200 GALLON JUNGLE STYLE

Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.84
ORP: 562 mV
NO3: 0.5 ppm
PO4: 0.06 ppm
Fe: 0.34 ppm
K: > 40 ppm
dGH: 2.6
Ca/Mg: 24/22 ppm
dKH: 8.3
 

Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.83
ORP: 562 mV
NO3: 1.9 ppm
PO4: 0.07 ppm
Fe: 0.97 ppm
K: > 40 ppm
dGH: 2.5
Ca/Mg: 24/20 ppm
dKH: 7.9

Iron dose will be reduced just enough to start that number down a bit. All supplemental Fe is obtained from the Ferrous Gluconate in SeaChem Flourish Comprehensive. All other micronutrients provided in Flourish are, of course, in proportion. Given the low GH in this system I should be careful about metal toxicity.
 

Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.84
ORP: 562 mV
NO3: 0.6 ppm
PO4: 0.34 ppm
Fe: 0.61 ppm
K: < 40 ppm
dGH: 2.9
Ca/Mg: 28/24 ppm
dKH: 8.0







Trimming and maintenance chores these last few days. I scraped periphyton off the glass, cleaned all the probes, calibrated the pH meters, and changed out the intakes.

It's been awhile since I inspected the Java ferns thoroughly. Quite a lot of tatty and brown old leaves, many of which were very large and bifurcated, needed to go. Much of this Microsorum pteropus has staid healthy, gotten large and robust, and has excellent color. I had great hopes that they would do well and am not disappointed.

I removed many large swordplant leaves to let in the light. These Echinodorus osiris are prolific. This is the only red foliage, such as it is, in the tank presently.
 

Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.83
ORP: 564 mV
NO3: 2.7 ppm
PO4: 0.31 ppm
Fe: 0.35 ppm
K: 40 ppm
dGH: 2.8
Ca/Mg: 26/24 ppm
dKH: 7.9



Here, and in near-future entries, I will post updates on current system setup and programming that have resulted from revisions since this thread was begun. Much has been learned and changes have been made, so a recap is in order.


What I have referred to as the Streaming Water Change Regimen consists of two series of open drain events (ODEs) occurring daily. The following is the Apex program for this procedure:


Each of the fourteen ODEs is timed to run for 90 seconds. Prior measurement experiments established that, when the tank is circulating normally, each ODE replaces 3.375 liters of tank water with RO/DI water from the reservoir. The daily demand on the RO/DI system is 47.25 liters or 12.5 gallons. The timing of the ODEs is such as to permit the highest possible dwell time for dosed supplements. All supplement dosing is confined to 07:00 to 07:20 as discussed in the entries of 16 March and 19 April, except as follows:

1) Main-source potassium and buffer are provided as K2CO3 three times daily. Dose rate is intended to maintain +K circa 40 ppm and dKH circa 8.
2) General hardness reconstitution and significant buffer are provided by earth-alkali carbonate reactors in the filter loops. I am attempting to achieve continuous equilibration with the streaming water change regimen to maintain dGH circa 3. Provision is made to supply MgSO4 and CaCl2 on an ad hoc basis.
3) Nitrate and phosphate are autochthonous, arising from environmental metabolism. I am attempting to achieve continuous equilibration with the streaming water change regimen to maintain oligotrophy. Provision is made to supply KH2PO4 and KNO3/Ca(NO3)2 on an ad hoc basis.

All inorganic compound solutions are prepared 100 grams per liter distilled water. The dose rate of the supplement is metered by dosing pump run time, not concentration of solution. Supplement dosing can easily be adjusted by simple program line amendments in the pump timers.
 
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Paul G

Active member


The Kessil Tuna Sun LED lights have been a great improvement. This system is much less complicated than the original layout. The effect of point source lighting is highly pleasing, the shimmer imparting a realistic, natural appearance. Vigorous surface ripple accentuates the shimmer. Not shown in the schematic below are the dimming ramp control lines. SUN1, SUN2, SUN3, and DAWN/DUSK are all ramped up and down by means of Apex profiles.

