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Old 04-26-2010, 03:46 AM   #1
Fishly
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MTS reduced to sand?


I'm on my 4th wet/dry cycle for some MTS and it seems to be nothing but sand now. It isn't light and fluffy like people have said it's supposed to be, it feels like dry sand. When it's wet, it smells like wet playsand. I used a WalMart brand of topsoil since there are no gardening or landscape supply stores around here. Could that be the problem? Just in case it matters, here's what I did:
Put a portion of the soil in a 5g bucket, added water, stirred well. Poured out the water and as much of the dark brown sludge as possible. Put more water in bucket, stirred, poured out the water, and then spread the soil on a (new and clean) plastic shower curtain to dry.

Is it supposed to feel like sand at this point? Was I supposed to pour out the brown sludge (I thought it was peat, so I wanted to get rid of it) or was I dumping the good stuff? If I did mess this batch up, is there any way to salvage it? I only used about a fourth of the bag of soil, so I haven't ruined all of it. Still, I hate to think I did all that work for nothing.
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Old 04-27-2010, 02:41 AM   #2
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There's top soil here and top soil there and where it comes from will determine the composition. Walmart sources all over the place so a bag in Michigan isn't likely to be the same soil as a bag in California. For MTS you are trying to wash out the organics. What's left will be mineral material - sand. It should be a variety of sizes of particles though. If yours seems to be all the same size particles you may have a top soil mix that started out with a lot of sand in it.

If I can offer a suggestion, back up a bit and consider using the top soil as is. Call your tank a Walstad Method tank and save your self the work. ;-)
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Old 04-27-2010, 02:49 AM   #3
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I'm not sure if I want to do Walstad, especially since I haven't read her book. It seems a lot less straightforward than MTS. I was told that if you do it right, it works well, but it's easy to get it wrong. Am I mistaken?
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Old 04-27-2010, 03:58 AM   #4
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you want the sludge at least some of it, you rinse it and soak it to remove the large debris then let it settle out befroe you dump the water out. If you keep dumping the sludge out you remove everything but hte heaviest particles, which would be the sand.

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Old 04-27-2010, 03:59 AM   #5
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http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...on-talbot.html
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Old 04-27-2010, 04:47 AM   #6
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Okay, I'll try it again with another quarter of my soil.

Thanks for the help, guys.

Edit: A little off-topic, but how much clay, murate of potash, and dolomite would I need for five 10g, one 55g, and three 2.5g tanks (max amount of tanks I'm doing this year)?
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