View Full Version : October talk

09-29-2009, 08:01 AM
Hey folks,

Since our previously scheduled speaker isn't going to be able to make it this month I've been asked to do a talk. I'll be speaking on the basics of keeping planted aquariums; CO2, light, fertilization, substrates, aquascaping, trimming, etc. If you have any questions or have specific topics you'd like to see addressed please reply below before Thursday.


09-29-2009, 10:25 AM
I am curious as to the experiences of people using topsoil as a substrate, as whether locally gathered or using cheap commercial topsoil, the soil composition is different for this region then many other areas of the country. It seems a lot sandier with more coarse organics. I am experimenting using gathered topsoil in a low tech tank without minieralizing, and it has done well for more than 3 weeks so far.
Also what effects has higher water temperature had on high tech tanks for people. I have two high tech tanks, and they really suffered when the water temps got over 79F, but seem to be recovering with lower water temps.
Just a couple of questions that came to mind.

09-29-2009, 08:20 PM
I have used local clay and commercial topsoil for years.
I have found that crypts do very well in the local red clay.

09-29-2009, 08:45 PM
How about plants and the low/no tech tank. Most tank setups do not come with lots of lights and CO2 injectors. The planted tank for the average aquarium.

09-29-2009, 10:17 PM
a pro/con list of the different substrates for planted tanks?
diy co2 on a small tank?
types of lighting?

09-30-2009, 12:09 AM
I'm with Roger. I need cheap, easy ways to keep low-light plants happy in my fish tanks while controlling unwanted algae. My questions are all like 'Why does hornwort thrive for a long while then suddenly drop all its needles and clog my filter intakes"? Does adding any ferts to a tank with no CO2 make sense? When should you pot or bury a plant vs. tying it on driftwood vs. letting it float.

Someday I may do a real "planted tank" with a few small fish for decoration. An estimate of the time & money (both startup and ongoing) required for a small tank with medium light plants and high light plants would be nice.

But do what interests you, I'm sure there is enough for several talks.

09-30-2009, 01:15 AM
I think if you let people know that anyone can maintain live plants in their tanks and it does not require an expensive setup, more people would try them. And I think there are more than just java moss, java fern and anubias people could try in an average setup and have success.

09-30-2009, 09:45 AM
I think if you let people know that anyone can maintain live plants in their tanks and it does not require an expensive setup, more people would try them. And I think there are more than just java moss, java fern and anubias people could try in an average setup and have success.
I think this is a good topic for people that are unaware or intimidated by aquatic plants. The discussion would include things like minimum light threshold, which plants are appropriate for low light tanks, recognizing signs of deficiency(of either light or micro nutrients), and ways to combat the financial barriers typically assumed in setting up a planted tank. You could expand on the plants, like Roger said, discussing how to best plant those low light plants you suggested.

If all of that doesn't give you enough, you could also do a similar presentation on high tech setups, however this would really require a presentation of its own. Topics would include substrate, co2, light, fertilization, and perhaps a good comparison of the pros/cons of high tech vs low tech setups. Naturally, you could also provide recommendations on ways to reduce the significant costs associated with high tech tanks.

For a crowd that's relatively unaware of planted tanks, I think this would be incredibly beneficial. I'm sure you could get some good pictures of some great low tech tanks if you posted on some of the usual forums.

Larry Bugg
09-30-2009, 10:18 AM
I have to agree. I think Roger has hit on a excellent "starting" topic on planted tanks. I got my first aquarium about 45 years ago. I always wanted live plants and for the first 43 years tried and failed. A little over 2 years ago I made the decision I was going to do whatever it took to have a planted tank. I read and read to be sure I knew what I needed. I started my first tank and found I hadn't read enough or spent enough (because I unknowingly took the high tech route). I wish I had heard a talk titled something like introduction to planted tanks. While there is a growing number of planted tank members of the club there is a larger number that are not. I hear a lot of frustration (in the form of jokes) about growing plants. A low light planted tank can be done for not much more money than a non planted and anyone is capable of doing it. It just takes some basic knowledge. But man is it worth it!!!!! I even plant my grow out tanks in the fishroom with low light plants. Of course this means pulling most of the plants out when I want to get the fish back out but its pretty easy to pull them up and then stick them right back in. No great aquascape but I like the jungle look anyway. With the availability of plants from club members and a little basic knowledge all our members have the ability to discover what some of us already enjoy so much.

09-30-2009, 11:27 AM
I just wanted to echo some of the things that other forum members have already said. Although I've enjoyed the hobby since I was a child, live plants are relatively new to me. And I think I've created some fairly impressive aquascapses without going the high-tech route.

