Substrate and ferts

Discussion in 'Aquarium Fert Dosing' started by Vase, 19 Feb 2008.

  1. Vase

    Vase Member

    Messages:
    108
    Location:
    Northants
    Hey,

    I'm going to be setting up my main tank again and I'm currently in the planning stages, buying equipment etc when I have the readies. Its 720 litres and will be housing Discus.
    Heating and filtration sorted. Water will be RO/HMA, lighting is a MH luminaire (x3 150w x2 T8 58w, need help with bulbs - please see here). Pressurised CO2 and ph computer. I wont be getting rid of the halide or ph computer.

    I'll be changing 50% of water a week via two 25% water changes. At the moment I'm looking at substrate and how I'm going to fertilize the set up. I'd like black sand or fine gravel and I don't mind forking out £250 for Eco-complete if its going to be worth it.

    I've read various things about fert dosing but I really don't know what 'system' will be best with this set up. And it does take time to get to grips with it.

    If you guys could tell me what you would do in this situation that would help loads.

    Thanks ;)

    Edit: Whoops, think I put this in the wrong section :oops:
     
  2. George Farmer

    George Farmer Founder Staff Member

    Messages:
    7,089
    Location:
    Cambridgeshire
    If it were me -

    Ferts - EI or PMDD+PO4 with dry ferts

    Substrate - EcoComplete, ADA Aqua Soil, Akadama, or Seachem Flourite Black Sand. I'd like to try out the Seachem stuff sometime myself.
     
  3. sks

    sks Guest

    I can't say ECO complete is worth it, but it works for me. I was about to go with ADA aqua soil but I don't have spare tank to house the fish in for the 4 or so weeks that ADA takes to settle, leaching ammonia in the process (which is why your fish should be out of the way).

    Use the pH computer to monitor the pH level. You probably want to use it to control your CO2 because you think your discus is quite sensitive to pH changes in the tank water, is that correct? I'm sure there are people who run the drop checker and constant bubbles per minute control with discus without any problems.
     
  4. Themuleous

    Themuleous Member

    Messages:
    4,126
    Location:
    Aston, Oxfordshire
    If it were me and I def wanted the black look Id get EC, its a great substrate. The only down side, and this might be an issue with the discus, is that it does buffer the water a bit, i.e. raise the GH and KH, mine went to GH 7 and KH 5 even when using RO but it does stop after a while. I'm def going to try akadama at some stage as it looks to be a great substrate and much cheaper then other complete substrates.

    If you are going to be doing a 50% water change each week you might as well do EI. Then you are pretty much guaranteed to be given the plants sufficient ferts. In a tank that size you dont want to be doing a complete strip down due to an algae out break the cause of which was poor plant growth.

    Sam
     
  5. Vase

    Vase Member

    Messages:
    108
    Location:
    Northants
    Kind of. I'd be happy to use it for ph monitoring and not CO2 control providing that the CO2 wouldn't cause fluctuations in the ph, especially at night. Discus aren't really that bothered what the ph is as long as its stable. I figured that by setting the computer at a ph slightly lower than what I wanted would mean it would not only ensure the right levels of CO2 but cut it off if the ph tried to go silly. I can set the hysteris on mine quite accuratly so it wouldnt need to fluctuate a lot for it to kick in.
    If that makes sense. The solonoid plugs into the plug of the controller so I could remove the solonoid plug from that and plug it into a timer instead.

    I really like the look of it too, its just a shame about the price. Although ebay would be cheaper than AE. To be honest even if the Gh/Kh does go up to that level, or higher it will still be better than my tap water. The last time I tested that the Gh was at least 14. My RO unit has a DI on it so no TDS for me :D

    I've looked at the 'clay' substrates, I do quite like them. If I was to go the EI route would this affect my choice of substrate? Or, should it affect my choice of substrate?
     
  6. George Farmer

    George Farmer Founder Staff Member

    Messages:
    7,089
    Location:
    Cambridgeshire
    EI means that the nutrients last longer in the substrate as the plants obtain many from the water column. A nutrient-rich substrate give you more room for error if you 'underdose'. This is why ADA followers don't need to dose much NP to the water, as Aqua Soil, Power Sand is uber-rich.

