200 GALLON JUNGLE STYLE

Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.7
ORP: 526 mV
NO3: 0.4 ppm
PO4: 0.10 ppm
Fe: 0.16 ppm
K: 40 ppm
dGH: 3.1
Ca/Mg: 36/20 ppm
dKH: 7.9

The DO cycle over the last six days below. Last Tuesday AM I repositioned the return vents toward the front, angling them up a bit to increase the ripple. This simple measure illustrates the effectiveness of surface agitation in entraining air, increasing the oxygen tension. The DO is sustained well enough through the dark hours that the air pump is not required until the COD notch. I've always had the rule "ripple, not chop" in the interest of CO2 retention. This is more agitation than permitted in the past. Utilization rate will disclose how lossy this ripple is. The DO contour just now suggests that the morning rise of photosynthetic O2 tracks the light more closely. This is likely due to higher overnight O2 retention, even though the COD notch depth has not changed. Note also that yesterday's peak O2 hit 10.2 ppm, and that's with more reduction in the light! Though there is some enhancement of the air-water interface, the rise in DO is largely a function of photosynthesis, i.e. carbon fixation, so it is being controlled by the plants. By the way, aeration comes on automatically below 5.5 ppm O2, and there is still a small pH spike there, but complete erasure of the COD notch is a battle I have stopped fighting.

Again, it looks like production is stimulated more readily by carbon availability than by light intensity. There must be a point at which diminished energy input is limiting, since with no light there is no photosynthesis, and clearly DO corresponds to the light cycle, as the graph shows. With the amount of control over the energy input that I have here I am still not finding that limit. But the change in pH and KH has significantly increased the CO2, and the DO does seem to show high sensitivity to that.

I like the timing and intensities of the lights in the current program. The tank is not too dim, but does not glare. I have the energy dialed down more than ever before, but it's pleasantly bright. The growth of periphyton Charophyta does respond to the light; the latency is low with increase and high with decrease. Turn the light up, it takes a couple of days to get a good population of green alga on the glass and rocks; turn the light down it takes a week. However, it cannot be altogether eliminated as long as the aquarium is lit.This pattern does not seem to be affected by changes in pH (CO2). The throttling effect for algae in the aufwuchs is in the lighting.

Macrophyte production is switched on and off by light, but growth does not rapidly correlate in an obvious way with intensity. However, the rate of production responds immediately to carbon availability, and this can be seen in the DO trace. Now, over time, surely, the production rate must correspond with the prevailing PAR intensity, but the practical throttling effect for plants is in the CO2 delivery.

 

Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.8
ORP: 543 mV
NO3: 4 ppm
PO4: 0.18 ppm
Fe: 0.22 ppm
K: 40 ppm
dGH: 2.7
Ca: 32 ppm
Mg: 16 ppm
dKH: 7

Although I have not been posting regularly as of late, I have been testing as frequently as ever. All parameters have been logged on the Apex calendar since 24 August and I will publish these traces after another month or so of data collection.

With the GH reactor in filter Loop 1R running continuously and the streaming water change regimen operating on schedule, parameters are stable. I have been encouraged by this to take the long view and not react to small changes with dosing revisions and ad hoc ministrations. All the experimental dosing revisions conducted over the last year - representing a lot of testing - has brought me to this point, as was my intention and hope.

No "big gulp" water changes have been done in the last month apart from those incidental to filter changes. These are not especially large water changes, even when the canisters are drained fully down, which is seldom. While this is a welcome hit of extra freshness every two or three weeks, this does not significantly change the numbers after a day or so. The auto-dosing, GH reactor, and SWCR are regulating the environment very closely.

