Would this either alone, or mixed with aquasoil, topped with gravel be suitable?
YesWould this either alone, or mixed with aquasoil, topped with gravel be suitable?
I've used similar on its own. But that was way back when folk were first experimenting with alternatives to ordinary pea gravel. It grew plants well, it has a high CEC, but then I occasionally supplemented it with dads tomato fertiliser. Sure it can be mixed with AS if that's what you want to do. But it could just as well be mixed with aquatic compost and horticultural grit, and then capped with gravel.Would this either alone, or mixed with aquasoil, topped with gravel be suitable?
Good question. I guess several reasons why. Many are probably historical. For a start it's massively counterintuitive to place soil in a fish tank especially when folk spend so much time vacuuming to remove mulm. Also, it probably never occurred to the same folk (and probably still doesn't), that aquatic plants need soil to grow just like terrestrial plants. Instead plants where planted in pea gravel or just weighed down with lead strips, not fed and lit inadequately and considered consumables since unsurprisingly they just kept on dying.
Planted tanks and aquascaping have increasing considerably in popularity and are now capable of supporting a dedicated industry. Accordingly, there are much more convenient alternatives like ADA and Tropica AS. There is just no need to use soil. And a whole generation of aquatic plant growers have known nothing else, so it just wouldn't occur to them to use actual soil or compost.
But back in the day, growing aquatic plants was very niche, very few of us were interested in it. As a kid my parents bought me an annual subscription to Aquarist and Pond Keeper magazine, @foxfish was a subscriber too. Anyway, the magazine had a plant expert called Dr. Vivian De Thabrew and he is the first person I came across that advocated the use of capped soil for growing aquatic plants.
So I and a few other devotees followed his advice since there wasn't any other viable alternative. Plants grew like mad, and my fish seemed much healthier and happier. Needless to say it was a defining moment, and I haven't really looked back. By the way, Vivian is a prolific author and written books on buddhism too.
That was an interesting read. My first 'plug and play' aquarium came with T8 bulbs and I still remember debating whether I should swap my aquarium hood for the new T5 unit. I also remember when the LED lights hit the salty side of the hobby and I bought a evergrow IT 4 foot chinese black box for nearly the same price as my whole set up. Last time I checked most hobbyists had gone back to 'hybrid' T5 and LED systems. It makes me wonder if the planted hobbyists will do the same.Yes, in many ways, I am not totally convinced that the hobby has advanced that much over the last 30 years!
It may of headed off in different directions but there were many fantastic feature tanks back in the day!
Of course we have some technical advancements like LED lights but it is debatable if they actually grow plants any better that T8 fluorescents! Maybe more economical to run (although often more expensive to purchase) and I dont doubt that they are the future but over the last ten years, LEDs appear to me, to have produced as many algae outbreaks as they have spectacular tanks?
I think that the aquariums themselves have definatily evolved with much better silicone and clear glass.
Anyway, organic substrates were indeed a popular choice tor the planted tank, coupled with a heating cable, rain water, basic ladder C02 diffusers and T8 tubes plus daily ferts produced some amazing Dutch style displays.
I bought a heating cable back in around 1987, they were fixed to the bottom of the tank with suckers, so the cable was elevated about 20 mm.
I collected sand from a local stream and added equal amounts of leaf mould collected from the stream margins.
This was mixed and spread over the cable to a depth of around 40mm and capped with pea gravel to offer a total depth of 75 x 100mm.
The idea was the cable produce a thermal flow within the substrate which in turn was pulling nutrition down into the plant roots.
I had a 50 gallon tank in my lounge that had mass planting from day one and only two 40w T8 tubes.
I only had a one kg C02 cylinder (still got it and it was at one time used as a nitrous oxide container on my motorbike) but it still lasted two months.
So we had an active substate and C02 but, one big difference was the flow, it was preached not to have any surface movement and only a low turnover flow, I think 4-5 x an hour max. Water changes were either 10% a day or 30-40% weekly depending on rainwater suppy.
Fish were a low priority and only a medium shoal, of small free swimming fish plus 20 or so corys.
My tank was an amazing success it fact it was a pain to be forever removing excess plants, although they were largely stem type plants.
I even had the editor of Aquarist magazine travel to Guernsey to photograph and feature my tank.
unfortunately I fell for the same trap as many still do 36 year on…. I bought one of the mercury vapour lights that were being advertised as the must have of the day.
Yep you guessed it my tank tuned to pea soup….
The hoods on my early aquariums had circular cutouts ready for the installation of incandescent lightbulbs, this coupled with an undergravel filter and air pump resulted in poor plant growth. Cabomba would survive but became very leggy, never experienced algae outbreaks though.My first 'plug and play' aquarium came with T8 bulbs
The hoods on my early aquariums had circular cutouts ready for the installation of incandescent lightbulbs, this coupled with an undergravel filter and air pump resulted in poor plant growth. Cabomba would survive but became very leggy, never experienced algae outbreaks though.
I don’t really have any definitive answers for you. I tend to stick with what I know regarding soil mixes. Like I mentioned, I use 1:1 aquatic compost and peat moss, with added grit.
But the fact your plants seem to be responding well to a change in conditions probably gives you some indication that the previous substrate might not have been ideal.
Exciting times regarding your first proper aquascape. You shouldn’t experience any difficulty with the plants you bought. They all appreciate a nutrient rich substrate and do well low-energy too.
There is more than one path to success. Whatever works best for you 😉I know this isn't necessary the hybrid system you were discussing of Co2 and higher lighting. However, I feel it moves me along the path from were I was towards being in a position to consider the higher lighting and Co2.