----- Original Message -----
From: "Todd Crail" <farmertodd_at_buckeye-express.com>
Sent: Friday, November 07, 2003 8:40 PM
Subject: Re: NANFA-- sand bed and plant "filtration"
> Okay... Back to this... The first real step is to look all around you,
> close your eyes, and then say with me: "There is no spoon." :)
> Okay now that we've exited the Tetra Press Matrix....
> Here's where it started and kinda gives a background:
> - I skip on the flourite now. Seems all that tasty goodness gets sucked
> into the sandbed. Big $$ savings, for sure. I have not tried this with
> crypts yet because I'm concerned about the temps affecting their growth
> right now. I will move some over next spring into one of the native tanks
> that doesn't have the flourite and see if even the "almighty necessity"
> do without.
> - I still insulate the bottom for "even temp". Warm feet and all that
> malarky about heating cables generating "flow" in the substrate is a waste
> of time and especially, money.
> - I still add the Florena. This is a _must_ if you're trying to drive
> plant growth with a higher light ratio (I like brite tanks). First off,
> plants will literally fade to a lighter shade of green as their metabolic
> pathways have been inhibited to produce cholorophyll without all the
> micronutrient constituents. Algaes will begin to outcompete as well, if
> plants are unable to produce their alleopathic chemicals to inhibit the
> algal growth on their outer cells. I've pushed it both ways (alot and not
> very much). It seems that by adding the Florena on Sun and Wed (two good
> days for me to remember) that I get nice consistent chorophyll and growth
> without having HUNTER FREAKIN' GREEN java fern and stuff. I think that's
> wasting my money too :)
> Diana Walstad uses topsoil to provide micronutrients, so it's not totally
> necessary. There are other ways besides paying some company. However, I
> don't want to deal with the nutrient overload at first before the
> appropriate "mouths" have hit it full swing. I like the sand because it
> accumulates the nutrition over time, as the plants are utilizing it and
> in proportion to the nutritional source. That's my rationalization and I
> like to spend money from time to time :)
> Tip on the Florena: Buy it in bulk if you've satisfied yourself that it
> works/helps. You'll save hundreds of dollars. A 500ml bottle is $20, but
> 5000ml jug is $80. I dunno who did that math... But I'm not going to
> :) If you want sources, let me know. The LFS here does mail order and is
> shop I would endorse fully. Save the first bottle you buy and use that
> there out by using a funnel to pour into it from the jug.
> - Lighting is the same... About a watt per gallon using GE Daylight Ultra
> lamps. I don't think I'll ever set up any tank that can't use these bulbs
> (4'). They're so cheap and they look about as right as the rain when
> considering flourescents. Metal Halide looks waaaaaaaay better but I
> find I need to have the intensity and additional Photosynthetic Available
> Radiation. It's overkill for what I want to accomplish, and it's heckuva
> lot more convenient to have ONE wire running out of my fixture than wires
> going everywhere. Maybe some day when I have that greenhouse and I can
> them from the ceiling... Oh wait... ;)
> - Look for the Quickcrete brand sand. It has waaaay less clays in it and
> don't even bother rinsing it. Clears up within a week at the most.
> At first, while the bed is still fairly sterile, you won't see any growth
> minimal growth. But you'll know when the plants have hit their stride and
> there's enough nutrition in the bed. My anecdote is... there's also
> enough bacterial respiration in the bed to contribute enough carbon
> for them to fix into new cells. It only seems to get better over time.
> Biofilms appear (the sand is less likely to separate) and then the plants
> start growing all of sudden. The system will also go through a normal pH
> increase during the photoperiod and decrease in the darkness. Go figure
> Those biofilms are your friend too as far as consistent tank look and
> keeping the sand where it belongs. For example in the 30, I have the
> return right at the sandbed, along with a minijet powerhead above it. I
> don't get sand blowing all over the place like I've heard a lot of people
> concerned about.
> I'm also curious to see if that's what hogsuckers need in their diet to
> more consistent results with them. I had one, and boy it was the
> thing to watch him filter the sand. Unfortunately, I didn't have my "fish
> bumpers" in place on the light fixture (put pipe insulation around the
> edges) and he took a ride on the Great Carpet Of the Unknown (tm).
> Also, I mentioned Vals because they have aggressive root growth. And they
> look cool. I also use java fern, java moss, some long stringy hair algae
> haven't ID'd yet, the occasional anacharis, hornwort and duckweed in the
> native tanks. The rainbowfish aquarium has all sorts of apongeton,
> crypts in addition (minus the duckweed because they eat it so
> Shortly, I'm going to remove the hornwort from that system. I'm tired of
> harvesting it :) We'll see if that's a mistake or not. It's sorta been
> crutch as I've wandered through all this. But I'm driving the 30 faster
> harder than any of the others without it and I haven't had a problem I
> couldn't fix by turning off the lights for a couple days and doing some
> A light layer of gravel adds a nice touch too. Add it as piles between
> rocks and then leave bare spots. The gravel seems to work as a prefilter
> for breaking down materials in an aerobic fashion so bacteria below can
> process it further (it's a process :). Certainly, having a canister
> will allow for this as well, but right now I'm playing with sponge filters
> and those little corner filters with just filter floss in them. Air drive
> seems to be my next step and I'm getting the hang of it. Saves big $$ as
> well not having to dump $150 on a stupid human built piece of plastic too
> If you wanna get really crazy, get your "rubble" from a local stream
> (instant cycle! it's live rock! :). I've certainly enjoyed most of the
> invertebrate life that's emmerged. The anchorworms kinda stunk, but they
> did come in on the fish... And I haven't seen them since. I don't think a
> small freshwater system has enough diversity to support all of their life
> stages... But I'm not going to state that as fact ;)
> I can't really think of anything else to add at this point. In a large
> tank, I'll do a thicker bed (like 4"). In a smaller tank, more like 2".
> Seems to be enough to create aerobic and anaerobic layers like you want to
> have. I haven't yet pinned down the dynamics of the systems and exactly
> what is aerobic and anaerobic, and what causes them, saturation of DO2 in
> the water and substrate, but I really don't have the equipment to play
> that... Yet ;)
> Oh, and don't mention it's for a fish tank... I had a buddy actually be
> they wouldn't sell him sand at Home Creepo when he mentioned what he
> to do with it. He had to go back later. Wow.
> Well, I hope this helps and doesn't just overwhelm you. Got questions?
> away :)
> It's never too late to have a happy childhood.
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