200 GALLON JUNGLE STYLE

Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.71
ORP: 555mV
NO3: 1.77 ppm
PO4: 0.11 ppm
Fe: 0.12 ppm (08:00)
K: 40 ppm
dGH: 3.8
Ca/Mg: 24/44 ppm
dKH: 8.3

Water column iron shows up within the hour after morning dose. Hardness numbers are up and Ca/Mg is inverted again. The reconstitution is running ahead a bit. The 300 gram NeoMag charge will come out, leaving the 500 gram Reef Reactor charge in the loop.

This week's DO trace shown below. The last blackout occurs on Friday, 04/08 (the lights were turned off at 10:15 AM). The DO dip on Monday, 04/11, is a Dr Tim's Waste-Away dose (200 ml). Heterotroph culture was added to the water at 09:30, and O2 usage peaked at 11:15. DO did not fall below 7.5 ppm, saturation was regained around noontime, and peak supersaturation (10.5 ppm) occurred at 18:00. This results from continuous brisk aeration, which will continue for a while. Also shown is this week's ORP trace. The redox has fully recovered and is stable. While this is an indicator of low DOM, I have refreshed the poly-filter in the AquaClear 110 and will leave that on for a while longer to see how quickly it darkens. On Tuesday, 04/12, all the canister filters were changed. All old chem media were discarded. Continuum Catalytic Carbon and SeaChem Renew were installed in one charge only in loop 1R. This will be changed in 4 week intervals. All other canisters are running empty with only mechanical filtration.

 

Paul G

Active member
Getting some growth now and the 'scape is starting to look more natural. I have arrived at the "new normal" light settings. The DADU (Dawn/Dusk) Brightness curve is shown below. It is typical of the curves established for SUN1, SUN2, and SUN3, all of which are set for no more than 24% of capacity. This is significantly down from previous settings. Total peak daytime power input is now 350 watts, down from 490 watts, a 30% drop. The burst of periphyton algae has stopped, i.e. reduced to its normal growth rate. I have not yet checked the PAR at various locations in the tank, but I mean to do this. Judging from leaf and inflorescence production from the Echinodorus, they appear to be okay with the light, but I am hatching a plan for some new Kessil A80s back there.
The Nymphaea has now sent up three floating leaf stems and I expect more. These come in very fast. I hope to see it flower this year, so I will let it keep as many healthy floating leaves as it desires. The crypts that were left undisturbed in the turnaround each had at least one fert pill set nearby. They are showing visible growth, rapid for crypts, and a deepening of color. There were just a few larger leaves that were dying and some that had excessive green spot/dust alga, all of which I pruned off. The Cryptocoryne population is looking as vigorous as it ever has.
 
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Paul G

Active member
Not sure what the question is. There is no order-of-magnitude factoring involved.

The numbers stated are parts per million (milligrams per liter) of CaCO3 and MgCO3. The LaMotte test kit, 4824-DR-LT, uses a direct reading titration burette indicating CaCO3 hardness in ppm in increments of 4 ppm, easily resolvable to 2 ppm if conducted very carefully. The procedure is designed to give the total earth-alkali carbonate (Mg + Ca) hardness in one test, and CaCO3 only hardness in a similar test. The MgCO3 hardness is the simple difference between the two.

What is referred to as GH, general hardness, is the earth-alkali content only that is indicated in this type of titration analysis, expressed as CaCO3 molar equivalent. It does not include other substances in solution. This is also known as "temporary hardness" due to the fact that boiling water causes any CaCO3 and MgCO3 present to precipitate out of solution. Geochemically, Mg substitutes freely for Ca in the CaCO3 lattice structure, so throughout time Mg has been geologically incorporated into the rocks where Ca is found. The strata bearing these limestones and dolomites are contacted in the hydrological cycle. The earth-alkali elements then occur to a greater or lesser extent in practically all natural waters and the hardness they represent has become a parameter of interest in the chemistry of biologically tenable environments. Calcium and magnesium are secondary macronutrients for virtually all macrophytes. Some ++Ca and ++Mg, even in very soft freshwater, is important to making it habitable by just about any living thing drinking it or dwelling in it. This is why we reconstitute RO/DI, to make it biologically friendly.

