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Thread: Tom Barr's Non-CO2 method

  1. #41
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    i read that bba occurs in non-CO2 set ups when there is low phosphate levels. should i supplement my feedings with fertilization like squee? i would like to avoid having to fertilize. is there a way i can supply all the nutrients and trace elements to the plants via feedng the fish (e.g. making sure their food contains all the elements necessary for plants so that their waste can provide this) will this work?

    lily

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    While that's POSSIBLE... I'm not sure if it's very good for the fish.... While plants are more or less immune to an overdose of iron or magnesium, fish are much more sensative creatures.

    The only thing i can think of that i can worked for me would be to drop a rusty nail in the water. Sadly, that only works for iron. I guess you could get a small lump of magnesium and throw that in as well but it might upset the pH.

    Anyway, would you mind explaining your fertilisation reluctance?

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    i am trying to simplify the inputs in all areas of my life and using natural substances/methods wherever i can. also, these fish are draining my wallet, so avoiding having to buy additional fertilizers would be great! if there are ways i can obtain the substances needed by the plants without having to shell out lots of money, using chemicals or what-not would be ideal for me.

    what about spinach and other dark leafy greens? i heard that fish (especially otos and other algae eaters) appreciate a bit of leafy greens now and then. wouldn't that supply some iron to the plants?

    lily

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    Lol, yes lilly it would. I keep forgetting things are alot more expensive outside Singapore. In fact... that just might be the solution to your problem! All the elements/compounds needed by your aquarium plants are in farmed vegetables! Give it a shot and post your results?

    Also, if the Otos don't eat the stuff you might want to try boiling it or putting it in a blender. The cellulose might be too hard for them to break down.

    Interesting...

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    well, i'll try this method & let you know. any tips on what foods would contain phosphates or would add phosphates to the tank? also, i am using Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Inc. test kits but i have heard that they are not very reliable or accurate. can you recommend some tests kits that i can trust (and afford!)? i would like to determine what the levels of the various elements/nutrients are before feeding my fish fert food.

    lily

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    You don't need test kits.

    See the method by Tom Barr in a nutshell is this:

    1) No water changes to keep CO2 level constant.
    2) Dose inorganic fertilisers* weekly to provide non-limiting levels of nutrients for plants. Excess of these inorganic fertilisers do not cause algae; lack of plant growth do.
    3) Provide a low fish load and feed them lightly regularly so they provide a steady source of nutrients as well.
    4) Once every few weeks stop the inorganic fertilisers for the week to allow things to lower down.
    5) The water change should be done only once in a blue moon when you rescape/do big heck and arrangement.

    No test kits because you want to provide non-limiting nutrient levels. Limiting nutrients will only help algae. Think of it this way: Plants are elephants and algae are mice. Both eat bread (for example) daily. The elephant requires a higher threshold of bread than the mouse. If you limit the bread to one slice per day, the mouse isn't going to starve but the elephant will. The elephant dies and the mouse overruns the place. If you provide 100 slices of bread per day, the elephant will grow properly. You can imagine a big strong elephant stamping on a mouse.

    No BBA because there is no water change, and the CO2 level is kept constant instead of fluctuating. I notice that there hasn't been BBA in any of my non-CO2 tanks and I'm converted to non-CO2 because of that.

    There's clearer water in my non-CO2 tanks too. I tend to find my water slightly cloudy in all my CO2ed tanks. Algae issues are also really an issue, whereas in a non-CO2 tank things go so much slower and I can deal with algae at a much more manageable pace.

    *I don't know if you do know, but these inorganic fertilisers refer to chemicals KNO3, KH2PO4 etc. They could be obtained at your local chemist for instance?

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    Here's a list of brands i trust:

    Sera
    Tetra
    Ferka
    ADA (Craaaazy prices, in a bad way)

    I'd SERIOUSLY recommend saying away from things like:

    Ocean Free
    Jebo
    Jebao
    Heck, anything from a Singapore/China based company.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lily View Post
    i am trying to simplify the inputs in all areas of my life and using natural substances/methods wherever i can. also, these fish are draining my wallet, so avoiding having to buy additional fertilizers would be great! if there are ways i can obtain the substances needed by the plants without having to shell out lots of money, using chemicals or what-not would be ideal for me.

    what about spinach and other dark leafy greens? i heard that fish (especially otos and other algae eaters) appreciate a bit of leafy greens now and then. wouldn't that supply some iron to the plants?

    lily


    The cost of GH booster, KNO3, KH2PO4, traces for a non CO2 tank is very very minimal.

    You are talking 3-4$ a year for a 20-50 gal tank. More if you use name brands, but few do that.

