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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Allright. This is a true eye candy. In case you have not seen this tank here are pictures of it. Before clicking the links make arrangements to faint safely. The second link is in English and there are a lot of details on how the tank is run.

http://www.trebol-a.com/fotografias/?foto=94174224
http://www.trebol-a.com/2006/02/04/outside-tank-article

Nice, amazing, stunning and so on. But what do we learn from this tank 6 years after it descended on us from another dimension?

So basically we have an ultra clean and ultra healthy planted tank under the open (and very strong) sun. The substrate is rich but apparenly that is not enough to feed the many species of plants and that's why he adds fertilizers daily. He has noticed that both low and high fertilizer dosing causes algae.

An interesting point is the evaporation - 1 gallon per day. The tank is topped off every day with RO water.

On the second link please do scroll down a bit and look at the long, long list of plants in that tank. They all live in this 31 gallon tank...Hope you find that to be a hint that is easy to decipher.

Ok. The main thing! This tank receives daily attention. It responds by being beyond beautiful. And it is also beyond completely unstable.

That was easy to see and say. But what I'd like to know is why is it that many of us not only keep on adding fertilizers to the water but also add them in amounts that are much higher than this Spanish sun-bombarded tank. So... In your tanks we have less light but add more fertilizers? Makes no sense. To me the answer is in the off-balanced state of the tanks - we find that under much lower light (not even close to sun light) we must add more fertilizers. The Trebol-a guy finds that he must add only a specific (and much lower) amount of ferts. You will all agree that none of that makes much sense. Well, a complicated system can go bad in many ways. Every auto owner will agree with that, haha. A complicated system apparently can also be unstable in many subtle ways.

My point is, once again, plain vanilla preaching - There is a proper way to setup a planted tank which leads to a very stable and thriving system.

--Nikolay
 

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Ok. The main thing! This tank receives daily attention. It responds by being beyond beautiful. And it is also beyond completely unstable...
I always liked the "10 Minute Tidy". A trim here, a dose there and a little 1/2" hose vacuum there. This is tied into lifestyle, dedication to something. All of us slip sometimes and let the bad guys in.
 

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There is a proper way to setup a planted tank which leads to a very stable and thriving system.
Correction: There are multiple ways to setup a planted tank which lead to a very stable and thriving system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Correction: There are multiple ways to setup a planted tank which lead to a very stable and thriving system.
Are EI or PPS among them?

Can we hear more details about these ways?

--Nikolay
 

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75gallon, 3 54watt T5 bulbs, pressurized CO2, EI ferts, ecocomplete and flourite substrate, homemade poret filter/sump, variety of mostly easy plants, medium hard water (ppm~250), discus and blue rams, weekly 50% water changes, running 3+ years with minimal algae and excellent plant growth, occasional glutaraldehyde dosing to eliminate any beard algae that should pop up.

140 gallon multisection aquarium, 4 bulb CP over some sections, 2 T5 blubs over other sections, single CP bulbs in clamp shop lights over other sections, no CO2, no ferts, plain topsoil covered by plain aquarium gravel, same medium hard water, one pump circulates water through the tank/tanks and pushes water through poret foam sheets, water changes every 6 months (if that often), variety of mostly easy plants, housing a variety of breeding dwarf cichlids, shrimp, and breeding pearl gourami, occasional algae that goes away with benign neglect or occasional manual removal, running 3+ years with good plant growth.

These 2 tanks (along with others I have or have had) have produced good results with minimal hassle. There are other ways to have a successful planted aquarium beyond the 2 ways above.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
EI (and PPS) do not lead the tank to a stable state. They do not have anything to do with the tank stablity and were not designed with stability as a goal. Their concern is healthy plants. Period.

EI and PPS do not have answers to the issues that show up sooner or later. Both "methods" suggest doing more of the same - fertilizers and water changes. Trebola-s tank is an example of such an approach. The tank needs constant attention.

The natural processes in the tank eventually manage to take place. The inert substrate becomes rich and active over time. At this point it's easy to say that EI or PPS made the tank stable. That is not so because, once again, they do not have a stable tank as a goal. If you just changed a little water in tank and never even looked at it after one year it will reach the same point and will grow healthy plants just fine.

There is only one way to setup a planted tank with stability as a goal. Rich substrate + clean water + good filtration. That's all there is to it. Your second tank is an example of that. Dutch tanks are like that. All ADA tanks are an example of that. All ADG planted tanks are an example of that. It is beyond me why most of us still believe that dumping fertilizers in the water is a reasonable thing to do.

