PDA

View Full Version : i'm a newbie...peat moss in planted tanks?



liz3
01-30-2010, 02:52 PM
Does anyone have any experience in creating a plant mix using something like 1/3 peat moss 1/3 marine sand & aragonite and 1/3 flourite then laying a 1/2 to 1" layer of flourite over top. does this sound wacky? yeah probably, but the thought of forking over $20 a bag for flourite to fill a 75g with a 2-3" bed gives me sticker shock. i have peat in my 20g with flourite and so far no troubles and things are growing great, but it has not been running terribly long. i guess i am kinda hybridizing different aquatic garden techniques. the thought of walstad's potting soil idea made me cringe. peat is a plant material, figured that might work. heck i don't know. someone tell me what i should do for a 75gallon substrate. do i just suck it up and buy flourite / eco-complete? i have heard of some folks soaking vermiculite and incorporating that in too. eventually, i would like to stock discus in the tank so i want to make sure the floor if the tank is appropriate. ideally, i would like to not siphon and so forth and have the flora do most the work of keeping the tank clean... sort of a Walstad concept. words of wisdom please :).

geotek
01-30-2010, 04:54 PM
You could use 1-2" of topsoil or pool filter sand with a .5" layer of pea gravel, aquarium gravel or flourite over the the top. I used topsoil out of the yard for a 20 gal with gravel over the top and 6 months later, no problems.
Pool filter sand with root tabs for crypts and swords also works. Aquarium plants dot com also sells a clay type substrate that is cheaper than flourite, but still way more expensive than a bucket of topsoil or some sand.
Will you have any digging fish planned?

Cratylus
01-31-2010, 04:25 AM
I tried almost an identical substrate setup in a 125g tank. Things went swimmingly for about 9-10 months and then all hell broke loose. The peat slowly started to decay and I had a green water outbreak because of all the extra "nutrients" in the tank. It took NUMEROUS water changes over the next month to finally clear up the problem. Shortly after that my fish starting dying and I couldn't figure out why. I finally found out that a by-product of the decaying process is methane, which is poisonous to fish. As the methane bubbles started making their way slowly up the layers of substrate they would partially dissolve in the water (sorta the way that CO2 bubbles dissolve a little bit before hitting the surface). I finally had to take down the tank and start over from scratch with a less volatile and less toxic substrate.

Take it from somebody who has been down that road, stick with Flourite or EcoComplete substrates. They may cost more, but there's a reason that almost everyone swears by them: they work!

geotek
01-31-2010, 08:25 AM
Cratylus - you used a substrate almost identical to what? Sorry, I'm not clear as to what you were using. Was it a half inch peat moss layer with sand over it? People on other forums have run even low tech tanks with that set up for years with no problem.
A second question, did you have any MTS snails in your tank? The fact that it worked for 9-10 months before the green water outbreak makes me wonder if there was something else going on. NH4+ is the only nutrient that triggers green water, by the way. Which would be produced by any decaying organic matter.

liz3
01-31-2010, 08:30 AM
thanks for the info! i hope to have discus in there eventually and some small schooling fish...no diggers in this tank...i want PLANTS :). because i plan on discus, i have a hunch i am going to go ahead and drop the mother load on flourite or eco-complete. ughhh, it kills me. guess it goes with the hobby. geotek, i am in auburn too. i see some potential for future plant swaps.

geotek
01-31-2010, 09:36 AM
If you have no diggers, you could also use soil dug up from the woods after picking out the roots. The soils found here are mineral in composition, except for a usually very thin layer of topsoil. As long as the soil doesn't contain any pesticides, it would be fine in your tank and provide the cation exchange capacity that flourite and ecocomplete do.
Pool filter sand with root tabs is also easy to work with and cheap.
I am always up for plant exchanges and I almost always have excess plants.

