---------- Forwarded message ---------- Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2005 14:49:14 -0700 From: John Apsley <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Digest Vol 13, Issue 10
RE: Possibilities of Sozo Haishoku, substrate replacement, substrate enrichment, etc?
When arguing with success, I have always tried to see the other?s strategic reasons for doing what they do. It appears to me that Amano has an overall strategy to get his plants to predominately obtain their nutrients from the substrate. Why? Well, first, he knows that by keeping the water column nutrients low, his plants better outcompete algae. Secondly, he is using 8000K lighting, which has a strong representation of both blue and green. These two color bands will dilate the stomas on his plants? foliage, causing even more nutrient loss from the water column, thus out competing the algae even more. Because he uses high intensity, he still has an algae problem, but perhaps this keeps it more manageable while allowing incredible growth and pearling.
Next, as to the substrate getting richer or poorer. Again strategy comes into play. It is quite possible of course to make your substrate get richer in nutrients. As was pointed out, bacteria will take the detritus and break it down. However, as this occurs, oxygen is required. Plant roots have adapted to low oxygen substrates to take their food supply because the bacteria need to oxygen to make the detritus bioavailable to the plants? roots. Nitrate is one example, and high energy phosphate molecules are another. When the detritus has been broken down as far as it can go, you really get BOD, which is detritus with no or little oxygen. This is bio-unavailable, and builds up water density over time, causing a loss in light reaching the plant foliage, especially in deeper aquaria (i.e., >18? deep) over time. Hence, water changes and carbon filtration. If Amano?s system is near perfect to drive root nutrient uptake, and water column nutrient efficiency, as I suspect it is, then he has made his strategy work, and he needs to replace his substrate as he does. BOD can really build up over a time period of 2 years, no matter how many water changes one makes.
By adding in oxygen either to the water column, or better to the substrate, it is possible to extend the life of the substrate because the BOD will assimilate the oxygen back into itself via bacteria (the biological filter), and this then becomes usable by the roots ? typically in the same manner it does in organic farming techniques ? by the dead carcasses of the bacteria leaving behind protoplasmic rich waste, called protein. However, in nature there are an array of organisms, like worms, that aerate the substrate. In the home aquaria, this essential strategy is hardly ever dealt with, and anaerobic bacteria dominate, lessening the chances of reclaiming BOD. That?s the key to composting, and how waste gets converted into energy rich compost. Composting needs ?turning over? on a regular basis to make the high grade fertilizer at the end of the 12 month cycle. Hydroponic gardeners have long used H2O2 for this purpose, as well as to simply excite the roots. But in our hobby, because it is so poorly publicized, people using H2O2 usually get caught killing their fish. This is from over dosing or using the cheap drug store stuff (it has preservatives). However, if using food grade H2O2 in the right dosages and dilution the strategy is quite sound. I use H2O2 regularly in all my aquaria, and everything works just fine, including disease control. Also, H2O2 directly added to the water column on a regular basis will keep down the algae. Algae, as a primitive life form, simply does not have enough antioxidants to handle a short blast of H2O2 in sufficient quantities, whereas plants and fish do, within defined limits. Now, this is strategy, and all life forms on the planet have used this to discriminate (defend themselves) from lower, parasitic life forms. Therer have been many Nobel prizes in medicine or chemistry on this mechanism over the last 80 years.
Composting is the basic purpose of a substrate in nature. Most pay only attention to the fact that in streams, fresh water is brought in. This is shallow thinking, as it ignores the other 50% of the equation going on underneath the substrate. It is this type of ecosystem that we never really see in home aquaria, or for that matter, in most other places ? BUT WE SHOULD. If you look and study remediation treatment plants, and sewage treatment plants, then you see how poorly these are typically run, or how well they are run (rare). It comes down to the BOD and the bacteria. Amano has not mastered this yet, but neither has most of the worlds? sewage treatment facilities.
In the case where BOD is properly managed, and composting accomplished in the home aquaria (with a recycling time in days, not months), then water changes and substrate loss are all radically lessened. But we should debate more on Amano?s rationale and strategy. One down side to his technique is that he is unable to place many fish in his aquaria for all of the above reasons, yet he produces such incredible Aquascapes. To do both must mean to master the aspect of BOD reclaiming/recycling at its best within the home aquaria. So, I tend to give Amano not only a break, but to see his genius as best I can. For example, Amano?s techniques are emerging. He started off using different techniques from what he uses now. Maybe over time he will figure out how to extend his substrate via dual fertilization techniques (i.e., water column as well as substrate) that support BOD reclaimation, while at the same time keeping the algae growth down.
Dr. John Apsley
7327 Silent Creek Avenue, SE
Snoqualmie, WA 98065
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