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Thread: Mineralizing Soil - A Necessity for Success? Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
07-29-2013 12:08 AM
tgold Organic mix = poultry waste. The process of mineralizing soil removes the smell. Soak a soil sample and let it dry, smell the result, yum.

Mineralizing also helps remove the particulates that cloud the water. The initial few times the soil is washed, the water will be very cloudy. The water will not clear, even if left undisturbed for weeks. With repeated washing, drying and adding a clay soil, the water will clear in a few hours. This helps when planting or if the cap is disturbed. Multiple washing will not remove the fertile quality of the soil, it will still have enough to cause an algae bloom, in the first few months, if not sufficiently planted.

The same process will happen to the soil; in a tank, inside the home or outside in a bucket.
07-28-2013 03:17 PM
MoonshineIT I was hoping that getting back into aquaristics would help me to relax and be less uptight. I guess this is my first lesson. I suppose since I'm about to put it in a tank full of water, there's probably not much point in letting it dry out completely either is there? I finally read through dogfish's toxic ten last night, and between the two of you, I may learn not to worry so much and enjoy my tank more yet. I think I'll go start my journal now so I can ask some questions that aren't related to mgocpm/MTS. Hope the op didn't mind me fleshing out this question some more.
07-28-2013 01:27 PM
wkndracer Waste not want not . Having put any efforts into prepping it I would use it. Remembering the goofs and games my son and I put in vs reward in the stainless 2 story setup (all the layers) or the screening of fines for the grow out rack honestly they all grow plants.

You can do this so many ways, the costs are low, the results so similar. With the rare exception of 1 or 2 soil farts (my own ignorance starting out) inert substrate and root tabs have caused me way more grief than any soil based tank.
Anaerobic imbalance is a problem much like pH crashing, much concern but seldom truly reported. With any substrate in a tank anaerobic conditions exist dirt or no dirt with maybe the exception of reverse flow UG. How much might become the concern messing things up but honestly I think it's rare. Even popping a stinky sulfur bubble (dying overpopulation) or finding a blackened stem it's never been tank ending here. Poke new plants through the cap and move on. Small stumbles here and there maybe early on but long term I've yet to find a way to really mess this up. Nowhere in my journals to date will you see any report of tear down and restart due to failure, because I haven't had a tank system fail to date.

I keep stock loading low starting out. I avoid most new tank disasters by stocking critters lightly starting out. That along with going big on entry quarantine to avoid importing problems. The longer I tank the more extensive my quarantine protocols become.

As far as soil tanking goes:
(Favorite Tom Barr comment) never a one trick pony.
(Personal blurp about it) Nobodies wrong as long as nobody dies.

The first dirt tanker was a Caveman (without insurance).

Use it (imo) but work less and tank more in the future.
07-28-2013 11:58 AM
MoonshineIT
Quote:
The bark and other compound organic materials as long as it's contained by the cap is what I consider the time release plant food long term in the tank. Joked often that as long as it's smaller than a 2x4 leave it.
So is that a yes or a no on starting over with a new bag LOL?

Quote:
NPT or simply dumping the dirt and organics in and capping it has the same processes at work as making MTS only on a different timeline as the same thing happens. It's just a question of where. Before bacteria and rot break down the organics the plants can't use the minerals contained.
The activity of bacteria breaking down the organic compounds releasing the minerals for the plants to use = time release .
The conversion of organics and the break down is slowed greatly in the tank mainly because of less available oxygen. The submerged steady state of decay once established in the tank takes about a year to happen with a 1-2" layer of material. No wetting and drying, no soaking. I am considering on future tanks to boil the bagged material (lumber and all) just to reduce the random chance of bacteria strains I may not want in the tank, but I'll still tank the bark, twigs and sticks .
And yet in your journals you don't seem to have a lot of problem with anaerobic conditions killing off your tanks. I'm assuming that's because you plant very heavily in the beginning so the plant roots keep oxygen flowing into the soil?

Quote:
THANX a bunch for kudos on my threads. Hope you join the frat once you get dirty.
Your opinion tends to hold a lot of water (hehe) because you actually provide pictures and timelines chronicling your experiences (both good and bad) over an extended period of time. That has been EXTREMELY useful to me starting out with my first planted tank. I definitely intend to join the fraternity once my box actually has water in it.
07-28-2013 05:01 AM
wkndracer Moonshine,
The bark and other compound organic materials as long as it's contained by the cap is what I consider the time release plant food long term in the tank. Joked often that as long as it's smaller than a 2x4 leave it.