I am testing NO3 with API, SeaChem, and both LaMotte standard and Low Range N-NO3 kits, having completely abandoned the Hanna photometric kit. Nitrate is probably the most variable of the parameters, ranging from 0 to 5 ppm, averaging 2 ppm. I have attempted to find distinct numerical correlation between the number tested for at the same time of day every test session and the amount and time of the feeding of the fish. Obviously these are linked, but there is no discernible pattern. Unquestionably, an experiment conducted with sufficiently rigorous protocol would easily demonstrate it, but in the case of a densely planted display aquarium with so many variables I am past caring if I ever actually observe it. I would expect to encounter rising NO3 as an inevitable result of overfeeding, lack of maintenance, inadequate water change scheduling, and/or macrophyte underpopulation, so it is important to know the concentration and guard against creep - in either direction.

All of this applies as well to orthophosphate, PO4 ranging from 0.05 to 0.50 ppm, averaging 0.2 ppm. I routinely use the Hanna photo-colorimeter for this test. The system and the plants are holding the aquarium in an oligotrophic state, with dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) represented predominantly by simple nitrate at 2 ppm, orthophosphate consistently well below 1/2 ppm, and high redox indicative of very low DOM. I have noted over the past few months that NO3 and PO4 do tend to drift low despite generous feeding, but I have addressed this from time to time with small ad hoc dosing, which is an imprecise practice, not in conformance with the auto-regulation system being sought. Currently I have a doser dedicated to a KNO3/KH2PO4 mix. These are prepped 100g/liter and the solutions mixed 50:50 in the doser vat. Dosed at 3.3 ml/day this is minuscule supplementation for 200 gallons, but is implemented strictly as a hedge against drift, not as a major allochthonous source of macronutrient. The dose rate is subject to change, depending on what the long-term traces look like, but just now it is working about right.

Iron in aqueous solution is fairly variable, but time-of-day of the test has a lot to do with this. The sole intentional source of iron in the water column is the ferrous gluconate in SeaChem Flourish Comprehensive. This is rapidly consumed in foliar uptake. In a densely planted tank it disappears quickly. Iron usually tests between 0.1 and 0.25 right after (within 30 minutes) of the daily dose, while lights are in twilight dawn mode. I don't think much is lost to photolysis. The Hanna photo-colorimeter test is used for this measurement.

The aquarium is also holding to the desired soft-water habitat characteristic. Current averages are 3.3 dGH, Ca:Mg = 41:18 ppm. The GH reactor has been using all SeaChem Reef Reactor for several months. The SWCR is balancing the earth-alkali concentration, maintaining dGH at circa 3. The Ca:Mg ratio had, over time, trended high, while overall the GH slowly trended low. I started the MgSO4 doser (100 g/liter), presently set at a scant 5 ml/day, aiming to improve the ++Mg content and hedge the GH drift. Some trace elements are delivered as sulfate, but no other SO4 solutions are used, since potassium is dosed as K2CO3. So apart from fish food and miscellaneous autochthonous sources of protein, the MgSO4 solution is the only source of sulfur to the environment. Sulfate currently tests at well under 20 ppm.

The CO2 concentration is a stable 33 ppm. I continue the long-standing practice of dosing 20 ml/day SeaChem Excel. Judging from primary production, carbon is not limiting.

K2CO3 continues to be the main source of +K and buffer. This is a 100g/liter solution, dosed at the rate of 10 ml three times a day. Potassium persists at a solid 40 ppm. This LaMotte kit is not super-precise, but yields confidence in resolution of around + or - 5 ppm in the 40 ppm neighborhood. This is perfectly adequate for a parameter that is intentionally provided for "luxury uptake" and is wholly non-toxic at these levels. The 40 ppm concentration is extremely stable. I have only been conducting this test about twice a week just to make sure it is not drifting. This dose rate has been maintaining long-term average KH at 7.2 degrees, all --CO3. The Hanna photo-colorimeter is used for this test.

The fish are hungry and healthy and the plants are wild! I am getting behind on maintenance so I'm making work for myself this week.

Cryptocoryne wendtii is popping up everywhere. It is returning all along the front where I removed all of a previously thriving stand, and, for crypt, it is growing fast. I am impressed by the survivability of this plant, as it seems to be volunteering from mere remnants of buried roots.
 
