Sifting MGOCPM - Good or bad? - The Planted Tank Forum
View Poll Results: To Sift or not To Sift?
Sift 9 81.82%
Not to Sift 2 18.18%
Voters: 11. You may not vote on this poll

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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-09-2014, 07:40 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Colorado
Posts: 43
Sifting MGOCPM - Good or bad?

Hello all,

I am looking for some quick feedback on sifting MGOCPM. My original thought was to get the larger chunks that would float out of the way. But I think I may have also caused the loss of many beneficial ingredients.

I spent 45min doing it last night (8qt bag), so I'm not terribly invested. But tonight I planned on getting things wet, so this is a 4hr thread! Plants arrive in 30hrs

Ive read some people just dump the bag, some sift, all in all its not a critical thing, maybe just effecting the longevity of the nutrients.

Tank is/will be a 36 bowfront, lower tech, liquid Co2, planted+ light.

Edit: Added for 3 days

Fraternity of Dirt Member #150
Finnex Club Member #84 - 30" Planted Plus

Tank - 36 gallon Bowfront

Last edited by Eddie_42; 01-09-2014 at 07:42 PM. Reason: added poll
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-09-2014, 07:48 PM
Planted Tank Obsessed
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: West Palm Beach, FL
Posts: 486
I did not sift the first time I set up a MGOCPM, and lived to regret it. If you have to change anything, uproot anything, plant anything, etc. all the bigger pieces tend to end up on top of your substrate.

With the finer sifted material, I can kind of slide stuff sideways to get it out and no mess.

I think part of it has to do with how new you are to aquascaping, how well you can predict growth and pruning needs, and how well developed your techniques are.

I am definitely still working on all those things.

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-09-2014, 07:57 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Colorado
Posts: 43
I am 100% rookie at dirted tanks. I have had 10gal for year, with gravel, and dirftwood with Anubias and java fern attached.

Also to note. I am capping with eco-complete. Plan 1" or so of dirt, and 1.5" to 2" of the EC

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Tank - 36 gallon Bowfront
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-09-2014, 09:52 PM
Planted Tank Obsessed
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Eugene, Oregon
Posts: 304
I didn't sift mine and it has been fine. I heard that it contains different amounts of ingredients depending on where in the country you are. In the east there is a lot more wood chips in it and west coast it seems to be better.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-09-2014, 10:07 PM
Planted Member
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: SoCal
Posts: 180
Sift...It's so much easier for my tanks and you'll also probably have a much easier time dealing with the bubbles under the gravel..
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-09-2014, 11:49 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Oakland, CA
Posts: 2,318
I set up a tank unsifted, and after a couple months bits of wood and bark and stuff started to surface. It didn't really bother me much, but I sifted it for the next aquarium I set up.

I had a big sheet of that plastic canvas stuff, I just stapled that to a wooden frame I had lying around. Set that on a bucket, and dumped about a cupful of a time into the wooden frame, and ground it around with a scrap of 2x4, and then dumped what wouldn't go through. I think I ended up with maybe ~1/2 gallon of stuff that wouldn't fit through, and a few gallons of sifted stuff. I think the holes in the mesh were about ~1/8"
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-10-2014, 02:21 AM
Planted Tank Enthusiast
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: St. Louis, MO
Posts: 557
That's a good idea lochaber. I have some of that mesh too. What I want to know, is how do you guys keep the tannins from staining the water? I have tried MGOCPM in a couple of nano tanks, and I can't do enough water changes to keep them from turning tea colored. It doesn't seem to matter how much sand I cap with.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-10-2014, 02:46 AM
Planted Member
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Iowa City, IA
Posts: 263
with potting soil and topsoil I put it in the tank, and then added water slowly to soak it. Just enough water to cover the soil and get it wet, then some more over the coming days, stirring it as I added more water.
once I was sure the potting soil was soaked I capped it. one tank I just capped with river rock, and another tank I capped with shrimp stratum, sand, and river rock in various areas.
The only things to come floating up are the little styrofoam pieces and a few chunks of wood which are all easy enough to scoop out.
I find top soil to be much easier to work with and much cheaper. I even used the plain miracle grow fert sticks instead of root tabs, which also saves dozens of $$$$.
no issues with fish or shrimp/snails, as all tanks using these substrates have reproducing fish or invert's.
PS my ram's LOVE the top soil tank which cap over the soil, they just go eartheater crazy with it. not sure I'd suggest cory's with it, as they would stir up a [censored][censored][censored][censored]storm constantly, clogging filters
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-10-2014, 03:52 AM
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Location: Queens, NY
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I've found pieces of bark, twigs, gravel, rocks, and even a piece of metal wire in a bag of MGOCPM. Sifting is highly recommended when using the stuff.

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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-10-2014, 04:08 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Colorado
Posts: 43
I went with sifted. I had already done the labor. and when i got home and looked at what I had sifted, it was all sticks.

The tank is now wet! Link in my signature to the journal, has lots of pics of the process tonight.

Thanks everyone!

Fraternity of Dirt Member #150
Finnex Club Member #84 - 30" Planted Plus

Tank - 36 gallon Bowfront
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-22-2014, 06:17 PM
Algae Grower
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Harrisburg, PA
Posts: 146
I've been experimenting with a different way to sift that is easier and biased towards more removing materials that won't stay down than removing them based on size (the side effect is that some small twigs/bark chunks do stay in, but won't float up on you):

Dump the dirt into a 5 gal bucket until the bucket is about half full. Fill the bucket with warm (as hot as you can stand to stick your arm in) water. Reach in, stir the whole mix, and break up as many clumps as you can. Once you have the clumps broken up, stir aggressively to get everything in the bucket turning. When the water settles down, you'll have a LOT of floating material at the top, which will slowly become waterlogged and begin to sink (feel free to stir a few times in the first hour or two: the goal is to have a centrifuge effect and get the lighter materials to the top). After ~6-8 hours, use a coarse net to scoop out everything still floating. (Optionally, repeat the stir/soak/net cycle with a shorter 3-4 hour wait before netting)

I'm still setting up the equipment for the tank this will go in to, so I can't speak to if this process causes any particular nutrient deficiencies, but I can say that it's a lot less labor intensive than when I've tried sifting by other methods. It'll still need a cap, of course, but it should help reduce the "geyser" effect when moving plants.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-22-2014, 08:27 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Oregon
Posts: 324
I sift then put it all in a bucket with water for all the gas to escape for a few days. The bag had enough bark chips in it that I could redo my walkways.
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