Really need your help on my first soil substrate
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Old 02-08-2012, 10:32 PM   #1
Henri
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Really need your help on my first soil substrate


Hi everyone!
After getting a new and bigger tank today, I decided I'm going to make it heavily planted and have read absolutely good opinions about soil substrate, I'm mostly doing this because I don't want to deal with root tabs, I can't find them anywhere around here and if I buy online the shipping to my country will cost about $15. It's true that root feeders don't need root tabs with a soil substrate right? These are the plants I mostly have.
So can anyone help me with this? I'm very excited and am hoping to do this this weekend. I'm also a total beginner, all the plants I've kept so far are java moss, java fern and hornwort.
So what am I suposed to do? I've got the soil, it has no chemicals such as fertilizers or pesticides. The soil has been used as planting soil for about 1,5 - 2 years, it hasn't lost all it's " nutritional values ", has it?
What else do I need? I'm not looking to make anything complex, just a bottom layer of soil and gravel on top of it. So my point is, I can't do much on getting ky hands on some clay if that's needed.
- Another question is, how much or how many inches of soil do I have to put on the tank and how many gravel do I have to put in to cover the soil? I'd love the look of a thick substrate, so I wont spare the soil used.
How much of each (soil, gravel)?
- Do I need to dose liquid ferts weekly? It's okay even if I need to, I can dose.
- Oh and also, do I ever need to replace the substrate? I mean the soil, do I ever need to replace it with new one? Will it ever lose it's nutrients?
And last, as mentioned before, how do I do this without making a mess in the tank, and how do I hide the soild with the gravel so it wont show up even after filling the tank with water? This is a 20 gallon tank, not a tall one, but slightly tall than wide.
Thanks a lot everyone, Im looking forward to your replies and I'm really excited about this, cant wait for the weekend to come xD...
Thanks!
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Old 02-09-2012, 12:10 AM   #2
DogFish
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Welcome

Use 6cm dirt, on the top put 3cm sand or very fine gravel.

NO frets for 3 months

light 8-10hrs

change 30% of water each week

Plant as much as you can right away.

That will get you off to a safe start.

Fat i mirė
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Old 02-09-2012, 02:31 AM   #3
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He ^^^ pretty much covered it. I'll give you my personal step by step.

#1 Put dirt into tank (dry), maybe with a little clay(your call), to about 1 to 1&1/2 inches.
#2 Smooth out dirt.
#3 Add capping material. I like about 1 to 1&1/2 inches again.
#4 Smooth out capping material.
#5 Using a plate for a splash guard, add water to 1/2 full.
#6 Plant as many plants as you have or can afford.
#7 Finish filling with water, hook up pump, heater, lights, etc.
#8 Turn on. Drink beer. Go to sleep.
#9 Next day, Do 50% water change. Test water.
#10 If safe, go get some cheap fish and put them in tank.
#11 Change 25% water daily for one week (if possible) or as needed.
#12 Once tank is cycled, treat as regular aquarium. Water change as needed.
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Old 02-09-2012, 02:47 AM   #4
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This thread by Aaron may help you out.

Dan
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Old 02-09-2012, 03:21 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DogFish View Post
Welcome

Use 6cm dirt, on the top put 3cm sand or very fine gravel.

NO frets for 3 months

light 8-10hrs

change 30% of water each week

Plant as much as you can right away.

That will get you off to a safe start.

Fat i mirė
Dog fish, why no ferts for 3 months? Please take a look at my post (BGA in new tank) in the algae section. Could this be my problem?
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*Substrate = 50% Florite sand 50% regular Florite
*Lighting 108W of a 216W T5HO Aquatic Life hood 25" from substrate 8.5 hours daily.
*Amarath Redroot, Waterhyssop, Brazilian Pennywort, Water Wisteria, Jungle Val, Moss Ball, Riccia, Nana, Java Lace, Cryptocoryne, Pigmy Chain Sword.
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Old 02-09-2012, 03:21 AM   #6
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Bwahahaha too funny you 2 dirt bunnies

Dantra that's a great thread you linked but a lot of effort for roughly the same results.

Hi Henri,
Do you ever do any tests on you're water? pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, hardness testing of any kind?
How well does the java moss, java fern and hornwort grow for you?
Getting a bigger tank are you changing the lighting?
(I realize I'm answering you're posted questions mostly with my own.)