Cratylus
02-01-2010, 10:44 AM
Cratylus - you used a substrate almost identical to what? Sorry, I'm not clear as to what you were using. Was it a half inch peat moss layer with sand over it? People on other forums have run even low tech tanks with that set up for years with no problem.
A second question, did you have any MTS snails in your tank? The fact that it worked for 9-10 months before the green water outbreak makes me wonder if there was something else going on. NH4+ is the only nutrient that triggers green water, by the way. Which would be produced by any decaying organic matter.
I used a mixture of peat moss and aragonite reef sand for the bottom 1" of substrate, then layered 1-1" of Flourite on top of that. My tank wasn't overstocked (8 Congo Tetras, 12 Diamond Tetras, 15 Neon Tetras, and 5 Assorted Cories). It didn't have decaying plants or fish carcasses. It only received 9 hours of light per day, and it received no indirect sunlight at all. The only other thing in the tank that was organic was the bottom layer of peat moss and reef sand mixture. It was the only thing in that tank that could have produced the levels of NH4+. I never had Malaysian Trumpet Snails in the tank. None of the fish were "dirt diggers." I don't have kids who would secretly dump ammonia in my tank while I was sleeping.

About the decaying peat moss... when you start seeing the CH4 bubbles forming in the bottom layer and rising through the substrate and into your water column, you sorta know that's the cause of the fish dying problems... especially when you drain the tank and start over with ONLY Flourite and have no similar green water outbreaks or fish dying problems afterward (for over 4 years). I'm not doubting your expertise in this area, geotek, but I know what I experienced, researched my problems are they were happening, and eliminated ALL other possibilities for the cause of the problem except the decaying peat moss.

I'm not saying that other aquarists haven't had success with this kind of set up; I'm simply saying that my attempt at this kind of substrate was disastrous. Since then, I would rather spend a little more and use something that I KNOW will be effective than try to experiment with something just to save a buck.

liz3
02-01-2010, 10:47 AM
thank you, that is what I needed to know.

Spork
02-01-2010, 12:00 PM
This is the best link for making your own soil and reduce the decaying of plant matter from the soil.

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/substrate/72382-mineralized-top-soil-substrate.html

I have also used organic pond soil bought at Atlanta Water Gardens on Cheshirebridge Road. You just need to wash out all the large particulate and floating matter. It works really well.

liz3
02-01-2010, 01:53 PM
i've done some aquatic soul searching and realized i am a big chicken :). i am going to use eco-complete in my 75 and try this method in a 20. :) bak-bak...(chicken noise) though i AM going to use this CO2 method and see how it goes. i will share that experience with ya lata. guess i will need a CO2 test kit to keep an eye on that. i did find that walstad amended her "bible" to say no peat, no bagged soils. hmmmm, interesting. i wonder how many tanks that crashed? -liz

liz3
02-01-2010, 01:54 PM
scroll down to CO2

http://www.thekrib.com/Plants//kelly-intro.html

Spork
02-01-2010, 02:05 PM
Are you going to do a DIY for a 75? If you are thinking about it you will need 4-8 bottles to run a 75 on DIY CO2. The cost in the end is pretty high based on the amount of sugar you are going to need to power a tank that large. There are great deals on Regulators out there. There were 2 Victor regulators for sale in the "Sale" forum. Victors are considered to be one of the best CO2 regulators out there (they retail new for 150+).

The other thing you have to look at is when the article you referenced is 15 years old and some what out of date. There is better information out there that is more up to date with modern equipment.

If you are looking for a good deal on substrate, call Keen Reef. He ordered us 2 bags of Florite Black for 19 bucks a bag and it came in the week we ordered it. The store is near North Dekalb mall. Great store to deal with.

liz3
02-01-2010, 02:35 PM
wow, thank you for the good info. did notice it was from 1995...i am old school what can i say. he claimed 1 2L for a 55 for a month. well heck i thought, why not. i will forgo the 2L, oops 8-16L, co2 on the 75. how ridiculous would that be? tinker with it on the 20 i guess. that will be the diy tank. aquariums unlimited is getting in a shipment of eco-complete the end of the week and said it would be $19 a 20lb bag. i WILL call keen reef. i saw the co2 items for sale, but not quite ready for them yet and funds to substrate first. thanks, calling keen now.

