200 GALLON JUNGLE STYLE

Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers:

pH: 6.7
ORP: 409 mV
EC: 390 uS/cm
NO3: 4.9 ppm
PO4: 1.18 ppm
Fe: 0.32 ppm
K: 50 ppm
GH: 28 ppm (1.6 deg)
Ca / Mg: 18 ppm / 10 ppm
KH: 7.6 deg

Have fed nothing except the regular twice daily flake and dropped in a little green sinking (about half the usual amount) yesterday AM.

I have been withholding all supplemental NO3 and PO4, so there has been no allochthonous input. It seems clear at this point that there are correlations between upticks in the water column concentrations of NO3 and PO4 and feeding times, and that is obvious since the fish food is the ultimate source of both. When feeding has been liberal, both parameters go high, pushing temporarily into mesotrophy territory. Evolution of peak concentration values for the two is not necessarily synchronous, nor did I expect that to be the case necessarily. However, there are most certainly patterns, and they could, in principle, be detailed with careful experimental controls and high testing frequencies. It is sufficient for me to know these correlations exist as a matter of course. I have hungry fish and I like feeding them - I prefer keeping a well-managed aquarium to performing a rigorous research project. I like doing both, but the latter is always subservient to the former.

What this particular research project has shown thus far is that I can probably just let NO3 and PO4 take care of themselves. Implementing the streaming water change regime has made it possible to maintain a densely planted and heavily stocked aquarium within the limits of strict oligotrophy. Maintaining oligotrophy via water changes enforces stability in all parameters, suppresses nuisance algae, elevates redox, and is self-clarifying. It is a method intended to mimic environmental conditions in primary streams and it succeeds at that.

The GH continues to decline, as all allochthonous Ca and Mg has been stopped (except for the reactor). The reactor may not produce sufficient hardness all by itself at the present streaming rate; I am seeing it as a means of keeping background baseline concentrations of Ca and Mg at minimums to offset the amount of supplementary dosing required from sulfate and chloride solutions. It may well be that the reactor is too small; I might yet install a second one. I will manually dose CaCl2 and MgSO4 in small increments for a couple of days to get a better idea of what will be needed to hold GH at 3 degrees.

So far, alkalinity and potassium levels are fine with the K2CO3 dosing scheme. I am optimistic about this arrangement.
 

Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.7
ORP: 413 mV
EC: 380 uS/cm
NO3: 2.1 ppm
PO4: 0.68 ppm
Fe: 0.26 ppm
K: > 40 ppm
GH: 28 ppm (1.6 deg)
Ca / Mg: 18 ppm / 10 ppm
KH: 7.6 deg

All parameters are stable. Compared to yesterday, only the NO3 and PO4 have declined. Today I will feed fresh frozen and the usual flake.

Since Ca/Mg have not changed, I have not dosed supplement.

If the conductivity (EC) data have not been conveying information that appears to be immediately useful, it is due mostly to the fact that I haven't made a methodical effort to detect patterns. I have not been ignoring it entirely, however. The conductivity of freshwater depends on the simultaneous ionic activity of all dissolved substances present. In a saltwater system - i.e. marine and reef - this apparatus would be monitoring salinity, giving continuous feedback on the stability of this critical parameter. The net ionic activity in a body of freshwater is more variable. Once the GH and KH parameters (and ideally trace elements also) are stable, as they ought to be, their contribution should be seen as a relative constant, much as salinity is so in a marine system. All autochthonous product resulting from every organic process occurring in the ecosystem will be measured in the net conductivity and will be comprised of dissolved substances both organic and inorganic. Within a range, this won't necessarily be a uniform constant. It does look like some variation inside the range is related to normal fluctuations in the parameters, while the range itself moves more markedly in response to the GH. I have checked past test results and, while there have been anomalies, the general picture is that the conductivity is acting in the expected way. Monitoring EC may become useful for controlling the Ca/Mg reactors via Apex.
 

Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.68
ORP: 416 mV
EC: 370 uS/cm
NO3: 0.1 ppm
PO4: 1.19 ppm
Fe: 0.28 ppm
K: 40 ppm
GH: 24 (1.3 deg)
Ca / Mg: 20 ppm / 4 ppm
KH: 7.2 deg

GH and EC are moving down again. Mg falls off faster than does Ca. I am now dosing 20 ml MgSO4 and 10 ml CaCl2.