    If you do go "full EI" you need to ensure you are very heavily planted with bang-on stable 30ppm CO2. This is why some folk go for the leaner PMDD+PO4, as CO2 can be lower with less risk of algae. Growth is more managable too, something worth considering when maintaining a 720 litre.
     
  7. Vase

    Vase Member

    Messages:
    108
    Location:
    Northants
    Thanks George. I'm pretty sure I read something about that method on here somewhere. I'll go find it and see if I understand it :wideyed:

    The problems I had with this tank before were circulation problems and algae. Mainly cyano. That should be sorted this time round but I dont want to risk any algae.

    With the method you suggested would I still do everything else the same in regard to water changes etc? Just the method of dosing would be different and I'm guessing the ferts used also?

    ;)
     
  8. Martin

    Martin Member

    Messages:
    125
    Location:
    North Wales
    Sorry to butt into your thread Vase, but was just wondering , how long is eco complete good for? do the nutrients within the substrate eventually deplete over time? Likewise ADA Aquasoil and Akadama.
     
  9. Vase

    Vase Member

    Messages:
    108
    Location:
    Northants
    Nah, you dip you bread mate, its all good info :D
     
  10. Garuf

    Garuf Member

    Messages:
    4,959
    Location:
    Leeds.
    It all depends on which ADA aquasoil and what plants, I'm lead to believe its around 12 months for amazonia.
    Akadama is inert I believe but is really good at storing nutrients making it rechargeable.
     
  11. Ed Seeley

    Ed Seeley Member

    Messages:
    3,262
    Location:
    Nottingham
    Some guys on APC have their Aquasoil tanks set up for years and the plant growth is amazing. They are adding more ferts though I imagine after a year or so as the ADA range uses stronger micro nutrient ferts as time passes.

    pH changes caused by CO2 don't seem to effect fish. I have had tanks with 30ppm CO2 during the day and then no CO2 at night. This should cause a pH shift of about 1 yet I have spawned wild Apistos, Nanochromis and various killies under these conditions. IMHO, you'd be best to set the CO2 level by using a drop checker and then just have the solenoid kicking in to turn it off at night. I also use pure RO water and have never had problems despite the low pH and hardness.
     
  12. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,952
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Hi,
    I'm not sure whether I've been looking at my substrate for too long or whether it's a case of the neighbors lawn looks greener than mine but I have a combination of EcoComplete topped with ADA Amazonia and you, know what? The black substrate has lost it's thrill. Maybe because it tends to turn gray under certain lighting or because light colored debris tends to make it look dirty. Maybe some of the other black substrates will look "cleaner" or more crystalline. A really dramatic substrate color I'm thinking now is the clay or brown/tan like Akadama or AS Aficana or Malaya. It's all personal taste though and perhaps some find the browns garish. :rolleyes:

    In either case get whatever substrate you think you want to pay for and look at (that's really the most important thing). If you dose the Estimative Index (EI) method it won't matter what substrate you get or for how long you have it because your plants will feed primarily from the water column. As stated, a rich soil like AS or Ecocomplete or anything on this page is always better than a non-enriched substrate like sand but if your water dosing is up to par then really it won't matter all that much. http://www.aquaessentials.co.uk/index.p ... 6c4e6e55a8

    Have you thought about filtration :?: :idea: Big tanks need big flow, especially if you intend to use Las Vegas level mega-lighting. Does a 7000 liter per hour filter rating sound like the ideas of an extremist? Yes, Probably...:wideyed:

    Did I mention big tanks have a problem with flow and CO2? Think about how you want to get CO2 into the tank. Think about the capacity of the CO2 bottles you'll need.

    Cheers,
     
  13. Vase

    Vase Member

    Messages:
    108
    Location:
    Northants
    So would the PMDD+PO4 method work well enough with Akadama for example? Would it be better to add some kind of substrate ferts or would they not be needed with the above method?