 

Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.83
ORP: 558 mV
NO3: 1.4 ppm
PO4: 1.65 ppm
Fe: 0.22 ppm
K: 40 ppm
dGH: 2.8
Ca/Mg: 28/22 ppm
dKH: 7.6

 

Paul G

Active member
Iron reported at 0.22 ppm this AM was on a sample taken and filtered just prior to the daily Flourish Comprehensive dose at the 07:00-07:20 time. I call this the background number. Numbers for iron have lately gone way too high, and I have been reducing the amount of Flourish being dispensed. The dose rate has been 16.7 ml daily for the last 5 days and Fe has declined significantly. I tested Fe at 17:00 today and it came in at 0.21 ppm, almost exactly where it started this AM. There have been four ODEs in that interval and the plants have been feasting the whole ten hours. For that interval, at least, it appears that between what the plants took, the water changes, and whatever oxidation losses may have occurred, the Fe in that dose was exactly sufficient. I should have taken a reading on the Fe right after the dose was dispensed, so I would know how much that was. In future, the proper procedure will be to sample and test for Fe just before the dose time, and then about 30 minutes after (allowing time for uniform dispersal). This will yield the consumption over the entire 24 hour period.

I would like to see the background number stay closer to 0.1 ppm. SeaChem specifies this as the target maximum concentration after dosing and stipulates that, due to rapid foliar uptake of ferrous gluconate, an iron test reading later in the day will almost certainly be zero. No concerns, the plants ate it. There are variables in this that complicate the picture, and SeaChem generally allows that all aquariums are different and that heavily planted aquariums are especially different. Dosing instructions are guidelines and cautions, but not strict prescriptions. It is not possible to know that 0.1 ppm Fe after dosing is a sufficient amount to satisfy the requirements until the next dose. Probably, but not necessarily. The plants will tell what's right over time whatever the number.

I am reducing the daily dose of Flourish Comprehensive from 16.7 ml to 10 ml and will do the 'before-after' tests for a few days. My target will be to make Fe at a minimum of 0.05 ppm and a maximum of 0.1 before dosing. This sets a baseline for the dose rate required to carry non-zero bio-available Fe through the whole cycle. All Fe going into the system is ferrous gluconate. It is the iron complex used in Flourish Comprehensive which is the sole source of micronutrients used (apart from Flourish Trace which does not contain Fe). I do not use chelated iron supplements and will never deliberately put ferric iron in the water column. I am trusting that the other micronutrient ingredients in Flourish, being mixed in a verified suitable proportionality, will be being supplied in correct quantities. If the iron has been overdosed, then so has the copper and the zinc, especially since I have been dosing Trace as well. But, in this very heavily planted jungle system, if testable Fe base value is 0.05 ppm, very likely nothing will be overdosed or underdosed. Within this protocol, particularly the avoidance of ferric iron, I need not be concerned about metal toxicity. I think for the sake of the fish, it's important to watch this more closely than I have been.

I am optimistic that autochthonous NO3 and PO4 are going to be sufficient for the jungle. Except for that unfortunate NO3 bump-up in mid-April, this system has been operating under fairly strict oligotrophic conditions for a good long while and there is no sign the plants need more of these macros. Great quantities of fish food of all kinds is going into the water every day. The fish go nuts when anything edible drops in, and there are a lot of fish in there. It is hard not to see these generous daily fish feedings as major macronutrient dumps. The reason this is a better way than salt solutions to supply nitrogen and phosphorus is that they derive from high-energy organic molecules being processed through the entire eco-biological system, naturally providing energy for everything from fish to bacteria. The evolution of increasingly recalcitrant dissolved organic matter byproduct goes along with that, but this is where the streaming water change regimen, backed up with a modicum of chemical filtration, comes in. Divert nutrient to plants, eject byproduct. The plants in turn saturate the water column with oxygen every day, supplying the oxidative power to keep it all ticking over. Judging by the high redox being sustained, this is working very well.

Another effort to do something in a more elegant way than just shooting salt solutions into the tank is the implementation of the mineral reconstitution reactor. The plants are evidently okay with the secondary nutrients as there are no signs of deficiencies, but I confess that I have been cheating with small ad hoc doses of MgSO4 and CaCl2. I have well over a kilogram of Brightwell NeoMag in the filters, but getting the GH above 3 degrees has been slow going. At most, the NeoMag is supporting a background level of the earth-alkalis. I am going to try SeaChem Reef Reactor which reacts more like aragonite, i.e. faster dissolving, but has more Mg and also has some K. What's important here, apart from a desirable Ca:Mg ratio, is making this work as a part of the streaming water change regimen. I have used Reef Reactor in this way before and I have an idea what to expect, but it's an experiment.
 

