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Discussion Starter · #41 ·
People add soil to the tank simply to add nutrients the plants need. However you are adding fertilizer. The fertilizer should take care of nutrients unless there is a problem We all would like to assume that all fertilizers on the market will provide all the nutrients plants need. Unfortunately the reality is the most don't

For EI dosing Everyone doses NPK for macros Unfortunately NPK are not the only macros. The full list of macros is N, K, Ca, MG, P, S, Most people don't worry about calcium and magneisum and sulfur simply because most of the time tap water it. But that isn't always the case. And if you are using RO water your tank would definitely be deficient in these.

You should monitor your GH level with a GH test kit. The GH test detects only calcium and magnesium. So it could tell you if you have ea lot or very little. But note it doesn't tell you if your water has only calcium or only magnesium. If possible look up your water utility water quality report. It might list the typical values for Ca and Mg in your water.Or you could get a GH booster from the store and boost your GH to see if it helps. Seachem Equilibrium has Ca, Mg, and S and would satisfy that need. Or you can make your own.

For the EI micros most people use CSM+B. Everyone assumes it takes care of all of the macro needs but again it has some of problems:
  • The big issue is that the iron nutrient in it is Iron EDTA. Iron EDTA is only stable at a PH of 6.5 or less. Ifyour PH is above that level the iron will convert to iron oxide which is unusable by plants.
  • It doesn't contain enough zinc to satisfy the needs of the plants.
  • And you are using RO water it doesn't have chlorine. Yes Chlorine is a nutrient but plants can't use it in it's toxic and corrosive gas form. Plants typically get it from safe chloride salts such as calcium chloride, potassium chloride, sodium chloride, or magnesium chloride. Tap water is typically sterilized with chlorine. And even after using a water conditioner the chlorine is still pressent in the form of chloride salts the plants can use.
For most successful EI tanks enough CO2 is added to keep the PH in the low 6 to 6.5 range. which does help prevent iron loss. But the easier solution is to use a form of iron that is stable at your water PH. One of the best iron nutrients for aquariums is Iron DTPA. It is stable at a ph of 7.5 or less but may be usable up to about 8. Iron gluconate is easy to find (Seachem iron uses it) and PH has no effect on it. but it is best used in frequent small doses because bacteria will consume the gluconate and destroy it. The last choice is iron EDHHA with is stable at a PH of about 10 or less. However this for of iron does color the water red. so it is best used in small amounts when the color might not be noticeable. At a dose of 0.03ppm the color might not be noticalble.

GLA now sells a upgraded CSM+B iron mix that now does incorporate iron DTPA and additional zinc.IF you are using tapster you shouldn't have to worry about Chlorine as long as you do weekly water changes.

As to liquid carbon I never saw anything indicating it helped my plants and in fact it is toxic to some. If you have a paint ball tank You could use the inverted bottle methode to get CO2 into your water. This video shows it. It is much more efficient at getting CO2 into the water and you cannot put too much into your tank which can kill fish. Note drop checkers don't work at the low CO2 level this methode provides in the tank. But dispite that my plant still do pearl slowly.

Also note I only dose macros and micros once a week right after a 50% water change in my 5 gallon srimp tank. i think the the every other day recommendation for micro dosing was done due torn losses and the low level is zinc in regular EI micro mixes. Also I don't use bright light.

If any of the issues I have mentioned apply to your tank mixing them should help your plants without the need of adding soil to your tank.
Intreasting info but i think your missing the point a bit on why i or other people go to dirtied tanks. I started exploring this method because i didnt want to drop a couple hundred on a co2 setup. People add dirt to tanks in order to create and explore a more natural ecosystem within their tanks, which is what i want. Dianas book is a absolute monster to get through but is very imformative for anyone who actually wants to learn the why and how behind the functions and ecology of a at home aquarium. I dont want to have to micro manage my aquariums because i essentially cut out the the natural functions in favor of added mechanics. Its not to say that i at some point wont try a full co2 setup with the ferts etc, but right now i dont have the space or ability to affored all those addatives.
 

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Discussion Starter · #42 ·
Not sure exactly what your experimental setup looks like...did you settle on a bowl/tank to use?

