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Here's a quick tip that may help a lot of people that keep popping up with questions about how to help remedy the above mentioned problems. I saw a couple videos recently uploaded to YouTube in the past month that addressed all of these issues, but there is a much more simple and far less expensive remedy.

If you aren't already aware of the benefits of filtering your water through sphagnum peat, here's an eye opener for ya...It naturally softens your water by trapping calcium and magnesium, the same way a charcoal filter traps impurities that you don't want. Doing so, aids in the lowering of your pH. If your system's nitrification process can't produce enough nitric acid to keep up with the hard water that you keep topping off your system with, you're going to have a really hard (if not impossible) time keeping your pH down. Pre-Filter your water through sphagnum peat or buy/build a canister filter to constantly circulate your water through it.

Secondly, the issue of algae control...Believe it, or not...The sphagnum peat filtration also aids in the control of algae. How? Well, as in one of the videos I mentioned, it was suggested that you periodically add humic acid to your system to darken the water in order to inhibit light penetration. Sphagnum peat not only releases tannins into your water, but also releases humic acid. Both of which tint your water a tea color and therefore inhibit light penetration (primarily in the blue spectrum, just like those BlueBlocker sunglasses).

Although humic acid is cheap, an RO filter is not - and they are extremely wasteful to operate. Save yourself a bunch of money and the burden of yet another periodic dosing regimen, with a simple and unbelievably cheap sphagnum peat filter.

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might be good for an aquarium, but i want the all the nutrients going to the plants in my growbeds.. most people will find (as their systems mature) that they'll have to buffer the ph up after the first year..

if you get an algae bloom in your ft, you just need to shade it and add aeration.. (for a week or so).. once the algae dies off, you can uncover your tank.. the dead algae inhibits new algae growth..as long as your nutrients aren't through the roof that is.. and if that's the case, you're probably overstocked/underfiltered

 

I know that's what they say, and it's a great theory. It just doesn't work so well out here in western Nebraska. I'm the only one I know of that's doing it with a basement aquarium based system. My neighbor's in-ground pond is more than an aquarium and still has to do it whenever she has to add well water. It's not a new concept, been in use for years.

Lucky me, I just ran into her and told her about the skepticism here on the topic...Her words, "people obviously put too much faith in the effectiveness of a filter that uses simple unadulterated biomass as the filter media". She's right, just like the reference links I posted, it "gradually" does its job, so that means that not all calcium and magnesium is stopped dead in its tracks. If it worked that way, I'm sure somebody would have figured out a way to patent the process by now.

Her reason for going this route at my suggestion...Her pond is outside, shaded by trees. We had a couple very dry years out here in western Nebraska, no way to rely on rain or snow to top off her pond, she had to use her well water. After a year and half, no rocks in the pond, nothing else that could possibly keep buffering up her pH, it was still around 8.5 and her water out of her well was a constant 8. Black pond liner with a heavy white ring of mineral deposits around the top. Tried growing plants in Dutch Buckets that were in the full sun, adequate irrigation, just growing in lava rock and expanded shale (both pH neutral). Poor growth all the way around because all of her plants favored 6.5 to 7.0 pH.

I suspected that it was the hard water all this time because even my well water is 8.2+ and my water heater needs flushed every month to get the minerals out of the bottom. I told her about something that my over-educated horticultural scientist mother told me about Sphagnum Peat being a natural water softener and her husband made her a quick & dirty filter out of a 5 gallon bucket with 8" of Sphagnum Peat sandwiched between two 2" layers of lava rock. Water trickles into the top and drains out the bottom...Whadya know, 6 months later, that ring of mineral deposits is gone from the top of the pond, the pH maintains itself between 6.8 and 7.0, and her plants now thrive.

On the up side (an unexpected one) the tanning of the water from both humic and tanic acid have stopped her algae blooms. She's not going to cover up her pond, she didn't install it to be hidden from view. But adding this little filter fixed her algae problems as well. So, while some people who have never tried it or even heard of it, are convinced that this is going to have some big dramatic negative effect, do a little research and see how well your preconceived notion stacks up to the facts. You'll surprise yourself.

She's right, Humic acid is a perfect ph controller. That would be like have a ph controller on a cooling tower.All you have to do is SWAG it. (Scientific Wild Ass Guess). If your ph goes down too fast, remove some of your moss. If it goes up add more--Couple months, change it out--



Max Gfx said:

Lucky me, I just ran into her and told her about the skepticism here on the topic...Her words, "people obviously put too much faith in the effectiveness of a filter that uses simple unadulterated biomass as the filter media". She's right, just like the reference links I posted, it "gradually" does its job, so that means that not all calcium and magnesium is stopped dead in its tracks. If it worked that way, I'm sure somebody would have figured out a way to patent the process by now.

Her reason for going this route at my suggestion...Her pond is outside, shaded by trees. We had a couple very dry years out here in western Nebraska, no way to rely on rain or snow to top off her pond, she had to use her well water. After a year and half, no rocks in the pond, nothing else that could possibly keep buffering up her pH, it was still around 8.5 and her water out of her well was a constant 8. Black pond liner with a heavy white ring of mineral deposits around the top. Tried growing plants in Dutch Buckets that were in the full sun, adequate irrigation, just growing in lava rock and expanded shale (both pH neutral). Poor growth all the way around because all of her plants favored 6.5 to 7.0 pH.

I suspected that it was the hard water all this time because even my well water is 8.2+ and my water heater needs flushed every month to get the minerals out of the bottom. I told her about something that my over-educated horticultural scientist mother told me about Sphagnum Peat being a natural water softener and her husband made her a quick & dirty filter out of a 5 gallon bucket with 8" of Sphagnum Peat sandwiched between two 2" layers of lava rock. Water trickles into the top and drains out the bottom...Whadya know, 6 months later, that ring of mineral deposits is gone from the top of the pond, the pH maintains itself between 6.8 and 7.0, and her plants now thrive.

On the up side (an unexpected one) the tanning of the water from both humic and tanic acid have stopped her algae blooms. She's not going to cover up her pond, she didn't install it to be hidden from view. But adding this little filter fixed her algae problems as well. So, while some people who have never tried it or even heard of it, are convinced that this is going to have some big dramatic negative effect, do a little research and see how well your preconceived notion stacks up to the facts. You'll surprise yourself.

Hello,

I am going to try this is my system with Fluval - do you think the tannins would add toxins to the plants - I know tannin are in tea and we drink that. I did read something that Sylvia said to be careful with peat moss because of the tannins? Any thoughts?

Tannins are naturally occurring in any water body where you find driftwood and it certainly doesn't affect plant growth there. I certainly haven't seen any I'll effects of it in either of my systems either.

Thanks for clearing that up. : )

Even more commonly tannins come from leaves. Always look to nature to see what works...especially any Florida swamp! ;)

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