Paul G

Active member
This tank has evolved in many ways on its own terms, and I think this is largely what the "jungle style" aquascape philosophy embraces. I have tried to keep many species of plants that I like and that are not regarded generally as difficult or demanding. In the end, they don't all work out. The plants that I favor most are the survivors because they thrive. Having just the one large tank, I will always prefer the low-maintenance fast growers, the 'weeds' that are easy starters and become dominant. For one thing, it keeps life for the aquarist that much simpler. Unlike true dutch gardens, the jungle is not so carefully planned according to the various rules that constrain the plants, the overall composition of the 'scape with regard to diversity of color and form, the view that the plants are design elements and placement is everything. The jungle is a wild thing and looks like it. The plants tend to go where they want and get as big as they want. Aquascaping a jungle is largely a simple matter of alleviating congestion and removing the dead! There is some artisanship involved in placement; good judgement should be exercised in choosing a spot for a plant based on its needs and where it will be a good fit. But a first principle is to interfere as little as possible. Once a plant "decides" it likes its location it is consistent with respect for nature to give it its head and let it be.

There are now only five species of plants living in this tank (not counting the duckweed):

Cryptocoryne wendtii
Microsorum pteropus,
Java fern
Sagittaria subulata
Echinodorus osiris,
red Amazon sword
Anubias barteri barteri

The water wisteria, Hygrophila difformis, is an easy and attractive plant, and I was anxious to see it do well. And it did, except over time it got crowded out by the others, virtually overpowered in competition for space and light. I did not interfere. The Brazilian pennywort, Hydrocotyle leucocephalus, is truly a weed, but is attractive. I like it when it is in the right place, but it hardly ever was. It just wants to float, grow as you watch it, block the light, and just generally make a nuisance of itself. So I removed it once and for all. I am now renewing my campaign to eradicate the duckweed.

 

Paul G

Active member
Yesterday's Flourish Comprehensive dose was skipped. This AM the doser ran at the reduced dose rate of 10 ml. Iron was tested before (0.15 ppm) and after (0.25 ppm) the dose. The 10 ml dose raised Fe 0.1 ppm. I have reset the dose rate to 6.7 ml.
 
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Duane Perry

New member
I'll just drop this here and we'll see what comes of it.


pH 6.6 typical
ORP 340 - 390 mv typical
CONDUCTIVITY 750 uS/cm typical
OXYGEN 6 - 10 ppm
CO2 50 ppm typical
GH 110 ppm typical
CALCIUM 75 ppm typical
MAGNESIUM 30 ppm typical
Ca:Mg 2.5 : 1
KH 120 ppm typical
IRON, total 0.30 ppm typical
NO3 5 - 10 ppm typical
PO4 3 - 5 ppm typical
POTASSIUM 40 - 50 ppm typical
SO4 > 200 ppm

Source Water : RO / DI
Total Filtration Turnover : 1200 GPH minimum
Substrate : inert siliceous gravel w/ high CEC calcined clay and granulated laterite
Chemical Filtration : no carbon or resins of any kind are used
You are injecting pure oxygen?
 

Paul G

Active member
Thanks for the question!
No. Oxygen has two sources.

1) The normal dissolution of atmospheric oxygen at the air-water interface. This is occasionally enhanced by forced aeration, as with airstones.

2) Photosynthetic generation by plants. CO2 is injected in high light and the tank is densely planted. This promotes vigorous carbon fixation and production of sufficient O2 to saturate the water column daily.

This is explained in detail in subsequent entries. Please continue up the journal and much will be made clear.
 

Paul G

Active member
This AM Fe tested at 0.23 ppm, not a significant change from yesterday's 0.25 ppm. I am skipping today's dose of Flourish Comprehensive again and will test tomorrow AM.

NO3 is 5.0 ppm, by both API and SeaChem kits
PO4 is < 0.5 ppm, by Salifert kit

KH is holding at 7.6 degrees. The daily dose of K2CO3 is 240 seconds for a total of 40 ml of solution. This has been distributed into three doses occurring at 07:00, 13:00, and 19:00. Each of these had gone in at once and caused a transient spike in the pH-L meter probe, which is at the same end of the tank as the dose entry location. I have reprogrammed the K2CO3 dose schedule to spread out the dosing time to mitigate this. Each of the three daily 80 second doses is now divided into three 27 second spurts 8 minutes apart. This is perhaps a little gentler.