Spork
02-01-2010, 03:06 PM
I run a DIY with a Rex Grigg reactor off my Eheim 2213 and it does really well for a 20 gallon tank. I am not sure what filter you are running so I am not sure what method to use for your tank for getting the CO2 circulated in your tank.

liz3
02-01-2010, 03:12 PM
i have a fluval 305 that i am hoping to use for circulation. otherwise, i have HOB aquaclears and stuff like that lying around. do help me figure that stuff out. i ran brackish on this tank, re-homed the fish last week and i am in the process of breaking it down now.

liz3
02-01-2010, 03:24 PM
also, i have a 36" coralife light. i would need to unmount it to recall the specs on the 2 bulbs; i know it was sold as a plant light. i created mounts out of L-brackets and attached it to the canopy. i am not using lids on the tank other than the canopy unless i need to for some technical reason.

Cratylus
02-01-2010, 03:34 PM
If you are looking for a good deal on substrate, call Keen Reef. He ordered us 2 bags of Florite Black for 19 bucks a bag and it came in the week we ordered it. The store is near North Dekalb mall. Great store to deal with.
I second the recommendation for Keen Reef. I just ordered 8 more bags of Flourite from him for $16.49 a bag and he said I could pick them up Thursday. His store caters to the saltwater reef community, but he can and will special order freshwater substrates for you (minimum order of 2 bags I believe).

Spork
02-01-2010, 03:42 PM
It is a minimum of 2 bags because there are 2 to a box. The owner will order you ANYTHING from Seachem and most anything else within reason. He will get it to you quickly as well.

liz3
02-01-2010, 04:07 PM
i called him and he quoted $18 per bag for black flourite, 15.4lb , what's up with dat? any thoughts?

liz3
02-01-2010, 04:11 PM
hang on, yeah...18 a bag works. distracted while reading, sorry.

Spork
02-01-2010, 04:57 PM
Liz look here

http://www.rexgrigg.com/diy-reactor.htm

Build one for your 20 and your canister filter. A 305 is really to small for a 75 gallon planted tank.

If you need help, I am more than willing to help you out.

liz3
02-01-2010, 05:05 PM
i have a 127gph aquaclear powerhead with pre-filter to add on. that would be 377gph flow. is that on par? or am i going to have to upgrade filters?

geotek
02-01-2010, 10:49 PM
How much flow you end up needing depends in part whether you have low to med light tank, or a high light CO2 injected tank. Low and med light tanks will work fine with less current flow. Either way, 377gph isn't really all that much for a planted tank as plants do a great job of slowing water flow, but may be adequate for a low or med light tank.
By way of comparison, I have 900gph on my high light 55 between the filter and the koralia 2, and at least 1500gph on my 135 gal. And there are still areas of low flow! Koralia powerheads are a great way to up water flow if you don't mind having to see them, or can hide them in the tank.

Spork
02-02-2010, 08:46 AM
If you are going to inject a 20 gallon tank with CO2 take the line from your bottle and put in the airline input on the power head.

I agree with Geo about the Korlina power heads. The micro would work well in a 20.

liz3
02-02-2010, 09:14 AM
wow, that is a lot of flow. that is surprising. i thought low flow was the idea with plants. ok, i will need to address that as i am thinking med to high light plants. yeah, i am working on the 2L bottle set up for my 20g and was planning on setting it in to my air intake on my powerhead. i am going to try making that CO2 reactor, thanks spork. that will be a cool project. ya'll rock! thanks. kribs in a planted tank? yes/no? are they way too destructive?

Spork
02-02-2010, 10:18 AM
That reactor needs to be run off a pump or the output of a canister filter. I would use the power head for the time being.

The flow in the tank should not push your plants over. If it is then redirect the flow to somewhere else in the tank. You also do not want to tire your fish out trying to go against the flow in the tank.

geotek
02-02-2010, 12:44 PM
To put it another way, you won't need as much flow until you have a lot of plants. Before I had a jungle in my 135, a 400gph power head directed down the length of the tank created a fairly strong circular current. With the plants, 1200gph Koralia 4 barely reaches 5' down the tank. And there are many slow spots for the fish to snooze.
Definitely redirect flow to avoid pushing the plants over, although some plants will lean in the slightest current. It's a compromise between getting enough current and not having the delicate stems leaning too much. I still struggle with this.

liz3
02-02-2010, 01:08 PM
got the gist. i have tinkered with direction and flow in my 20, a 75 will be a little bit of trial and error the first few days and sounds like i will have to upgrade as the tank fills in.