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I have a 20H, high tech, and now, a 10 gallon which I would like to make according to NPT protocols. I have only cursorily read through Ecology, but am fascinated to make the attempt at an entirely self-sustaining system, in distinction from my 20H. I am very new to the hobby, but have researched quite a bit in my 2 months in. Some early questions.

I plan on using Miracle Gro organic choice for substrate. I can measure them, but is there any reason not to just go with standard, LFS black gravel as a top gravel?

I plan to drive off some NH4 via boiling, or baking. Is there any reason not to "seed" bacteria via Seachem Stability, the 7-day regimen, as directed, to mitigate the "chaos" of fresh submersion? Beyond, anyone with experience as to whether this be effective?

I plan on using the 20H's original kit light/hood for lighting, which is a 15W cool white light. I plan on utilizing some floating flora and a good many emergent plants (e.g., dwarf lily). It isn't possible for me to locate the tank facing a window, much less a south-facing window. Is this adequate light?

Fascinating. Thanks to Ms. Walstad for her book, and for moderating this sub-forum.

Thanks,

Paul
 

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Welcome to the Forum!

The LFS gravel should be fine; its the soil that really matters.

I wouldn't boil anything. You'll just kill the bacteria. Just remember that the soil itself (especially Organic Choice) is probably filled with bacteria of all kinds. This would include beneficial nitrifiers, denitrifiers, etc. Adding the Seachem additive probably wouldn't hurt anything, but I don't think its necessary.

Your challenge is always to get the plants growing well those first few weeks before the soil chaos starts releasing nutrients into the water. Soil doesn't really start releasing nutrients into the water until 3-4 weeks after being submerged (my book, Fig VIII-6, p 131). If your plants "take hold" and grow well those first couple weeks, the soil chaos won't matter that much.

I used the Organic Choice Soil for my 55 gal. Plants grow very well in it, but I had a wee bit more algae growth than with Home Depot's generic top soil. Could be due to this tank's unique ecosystem, as the same soil gave me no problems in another tank.

The 15 watt cool-white should be adequate for your 10 gal.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Welcome to the Forum!

The LFS gravel should be fine; its the soil that really matters.

I wouldn't boil anything. You'll just kill the bacteria. Just remember that the soil itself (especially Organic Choice) is probably filled with bacteria of all kinds. This would include beneficial nitrifiers, denitrifiers, etc. Adding the Seachem additive probably wouldn't hurt anything, but I don't think its necessary.

Your challenge is always to get the plants growing well those first few weeks before the soil chaos starts releasing nutrients into the water. Soil doesn't really start releasing nutrients into the water until 3-4 weeks after being submerged (my book, Fig VIII-6, p 131). If your plants "take hold" and grow well those first couple weeks, the soil chaos won't matter that much.

I used the Organic Choice Soil for my 55 gal. Plants grow very well in it, but I had a wee bit more algae growth than with Home Depot's generic top soil. Could be due to this tank's unique ecosystem, as the same soil gave me no problems in another tank.

The 15 watt cool-white should be adequate for your 10 gal.
Hi Diana -

Many thanks for the reply. I've decided to mineralize the soil, prior to laying it in, and because of some more or less slapdash planning/timing (and some great deals on plants I really sought), I have many plants coming in quickly, so went with Tom Barr's notion of boiling the soil to oxidize NH4, which I've heard from some folks has yielded good results. I'm hoping to follow your notions forward from there.

One question I had was on the use of bone meal - I cannot locate 0-11-0 bone meal anywhere (indeed, all I can find is 6-9-0; your recommendation for Vigoro is apparently seasonal at Home Depot, at least locally, and I can't track it down elsewhere), so I was thinking of the idea of KH2PO4, but had some concerns regarding mobility and bioavailability, as in, too much (please see: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/substrate/82527-seeding-mineralized-soil-kh2po4-phosphorus-mobility.html, where I pose some questions.

Basically, curious about laying in some KH2PO4, but have concerns about a massive upfront load of bioavailable phosphorus, as opposed to what I presume is bound, organic phosphorus found in bone meal, prior to phosphate transformation. Your book mentions this lag before leaching into the water column, but does this also hold for inorganic phosphate?

On the lighting, to clarify - this was my 20H kit lighting, but the tank I hope to setup along your regime is a 10 gallon, so - 15W cool white over the 10, would this be adequate? Conversely, I'm looking at Coralife's strip T5, a dual 2x14 - would this be approaching too much, or ideal? (I can move the tank to an eastern window, but that's all we have).

Many thanks, for your thoughts here, and your work generally. I am fascinated by this notion of a biodynamic system, and I'm very grateful to have come across your work.
 

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A teaspoon of KH2PO4 (about 5 g) mixed with your soil is probably more than enough. Your soil is going to have its own phosphate supply. This chemical phosphate will precipitate with iron, calcium, and soil particles, so it may (or may not) stay in the soil layer.

However, obtaining KH2PO4 may be tricky (unless you work in a lab). Honestly, you don't really need to add anything. The Organic Choice is rich enough as it is.

A 15 watt cool-white bulb should work fine over a 10 gal. Remember that the half-life on regular fluorescent bulbs is about 6 months. This is a shallow tank, so 1.5 watts/gal goes a long ways. If light bulb doesn't have a decent reflector, line the fixture with aluminum foil.

Overall, I think you're making your tank setup more difficult than it has to be. There are no guarantees. However, I think that if you use the Organic Choice, enough plants, moderately hardwater, and a brand-new 15 watt bulb, you have a reasonable chance of getting decent plant growth and happy fish.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
OK Diana, thank you. My tap is about 7.5dKH, 6.9dGH - would you recommend any dolomite? (I seem to recall from a comment you made to a New York poster that his water, which is pretty close to ours in Chicago, is close to your supply - but also saw, sorry if I've remembered it wrong, that many tanks under your method go to 18 degrees or so, yes?

I actually have KH2PO4, K2SO4 and NO3 in powder form, because I use them in my 20H, hi-tech setup. But I'd like to try to emulate your environment, so will continue to try to find some Organic Choice.

Many thanks again!

Edit: Don't know what I was thinking - or was just unlucky on my earlier queries...Home Depot very near to us has the Organic Choice Potting Soil, ready to go....off tomorrow to get some. Thanks again, Diana.

A teaspoon of KH2PO4 (about 5 g) mixed with your soil is probably more than enough. Your soil is going to have its own phosphate supply. This chemical phosphate will precipitate with iron, calcium, and soil particles, so it may (or may not) stay in the soil layer.

However, obtaining KH2PO4 may be tricky (unless you work in a lab). Honestly, you don't really need to add anything. The Organic Choice is rich enough as it is.

A 15 watt cool-white bulb should work fine over a 10 gal. Remember that the half-life on regular fluorescent bulbs is about 6 months. This is a shallow tank, so 1.5 watts/gal goes a long ways. If light bulb doesn't have a decent reflector, line the fixture with aluminum foil.

Overall, I think you're making your tank setup more difficult than it has to be. There are no guarantees. However, I think that if you use the Organic Choice, enough plants, moderately hardwater, and a brand-new 15 watt bulb, you have a reasonable chance of getting decent plant growth and happy fish.
 
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