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Discussion Starter #1
In the latest issue of The Aquatic Gardener there is an article about 3 of Amano's aquariums (p13 and 14). TAG prints some statistics in a sidebar (see my scan below) for the tank photo which appears on p13 - "a tall aquarium with a dense background of showy plants". I have some questions about the stats, any answers would be appreciated.



Here are some quotes with my question after the = sign:

Filter: ..... NA carbon = what does this mean, carbon or not in the filter?

Substrate: .... Penac W ... Penac P = what is Penac?

Aeration: with a lily pipe = does this mean the lily pipe delivers and air/water mixture to the tank? Presumably mixed out of tank somewhere.

Water quality: ... TH: 10mg/l = TH is Total Hardness (same as GH?)
NO3: <1 mg/l = meaning less than 1ppm?
COD: 4 mg/l - what is COD?

Thanks in advance for your response.

Andrew Cribb
 

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Pineapple,

I have the same questions about the carbon, Oxygen through the lily pipe, and the commercial names of the substrates.

NO3 - yes it is ppm and from what I've seen published Amano's tanks always have very low NO3. Same goes for Phosphate.

COD - you may want to look at an older thread, we discussed COD there. Simplified COD is a way to measure how much Oxygen is consumed by organics AND inorganics in the water. Water with high consumption of Oxygen is considered "dirty". From what I understand 0 - 150 mg/L is considered low range COD. Amano has 4, meaning that his water is extremely clean.

Art, do you think that it would be ok if someone knowledgable posts an explanation about the ingredients of the commercial ADA substrates and additives? Clear Super = Active Carbon; Power Sand = pumice, peat... etc.

--Nikolay
 

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I would not put too much thought into Amano's measurements. He does not strike me as a plant physiologist. Wim mentioned that when we talked to him in the past. You can tell from his answers.
When I see data that is as consistent as those measurements, I know something is up.

I also know enough about plants and their growth to know what is required to grow plants to a certain level with a certain amount of lighting.

The substrate will only get you so far. It can be fun to play with, but the most dramatic improvements in growth are with the water column and that's something you can measure and get a rate. Substrates function as a nutrient pool if something in the water column runs low.
It's important and certainly not something you do not want to work on, but the water column plays a more dynamic role in terms of growth for aquatic plants. Some plants need iron in the substrate more than others.
Other plants seem to prefer aerobic substrates more than others.

He adds the liquid ferts regularly, and they have NPK in there.
If you dose daily, you can keep lower nutrient levels, but this does not gain you any advantage which Amano seems to believe for some reason.
But many believe "add just enough ferts" for the plants. this requires you to get a feel for the amounts and the ebb and flow of nutrient uptake and plant health in your tank. That's not something I or anyone can tell or explain to you over the web.

I've had 5-10x those amounts he states and great growth similar to what he has in the photos.

He seems to spend most of his time doing aquascapaes and photography, not measuring levels or trying new dosing routines or playing with light spectrums and CO2 levels.

He also gave no reason for turning CO2 off at night other than it's "Taboo in Japan".

A person can make even an odd method work, but that does not mean the method is good for most folks or repeatable with your tap water.

The other thing about the measurements: what type of test method was used and at what point in time was the measurement taken, like the time of day and also relative to the large weeekly water changes.

It's interesting his large water change routines and my own suggestion to that effect were arrived at independently. Dutch also did this. They had tap water with high NO3 and PO4. All they needed was K+ and trace and CO2. I had tap water with high PO4.

So who knows what the test mean. The routine is what matters, not some time slice of some measurements. That's not quite useless and certainly misleading.

River flows are often very low in nutrient level but they are not depeleted due to unidirectional flows, when applying this a tank which is more like a small pond, this level would quickly be removed.

Rivers have high algae growth like some lakes even at very very low levels of nuttrients, so the low levels of nutrients, in and of themselves do not help reduce algae.

The NO3 levels in my study site are around 0.5ppm NO3 and I used the best testing method available in the state of FL. Algae is highly abundant at the site, so is plant growth.

Hope this puts some of your hoopla over his measurements.
I'd not worry as much about that, look at the designs though.....they will help you

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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I just want to clear up a misunderstanding before it goes too far.

niko said:
COD - you may want to look at an older thread, we discussed COD there. Simplified COD is a way to measure how much Oxygen is consumed by organics AND inorganics in the water. Water with high consumption of Oxygen is considered "dirty". From what I understand 0 - 150 mg/L is considered low range COD. Amano has 4, meaning that his water is extremely clean.
0-150 ppm COD is the low range for the Hanna test kits. The Hanna kits are made to test "sewage"; 0-150 ppm might be low for sewage, but that is way high for healthy aquatic environment. COD is potentially lethal if it exceeds about 5 but it probably isn't a practical problem unless it gets quite a bit higher. COD may indicate serious problems at concentrations lower than 5, depending on what chemical is actually causing the COD. I don't have a lot of background on COD in planted aquariums. I expect that a COD of 4 is good, but not exceptional.

