Eco-Complete or Dirt? - Page 3 - The Planted Tank Forum

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post #31 of 47 (permalink) Old 12-17-2011, 02:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DogFish View Post
Lugnut - I don't see the need to boil your yard dirt. I didn't in my tank and got the same results no smells, no algae explosions.

If you are going to boil once you hit a rolling boil you're done, at 212 degrees you've killed every thing. Boiling for 20 min is overkill. They say the min. for meat is 160 and we eat that.
very much true. 20 minutes will be a little much. I don't think there is any harm in serializing it before use. There are fungi, protozoa, and many other things that live in the soils, and because every soil is different his soil may have something yours didn't. However there are organism (thermophiles) that can live between 45 and 122°C(113 and 252°F)

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post #32 of 47 (permalink) Old 12-17-2011, 02:30 AM
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I agree not everyone's yard has the same dirt. Most of the things that might be problematic in a sample from a river bank or pond muck aren't typically found in most backyards. Most of the "nastys" found in yard dirt aren't going to survive living submersed.

Yard dirt might be safer than that door knob on a public rest room door or the kitchen sink sponge.

I do think people should work at their own comfort level based on solid facts.
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post #33 of 47 (permalink) Old 12-17-2011, 02:43 AM
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I have no problem using dirt right out of the yard but I don't have one so I have to use potting soil. I don't care or make a big deal when I see nats in my dirt because they will be dead soon enough.

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post #34 of 47 (permalink) Old 12-17-2011, 06:20 AM
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Mineralized top soil and dirt are essentially the same thing. Good top soil contains significant amounts of organic matter, which is what gets removed when it is "mineralized". Potting mix on the other hand is composed of peat moss, vermiculite and/or pearlite, Dolomite/limestone (for pH control), and probably a water absorbing material/gel of some type. It is essentially a manufactured, very organic rich top soil. It rarely contains any natural top soil. I used to work at a green house, and we mixed our own potting soil using dirt from the river bottom, compost, vermiculite, and pearlite. Despite being more expensive, we did this because non of the commercial potting soils contained any actual "soil".
This is actually a bit confusing to people. ALL soil is natural and organic and is a combination of decayed rock, decayed compost, (leaf and plant matter) and manure. Dolomite and limestone are types of rock and raise the alkalinity of the soil mixture. They also provide very large amounts of calcium and magnesium. They are used in soil mixes for both reasons. They will raise your pH in the aquarium. In gardening they are often used in very acidic soils to raise alkalinity.

The difference between various types of soil or soil mix is the ratio of organic material, (plant compost and manure, peat) and minerals from rock. Some soils are very heavy in one or the other.

Perlite, vermiculite and other such materials are made from natural rock and used to aerate the soil, help in drainage, and increase the cation exchange capacity. They are light weight, porous, and hold oxygen. They are pretty much useless underwater.

Top soil is very high in organic material because that is where all the leaves and plant material fall to the ground. Sub soil is much deeper down and is much higher in minerals than it is in organics. Sub soil is often referred to as "loam".

Various commercial soils all contain natural organic material and minerals from decayed rock, and various additives. They are mixed differently with different ratios of all these things, but it is still actual soil.

This is also why the term "dirt" means nothing. Mineralized soil is a term made up by a hobbyist to describe his method of taking normal potting soil and adding various things to it and a process that is supposed to make nutrients more readily available. Outside our little world here, the term does not exist or mean the same thing.

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post #35 of 47 (permalink) Old 12-17-2011, 07:07 PM
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For people who work with terrestrial plants, "dirt" is usually the term used to refer to the non-organic (ie. mineral) components in soil; although it means different things to different people which is why things get so confusing. It certainly does not refer to anything specific among the general population.

I probably should have mentioned that natural soil and potting soil both contain a mixture of organic material and minerals or processed minerals (I assumed everyone who played in the dirt as kid knew that). The biggest difference is the source of these materials as well as the ratios used, just like you said. Potting soil almost always has large amounts of organic material, while natural soils can be highly lacking in organic matter; especially in drier climates where trees are scarce and rocks/sand are abundant. Where you live makes a huge difference in what your back yard soil contains.

Pearlite is definitely useless for aquarium substrate, but vermiculite will absorb and hold nutrients; although I believe clay is probably better. The biggest problem I've had using it in a tank is that because it is light weight it has a tendency to raise to the top of the substrate where it is useless.