The easiest way to maintain a tank for me is not relying solely on any single 'method' in rigid steps but a combined approach. Use of a rich substrate along with light chemical dosing of the water column is what I like the best.

NPT or simply dumping the dirt and organics in and capping it has the same processes at work as making MTS only on a different timeline as the same thing happens. It's just a question of where. Before bacteria and rot break down the organics the plants can't use the minerals contained.
The activity of bacteria breaking down the organic compounds releasing the minerals for the plants to use = time release .
The conversion of organics and the break down is slowed greatly in the tank mainly because of less available oxygen. The submerged steady state of decay once established in the tank takes about a year to happen with a 1-2" layer of material. No wetting and drying, no soaking. I am considering on future tanks to boil the bagged material (lumber and all) just to reduce the random chance of bacteria strains I may not want in the tank, but I'll still tank the bark, twigs and sticks .

THANX a bunch for kudos on my threads. Hope you join the frat once you get dirty.
07-27-2013 10:07 PM
MoonshineIT
Quote:
Originally Posted by wkndracer View Post
First post on TPT! Welcome!
Sad to read that rude reply followed a question, really stupid smart people can be everywhere.

Scattered throughout my various journal opening posts are a number of photographs showing what I find opening the bag. Nothing in the way of huge chips or 2x4's, no marble size gravel have I found packaged in a Scott's bag of MGOCPM LOL.

Can you post a picture of what has you concerned?
I'm actually very familiar with your journals because they have been my inspiration for wanting to "get dirty" in the first place. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of what I'm referring to because, per someone else's suggestion, I decided to presoak my soil and remove the floaters. I can tell you that I've never seen anything in your opening posts that looked quite like what I got in my bag, but it's really hard to tell at the resolution your photos have to be for the thread. When I soaked it in a 30 gallon trash can (about 18" diameter), there was a 3" to 4" thick layer of small bits of pine bark and wood chips floating on top even after a week of soaking. That was AFTER I'd sifted the entire bag through a 1/4" screen to remove all the big stuff.

My theory behind the reason for the difference in my mgocpm is how close I live to Georgia. On the back of the bag it says it's formulated with more wood in Georgia than everywhere else.

So now I'm trying to decide if I'm going to use what I've got left or not. As I said, it's been screened, and I've put it through a complete soak and drain cycle. After that I mixed it about 70/30 with some safe-t-sorb. Right now it's still drying out with none of the bouyant material left in it, but there is still quite a bit of waterlogged wood in it. I'm not sure if I should use it or just start over with a new bag.
07-27-2013 02:12 PM
tetra73 For me....no. However, I only have my longest running dirt tank setup for 2 weeks. It is a 20g L, with medium lighting, dosing excel and light EI dosing. I didn't mineralize it because I live in a two family home. I have no backyard. Worst, I am using the organic garden soil with manure... No problems so far. No dead fish. However, I screened most of the larger wood chips, stems, and animal wastes. All I got was some very fine soil in the end. Presoak it for 3 days. Mixed it with some red clay. Done. Did 3 to 4 days of larger 70% WC. Then, added fish back. Water became crystal clear within 3 to 4 days. I used a sizable bio media from my establish tank. NO3 level, to my surprise, was very low. Less than 2ppm. I then begin to dose EI twice per week on my low tech tank. I could dose once per week but the gradual drop of nutrients in the water column by the end of the week may lead to some issues with the plant growths. I try to maintain about 5ppm+ NO3.

Using the same method to convert my high tech 40g tank to dirt also. The 40g tank has been running for 6 days now. Again, no dead fish. However, my 2 year old crypts are melting from the transplanting. I swear and I think I am seeing some new DHG runners growing... I am seeing some new blades looking very bright green.
07-27-2013 12:42 PM
wkndracer First post on TPT! Welcome!
Sad to read that rude reply followed a question, really stupid smart people can be everywhere.

Scattered throughout my various journal opening posts are a number of photographs showing what I find opening the bag. Nothing in the way of huge chips or 2x4's, no marble size gravel have I found packaged in a Scott's bag of MGOCPM LOL.