Does anyone know what they are using to test COD?

Roger Miller
 

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So if certain dangerous substance does not raise the COD reading why would one use the COD test to check the water polution?

That reminds me of the situation where tap water is checked for E. coli in order to monitor waste content, but other (more dangerous organisms) are not part of the standard test.

So, it seems that COD is just one of many parameters that could indicate clean water, right?

On another note - why does ADA finds it important to always publish NO2 content? Why not NH4, or K, Ca, Mg also?

--Nikolay
 

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niko said:
So if certain dangerous substance does not raise the COD reading why would one use the COD test to check the water polution?
In aquariums COD should be a pretty good measure of pollution, but it doesn't reflect the presence of any specific dangerous chemical. It does show how much oxygen would be consumed if the chemicals in the water all reacted. Figure that you probably have about 8-9 ppm of oxygen to start with and things in your aquarium will die if the oxygen concentration drops below 4-5 ppm. A COD of 5 ppm means that in the event of a power outage the oxygen level could drop to 3-4. If COD is 2 ppm then your tank is safe.

That reminds me of the situation where tap water is checked for E. coli in order to monitor waste content, but other (more dangerous organisms) are not part of the standard test.
That is analogous; E. coli itself isnt a huge problem, but it is an indicator of recent fecal contamination and may indicate other problems too numerous to test for on a regular basis. In the case of COD, we don't have *any* way to test for a lot of the things (organics mostly) that would create the COD, but their presence at elevated levels not only spells a potential oxygen disaster but also indicates a generally poor state in the aquarium.

So, it seems that COD is just one of many parameters that could indicate clean water, right?
Low COD would be one indication of clean water, but it is an indicator, not a diagnostic test. It will indicate that a problem exists, but it won't necessarily tell you what the problem is.

Roger Miller
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Tom, Roger, Niko, Thanks for the input.

Sidebars are in themselves tiny slices with much left out. Obviously there is a danger in reading too much into them.

Amano is a great name and presumably he has people on site with expertize to make up for his lack of it in certain areas outside the creative design.

Generalizing, it appears that the philosophy/idea is to have water as simple and 'clean' as possible - with just enough in the water to support the plant life in the aquarium. Living on the edge.

Thanks for the discussion on COD - I will check more into it from other sources.

There always has been a difference between Western and Eastern art and design; there is also a large difference in the approaches of Western and Eastern medicine. I suspect there is also some subtle differences between our two approaches to aquarium maintenance. Only experience can tell. Tom, Roger and Niko certainly have more than I (having just returned to this delight after many years away).

Andrew Cribb
 

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Roger,

This issue of COD is prehaps why some tanks over time get those sour spots, from too much organic matter/mulm accumulated in spots. Or the tank in general.

After a few times of uprooting and trimming, the amount of decayed root mass increases up to a point where the amount of OM stops helping the plant's roots and becomes a drain on the O2 in the roots zones and even if severe enough, a drain on the water column.

I re work my sections pretty well and disturb things enough to remove most build up. Every once in awhile I'll deep vacuum a mature substrate.

I've noticed the souring effect more so on sand/laterite tanks that the more aerobic Flourite. I've never had that issue with the RFUG's ever.

I do not think the COD is useful unless you consider the substrate fraction.

There's a good range of OM and too much or too little is outside that optimum.

Generally with the large water changes Amano and I do and others, COD in the water column will remain very low unless a lot of mulm is being formed.

I do think the mulm can build up and cause issues for some tanks though.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Tom,

He also gave no reason for turning CO2 off at night other than it's "Taboo in Japan".
I'm not clear on this point, do Amano tanks have CO2 on or off at night?

Your personal tanks: do you aerate them at night? I notice an improvement in water quality when I run a simple bubble tube into the tank after lights are out - turning off the bubble when lights come on again. CO2 is running all the time.

Andrew Cribb
 

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FYI,
No Amano tank ever has CO2 on at night.

I do not aerate at night, I see no need. The O2 levels are high enough during most of the night so that no amount of aeration would help.

Only 2-6 hours a day does the DO go below 100% on my tanks.
So I see no need.

Aeration increases circulation, you can do the same thing with a night time powerhead.

I've never found an improvement in the tank with this aeration. It's not added for the plants certainly, they have plenty of O2 relative to even a very poor O2 plant tank.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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Very interesting info in this thread!

--Nikolay
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Circulation by means of airstones for small aquariums seems space efficient. An airstone or tube takes up less space than a powerhead. I had thought that the circulation factor helps and reduces any stagnant points in the tank not reached by the return filter flow. But this point applies only to smaller aquariums.

With regard to the Amano tank this thread started out on, presumably the lily pipe providing the air/water mixture is the filter return which also provides circulation in the same way a powerhead would. This is a 67 US gallon aquarium, if my calculations are right.

I wonder how many North American hobbyists would use a CO2 glass diffuser on a tank that size? Am I right in thinking the favoured method would be to use an in-line reactor on the filter return?