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Paul G

Active member
Hello to all in HAAS

I really have enjoyed the opportunity to share my ideas with kcfishclub, and appreciate the kind remarks and quantity of hits my thread here as garnered.

Ever since the site came back from last month's update, it has failed to display pictures from my Imgur Direct Link. There does not seem to be a remedy for this. As I will not get to use pictures in the thread going forward, I have decided to move my planted tank journal to the Barr Report, where Imgur Direct Link works normally.

I will be continuing to post frequently and I would very much like anyone who has followed this thread to visit me at barrreport.com forum Advanced Strategies and Fertilization > AUTO-DOSING, STREAMING WATER CHANGE, AND TESTING.

Regards,

Paul G
 

kcmikey

Administrator
Staff member
Paul, we appreciate your contributions. This has been truly amazing to read about over the years. I am not sure what is going on with your interface in posting photos from IMGUR. I have done a few adds in the past few days. If you want me to troubleshoot your process or you are welcome to watch mine. I may try to set up a few software demos over the next few weeks. Sometimes it helps to see details vs. trying to read about it with my cryptic descriptions! Just reach out if you want to discuss. michael@meyer.net
 

Paul G

Active member
So... something got fixed?

Bang from the box, not that happy with Barr Report experience. This site feels more like home. Although I didn't get much discussion started (maybe that's a good thing!), I was impressed by the number of hits logged. Who are these people?

Just now, I'm inclined to change my mind.
 

Paul G

Active member
Still not fixed. Just tried again. I have no trouble in other places... only here. Again, it looks like the link is actually working, but the site drops it out the moment it downloads.
 

Paul G

Active member
If "jungle" is a defined specific style of aquarium, this one is that. I have seen the term used before, so I won't claim to have originally coined it. It perhaps could be regarded as a subset of the "Dutch style" but not so formally arranged nor scrupulously manicured. Certainly not Amano "nature" style; wilder in overall aspect, denser - i.e. a jungle. More than just indulging a decorating impulse, I prefer observing natural spontaneity. I like hardy, fast-growing plants, and my philosophy generally is to let them have their way. But "not manicured" does not mean unmanaged. Overcrowding cuts off light to the understory. I try to find the line between wild and just plain congested. Four large prolific swordplants and a big Nymphaea alone are a lot of foliage. I keep trying to make room for the crypts (which are doing exceptionally well), Java ferns, and Anubias, and it's easy to let the Sagittaria and Hygrophila get out of control, because they are thriving weeds. So it's a jungle in there.

I am resuming this journal here. Until we figure out what is going awry with my pictures link, I won't be putting up photos and drawings. But I will be posting more regularly. Again, I invite conversation.
 

Paul G

Active member
I am not necessarily aiming for showing the evolution of anything in particular. All the individual plants are established. I think the features of interest are the populations and the whole community generally. A shot of any one third of the whole 'scape takes in at least one large Echinodorus and surrounding Cryptocorynes. Detailing just one Echinodorus will pretty much document how often it gets pruned and which leaves get taken! But it's not really going to do anything more interesting than promptly sprout replacements. The individual Cryptocorynes do go from small to large, and new ones do volunteer, pretty much everywhere in the 'scape, so they are really more interesting as a population. Same with the Sagittaria which also never changes except that it creeps all over the place and has to be pulled out in great handfuls. Since this alters the overall appearance of the 'scape, it is more interesting as a population, and best observed as a part of the whole. When I put in - or move - Anubias and Java ferns, I do try to get pictures of them growing over time. In the photos that I post their progress can be easily observed. But I think the real beauty of the thing is the aquascape taken as community, where the plants control conditions and the ecosystem is a self-regulating complex system of interconnected processes and organisms. I see this in the data-logs, the way the tweaking of the lights and CO2 effect the oxygen tension, how the biofilter health and streaming water change elevate the redox potential and dispose of nutrients, how much the fish eat and how healthy fish behave, and how nutrients evolve as a result. This is what interests me. It's a microcosm of nature, and it fascinates me. I am also chronicling an experiment in high tech implementation of an automated aquarium. So I am showing the evolution of this experiment. This is what I am aiming for.

