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Old 02-21-2013, 11:08 AM   #1 
Nicci Lu
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A Few Questions on NPTs

First, I was reading a thread on Aquatic Plant Central that discussed the use of soil high in organic matter, like Miracle Grow Organic Potting Soil and how it can cause an ammonia spike when the organics begin to decay. To avoid this, the thread suggested 'mineralizing' the soil first by repeatedly wetting it and allowing it to dry out, or mixing the soil 50/50 with something high in cations like Eco-Complete.

Has anyone had this ammonia spike occur? Is there a specific brand soil that is not high in organic matter? If the soil is mixed with Eco-Complete, will it provide the same benefits as soil only? I've never seen mention of mineralizing soil on this forum, so I'm curious- is this necessary?

Second, filters and water changes with fish that require high levels of dissolved oxygen. NPTs 10 gallons and under don't require filters, and mature NPTs require water changes about once per month, right? If one has fish such as otos (what I have) that require lots of oxygen, would this necessitate the use of a filter and more frequent water changes, regardless of how mature the NPT is? I know the plants put out a lot of oxygen during the day, but am concerned about the night when they use oxygen.

Third, the proper plants to begin an NPT with. I went out and bought a lot of plants for my otos without considering my future plans for an NPT. I don't have much more room at all for more plants in my 10 gallon. What I currently have: two Amazon swords, 13 java fern stems with lots of new shoots, 8 stems green cabomba, hornwort (not sure how many stems, I bought two bunches at Petsmart and had to take out a half of a bunch because it was too much), and frogbit (not very much- it isn't dying anymore, but it grows really slow in my tank).

Can the hornwort count as one of the fast growing stem plants (even though I have it floating)? I assume the reason for the fast growing stems is because they're nutrient hogs- why not rosettes that are nutrient hogs like swords? Why are stems necessary and rosettes optional?

As you can see, I don't have many of the stem plants needed to start an NPT- anyone know of any small fast growing stems I can squeeze in? I have 26 watts 6500k in my 10 gallon.
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Old 02-21-2013, 11:25 AM   #2 
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Ammonia spiked should not happen if the tank is planted properly... the reason for planted stem plants is that the stems can send roots into the substrate and take care of the potential problem "at the roots" so to speak.
the amazon sword will do a good job...
if the plants are quite tall you can cut them in half and plant all the halves too...

oxygen is not a problem, as long as you dont overstock (1in/gallon). overstocking can be a problem in an NPT as the plants can take care of a bioload many times larger than that of the cycled, non planted tank. However otos do appreciate a good flow, I personally prefer to provide them with that.

Like OFL, I too like to see my water ripple, and plants swaying in the current.
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Old 02-22-2013, 12:50 PM   #3 
Nicci Lu
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I see. So I should try and get at least one more stem plant in case the swords and cabomba don't work out. Do you happen to know of a small stem plant that will do okay in low light since it'll be shaded, and that grows fast?

The hornwort can be my floater since the frogbit doesn't seem to like me. That's a good idea about splitting the swords- the root balls on both are pretty thick.

I'll keep the filter then- it took me awhile to happy medium between a current for my otos and low current for my betta, so I'll stick with what I've got going.

Last edited by Nicci Lu; 02-22-2013 at 12:50 PM. Reason: Can't spell.
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Old 02-22-2013, 02:59 PM   #4 
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You should also sift the miracle gro organic soil to remove any big debris. This is what would cause the ammonia spikes. I pulled out about 1.5-2 lbs of wood bits when I sifted my soil. Tanks been going for about 2 months now with no sign of ammonia at all.
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Old 02-22-2013, 04:31 PM   #5 
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nooo~ dont split the sword plant unless you bought them bunched...
haha
i meant to cut the stem plants in half :)
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Old 02-22-2013, 05:00 PM   #6 
Nicci Lu
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aokashi View Post
nooo~ dont split the sword plant unless you bought them bunched...
haha
i meant to cut the stem plants in half :)
lol I thought you could split the root ball, like with a peace lily. Maybe if they really grow monstrous, I'll do an experiment. All in the name of science....

Quote:
You should also sift the miracle gro organic soil to remove any big debris.
Perhaps that is the real purpose of the 'mineralization' process? Will do.
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