Potted plants in tank.

ncje

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OK not so long ago I was discussing with Isabella using soil in aquariums and the benefits it offers by the sheer number of beneficial bacteria living in soil. Thus my experiment started.

My tank is almost entirely bare bottom, as in there is a single layer of substrate. (vacuums in about 2 minutes entirely). I have a number of plants attached to pieces of wood arranged in the tank and did have a large number of plants stuck in small plastic pots.

OK I sourced some aquarium soil from my LFS and some large terracotta pots. They are about 3-4 inches deep and 6 inches across x 2 and another deeper pot not so wide.

Filled my pots with the soil and potted my plants. I then let the pot sit in a bucket of tank water for a few minutes to clean of the surface debris. On top of that I added a about a half inch of gravel. Placed potted plants in tank and then very carefully tugged on the plants to lift them into the right position.

Two weeks in my plants were OK, nothing special had really happened to them... please note my water always read 0 on the nasties so its impossible to gauge the effect its had in that are.

Four weeks still much the same.

Five weeks.... something happened in one week the plans grew astronomically fast :S I think there must have been a grow in period where the plants were settling into their new substrate and now they have they are going great.

The last two days though I have been hit by a bomb. I did a rather large water change Saturday as I wanted to add two small plecos (variety of that gets to about 4 inches - not bristlenose I will confirm the exact name soon as I forgot to read it, all I was asking the LFS was adult size and where they were from to match my angels water conditions) anyway I did the water change moved the pots around (as I was adjusting the plecs water) then released them in with the angels. Since this water change though I have been hit with the brown algae :S Water is perfect just algae.

Initially I was wondering if the plants were using the soil nutrients instead of created nitrates, but as I said water is perfect. Anyway next step has to be co2. Cant live with intermittent algae bombs, its always this same kind, but it comes and goes... wondering if theres something coming through the tap thats causing it now.

I am also wonder if its being affected by my lighting, I run it a long part of the day as I'm often working here. Two 30w tubes one is 12000k the other is a blue spectrum tube. Any thoughts?
 

atmmachine816

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How big is your tank and how long do you run your lights, usually if wpg is over 2 then you most likely have algae problems.
 
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ncje

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Maybe the lights are on too long? I run them from about 8 am to around 10 pm every day. My tank is 50 gallon.

Posted on: Yesterday at 09:51:14 PM
Posted by: 0morrokh
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Are you using liquid or strip tests?
Ive have and use both.
 

atmmachine816

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Well you have a litle over 1 wpg and you run your lights for 14 hours, that's a little much, try cutting it down to 8-10 hours a day and see how it is.
 

Isabella

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Ncje, over a 50 gallon tank and with two 30W fluorescent tubes, you have 1.2 wpg of lighting. This is not bad, but could be a bit higher for plants (but it's just my personal thought; after all, I am growing an amazon sword under less than 1 wpg and my water sprite thrived in my tank under that same wattage).

According to Walstad's book, algal problems in the beginning of a tank's life cycle are normal and they'll go away after a while (provided that you have 1" of natural soil without any fertilizers and additives, just plain soil). Walstad does not recommend frequent water changes in such a tank as they remove the nutrients necessary for plants. If your nitrates, nitrites, and ammonia are at 0 all the time, then why change the water? One may say ... because other chemicals accumulate in the water over time. That's understandable, BUT in a tank Walstad's style .... meaning with A LOT of plants and a natural soil ... the plants remove the other chemicals (such as heavy metals) as they're the plants' nutrients as well.

Maybe the large water change caused you these problems? Maybe you removed a lot of nutrients from the water but just enough was left for algae to grow? But again ... just my guesses.

The first few weeks with your plants not growing or changing in any way was an initial stage where they had to establish themselves. After a while, when they're well established, they should grow really well.

What Walstad particularly recommends for such a tank is a water source that has water at least neutral (she's not very optimistic about soft water because soft water means less nutrients that come with water) and a soil that is not acidic.
 
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