Topsoil Brand and Dirt Questions
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Old 05-07-2013, 02:39 AM   #1
Patrunkenphat7
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Topsoil Brand and Dirt Questions


Hi all,
I have had a successful 135 high tech tank, and I used fluorite gravel. I'd like to try something new since I just moved and have to restart my tank. I am thinking dirt/topsoil with a layer of gravel on top. Can anyone recommend specific brands of store-bought topsoil? I don't want to contaminate my tank with fertilizers, so I am wondering if anyone has some good recommendations for clean store-bought dirt. Someone recommended Scott's to me; does anyone here have experience with Scott's?

Also, can someone tell me where I could find some red clay to supplement the substrate? I like the idea of adding some clay to supplement iron for the roots.

I notice a lot of people are putting sand on top of their dirt. I learned somewhere than you want your fine gravels like sand on the bottom of your layered substrate with some larger gravel on top. Can someone defend the position of using sand as a top substrate layer?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 05-07-2013, 03:40 AM   #2
cah925
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Any cheap topsoil will work. Here's a trick I learned recently. Buy 1 bag and put about 2 handfuls in a mason jar (or a clean spaghetti sauce jar). Next fill about 3/4 with water and add just a tiny drop of dish soap. Shake real good and let it sit. The sand will fall to the bottom in about 30 seconds, silt takes 2-3 minutes and the clay could take hours or overnight. You should see about 1/2 sand, 1/2 silt and clay. If the clay is really fine, it could stay suspended in the water for days or weeks. As long as it's close, you're ok. You just don't want to see lots of sand and not much else. If you like what you see, go back and buy enough bags to complete your project. Screen out the large organics, mineralize and you're good to go.
A lot of people (including me) use pool filter sand to cap, but you could use any inert substrate like Flourite, Turface or Black Diamond blasting sand. The idea of fine gravels on the bottom and larger on top is this-if you mix the two, or put the smaller sand on top of larger gravel, over time the smaller particles settle to the bottom and the larger pieces move to the top. The sand particles in the topsoil are much smaller than the pool filter sand used to cap it so there won't be any issues.
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Old 05-07-2013, 05:15 AM   #3
Patrunkenphat7
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Thanks for the response!
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Old 05-07-2013, 01:28 PM   #4
DogFish
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrunkenphat7 View Post
....I notice a lot of people are putting sand on top of their dirt. I learned somewhere than you want your fine gravels like sand on the bottom of your layered substrate with some larger gravel on top. Can someone defend the position of using sand as a top substrate layer?....
Dirt is finer than sand, the finest particles will sink to the bottom.

My defense evidence:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFzsDlC2N8E
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Old 05-07-2013, 01:37 PM   #5
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Dirt - I build my own MTS and in the past I've used Top Soil from HomeDepot that co$t $1.37 for 40#. I simple fill a 5gal pail 1/2 way with dirt add water stir, pour off what ever floats. The silty mud is my MTS foundation.

I'm pretty confident you could do the same add Red Clay & Potash and use immediately. However do plant heavily initially and use rapid growing floaters like Hornwort or Water Lettuce. They once stabilized remove the floaters.

Last edited by DogFish; 05-08-2013 at 03:34 AM.. Reason: updated $ of dirt
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Old 05-07-2013, 01:49 PM   #6
roadmaster
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I used Black Diamond 20/40 grit over top of miracle grow organic potting mix for 300 litre.
Tank has been running for two year's.Some of the blasting media has no doubt found it's way to the bottom,and some of the small wood pieces from MGOPM have found their way to the top due to fishes digging,and relocating plant's.(and me not sifting the soil before use).
If I were one to frequently move plant's about,, I might not choose dirt as part of substrate.
Have also used mesh between soil and sand cap,but root's grew through the mesh making moving plant's a right mess, so I stopped moving them about.
Have also used just plain topsoil ,no fertz,organic's,covered it with fine gravel but substrate petered out after about 10 month's and was then that i began dosing water column with dry fertz.
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Old 05-08-2013, 03:00 AM   #7
Kareen
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Default top soil

Do Not USE Scott's it's just peat moss just get the cheap top soil from home depot Im doing a 125 right now. Just get some Amaco Mexican Red pottery clay at the carft store and get your Muriate of Potash 0-0-60 and some Estes Ultra Reef Dolomite you can get at www.pawtasticpet.com Im going to use sand as a cap.Try to get a layout idea of your tank befor you start planting I know it's a lot of work to Mineralize the dirt but it will all good in end.good luck
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