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Vinny Kutty


  1. laterite question
    by (KUTTY) (30 Mar 92)
  2. (F) Latest Dutch Plant Tank
    by (KUTTY) (31 Dec 92)
  3. A photograph of Vinny's tank in 1992

laterite question

by (KUTTY)
Date: 30 Mar 92
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

>In sci.aquaria, (Peter Rosenthal 303-497-5844) writes:

>    I have a question for laterite users.  
>    How much do you use/need?  It seems to run about seven dollars
>    a pound.  The Optimum aquarium recommends one part laterite to
>    two parts gravel (for the bottom third of the gravel.)  This means
>    that one could easily need 50 dollars worth of laterite for even
>    a modest tank.

I am setting up a Dutch-style display plant tank for a store in Gainesville
Florida and this is what I did for the substrate.

It is a 70-gal tank.
30 lbs of small gravel, added 2 standard boxes of (~1 lb each) of Duplarit
G. I think it sells for ~ $22/box. I then added Canadian Sphagnum Peat
and "Hyponex Rich, Dark Top Soil". The gravel/peat/soil ratio was
1/3: 1/3: 1/3 by volume. I added some water and mixed it well. The usual
Dutch tank rule is: make a ball of the substrate in your palm...if it falls
apart, there is not enough soil. I knew what plant was going to go where,
so I did something that I have never done before: I got a standard box of
Tetra Hilena Initial D and a box of Tetra Crypto tablets. The store
was paying for all this, so I went nuts and had a good time. :) I then 
powdered the Crypto tablets and mixed it with the Hilena Initial D. I think
I had about dozen tablets. I spread this mixture sparingly directly on
the glass bottom where I knew I was going to plant large bog plants
like Echinodorus (Swords) and Nomaphila stricta (Temple plant). I then
added the almost-black gravel/peat/soil mixture over this thin layer.
It was about 1-2 inches deep. I then added a little over 2 inches of
clean washed gravel over the whole thing. I dont expect any clouding 
problems when I fill it up with water. Every square inch of the bottom 
is going to be covered with plants and so I dont expect any region of
the substrate to go anaerobic. Of all the tanks I have set up, this one
has the most nutritious substrate. I am confident of success. Ofcourse,
it'll have 4 forty Watt Fluorescent bulbs (2 Tritons and 2 Vitalite Power
Twists); neutral, slightly hard water and carbon dioxide injection.

The store has Dupla fertilizers available to them but I am going to
insist that they stay away from it. Most of the plants are root feeders,
so the substrate ought to supply most of the nutrients. Weekly water
changes (25%) and regular fish feeding should keep the plants supplied
with all trace elements...except for maybe iron. 

I am trying to prove that you CAN have a gorgeous tank by using the 
inexpensive (relatively) Dutch method of root feeding rather than the
expensive leaf-and-root feeding recommended by Dupla. Perhaps I shouldnt
have added the Duplarit G to the substrate. I am not happy if just
my tank looks fantastic...I'd like to help all of you struggling
Aquatic Gardeners out there as well. I dont want you to believe that
the expensive Dupla method of growing plants is the only way to go.
Dupla's price list probably keeps a lot of people away. Hopefully I can
come up with a reliable, cheaper and simpler way of growing plants. 
This is my highly disguised monthly plug for the Aquatic Gardeners 
Association. ;) If any of you need info on what we do at the AGA, email

Whatever the outcome, I'll probably learn something new and I promise
to share it with you. 

                                         Vinny Kutty

                           =  A Q U A T I C   G A R D E N E R  = 

(F) Latest Dutch Plant Tank

by (KUTTY)
Date: 31 Dec 92

        About a year ago, I set up a 70-gal. plant tank in the Dutch tradition
and posted a series of articles about setting up such a tank. I tore down that
tank before I moved to Tampa. I've set up another one and it is about a month
old.  Last year, I'd made the mistake of not adding enough nutrients (top
to the substrate...I kept this in mind when I set up my current tank. Setting 
up this tank was easy (experience helps) and even plant layout was easy to
conjure up than it was last time. 
        Basically, it is the same tank, with 2 Vitalites and 2 Hagen
over the tank. The lights were on for 3-4 hours for the first 2 weeks. Now it
is upto 10 or so. 
        The water is straight out of the tap - hard and pH about 8. I spent 
the 'play money' I'd allocated for an RO unit on a bunch of rare Pike 
Cichlids. :-) I do have CO2 injection. Manual. Gets turned on after I come
home from work. Haven't measured my KH, pH, CO2, iron, phosphate, O2 etc.
Fish dont seem to care, plants dont seem to care, so I dont care. This 
attitude is cheaper and what I dont know doesnt worry me. The tank looks 
much better than the one I had last year, so I must be doing somethng right.

        I started with ~100 lbs. og small gravel, ~5 lbs. of dark top soil,
and some peat.  I had a gooey, mucky black mess after I was done mixing the
three. This pasty stuff is the main nutrient source. There is about 3"
of clean gravel on top of the paste. 

        I then bought about $100 worth of plants. Planted them. Pushed in
broken Tetra Crypto tablets near the Swords and Anubias. Just about every
is growing well especially Heteranthera zosterifolia (pretty flowers at the
surface), Cardamine lyrata, Anubias congoensis, Cabomba caroliniana and Rotala
indica. Didiplis and Vallisneria came back from the dead. I took a bunch of 
slides and will probably sent to the magazines (AFM). 

        I add 4 drops of Duplaplant 24 and change 15 gallons of water a week.
That 's all I do for maintenance. There is some hair algae on the older
sword leaves and some fuzzy red algae on the driftwood. You have to look to
find the algae other wise. Algae hasnt been a problem so far. I have Rummy
noses and assorted Melanotaenids in the tank. The tank is filtered by an
internal canister Fluval 2 designed for a 20-gal tank. 

                                       Vinny Kutty

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