Today I am feeding fresh frozen and green sinking in addition to twice daily flake.
 
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Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.68
ORP: 416 mV
EC: 370 uS/cm
NO3: 4.6 ppm
PO4: 1.83 ppm
Fe: 0.38 ppm
K: 40 PPM
GH: 28 (1.6 deg)
Ca / Mg: 20 ppm / 8 ppm
KH: 7.2 deg

NO3 level has caught up with the last two days of feeding. PO4 is up as well. I will feed only the usual flake today.

Potassium and alkalinity continue to hold their values at the current dose and streaming rates.

The GH was not boosted much from yesterday's dosing. This AM I put in 20 ml of MgSO4 and 20 ml CaCl2.

I am installing a second MgCO3/CaCO3 reactor.

 
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Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.68
ORP: 420 mV
EC: 360 uS/cm
NO3: 4.6 ppm
PO4: 1.00 ppm
Fe: 0.21 ppm
K: 40 ppm
GH: 32 ppm (1.8 deg)
Ca / Mg: 18 ppm / 14 ppm
KH: 7.2 deg

Adding another 20 ml CaCl2 and 20 ml MgSO4. I am restarting 40 seconds (6.7 ml) per day auto dose of MgSO4. I will dose CaSO4 experimentally for now. I cannot dose it with the peristaltic pump due to aforementioned clogging issues, so will be adding it manually. As I am no longer dosing Ca(NO3)2, and prefer not to use chloride on a regular basis, my options for getting Ca into the water column automatically are pretty much exhausted. Effects of GH build from the Ca,MgCO3 reactors will be slow in coming, so I have to keep on with this ad hoc approach to hardness boosting for a while yet.

The K and KH buffer dosing of K2CO3 is working out, so I am using the KHBOOST doser for this solution. The alkalinity required at environmental pH for CO2 concentration satisfactory to plant production, and stable luxury potassium availability obtain concurrently. As the Ca,MgCO3 reactors generate some buffer, a change in this favorable ratio may eventually be noticed. The K2SO4 doser will be held in reserve for now.

Supplementary NO3 and PO4 are not being dosed. The feeding of the fish is wholly sufficient for these, so both of these dosers have been freed up. This has been made possible by implementing the streaming water change regimen to remove DOM due to bio-loading. Strict oligotrophy with good environmental oxidation-reduction potential results from balance between high fish population and dense plant growth.

Iron and micronutrients are doing fine at the present dosing rate of Flourish Comprehensive. Fe fluctuates a little on a daily basis, but it is not trending out of bounds over time. Today I am adding 50 ml of Flourish Trace.

Today I am feeding fresh frozen, sinking green, and regular flake. Time for pruning and cleaning etc.
 

Paul G

Active member
Yesterday's numbers

NO3: 0
PO4: 0.69 ppm
Fe: 0.50 ppm
K: 40 ppm
GH: 30 ppm
Ca / Mg: 20 ppm / 10 ppm

Fed fresh frozen, green sinking, and regular flake.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Numbers today at 09:00

NO3: 2.4 ppm
PO4: 0.58 ppm
Fe: 0.45 ppm
K: 40 ppm
GH: 30 ppm
Ca / Mg: 20 ppm / 10 ppm

After testing this AM, large doses of CaSO4 and MgSO4. No fish food, except the 09:00 regular flake.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Numbers today at 15:00

NO3: 1.6 ppm
PO4: 1.13 ppm
Fe: 0.33 ppm
K: 40 ppm
GH: 40 ppm
Ca / Mg: 26 ppm / 14 ppm

After testing this PM, fed fresh frozen, green sinking, and regular flake (18:00).
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 

Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.67
ORP: 412 mV
EC: 370 uS/cm
NO3: 2.4 ppm
PO4: > 2.5 ppm
Fe: 0.32 ppm
K: 40 ppm
GH: 32 ppm (1.8 deg)
Ca / Mg: 22 ppm / 10 ppm
KH: 5.8 deg (?)

