Planted Tank Guru
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Citrus County,Florida
Debate and speculation is all I've ever found regarding which lasts longer organically rich soil or MTS.
Users of both have reported years of good results. Available light energy has more effect in my opinion.
I do not believe the algae relationship as most try to argue it either. Repeated experience here with organically rich soil mixes algae has not been a problem.
Tannins (stained water) will always be present with a new tank having organics in the aquarium substrate can be made as a blanket statement. Effort involved is the biggest difference I see.
My opinion is that useful life of product is ruffly the same for both. This statement has offended those using MTS because of the efforts involved creating it.
NPT vs MTS as you posted reading the thread on MTS.
Mineralized soil involves many steps and the end result is a nutrient rich readily available base. NPT or simply dumping the dirt in and capping it are the same processes at work only at different times as the same thing happens. It's just a question of where.
Mineralizing dirt the activity of bacteria break down the organic compounds releasing the minerals. Making MTS this happens on a tarp, in open air. Drying and wetting it to speed up the process. The activity of bacteria breaking down the organic compounds over time creates several changes within the tank that MTS completes first eliminating these shifts from occurring in the aquarium. The conversion of organics and the break down is slowed greatly in the tank because of less available oxygen. The submerged steady state of decay once established in the tank takes about a year or more to happen. During that time as bacteria chew through the organic material settling or collapse of the organic materials reduces the thickness of the substrate. This doesn't happen using MTS. Once the organics have been consumed / converted back to mineral content alone by the bacteria the minerals are available as plant nutrients. I consider this time released plant food. MTS nutrients are made available before the dirt ever goes in the tank. You do more work setting up the system.
The biggest differences between the two methods are you're efforts and where the organics are broken down, in tank or before. In tank tannins are always experienced (water staining). The substrate layer thickness will decrease. Starting with 6cm of soil after a year the layer might be 3cm, maybe less. Neither of these conditions bother me or my fauna.
MTS formulas list additives like dolomite, potash and clay.
MTS - dolomite and potash lightly dusted on the bottom of the tank. Mixing clay into the mineralized soil then placing this and capping it = MTS.
Why can't the additives be used in the same way with organically rich soil?
Answer; they can be
Quote from the Sticky on MTS:
"The algae likely results from the excess nutrients that decomposing organic materials release in the soil. The decomposing organic materials are not bio-available to the aquatic plants. As the tank matures, the algae dissipate slowly as the organics in the soil finish breaking down."
This is saying what exactly?
Organically bound minerals are not available to plants true but once bacteria break it down plants can use them. The purpose of the mixed clay in MTS is to bind nutrients. Reading many MTS journals when people using MTS report algae problems others say not enough clay was mixed in or the capping material was not placed correctly or didn't have a high CEC so both methods can experience algae problems.
The Fraternity of Dirt
If at first you don't succeed,,, keep kicking it
2-75g planted, 5-55g planted, 5-20g planted, 110g w/30g sump, 8-10g,
2012 update adding table top pleco pans & a 90g (Nutz)
Last edited by wkndracer; 02-13-2012 at 12:28 PM.