soil substrate
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Old 08-02-2007, 04:38 PM   #1
aquagardener
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soil substrate


hi I'm new here posting but i have been reading this website for a a few years

i have kept many aquariums and espcially planted tanks

i have recently finished a 2 year course in fish management (ornamental) http://www.sparsholt.ac.uk/schwww/fish/ndfmo.htm

we tried various substrates in our fish house but the best planted tank substrate i found was john innes no.2 under sand

other composts and soils can be used. i have had sucess with my garden topsoil which is heavy clay. it is my understanding that you want a soil with low organic material because this would rot causing water quality problems

I used a 1 inch layer in most tanks but my main aquarium at the college had an area of the tank that had a 4inch layer. in this an amazon sword grew 4foot out of the water. you could see the roots under the sand in the soil,through the glass. which were white and thus healthy

I never have had trouble with any of these tanks as long as I'm careful when moving plant.

so as this is such a cheap alternative to the off shelf substrates I urge those of you have never tried it to have a go in a small tank.

also any one that has soil substrates show some pics and tell us what soil you used

i think this is a highly under-rated and under-used substrate probably because of the natural way that fishkeepers don't wont to put mud in the tank

Tom
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Old 08-13-2007, 11:40 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by aquagardener View Post

also any one that has soil substrates show some pics and tell us what soil you used

i think this is a highly under-rated and under-used substrate probably because of the natural way that fishkeepers don't wont to put mud in the tank

Tom
I agree that it's an under-rated substrate, I have several tanks that I use soil in.

This is my 80 Gal. soil from my yard, Pressure C02, continuous water change.


This is a 2 Gal nano, same as the 80. That's HC in the foreground under Halogen light. I've been told that can't be done...




This is a 15 Gal Hex, same setup.



I have several more but that's all I have good pics of.
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Old 08-14-2007, 12:15 AM   #3
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Soil the kind you walk on outside? (Sorry for my ignorant question, lol)

If only I had seen this before I would have probably done it!
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Old 08-14-2007, 12:33 AM   #4
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Soil the kind you walk on outside? (Sorry for my ignorant question, lol)
Yes. strait out of my yard.

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If only I had seen this before I would have probably done it!
I just pick up the mole hills and keep it in a bucket for when I need it.
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Old 08-14-2007, 12:48 AM   #5
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Yes. strait out of my yard.



I just pick up the mole hills and keep it in a bucket for when I need it.

What if I got it out of a pond? The pond is made mostly of sand and dirt. Thats where they got the dirt to build the new 64.
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Old 08-14-2007, 03:00 AM   #6
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Should work fine. Try it in a small container to see.
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Old 08-14-2007, 03:05 PM   #7
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I wash the delta soil I use and it's a nice clay like material, the Organic material is fine......if you allow the soil to fully oxidize the OM and NH4.

You can boil the soil(10 minutes), you can soak in a shallow tray for 3 weeks etc, you can bake in a shallow pan for 1 hour at 450F.

All will do the same thing.

I do this anyway.

You can mix the soil with 3:1 sand(2-3mm) for the bottom 2" layer and then cap with 1"-2" sand.

This prevents a mess when you up root vs a solid layer of soil.
You can add a solid layer also if you do not move plants much and it'll be fine.

Continuous water changes makes life very easy with soil tanks.
This removes the NH4 and also stabilizes CO2.

We use that system for our lab vaults outside at the weed lab.
Simple and you can use any sediments without anything mucking up the water column, this also works well for high bioloads in small spaces(trout farms etc) or overloaded fish tanks like Alan's in our club.

But when you do not have such a system, then things can get a little bit troublesome. If you use CO2 or Excel, doing large water changes 2-3x a week for the first 1-2 months will help.
Thereafter you can reduce them.

There are few folks that fail with soil, however, the cost is well.......dirt cheap and it is a very successful time proven sediment source.

The goal I try to promote is success with soil, so figuring out why and where folks mess up is key and helping the newer folks learn from that also helps.

So the NH4, more than the OM is the key here, algae wise anyway.
Low O2 is the other thing that too much O2 will do the water column.
To the sediment itself, blackened smelly sulfur smell if you have too much often occurs. Adding lots of well rooting plants addresses that by pumping lots of O2 down there as well as mineralizing the sediment prior to use.

