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Oxygen is the key to keep it from smelling. This can come from plant photosynthesis, water movement, poking substrate, etc. Your choice...
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
Oxygen is the key to keep it from smelling. This can come from plant photosynthesis, water movement, poking substrate, etc. Your choice...
No matter whatever I do (mineralizing, poking substrate, water movement, etc.,), my substrate turns anaerobic and fluffy. My water is very hard. Is that something causing the H2S toxicity? If so, using R.O water can solve the problem?

PS: My plants are growing, but they are not looking at their best.

Thanks!
 

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I'm no expert, but your compost may be a little too hot. That's why this was an experiment. My suggestion would be to cut it with more peat moss. Peat moss has little to no nutrients and might slow down the decomposition process enough for the available oxygen to do its job?
 

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I looked back at photos of your jars. Looked wonderful. Huge plant biomass. Clear water. What has changed?

If the plants are doing well, I would not worry about substrate bubbling. The goal is to have good plant growth not to have a sleepy substrate.

Do you have animals in the jar?

Maybe a new photo to compare plant biomass with previous photo? Has growth been good enough that you have been pruning plants since last photo?

I would wait on changing anything. In general, hardwater is good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
I looked back at photos of your jars. Looked wonderful. Huge plant biomass. Clear water. What has changed?

If the plants are doing well, I would not worry about substrate bubbling. The goal is to have good plant growth not to have a sleepy substrate.

Do you have animals in the jar?

Maybe a new photo to compare plant biomass with previous photo? Has growth been good enough that you have been pruning plants since last photo?

I would wait on changing anything. In general, hardwater is good.
Thanks for your reply! I set up the jar just for experiment purpose, so I tear down after few weeks (Sorry! Forgot to take a picture of it).

Yes, plant growth was good, but when tear down noticed blacked root and smelly substrate. This is been a problem for all of my NPT setups so far tried. Usually plants grow (not all of them) within a day or two, but they won't look healthy and lush instead look like they are suffering from something. It's anaerobic all of the time. I tried various methods (mineralized the soil, thin soil layer, thin soil cap, poking, water movements, etc.,), but none of them seems to be working for me.

I'm not a big fan of investing in test kits. So no idea about all the water parameters. All I know is my bore water has TDS around 1000ppm. My R.O gives 100-150ppm. Knowing water parameters help solve the problem? If so, I can try that.

Thanks again!
 

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Give your RO water a try. Your tap water might be high in heavy metals that could cause anaerobic conditions so the RO will take the metals out.

Oh, don't forget to add extra calcium & magnesium for your plants in the RO water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
I would try diluting your tapwater 1:1 with RO water.
I am excited to give you all an update on my NPTs with different water source!

I setup a bowl and a nano tank, 7 gallon, both were used R.O water. Bowl is two weeks old, and nano tank is just more a week old. Both of my NPT setups are doing fantastic!

As suggested, I did not dilute R.O water with my tap water as I was confident that I have enough hard water nutrients. My plan was to mix tap water only if plants were showing any deficiencies, but after looking at the Vallisneria and Sagittaria's growth (both are hard water plants), I knew that my R.O water has enough nutrients. Sagittaria and Vallisneria are growing like crazy, and I never seen this before. Soon my small bowl is going to be filled. :)

Houseplant Flowerpot Plant Flower Terrestrial plant

Food Tableware Ingredient Green Natural foods

I see steady and healthy plant growth from day one, new growth everyday! Lights are on for 14 hours with 2-3 hours siesta.

Substrate in both of the setups are not showing any kind of toxicity. In fact, Vallisneria root reached bottom of the bowl.

In the nano tank, I mixed crushed wood charcoal to the compost, and dusted on the bottom glass, not much very little (~5%) to avoid any contamination. I learnt that wood charcoal (just pure wood Charcoal with no addictive) is used in soil to prevent contamination and store excess nutrients. Compare to my bowl no tannins released even after a week.

Also, added red plants to my nano tank on Day 8.

The only issue noticed in nano tank was iron deficiency in Limnophila Sessiliflora, pale/ yellow leaves. I believe the plant was taking iron from the water column, which was not available but used by other plants including floating. Or the light I used in nano tank little brighter light than the one used in the Bowl which caused iron to be used very quickly? On the 6th day, I added very little amount of trace element (2ml) that contains iron, which turned Limnophila Sessiliflora back to green again. I did not notice the iron deficiency in my Bowl.

I believe the problem would have gone by itself after a while. I am feeding my fish well, and don't want to dose anything chemically.

Is adding trace element acceptable when seeing deficiencies in plants or I should waited for another week or so? Anything else to do to increase iron for water column plants.

Finally it's clear that all of the anaerobic and H2S toxicity were the result of using my tap water. I have been trying with the NPT for the past one year with various soil substrates, without a luck. Just realized that the water, not the soil caused all the problems.

