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Hi all,

I decided to start a new setup of my el-natural tank after the first one failed.
Naturally I did some experiments on the failing tank before setting up a new one - and I learned some lessons from it.

- The failing tank contained a number of plants but none of them were fast growers
- After a while (about 12 weeks) the floating plants started to show signs of lacking nutrients - yellowing, not growing anymore

Of course I did my measurements every week to keep track of what was happening. Well, first of all, my tank contained no nitrates nor phosphates (both 0, zip, nada, nothing).

Since the tank was already failing I have started adding stuff to up both nitrates and phosphates. After a few days, the floating plants started getting back to life but not very strongly. Also the other plants started growing again. Green Algae were lessening.

Then I started adding liquid plant food from the bottle (Sera Florena) and that did the trick. All plants started growing much better. Alas, the tank was too messy to try bringing it back in shape.

Before this tank started showing 0 phosphates, there always had been phosphates at measuring.
I assume now that the soil I have used (a potting soil) must have contained lots of phosphates and these have been leeching into the water column. However, it looks like the soil stopped leeching after these 12 weeks. The soil had been soaked more than 12 weeks before using in my tank by the way.

Thinking back and reading back through my notes at figuring out how things must have gone wrong I can see that:

- my choice of plants was not right - not enough fast growers
- after about 8 weeks the plants started doing less well - growth got less (less pruning to do, you see) until it stopped completely
- as Diana has already remarked, the water flow in my tank was not strong enough so the fish-food was never transformed into plant nutrients
- the floating plants stopped growing because of lack of phosphates and presumably other nutrients

My new setup is as follows:

I went into the woods where a natural clay pit exists. A castle in our neighborhood was built by using the clay to bake the red bricks. So the clay contains iron. It is a heavy quality clay. When I dug it up, a layer of water of at least 2 inches was on top of it and as I got to the clay it was nearly completely dry.

I have used it without further soaking since it was already watered. I put a layer under the gravel.
Plants: Vallisneria Spiralis, Hygrophila Polysperma, Java fern, Echinodorus Tenellus, Ludwigia Palustris x Repens, Cryptocoryne Wendtii.
Floating: Salvinia Natans, Ceratopteris Thalictroides

Our tap water appears to contain 15 mg/L (15 ppm) of Nitrates which is quite high I feel. Phosphates are almost 0 from the tap.

I put in a canister filter of which I temper the water flow - approx 250 liter an hour

This setup is now about 6 weeks old.

The Vallisneria, Hygrophila and Salvinia started growing immediately.
The crypto started growing after about 3 weeks but is not growing fast
The tenellus has taken more than 4 weeks to start spreading. They were in a bad shape however from the first setup.
First of all their leaves turned from reddish to a normal green color and they are now sending out shoots.

Now I have a few confessions to make:

1. At refreshing water I do add Sera Florena to make sure the floating plants get enough nutrients; already at the last measurement the nitrates and phosphates showed 0 mg!! So I also add Easylife Nitro and Easylife Fosfo
2. I have added a Co2 - natural source (yeast and sugar solution) - outflow added to the canister filter; it keeps my PH at about 6.8-7.0!

Up to now this setup really works for me. No algae at all from the start. Even the front window never had to be cleaned up to now.
The Salvinia grows like mad but I like it and the fish does too since practically all my fish are Asian. All of them show regular spawning behavior.

If this is enough reason for you to kick me out of this forum, so be it. I just thought that by adding my experiences, other people can benefit through them. I am completely honest and open about everything and I am more than willing to discuss everything with everybody. Regretfully I do not have the facilities nor the time to do more experimenting since I am sure that a setup like Diana's should work (there is enough proof) and it frustrates me that I did not succeed. Since my tank is in our living room it should look nice and perhaps now I took the easy way out. My wife is happy and the tank can stay. That is worth something.

Somehow Diana's tanks do seem to contain phosphates and nitrates enough for the floating plants to keep growing and according to my experiences that is a necessity for the floating plants to keep doing well. If you would take out your phosphates completely, Diana, I am convinced that your floating plants will collapse and perhaps with them the whole tank ?!? Would be interested to hear your opinion on that one.
Furthermore your fish-food seems to add the nutrients you need. Since your floating plants keep doing well, these nutrients have to be showing up in the water column as well ?!?
Would love to know what happens if there are no nutrients at all in the water column. What effect will this have on the regular aquatic plants? Will there be a difference between the true aquatics compared to the marsh plants like crypto and others?

Awaiting your answers and comments and hoping that you all allow me to stay on this forum

All the best for now

Frank
 

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:) your post made me smile.

Nobody is going to kick you out of the forum for experimenting with dosing. Your tank is an El natural setup but it seems that the soil you are using might not contain the same level of nutrients as other people's soil so it helps when you add nutrients.

Salvinia is a nutrient demanding plant so it makes sense that the water column is devoid of nutrients like phosphates.

The hobby of keeping aquarium plants is not one with a pre-written formula for success. Everyone has a slightly different spin on the general themes. For you, adding certain extra nutrients helps your plants grow. What you are doing is perfectly fine. After all isn't this hobby all about getting the plants to grow best?
 

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Hi all,
Somehow Diana's tanks do seem to contain phosphates and nitrates enough for the floating plants to keep growing and according to my experiences that is a necessity for the floating plants to keep doing well. If you would take out your phosphates completely, Diana, I am convinced that your floating plants will collapse and perhaps with them the whole tank ?!?

Frank
Actually, I have had trouble keeping floating plants. Sometimes they grow like crazy, but it doesn't last. My guess is that its iron deficiency or a lighting issue.

When I have more time, I may do some tinkering.

If you are getting good results, that's all that counts. Stay in the Forum and keep us informed! ;)
 
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