Aquatic Plant Forum banner

1 - 20 of 28 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
341 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Diana, I need your help! You mentioned earlier that you had good results with this soil, but I don't know what kind. Was it the "Organic Choice" potting soil? The topsoil I bought has to much bark and debris in it, so I would like to give this stuff a shot. Thanks again!;)
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,733 Posts
I used the Miracle Gro "Organic Choice" to set up my 55 gal on Sept 1, 2008. The soil is more decomposed but a little more nutrient-rich than Home Depot's generic top soil. (I used the Home Depot soil to set up my 50 gal.)

I am happy with the results from the "Organic Choice". Most plants grow very well and fish (added day of setup) have done fine.

For the first critical 8 weeks, I have done 80% water changes every 2-3 weeks and added charcoal to filter. I now believe these measures are essential for first 8 weeks after submerging any soil.

When I set up both tanks, I hand-removed the larger bark chips-- anything less than 1 inch. Yes, its a pain. Next time I'll probably sift the soil through a wire mesh!

Here is photo of 55 gal tank at 5 days. Plants have grown much better since this photo was taken.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
341 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Thanks Diana, I bought a bag of "Organic Choice" potting soil today! Here is a pic (hopefully the right stuff!).


When setting up my 50gal Ugly Tank I screened the top soil through gutter guard screen and then through window screen. This left me with only 50% of what I started with! Here are some pics of the debris and the dust-like soil that came out:



It took FOREVER to shake the soil out of the window screen! I spent 40 minutes slowly filling my tank up to the 30 gallon mark as I was worried about the fine grains washing out, and even after careful filling the water ended up being the dirtiest I have ever seen! Be careful with over screened soil! If I were to try the window screen again, I would add at least a little clay to help bind the soil, but honestly I will just stick with wire screen.

Here is a pic of the Commander reading his favorite chapter, gleaning knowledge to formulate his secret weapon:


If you are bored with life:bored: and want to flush 15 minutes down the toilet:toimonst:, click the Ugly Tank in my sig. If you are happy with life\\:D/ and have inner peace:hippie:, don't waste your time:clock:, 15 minutes will have been chopped:axe: away and you will be mad:rant: that you ever got a worthless computer in the first place:smash:! Thanks again:D

PS: Your tank has really started to fill out, every time I look at your tanks I am tempted to try rainbows. Nice fish!
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,733 Posts
Love the pictures! You've got a cute cat, too.

Yes, the Organic Choice you depicted is what I used.

Here's a picture of my 55 gal at 8 weeks for you to see how well plants have grown.

The right side of tank doesn't have much soil. It is just lava rocks and a brick with a container for Water Sprite. Water Sprite doesn't grow well for me floating, so I have to pot it.

The middle has a sand area bordered by rocks.

Only on the left side is area with 1" soil underlayer (amended with bone meal) covered with gravel.

Now if you have a soil underlayer for the whole tank, you'll have more nutrients going into water than in my tank. Also, the finer the soil particles, the faster they'll decompose. Thus, be prepared to do frequent tank cleanings the first 8 weeks.

I did 3 major cleanings during the first 8 weeks to prevent algae takeovers: hand removed algae and scraped the glass clean, pruned plants, then changed 80% of water, and added fresh charcoal to the filter.

The main thing for me (with any soil) is that the plants start growing well within 3-7 days. In this 55 gal tank with the "Organic Choice" soil, it was the Water Sprite, the beautiful red Rotalia macrandra, the 3 swordplants, and the Hygrophila angustifolia. If you see that happening in your tank, then you know your soil-water-light combination is good. If your plants don't grow well, then you're cooked! ;)
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
930 Posts
You are going to add bone meal. Where do you get bone meal and what brand?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,877 Posts
You can find bone meal at most garden centers. It's usually sold as a supplement for flowering bulbs (like Tulips, Daffodils, Crocus, etc...) . You'll see it in a box or in a bag. The boxed stuff is cheaper, and there may be different grades (that tell how finely ground it is).

I've never used it in an aqaurium, but I don't imagine you'd need the more expensive/finer ground stuff since your goal is long term.

-Dave
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
341 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I bought my bone meal at Fred Meyers (Whitney Farms brand), I would describe it as coarse. The N P K values listed are 3-15-0, So I think it is more potent than the stuff Diana used. I only used half a cup, as I don't understand N P K values at all! I am still trying to earn my brown thumb, some day I will have a green thumb!

I like your tank Diana! Keep us updated on the aquarium's progression! I have also put my soil in the left side of the aquarium, and I will find a way to add some of my new soil to that side as well (hopefully!). The plan right now is to only use a quarter inch deep on the left side and use sand on the right side for my dragon goby. As mulm builds up on the right side I will suck it out and put it on the left side (somehow!). Hopefully the lean left side with extra mulm from the right will be my saving grace, or else I'm cooked. It will take a long time to strike a balance with this tank and many battles of algae, but it will be worth it! For my swords and trees I will use coco fiber pots with mineralized soil and clay (lots of experimenting), the pots will keep the dirt in but allow the roots to travel out.