    You spend liberally for fish food?
    I knwo people that spend 3-4$ a week on live foods.......
    Then are cheap with plants?


    I add once a week, not much either.
    That is not complicated, nor costly.

    1 lb of KNO3 runs about .22 cents here, 2$ from local sources/group buys etc, 5$ at Home depot etc.
    Same with KH2PO4, traces CMS, 1lb will last several years for about 6$.

    Where are you shopping?

    See Dr Malick's and see about shipping and local pharmacy etc, tree removal place(KNO3), fleet enema for PO4, terrestrial trace mixes etc

    Regards,
    Tom Barr

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    Tom, he's from canada, buying from Greg Watson might be a better idea and closer to home.

    Regards
    Peter Gwee
    Plant Physiology by Taiz and Zeiger

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    actually, i'm a she, but how can i get a hold of greg watson?

    it's really the test kits that are killing us, price-wise. (also, we just set up a 10 gallon and were frantically trying to save our angelfish fry, so bought other equipment...alas! they were all eaten anyhow...still learning) i am buying Omega One fish food (which has .5% phosphorous...would that add phosphate to the tank for the plants?) but i also have some tetrafin food (which also contains phosphorous) from the people i bought the tank from. the food isn't expensive but i do balk at having to buy more stuff. i am planning to feed the fish some live brine shrimp (already have eggs--was for fry...sigh) but haven't gotten around to it yet.

    as for plants, i actually got the fish in the first place for the fishwater to use on my potted plants (well, one reason). then i fell in love....but i also love the plants in my tank and don't really see much of a difference value-wise between fish and plants: they are all my pets, along with my cats. but i do have to get a handle on the budget for all these creatures.

    my local lfs owner told me not to add any phosphates or nutrients as that will encourage the algae, and referred me to seachem's flourish fertilizers. i think they have one for iron and for phosphates. anyhow, those were at least $10 for a small bottle. what do you guys think? i feel that if i am feeding the fish, that really i should not have to feed my plants additional food, except for topping up elements that are not abundant in the fish excretions. if i feed both, wouldn't the levels of all nutrients/elements rise too fast and high in the tank?

    also, in terms of inorganic fertilizers, isn't the nitrate in KNO3 an organic fertilizer? i mean, it comes from fishwaste and other organic dead materials. i also thought that nitrogen, phosphate and potassium were supplied in large quantities through the various excretions of fish (which is why it's so good for potted plants)? wouldn't it be more the trace elements that are lacking in fishwaste (but that can be added to their diet through natural means, like spinach or what-not)?

    i am getting really confused. i guess i am still trying to wrap my head around all this chemistry. for example, the seachem bottle says that plants cannot take up ferrous iron but do take up ferric iron (or is it the other way around?). but if i feed the otos spinach and other leafy greens, which iron are they getting and can they convert it to the type of iron that the plants can use?

    in nature, where do the plants get all these if not from the waste of the animals and fish and through the rotting dead debris?

    also, what is considered a low fish load for a 20 gallon tank? i have 14 fish: 7 danios, 2 angels, 2 otos, 2 clown loaches and a farlowella. in terms of inches, i estimate a total inchload of fish at roughly 30? why is it important to keep a low fish load? if you had a high fishload, wouldn't that supply all the nutrients you would need for the plants?

    after looking at the tank though, i think it could use more plant mass (how to determine?). perhaps that is where i am going wrong, algae-wise? i have not cleaned the tank (other than ripping out more hair-algae covered roots) as i read on another forum (maybe aqautic plant central?) that i should let the gda run through its life-cycle before scraping it off and doing the water change. so far, the algae is not over-running my tank. the gda is lightly covering the glass, there are a few spots of gsa on my barteri leaves and more bba on the plants. the otos are slowly taking care of the bba and i am waiting another week before i get serious on the gda. i am more worried about the hair algae. although i have removed most of it, there are still some strands clinging to my hygro leaves. how fast does it grow and propagate?

    anyhow, thanks for all the time you guys are taking to help me out!

    lily

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    http://www.gregwatson.com/

    Most fish food contains phosphorous, so if it's enough then you do not need to add phosphate.

    If phosphates/nitrates cause algae, then why is Seachem selling Nitrogen and Phosphorous?

    You can get by with fish food only, but it's not the best case scenario. Tell you what, try getting only a trace element product like Seachem Flourish or Greg Watson's mix and only dose that weekly along with daily feedings of your fish.

    Perhaps Tom Barr himself or PeterGwee can help you out on the other questions you have.

    Imho, hair algae = low plant mass. I'm having a slight short hair algae problem on my driftwood now I suspect is because of the lack of plant matter.