Can you post a picture of what has you concerned?
07-27-2013 09:56 AM
MoonshineIT
Quote:
Ummmmm, think we have a foobar of opinion.
Mineralization makes your dirt nutrients readily available NOT time release.
Tanked twigs, bark, peat, leaves etc aren't nutrient available for uptake until the bacteria break down the organics so that is what I would call time release ferts The submerged rate of decay puts the total breakdown at >yr based on poking around in my older tanks.
I tank the high organic content and allow the breakdown to happen within the tank, thats time release .
(these are not the only dirt tanks here).
Opinions vary as does plant selection. I use sponge equipped powerheads for water movement on a number of tanks.
I hypothesized this recently in another forum that was supposed to be an open discussion on soils for use in El Natural. I was hoping to start a discussion between those with more experience than I (since I am just in the process of starting my first dirt tank), about whether mineralization might be a benefit in the beginning but a detriment long term. Instead I was treated as a heretic by someone who argued with me for hours when I said that the term anaerobic refers to the absence of oxygen not the presence of carbon... go figure.

Anyway, I know this thread has gone cold, but I'm still trying to find out if people like wkndracer who use mgocpm straight from the bag would still do so if their bag was >60% wood chips and tree bark like my bag was. While I'm not convinced by AaronT and the MTS crowd that breaking your soil down completely before putting in an El Natural tank is a great plan long term, I'm just not sure I want THAT much buoyant, uncomposted organic material in there either. Any thoughts?
01-15-2013 04:38 PM
wkndracer
Quote:
Originally Posted by raulfd4 View Post
A little off the mineralizing topic, but I didn't want to start a new thread.

I will probably be planting my tank this Sunday. Will it be a problem if I add the MGOCPM and PFS tonight (Tuesday)? I have water in the tank, just started a fishless cycle. I will just run the tank with no lights until I add the plants.

I just don't want an algae bloom or something from the dirt being in there with no plants to support.
I see no harm in this. Allowing the base to soak a few days I would suggest that you reach into the tank and with a flat palm pat/press down on the substrate, this aids in releasing trapped air. When you plant the tank drain about 1/2 the water then refill it. Also unless you have a nasty film develop on the glass blocking the view into the tank try to leave things alone as much as you can until the cycle is completed.
After about two weeks if you can wait that long do a test and water change then. After a couple changes the tannins fall off to a large degree.

HTH
01-15-2013 01:45 PM
AaronT I would use topsoil still instead of the Miracle Grow stuff. There will still be plenty of organics available this way at first. Most people don't know this, but that Miracle Grow potting mix really should be mixed 50/50 with dirt when using it for it's intended pupose. Otherwise you end up with plenty of carbon and not a lot of minerals. Make sure to screen it with something like chicken wire to get the big chunks of wood and rocks. If anything they become unsightly if you move things around a lot in your tank.

Make sure to start with lots of plants right off the bat if you choose not to mineralize the soil. Also, plan your layout so you aren't moving things around much for the first few months.

Once they plants develop healthy roots systems they will mineralize the soil in the tank. So in the long run either way you end up with mineralized soil in your tank. I like to prepare it this way as I tend to run things high-tech and it poses less initial problems.
01-15-2013 12:30 PM
raulfd4 A little off the mineralizing topic, but I didn't want to start a new thread.

I will probably be planting my tank this Sunday. Will it be a problem if I add the MGOCPM and PFS tonight (Tuesday)? I have water in the tank, just started a fishless cycle. I will just run the tank with no lights until I add the plants.

I just don't want an algae bloom or something from the dirt being in there with no plants to support.
01-12-2013 03:33 AM
Beer No plan exactly. Usually at least a few months until the plants are established pretty well. It was usually my work schedule and traveling, combined with some laziness, that determined when I stopped adding CO2. I'd still do half doses of Flourish once every couple of weeks or at every water change, if I remembered.
I think it's important not to mess with the tanks too much once they have established themselves. Let them maintain themselves. If you try to control it too much, you run into issues.
Just keep an eye on it in the beginning and keep it heavily planted and you should be good. When parameters level out, it coasts along on its own.
01-11-2013 08:24 PM
GraphicGr8s Top soil right into my 29 and planted. No mineralization. No nothing. No fertz after a year or more. Fish on and off. Resident frog sometimes. (Did I mention it's outside on the back porch) No filter. No heater. No algae. Just some unreal plant growth. Knocked it down a few weeks ago to move it to the fish room. Well I removed most of the water, moved it, filled it. I've done the top soil to about 5 tanks now with no problems.
01-11-2013 07:38 PM
raulfd4 Thanks again for all of your responses.

As I expected, there is no "magic bullet" answer here, and everyone's experiences will differ.
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