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The packing material that you used to grow the lily looks more like peat moss than clay.

Google Search: Moss peat is a bryophyte also called sphagnum or bog moss. Because of the presence of a remarkable water holding capacity moss peat is used as a packing material in the transportation of flowers, live plants, tubers, bulbs, seedlings, etc.

That would explain the slow growth. Peat moss is a very poor substrate. Too acidic, too "fluffy", lacks iron, etc. Even if you add fertilizers, it will never be as good as ordinary garden soil. Bagged potting soil would be my second choice.

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Discussion Starter · #142 ·
Dang it. Lost a zebra danio when I was scooping out floaters. I'd like to think I would have discovered it in time had I not been rushing to get to an appointment. But, a quick head count several hours later alerted me that something was wrong and by then it was too late to rescue the poor thing from the garbage. Ironically, I'd recently stopped flushing excess floaters down the commode to avoid the danger of them becoming invasive species. Maybe, if I had continued doing it that way, I would have noticed a stray fish in my toilet?
 

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Discussion Starter · #144 ·
Are you scooping by hand or with a net/other device? I'd think that if you did it by hand you would notice a stray fish flopping around.
The killing field: An old filter compartment with slats on the bottom for the water to escape. Jesus (I named her after Our Lord because she died for my sins) was covered by greenery before I could notice she was in there:
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These things happen to even the most conscientious fishkeepers. When I was about 13 years old, I was totally devastated after discovering the dried and shriveled up body of a treasured female guppy behind the tank. My father expressed some concern about my emotional stability. 😢
 

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Discussion Starter · #147 ·
These things happen to even the most conscientious fishkeepers. When I was about 13 years old, I was totally devastated after discovering the dried and shriveled up body of a treasured female guppy behind the tank. My father expressed some concern about my emotional stability. 😢
I knew this was the right place to share my grief.
 

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Discussion Starter · #148 ·
Just back from another trip and there are so many lily pads at this point that it's become difficult to tell which plants they belong to:
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The nitrates were up again (~40ppm) which seems to happen every time the floaters become too thick:
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My theory is that as the floaters grow they become increasingly hospitable to colonies of beneficial bacteria which in turn compete with them for ammonia uptake. Culling the floaters promotes their rate of growth while reducing the bacterial population. Performed the first partial water change in almost a month.
 

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Discussion Starter · #149 · (Edited)
So...I'm turning my attention to propagating some of the plant species I've already established. I have a lotus bulb imbedded in wet soil that will hopefully keep it alive until next year when I don't really know what happens to the adults I already have. Do they go through a dormant period? And, approximately how many years do I have before they just stop growing?

My latest nano tank project is to grow a umbrella palm cutting until it is tall enough to transfer to the main bowl:


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This was my second try at a cutting. According to all the blog entries, you can sprout roots from a stem cut approximately four inches below the "umbrella". Most suggest placing it upside down (umbrella side down) in a small container of tap water and just wait:
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My first try was from a stem that may have been diseased; it eventually decomposed. The one above was from an adult plant that just bent like a twig one day and looked ripe for disease:
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That seems to happen a lot with this species - the stems eventually grow too tall and begin to bend. Unlike my first venture, there was new growth after two weeks in a plastic cup. It was actually a completely autonomous plant joined at the hip to the old stem. A good pair of aqua scaping straight scissors was the perfect tool for the job of separating it.
Plant Flower Insect Arthropod Terrestrial plant

Wood Plant Reptile Twig Lizard
 

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Discussion Starter · #150 ·
The heavy rainfall in Brooklyn had knocked my weekend plans into a cocked hat, as it were. So, guess who spent the lion's share of the afternoon re-designing his NPT?

I was looking at the bowl and it was obvious that the floaters were a constant restriction on the surface air oxygen exchange which was probably the bowl's greatest asset. It was actually DW who reminded me of its importance when she answered a question in another thread.

Second of all, I needed to find out what was going on in there. Between the floaters and the ever emerging lily pads, it was literally like looking into a wine dark sea. Sea monsters could have been lurking in the bottom and I wouldn't have known it.

But, with a brighter LED bulb and a drastic expansion of the plastic tube ring, wonders were uncovered:
73910
 

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Discussion Starter · #151 ·
Well, it's Sunday morning and a time for being present and relaxed as well as for reflection. It feels like a lot has happened in the last month. My floaters are almost all gone. There just wasn't room at the top for both them and the lily pads. Funny thing is, once I removed the bulk of them the salvinia stopped multiplying; the few that were left just grew bigger where they were and with long furry roots.

This past month has also been a good one for my umbrella palms. Their roots have reached the bottom of two filter media containers stacked on top of one another - as I thought they might. All I had to do was place a couple of root tabs underneath the bottom container.

