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In a response to the sticky thread in which Phil Edwards is seeking feedback on ways to improve the Aquatic Gardeners Association and its journal, "The Aquatic Gardener," I indicated that I would like to see articles on experiments conducted by fellow aquatic plant enthusiasts. I was referring to experiments that any of us can perform in our home, provided we have time and extra tanks to devote to the project.

I will be setting up two new tanks in April (possibly sooner if I can get my hands on some ADA substrate).

What I would like from you, my fellow enthusiast, are suggestions for the variables in the experiment. What would you like to discover? Are there particular plants about which you are curious? Do you have questions regarding a particular macro or micro nutrient's impact on a given plant? Now is the time to speak up - I am listening! Who knows, your suggestion today may result in an article you can read over breakfast in the not too distant future ;) .

This is what is fixed thus far:

1) Two 5.5 gallon Perfecto tanks

2) Lighting - Each tank will be equipped with a 2 x 13w AH Supply fixture, and each will be paired with two 13w, 6700K bulbs.

3) Filtration - Each tank will utilize one ZooMed 501 Turtle Canister Filter, sans carbon media.

This is not decided:

Substrate - I am interested in using ADA Powesand Special and Aquasoil Amazonia (small), but this is by no means a final decision.

Flora - This is wide open at this point.

Fauna - This, too, is undecided. However, I am leaning towards no fauna, as I think it will provide for easier control of the experiment. Your input will be the deciding factor.

H2O - I am thinking about using distilled water and adding Seachem Equilibrium. I don't want the experiment to be biased by my tap water. After all, this is for our collective education, not just mine.

CO2 - I have the capability of using pressurized CO2 on each tank, but this is open for discussion.

Fertilization - This is totally undecided.

Okay, now it's your turn. Let me hear where you would like this to go. Please comment as little or as much as you would like. If you have a hypothesis that has been screaming for attention, I would like to hear it. Also, if there are any others that would like to work with me (i.e. attempt to replicate the experiment), please let me know.
 

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I'm interested in the concept of growing Toninas in "hard" water, or perhaps one soft tank and one hard tank and see if there is any difference.
 

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Just remember that the more variables you add the less you can be certain that any one is responsible for any given result.
 

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Rob, Offering ones aquatic skills for the sake of science is generous. But I'm not sure that Jeff is going to send you a free sack of Aquasoil (I am kidding...)

Recent threads on APC seems to suggest some or all of the following are candidates for experiment (bearing in mind S's advice that only one item can be changed at a time to ensure it is that item which is causing any changes to plant growth):

- ADA substrate system vs Flourite or Eco-Complete. I think this would be an unfair experiment since neither Flourite nor Eco-Complete are "fertile out-of-the-bag" aquatic gardening media. I think the ADA tank thread shows how fast plants can grow in ADA substrate. Also, many of us have ordered ADA substrate and there will be a plethora of reports coming in over the next 12 months from various contributors.

- K and Ca/Mg shortage: Does increased K dosing cause increased demand for Ca/Mg? Given a 5 US gallon tank, you might be able to use simple, small-leaved plants to experiment with. Rotala sp. green come to mind.

5 gallon tanks are pretty small, in my experience. But lighting for larger tanks is expensive, so a 10 gallon set up is probably not feasible.

This is an offer that requires more consideration.

Andrew Cribb
 

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That's an interesting point!

Looking at a bag of Flora Base I have here, I would think that it would not be very satisfying using that sort of "top" as the sole substrate. It looks pretty inert to me. I imagine it needs a good year in an aquarium before it would start to harbor the type of nutrients we need. As for me, I would not use it alone - but over some sort of home-made or bought Powersand. Using it alone is like going back to the old days of using Flourite without anything under it. It can work, but it takes a long time....

I'm really excited about getting some Powersand. I ordered both Powersand and Amazonia. But it is the Powersand which I am looking forward to receiving most of all.

That would be a good experiment: Tank A = Amazonia alone; Tank B = Amazonia plus Powersand.

What plants? Rotala species, Tonina species, Glossostigma..... small plants.

Is this the sort of photographic experiment that might end up written in TAG first and then discussed on APC? :smile:

Andrew Cribb
 

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hey rob. like the idea. have you considered using soil or clay as the first layer of substrate on a high light tank and comparing it to the amano products, flourite, eco complete, and/or onyx? i will admit that i am very curious as to any results you find.
 

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5.5 gallon tanks are not very big. I would suggest a maximum of 3 trays for three kinds of substrate in each tank. One of the three trays should have a very inert gravel as a control---quartz or something that should not supply any nutrients.

The plant should be something fairly easy to grow, but which is known to grow a lot better rooted than floating. For example, Hemianthus micranthemoides wouldn't be good. For me, it is a weed that grows floating as well as it grows rooted.


You may have nutrients getting into the water from the experimental gravels and fertilizing the plants in the control tray. If you are worried about that, you had better have just one tray in each tank and try to keep lighting, etc the same for both tanks.

Don't use plastic trays. The plastic can release chemicals that interfere with growth and nutrient uptake. I've seen it happen. Use glass.
 

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I would be interested in a study of the so called "softwater" plants like Tonina and Ludwigia sp. Pantanal.
What question do you want to ask about these plants?
 

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Rob,

I'd like to second Andrew's idea regarding the relationship between Ca, Mg and K. Personally having some issues with these 3 in my A. reinickii with occasional curled leaves. You could have one tank with 'normal concetrations of these, then have another where you cut back or drastically increase one of these cations and see what happens. You could control each one individually and make your observations with each.

I have well water with high kh coming primarily from Ca, therefore I add Mg, but I have yet to convince myself it actually makes any difference in what I see.
 
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