Using wild-collected substrate caps? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-12-2012, 01:40 PM Thread Starter
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Using wild-collected substrate caps?

I have a substrate cap of small to medium pebbles collected from an ocean beach. I'm sterilizing them right now, but wanted to know how long they should stay in the oven.

I have a one inch layer in a roasting pan, baking at 450 degrees Fahrenheit. How long should I leave it in the oven per batch to ensure that the germs are killed and all the little seaweedy bits are thoroughly dried out?

Here are the pebbles as they came out of the oven after 20 minutes (paperclip is for scale):


Also, can I leave all the little seaweedy bits in there to start the cycling, or does it really need to be the old fashioned, throw a shrimp in there kind of thing? I intend to start planting while the water levels are low, so I can reach without taking a bath in the tank. I know that will help start the cycle, but I'm unsure if that will be enough.

I have about an inch of water above the soil right now. Would this be a good time to add the pebbles?

Thanks for any help you can offer.

Last edited by Sophie and Mom; 02-12-2012 at 02:22 PM. Reason: add pic and another question
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-12-2012, 02:50 PM
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Once you got to 200 degrees I doubt any lifeforms survived. I would do some good rinsing to flush out and salt.

I think then it would be as safe as anything you might buy. Nice looking stuff. I prefer a more natural look.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-12-2012, 02:52 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, DogFish. Do you think it would be okay to start sprinkling them in with about an inch of water over the substrate?
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-13-2012, 05:39 AM
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I agree with Dogfish - boiling temps will kill most critters.

Are you planning on using this in a freshwater tank? if so, you may want to keep an eye on your ph/hardness. Odds are most of those are silicates, but there are probably going to be some carbonates and shell bits and stuff in there.

May not be an issue, depending on your setup.

If your concerned about seaweed and such, I would think swirling/swishing it in a bucket a few times would rinse out most of the stuff.

It should look really good, I think the mixed colors of the grains looks a lot more natural then the completely uniformly colored gravels in the petshops.

let us know how it turns out.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-13-2012, 02:57 PM
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Thanks, DogFish. Do you think it would be okay to start sprinkling them in with about an inch of water over the substrate?
Yes
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-13-2012, 03:22 PM Thread Starter
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In our starter tank we have driftwood, and had to balance out the ph with a couple of seashells. I'm planning on having some big pieces of driftwood in this new tank, so I'm assuming the shell bits in my gravel/pebbles willbalance out the driftwood as well.

Keep your fingers crossed!
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-13-2012, 03:23 PM Thread Starter
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Yes
Good thing!!
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-13-2012, 03:25 PM Thread Starter
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I had another question--I ordered my "real" filter this morning, but the water is a muddy mess. The order won't be in for a week.

Would it be in any way worth it to buy a cheapie filter at hellmart to start filtering out the muck before the real filter arrives?
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-13-2012, 03:34 PM
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I prefer to let the water settle 1st without filtration. They syphon out the fine silty layer of the surface of the substrate doing a 50% change.

After that, use your HOB from your other tank. Pull the filter media and leave in in the other tank to keep it wet. Then fill the HOB with filter flossed and run that for a few hours on the new tank.

That should get it almost perfect.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-13-2012, 04:56 PM
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I had another question--I ordered my "real" filter this morning, but the water is a muddy mess. The order won't be in for a week.

Would it be in any way worth it to buy a cheapie filter at hellmart to start filtering out the muck before the real filter arrives?
I have an used HOB filter serving two purpose, circulating water for WC and filtering the initial mess in a newly set up tank. I like to get the water clear enough before I turn on my canister so these initial particles don't clog up the canister.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-13-2012, 05:23 PM
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I don't wait, just take the water out down to the substrate and refill very slowly on top of bubble wrap. Very impressed at how well that works.
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-13-2012, 07:39 PM Thread Starter
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I don't wait, just take the water out down to the substrate and refill very slowly on top of bubble wrap. Very impressed at how well that works.
Now THAT sounds like a plan.
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-13-2012, 07:41 PM Thread Starter
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I prefer to let the water settle 1st without filtration. They syphon out the fine silty layer of the surface of the substrate doing a 50% change.

After that, use your HOB from your other tank. Pull the filter media and leave in in the other tank to keep it wet. Then fill the HOB with filter flossed and run that for a few hours on the new tank.

That should get it almost perfect.

Won't that also introduce all the same algae I'm already having trouble with in the little tank?
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-14-2012, 03:56 PM Thread Starter
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I did a partial change, and put the hob from the other tank on, filled with floss.

I turned on the bubbles in the 10 gallon tank--how long is it safe to let them go without filtration?
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-14-2012, 04:24 PM
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If that tank w/o the filter is healthy & safe levels two hours should be fine. That should allow your HOB to turn the water in the new tank at least 10Xs.

Can you introduce Algae from one tank to another? All it takes is one drop of water. In a multitask home it's almost impossible to completely quarantine against Algae.
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