Dirt & ADA soil?
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Old 06-28-2013, 03:36 AM   #1
GriffinB
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Dirt & ADA soil?


Doing tons of research on my new standard 90g dirt planted tank. Nice carpet is a big goal of mine. And just nice plants in general. Looking at what i need to do for my dirt and in my research I have found only a few methods for long term nutrients. Adding dolomite and other things seemed like a decent idea. But I am lazy. I found this ADA soil and the definitely advertise it well. So my idea was can I use topsoil as well as this ADA powder soil to supply the dirt with long term nutrients? I am adding red clay for iron. That's easy. Does anyone know what nutrients the ADA stuff supplies? Any other simple ways adding long term nutrients to the soil? Any and all help is welcome. Thank you.
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Old 06-28-2013, 07:26 AM   #2
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Just in case you are new to planted tanks: do yourself a favor and do either AS or dirt, NOT both.

You might be overthinking a bit, your witches's brew of a substrate will accomplish nothing but months of pain for you, diet for your wallet, and entertainment for TPT's members.

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Old 06-28-2013, 03:06 PM   #3
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ADA adds quite abit of nitrates/ammonia, the low pH environment it creates also allows plants to absorb iron more easily.

Personally I use mixed substrates in almost all my tanks; using a laterite or red clay base, followed by top soil and capped with ADA/other artificial substrates. Using exotic substrates may give higher success rates with difficult plants. Having a low pH soil (something most people on the forum will caution you about) actually frees up iron much more readily to be absorbed by the plant roots; you can observe this effect through the glass when you see plant roots becoming red overtime. Some picky plants like pogostemon stellatus color up much more easily. Even Blxya japonica takes on a reddish hue in a rich substrate coupled with high lighting.

That being said, selecting a working combination takes testing and experience. Mixing acidic substrates and calcium heavy soils give weird CA/MG balances that seem to both affect plant growth and algae. In earlier years I've mixed ADA with Seachem's Onyx's sand, the later has a slight buffering capacity and the former is acidic; the results were terrible. Having overly acidic substrates without enough healthy plant growth may result in production of hydrogen sufide or other toxic gases.

All being said, I'd have to agree with OVT that you'd be better off doing either AS or dirt rather than mixing, cos of all the potential factors that could go wrong and separating the layers to reuse is very troublesome. If you want to experiment; at least test these few variables; pH of each soil, availability of carbonates, calcium and iron. Don't mix soils with a great difference in pH. Be aware of iron rich substrates in low pH soils and acidic substrates with calcium or carbonate rich soils.

A simple solution to add nutrients to soils is using root tabs around heavy feeders.
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Old 07-12-2013, 03:07 AM   #4
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I have a tank with mineralized top soil topped with ada aquasoil and have found it to be the ultimate substrate it terms of growth. However the absolute worst in terms of aquascaping and maintenance. I am one of the few out there who absolutely despise aquasoil. It grows plants well but is horrendous to deal with. The slightest bit of disturbance and you have a dust cloud covering your entire tank. I would suggest if you haven't already purchased your substrate to go with mineralized top soil with all of the recommended additives along with a pool filter sand or blasting grit cap. It allows you to have 6 months maybe more of great growth without adding any ferts if additional ferts are needed eventually it will likely only be potassium. Plus you are able to actually get plants to stay where you plant them and you can move stuff around when you want without the dust cloud. Just my two cents though.
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Old 07-12-2013, 03:20 AM   #5
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Well, I just gave my dissenting opinion again in your other thread: advise asked for, advise given .

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Old 07-12-2013, 01:05 PM   #6
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Sounds like you're doing something strange with Aquasoil (did you rinse it or something prior to use?) if you're running into issues like that. Or you received a bad batch.

I can rescape like crazy and never see any cloudiness at all. That's in all of my tanks using Aquasoil.

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I have a tank with mineralized top soil topped with ada aquasoil and have found it to be the ultimate substrate it terms of growth. However the absolute worst in terms of aquascaping and maintenance. I am one of the few out there who absolutely despise aquasoil. It grows plants well but is horrendous to deal with. The slightest bit of disturbance and you have a dust cloud covering your entire tank. I would suggest if you haven't already purchased your substrate to go with mineralized top soil with all of the recommended additives along with a pool filter sand or blasting grit cap. It allows you to have 6 months maybe more of great growth without adding any ferts if additional ferts are needed eventually it will likely only be potassium. Plus you are able to actually get plants to stay where you plant them and you can move stuff around when you want without the dust cloud. Just my two cents though.
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Old 07-12-2013, 01:28 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by somewhatshocked View Post
Sounds like you're doing something strange with Aquasoil (did you rinse it or something prior to use?) if you're running into issues like that. Or you received a bad batch.

I can rescape like crazy and never see any cloudiness at all. That's in all of my tanks using Aquasoil.
I completely agree. One of the things I love about aquasoil is the ability to replant with no mess. It might be a little dusty in the very beginning after flooding, but that went away almost immediately. The worst mess BY FAR is my sand capped dirt tank. I will never do that again. What a dirty messy PITA.
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Old 07-12-2013, 10:08 PM   #8
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Have to say that I have had poor experience with sand(fine sand) capped dirt as well. Gravel is slightly better. Still think ADA type commercial substrates make the best caps(use them on most of my tanks now). Dirt substrates vary alot due to the possible variables (clay heavy? Rich organics? Iron rich or poor?). ADA or other commercial substrates give instant predictability.
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Old 07-13-2013, 01:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by somewhatshocked View Post
Sounds like you're doing something strange with Aquasoil (did you rinse it or something prior to use?) if you're running into issues like that. Or you received a bad batch.

I can rescape like crazy and never see any cloudiness at all. That's in all of my tanks using Aquasoil.
I never rinsed or anything just poured in to empty tank to start. Hard to believe you can rescape like crazy and never see cloudiness unless you have a completely different formula. Tom Barr himself has said he has to work one area at a time to avoid to much cloudiness. Did you rinse it? Because suprisingly I just broke my tank down and started fresh a few weeks ago. I was forced to rinse my aqua soil to try and get all of the pool filter sand separated from it. It is not as bad now cloudiness wise whenever I disturb it. Still far from never creating cloudiness though.
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