  12. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by lily View Post
    it's really the test kits that are killing us, price-wise.
    Then don't use them, the proponents of non CO2 methods don't suggest them, I have measured things quite well, with the explicit goal of not having to do it later
    They are a waste on a non CO2 planted tank.
    Why? Because the goal is less, not more work.



    the food isn't expensive but i do balk at having to buy more stuff. i am planning to feed the fish some live brine shrimp (already have eggs--was for fry...sigh) but haven't gotten around to it yet.
    Why worry about feeding fish a balance but then not the plants?
    Plant demands are different than fish.
    We need to add a bit more to have the plants grow well/better than mere fish waste alone.

    my local lfs owner told me not to add any phosphates or nutrients as that will encourage the algae,
    And he would be stating the myth about planted tanks that still folks parrot to this day sadly.
    I've shown that neither of these cause algae in a CO2 nor a non CO2 planted tank, so have many researchers that staudy lakes that have high plant biomass.

    You add ferts to such tanks and lakes, you get more weeds, not algae

    This is common sense but seems to be tossed out the window when it comes to myths in the hobby often times.

    It's not you or any newbies, it's the culture and general old out dated info that keeps this going.

    and referred me to seachem's flourish fertilizers. i think they have one for iron and for phosphates. anyhow, those were at least $10 for a small bottle. what do you guys think? i feel that if i am feeding the fish, that really i should not have to feed my plants additional food, except for topping up elements that are not abundant in the fish excretions. if i feed both, wouldn't the levels of all nutrients/elements rise too fast and high in the tank?
    Well, for less than those 2 bottles, you can buy enough KNO3, KH2PO4, a GH booster and traces to last you a lifetime nearly for this tank.
    See Greg Watson's site.

    You should not over feed to feed the plants, all that produces NH4, not good, KNO3, which is not toxic unless you get way way out of hand, it what you want for the plants.
    The small amoutn produced by fish waste will be removed and not measured in the tank as the plants will remove it as fast as it's produced.

    Obviously adding too many fish will exceed the plant's uptake of NH4 and induce an algae bloom.

    This is why we do not add terrestrial fertilizers, they all contain NH4, good for plants, but also good for algae spores(think seed germination) and deadly to fish, shrimp and fish fry.


    also, in terms of inorganic fertilizers, isn't the nitrate in KNO3 an organic fertilizer? i mean, it comes from fishwaste and other organic dead materials. i also thought that nitrogen, phosphate and potassium were supplied in large quantities through the various excretions of fish (which is why it's so good for potted plants)? wouldn't it be more the trace elements that are lacking in fishwaste (but that can be added to their diet through natural means, like spinach or what-not)?
    No, KNO3 is inorganic which is the most bioavailable form of NO3, plants also need a lot of the K+ as well. We also know hwo much KNO3 wuill give you a ppm reading, we do not know what ppms of spinach will give you NO3 or NH4 ppms.

    i am getting really confused. i guess i am still trying to wrap my head around all this chemistry. for example, the seachem bottle says that plants cannot take up ferrous iron but do take up ferric iron (or is it the other way around?). but if i feed the otos spinach and other leafy greens, which iron are they getting and can they convert it to the type of iron that the plants can use?
    I understand the confusion, I'm telling you the easiest method given your goals with the least amount of cost. You can do it and try these other methods, but you will have many bumps and need to learn more in the process.

    in nature, where do the plants get all these if not from the waste of the animals and fish and through the rotting dead debris?
    Well, lately due to humans: we have severe weed issues from ag run off.
    Soil is the other place.
    Another is flowing water where small amounts are replaced and the plant can take what it wants/needs even at very low ppms.

    Take a look here if you are interested in all this:

    http://aquat1.ifas.ufl.edu/hoyapm4.html

    and specifically:

    http://images.google.com/imgres?imgu...lr%3D%26sa%3DN

    and the rest of the article:

    http://www.class.uidaho.edu/italy200...alWetlands.htm

    Careful when you ask such deceptively simple questions


    also, what is considered a low fish load for a 20 gallon tank? i have 14 fish: 7 danios, 2 angels, 2 otos, 2 clown loaches and a farlowella. in terms of inches, i estimate a total inchload of fish at roughly 30? why is it important to keep a low fish load? if you had a high fishload, wouldn't that supply all the nutrients you would need for the plants?
    Does not work that way, with slower and slower growth, slower growth rate due to low light/no CO2 etc you can get away more with this method, but as you increase light/CO2 and more plantr biomass, you become increasingly reliant upon inorganic ferts.

    This is the same as gardening, but you are not allowed to dose NH4 basically.
    you can use organic sources, but it'll require you to either boil the manure for 10 minutes or soak in shallow tray and keep moist and submersed for 3-4 weeks first for use.