Here's the bowl as it appeared 4 months ago:
Dishware Plant Botany Branch Serveware

And, here's what it looks like this morning:
Plant Houseplant Liquid Flowerpot Botany
 

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Discussion Starter · #153 · (Edited)
Things continue to evolve. A month later, I've allowed the floaters take up a little bit more room and I reluctantly found myself cutting a couple of gigantic lily pads (about four inches in diameter) in order to maintain adequate surface air space. At this point, every lily and lotus has at least one identifiable pad able to absorb CO2 and to receive light along with the floaters. Just topping the water every so often.

My real point of pride are the umbrella palms which continue to grow and thicken:
Plant Flower Flowerpot Houseplant Botany
 

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Discussion Starter · #154 ·
Only noting an uptick in ammonia readings, 0.25ppms. Shouldn't be too surprising since it's been 3 months since the last partial water change. Immediately did about a 25% WC (I try to keep about 8 liters of conditioned water always on hand.)
 

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Only noting an uptick in ammonia readings, 0.25ppms. Shouldn't be too surprising since it's been 3 months since the last partial water change. Immediately did about a 25% WC (I try to keep about 8 liters of conditioned water always on hand.)
Was that photo taken before the water change or afterwards? It looks like the water is tea-colored due to tannin accumulation.
 

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The tannins that cause that tea-color will inhibit bacterial growth. That almost surely includes nitrifying bacteria, which could explain the ammonia in your bowl. Tannin release by the potting soil organic matter should decrease over time. In the meantime, I would change the water to remove the tannins. Here's one article from a quick Google search 'Tannins and Bacteria': Tannins as an alternative to antibiotics
 

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Discussion Starter · #159 ·
The tannins that cause that tea-color will inhibit bacterial growth. That almost surely includes nitrifying bacteria, which could explain the ammonia in your bowl. Tannin release by the potting soil organic matter should decrease over time. In the meantime, I would change the water to remove the tannins. Here's one article from a quick Google search 'Tannins and Bacteria': Tannins as an alternative to antibiotics
OH. Thank you. That's interesting. I will see what I can do in terms of conditioning my tap water quickly enough to do some rapid WCs over these next several days. 😁
 

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Discussion Starter · #160 · (Edited)
So, yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of my latest tank set-up, a large Chinese porcelain bowl with about a half-inch of gravel and a maximum of six zebra danio glo-fish. By the time I arrived at this forum, I had already experienced a few months of low tech, low-sunlight, aquarium maintenance and was on the cusp of understanding the difference between what I had and a true Walstad tank.

I was over the moon at being able to go for months with -0- ammonia ppm readings without a mechanical filter - and, significantly - no algae. But, I was increasingly puzzled over how so many readers could go for months reporting -0- nitrates? And, what was all this talk about "rapid plant growth"? That description certainly did not apply to my evergreen-like anubias barteri. Nor did it describe my five sticks of lucky bamboo, apparently doing the lion's share of nutrient removal.

In many ways, this journal has been a chronicle of my backing my way into a Walstad set-up. I did everything in reverse order. I was nearly always carefully working around six fish, trying very hard not to poison them. Indeed, my first plants were chosen in order to avoid having to deal with actual soil: duckweed, salvinia minima and, of course, those five sticks of lucky bamboo.

When finally I introduced some dirt to the situation, it was in the form of a potted lily. Thank you, @mistergreen.

And, that sort of did it for me. I no longer treated organic soil as radioactive. It could be introduced in controllable amounts.

The lotus plants were an education in and of themselves. They aren't exactly fast-growing in the sense that they don't really need soil until they separate themselves from their bulbs. But, once they do. Wow. Their root systems occupy the entire bottom of the porcelain bowl.

Bottom line: I can go for months now with -0- ppms nitrates.

ETA: As far as I am concerned, the jury is still out on Safe-T-Sorb (STS) as an anaerobic bacteria filter. I still keep a container of it at the bottom of my bowl. In the final analysis, it remains to be seen which played the bigger role in pushing my nitrate levels lower- the STS or the addition of a lot of new plants? If I ever start a second tank, I will introduce it a lot earlier and compare the results.

ETA: I should also mention that in the process of figuring out how to care for the first water lily which was germinated from a rhizome, I purchased a floor lamp, the first artificial lighting I'd ever had for the porcelain bowl since I purchased it twenty years ago. This resulted in my first experience with algae in as many years. And, it was from that experience, and @ronnie 's recommendation that I introduced a single pond snail, a stow-away on one of the tiger lotuses, into the bowl. It has proved to be one of the wisest hobby decisions I've ever made. Not only do they take care of algae but do a bang up job of disposing of rotting lily pads - thus doing their part in keeping the water surface clear of too much cover.
tltr:dr:
Plant Houseplant Flower Flowerpot Botany
 
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