I gave up on the idea of co2 for this tank, I think I will let all of the stem plants grow emeresed. IMO this is the only way I can keep this setup healthy with all of the surface disturbance. Whatever plants that can't get nutrients from the soil, requiring nutrients from the water column will probably die out in the long run. I can't wait to experiment with different mixtures in the coco pots, but first I have to get the main substrate established and running healthy first! I don't want to get cooked :flame:! Eventually I would like to run this tank as an El Natural hybrid thing, but lots of water changes and plenty of activated carbon for the immediate future! Once everything settles down I will pull the carbon out and remove the floss from my filter...someday.:rolleyes:

Thanks everyone for your input and knowledge! I look forward to venturing into uncharted territory with you guys:alien:! HEY! Where are you people going?....guys?.......:bolt:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
930 Posts
bone meal at Fred Meyers (Whitney Farms brand), I would describe it as coarse. The N P K values listed are 3-15-0.

That means it has high phosphates. The phosphates are 15 times the nitrates. Phosphates are 1 of the major items that starts algae. I have phosphates in my tap water thus definitely can't use that. I think I will just put sphagnum moss under the dirt and then add my ferts the dirt.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
341 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Is that how the NPK values work? 15= 15x P to 1x Nitrate, and 3= 3x Nitrogen to 1x nitrate? Thanks again for your help and patience! As far as the bone meal goes, make sure you have a good substrate cap to keep it from leaking into your water column. I think it is the same principle as any soil based or nutrient rich substrate, just isolate it from the water column and no worries! Don't do what I did, make sure you have plenty of gravel or sand to make a 1" cap! At least I have enough for the left side of the tank!:rolleyes:
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,877 Posts
Is that how the NPK values work? 15= 15x P to 1x Nitrate, and 3= 3x Nitrogen to 1x nitrate?
When you see the three numbers 3-15-0 or 13-13-13 or whatever listed on a fertilizer, those are percentages that each respective nutrient makes up of that mix. So, a given volume of bonemeal is 3% Nitrogen, 15% Phosphorus an 82% other.

A bag of triple 13 is 13% of each N-P-K and and 61% inert matter/filler.

So, 100 pounds of bonemeal has 3 pounds nitrogen and 15 pounds phos, and so forth...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
341 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks a bunch Davemonkey! You guys are awesome! I have learned a lot here on APC, and appreciate everyone's willingness to share!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
422 Posts
davemonkey: When you see the three numbers 3-15-0 or 13-13-13 or whatever listed on a fertilizer, those are percentages that each respective nutrient makes up of that mix. So, a given volume of bonemeal is 3% Nitrogen, 15% Phosphorus an 82% other.

A bag of triple 13 is 13% of each N-P-K and and 61% inert matter/filler.

So, 100 pounds of bonemeal has 3 pounds nitrogen and 15 pounds phos, and so forth...
^ That's generally the idea but to be more precise 100 pounds bonemeal= 3 pounds N2O; 15 pounds P2O5 and 0 pounds K2O
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,733 Posts
^ That's generally the idea but to be more precise 100 pounds bonemeal= 3 pounds N2O; 15 pounds P2O5 and 0 pounds K2O
I didn't know this (or have forgotten). Thanks for your input.

I would add that bone meal, being made from bones, is probably going to have plentiful calcium as well (bones and teeth are made up of various calcium phosphates). The phosphate release is slow, because it is bound up with calcium phosphate precipitates, so hopefully a lot of P will stay in the soil layer. Aquatic plants like to get their P from the substrate rather than the water (my book, p. 106). So bone meal, in my opinion, is just a generally good amendment for soil substrates.

I used the Vigoro brand with an NPK of 1/11/0, but the 3/15/0 is probably okay. I would gravitate towards bone meal that has a low N reading (you want to be adding P-- not N-- to your tanks).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
930 Posts
15= 15x P to 1x Nitrate, and 3= 3x Nitrogen to 1x nitrate?

No!!
1 part phosphorus to 10 parts nitrates to 20 parts potassium
So optimum is 1x P to 10x Nitrate, and 2x potassium to 1 Nitrate.
N -P -K
10-1- 20
So if you don't have this may need potassium nitrate to create balance.

Iron----------0.1 - 0.3 ppm
Phosphates---0.5 - 1.0 ppm
Nitrates------ 5.0 - 10 ppm
Potassium---10 - 20 ppm
CO2-------- 15 - 25 ppm
Rex Griggs

Noticed someone said if you cap it good the phosphates will stay in the substrate. This sounds like something that may work for some but not all. If you have phosphates in your tap water it won't work. If you have phosphates in your tap water the ph will be high, gh low, and kh low.