Rich substrate + clean water + good filtration - that is how it is in Nature. On the other hand we have EI and PPS. They call for polluting the tank water with chemicals. We label any body of water that has even a little N or P as "polluted" don't we? But somehow in our tanks we have accepted that we must have considerable concentrations of at least 7 chemicals.

And for the people that think I'm some kind of EI hater: I do have an EI tank that I've ran for 7 years now. It is full of plants and I trim every single week and collect about 1 lb. of clippings. The "minimal algae" in that tank never goes away. I dump my dry ferts, I religiously change 20 gallons (out of 50) every week. The tank clears up from all algae if I accelerate the ferts/water changes to 2 times a week. Starving makes the algea creep up. Just like Trebola and his gorgeous outdoor tank I have to keep my tank clean. Not the natural processes in it. That's pretty pathetic for a person that thinks he knows something about planted tanks. That's EI in full glory.

--Nikolay
 

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and that is why you should turn your tank over 8-10 times, flow also plays a part.... more light, equals more ferts equals more c02....... I also see buying filters to small for there tanks. i'm sorry but that so many gph per a hour is when the canister is empy, the return pump part at 0(zero!) head volume, people don't even think about the pump loosing pressure as it as to push water up so many feet.

Rich substrate + clean water+ good filter that does 8-10 X turn over gph, and observation of tank of plants and fish, is what i observes to a stable tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
...Rich substrate + clean water+ good filter that does 8-10 X turn over gph, and observation of tank of plants and fish, is what i observes to a stable tank.
Yes. That's rocket science for most people. Most of us would rather pollute the water with the 7+ chemicals we have decided plants can't live without.

--Nikolay
 

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Yes. That's rocket science for most people. Most of us would rather pollute the water with the 7+ chemicals we have decided plants can't live without.

--Nikolay
:D , umm then I want to stir up the pot then, what would you say leads to nutrient deficiencies then?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
:D , umm then I want to stir up the pot then, what would you say leads to nutrient deficiencies then?
Not following EI will certainly lead to severe defficiencies. That's all I know.

But please keep that information private because all plants in Nature can hear what we are saying.:D

Dull joke aside, as in many other threads on APC, the purpose of my responses to this thread is to induce people to think what we do in right and wrong in this hobby.

So, look at this Wikipedia article:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_pollution#Chemical_testing

I've said that before - BOD and COD are important indicators of water pollution. ADA has a test kit for COD. And publishes the COD value for every tank they show. It's low, very low. Their water is clean, very clean.

On the other hand most of us have not even heard of COD. But we have heard of and are very concerned about maintaining N and P concentrations in our tanks. Which are a huge indicators of pollution. We grow great looking plants. In polluted water.

To answer your question about defficiencies. If the tank is setup with rich live substrate and if it has been brought up to a stable state by undisruptive maintenance it will do amazing things for you. Like grow plants without any ferts in the water, maintain green leaves even in the dark areas, and literally make algae fall apart within a day if you place them in the tank.

--Nikolay
 

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I probably shouldn't ask, but...

Why should we care if the tank is "polluted" or "stable?"

In my EI tank I have beautiful, healthy, sometimes spawning fish (discus and rams as of now, many varieties of apistos in the past). I get great plant growth with minimal algae. I'm achieving my planted aquarium goals, so what am I missing?

As an aside, the most beautifully planted natural stream I've come across up here in the cold midwest was chock full of natural vegetation. And guess what? It was a run off creek from several horse farms with signs posted not to drink the water. Those plants were thriving in that polluted water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
...Why should we care if the tank is "polluted" or "stable?..."
I write all these posts for one reason:

If every new person coming to this hobby received good advice the hobby would be much better. We will see much more beautiful aquascapes.

A tank that is not setup properly requires constant maintenance. Sooner or later you change to a less-labor-intensive layout. That is the natural progression of virtually everybody. But we can have any aquascape we want if we set it up right and the work will be minimal.

Instead, as it is now, most people both work too much to keep their tanks looking good AND struggle with algae at some point. If the best aquascapist do things in a certain way there is little reason why we don't follow their approach.

About the aquatic plants thriving in manure loaded water:

Angle 1:
So we have a stream being loaded with a HUGE amounts of nutrients and great looking plants. This is, no doubt EI! Except at home YOU must change the water and add the fertilizers. Block the flow of the stream and you know what will happen. Stop the water changes at home and you know what will happen. Because the tank is being kept in an unstable state. Sooner or later algae will come, guaranteed. And it will find everything they need in abundance. At that point there are very few answers, mainly hopeful.