The Ca,MgCO3 total hardness in ppm can be converted to and from the German scale of degrees of general hardness, dGH, as follows:

ppm CaCO3 = German degree x 0.056

German degree = ppm CaCO3 / 17.85

The German hardness scales have been used extensively in aquaristics for a long time. I like their simplicity of expression and will continue using them. The MgCO3 and CaCO3 hardness numbers represent their respective concentrations of dissociated ions ++Mg and ++Ca in which form they actually occur in aqueous solution. The Ca/Mg, or Ca:Mg, is a ratio of their relative concentrations, showing the way the dGH is comprised, and could be expressed in any unit of measure in any mathematical equivalent. For instance the last reported measure, Ca/Mg 12/44 ppm, can be reduced to the same ratio 6/11, but that cannot then be stated in ppm units. In this case, I am specifying the actual concentrations in ppm of CaCO3 hardness. The LaMotte tests give me this information, so I report it that way. I do not factor it down or up, so there are no multipliers used here.

SIDENOTE: A few popular hobbyist test kits are designed to read out in dGH directly. These don't have precision to yield ppm hardness, but can reliably "ballpark" GH on the German scale and are certainly useful for that purpose generally. It is not especially helpful to attempt a conversion from dGH obtained this way to ppm hardness because the implied resolution is not justified. However, converting ppm hardness to dGH is entirely legitimate, carried to a tenth of a degree at least.

The LaMotte test can be used for seawater analysis and has specific instructions on how to interpret results using certain conversion factors. I don't see any reference to a X 10 multiplier here either.
 
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Paul G

Active member
You are right to notice. The ionic concentration in the solution is related, but not equal, to the CaCO3 hardness figure.
Here are the easy conversions:

ppm CaCO3 Mg / 4.1 = ppm Mg++

ppm CaCO3 Ca / 2.5 = ppm Ca++

So, for the hardness figures given in the example of the last test, the ratio of the ionic concentrations Ca/Mg is 9.6/10.7 ppm.

Since the tests give results in ppm CaCO3 hardness, the above conversions can be applied to obtain the ionic concentrations. These conversion factors, and others, can be found at Nancrede Engineering Co: Conversions and Guides - Water Chemistry CaCO3 Equivalents.

https://www.necoindustrialwater.com/conversions-and-guides-water-chemistry-caco3-equivalents/


My use of hardness figures in reporting the relative abundance of these dissolved salts is misleading. I should report these numbers as ionic concentrations, as discussing these elements in all other contexts will be on those terms, not in terms of hardness figures. In fact, I myself have been attempting to adjust the Ca:Mg ratio on the basis of hardness figures rather than ionic concentrations and I believe that is incorrect.

Your question has occasioned a change. Thanks for making me think this out.

THIS POST EDITED 6 MAY TO CORRECT ERROR IN SCRIPT.
 
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Paul G

Active member

The new Crypt volunteer is growing slowly. The Nymphaea has several floating leaves and all the swords are putting out inflorescence stalks. The growth is good generally and the 'scape is filling in nicely now. The Microsorum is in excellent color and resisting algae.

Today's numbers

pH: 6.74
ORP: 539 mV
NO3: 0.20 ppm
PO4: 0.09 ppm
Fe: 0.18 ppm (09:50)
K: 40 ppm
dGH: 4.3
Ca/Mg: 16.0/8.8 ppm
dKH: 8.7

The redox trace for the past week is clearly showing the COD spikes corresponding to the doses of Flourish Comprehensive. The first daily dose is 30 mL spread between 07:01 and 07:28; the second is 10 mL at 12:01; the third is 10 mL at 17:01. While Excel and Advance can be shown to slightly impact the ORP, the reduction effect is almost entirely due to Flourish, and in particular to the ferrous gluconate it contains. This dose rate represents a substantial increase over previous, and exceeds SeaChem's suggested minimal recommendation. I believe I am seeing a benefit to the Microsorum and Anubias, as these are not substrate rooted.


The DO trace is showing that the constant aeration is holding O2 at just above saturation, including over the COD spikes. Plant photosynthesis accounts for supersaturation during daylight, about 11 ppm at 336 watts input. I am not seeing as significant an impact to CO2 utilization as I had expected from all this effervescence. Vigorous aeration does "blow out" CO2, but perhaps I have grown to tolerate the rate of CO2 utilization, as I am finding it quite tolerable. Maintaining O2 saturation is not strictly necessary either if night-time concentration can be kept to around 5 ppm, but I am liking the elevated DO for various reasons that will remain largely subjective for now.