    I like the idea of the EI method but I'm not convinced I could keep the CO2 bang on and I dont want algae.
    I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that you could use Tropica's ferts along with PMDD+PO4 but I've read so much my brain seems to have fried :wideyed:
     
  14. john starkey

    john starkey Member

    Messages:
    1,593
    Location:
    worcester
    substrates

    Hi Vase, i have been using ec for the last six months and everything i have planted just seems to grow very well i also use ei and it seems to work for me by the same token i dont dose any po4 as worcester tap water contains over 5 ppm of po4,as for the life span of ec i am lead to believe it lasts between three to four yours, for the best results i cannot express how important it is to keep up with good husbandry it can sometimes be tedious but long term the look of your setup will benefit, regards john
     
  15. Vase

    Vase Member

    Messages:
    108
    Location:
    Northants
    Hey John,

    I'll be using RO/HMA mix for my Discus as my tapwater is cack. I'm guessing I'd need to add PO4 because of this.

    The more I read the more confused I'm getting :?
     
  16. TDI-line

    TDI-line Member

    Messages:
    1,535
    Location:
    Yaxley, Peterborough
    Where are you located Vase?
     
  17. Vase

    Vase Member

    Messages:
    108
    Location:
    Northants
    Kettering, Northants
     
  18. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,952
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Vase,
    As I stated before, CO2 is s big problem regardless of what dosing scheme you use. After you have experience with your tank and are familiar with your particular configuration you can start to make adjustments with the dosing. To avoid confusion it's always better to start with an EI scheme, get accustomed to the dosing and make adjustments from there.

    For 720L the following is a baseline EI dosing program (this is assuming your lighting will be equal to or greater than around 350 watts T5 or Halide):

    3X per week 2.5 teaspoons KNO3
    3X per week 1/2 teaspoon KH2PO4
    2X per week 1 teaspoon CSM+B or 50ml Tropica Plant Nutrition
    1X per week 2-3 teaspoons MgSO4

    50% water change per week. If you decide to use AS you would change water more frequently.

    You also need to have as many plants as possible in the tank from the start. It doesn't matter if you like them or not. Get as many of the the cheapest, fastest growing plants possible - Hygrophilas (are particularly good), Wisteria, Echinodorus, Cabomba etc. After a few months you can start to remove what you don't like and install those that you do like but the high biomass in the beginning will help to stabilize the tank.

    Initially, dose the above quantities regardless of what your water report says or what your test kits say. I would advise to not worry about what nutrient can be deleted yet because no one else has your particular combination of water or configuration or fish etc. Use this pattern as a road map from which you can deviate later if required. You may find that you need to increase PO4 or that you can get away with decreasing NO3, or whatever. You'll no doubt discover that later as you become more familiar with your tank, but you must have a baseline reference from which to work.

    If you check the Tutorial Forum you'll find a sticky article regarding CO2 and it's measurement.

    Cheers,
     
  19. Vase

    Vase Member

    Messages:
    108
    Location:
    Northants
    Thanks Ceg thats exactly what I was after :p

    Could I do two water changes with that system? 25% each. If yes when would be best?

    Sorry for all the questions
     
  20. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,952
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Hi,
    Yes, sure, but it depends on how often you do them. Let's think about why we are doing a water change. There is another sticky thread in the Algae forum where water changes are discussed in great detail. Water change accomplishes the following:

    1. Removes and lowers the concentration of ammonia from the tank.
    2. Removes detritus and organic waste (which produce ammonia) from the tank.
    3. Removes algal spores from the tank.

    Ammonia is closely linked to algae in a planted tank. In fact, there is empirical evidence that ammonia is a prime causal factor in the development of alga blooms.

    Ammonia, organic waste and algal spores are continually being produced in the tank at all times. If we do a 50% water change we immediately reduce the content and/or concentration of these undesirable items by 50% so that dividing your changes is a mathematical exercise or a race in how quickly these products can rebuild their levels.

    Organic waste is a real enemy so you decide how often and how much water you need to replace to keep the concentration of these products at bay.

    Also remember that every time you do a water change you are also removing nutrients so you'll have to re-dose after you replace the water so you need to figure out how much to re-dose. If you intend to do two 25% changes per week then I reckon it's better to do them on the days that you would have dosed the macros. That way no fractional dosing calculation is necessary, dose the full amount. :D

    Cheers,
     

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