Angle 2:
What is the best intentional way to grow algae at home?
Answer: Fill a jar with water, spray some Miracle Grow comprehensive fertilizer, set under strong light.
Funny: EI and PPS differ from that in the amount of the fertilizer. But they "work great". If you are there to make it happen.
Even funnier: Try to leave an EI tank without maintenance for 2 weeks.

--Nikolay
 

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So to sum up your response. EI works, but if you stop following the EI strategy it won't work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Exactly.

But at some point, in older tanks, the aquarium becomes stable. This happens with or without EI. If you setup a planted tank and ignore it for a year, leaving algae to grow as they please, plants to grow or not grow, and only change water once in a blue moon or top-off after a year you will have a stable tank anyway.

And if you have followed EI you will tend to believe it works and it made your tank stable.

--Nikolay
 

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Exactly.

But at some point, in older tanks, the aquarium becomes stable. This happens with or without EI. If you setup a planted tank and ignore it for a year, leaving algae to grow as they please, plants to grow or not grow, and only change water once in a blue moon or top-off after a year you will have a stable tank anyway.

And if you have followed EI you will tend to believe it works and it made your tank stable.

--Nikolay
Wow. I believe it. I had a a 46 gallon bowfront for years, that was easy to care for and then transferred everything into a 57 gallon with better dimensions. The substrate, filter, lights, etc... stayed the same but, all of a sudden had algae I hadn't seen in years. Now after 4 months, it's starting to stabilize. Maybe its a function of time more than methodology. I had used EI, then went to PPS Pro a month or two before the transfer. I am now using PPS Pro recipe but with double traces and higher kh2po4 as a result of deficiencies. Hey I was happy that I didn't lose any fish.

Thanks Niko for this post. It explains alot of things for me.
 

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+1 on thanks! Keep up the great posts, Niko.

I'm hoping the whole year-to-stability thing means that if I have patience my Tahitian moon sand substrate will eventually stop being worthless for anything but (barely) holding down roots.

I'm already plotting another planted tank in the NPT vein, instead of starting out fish-only and becoming 'planted by accident'. :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
+1 on thanks! Keep up the great posts, Niko.

I'm hoping the whole year-to-stability thing means that if I have patience my Tahitian moon sand substrate will eventually stop being worthless for anything but (barely) holding down roots.

I'm already plotting another planted tank in the NPT vein, instead of starting out fish-only and becoming 'planted by accident'. :D
Anything, any substrate, eventually collects all the mulm and develops the organisms that make it a live, real planted tank substrate. You can start with literally crushed glass and it will still work after it accumulates the mulm and develops the microorganisms.

The purpose of mixing different ingredients is to speed up the process of establishment. Basically you can wait for good things to happen or you can help them happen by providing whatever we know for sure is beneficial for the processes and microorganisms. The Dutch did it, El Natural does it, Amano does it, ADG does it, Bubbles does it, Oliver Knott does it. On the other hand EI and PPS could care less about the substrate. Wow.

The purpose of using liquid fertilizers that you add in excess to your water is to speed the plant growth. Nothing else. Happy plants - happy you (At least until you consistently maintain the tank). After a year or so the tank establishes itself as I described briefly above.

EI and PPS were never and are not concerned with the substrate. PPS even suggests you use as inert of a substrate as you can so you do not interfere with the precise science of dosing ferts in the water! EI has gradually adopted some half-baked view on substrate going toward the novel idea of "rich substrate is good".

Wow. Amazing concepts indeed. Nature can go to hell, I guess, Tom and Edward can do better than Nature. But that does not stop Ei and PPS do claim credit for everything good that you see in your tank.

And because of reluctance to learn from Nature we reach pretty funny extremes. Trebola's gorgeous outdoor tank was originally concieved with a system to inject liquid fertilizers in the substrate on a daily basis. My god! So let's ingore the function of substrate, forget the natural things that it does! And let's make it do these very things using tubes, pumps, concentrated chemicals, and daily work. Yes, it works - the tank is gorgeous. Trebola ended up just dumping ferts in the water cause it's an easy thing to do. And wrote off the substrate... Nice. Except if he ever goes on a 7 day vacation upon his return things will be ugly, very ugly.

--Nikolay
 
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