Regarding how long the soil base lasts will depend on the nutrient content starting out, the organic content to help sustain it long term and the nutrient demand placed on it. That demand is driven by how much light energy is provided the tank more than almost anything else.
With my belief that light energy is easiest to understand and adjust without changing the tank in any major way. Light is the dogs head and everything else is just the stuff between it and the tail. Light drives demand. So I asked about intended lighting.
All my new tank starts now include floaters. Added starting out many are cleared completely after a few months.
Floaters are a great help controlling light rather than changing photo period as another option. Filtering the water too goes almost without saying. Removing free nutrients from the water it all adds up to floaters helping a great deal to avoid algae on a new tank. Ricca, Frogbit, Moss or Subwassertang, Salvinia cheap easy plants with great value (imo).
That said having a tank set up with bagged dirt alone MGOCPM (potting mix) and nothing else for over a year I saw nothing to indicate the plants were lacking any nutrient at all and growth never stumbled. Beyond 3yrs. now and still no additives or changes made. Growth has slowed but the tank is still stable and growing plants.

Flourite, Eco Complete and larger gravel mixes allow the soil to release more to the water during the first few months is my experience. Using sand or a mixture of sand and smaller frag my water parameter always test a lower nutrient content. (Web searches should pull photo's of different substrates for reference sizing.)
I don't care for traditional river gravel very much as it doesn't produce a very good boundary layer. The round pebbles do little to hold the dirt. Even in a thick layer (6cm or more) traditional river gravel still allows some soil to work out into the tank water.

welcome to our dirty world

(but I think we should answer a bunch of questions both ways to help)
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Old 02-09-2012, 04:20 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dmckmc View Post
Dog fish, why no ferts for 3 months?
Because A.) the OP said & asked:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Henri View Post
....I'm not looking to make anything complex, just a bottom layer of soil and gravel on top of it.....

- Another question is, how much or how many inches of soil do I have to put on the tank and how many gravel do I have to put in to cover the soil? I'd love the look of a thick substrate, so I wont spare the soil used.
How much of each (soil, gravel)?

- Do I need to dose liquid ferts weekly? It's okay even if I need to, I can dose.
B.) The OP is from Albainia. English is hard enough for Americans. That advice will get him up & running. THEN he can read all the info here until his head explodes.

C.) Sometimes simple is best, especially at start-up.

I'll look at your thread and comment there.

Last edited by DogFish; 02-09-2012 at 12:40 PM..
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Old 02-10-2012, 09:31 PM   #8
Henri
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DogFish View Post
Welcome

Use 6cm dirt, on the top put 3cm sand or very fine gravel.

NO frets for 3 months

light 8-10hrs

change 30% of water each week

Plant as much as you can right away.

That will get you off to a safe start.

Fat i mirë
Thank you!! I'm using gravel with this tank ! I just found out that my plant fertilizer contains chelated copper, but since copper is deadly to invertebrates, and I'm planning to put 2-3 mystery snails in the tank, I'm affraid I can't use it. Are the ferts so essential ?
Falemiderit ^_^
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Old 02-10-2012, 09:36 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daximus View Post
He ^^^ pretty much covered it. I'll give you my personal step by step.

#1 Put dirt into tank (dry), maybe with a little clay(your call), to about 1 to 1&1/2 inches.
#2 Smooth out dirt.
#3 Add capping material. I like about 1 to 1&1/2 inches again.
#4 Smooth out capping material.
#5 Using a plate for a splash guard, add water to 1/2 full.
#6 Plant as many plants as you have or can afford.
#7 Finish filling with water, hook up pump, heater, lights, etc.
#8 Turn on. Drink beer. Go to sleep.
#9 Next day, Do 50% water change. Test water.
#10 If safe, go get some cheap fish and put them in tank.
#11 Change 25% water daily for one week (if possible) or as needed.
#12 Once tank is cycled, treat as regular aquarium. Water change as needed.
Thanks a lot for the tips! Ughh, do i have to put in DRY soil? In the link Dantra posted below your post, there were steps explaining that the soil has to be dry in a form of mud in order to mineralize the soil ( the organic materials will break down from the bacteria to a form that is readily usable from the plants). What should I do?! :S
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Old 02-10-2012, 09:54 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Henri View Post
Thanks a lot for the tips! Ughh, do i have to put in DRY soil? In the link Dantra posted below your post, there were steps explaining that the soil has to be dry in a form of mud in order to mineralize the soil ( the organic materials will break down from the bacteria to a form that is readily usable from the plants). What should I do?! :S
"I've got the soil, it has no chemicals such as fertilizers or pesticides. The soil has been used as planting soil for about 1,5 - 2 years, it hasn't lost all it's " nutritional values ", has it? "

There are many ways to use dirt, all work, some are easier than others.

If you want to put this all together NOW. It will grow plants. If you want to follow the steps in the link that may work better longer.

My best advice is to SLOW DOWN and read every thread on this sub-forum before you start this tank up. Ask question about specific pints that are confusing.
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Old 02-11-2012, 10:11 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DogFish View Post
"I've got the soil, it has no chemicals such as fertilizers or pesticides. The soil has been used as planting soil for about 1,5 - 2 years, it hasn't lost all it's " nutritional values ", has it? "

There are many ways to use dirt, all work, some are easier than others.

If you want to put this all together NOW. It will grow plants. If you want to follow the steps in the link that may work better longer.