I hope we will soon solve the problem of getting my pictures link to work here.
 

Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.8
ORP 540 mV
NO3: 2.7 ppm
PO4: 0.03 ppm
Fe: 0.59 ppm
K: 40 ppm
dGH: 2.2
Ca/Mg: 30/10 ppm
dKH: 5.8
SO4: approx 50 ppm

These numbers have been fairly stable over the last two months. Mid-October the Reef Reactor in the re-mineralizer reactor was adjusted to exactly 500 grams, i.e. about half the previous charge. The flow-rate is a consistent 100 gph. MgSO4 solution (100g/L) has been dosed 10 ml daily. The GH settled to the present value over the next two weeks and has leveled off. The Ca:Mg = 3:1. Sulfate test is very inexact, but --SO4 is definitely over 20 ppm. While this is a soft-water habitat, as intended, the secondary nutrients are in steady and ample supply.

K2CO3 solution (100 g/L) has remained at 35 ml/day for a very long time now with the +K staying at a solid 40 ppm. With this, KH holds to just under 6 degrees with no additional buffering agents being used (apart from the --CO3 regularly being released in the re-mineralizer).

DOM, DIN, and orthophosphate are well controlled. The system is oligotrophic. Redox and oxygen tension are excellent. The re-mineralizer, buffering, and fertilization parameters are balancing nicely with the SWCR. I do believe this long-sought automation scheme is working out.

I have distributed the Excel dosing into three parts spread out during the day, and reduced the dose of Advance. This has substantially mitigated the 07:00 COD spike; that troublesome O2 notch has been erased.
 

Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.8
ORP: 544 mV
NO3: 4.4 ppm
PO4: 0.12 ppm
Fe: 0.21 ppm
K: 40 ppm
dGH: 2.7
Ca/Mg: 32/16 ppm
dKH: 5.6
 
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Paul G

Active member
pH: 6.8
ORP: 546 mV
NO3: 4.0 ppm
PO4: 0.12 ppm
Fe: 0.34 ppm
K: 40 ppm
dGH: 2.7
Ca/Mg: 32/18 ppm
dKH: 5.7
 

Paul G

Active member
pH: 6.75
ORP: 546 mV
NO3: 4.0 ppm
PO4: 0.14 ppm
Fe: 0.22 ppm
K: 40 ppm
dGH: 2.7
Ca/Mg: 30/18 ppm
dKH: 5.9
 

Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.75
ORP: 547 mV
NO3: 2.6 ppm
PO4: 0.21 ppm
Fe: 0.29 ppm
K: 30 ppm
dGH: 4.7
Ca/Mg: 36/48 ppm
dKH: 7.7

Some water and filter changes, year-end maintenance, major trimming, etc. I have severely cut back the Sagittaria and Hygrophila. Nothing is permitted to dwell at the surface except the Nymphaea pads. I pulled an Echinodorus and moved it from near center to an open place in the back where a stand of Sag was removed. It is a better fit there. I was reluctant to undertake this job, but it turned out to be easier than I had anticipated and it's doing well so far. All the swords were pruned and numerous large leaves were taken.

The Ca:Mg ratio has flipped for reasons not certain. Not a problem, as the concentrations of both are satisfactory, though the total GH is a bit higher than normal, with ++Mg accounting for the excess. Also, KH is elevated. I suspect a transient runaway episode in the re-mineralizer reactor that produced a spike of MgCO3, occasioned by something I did in the filter maintenance. I did use a large charge of zeolite for a short time, and the last time I used zeolite (about 18 months ago) I got weird earth-alkali numbers and a buffer bump then too. I don't understand it so I won't speculate, but I think there is a causal relationship here.
 
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