But for my new bowl experiment I bought a $10 lamp from Target and just put a bog standard LED bulb (same ones I use for all my house lights) in it and...well everything seems to be growing fine lol. Eventually I want to swap it out for a cooler color bulb because I believe that range of light is better for the plants. But I've not been too motivated to do so since everything is working out fine for now. So especially for a smaller setup I think you can get away with a lot less than $80 for lighting.
What wattage do you use? I know Dianna talked about cool white LED bulbs working well, i just always look immediatly look at actual aquarium lights. I have not picked up a bowl yet from Micheals they were out of the largest size last i was their, so as it stands right now i still need both a boel/aquarium 3 or 5 gals and a light. Ive been caught ip in other outdoor projects that are on a weather time crunch so i havent gone much further besides tajing notes from Dianas book. I still almost feel that I should set up this prastice tank first before i upend my bettas home. But of course anything i do that is successful in the test tank probably wont be exactly repliacted in the spec tank.
Thanks for the vote for a regular old lamp lol those i know i can find on the cheap.
 

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What wattage do you use? I know Dianna talked about cool white LED bulbs working well, i just always look immediatly look at actual aquarium lights.
6.5W looks like. I didn't check before using it though.

Plants are growing fine, especially the floaters. But I'd like to get a cooler bulb at some point just to improve the aesthetic...everything looks a bit yellow with this bulb.
 

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everything looks a bit yellow with this bulb.
See, I always thought yellow=warm=fuller color spectrum. But, I have no science to back that up. And, you're right, it's really easy to swap out bulbs, if you don't think a particular one is doing the trick, especially for a 3-5 gallon bowl.
 

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See, I always thought yellow=warm=fuller color spectrum. But, I have no science to back that up. And, you're right, it's really easy to swap out bulbs, if you don't think a particular one is doing the trick, especially for a 3-5 gallon bowl.
I think scientifically, full-spectrum light is white...all the colors mixed together makes white...or so I recall from my 8th grade science class. I know our sun is actually more on the yellow side, hence why indoor lighting tends to be warmer - because humans are more comfortable with light that matches our sun.

I can never remember what spectrum plants like. I think they ideally want more red+blue light maybe? But also, most of the plants we grow in NPTs are adapted to low-light scenarios and aren't super picky about what they'll take.
 

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Discussion Starter · #46 ·
I think scientifically, full-spectrum light is white...all the colors mixed together makes white...or so I recall from my 8th grade science class. I know our sun is actually more on the yellow side, hence why indoor lighting tends to be warmer - because humans are more comfortable with light that matches our sun.

I can never remember what spectrum plants like. I think they ideally want more red+blue light maybe? But also, most of the plants we grow in NPTs are adapted to low-light scenarios and aren't super picky about what they'll take.
Thanks for the info ans the photo ill look into doing that for a second tank. Today its raining buckets so im taking the plunge to swap the Spec over to soil. Hopefully Captian wont mind hanging out in a small bowl for a couple of weeks and hopefully nothing blows up in my face during my swap. Ill post pics on here i think.
 

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Discussion Starter · #47 ·
Water Plant Vertebrate Light Fish supply

Got everything swapped over late last night. Should have taken photos of the plants that i pulled out but totally forgot. The crypts had some great roots on them some were almost 5 in long.
Mixed the mineralized compost 50/50 with play sand. I wasnt sure how to go about capping the soil. Do i put in plants then cap or cap then add plants.
So tried a bit of both not too sure which worked better. Kind of varied depending on the pant i was working with. The crypts with the super long roots worked better planted uncapped while the sty. repens worked fine with the gravel cap.
I used the Rio Grande caribsea which says its gravel size is 0.3-0.5 mm.
The soil is between 1/2 and 3/4 deep and the gravel cap brings it up to substrate depth of 1 in. I dont know uf i need more gravel, i know most people have about 1in of cap but that seemed a bit excessive to me in such a small tank. If anyone has in thoughts that'ed be great.

I dint currently have any decent rocks in the hardscape. I want to go look for something thats tall and narrow. All the rocks i had were taking up toi much substrate space.
So got everything scaped added water and promptly decided i didn't like the big w. bronze crypty in the corner and that it needed to be swapped with nurii phang mutated that was under the driftwood. So that was a absolute mess to try and move around.
Any tips on how to move plants around would be appreciated.
Very cloudy last night ill take a new pic once the light kicks on this am with a current plant list.
Oh and Captian Pan is very unhappily swimming around a large vase temporally.
 