    You will not be popular in the house if you go that route.


    after looking at the tank though, i think it could use more plant mass (how to determine?). perhaps that is where i am going wrong, algae-wise?
    No, more plants are better.
    Always when dealing with algae related issues.
    i have not cleaned the tank (other than ripping out more hair-algae covered roots) as i read on another forum (maybe aqautic plant central?) that i should let the gda run through its life-cycle before scraping it off and doing the water change. so far, the algae is not over-running my tank. the gda is lightly covering the glass, there are a few spots of gsa on my barteri leaves and more bba on the plants. the otos are slowly taking care of the bba and i am waiting another week before i get serious on the gda. i am more worried about the hair algae. although i have removed most of it, there are still some strands clinging to my hygro leaves. how fast does it grow and propagate?

    anyhow, thanks for all the time you guys are taking to help me out!

    lily
    Algae needs much less to be an eye sore than plants do, you never win by limiting the plants.
    If you use a non CO2 method, stop doing water changes.

    You are after a balanaced system here.
    So this means you need to balance the fish load with the plant biomass uptake/demand etc.

    Having a little less coming in from the fish side is much better than too much, you can easily top off any nutrients once a week etc, and you'll have less algae this way and less NH4.

    You will also no longer do water changes, except perhaps after a big trim/pruning(once every 3-6 months).

    As the fish produce the waste, the plants take it up and keep the water clean.

    Algae will subside if you do this.
    If you do water changes often, the algae will come.

    For Excel or CO2 methods, the reverse is true generally.
    Weekly water changes makes life easier and dosing easier, but the rate is 10X faster growth. So keeping up on things and growing more weeds is a challenge for many. The algae are happy with lots of light and CO2 that goes all over.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr

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    thanks for the info! i read the articles and they were really informative. i will have to read them again when the hours are less ungodly and i can retain more. i think the wetlands article is especially helpful.

    i have decided to take a step back from the tank, watch it for awhile, and do more research into the nutrients, trace elements and what would be good foods to feed my tank. i guess i am curious to see if i can supply all the living things in my tanks with all their needs through as natural a means as possible. Hopefully, i can discover an optimal natural balance for the system.

    with all the advice here, i'm off to a good start!

    btw, my 10 gallon is doing beautifully. the 2 ancistruses are active and feeding on algae (although i can't see any) constantly; all the cuttings are growing steadily and nicely; and i believe the nana barteri has finally gotten used to the tank and is now putting out new leaf stalks. no water changes, CO2 or anything except a food tablet everyday. the only problem i have is in keeping the temperature stable--the heater i am using either overshoots or undershoots the target by a wide margin. it is very frustrating...

    lily

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    oh, does anyone know if fish like bananas (potassium)?

    lily

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    Quote Originally Posted by lily View Post
    oh, does anyone know if fish like bananas (potassium)?

    lily
    I've seen fish consuming mangos and starfruit in the wild... Bananas aren't too far off

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    Hi all, please do correct me if I'm wrong. I got a mini nano tank that capable to hold about 15 liters or 3.86 gallon and below would be my setup.

    Fertilizer - JBL Aquabasis Plus.
    Trace - JBL Ferropol (dosage will be given once a week)
    KNO3 and KH2PO4 - JBL Ferropol 24 (1 drop per day)
    Water top up (once a week)
    Fish - 3 type of same fishes and sizes (perhaps 3 tetra or 3 molly following the rule of thumb of 1 inch fish per gallon)
    Plant - Hair Grass or dwarf Hair Grass and Riccia
    CO2 - None (This is a non-CO2 setup)

    All of the item (Fertilizer, Trace, KNO3 and KH2PO4) was given in Proflora Start Set. Is there any other item that I need to add? What would be the best plant for me to add in this non-CO2 tank?

    Cheers!

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    Did you actually read the article? If you have read it, you would have know the answers to your questions and that non-CO2 method should be done without water changes.

    Regards,
    Peter Gwee
    Plant Physiology by Taiz and Zeiger

  18. #58
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    There's no best plant, although slower growing species like Java fern and its varieties are a good choice.

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    Thanks for the feedback. Well i do read it but being a novice, I dont really understand all of it. What i mean is, if the water evaporate, do we need to top it up or not?

    Cheers!

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    Quote Originally Posted by awiekupo View Post
    Thanks for the feedback. Well i do read it but being a novice, I dont really understand all of it. What i mean is, if the water evaporate, do we need to top it up or not?

    Cheers!
    Yes, You can top-up water but you don't change the water..
    New 2ft Project Coming Up
    Aquascaping since 2006-Present

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