I did something similar that I read another experienced person did. I added vege. ferts to my substrate. Moving plants caused fish deaths, if I didn't put filter with charcoal on. Thus beware if you are one that moves plants around a lot.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
422 Posts
If you add moderate amount of phosphate to substrates containing a lot of clay colloids and then cap that with sand and/or gravel; the clay colloids will hold on to the phosphate and not allow it to leach into the water column. I do that and don't worry about algae.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
930 Posts
I didn't know this (or have forgotten). Thanks for your input.

I would add that bone meal, being made from bones, is probably going to have plentiful calcium as well (bones and teeth are made up of various calcium phosphates). The phosphate release is slow, because it is bound up with calcium phosphate precipitates, so hopefully a lot of P will stay in the soil layer. Aquatic plants like to get their P from the substrate rather than the water (my book, p. 106). So bone meal, in my opinion, is just a generally good amendment for soil substrates.

I used the Vigoro brand with an NPK of 1/11/0, but the 3/15/0 is probably okay. I would gravitate towards bone meal that has a low N reading (you want to be adding P-- not N-- to your tanks).
This seems contrary to what I have been reading, for the phosphates will be higher than the nitrates. Nitrates, I thought, are more important than phosphates. Imbalance of phosphates levels can cause algae.

Iron---------- 0.5--to---1 ppm
Phosphates---1----to---2 ppm
Nitrates -----10---to--20 ppm
Potassium----10---to--20 ppm
CO2----------20---to--30 ppm
Rex Griggs APC

Have I misunderstood something?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
422 Posts
This seems contrary to what I have been reading, for the phosphates will be higher than the nitrates. Nitrates, I thought, are more important than phosphates. Imbalance of phosphates levels can cause algae.

Iron---------- 0.5--to---1 ppm
Phosphates---1----to---2 ppm
Nitrates -----10---to--20 ppm
Potassium----10---to--20 ppm
CO2----------20---to--30 ppm
Rex Griggs APC

Have I misunderstood something?
Your misunderstanding is about the media - water/substrate. What you are quoting is the nutrient level desired in the water, while in the post they are speaking about the substrate.

In the substrate we desire there to be high reserves of the nutrients in a form which though otherwise insoluble would be made available to the plants by action of their roots. Nitrogen is the only element which we cannot have good reserves in the substrate as the forms in which it could be available to plants are mostly soluble.

This is why nitrate as a plant nutrient in the water becomes important. Though you do always have to keep in mind that the absence of any one of the nutrients will form the limiting factor in growth.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
930 Posts
But what is in the substrate can leach into the column? So can't an excess of phosphates in the substrate leach into the water. I am wondering if that is what is happening in my tank. For in the substrate I have red bag kitty litter and vege ferts mixed in.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,195 Posts
Fertilizer that is labeled with 3 numbers are N-P-K IN THAT ORDER. Don't mix them up, and there will be less confusion.
3-15-0 is 3% N, 15% P, 0% K in that order.

The soil is filled with all sorts of microorganisms that are changing whatever you added into many other forms. Just because you add a non-or low- soluble fertilizer does not mean it stays that way. Some materials are acted on more slowly than others, giving you a slow release effect. (even the same material can be released slower if it is a coarser particle size. Finer particles offer more surface area for the microorganisms to get started on) This can be slow enough that well rooted plants (roots pretty much throughout the substrate) will take in the fertilizer before very much of it can find its way to enter the water column above the substrate. Plants do not utilize ground up bones directly, but microorganisms can get busy and separate the various elements and turn them into forms plants can use, often small molecules with just a couple of atoms. These simple molecules and atoms of fertilizer are held by soils with high cationic exchange capacity, and plants can get them from the soil in this form. Substrate with low or no cationic exchange capacity (sand, gravel) will not hold the fertilizer, and it is more likely to end up in the water column.

A deeper substrate will have less water circulation than a shallow substrate of the same material. This can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. Many of the microorganisms need oxygen to do their work. If there is poor water exchange deep in the substrate they will tend to use up the available oxygen. But more water moving through the substrate can remove some of the fertilizers that have become water soluble. This can especially happen in coarser substrates that have low CEC; they do not hold the fertilizers very well.

Just because a particular fertilizer does not offer all the elements in the ratios that plants generally need does not mean it is a bad fertilizer. As noted above some plants tend to take in some nutrients better through the leaves and other nutrients better via the roots. Makes sense to supply a slow release fertilizer that is high in the root-favored nutrients to the soil, and leaf-favored nutrients to the water column. Knowing what else is adding certain nutrients to the system you can alter which fertilizers you add. For example if you know your tap water is high in a few elements then you will likely avoid adding more of these as fertilizer.

As for whether a deficiency or excess of a particular element leads to an algae explosion, I am not sure that it is so simple. Algae may have been given a kingdom of its own, but for our purposes I'll call it a plant and note that conditions that favor the higher plants also favor algae. Plants have particular ranges of optimum conditions, depending on species, and algae do to. Many of the needs overlap so closely that it is almost impossible to grow one without the other showing up. When you are keeping a nutrient rich container of water that has enough light then algae will grow.
 
1 - 20 of 28 Posts
Top