Andrew Cribb
 

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Those sintered diffusers are used for filtering out solids and are prione to clogging, especially if in open areas where light will hit them. Any internal CO2 system will get covered after a few weeks.

That's fine if you maintain it, Amano does. Cleans it with bleach monthly or more. If you place them deep and in the dark corns where there is also some flow, that's ideal.

But if you do not clean them, they will clog and not be as efficient and thus your CO2 levels will go down.

Tube reactors are better and if you can get them 100% out of the tank, then the space issue is not long an issue.

For a small tank an airstone works fine vs a powerhead.

I'd still argue that it does not make a difference if you do this or not.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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It seems to me that its very unprofessional to put CO2 level into bubble/sec unit. This way, you just have no idea what the CO2 level really is...
 

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Many people in Asia tend to do this, they look at the plants and back off if the levels are too high for their fish.

I'm not sure they kill any more fish than those that don't use the method or have any more algae issues.

As far professional, well, I think we cannot realistically get to within 5ppm of CO2 in our measurements anyway in most cases.

But yes, it'd be nice know what the CO2 level is in a tank.
Thing is, that level varies in most tanks oveer time as do the NO3, K, Traces etc.

The dosing frequency is a much more useful measurement.
Eg " dose 5mls per 20 gal of tank every other day with a 50% weekly water change"

That is EASILY reproducible without a test kit.

A tested measurement is only one point in time. And at what point and when was that?

So in certain sense, that is useful for CO2 as well.
pH can be influenced by many things also.

So there are arguements for both sides of this and watching the plants, especially something like Riccia will tell if there's enough CO2.

People said for years that 10-15ppm was good and more than this was bad. I added more because I saw the plants did better, not becuase I held some notion that 20ppm or more was bad.

Looking at the plants/fish will help in many ways more than recommendations or professional measurements.

Still, I think both methods are useful and good to apply depending on the parameter.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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What I was trying to say is that due bubble size different, number of plant different, rate of CO2 loss due to various factor is different, and reactor efficiency is different when comparing different tanks. So I think telling others how many bubbles/sec in a particular tank is virtually the same thing is saying "I have CO2 injected and my plants is growing" and it doesn't help others at all to achieve the same result.
 

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Yes, there is some inconsistency in having COD and NO2 parameters but bubble rates for CO2. Did seem odd to me. Amano's ADA beetles are pretty consistent as far as bubble size. 1/8" I.D. dia size tubing is the standard I try and use. Generally bubble rate will tell if the tank's rate has slowed and it's a good estimation for getting close estimates when starting a system up.

For a 135-175 gal I'll use abiout 3 bubbles a sec, 90-125 around 2 bubble sec, 40-80 1 bubble sec, 20-30 gal around 1 every 2 sec, 10-20 gal/ one bubble every 3 sec etc.
These are just estimations but they are not too far off.

Light, plant types, biomass, etc makes a difference on CO2.
Amano can likely hit it fairly close.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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Since Amano published the KH/GH values for several tanks and the pH's, and the tanks have 1/3-1/2 water change each week, we can assume the pH/KH values are met by the pH/KH/CO2 chart.

That being said,

From Book 2:
A KH of 2 and pH of 7.0 yeilds a CO2 level of about 6ppm. Yet you can see the Riccia pearling like crazy..........

Most pH's are 6.8-7.0, most KH's are 3-4 so the CO2 levels indicated are generally between 8-14ppm.

The CO2 must be higher to achieve this type of growth, I know because that's the only way I've gotten the plants to look like this.

All the picking and aquascaping will not produce the healthy growth. So we are left with what the heck do you mean the tank has 6ppm and 4/w gal and you get the plants to grow and no algae?

Something is missing.

While I enjoyed some of his answers upon meeting him, he is very affable, he also had a sense of evasiveness about specifics. He would never come out and answer a question about CO2 or other nutrient questions with any data or numbers.

1 bubble per second on a 10 gal tank will not yeild a pH/KH of 6.9 and a KH of 3 with 81 watts of light.
Roughly 7ppm of CO2.........with 8w/gal
And lots of pearling Riccia, a plant that many know very well.....

I add 1 bubble every 3 sec out a 1/8" ID tube on a 20 gal with 5.5 watt/PC lighting, so close to 6x less CO2 and I get 30ppm. My KH is 3 also, but my pH is 6.4-6.5

I grow the same darn plants. Riccia you can not trace to the substrate difference also. Whatever it is, it has to be plant nutrients and they must be in the water column in sufficient amounts for the growth to occur.

But one last key thing:
One thing might be the issue, the pH measurements, if they are taken in the morning before the CO2 has been on long or are turned off for the photoshoot, might cause the pH to go up.

Amano does not turn his CO2 on at night, so depending on the time the measurement is taken and under what circumstances, the info might be correct............ but the CO2 levels must be higher than these measurements indicate to match the photo's.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 
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