First my goal: Live plants, no CO2, 1.5 watts/gal, LOW MAINTENANCE AND MINIMAL WATER CHANGES. I have no delusions of winning an aquascape contest.
I read Diana Walstad's book. I bought four different bags of soil, 3 different bags of cheap stuff and one bag of Miracle Grow Organic. I put them in bottles, covered them with gravel and let them sit for a few days. The three cheap soils all had turbidity issues (yellowish water). The Miracle Grow water looked relatively clear, but had a lot of floaters. According to the bag, its almost entirely bark and peat moss. However, I read in some forum that it can causes issues with ammonia.
Next. Tom Barr recommended worm castings with sand. I got the directions off his website and followed them exactly: 100% pure worm castings, rinse, remove floaters, boil for 15 min, rinse again, and again and again and again and again... Problem: even after numerous rinsings the water looks like black coffee.
Tom says some Brazilian aquascapes had success with worm castings a decade ago. Anyone, on this forum ever used them that can tell me what I'm doing wrong?
If I break down and decide to spend $150 on Aqua Soil, does it have turbidity issues also?