 
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Paul G

Active member
All the numbers are down since Friday.

This AM, just before the appointed dosing time, Fe tested at 0.10 ppm. Here is the baseline for the background concentration. The Flourish Comprehensive doser was re-enabled and today's dose was dispensed. I begin with 6.7 ml daily (total 40 sec ON). To clarify the obvious I will point out that the dose rates stated for this supplement are for the entire measure of unamended SeaChem Flourish Comprehensive, not for ferrous gluconate alone. Ferrous gluconate is the only iron compound in Flourish, and that is the sole source of iron in this aquarium.

Iron tests at 08:00, half-hour post-dose, at 0.12 ppm. I again tested at one hour post-dose to verify that the 30 minute wait time allowed for thorough dispersal. That test also came in at 0.12 ppm. One half hour is sufficient; one hour is not too long.

Nitrate today tested circa 2.5 ppm with the SeaChem test, and API verified at < 5.0 ppm. Yesterday's NO3 tests gave the same results, an encouraging sign that it is persisting without supplementation.

Phosphate tested today at 0.15 ppm with the Hanna photometer, and the Salifert test shows between 0.1 and 0.25 ppm.

Today's other numbers

pH: 6.84
ORP: 557 mV
dGH: 2.5
Ca/Mg: 28/16 ppm
dKH: 7.8

The Flourish Comprehensive dose has been divided into four 10 second doses 6 minutes apart. This has significantly mitigated the pronounced redox plunge. Similarly, the SeaChem Excel dose has been divided into four 30 second doses 6 minutes apart, and shifted to 30 minutes later. If these measures spread the COD out sufficiently, it will help flatten the ORP trace and possibly eliminate the O2 notch completely. It's a tweak.
 
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Paul G

Active member
Today, 20 May, at 13:30 CO2PRIMARY emptied. This bottle delivered 99 hours over 56 days, averaging 1 hour and 45 min per day.

This AM I changed the filters in high-speed loops 2 and 3. I installed approximately 1 kilogram, 1 liter, of SeaChem Reef Reactor, and 1 liter chem media (Purigen and carbon). I also changed out the intakes.
 
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Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.82
ORP: 554 mV
NO3: 0.2 ppm
PO4: 0.19 ppm
Fe: 0
K: 40 ppm
dGH: 5.6
Ca/Mg: 52/48 ppm
dKH: 9.6

Yesterday's hardness numbers

dGH: 6.7
Ca/Mg: 64/56
dKH: 11.6

For the moment, this is not a soft-water system. It took 4 days for the Reef Reactor to make a really significant change. Compared to NeoMag, it dissolves more in the way similar to aragonite (crushed coral/shell). It also contains +K. I had a kilogram in a 430 gph loop and definitely got the runaway effect I was expecting. I removed it and did a 10% water change yesterday. I need to do filter changes in the processor loops; when the Reef Reactor is re-installed, I will begin with half a kilo in the 130 gph (Pump #1R) loop.

The water changes on Thursday and yesterday resulted in zero testable iron, interrupting the iron dosing experiment. Today I will bring back the 0.1 ppm baseline.
 

Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.82
ORP: 553 mV
NO3: 0.2 ppm
PO4: 0.15 ppm
Fe: 0
K: < 40 ppm
dGH: 4.3
Ca/Mg: 46/30 ppm
dKH: 8.7

Last night after manually adjusting the Fe, it tested at 0.14 ppm. This required approximately 100 seconds, ca 16.5 ml, on the Flourish doser. This AM before the daily dose, Fe tested at 0. One hour after the daily dose, Fe tested at 0.06 ppm. The daily dose is currently set for 40 seconds, 6.7 ml. After manually dosing an additional 6.7 ml, Fe tests at 0.10 ppm. If the last 24 hours is any indication, pre-dose Fe tomorrow AM will likely test at zero again. I will increase the daily dose until pre-dose Fe is consistently non-zero.

