Unmineralized Top Soil? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-28-2010, 11:47 PM Thread Starter
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Question Unmineralized Top Soil?

Is it okay to use topsoil straight out of the bag without the wetting, drying, and re-wetting part? The tank is a 10g and will have a sand cap.
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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-01-2010, 12:14 AM
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Yep I use non-fertilized top soil in all my big tanks (55+ gal) but make sure it's not from a big box store there stuff is almost all pine bark which is bad for aquariums. Go to a landscaping or orchard supply store and get a 50lb bag of non-fert'ed soil for $4 or $5 (it will say that) and cap it with PFS or something to that effect (SMS, Turface, etc).

I like to add a dusting of sphagnum peat moss (lowers pH), potash (for potassium), and Iron Chelate 10% (Fe) to the bottom of the tank before adding the soil just for a bit of the benefits that MTS gives you to jump start the plants. You can get those at the same place you get your soil for pennies on the dollar.

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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-01-2010, 03:35 AM Thread Starter
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My sister just picked up some topsoil from WalMart. Here's what it says on the bag:
Earthgro Topsoil (the bag is white with red on it)
Ingredients: This is regionally formulated from organic and inorganic materials derived from one or more of the following: peat, forest products, compost, ash, sand, or native topsoil


Does this sound okay or should I get something else?
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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-01-2010, 03:42 AM
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No nothing from Wal-Mart is going to be good it's all going to be for terrestrial planting.
By 'forest products' it means mostly pine bark.

- Brad

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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-01-2010, 03:57 AM Thread Starter
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Why is pine bark bad for aquariums?
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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-01-2010, 04:39 AM
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i did alot of research on nonmineralized top soil i picked some up but i forgot the name and it had like 3 ingrediants in it.

I talked to a few people on here who done it and helped me in finding what I needed. Then im going to use bonemeal, kelp meal, and greensand as a underlayer and top it off with sand

I think it was kellogs from lowes. Ill get you some pics tomorrow.
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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-01-2010, 09:53 AM
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if anything just get a small bag of organic potting soil from lowes. diana walsted(the starter of the wave) uses this and has no problems. infact im using it in my 48 inch 30 gallon tank. i just ploped it in and capped with sand like you want to and well there you go.

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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-01-2010, 01:23 PM
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Because it can cloud and algae bloom your water column, due to the pine bark (which does nothing for aquarium plants) and the terrestrial fertilizers they add just like with a bag of Miracle Gro there simply not made for aquariums. I recommend landscaping and orchard supply stores because there easy to find and have the cheapest soil ($4-$5 for a 50lb bag).

Feel free to use any brand you want I'm just giving advice based on my experiences plus the many people I've helped deal with algae blooms after there cap broke. Allot of people setting up Walstad style tanks for the first time use big box store soil's and or dirt from there back yards and have *allot* of problems in the beginning. I like to at least attempt to lessen the pain when I can.

As long as your cap is solid and not disturbed you can use any type of filler you want just make sure it doesn't break.

- Brad

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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-01-2010, 02:55 PM
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It's iffy if you don't mineralize. Your soil might go anaerobic and that's not good.

You don't have to do the step by step mineralizing soil but at least soak the soil and skim off anything floating like bark and twigs. Do that several times.

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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-01-2010, 03:12 PM
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If you are too lazy or in a rush, simply boil the soil for 10 min in a slurry of water, or you could use worm castings and boil it for 10 minutes also.

This is the "fast version" of oxidation which si what moinberalization is doing.

A 3rd option is to do a DSM and then once the plants are grown in after 1-2 months, the soil is mineralized by then anyway, then you flood and the tank.

So there's a few options and alternatives that make good sense available.


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Tom Barr

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post #11 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-01-2010, 03:25 PM Thread Starter
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How does boiling affect the soil? And how would worm castings be used?

I found a landscape supply place very near my house, so when I get a chance I'll check it out and see what they have.
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post #12 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-01-2010, 03:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishly View Post
How does boiling affect the soil? And how would worm castings be used?

I found a landscape supply place very near my house, so when I get a chance I'll check it out and see what they have.
The soil will be loaded with organic compounds, including things that break down into ammonia. When you boil it you convert those compounds to inorganic ones, containing nitrates. And, soils sold for terrestrial plants are often improved by adding fertilizers, including urea, which breaks down into ammonia. What is great for terrestrial plants isn't necessarily good for aquatic plants and fish.

Mineralizing by soaking drying a few times allows bacteria to convert the organics to inorganics. Boiling does it with heat.

Worm castings are loaded with organic compounds, so they need to be mineralized too.

If you use Diana Walstad's method you can work with the organic materials, but you do have to understand her method and follow the important parts closely. The rub is knowing what parts are the important parts.

This is my understanding of the process, but may not be 100% accurate.

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post #13 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-01-2010, 04:05 PM
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Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting Soil 32 Qt. (dry) bag was $8.00 and I used nearly Ĺ the bag for a one inch layer in a 55g tank. Itís full of organics as the name implies but no chemical ferts. Very little in the way of sticks or bark pieces in the bag I bought. Also not much in the way of 'float out' (very very little) through the cap after flooding and planting.

Set up string on this tank including tested results on water quality by posting date.
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/lo...-soil-sub.html

Just remember this stuff is bagged all over the country and even the time of year collected may change the content.

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post #14 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-02-2010, 05:47 AM
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Originally Posted by accordztech View Post
i did alot of research on nonmineralized top soil i picked some up but i forgot the name and it had like 3 ingrediants in it.

I talked to a few people on here who done it and helped me in finding what I needed. Then im going to use bonemeal, kelp meal, and greensand as a underlayer and top it off with sand

I think it was kellogs from lowes. Ill get you some pics tomorrow.


thats the one IM going to use, hopefully 1CUft is enough for my 4 foot tank.

it was actually from a nursury and costs 4 bucks
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post #15 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-02-2010, 10:16 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Hoppy View Post
Mineralizing by soaking drying a few times allows bacteria to convert the organics to inorganics. Boiling does it with heat.
If boiling does the same thing in less time, why bother with the soak/dry method? Also, does this work with the low-quality soil, too?
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