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Old 06-28-2012, 07:42 PM   #1
georgedodge
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organic compost


do i HAVE to use top soil or potting mix could i get away wiv using organic compost? also whats the difference
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Old 06-28-2012, 08:05 PM   #2
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You may have alot of organics in the compost like small undecayed twigs, leaves, Etc. and this could cause huge algae blooms. You could try to sift it through a screen to help reduce the organics. Do a search on mineralized top soil and you can perhaps modify this with organic compost.
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Old 06-28-2012, 09:03 PM   #3
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hi going to makke a substrate do i need organic topsoil or normal topsoil is this a silly question
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Old 06-28-2012, 11:31 PM   #4
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Soil is composed of many different things, but can be simplified:

The mineral fraction is sand, silt and clay. They were never alive. These are minerals of different particle sizes. Only clay is small enough to have cationic exchange capacity. Sand, silt and clay from some sources keeps on breaking down in the tank, but most soils do not. If you start with a certain ratio of sand:silt:clay, then you end up with that ratio as the tank matures.

The organic fraction is stuff that came from plants or animals, such as garden compost. As these materials are broken down to very fine material they ultimately get so small they have some cationic exchange capacity. If you put organic matter under water it continues to decompose, unless the conditions are really extreme (peat bogs, for example). The decomposing organic matter releases many things into the water. The most common things are tannic and other organic acids (makes the water yellow to brown colored), CO2, and ammonia.

To make a substrate:
I would start with soil that has very little organic matter, and what it has is so fine you can no longer identify it. Compost that is as fine as dust, or pretty much that size.
Lots of sand and silt, some clay.

If you have access to garden soil that has not had pesticides (herbicides, insecticides, other) here is a test that may help:

Put some soil in a straight sided jar. Put a piece of masking tape on the side of the jar and mark how much soil is in the jar.
Add water and a bit of dish washer detergent. Not much, just a few drops.
Shake a LOT.
Set the jar down and time how fast the particles fall. Mark on the tape:
30 seconds. This is sand.
2 minutes. This is silt.
2 hours. This is the coarser clay.
overnight. This is a finer clay.
See how cloudy the water still is.

Here is how to interpret the results:
as much as 50% sand is pretty good.
As much as 30% silt is pretty good.
Up to 10% clay is OK, if it falls out of the water in 2 hours.
If it takes overnight, you may still be able to work with this soil, but I would mineralize it first. These fine clay particles will cloud the water too easily. Mineralizing the soil may help them cling together and act more like larger particles.
If the water in the jar is still cloudy after sitting overnight do not use this soil. It has colloidal clay. Soil particles that are so fine Brownian motion keeps them suspended. The aquarium would be hazy all the time.

If there are floating particles this is organic matter. If the stuff is fine enough that you cannot tell where it came from (leaf, stick...) then that is best. You can screen the soil to remove larger particles, or pick them out by hand.

I have heard of people starting a tank with garden compost. Well composted, to the point that it is still a bit fluffy, but you cannot tell what things started out as.
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Old 06-29-2012, 12:12 AM   #5
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this seems very complicated, i used organic compost but found out my tank had a leak so had to pull everything out, the compost smelt very anaerobic but surprisingly my shrimps stayed alive im guessing there would have been alot of ammonia in the aquarium.

i dont know if i could still use the organic compost again and use alot of plant roots to keep it oxygenated or would it be easier to use something like potting mix ive heard this uses dead plant matter so this may not get anaerobic? thanks
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Old 06-29-2012, 12:17 AM   #6
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just tryig to find what will be best substrate for 55g thats in the post
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Old 06-29-2012, 12:31 AM   #7
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Well, each person finds what works best for their situation. However, I would avoid any product (home made or store bought) that is high in organic matter.
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Old 06-29-2012, 01:24 AM   #8
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Another test you can do is take the compost and put it in a jar of water. Wait to see it turn anaerobic and test the water for ammonium/a.

As mentioned, it's best to mix the compost with sand and gravel or mineralize it. This is nothing new. I've done a high organic soil before. It didn't turn out well.
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Old 06-29-2012, 03:08 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by georgedodge View Post
this seems very complicated....
It is NOT complicated at all.

There is nothing wrong with using some compost. What is is most important is finding a balance between the substrate. filter, plants and animals.. As long as you have enough plants and filtration. to use the by products of the decomposing organics your tank will work. Look at my 'Toxic Ten' link on my sig. line.

I also think the Anaerobic Apocalypse is not unlike Chicken Little's falling sky. Go pull a Lilly from a pond and tell me what that smells like.

Yet, Lillys do very well in that substrate. I've not been to S.E. Asia but, I tend to think the muck that Crypts grow in smells every bit as nasty.
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Old 06-29-2012, 08:42 AM   #10
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mineralizing the soil ?
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Old 06-29-2012, 10:43 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by georgedodge View Post
mineralizing the soil ?
Do a search on here. Plenty of information.
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Old 06-29-2012, 12:11 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by georgedodge View Post
mineralizing the soil ?
START HERE:

"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. "

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...p?t=152027When

To me this insures a baseline to work with. Then depending on the application I can add organic material in a controlled amount.

I've used dirt straight from my property but, I've owned my home for 27 years and I know the history go the dirt, always organic method has been used.

I usually buy garden top soil at the local HomeDepot 40#@ $1.17..... OR 1/2 a Quid for you Guv.
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Old 06-29-2012, 12:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DogFish View Post
.

I also think the Anaerobic Apocalypse is not unlike Chicken Little's falling sky. Go pull a Lilly from a pond and tell me what that smells like.

Yet, Lillys do very well in that substrate. I've not been to S.E. Asia but, I tend to think the muck that Crypts grow in smells every bit as nasty.
an anaerobic tank matters to the fish living in it and you. Imagine having a stinky tank next to the couch.
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Old 06-29-2012, 01:45 PM   #14
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so i have my organic compost outside and are wetting it, then drying it to 'mineralize' it to break down organic materials i think when will it be ready to put in aquarium?
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Old 06-29-2012, 01:56 PM   #15
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Try talking to these guys.
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=150555
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