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Old 11-29-2011, 03:34 PM   #1
Scyry
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Mineralized Topsoil


Anyone locally done a MTS tank? My 2.5 gal. tank is a layer of peat capped with no CO2, and it gets Flourish on water changes. The few plants in it seem to love it, bright colors, no holes or spots. Problem is I am always fighting green water in it.

My 26 gal. on the other hand I started out without thinking of live plants. It has a gravel filter, inert substrate and I haven't completed the CO2 system for it yet. It is a PITA to keep the plants healthy without getting an algea bloom.

I like low maintenance tanks. I am going to break down the 26 gal this spring and redo the substrate for plants. Soil tanks intrigue me, and the 2.5 gal. was a test try for me. I would like to do a MTS thinking I'd have less of a chance of getting green water regularly as with a peat or Miracle Grow Organic Soil tank. Problem is my yard is clay, clay and more clay; bentinite (sp) to be exact. When I prepped soil for my raised box veggie garden last summer I found the clay soil is very iron poor. Has anyone used heavy clay as their base for an MTS? Figuring someone local may have experience with this.

I am planning on mixing my yard soil (clay) with some peat and some organic chelated iron for the MTS. So I am guessing this is more of a variation on MTS. I am wondering what ratio of peat I will need to come up with a soil that won't compact drastically like clay does?

Anyways, hopefully my garage stays warm enough (insulated, only added heat is my clothes dryer) so I can get the MTS cycled fast enough to have it done in a couple months.
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Old 11-29-2011, 08:03 PM   #2
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I have a couple of Miracle Gro tanks and I love the simplicity and growth though the organics provide obvious drawbacks that you might not want to deal with.

I have not tried to use local bentonite heavy soil in a tank(or any locally sourced soil) but having grown up on a farm in the river valley I can tell you that bentonite is a pain in the butt to deal with in real agriculture. About the only useful thing I remember people locally using it for is lining the bottoms of livestock ponds or watering holes.

I don't know what the chemical analysis on it is but it also doesn't have that reddish look that iron heavy clays tends to have.

I would recommend just using some good red clay (laterite or whatever pottery style clay dust is appropriate) dust like people traditionally do in MTS mineral/salt additives.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scyry View Post
Anyone locally done a MTS tank? My 2.5 gal. tank is a layer of peat capped with no CO2, and it gets Flourish on water changes. The few plants in it seem to love it, bright colors, no holes or spots. Problem is I am always fighting green water in it.

My 26 gal. on the other hand I started out without thinking of live plants. It has a gravel filter, inert substrate and I haven't completed the CO2 system for it yet. It is a PITA to keep the plants healthy without getting an algea bloom.

I like low maintenance tanks. I am going to break down the 26 gal this spring and redo the substrate for plants. Soil tanks intrigue me, and the 2.5 gal. was a test try for me. I would like to do a MTS thinking I'd have less of a chance of getting green water regularly as with a peat or Miracle Grow Organic Soil tank. Problem is my yard is clay, clay and more clay; bentinite (sp) to be exact. When I prepped soil for my raised box veggie garden last summer I found the clay soil is very iron poor. Has anyone used heavy clay as their base for an MTS? Figuring someone local may have experience with this.

I am planning on mixing my yard soil (clay) with some peat and some organic chelated iron for the MTS. So I am guessing this is more of a variation on MTS. I am wondering what ratio of peat I will need to come up with a soil that won't compact drastically like clay does?

Anyways, hopefully my garage stays warm enough (insulated, only added heat is my clothes dryer) so I can get the MTS cycled fast enough to have it done in a couple months.
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Old 11-29-2011, 08:13 PM   #3
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Take a look at wkndracer's MGOPM tanks. They have good write ups on the use in their tanks and the success he's had.

I am not really sure the work of mineralizing is worth it considering how well it works with no labor at all.
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Old 11-29-2011, 08:13 PM   #4
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You might want to check out this thread over at APE where uka is working on a newer MTS 'recipe' that focuses more on achieving a specific balance of 'additive' minerals, salts and humic acids and uses Humus as the base (the substitute for the actual MTS) in order to simplify and speed things up.

If I had to guess I would say that good organic humus might have less available nutrients than high quality soil that you just got done mineralizing yourself (since it is probably further along in the decomp/stabilization process) but soil chemistry is something that I know little about (and all of that I learned in the last month).

I will be ordering those ingredients in the near future and hopefully have them in a test 10 gallon tank before Christmas so I should have some useful feedback before you get started this spring with replacing your substrate.

http://www.aquaticplantenthusiasts.c...d-topsoil.html
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Old 11-29-2011, 08:16 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OverStocked View Post
Take a look at wkndracer's MGOPM tanks. They have good write ups on the use in their tanks and the success he's had.