I think all of us are trying to find that balance where we enjoy the hobby without it becoming so much work that some of the pleasure and enjoyment is lost.

So, practical advice about how to get a planted tank started without high-output lighting and expensive high-tech equipment would be greatly appreciated. Specific topics I'd like to see addressed: 1) substrates -- benefits and disadvantages of soil substrates, a broad overview of lighting requirements, liquid ferts, an overview of a dozen hardy low to medium light plants for beginners (but delve a little deeper than anubias, crypts, java fern and moss.)

Finally, maybe a overview of some plants that won't do well in a low-tech set-up and reasons why (ie. too little light or not the proper nutrient requirements)

Option #2 Building a biotope set-up


P.S. Do you think you'll have any Ludwigia clipping to bring to the meeting?

09-30-2009, 01:37 PM
You might also mention the type of plants sold in many lfs that are not true aquatics (terrestial plants that temporarily tolerate flood conditions) and should be avoided. These types of plants discourage new aquarists and are probably the leading cause of the "planted tanks are too difficult/can't kepp them alive/need real expensive equipment" mentality.

g libby
09-30-2009, 04:59 PM
I have something that I have never seen in print and 95 % of people reading this will think I am off the wall and would need more time to research this but, what about plants making their own enviorment to survive. We all have had plants that were doing very well and the a different plant was introduced. A short time later the new plant was doing great but the origional plants faded out. I just had this happen. My water sprite, java moss and even a ball type algae faded and I am not sure which new plant or algae caused this. Comparison would be like terrestrial plants. Spanish Moss doesn't grow on Pine Trees. Well if you go in the swamps in Florida with ideal growing conditions - it does but come north into Georgia and you will see broadleaf trees covered with it and next to it a pine tree without a drop on it.

10-01-2009, 12:21 AM
Diane Walstad's book had a chapter on this. I'm too lazy tonight to grab the book to find the exact terminology. But the basic concept (and I think it's an established if not fully understood scientific fact) that plants release certain chemicals that can have an inhibitory effect on other plants. Plants just like animals are locked in a battle for survival and limited resources.


10-01-2009, 12:08 PM
Besides competing for nutrients with other plants, aquatic plants seem to inhibit algae growth through some not yet understood mechanism when the aquatic plants are doing well. This topic is touched upon now and then in the Planted tank forums.

10-01-2009, 12:42 PM
Diana Walstad: "Ecology of the Planted Aquarium" And the term is "Allelopathy."

Apisto Jim
10-05-2009, 06:08 PM

I really enjoyed your presentation. I thought it was a clear, understandable presentation of the science--and you showed how it can be applied to get better results with planted tanks. Great delivery, too.

Thank you very much, and I look forward to you biotope presentation.


10-05-2009, 10:14 PM
Yes, it was good. You hit all my essential questions.

10-06-2009, 11:21 AM
Thank you! I love talking about plants as I'm sure you could tell. :) I'm glad that y'all could take something new away from the talk that will help you have more success with your own aquariums.


10-06-2009, 02:33 PM
Great job Phil! I'm looking forward to hearing your next talk and again at the the AGA convention....woot!


10-06-2009, 05:38 PM
Talk at the AGA? :lol: I doubt I'll be giving a presentation at one of those for a few years, if ever. :|


10-06-2009, 06:12 PM
I really enjoyed your talk at the meeting. I really learned a lot on basic plant care that I had never heard before.


Amazon Lover
10-08-2009, 06:09 PM
Phil, I enjoyed your talk very much. I also enjoyed our new venue too. I thought of us as little science apprentices gathering again to absorb some more knowledge rather than hungry guys just trying to catch a little here and there while we eat a pizza. That classroom set up is just too cool. Too bad I will be in Peru while you talk about biotopes next month. Haven't been to the motherland in two years so it should be fun! Please post your presentation if you can. Hasta la vista todos!!

10-08-2009, 07:01 PM
Thanks for the great talk, Phil, it was very educational for the science side of things. Maybe you can talk about algae at the beginning of next month's meeting since I know several people were interested in that, but you ran out of time. Thanks again!

10-13-2009, 05:20 PM
Hey Phil, was a good presentation enjoyed it. The part with the pictures showing how the plants might look if it was missing certain nutrients Na, K, Mg, etc... was good. Do you have a link to those images some place? Have a friend or two I think could benefit from seeing that. The amount of "chemistry" you had in your talk I think was fine, maybe a bit too detailed in parts, but did prove your point on how important everything is relative to each other. Hard to cram everything you know about plants into a short one hour talk, when you could easily talk about any of the topics you mentioned in its own presentation.