Soil/Wormstrates – 9 Weeks

May 15th, 2008

It’s been a little bit more than 2 months since I setup my side-by-side comparison of soil substrate (left) and worm casting substrate (right). Both are looking kind of pathetic, but the wormstrate appears to be doing a little bit less pathetic than the soil. Admittedly, I’m not convinced that these results have much to do with the substrate, however.

Soil/Worm Substrates - Update

I still need to split out my CO2 lines to feed CO2 directly into this tank. I just don’t think that Excel cuts it in this case, even though I’ve been slightly more consistent in my dosing than I was previously. Some plants are starting to grow, however, such as the Marsilea quadrifolia below.

Marsilea quadrifolia

But, despite the growth, I think I may be missing some other vital nutrient. Many of the stem plants are starting to stunt on their new growth. Check out this pathetic looking Hygrophila polysperma from the wormstrate tank. Usually this plant grows moderately well in any conditions! It’s also possible that heat may be a factor as the 2x13W lights over each of these tanks put off a ton of warmth.

Deficient Hygrophila polysperma

The Didiplis diandre has all but died out of the soil tank, but I must say that the soil substrate is growing the fullest stem plant — Asian Ambulia. The compact growth of this stem looks almost healthy!

Asian Ambulia

It’s really interesting to see how specialized some of these plants are, where one can thrive in conditions that melt other plants. I’m not considering either of these tanks a bust (or a success) yet, but I’m definitely looking for suggestions on what I should be doing to turn them around.

7 Responses to “Soil/Wormstrates – 9 Weeks”

  1. Phillip Brown Says:

    Is it to do with the plants that don’t look so good also take nutriments from the water ? I wonder if the tanks shouldf be replanted with more bottom feeders like Echinodorus and Crypts. Just a thought. Fascinating experiment.

  2. guitarfish Says:

    Phillip, while you are correct that Echinodorus and Crypts solely feed from the substrate, and should do very well in this type of tank, many stem plants will develop extensive root systems when the substrate is rich, and the water column is thin. You’re correct, however, that some stems, such as the Eriocaulon sp. ‘Type 2’ that I first planted in here is reliant on nutrients in the water column, and melted away soon after planting. Thanks for the comment!

  3. kim Says:

    maybe you are missing some trace elements and iorn perhaps?

  4. guitarfish Says:

    It’s quite possible. I was hoping that these would have been present in the soil/castings… :-/

  5. kim Says:

    yeah i ponderd that too , althogh mabey chelated iorn may work i dont know how fish and especaly invertes will like it

  6. Mike Says:

    What an inspiring tank! By the way, what kind of lighting system do you have? It looks like the Coralife Mini-freshwater, but I know for sure that they don’t have legs like yours do.

  7. guitarfish Says:

    Thanks Mike. The lights are from Catalina Aquarium. I highly recommend their light fixtures. Good product, and good people/company to deal with.