). If this doesn't produce a rapid greening, I then add macro / micro elements. Subsequently I change the water to achieve my preferred conductivity and then only feed again when the "duckweed" index indicates I need to. All the Limnobium plants in the image are deficient in at least one nutrient.

    limnobium.jpg .

    Although I trained as a botanist, and plants have been a life long passion, my primary reason for having them in the tanks is to help with the maintenance of water quality. My suspicion would be that these are very different methods and aims from the majority of the members of this forum.

    cheers Darrel
     
    Akwaskape and Richardbunting like this.
  11. idris

    idris Member

    Joined:
    3 Jan 2011
    Messages:
    673
    Location:
    Herts
    I was being ironic with 6" but that's food for thought. (It'll bring my plants closer to the lights if nothing else!)
    Based on my previous tanks I don't expect the Algae Crew to go hungry if I don't add leaves :lol:
    Having battled with Duckweed in our pond for some years I may look for another index ;)
    Your goals are little different from mine (But I suspect that goes for many on this forum). I'm after lots of healthy, vibrant plants in my fish tank ... as opposed to fish in healthy, vibrant my plant tank :oops:
     
  12. mdhardy01

    mdhardy01 Member

    Joined:
    9 Dec 2009
    Messages:
    546
    Location:
    essex
  13. hogan53

    hogan53 Global Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    14 Dec 2008
    Messages:
    4,131
    Location:
    Hemel Hempstead
    Hi Darrel
    Can you give us a run down on the deficiencies as per photo.
    Limnobium plants in the image are deficient in at least one nutrient.
    Cheers
    hoggie
     
  14. dw1305

    dw1305 Expert

    Joined:
    7 Apr 2008
    Messages:
    9,223
    Location:
    nr Bath
    Hi all,
    Not really with any certainty, in any system one resource is likely to be be limiting.

    You can think of it like a production line, the productivity is governed by the time taken for the slowest component to be added. Here productivity is limited by the availability of the ions, if K+ ions are limiting growth, adding more Mg2+ ions isn't going to make things happen any quicker. I chose a floating plant, with access to aerial CO2, to remove carbon from the equation.

    This is just guess work, but here goes.

    All the plants are almost certainly growth limited by nitrogen availability, and probably by potassium as well, low amounts of both of these nutrients cause chlorosis (the pale green colour). These 2 macro-nutrients are needed in the largest amounts by the plant. Although we talk about N P K as the macro-nutrients, plants need much less phosphorus (P).

    This is why I would add KNO3 in the first instance, actually NH3NO3 & KNO3 would be my first choice in a tank with no livestock present. I would expect these to have a very quick greening response. If the plants didn't respond, you could add in one nutrient at a time, starting with phosphorus, magnesium (Mg) etc., but at this point it is easier to add an "all in one" solution.

    cheers Darrel
     
  15. hogan53

    hogan53 Global Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    14 Dec 2008
    Messages:
    4,131
    Location:
    Hemel Hempstead
    Cheers Darrel
    The plant in the bottom right has green markings on the surface....is this a normal growing phenomena or does it have a deficiency of some sort?
    I have similar markings on the on some of the plants you sent me.
    hoggie
     
  16. dw1305

    dw1305 Expert

    Joined:
    7 Apr 2008
    Messages:
    9,223
    Location:
    nr Bath
    Hi all,
    I think it is caused by high light levels and possibly cooler temperatures, if you ramp up the light high enough the marks will become red in colour. The plants that I put on the pond for the summer end up with real red tiger stripes.

    I've got some that have over-wintered in the glasshouse at the moment, I'll scan a couple tomorrow because they are morphologically quite interesting.

    cheers Darrel
     
  17. hogan53

    hogan53 Global Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    14 Dec 2008
    Messages:
    4,131
    Location:
    Hemel Hempstead
    Hi Darrel
    You maybe right there....will try to get the temp up, I'm having a problem with flow and low temperature near the substrate.
    I think the inlet tube is gunged up a bit although i just connected this filter up a few weeks ago after a re-scape.I will be moving this aquarium anyway so its not a priority.
    Cheers
    hoggie
     
  18. plantbrain

    plantbrain Expert

    Joined:
    2 Aug 2007
    Messages:
    1,946
    I do a similar thing with Penny wort on my own non CO2, Duckweed makes a good model as well, a number of commercial growers use their duckweed as a Nitrogen indicator.
     
  19. Tim Harrison

    Tim Harrison Global Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    5 Nov 2011
    Messages:
    7,178
    Location:
    Leicester
    I'm late joining this discussion so getting back on to the original topic for a moment, I have had very long term success with about 3 cm or so of moss peat, aquatic compost and a mixture of the two; all have a very high CEC.

    Providing your cap of sand is of a thickness (about 3cm) and grade (around 3mm) that allows adequate water movement and nutrient transference your soil substrate should retain enough nutrients to keep your plants happy almost indefinitely, providing it has a high CEC and especially if you dose with additional ferts (a fraction of full EI is often sufficient); follow the link below, it's all there in the tutorial.

    As for the "duckweed index", I also think that it is a good indicator of nutrient status particularly since it reacts comparatively rapidly to any deficiencies. I have also used Limnobium laevigatum, and Salvinia auriclata to similar effect, since they respond in a similar manor.
     
  20. jack-rythm

    jack-rythm Member

    Joined:
    21 Jul 2012
    Messages:
    1,551
    Location:
    Ashburton, Devon
    What does this "CEC" phrase mean?
     

Share This Page

Facebook Page
Twitter Page
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice