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Old 03-02-2010, 11:48 AM   #16
accordztech
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how thick does the top soil have to be? would 1cu ft be enough for a 55 gallon 4x12'' tank?
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Old 03-02-2010, 01:07 PM   #17
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how thick does the top soil have to be? would 1cu ft be enough for a 55 gallon 4x12'' tank?
Staying around 1" decreases the chance of it going anaerobic. Not going with MS the organics transition from dry emerged decay to a submerged state with less oxygen available for the bacteria. Lots of changes occur during the first month or so then settle out. I used a 1" layer.
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Old 03-02-2010, 07:05 PM   #18
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You can check with Pond stores as well in your area. I have organic pond potting soil in 2 of my tanks with a layer of crushed quartz to keep it down. Just sift it well and wash it and then dry it. Works like crazy and my plants love it.
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Old 03-05-2010, 02:40 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Fishly View Post
Why is pine bark bad for aquariums?
Pine bark is harmful to the fish.

I use Scotts Top soil $2
Shultz Cactus soil $5
River Sand from landscaper for capping $3

I like the river sand for it doesn't need a lot of rinsing. I just shift the big partilcles out. Used the Cactus soil because it has a lot of humus which reduces amount of Co2 needed for plants. Recently found that you have to put plastic over it when filling with water or the dirt will come up.

Last edited by Hilde; 06-11-2010 at 05:33 PM..
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Old 03-06-2010, 10:32 PM   #20
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Used the Cactus soil because it has a lot of humus which reduces amount of Co2 needed for plants.
Could you explain how humus reduces the need for CO2?
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Old 06-11-2010, 05:50 PM   #21
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It is something I read on the internet. I will try to find it.
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Old 06-17-2010, 01:30 AM   #22
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Has anyone tried boiling, drying, and boiling again to see if it pretty much makes demin topsoil quicker?

I've been wanting to do a soil substrate because I thought that was the best and cheapest way to grow plants well. Then everyone was freaking out about DTS and acting like I was dumb for wanting to do a different soil substrate.

I want the long term fertilizing power of a soil substrate but don't want as much hassle as DTS.

Is straight topsoil right for me?

Do you have to add a CEC material of some sort (Turface, vermiculite, laterite)?

What stuff makes a good cap? I don't care much for sand. Turface? Small gravel?

I'm only going to be doing small tanks so I don't want to go crazy with 400 lbs of soil and ferts lyin around the apt.

Thanks for your help.
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Old 06-17-2010, 02:07 AM   #23
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Has anyone tried boiling, drying, and boiling again topsoil
I was going to do that but was told by another whom did it that it would stink.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Franco View Post
I've been wanting to do a soil substrate because I thought that was the best and cheapest way to grow plants well. Do you have to add a CEC material of some sort (Turface, vermiculite, laterite)? What stuff makes a good cap? I don't care much for sand. Turface? Small gravel?
I mixed Scotts Top soil and Shultz Cactus soil together and capped it with river sand. I added coconut, calcium sulfate and Seachem tabs to my dirt. I have found, since my water has no minerals and I don't have the optimum light, I have to dose with nitrogen, Kent multi, and Sea. Equilib. I get by just dosing 2 ml of the liquid and 1 Tbsp of Equilb and 4 ml of Excel. , since the dirt is somewhat mineralized.

Here many use top soil and top it with gravel. Some manage without dosing nutrients.
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Old 06-17-2010, 02:32 PM   #24
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Boiling is not the same as the wet/dry process. It is like comparing cooking to digestion. The end results are not the same.

Walstad's method uses straight soil without any processing, because she does not use much light. She also ends up being restricted in the species she uses, but that really isn't a problem. Find a soil that doesn't have bark, sawdust, or massive amounts peat or sphagnum moss and you can start a low light tank using it straight from the bag. After about 4 to 6 months you can step up the light as the soil will have completed the process anaerobically. Depending on how much organic matter is in the soil and how many deeply rooted rosette plants you have, it may go faster or take longer.
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Old 06-17-2010, 06:13 PM   #25
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Is it a good idea to sandwich the soil between sand on bottom and gravel on top or something?
I don't want to do a heating cord or anything under the substrate.
I basically want to put dirt in a 1 " layer with a little clay or laterite or other high CEC mixed in and cap it with something black.
Will this work?
Any suggestions on the black? I want cheap and heavy enough that I can just barely vacuum it without upsetting the soil layer. I don't care for super small stuff like sands too much because of compaction but if I have Malaysian trumpet snails will they prevent that? Also I want to have a couple of Kuhlis so i don't want anything too sharp.

Any suggestions?

Thanks a lot!
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Old 06-17-2010, 10:19 PM   #26
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Is it a good idea to sandwich the soil between sand on bottom and gravel on top or something?
That won't work for the sand will be compressed and anaerobic gases can accumulate. I think it best to mix sand or sandy soil in the dirt so that it won't become compressed and accumulate anaerobic gases.

Whenever you mix two materials of different diameters...there will ALWAYS be some mixing and settling. Thus it is best to get two that have similar color.

I am thinking to save money to use Active Flora over dirt in my 29 gallon tank when I move. Thus interested in what you end up doing.
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Old 06-22-2010, 05:59 PM   #27
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Thought some here had been successful with MiracleGro Organic soil without all of the extra steps. Search for it and see what you find.
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Old 06-22-2010, 06:58 PM   #28
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But simply adding MiracleGro Organic is not the same as mineralized soil. That is more of the Walstead Natural Planted Tank. If you want the mineralized benefits, you really need to follow Sean's (SCMurphy) instructions. He spent many years on developing the method. Many of the plain soil tanks have algae issues that simply would not be an issue with the mineralized soil method. If you don't want to go through the steps, ask Ken to make it for you.

Seriously, if you want the benefits, there are no shortcuts. You have to rinse and dry the soil several times. That is what makes it mineralized. Baking, boiling or simply adding as is will not be the same.

Hope this helps.
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Old 06-22-2010, 08:07 PM   #29
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I'm going to try a Walstad setup.
Does anyone know if nonrooted plants benefit from this at all? Are there nutrient that leech out of the substrate into the water column? Or at least enough + fish poo to sustain column feeding plants?
I'd like to have anubias, java fern (cuz I have dozens of plants in bowls around the house), and mess around with crystalwort (cuz I found a native liverwort that looks like small riccia).
Let me know what you think.
This might be a better topic for the El Natural forum because most of the folks on planted tank are MTS fans and not natural tank fans.
I've done the Walstad method in bowls and it works great for amazon swords.
Diana Walstad says you wont have any algae issues as long as you find the right soil and follow the directions strictly. Don't try anything fancy. I just ordered her book from borders at 40% btw. so excited!!!
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Old 06-22-2010, 09:44 PM   #30
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Thought some here had been successful with MiracleGro Organic soil without all of the extra steps. Search for it and see what you find.
zer0zax used it doing Walsted method.

You might be interested in the comparison test between Tom Barr's and Walsted methods by Homer_Sympson called lost world.

Since I have to dose to keep plants growing, even though I have ferts in substrate that is dirt with sand for topping, I think if the water has no minerals dosing is necessary. Also have found 1st important thing to do is buy light and then research plants suited for light.

Here is some interesting info on humic acids. To supply it I used reptile coconut bark.
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