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Aqua Design Amano Substrates


  1. RE: ADA Substrates
    by "Ryan Stover" <fishboy/> (Mon, 18 Jan 1999)
  2. PMAS update
    by IDMiamiBob/ (Fri, 27 Aug 1999)

RE: ADA Substrates

by "Ryan Stover" <fishboy/>
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 1999

 James is right when he said that Aqua Soil, and Power Sand, will indeed
lower the pH. I should know, I have been using them for close to four years.
Mr. Higuchi is also right when he said that there is no difference, except
color, between the three Aqua Soils. Christopher, what issue of TFH was it?
If Amano did say that it must have been a bad translation. I had one tank
that was set-up for almost two years with Aqua Soil. It buffered my pH
between 6.5~6.7 for two years without any CO2 administration. Another thing
to point out is that Aqua Soil is not a baked clay. You might be referring
to the long forgotten Akadama sand that was used in Japan. ADA is reluctant
to fully disclose the composition of Aqua Soil, even in Japan. Even though
it is similar in appearance to clay, it is far less dense. In the aquarium
it is rather 'fluffy', meaning a soil that provides good circulation and
root penetration.

As for Power Sand, it contains _mostly_ peat and pumice. There is/are some
thing(s) not mentioned by ADA. Once again ADA is reluctant to disclose the
exact composition of Power Sand. If they did that people would make their
own batch, like Bob Dixon pointed out. ADA's Drop Checker is as good as a
cheap pH test kit. The only difference is price. True, one gets a constant
reading, but how about a pH probe for a few bucks more?

Ryan Stover
- --Still in Japan--

PMAS update

by IDMiamiBob/
Date: Fri, 27 Aug 1999

So it's been a while since I suggested this idea (Poor Man's Amano 
Substrate), and here's what I've been up to with it.  I originally set up a 
10-gallon and a 30-gallon with a substrate of pumice, peat and redart clay ( 
pay attention boys and girls, it's redart, NOT Red Art clay- the latter 
having some kind of oil to keep it pliable).  The plant order was screwed up 
by- well we won't go into that again, will we?  That was January.  I tried a 
number of trace mineral supplements designed for hydroponics, but everything 
pretty much died on me, and it always darkened the water really bad.  The 
Anubius barteri that was supposed to be v. nana survived and slowly grew out 
from two leaves to ten, but I fought a lot with pale leaves in the new 
growth.  I now believe that it is A. barteri v. barteri, as the stems are a 
little longer than the leaves, rather than the other way around.

In late June I finally gave up on hydroponics fertilizers and got some 
Natural Gold from Karl Schoeler, and in July the Anubias lost its pale leaf 
syndrome.  Then the jungle vals and cryptocorynes (lutea and wendtii red) 
slowly started to come back from where I don't know.  there are now eight 
crypts of the original twelve and four jungle vals  in there that had 
vanished above the level of the gravel covering the PMAS.  Some algae also 
started coating the glass, but I recently added some more plants to compete 
with the algae, and the good guys appear to be slowly winning.

So earlier this month I set up another PMAS tank.  This one is a standard 55 
gallon.  The lighting is one Phillips 50AX (now known as 50 ADV Advantage) 
and one standard department store aquarium bulb, I think it's a GE.  This is 
only 80 watts, but the AX is way bright.  They are mounted in one of those 8 
dollar Lights of America shop lights.  I bent the outside edges of the 
reflector inward, so the whole thing is only 6 inches wide.  I have a second 
shop light, but haven't set it up yet.

Filtration is a hydrosponge with a power head.  CO2 is not yet running.  I 
have a system from, I just haven't done any more about a bottle than 
make some phone calls.

The PMAS was constructed thus:  2 inches of 1/4 inch pumice gravel.  I added 
900gr of pyrophillitic clay, rather than redart.  It has more minerals, and 
literally lacks nothing.  Then I dumped 1-1/2 cups of dry sphagnum peat moss 
on top and stirred the whole thing up.  I topped that with one to 
one-and-a-half inches of natural quartz gravel.

I received an order of plants from AAG last week Tuesday.  It was in the mail 
a little longer than normal, but plants seem to have survived.  In the order 
Cryptocoryne blassii
Red Foxtail
Temple (Hygrophila corymbosa v. "Stricta") 
Parrots feather
Crystal Val
Corkscrew val
Echinodorus quadricostatus (broadleaf pgmy, or Cuban chainsword)
Aponogeton ulvaceous, 1 bulb

The parrots feather and pygmy swords were not in very good shape.  The swords 
were about 50% brown, and the parrots feather had dead leaves from the base 
up about 8 or 9 inches, with about 2 inches of green on the top.  Everything 
else looked pretty good.  The Aponogeton bulb had actually sprouted in the 
mail.  This made it easy to tell which end was up.

I stuck some half-sticks of Jobes fern spikes in around the crypts and some 
of the other plants.

For the first three days there were only one angelfish and three Apistogramma 
panduro in there for nitrogen load.  Even following the dosing recommended 
for the Natural Gold, nothing was going on except that the vals, chains 
sword, and parrots feather developed a lot more brown leaves.  I blamed it on 
the lack of nitrate in my tap water, and added 4 small tetras, 8 hatchets, 
and 4 corys.  Of course, three days is not a reasonable period of time to 
wait, but hey, I want it NOW.

So for the last week, things have gone well.  The crypts haven't melted yet.  
The parrots feather is now green for lengths as long as a foot, and are 
starting to stretch out along the water's surface.  The pgmy chains have lost 
almost all of their original leaves, but have put out new ones.  The vals all 
have new growth.  The crystal val's new leaves are about 14 inches long.  The 
corkscrews aren't growing as fast length-wise, but have more new stuff than 
the crystal vals.  The temple plants are branching out all over, and rooting 
is starting to show when I pull one up accidently.  The foxtail is growing 

The thing that has me most impressed though is the Aponogeton.  If I measure 
22 inches for the tank, and deduct 3-1/2 for substrate, I figure the tallest 
of the 10 leaves to be 16 inches long, from the base of the petiole to the 
tip of the leaf.  It isn't as "wrinkly" as the picture in the AAG online 
catalog, but is growing at a phenomenal rate.

I'm thinking of trimming the dead stuff off the bottom of the parrots 
feathers and replanting.  Opinions, please.  Should I do it now, or wait 
until it roots and regains some strength?  I noticed one of them has a little 
stem shooting off near the base.

Also, do I need to think about going with 2 more 40-watt bulbs, or do I wait 
until I get the CO2 running?

The 30 gallon has some of the leftovers from the plant order, and is doing 
okay.  It is running 2 30Watt Tritons.  The new plants are mostly stuff that 
wouldn't stay rooted in the 55.  The old plants continue to improve and 
recover since the switch to Natural Gold.

I have some Java fern in the "fish" tanks.  I may tie a few small ones to the 
driftwood in the 55.  It won't tell me much about the substrate, but it will 
look good on the "branch" I have running along the back.

I originally joined this list a couple years back (could it be that long 
already?) because someone on the Apisto list suggested I could learn about 
snails and algae control here.  But I read, questioned, contributed, 
experimented, killed some plants, and experimented some more.  Then I read 
the list some more, read the krib, looked at the planted tank photos on your 
web pages, and read what you had to say there.  I've never had plant growth 
like this before, and I'm impressed.

Thanks to everyone for your patience and help.

Bob Dixon

Up to Fertilizer <- Plants <- The Krib This page was last updated 25 December 1999