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Diana Walstad's El Natural vs Tom Barr's Low Tech

Discussion in 'AquaScaping World Magazine Discussions' started by John N., May 6, 2008.

  1. John N.

    John N. Administrator Staff Member

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  2. plantbrain

    plantbrain Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Okay:)
    I know the authors:)

    I think there's a margin or error when folks use soil or organic compost etc.
    I think a section in Diana's book devoted to a few methods of mineralization would be very helpful.

    This would cause fewer issues for tank set ups.
    You can boil(10-15 min), bake(1 hour) or allow the sediment to mineralize in a shallow tray for 3 weeks with a thin layer water. Another somewhat novel idea is to add "zeo sand"(Zeolite sand), pool supply places sell it) to the organic rich compost, worm castings, garden soil, wetland mud, loam etc. All these methods remove NH4 or convert/transform it into NO3.

    They also remove all the O2 depeleting elements /forms in the soil.
    Don't worry, there will be some left still:)

    The other method is to use instead of a pure 3 cm deep layer of rich compost, try using a mix with 8 cm deep and mix 3:1 sand to this.
    This allows more O2 and make less mess if you uproot. the layer is not so dense and concentrated.

    If you had better success at the method I suggested, that's fine, however, you will want to go back and see if you can succeed at the soil method as well.

    This way you can master both the water column and the sediment nutrient methods, not just one method. This will give you more flexibility and make you much more well rounded. One of the reasons I suggest sediment and water column method is that you can get the benefits of each with very little trade off.

    I think the general idea for lower tech tanks generally means that the folks will not use ADA, but ADA AS will work pretty well for a non CO2 tank.
    Some batches need more conditioning than others.

    Still, if you have mastered one method, you might consider learning something new and seeing how you might apply it. This will give you more options.

    The goal for me is to see more non CO2 users start scaping, so having the water column and the sediment available will certainly make that goal easier.

    Diana's approach is gleened from other folks as well, every bit as much as mine takes a large part of the general ideas asked from a few talks with Dorothy and in Diana's book. So they and many older European aquarist should get the credit.

    All I did was measure the rates of growth, then applied a slightly conservative dosing routine to match the greatly reduced growth rates from my high light/CO2 tanks without any interactions from the sediments, to a non CO2 approach with low nutrients in the sediment.

    This way you can predict the rates of uptake for most all nutrients that are removed. If I tried t measure the rates of removal in a slow growing non CO2 tank, it would take a long time to get the data and there's a lot more error involved.

    So by using both high light/CO2 tanks, and then applying to see the model works on the non CO2 method I described, you get a good method that also works practically.

    Now, you go back and mineralize the sediment and/or use ADA AS, then you apply a light version of the dosing routine and give things the patience and the trimming they need, then you have the benefits of both methods and a nice tank with very very low effort and work other than trimming and being patience(a job for some folks).

    Regards,
    Tom Barr





    All I did really
     
  3. Robert Hudson

    Robert Hudson ASW Sponsor

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    Is this the whole article? I mean no disrespect to the author, but where is the info? His whole experience and revelation is one paragraph that does not tell you much of anything?

    I do not understand the coorelation between the fish and shrimp deaths and the Walstad method. How did you, (the author) set up the tank? What steps did you follow? How closely did it match the steps outlined by Diana Walstad?
    What plants were you using? What are the tank specs? Besides being five gallon? What kind of potting soil? How much soil, how much gravel?

    He decribes his high tech flourite tank as follows:

    This is probably dust from the flourite, and the tank never cycled. And if he did a whole lot of water changes to try and get rid of the dust, and did it too quickly changing water parameters suddenly, that would put the animals into shock.

    I imagine he had the same problem with the Walstad tank. He used too much soil, didn't bury it deep enough with gravel, the tank never cycled properly and it turned into a muddy mess. Diana Walstad also suggests leaving the soil in the open air for several hours before putting it in the aquarium. As the soil dries, it releases ammonia.

    All I am saying is there is all sorts of unkown factors here. Can the author please elaborate? Details! 8)
     
  4. plantbrain

    plantbrain Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Agreed.

    I do not think the method failed here and there are many factors.
    People kill shrimps all the time without any plants of any sort in their tanks.

    Richer sediments should not influence things.
    there is a strong temptation to assume that correlation = cause, but when it comes to toxicity or a method etc, folks often make assumptions.

    However, without testing it specifically for that question, you cannot really say anything or make any conclusions.

    The main difference between the methods at the basal level is not much.
    One is a water column version of non CO2, the other is a sediment version.
    A mix of both will yield the best results, the same is true for a CO2 or Excel enriched method as well.

    With non CO2 however, dosing the water column is very very easy and forgiving. So it works very well. Adding ferts to the sediment works well also. You can run out of certain nutrients is you rely solely on the sediment. Likewise if you rely solely on the water column, you might forget to add ferts one week etc.

    This can lead to less competitive plants to not do so well in such tanks.
    I think we can grow about 90% of the species pretty well in non CO2 tanks, not just the easy to keep species. The reason for the poor growth is due to poor levels of several nutrients over time.

    Plant - plant competition will allow some species to really beat up on others. If you add a very aggressive CO2 uptake plant with one that is fairly weak, then that will not work very well except for the strong CO2 uptake plant. If you mix several medium CO2 uptake plants together, then they will grow pretty well together.

    Likewise for nutrients.

    If you can stabilize the nutrients over time by adding water column ferts, without having to test, then you get a lot more life out of the sediment, or you can forgo the sediment base altogether.

    But I do not think either should be a reason for problems, unless the sediment/soil/loam/Earth worm castings etc was not properly cycled prior to use.

    Aaron just wrote an article on this and it's use for CO2 enriched system, however, it works great for non CO2 methods and likely will help improve the % success as it is more forgiving and consistent for most folks.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  5. plantbrain

    plantbrain Aspiring Aquascaper

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    I think using both water column and the sediment as sources for nutrients would make this method of no CO2/Excel etc a better method, I wanted to look at long term effective water column dosing to see about algae in both CO2 and non CO2, and no Excel dosed planted aquariums.

    As far as ease of management, I think some water column dosing + sediment rich ferts, whether they be soils/ADA AS etc would provide the easiest management for hobbyist.

    We know that in both non CO2 and CO2 enriched systems that nutrients do not limit algae and that excess ppm's do not encourage or induce algae in the water column. That was my question initially and I wanted to use CO2 concentration to scale down the rates of uptake for the other nutrients, this obviously worked pretty well. One main reason is the slow rates of growth and time involved with non CO2, makes things much eaiser and lots more wiggle room.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  6. Carolina

    Carolina New Member

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    Homer_Simpson actually did an experiment comparing Tom Barr set up and Diane Walsted. His experiment used cheap products. No expensive Seachem products as discussed at link in the begginning.

    I feel here you are just talking theory.
     

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