So, I messed up didn't I? - El Natural - Aquatic Plant Central

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El Natural Diana Walstad's low-maintenance, soil-based 'El Natural' method for keeping plants and fish.

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Old 06-12-2020, 06:08 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default So, I messed up didn't I?

Hello, newbie here.

So, I've run dirted nanos before; more specifically three 15Ls (4G) and an 8L (2G). I've basically been making wild guesses when it comes to soil, as I can't find Miracle Grow in Australia. Two went great immediately, the other two had some ugly starts involving a lot of tannins and a lot of diatoms, after which they would clear up and come good. Basically, I thought I had a handle on this ****.

Long story short, I got myself some Big Girl Money. I got myself a Big Girl 130L tank (35G).

I spent....

Some Big Girl money.

Results of said Big Girl Money can be seen in the pictures below.

Soil depth varies from less than an inch of combined soil and cap in the foreground and about 4-5 inches in the back. The soil was marked as not having added ferts or wetting agents. As you can see, I put Big Wood and Big Rocks all through the thing. There's probably barely a few mm of dirt under the rocks themselves, but some there nevertheless. There's vallisneria at the back, four crypt pots, a handful of rotala stems, a pot of lilaeopsis, bolbitis, and a metric load of java fern. The sides and front are a mix of various small swords, monte carlo, and some pogostemon helferi, most of which have since melted into oblivion. On the rocks themselves is a mixture of buce varieties and anubias varieties.

Up and running for two weeks. Ammonia spike down. Onto the nitrite spike. Our water is rainwater with a PH of 7.4, GH 0 KH 0. I threw some of my parrot's shell grit in there which seems to have raised the GH/KH to 4 each.

Lets be honest, most of the side plants have melted. I know they're transitioning, but I don't think that postemon is going to make it... The front is also so awkwardly shallow replanting is a nightmare now that its full.

Essentially, I'm going through my Obligatory Panic Phase, involving doubts about how thin the soil is in the front, how deep it is in the back, how many plants, how few plants, how many deadzones I may have added with all that very pretty, very expensive stone, aaaaaand...

What sort of disaster potential are we looking at here?
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Last edited by Vallisneria; 06-12-2020 at 06:29 AM..
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Old 06-12-2020, 09:37 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: So, I messed up didn't I?

Welcome to APC and don't panic. I love the layout of stones and wood!

You don't have large areas of wood resting on soil that I can see, and that is where the problem starts. It is best if stones do not cover soil at all, but a very thin layer of soil underneath is not terrible.

My biggest concern is the depth of substrate at the back, 4-5" is too deep. Would it be possible to siphon out some of the cap and soil, and then recap the remaining thinner soil layer?

The shallow substrate in the front is very difficult to plant in. But any plants with rhizomes or stolons will spread into it over time and their growth won't be affected much. And you could add half an inch of cap to the front just to make planting easier.

You may need to tinker with the chemistry of your very soft water more, but Diana will know more about that than I do.

I see no certain disasters in your future, LOL.
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