Getting started with an emersed setup - soils
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Old 10-21-2011, 06:30 AM   #1
cjtenny
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Getting started with an emersed setup - soils


Hi all,

I'm entering a whole new world of crazy; tomorrow I'll be starting an emersed growing setup, for some nice plants I'd like to have on hand but don't have a way of working into my setups at the moment. I'm mostly winging it; going to grab some T8 bulbs and a fixture from home depot, containers from target and/or the container store (whatever fits best -- stupid target doesn't have containers that fit without leaving absurd amounts of space in the parent container), a timer, and some kind of soil.

However, I'm a little wary of just throwing in a soil and putting in plants. There won't be any livestock, obviously, so just about any soil should be just dandy, right? Do I need to avoid poop soils? I'd like to have the plants pest-free when I transfer them to tanks. Should I use topsoil or potting soil? I was looking at Scott's organic topsoil and some-other-brand (forget) potting soil, but I don't know the pros and cons of either.

Also, would using fertilizers (either in WCs or gelcaps) help? Was thinking of just winging it with some osmocote and seeing how it went.

This whole thing could probably be summarized by: I'm throwing money into a soggy bucket, trying common sense things, and putting it under my bed. Sounds like a great idea! Hopefully plants come out.

(Did I mention this is on top of three tanks in a dorm room? Sigh.)
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Old 10-21-2011, 07:13 AM   #2
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Invest in some AquaSoil. If you don't want to go that route, use a bag of Organic Potting Soil WITHOUT manure.

If you wanna use Osmocote, you can put that down in a thin layer before adding the soil. Other than that all you need is a container, a way to make it airtight (saran wrap + tape) and some light.
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Old 10-21-2011, 07:29 AM   #3
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I don't want to go that route, no supplier I know of out here (MA) and also, money. I'll use the no-manure stuff, then.

What's the point of the thin layer below? To keep it coming from the surface? Just to keep it from being used up too quickly? / Stop critters / algae / pests? Would I be better off using gelcaps and pushing them down?

Thanks for the help!
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Old 10-21-2011, 06:54 PM   #4
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I'd get the cheap potting soil, like 1.98 a bag or go for something like Miracle grow. Really makes no difference. I have cheap soil in few containers and Miracle grow Organic in others and both do very well. Any and all soil will work, even dirt from your back yard. Just rinse off the plants before putting them your tank if you are worried.

Oh, and avoid the soggy bags that have been sitting outside at the bigger stores. Often comes with those annoy gnats. Harmless to plants for the most part but annoying as all get out.
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Old 10-21-2011, 07:30 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjtenny View Post

What's the point of the thin layer below? To keep it coming from the surface? Just to keep it from being used up too quickly? / Stop critters / algae / pests? Would I be better off using gelcaps and pushing them down?

Thanks for the help!
The thin layer of Osmocote I suspect is simply because you don't need that much? Please correct me if I'm wrong.

I didn't go that route...not that I'm against it. I simply went and got enough Miracle Grow Organic to cover the bottom to an inch, inch and a half deep. Then I covered that with an inch, inch and a half of gravel. Done, plant the plants, start the cycle.

Plant food probably wouldn't hurt, but I figure that's what the fish poo and wasted food is for. Some people use sand, some use gravel on top. I don't know that it makes a huge difference but I used gravel because in my mind that should make it easier for the fish poo and extra food to make it down to the soil where the plants roots will eventually end up. Ultimately thats the point of the dirt tank in my mind, better root growth. Most plants eat through the roots.

One thing I have learned with dirt tanks...plan it out as far as where you wanna put plants. Sure, you can move them, but it's more of a pain than in a regular tank. Speaking of, when you are planting you don't have to jamb the plants all the way down there. Seems like mine find the dirt below pretty well if I get them into the gravel pretty good. You get the point I hope, once the water is in there you want to keep the dirt below the rocks as much as possible.

I'm on day 5 of my first dirt tank, I certainly don't know everything...but that's what I think I've learned thus far, lol.
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Old 10-21-2011, 08:36 PM   #6
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sewingalot: thanks! A few friends and I (well, maybe just me, depends what everybody's plans are tonight) are heading out to a LFS this evening, and I'm picking up the tub/lights/soil right before; appreciate the timing on the response. (I'm not getting the plants there, I'm looking for a mate for my scarlet badis, and giving away some mollies)

Daximus: I'm not planning on covering it with gravel if I can help it; there won't be any fish in this setup. It'll be a full-time emersed growing setup, plants only. So there won't be any fish poo either, and in fact this won't even qualify as a dirt tank -- it'll just be a ... plant tub. With dirt. Thanks though -- I've been browsing the low tech / dirt threads recently, and if I ever tear down a tank and restart, I see MTS in my future. Probably not while I'm in a dorm room, though.
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Old 10-21-2011, 11:22 PM   #7
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you don't need osmocote for quite a long time when using soil in an emersed setup, just use miracle grow organic potting soil or something similar, worked for me and growth was insane othertwise do it like any hydroponics setup
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Old 10-21-2011, 11:58 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjtenny View Post

Daximus: I'm not planning on covering it with gravel if I can help it; there won't be any fish in this setup. It'll be a full-time emersed growing setup, plants only. So there won't be any fish poo either, and in fact this won't even qualify as a dirt tank -- it'll just be a ... plant tub. With dirt. Thanks though -- I've been browsing the low tech / dirt threads recently, and if I ever tear down a tank and restart, I see MTS in my future. Probably not while I'm in a dorm room, though.
To each his own!

The plants feed the fish and the fish feed the plants, lol! Thats all I was getting at.
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Old 10-22-2011, 04:43 AM   #9
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You are quite welcome, cjtenny. I think I have the same tub setup you are probably mentioning over here: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/pl...up-zapins.html Some other members posted some good advice and their setups as well if you are interested. I think the majority of us followed Zapins advice and used potting soil, nothing too fancy.

It's best to keep it simple in my opinion. I plan to just skim off a bit of the soil and add more dirt if they ever start looking sad. I'm all about cheap in this hobby. Good luck on the setup and finding a badis mate! If you have questions, there are a ton of us over here doing this now and will be glad to help out. One thing I recommend is taping saran wrap to the top and poking a few small holes. Seems to hold moisture better than the acrylic mentioned.
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