 
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Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.74
ORP: 539 mV
NO3: 0.15 ppm
PO4: 0.05 ppm
Fe: 0.15 ppm (@ 08:20)
K: <50 ppm
dGH: 4.59
Ca/Mg: 15.2/10.7 ppm
dKH: 8.0

All NO3 and PO4 derive exclusively from environmental metabolism alone (fully autochthonous), with no supplementary nutrient dosing. This ecosystem is super-oligotrophic. Substrate fertilization represents an emulation of a possible natural inherent characteristic of a stream bed and those nutrients remain largely immobile except for transferences by root systems. Thus, I do not regard fert tabs as allochthonous nutrient sources. The trophic status is determined by transport in and out of the environs by the flow of the water, i.e. it is a condition of the water column.

Jargon dump redux. The subject is planted aquaria specifically.

Eutrophic-tending open natural waters, particularly in temperate zone lentic and low-energy lotic settings, are more densely populated by macrophytes than oligotrophic waters, simply because of the higher nutrient content, the NO3 and PO4 values being larger by more than one order of magnitude at least. This does not translate into a model for aquaristics methodology. Most well-managed aquariums wherein the livestock is fed according to good practices will test at least 10 ppm NO3 and possibly as high as 5 ppm PO4. These are acceptable numbers. But such aquariums are mesotrophic, and while there is no threat of toxicity, that trend to eutrophication flirts with algae stimulation.

It is interesting that a great many biotopes actually observed throughout the tropics are oligotrophic to a large degree, yet support macrophytes in abundance. See KASSELMAN: Aquarium Plants. I am especially impressed by Biotopes 36-39 around Bonito in southwest Brazil which are crystal clear, highly oxygenated spring-fed streams. These are densely populated with fish and plants, featuring forests of large-leaved Echinodorus. Yet analyses show these waters to be super-oligotrophic. Soil analyses also show relative sterility, yet these great assemblages of plants are getting their needed nitrogen and phosphorus from this environment by all possible means. This confirms to me that, in the planted aquarium, if NO3 and PO4 are consistently non-zero, there is nutrient sufficiency. More is not better, and regular supplementation with allochthonous NO3 and PO4, perhaps a common practice among aquatic gardeners, is not necessary if the stocking and feeding are adequate.

The source of the N and P is their introduction to the environment via the food chain. Fully structured complex organics (fish food) are endemic to the biotope (in nature) or supplied by us (in aquariums), and will eventually be processed to states of assimilation or mineralization through ongoing environmental metabolism. Adding supplementary NO3 and PO4 solutions to the water column is analogous with these substances being imported into the environment after having been evolved in the adjacent environment just upstream. We must speak of these habitats as "parcels of environment" in this way because we are actually referring to aquariums, not arbitrarily specified pieces of real nature, and aquariums are glass boxes. No matter how large, they are closed systems and do not operate in ways exactly analogous with large contiguous sectors of lotic natural habitats, essentially open systems wherein the nutrients are highly dilute.

I have been making efforts to correlate times and amounts of fish feeding with numbers yielded by NO3 and PO4 tests. As previously stated, this problem would certainly be amenable to a test procedure with rigorous protocols and assiduous measurements. For the hobbyist attempting something like this, useful information comes in the form of imprecise but highly suggestive subjective conclusions. I test frequently, some stretches every day, and I generally gauge the food quantity by how often I put a specific uniform amount of the same food type in the water. Over time it is easily discerned that NO3 and PO4 numbers tend to rise and fall in a manner corresponding to the generosity of the feeding pattern, in terms of days when two feedings occur at one extreme as opposed to days skipped altogether at the other. The latency period of the effect is hard to pin down, but I put it at a few days to a week. If the numbers seem to incline, I feed every other day for a week and the numbers start to decline. When quite low, as they are today, I will feed extra. I believe I am seeing waxing and waning of the green algae periphyton corresponding to these trends.

The streaming water change regimen, SWCR, is a means of simulating in a small closed system, by the artifice of mimicry, the dilution effect of a large open system. It is imperfect at this, but seems to be doing a fine job of it. The use of chemical filtration is a supporting function, removing DOM. The DIN and orthophosphate are removed by the SWCR and the uptake by large plants in large numbers, thus enforcing oligotrophy, suppressing algae. A complete source of these nutrients is fish food. Minimal non-zero concentrations of NO3 and PO4 are fully adequate to maintain plant health and produce growth. It has helped that more attention is being paid to substrate fertilization.
 