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Get ready for more substrate disturbance because rocks and other ornaments should be touching the bottom glass in order to prevent anaerobic conditions from happening.
 

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Discussion Starter · #49 ·
Get ready for more substrate disturbance because rocks and other ornaments should be touching the bottom glass in order to prevent anaerobic conditions from happening.
Ugh ill have to check to make sure that the drift wood is touching the bottom i cant remember if i made sure it was. Thanks for heads up. I have no clue how people keep the soil and gravel from mixing and keeping everythimg clean looking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #50 ·
Water Plant Light Green Fish supply

Heres the tank this am. Made sure the drift wood was touching the bottom.
Current plant list
  • crypt w. Bronze, Green Gecko, Nurii Phang mutated
  • buce Sylvia, Kaang and i other
  • Sty. Repens
  • Star grass
  • rotala H'ra doing very poorly
  • micro sword
  • one stem of a differeny repens i belive anda small piece of trip. japan amd pearl weed.
I think i need a tall plant of some sort in the back..... not sure used to have ludwigia lacustris it and rotala h'ra had done well for me in the past.
 

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I have no clue how people keep the soil and gravel from mixing and keeping everything clean looking.
Believe me, they don't. Just have faith that most soil is heavier than water and will settle down eventually. Your tank already looks quite attractive btw. Looking forward to seeing some plant growth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #53 ·
How about a Red Ozelot Swordplant? It is a good grower and magnificent plant.
That would be nice and would add a pop of color from the greens and crypts.
Would it size ok to the Spec III?
My LFS has some nice swords i think they might have had that one but im not sure. I know they had some very nice kleiner prinz swords 1 corkscrew sword, and i cant remember what else. Ill have to go look tomorrow.
Thanks for the suggestion
 

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Discussion Starter · #54 ·
Water Light Plant Pet supply Organism

Checked water last night. Ammonia was between 0.25-0.50.
Nitrites and nitrates were nonexistant as expected.
So looks like ill be going through a tank cycle. It will intreasting to see how quickly it progresses considering the filtee is established and the gravel is from the pre soil setup.
Did a 50% water change and the sol is clraring up. Not long considering ill be going to my LFS for a sword plant on monday.
Ill check the water again this evening and probably do another water change.
If im able to pick up a sword ill put it in the back left corner and move the crypt thats curently their foreward.
Also wonderinv if i need to find a more unique piece of driftwood. Dont know if this the case for other people but i had a hell of a time finding a small enough piece that was still servisable.
 

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View attachment 73969
Checked water last night. Ammonia was between 0.25-0.50.
Nitrites and nitrates were nonexistant as expected.
So looks like ill be going through a tank cycle. It will intreasting to see how quickly it progresses considering the filtee is established and the gravel is from the pre soil setup.
Did a 50% water change and the sol is clraring up. Not long considering ill be going to my LFS for a sword plant on monday.
Ill check the water again this evening and probably do another water change.
If im able to pick up a sword ill put it in the back left corner and move the crypt thats curently their foreward.
Also wonderinv if i need to find a more unique piece of driftwood. Dont know if this the case for other people but i had a hell of a time finding a small enough piece that was still servisable.
I apologize, if I sound like a broken record, but I'm still not sure why you are doing so much water changing. There are no fish to worry about. The water looks pretty clear. You actually aren't trying to cycle the tank in the conventional sense: What you really want is for the plants to get a head-start on the beneficial bacteria so that they out compete it for the available ammonia/ammonium. If successful, you won't have much in the way of nitrates.
 

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Discussion Starter · #56 · (Edited)
I apologize, if I sound like a broken record, but I'm still not sure why you are doing so much water changing. There are no fish to worry about. The water looks pretty clear. You actually aren't trying to cycle the tank in the conventional sense: What you really want is for the plants to get a head-start on the beneficial bacteria so that they out compete it for the available ammonia/ammonium. If successful, you won't have much in the way of nitrates.
Yah i guess that makes sense, and by removing the ammonia i basically messing up the restart of the nitrogen cycle. I know the soil continues to breakdown and release massive amounts of nutrients espically since i didnt keep it pre submerged for a full six weeks before adding to the tank. Ammonia=nitrite=nitrate. And no everyone in the tank is currently chilling elsewhere. Water changes are like a ingrained thing for me, ive spent so many years with plantless tanks and a different maintaince regime, so no water changes is like some mythical unreal creature.