Hope others will benefit from my experience. I will update my tank progress. Thanks, everyone!

Nano Tank Day 1 (No soil is exposed, as I covered the soil layer with gravel):

Plant Pet supply Aquatic plant Grass Fish supply

Nano Tank Day 8:

Plant Plant community Green Botany Leaf

Plant Vertebrate Botany Terrestrial plant Grass

Plant Plant community Leaf Botany Terrestrial plant
 

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Lovely! Aside from the pleasure of witnessing a hard-won success, the results are very interesting.

R.O. water has no nutrients, so the soil and fishfood alone is releasing enough into the water for your plants. A freshly submerged soil will release plentiful Ca and Mg (my book, p. 131, Fig VIII-6).

It is possible that your tapwater contains high levels of sulfates. The sulfates would percolate into the soil where bacteria would convert them to toxic H2S. (Hard waters from a coastal city with a seawater input would be expected to contain high sulfates.)

In any case, your results are wonderful and worth celebrating. Thanks for posting!
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
Lovely! Aside from the pleasure of witnessing a hard-won success, the results are very interesting.

R.O. water has no nutrients, so the soil and fishfood alone is releasing enough into the water for your plants. A freshly submerged soil will release plentiful Ca and Mg (my book, p. 131, Fig VIII-6).

It is possible that your tapwater contains high levels of sulfates. The sulfates would percolate into the soil where bacteria would convert them to toxic H2S. (Hard waters from a coastal city with a seawater input would be expected to contain high sulfates.)

In any case, your results are wonderful and worth celebrating. Thanks for posting!
Thanks for your inputs, Diana!

Yes, I'm from coastal city, and living close to sea. Now I see why had so much trouble going on with plants.

I keep you posted about my tank progress. Also, have bone meal with me, may be I can mix with little compost, and insert into the substrate using gelatin capsules.
 

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Thanks for your persistence and informative posts! 1,000 ppm TDS is really high.

"In the nano tank, I mixed crushed wood charcoal to the compost, and dusted on the bottom glass, not much very little (~5%) to avoid any contamination. "

This caught my attention because I have been studying the use of biochar (charcoal) as an amendment in terrestrial soils. Biochar is a huge subject of research now as a way of carbon sequestration. It has many properties that sound useful in aquarium substrate. It is very stable, with a life span measured in centuries. It is extremely porous providing habitat for microorganisms. It has high CEC, so it can hold nutrients. And in terrestrial soils it is a long term source of carbon.

Just how all this would work in aquarium substrate is still a question, but your use of charcoal is encouraging. Might be time for some experimental bowls.
 

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I don’t know how effective charcoal is at capturing carbon in the soil. You can build a CO2 capturing device where air has to flow through the charcoal And when you need to release the CO2, you apply heat to the charcoal.

its high CEC should be great to work with.
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
Thanks for your persistence and informative posts! 1,000 ppm TDS is really high.

"In the nano tank, I mixed crushed wood charcoal to the compost, and dusted on the bottom glass, not much very little (~5%) to avoid any contamination. "

This caught my attention because I have been studying the use of biochar (charcoal) as an amendment in terrestrial soils. Biochar is a huge subject of research now as a way of carbon sequestration. It has many properties that sound useful in aquarium substrate. It is very stable, with a life span measured in centuries. It is extremely porous providing habitat for microorganisms. It has high CEC, so it can hold nutrients. And in terrestrial soils it is a long term source of carbon.

Just how all this would work in aquarium substrate is still a question, but your use of charcoal is encouraging. Might be time for some experimental bowls.
In my couple of previous experiment setups, I did have the Wood Charcoal, plants were not doing well, but when I tear down the small setup there was no smell from the substrate as it did all the times. Then I realized that substrate was not responsible for H2S toxicity, it could be something else, the water. In the past, I have seen one of the Youtuber was using Charcoal in the substrate, he was yelling about the use of Wood Charcoal (not activated carbon or anything):

"Aerobic Substrate Conditions (Full of Oxygen) will greatly assist in plant development and growth of plant roots, that's where Wood charcoal plays a very important role."

I will definitely use Wood Charcoals in all of my future setups. It has many good properties for aquarium use, high CEC, home for bacteria, it's easily available, natural, etc.,

More importantly I have seen someone using it and showing great results. It was not my idea to use in the aquarium.

Thanks!
 

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my R.O water has enough nutrients
This caught my eye as well. As @dwalstad said, the RO water won't have any Ca/Mg in it. You may need to supplement down the line if growth starts stalling. Just something to keep in mind. Great to hear about your progress though!

Is adding trace element acceptable when seeing deficiencies in plants or I should waited for another week or so? Anything else to do to increase iron for water column plants.
I also add Seachem iron to my tank a couple times a week to keep up the floater growth. If I stop they almost immediately start growing stunted and yellow. One of these days I'd like to find a way to add a more permanent source of iron to the water column, but as of yet this is the best I can do.
 
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