My best advice is to SLOW DOWN and read every thread on this sub-forum before you start this tank up. Ask question about specific pints that are confusing.
I thought that watering the soil was a must, I didn't know that... If you read the post I made previously:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Henri View Post
Thank you!! I'm using gravel with this tank ! I just found out that my plant fertilizer contains chelated copper, but since copper is deadly to invertebrates, and I'm planning to put 2-3 mystery snails in the tank, I'm affraid I can't use it. Are the ferts so essential ?
Falemiderit ^_^
That's why I was trying to mineralize it, will it last longer? If I could use my ferts then I'd just use the dry soil. Do you grt my problem ?
Also I read many threads about this on the foum and almost every thread was about showing the results of the soil substrate, I didn't find any with explained steps...
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Old 02-11-2012, 01:44 PM   #12
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This is a quote from the Sticky on MTS at the top go this sub-forum:

"The algae likely results from the excess nutrients that decomposing organic materials release in the soil. The decomposing organic materials are not bio-available to the aquatic plants. As the tank matures, the algae dissipate slowly as the organics in the soil finish breaking down.

Mineralizing the soil beforehand helps to speed the breakdown of organic materials in the soil. In turn the mineralized soil will help shorten the initial algae outbreak period that many aquarists experience when using a soil substrate. Soil mineralization occurs from exposing bacteria, enzymes and other soil microbes to oxygen in a moist environment. The microbes break down the organic materials in the soil into bio-available minerals. As an added bonus these new bio-available forms of nutrients are generally only available to plants and not to algae. "

************

That is why I always suggest newbie READ the forums then ask specific questions. This sub-forum holds all the answers already. But, somethings may need claification.

Can you put dirt, in a tank, cap, plant it and new successful...YES.

Will you have to take greater precautions against algae & bacterial blooms...YES

Can going taking the time to mineralize the soil lession the risk factor ...YES

Will adding Clay, Potash, Peat eye to MTS extend it's working life....YES

Can extra fets, too much light, not enough. plants, an unestablished filter, not enough water changes, incomplete cycle, too much initial bio-load in a new tank cause problems.......YES

In this link are your explained steps:
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/su...mts-aaron.html
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Old 02-12-2012, 01:37 AM   #13
Henri
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DogFish View Post
This is a quote from the Sticky on MTS at the top go this sub-forum:

"The algae likely results from the excess nutrients that decomposing organic materials release in the soil. The decomposing organic materials are not bio-available to the aquatic plants. As the tank matures, the algae dissipate slowly as the organics in the soil finish breaking down.

Mineralizing the soil beforehand helps to speed the breakdown of organic materials in the soil. In turn the mineralized soil will help shorten the initial algae outbreak period that many aquarists experience when using a soil substrate. Soil mineralization occurs from exposing bacteria, enzymes and other soil microbes to oxygen in a moist environment. The microbes break down the organic materials in the soil into bio-available minerals. As an added bonus these new bio-available forms of nutrients are generally only available to plants and not to algae. "

************

That is why I always suggest newbie READ the forums then ask specific questions. This sub-forum holds all the answers already. But, somethings may need claification.

Can you put dirt, in a tank, cap, plant it and new successful...YES.

Will you have to take greater precautions against algae & bacterial blooms...YES

Can going taking the time to mineralize the soil lession the risk factor ...YES

Will adding Clay, Potash, Peat eye to MTS extend it's working life....YES

Can extra fets, too much light, not enough. plants, an unestablished filter, not enough water changes, incomplete cycle, too much initial bio-load in a new tank cause problems.......YES

In this link are your explained steps:
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/su...mts-aaron.html
Yes, I was talking based on that thread. I already read it. It suggests to mineralize the dirt before adding it to the substrate. I didn't really fill up the soil with water 2 inches above it, It's heavily raining outside and I have a huge pot with soild, It was already wet from the rain, I just dumped a o,5 littre soda bottle on it and will put it in the tank tomorrow... I was just wanting to know if mineralizing it will make the soil last longer... Also can you answer my ferts question please? Do I really have to use them with the soild, I'm really worried about my snails' life... The fertilizer contains chelated copper as mentioned above...
Thanks and sorry for the questions...
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Old 02-12-2012, 01:49 AM   #14
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You don't need Ferts in a new tank to get started.

How much Cleated copper%
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Old 02-12-2012, 02:33 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DogFish View Post
You don't need Ferts in a new tank to get started.

How much Cleated copper%
THAT'S the problem, i can't find the percentage of it anywhere!!! It just says: This bottle contains: chelated iron, magnessium, zinc, copper, etc. It doesn't say anything about percentages... Can I not dose for a long time? Like until summer or April? I recieved the fertilizer as a gift from a friend in Australia because LFS don't sell them over here, Albania has very poorly stocked stores, due to the lack of knowledge of people towards this hobby...
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