Anyway ill keep testing the water and the water change greatly helped with the clarity
It was still very, very murky last night.
 

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Discussion Starter · #57 ·
So about a week into the soil tank...... things are going so/so...... I have new growth on all the plants even the rotala h'ra that i was convienced would long be i the garbage bin by now is tryimg to rally sending out new roots all over the stems.

I also have algea trying to move in not sure which types ill try and incude some pics. All the water peraminters have strightned out but the water remains very brownish, almost like tge tanins released from a new piece of drift wood.
Ive added a new sword Kleiner Prinz. It was all my LFS had to choose from beside regulqr swords and oriental swords. Also picked up one stem of water weisteria to try and help combat algea.
Plant Terrestrial plant Flowering plant Grass Herbaceous plant

Flower Plant Terrestrial plant Houseplant Leaf vegetable

So i feel like i need more plants but alsl that if i add anymore the tank will be a cluttered mess. Ive cut done on the time the light is on from 10 hours to 8 to help. I have a 3 hour break from the light between the two periods.
Ive done one additional small water change to try and help clear up the water.
So im not sure what to do, i feel as though im at the breaking point either the plants will take off or the algea will suffiocate everything.
Plant Botany Terrestrial plant Organism Vegetation

Star grass has new growth but also perhaps a dark algea on the leaves.
Plant Plant community Vertebrate Terrestrial plant Organism

Same with the sty. Repeans.
Water Plant Organism Yellow Terrestrial plant

Full tank.
Water Plant Organism Terrestrial plant Wood

Bad pic of new sword and green gecko crypt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #58 · (Edited)
I wondering if i need to reorder some new healthy versions of some of the plants. Reorder new rotala h'ra, try ludwigia lacustris again, order new sty. repens perhaps a new stem of star grass and maybe try dwarf hairgrass in place of the dwarf chain sword.......
Just another option ive been tossing around that new healthy plants will tip the scales in my favor. The crypts are all doing really well.
I have to test the ph and hardness to see where im at. I will keep a eye on water changes like Diana suggested for algea in the book. I dont have water lettice but i do have some water hyceinthea (sp) i could toss in. The floating tiger is also attempting to recover.
 

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All the water peraminters have strightned out
Full stop. This is huge (!) Take some time to give yourself a pat on the back. This means the plants are probably outcompeting the beneficial bacteria for the available ammonia. Not every dirted tank gets this right on the first try.

The tannic haze may be something you will just have to live with until things really stabilize. It's coming from the soil and it's harmless. Some people say STS is able to absorb tannins, but I haven't tested that theory.

If you still have algae problems after cutting your lighting hours down to 8, I would certainly think about bladder snails especially since you have a betta who might provide some predator control over their population.

I'd be interested in what DW has to say in view of her recent advice to another poster regarding lighting and plants getting a fast start in a shrimp bowl.
 

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Discussion Starter · #60 ·
Full stop. This is huge (!) Take some time to give yourself a pat on the back. This means the plants are probably outcompeting the beneficial bacteria for the available ammonia. Not every dirted tank gets this right on the first try.

The tannic haze may be something you will just have to live with until things really stabilize. It's coming from the soil and it's harmless. Some people say STS is able to absorb tannins, but I haven't tested that theory.

If you still have algae problems after cutting your lighting hours down to 8, I would certainly think about bladder snails especially since you have a betta who might provide some predator control over their population.

I'd be interested in what DW has to say in view of her recent advice to another poster regarding lighting and plants getting a fast start in a shrimp bowl.
Thanks for the encourgement ivs been pouring over Dianas book trying to understand whats going on. Yes tank paramaters have been spot on nill on ammonium and nitrite and nitrte is hovering around 10 ppm.
Captian is still in his tempoary bowl and the nerite and mystrey snail are still in my 36 bow.
I figured the water discoloration was due to the soil. Ive not done any major water changes aside from taking out a half gallon or so when trying to clean up plang derbis.
Its nice to hear that im on the right track for the most part!
 
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