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Paul G

Active member
I have amended the hardness-to-ions conversion unit notations in the 19 April entry above due to error resulting from fog. The conversion factors are correct for hardness figures in ppm CaCO3, not German scale degrees. The ++Ca and ++Mg numbers reported in that and subsequent entries are stated for calculations using the correct units.

Today's numbers

pH: 6.73
ORP: 538 mV
NO3: 0.88 ppm
PO4: 0.15 ppm
Fe: 0.25 ppm (@ 08:50)
K: 40 ppm
dGH: 4.5
Ca/Mg: 14.4/10.7 ppm
dKH: 8.5

 

Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.71
ORP: 538.5 mV
NO3: 0.10 ppm
PO4: 0.05 ppm
Fe: 0.75 ppm (@09:00)
K: 40 ppm
dGH: 4.26
Ca/Mg: 15.2/9.27 ppm
dKH: 8.57
CO2: prox min 40 ppm
DO: current running average: 9.61 ppm, last 7 day minimum 7.7 ppm, last 7 day maximum 11.2 ppm

Today I fertilized the substrate around the Echinodorus with API Root Tabs (NPK = 1:1:3 macro + Fe).

The new Crypt volunteer that I have singled out is slowly getting bigger and producing new leaves.
 

Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.71
ORP: 538.3 mV
NO3: 0.10 ppm
PO4: 0.07 ppm
Fe: 0.74 ppm (@ 08:20)
K: 40 ppm
dGH: 4.26
Ca/Mg: 14.4/9.76 ppm
dKH: 9.03

Did a 10 gallon "moderate gulp" water change today, scraped periphyton off the front glass, dosed 200 ml Waste-Away, and changed out the intakes. The Hygrophila needs trimming as it has bushed out and reached the surface. All the Echinodorus flower runners are producing daughter plants which are viable size, and this needs clearing out.
 

Paul G

Active member
Life! Microsorum pteropus getting big, relatively quickly for Javaferns, and resisting black algae. These pictures are the tank today, pre-trimming. I will be reluctant to prune too severely as I delight in giving Nature her freedom. Watching all this growth and health is what I love most about doing this. Fish are ravenous. A hungry fish is a healthy fish. They are converting brine shrimp and bloodworms into plant food.


Today's numbers

pH: 6.71
ORP: 535.8 mV
NO3: 0.10 ppm
PO4: 0.03 ppm
Fe: 0.76 ppm (@ 08:37)
K: 40 ppm
dGH: 4.03
Ca/Mg: 15.2/8.3 ppm
dKH: 8.29

Iron is persisting at more than sufficient concentration; the dose needs calibrating a bit. I have adjusted the total daily dose of Flourish Comprehensive from 50 mL to 37.5 mL (25% reduction), but the timing of the five dose events remains the same. The +K/KH dosing and GH reconstitution reactor in conjunction with the SWCR are working spot on, yielding ideal numbers.

It has taken awhile getting the system to settle down after the turnaround. I have been experimenting with a schedule of dosing Brightwell Aquatics Freshwater Razor (a new product I have been eager to try) and Dr Tim's Re-Fresh every three days since 5/9. It is recommended that they be used together. There has been a reduction to "normal" in the growth of green periphyton, and a return to a crispy-clean look to hardscape and plant leaves. Results are subjectively adjudged as definitely positive, but that is all I am prepared to say, as there are undoubtedly other reasons that factor in. Specificity would be entirely conjectural and unjustified. I will continue with these products on a 3-day cycle for a couple of weeks more, then revert to the Waste-Away/Eco-Balance schedule.

SIDENOTE: Dr Tim's Re-Fresh is apparently NOT harmful to pulmonate pond snails. I have made a point of observing effects of Re-Fresh on invertebrates, since the label advises caution here, especially with respect to snails and shrimp. The only invertebrates in this tank for which I have a concern are the pulmonate pond snails. These are unaffected by Re-Fresh. Dr Tim's formulae are proprietary so there are things undisclosed about the nature of this product. I understand this but I am curious to know what there is about it that represents this risk of mortality.
 
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