From here on the values given for pH, ORP, and EC are 7 day running averages, unless otherwise stated.

Without going into details, I think I have been misreading KH results from the LaMotte kit. Comparing to the simpler API kit, the results I have been reporting may be too high by about 1 dKH. I have decided to invest in a photometric tester, which will become the reference standard for KH. In any case, while K is holding at 40 ppm, the alkalinity is declining. The next step in this experiment will be to increase the concentration of the K2CO3 mix.

Orthophosphate is now peaking from the recent feedings; three days straight of nutrient liberally provided, so was fully expected. The 'greater than' notation (>) appears on the PO4 value when the test result exceeds the 2.5 ppm upper limit of the photometer's range. I can check it with the Hagen kit which is not nearly as precise, but does confirm that the PO4 is not significantly higher than 2.5 ppm, which it never has been since starting the streaming water change regimen, and is the maximum value for strict oligotrophy.

The NO3 level moves around but has not been above 5 ppm for a while now. The average concentration of total DIN in this system is sufficient for all these plants, and is always within strict oligotrophy. Since beginning the streaming water changes, occasionally NO3 is 0, which I confirm with the Hagen kit, but this is rare and short-lived.

The plants are certainly not lacking K, Fe, or micros which have been in very good supply. The Fe value moves around a bit, and is often higher than the optimal 0.2 - 0.3, but it is not excessive over prolonged periods so I don't think metal toxicity is a problem, although I would feel better about this if the GH were at least 3 degrees. I am using unamended SeaChem Flourish Comprehensive, so as Fe goes so go the other micros in the formula. I have also set up a doser for Flourish Trace which is now dispensed daily. I am trusting SeaChem regarding ingredient proportionality and completeness of these potions.

I added a big helping of CaSO4 again today. I have set up a doser for CaCl2 solution. I need to get the GH up a bit (3 degrees), so will be recalibrating the MgSO4 and CaCl2 to the proper ratio and get the GH boost back to correct daily dosing. I will keep the Ca,MgCO3 reactors running in the background, but am reserving judgement on this particular experiment.
 

Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

NO3: 6.1 ppm
PO4: 2.50 ppm
Fe: 0.28 ppm
K: 50 ppm
GH: 36 ppm (2 deg)
Ca / Mg: 24 ppm / 12 ppm
KH: 6.5 deg (?)

Yesterday I fed the twice daily regular flake only. The previous three days of liberal feeding has now shown up in the NO3. Today I am feeding flake only. From the way the NO3 and PO4 levels are responding to the feeding episodes, I am concluding that days of liberally feeding all types of food should alternate. I will adhere to a defined schedule and watch for patterns.

The GH is picking up from my booster doses. Today I am adding Ca and Mg in discrete quantities and testing the hardness frequently. Clearly the K is building faster than the KH. I don't think tinkering with the K2CO3 concentration will answer. I will need to use Alkaline Buffer to trim the balance, so am experimenting with manual doses of this as well.

In the last few days the Kuhlii koaches - Pangio meyersi - have overcome their shyness completely. They began showing up one and two at a time at dawn and dusk. I have spotted six, and now I can regularly see at least four at a time throughout the day, frenetically swimming around out front in broad daylight. I have no explanation for this change of behavior other than to observe the fact that it coincides with implementation of the water change regimen. Perhaps it is a change in some characteristic of the water that stimulates them. The question is: favorably or not?
 

Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.68
ORP: 407 mV
EC: 370 uS/cm
NO3: 5.8 ppm
PO4: 0.91 ppm
Fe: 0.28 ppm
K: 50 ppm
GH: 72 ppm (4 deg)
Ca / Mg: 52 ppm / 20 ppm
KH: 8 deg

The GH has been restored to 4 degrees with a good Ca:Mg ratio, the KH, pushing down fast to nearly 5, is back to 8 degrees, and the EC today is 460 uS/cm as a result (370 is the 7-day running average). I have had 3 dGH and 7 dKH as minimal goals. The streaming water change regimen was gradually overtaking the mineral dosing and the bottom dropped out. I have been pleased with the NO3 and PO4 levels at the present water change rate, but as the GH began to persist at 2 degrees, I realized that Ca/Mg dosing was inadequate. The Ca/MgCO3 reactors are too slow to impact this, at least in the way they are being used. For now I will be auto-dosing CaCl2 and MgSO4 solutions to control these numbers. Likewise, the KH has been rapidly declining. It is certainly possible to reduce the fresh throughput by reducing the daily water change volume, but I like the control of NO3 and PO4 at the current rate and it is probably easier to maintain precise control over the minerals by adjusting the dosing.