I am not really sure the work of mineralizing is worth it considering how well it works with no labor at all.
wkndracer's threads are great.

He doesn't do anything that other people haven't written about or done before (and he frequently sites Walstad's books and methods for obvious reasons) but what he HAS done is compiled a ton of experience as an advanced hobbyist and breeder with a whole SLEW of dirt based tanks.

He is breeding angelfish and plecos with great success in his fish farm...erm...house with various different soil tanks.
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Old 01-03-2012, 10:07 PM   #6
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Finally started on the MTS this weekend. Being winter in Colorado I couldn't find a bag of topsoil in the three stores (Orange or Blue) I stopped at. So I grabbed Miracle Grow Organic potting soil and decided to make my own topsoil. I mixed it with my "planters mix soil" from my raised garden box until I got a mix I felt look a bag of topsoil. I figure it may take a little longer to 'season' but I got to work with what I got.

I was also looking for other ingredients and found something interesting, Ironite. Has anyone used this or see an issue with using it? Here is the components:



I'm seeing a lot of the other ingredients people are using for MTS like muriate of potash, and it has water soluble iron. I don't see copper. Anything stick out as being bad for a tank, plants or fish?
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File Type: jpg Ironite.JPG (24.3 KB, 217 views)
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Old 01-04-2012, 03:06 PM   #7
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I wonder what is causing the green water?
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Old 01-06-2012, 03:12 PM   #8
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Quote:
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I wonder what is causing the green water?
I don't know. Originally I fought green water in my 26 bowfront. It only happened after the tank had been up a couple months and only lasted a couple months. I think it was my plants finally starting to grow in and out compete the green water.

My little 2.5 the green water comes back two days after 50% water changes. I only have some pearl weed, and couple tiny crypts in it. I recently added some frogbit to try and fight the green water, but I went on travel for a couple weeks and it took over and blocked too much light killing off most of my other plants.
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Old 01-06-2012, 08:10 PM   #9
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I was told once that green water was a direct result of ammonia. I don’t know if that is true. I do think dirt tanks create ammonia in the early stages fairly regularly. I am just being curious.
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Old 01-07-2012, 04:00 PM   #10
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The 26 gal is an inert substrate with an under gravel filter.
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Old 05-01-2012, 03:55 AM   #11
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I typed up a long winded PM then the forum required I re log-in, PM gone...So I hereby resurrect this thread.

I'm curious did you end up doing a dirt tank? Have your efforts been rewarded with bodacious growth?

I have about sixty pounds of dirt mineralizing in my garage right now and can't wait to give this a go.I already have noticed a big difference in the dirt's "aroma" after two dry cycles. The 20L looks so sad waiting to be filled. LOL

+1 on the Aqueon 26G bowfront by the way. Cool tank, wish I had room in my house for a 72G bow though.

-Zach
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Old 05-01-2012, 03:38 PM   #12
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I haven't restarted the tank yet. Basically I have been redoing the yard, sprinklers, lawn, new trees and bushes, so I haven't had time. Plus my office is moving, where I keep my tank, to the basementin about a month so I figured I'd restart the tank when I move it.

My two tubs of MTS are sitting on my front porch. I added peat, chelated iron and couple other things. That plus the winter is causing it to taking longer to break down.
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Old 06-06-2012, 02:19 PM   #13
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Finished a cycle this morning. MTS had dried out, I broke it up and mixed it around and added more water. The MTS is changing a lot faster each cycle now, this time the MTS was really hard and broke into chunks instead of just fluffing up when I worked it with my hand rake. Even the big chunks of woody material are breaking down, I didn't pick through the potting soil when I mixed it together. It is probably pretty close to ready to go. I'll take a picture next time I turn the MTS.

I finished my sprinklers and grass for my yard two weeks ago. This weekend I am doing some work on a room that is going to be my new office/aquarium room. So hopefully within the next month I'll be taking down my 26 gal. and restarting it as an MTS tank. Getting excited, but I am sure my fish won't be happy about hanging out in a plastic storage tub for a few weeks.

Final mix ended up being:

- 45% MGOPM
- 45% Planters mix soil that has been in my veggie garden for over a year (find it any most local nurseries)
- 10% Spanghum Peat Moss

I plan to add laterite and dolomite to it when I throw it in the tank. I am currently trying to find a darker, natural river rock color sand to cap it with. I'll take some pictures as I put the tank together.
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