Hybrid methods, fusing dry start+ excel with non CO2
In an agenda based biased support for non CO2 methods(I shall also unasahmedly support the non CO2 approach), Homer Simpson(not his real name) suggested some things that fused a few methods together to Achieve a goal.
This method is easy and simple and uses a commercial product that is widely available and homogeneous. ADA aqua soil.
Here's a hybrid approach I've mentioned to some folks that works extremely well. Use Excel for the non CO2 approach and do the water changes for the first few weeks, then slowly back off.
The plants will be well established and their roots grown in. You can do all the water changes you want. Then when you ween off the Excel, go cold turkey with the water changes.
Now many claim you should do one method and not mix them etc, however, with the dry start and with such methods like this one, you can do them and take the advantage of each to get the goal you are after:thumbsup:
Now you can take this method above, and then do the dry start as well, then add Excel, then back off later depending on what species you want in the tank.
So in summary:
Try using ADA As for a non CO2 tank(or soil, or worm castings, or river, lake sediment sif a good source is available), the problems with it are high NH4/tannins etc.
To get around this:
We can do the dry start to better root plants and to help cycle the tank and the NH4. Once the tank's foreground plants etc are established, we flood the tank.
We also add Excel for the first few weeks and do large water changes to remove the leaching from the ADA AS.Now after 2-3 month's time has past, the plants are well grown in, no algae(excel + dry start), dense, and well cycled. The ADA soil is now fairly mature and ready to go non CO2/non Excel and no more water changes. Give the plants at least 2- 4 weeks time to adapt, things might not goes as well as you might think at first, but should recover. You can make the transition easier vai slowly tapering off of the dosing of Excel.
If you want the faster growth, you can always go back to Excel+ water changes-or no water changes).
Note, the lower rates of growth using Excel vs CO2 will allow the ADA As to last much longer, perhaps 3-10X longer depending on the plant species.
You can dose, but at a much reduced rate(see the non CO2 article for more there). If you keepo doing the Excel dosing, then you might consider doing 2-3x a week dosing at that non CO2 rate, up from 1x a week as per the non CO2 method.
Rational: as the CO2/carbon supply is increased, some proportionally are the nutrients. you get about 200-300% more growth, so the dosing reflects that for nutrients.
This does not imply adding more light is required however. Stability is much easier to achieve by setting good nutrients for non CO2, then if you still want more growth, add Excel or CO2.
Only then, after these are are not able to achieve the growth rates desired, would an aquarist consider more light intensity.
I think this method will allow very nice non CO2 low maintenance scapes that are nice looking and not that hard to set up if you use a fusion of 1-2 methods.
Give this one a try.
Thanks for coming up with this method and posting it, Tom. My next tank is going to be non-CO2 -- I've got a feeling that I will really enjoy that style of tank. I had been researching the non-CO2 methods but still had tons of questions ... you just answered 99% of them with this simple method.
Very interesting. I like the idea of growing out the plants initially and then discontinuing the excel. It gets the plants established, then you have a nice looking tank with low maintenance. I've seen a number on non co2 tanks and they can be quite striking. The frustrating part is waiting for the tank to get established.
Could this be done using co2 initially ? Could a substrate such as eco complete or flourite be used ? Is using the dry method to start necessary ?
Since you already brought it up, Henry...
One question I was going to ask before I actually start my non-CO2 tank is: Can I get my tank's plants fully established with CO2 first? I was thinking maybe only 10-15ppm CO2, since I would have low light -- and also use light EI dosing (perhaps 1/3 normal). You'd have the best of both worlds: fairly quick tank establishment, then after weaning off of CO2 slowly, you have a low maintenance tank.
Maybe if you get some new plants, you could even crank up the CO2 again occasionally to get the new plants up and running quickly. Of course, now we're complicating things again.
Do you think its possible to do this dry start approach with Hemianthus callitrichoides?
if so should I keep a litle of the sponge stuff that comes with it, or whould I try to find seeds (is there such thing?)
HC is the very plant that developed the DSM............not really I per se, but folks added one idea and another, we just pre grow the Terrariums in, then flood later after.
Neither idea is mine per se, I just suggested it and promoted it based on the few trade offs and reduced labor.
This idea above is no different, and yanking the CO2/Excel off once the tank has grown in well is also, not my idea, I got it from Dan Reslar's article off the Krib some 13 years ago. He suggested using CO2 for a few weeks to get things grown in the way you want, then pulling it.
Once you understand how each method and the rate of growth they produce works, then you can modify them to meet a variety of goals for folks.
I think I have the patience for this, I'll definitively give a shot at it (the fact that my tank is only 9'' x 9'', will definitively help with the patience).
I'll will try to report my shot at this in a tread for everyone to follow along a critique/help
What about dwarf hairgrass?
I'm asking cause I planted some, but since there is no water at this point (other then in the soil of course), they stick together in their mini bunch I made. In water they would be more "open".
I'm worry that the fact they are all stuck together will make the central one die pretty quickly?
I can put a pick If I'm unclear.
Dwarf hairgrass will work well with the DSM. Once the hairgrass begins to spread they will send out runners with individual leaves so there won't be any clumping. Of course the more you break up the clumps during the initial planting the faster they will spread.
I failed with my dwarf hairgrass, but the HC are going pretty well.
What happen is that I tough I broke my hairgrass in small enough groups, but I guess I did not. So they where clumping together and eventually after 3 weeks, I observed the central part of these clumps dying.
So last night, I removed them, and broke each group to single stem, and remove all the dead hairgrass... they are now planted in a small plastic Tupperware with some soil and submerged (cause I want to let the HC going submerge a little more).
I might try to plant some single stand of the hairgrass with the HC and compare side by side.