A lesson learned from the streaming water change method: a redox just over 400 mV is a good sign that control of DOM is excellent, but a conductivity under 400 uS/cm is a good sign that the mineral balance is going askew. Even when soft acid water is the goal, 4 dGH is low enough, and if using CO2 injection, 7 dKH is the floor.

Today I will again feed only the usual flake. Tomorrow's dosing will skip, just one day, CaCl2 and K2CO3, as the Ca and K are a little high. I will be manually dosing Alkaline Buffer for the next few days.
 

Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.69
ORP: 400 mV
EC: 410 uS/cm
NO3: 3.8 ppm
PO4: 0.11 ppm
Fe: 0.36 ppm
K: 50 ppm
GH: 60 ppm (3.4 deg)
Ca / Mg: 40 ppm / 20 ppm
KH: 8.15 deg

I like the new alkalinity photometric tester.

Yesterday I withheld all food. Today I will feed fresh frozen, green sinking, and regular flake.

I adjusted both MgSO4 and CaCl2 up to 60 seconds, 10 ml.





 

Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

NO3: 0
PO4: 0.57 ppm
Fe: 0.40 ppm
KH: 7.92 deg

All other parameters: no significant change from yesterday.

Today I am feeding fresh frozen and regular flake.
 

Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.69
ORP: 400 mV
EC: 410 uS/cm
NO3: 3.2 ppm
PO4: 2.04 ppm
Fe: 0.34 ppm
K: 40 ppm
GH: 50 ppm (2.8 deg)
Ca / Mg: 36 ppm / 14 ppm
KH: 9.1 deg

Actions: Adust the K2CO3 and Alkalinity Buffer solutions. The 3-a-day dose of solution will be reduced to 50 seconds each. K2CO3 will be added to the vat gradually to keep 40 ppm. Both CaCl2 and MgSO4 will be increased to 70 seconds.

Today I will feed the regular twice daily flake and just a little green sinking.
 

Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

NO3: 4.1 ppm
PO4: 1.38 ppm
Fe: 0.22 ppm
K: 40 ppm
GH: 48 ppm (2.7 deg)
Ca / Mg: 30 ppm / 18 ppm
KH: 6.74 deg

Friday and Saturday I fed only the regular flake.
I am feeding fresh frozen and regular flake today.
 

Paul G

Active member
This AM, Monday, 9 Nov, at about 05:15, CO2 PRIMARY emptied. This bottle delivered 127 hours over 42 days for an average of 3 hrs/day. I think a CO2 utilization rate of 3 hrs in 24 at a consistent pH of 6.7 is pretty much normal for this aquarium.

Today's numbers

NO3: 2.1 ppm
PO4: 0.54 ppm
Fe: 0.33 ppm
K: 40 ppm
GH: 42 ppm (2.3 deg)
Ca / Mg: 36 ppm / 6 ppm
KH: 6.57 deg

Actions: start by adding 50 grams SeaChem Alkaline Buffer to the vat. If K drops below 40 ppm, I will increase the dose time by 5 ml (30 seconds) in increments. If K will remain stable at 40 ppm and alkalinity can be brought to 7 dKH minimum, we will have the balance. Dosing +K as carbonate has reduced the total amount of SeaChem Alkaline Buffer being used, but the --CO3 alone has not been enough to supply all the needed buffer. GH declines a little; increase MgSO4 by another 5 ml (30 seconds) in increments. I am considering something different regarding the Mg,CaCO3 reactors.

Feeding regular flake and some sinking green today.

Five very active kuhlii loaches doing their frenetic dance this morning. Every few days the shy whiptail catfish makes a brief appearance; hardly ever could I get a decent photo of it.
 

Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

NO3: 2.4 ppm
PO4: 1.69 ppm
Fe: 0.22 ppm
K: 50 ppm
GH: 48 ppm (2.7 deg)
Ca / Mg: 30 ppm / 18 ppm
KH: 6.1 deg

Yesterday I did not make the changes to the Potassium/Buffer vat as described. That begins today.

Beginning today I have dropped two ODEs, 11:00 and 23:00.

Feeding regular flake and the sinking green that I skipped yesterday.
 

Paul G

Active member
Today I changed all the filters. This involved a series four water changes of about 4 gallons each, so all the parameters are pretty much reset.

I put a cup of Mg reactor medium and a cup of crushed shells (aragonite), in separate bags, in processing filter loop #1R. The flow rate here is at least 150 gph.



 

Paul G

Active member
One of my 72" Build My LED light strips just stopped. BML is no longer in the aquarium light business. I have coming three Kessil A360WE Tuna Suns. I must say, though I did not need the extra expense, it is fun to get new stuff. I have so much enjoyed my Kessils that I look forward to installing these. I think they will be an improvement.
 

Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.7
ORP: 403 mV
NO3: 5.8 ppm
PO4: 0.51 ppm
Fe: 0.29 ppm
K: 40 ppm
GH: 60 ppm (3.4 deg)
Ca / Mg: 46 ppm / 14 ppm
KH: 7.47 deg

First time in a while GH broke 3 degrees. I put Ca,MgCO3 in the processing loop only yesterday; so, pretty remarkable considering the 'large' water changes that were done. I allowed the daily doses of MgSO4 and CaCl2 this AM. I will withhold both tomorrow and we'll see what the tests show. The KH is back up and it may have been helped by increased --CO3.

The plants are thriving in this system; growth is fast. I think I would like to throttle the carbon fixation just a little perhaps. A change in lighting is about to take place, and there will be some adjustments, so this might be a good time to experiment with raising the pH.

Yesterday I fed fresh frozen. NO3 is up, PO4 is down.
 
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Paul G

Active member
Today's numbers

pH: 6.75
ORP: 408 mV
NO3: 0.6 ppm
PO4: 0.92 ppm
Fe: 0.26 ppm
K: 40 ppm
GH: 56 ppm (3.1 deg)
Ca / Mg: 36 ppm / 20 ppm
KH: 7.36 deg
 

Paul G

Active member
I have been testing every day. I am plotting NO3 and PO4 on calendar graphs along with feeding information. These I will post here when some data is accumulated. Suffice to say that both NO3 and PO4 are typically non-zero but not out of bounds. They are totally autochthonous, derived from fish food. Oligotrophy is maintained at the present streaming water change rate.

Potassium is stable circa 40 ppm, and alkalinity is stable at just above 7 dKH. These are derived from K2CO3 solution with SeaChem Alkaline Buffer in the mix, dosed three times daily.

The hardness is stable circa 60 ppm, > 3+ dGH. This is maintained by the Ca,MgCO3 reactor media in a 150 gph flow. I have been withholding CaCl2 and MgSO4 supplementation completely. It's early days yet, but this experiment is proving successful. The Ca:Mg ratio test results vary, but certainly the actual concentrations of Ca and Mg do not. I think the variation in the ratio derives from inherent imprecisions/inaccuracies in the tests. Generalizations are adequate: Ca/Mg = 3/1 to 2/1, with Mg > 16 ppm. The tests are perfectly suitable for ascertaining this.

Since beginning --CO3 buffering, the use of SeaChem Alkaline Buffer is significantly curtailed, as has been the routine addition of chloride and sulfate.

The running average redox value in this system is well above 400 mV. DOM is well managed by the water change regime.

I am dosing Flourish Comprehensive, Excel, Advance, and Trace at label-directions rates. Iron is holding between .2 and .3 ppm consistently, so it too is stable at the present streaming water change rate. According to SeaChem, these supplements get taken in by the plants fairly rapidly. All are added automatically just before twilight comes on, and there are no ODEs (open drain events) for five hours thereafter, so I believe that the plants are getting this stuff for the most part before the ODEs start diluting the water column.

More fine tuning ahead, but confidence is high that the streaming water change regime and the new auto-dosing arrangements are supporting a more natural water chemistry.
 
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