I wash through a screen and then let settle for a few days and decant. This seems to work well.

I typically look for a lake or stream where there is good plant growth, then dig up some nice thicker clay like sediment a little above the water line.

As the soil ages, you can re enriched the spots by using mud + ice cube trays=> "mud cubes". These can be inserted beneath the plants and will melt fast. No mess, cheap, easy.

Regards,
Tom Barr
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Old 08-14-2007, 03:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post
I wash the delta soil I use and it's a nice clay like material, the Organic material is fine......if you allow the soil to fully oxidize the OM and NH4.

You can boil the soil(10 minutes), you can soak in a shallow tray for 3 weeks etc, you can bake in a shallow pan for 1 hour at 450F.

All will do the same thing.

I do this anyway.

You can mix the soil with 3:1 sand(2-3mm) for the bottom 2" layer and then cap with 1"-2" sand.

This prevents a mess when you up root vs a solid layer of soil.
You can add a solid layer also if you do not move plants much and it'll be fine.

Continuous water changes makes life very easy with soil tanks.
This removes the NH4 and also stabilizes CO2.

We use that system for our lab vaults outside at the weed lab.
Simple and you can use any sediments without anything mucking up the water column, this also works well for high bioloads in small spaces(trout farms etc) or overloaded fish tanks like Alan's in our club.

But when you do not have such a system, then things can get a little bit troublesome. If you use CO2 or Excel, doing large water changes 2-3x a week for the first 1-2 months will help.
Thereafter you can reduce them.

There are few folks that fail with soil, however, the cost is well.......dirt cheap and it is a very successful time proven sediment source.

The goal I try to promote is success with soil, so figuring out why and where folks mess up is key and helping the newer folks learn from that also helps.

So the NH4, more than the OM is the key here, algae wise anyway.
Low O2 is the other thing that too much O2 will do the water column.
To the sediment itself, blackened smelly sulfur smell if you have too much often occurs. Adding lots of well rooting plants addresses that by pumping lots of O2 down there as well as mineralizing the sediment prior to use.

I wash through a screen and then let settle for a few days and decant. This seems to work well.

I typically look for a lake or stream where there is good plant growth, then dig up some nice thicker clay like sediment a little above the water line.

As the soil ages, you can re enriched the spots by using mud + ice cube trays=> "mud cubes". These can be inserted beneath the plants and will melt fast. No mess, cheap, easy.

Regards,
Tom Barr

Hi plantbrain i have been reading some of your post on soil mixed with sand and i have to say that you have made me want to go a head and turn my 29 gallon tank into a soil tank by just swapping out the gravel for the soil mix.

One question though what does OM stand for?
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Old 08-15-2007, 10:09 AM   #9
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thanks for all your responses

bpimm
your tanks look really good
I also have a small tank using soil and a halogen lamp



journal
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/pl...ktop-nano.html

Sowilu
I have used soil form the the garden in the tank above. My soil is quite well suited to the purpose because it is low in organics and is mostly clay.

plantbrain
your input is always appreciated i'm currently between jobs but will be going into one at the end of September at this point I will be signing up to the Barr report because i am interested in a much more detailed/scientific knowledge of aquatic plants.

will5
I'm guessing organic matter


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Old 08-15-2007, 12:11 PM   #10
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Most of the soil around here is clay. That gives me an idea for next year. We are moving back to Mexico and my dad wants to start a big project for the house he is going to be building......he wants to divide one of the main rooms with a big fish tank.
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Old 08-15-2007, 03:50 PM   #11
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ADA aqua soil = mostly clay
Delta soil here= mostly clay
Kitty litter= clay

OM= organic matter

There are several Asian companies that sell as ADA like clay sediment also.
Much cheaper and about 6-8 colors.

Regards,
Tom Barr
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Old 08-20-2007, 12:18 PM   #12
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In the past I have used those little red clay balls that are commonly used in hydro culture - They are foamed clay that is fired and coated. Does that sound like flourite? They need a good washing and you have to skim off the ones that float.

Plants grew roots that went into the little balls, the ones I had did fairly well - But I didn't really know what I was doing back in those days - Perhaps with my new set up I will try a layer of them over JI No2 or perhaps aquatic soil from the garden centre??

Any thoughts on this?
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