Quickly getting back to moderate hardness numbers. At the present rate of decline, tomorrow AM the dGH will be under 4 and the dKH will be under 8. These are the targets. The streaming water change regimen is fast overtaking the hardness levels. Instead of a half kilo of Reef Reactor, I am moving the whole original one kilo charge into the 130 gph loop. Why introduce two variables? If the slower flow of solvent is not sufficient, then I experiment with reducing quantity. It is encouraging that Reef Reactor is yielding definite results - i.e. rapid and readily perceptible. There is a hint here that it may suffice to hold up the KH and part of the +K as well as the GH without other supplementation. The NeoMag did help to support the hardness, but proved too slow to keep up with the water changes, even when used in large quantity.

The PO4 and NO3 levels are settling in super-oligotrophy range. These macronutrients persist in the system at non-zero concentrations and the plants are thriving with no sign of deficiencies. The algal component of the front glass periphyton, and presumably every other suitable surface, is basically a chlorophyte monoculture. Scraping transferred to a slide are admittedly not in situ observation, but the cells appear to be individuated (not filamentous or colonial), cylindrical with rounded ends, and no flagella or other peculiar features - possibly some species of desmid, certainly a true green algae of some kind. Benthic/sestonic desmids (non-motile, unflagellated) are common periphyton in soft and acidic oligotrophic freshwater and are environmental indicators of such.* I don't have the expertise and resources to key out the exact genus. I examined the entire area under the cover glass and these cells, highly uniform in size and shape, were the only algae to be found. Aerobic bacteria certainly exist in the periphyton, but were not visible at the magnification I was using. I saw no other microorganism, and I suspect that the periphyton in this aquarium is extremely simple, without protozoal or fungal components. Importantly, there are no cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). Just mono-cellular desmids as far as the eye can see. The Gara loves it.

*Bellinger, Edward C. and David C. Sigee 2010 Freshwater Algae: Identification and Use as Bioindicators. Wiley-Blackwell
 
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Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.82
ORP: 553 mv
NO3: 0.2 ppm
PO4: 0.18 ppm
Fe: pre-dose 0; post-dose 0.06 ppm
K: 40 ppm
dGH: 5.3
Ca/Mg: 48/46 ppm
dKH: 9.3

The Fe testing is an exact repeat of yesterday's. I am doubling the daily Flourish dose to 80 seconds, 13.4 ml.

In just 24 hours the hardness numbers have started back up again. I will remove the Reef Reactor and let the water changes do a correction. Then I will add back 250 grams Reef Reactor (and sufficient NeoMag to bulk up the filter bag).
 

Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.82
ORP: 554 mV
NO3: 0.5 ppm
PO4: 0.22 ppm
Fe: pre-dose 0; post-dose 0.14 ppm
dGH: 4.8
Ca/Mg: 46/40 ppm
dKH: 8.8
 

Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.81
ORP: 554 mV
NO3: < 0.2 ppm
PO4: 0.30 ppm
Fe: pre-dose 0.05 ppm; post-dose 0.10 ppm
K: < 40 ppm
dGH: 4.5
Ca/Mg: 44/36 ppm
dKH: 8.4

I am increasing the dose rate for Flourish Comprehensive from 80 seconds, 13.4 ml, to 100 seconds, 16.7 ml.

Hardness numbers are declining as expected. In a couple of days they should be at or near target values, at which point I will reinstall the reactor media. All through this experiment I have been withholding K2CO3 and MgSO4. The GH:KH, and the Ca:Mg ratios resulting from Reef Reactor are thus far keeping to my goals. While Reef Reactor contains +K, the proportion yielded in a soft/acid freshwater setting is unknown (as SeaChem has pointed out to me, this is not the product's intended purpose). It is possible that the reactor can provide significant +K. If I can get the reactor medium charge size and flow rate adjusted to balance with the current water change rate, the system's requirements for ++Ca, ++Mg, +K, and buffer, --CO3, can be satisfied with a minimum of ad hoc supplementation. Success with this also means reducing --SO4 (the main source of secondary nutrient sulfur) and chloride (needed only as trace). The inorganic salts in Flourish Comprehensive and Trace are all sulfates and chlorides, and are probably fully sufficient sources of sulfur and chlorine. I will soon begin testing for sulfate and chloride.

I am still withholding NO3 and PO4 allochthonous macro supplementation. The super-oligotrophic status of the environment alleviates any concerns about the amount of fish food going into the system; it's a continual feast by design. I am considering adding to the bioload (MORE FISH). If this experiment proves successful, the only routine daily dosing required will be iron and micros. This is very likely improbable, but I'm going for it.
 
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