I set up my 40 gal, Mineralized Top Soil Tanks last night.
I am starting this thread to log my procedure, so I can get help if needed and so others can learn if they choose to emulate me. I am going to try and post an update weekly.
What I did before 7/19/13
I have a 40 gal breeder (dimentions are 36" wide, 17" Tall, 18" Deep) that has been set up for several years. Earlier this year I broke it down and installed a DIY natural stone background. see this thread for more info
The tank has an old Fluval 205, it is drilled for inflow and out flow. I also have a drip system that replaces approximately 12-15 gal of water per week.
My city water is very soft, KH less than 1, GH is 4. They use gassed chlorine (i remove this with a charcoal filter).
Making the MTS
About 5-6 weeks ago I went and dug up about a 5 gal bucket of top soil from behind my office. The soil was very rich/black looking. My 9 year old and I sifted the soil to remove rocks, wood, grass, seeds, acorn casings, you name it.
After the sifting I ended up with about 3/4 of a 5 gal bucket full of black soil. I flooded it with a hose, several inches over the soil. The next day I poured the water off and dried it out on a tarp in the sun.
I repeated the wetting and drying process every sunny day for about 5-6 weeks. The soil had very organic almost fecal type smell at first, and the wet dirt was very smooth and muddy. It began to loose its smell and the dirt developed a very course gritty texture after about 4-5 wet/dry cycles. After sitting up in a bucket of water overnight it would become very firm, and it held clumps very well.
I purchased some modeling clay from Michaels craft store. I shaved half of it down with a cheese slicer (it looked like potato chips) and let it dry in the sun. I then pulverized it with a wood mallet.
I added 7% clay by weight to the MTS when dry.
I ordered my plants and they came in this Friday.
Sagittaria, Dwarf Subulata (Sagittaria subulata) 20
Sagittaria, Chilensis (Wideleaf)(Sagittaria platyphylla) 10
Vallisneria, Corkscrew (Vallisneria americana var. biwaensis) 20
Amazon swords 2
Ocelot Sword 1
aponogeton bulb 1
I drained the tank (it's resident is now sharing space in the 75 gal)
I mixed water into the MTS (with clay) until it had a peanut butter consistency. I dusted the bottom of the tank with crushed coral, and about a tea spoon of Epsom Salt. I also added a dusting of Murate of Potash (0-0-60) to the bottom glass.
I scooped up the wet MTS and started to spread it across the tank bottom. An even coat was 5/8" - 3/4" thick and it covered about 85% of the tank bottom. I then capped it with 1" of sand
I placed the plants and filled the tank.
here is a picture of the tank a few minutes after it was filled
Here it is after the water settled out.
Ill post in about a week or so with an update