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post #36 of 47 (permalink) Old 12-19-2011, 05:33 PM
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Why boil 20 min? It is not to kill anything, but as I read in many of Tom's article " Boiling the soil for a few minutes will oxidize the NH4 to NO3"
I see it as a way of speeding up the cycling of your soil in a tank. I boild it and throw it in the tank. I dont have to wait 4 weeks to Mineralize it.
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post #37 of 47 (permalink) Old 12-21-2011, 07:13 PM
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You all use too many damn acronyms. I suppose if I was on the level I would too, but for a newb it sucks

MTS
NPT
MGOPM
MGOC
MSDS

I feel like I am in my technology world still.
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post #38 of 47 (permalink) Old 12-24-2011, 09:37 PM
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I used this: http://www.scotts.com/smg/products/M...eat%20Moss.pdf
1.5" depth on the bottom of the tank ...capped with 1.5 " of OIL DRI I bought at walmart..
getting about the same results as the mgocpm...
If you look at the label on the enriched peat- you probably wouldnt try it...
I took a chance and it works great....miracle grow it is !!
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post #39 of 47 (permalink) Old 04-21-2012, 01:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smannell View Post
Essentially, if it contains anything that was once alive it technically contains organic material. You could throw a dead fish into a bag of lead and put "Organic" in big letters on the packaging and not be violating any law that I know of.
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I shot soda out of my nose reading that.

It just might work too. The lead would keep it from coming up through the cap and the dead fish could fertilize the pants. You should patent this and license it to ADA.

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post #40 of 47 (permalink) Old 05-29-2013, 01:40 PM
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How peculiar. I'm a fellow dirt (unmineralized Miracle Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix) capped with Eco Complete user and I've never had a problem with any of my tanks with it comes to algae, high pH, melted plants, or even a messy water column after rescaping. And I rescape a lot. I blame it on the ADD I wouldn't let a few bad experiences deter you from at least trying it once! Different strokes, err substrates, for different folks, I always say!

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post #41 of 47 (permalink) Old 05-29-2013, 02:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tankoholic View Post
How peculiar. I'm a fellow dirt (unmineralized Miracle Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix) capped with Eco Complete user and I've never had a problem with any of my tanks with it comes to algae, high pH, melted plants, or even a messy water column after rescaping. And I rescape a lot. I blame it on the ADD I wouldn't let a few bad experiences deter you from at least trying it once! Different strokes, err substrates, for different folks, I always say!
me too, i have mgocpm capped with eco, floramax, and play sand in different tanks

ive never had luck with planted tanks until using dirt and now everything i plant grows

dirty and never going back, well worth the trade off for a little cloudiness when rescaping

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post #42 of 47 (permalink) Old 05-29-2013, 04:48 PM
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dirt works
it helps grow water weeds

giggled when I saw this thread pop back up

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post #43 of 47 (permalink) Old 05-29-2013, 07:40 PM
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I had a 45long dirt capped with eco-complete and the only reason I stopped using it was because I rescaped a lot (heavy root feeders cause a crazy mess) and I wanted sand for the cories.
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post #44 of 47 (permalink) Old 06-17-2013, 11:39 PM
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Here’s my opinion on the whole dirt vs eco-complete
I have two tanks currently

Tank #1 = 55GAL w/MGOC and red clay capped with gravel. 4x 54W T5 HO lamps 6500K running 8 hours/day

Tank #2 = 45GAL Tall w/New Eco-Complete FINE substrate and 129x .20 watt 6500K LED light running 12 hours/day.

Dirt tank I’ve had setup for 6+ months. Eco-Complete tank was just setup about 1 month ago. Dosing firts on both tanks (Seachem Iron, Flourish, Excel, Trace, Potassium)
Honestly the dirt tank has been nothing but a pain in the butt. It’s been my baby and I’ve put a ton of work into it. The results are poor. Everything grows but nothing flourishes. The water is always cloudy/mineralized and it’s been a very sick tank. Very long battles with ICH, sludge, algae and other crap. Yes there are a lot of other factors at play that I’m not mentioning (don’t want to write a book here).

I am simply amazed by the eco-complete tank. I love the new fine gravel for one. Algae has been a lot better. The water is SO MUCH clearer than the dirted tank. It cycled very fast and w/o a big algae bloom. The biggest shocker for me is how quick the plants establish themselves in the substrate, and how fast and big their roots grow. I would have figured the dirt tank would have been way better at this, but I find it not at all to be the case with my setups.

I honestly can’t wait to upgrade tank #1 to a bigger tank and scrap the dirt all together. If I were to ever do dirt again, I would certainly use a lot less of it. I think this may have been one of my biggest issues. I’m running about 1.5 – 2” of dirt and 1.5-2” of cap. I wouldn’t go over ½ - ¾ of a inch next time. I guess one of the things that’s supposed to be great about dirt is the cost, but I think this is a false assumption. This is an expensive hobby at any rate, and like all things, it’s better to do it right the first time. IMO dirt is not the way to go.
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post #45 of 47 (permalink) Old 06-18-2013, 12:35 AM
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I like using dirt, though you do have to be more careful with moving any plants around. Not impossible though.

I haven't had any issues in my tanks I would attribute to using dirt (e.g. algea blooms, cloudy water, etc.) I have even blasted some dirt up into the water column when doing water changes and breaking through the cap, and the cannister filters clear it up within the hour.

The 50g linked in my signature below is a dirted tank capped with black-blasting sand, no c02, very light ferts. Just posted some new pics for any continuing dirt skeptics.
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