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Old 08-05-2007, 07:19 PM   #1
fishscale
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SMS Experiences Wanted


This is for those of you who have or have had SMS as a substrate. Please reply only if you have had first hand experience with it.

I have heard that SMS is very, very light. However, because it is so cheap, I really want to use it. I have the following questions:

1. How has this affected your planting and scapes?
2. What, if anything, do you mix it with to give it more weight? (This is my most important question) How well does it work in making it heavier?
3. How do snails (like MTS burrowing) affect SMS?
4. If you create a hill or a slope, will it stay, or will the slightest movement from a fish or snail or shrimp shift it?
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Old 08-05-2007, 07:27 PM   #2
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It is light at first, but much less so once it absorbs some water and all the air bubble get out of the substrate.

I use it straight without any problems due to weight, some of my fish will push it around abit, but all the plants stay put.

I haven't noticed a difference between this and any other substrate as far as MTS are concerned. They get around just fine, I don't think the snails affect it other than keeping it a little cleaner.

A slope should stay there for a while, but will most likely end up flat depending on what kind of fish you have in the tank and how much replanting you do. I have it in a 75 gallon tank that still has a pretty good slope after eight months. I don't see a hill or valley lasting very long at all, but I haven't ever tried it.
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Old 08-05-2007, 07:47 PM   #3
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You can look at the before and afters(bottom of page 3) in my Flooded Forest sig link to get an idea of what will happen if you try to put a slope of SMS next to another substrate (I didn't do a very good job of separating though, just rocks). My slopes have maintained shape, but they are rooted by a micro sword carpet. Planting isn't an issue, very easy like planting in sand, I started with a layer of Eco to assist root hold, and because it was free.

Unfortunately, I have no bottom dwellers other than an SAE and a rubberlip that both stay in the mid region half the time, so my experience with fish disturbing SMS is a bit limited, I did this purposely for the same reason you fear (I have a g.scrophus that would level everything in this tank in one night if given the chance). I've noticed no effect from snails.

I washed mine for 30+ minutes to let it gain water weight and the resulting cloudlessness can be seen in my sig link. It still took about a week for it to stop expelling air.

In general, it is very light and can be swept up easily, but quickly falls back down once waterborne, no floating.
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Old 08-05-2007, 09:38 PM   #4
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what is sms?
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Old 08-05-2007, 09:57 PM   #5
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soil master select
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Old 08-05-2007, 10:00 PM   #6
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I have SMS Charcoal and I love it. It took a little over 1-50lb bag to fill my 75gallon 3-5" deep.

1. How has this affected your planting and scapes?
- Not much at all, however you do need to add root tabs because it contains little nutrients.
2. What, if anything, do you mix it with to give it more weight? (This is my most important question) How well does it work in making it heavier?
- I used peat moss on the bottom and mixed in 1 bag of Eco-complete for added nutrition. It is light at first but becomes water logged after a couple of weeks. I recommend using some plant weights till plants take root.
3. How do snails (like MTS burrowing) affect SMS?
- I do have several snails which came with my plants and they seem to be thriving. Also do to its smaller grain size, I would assume most burrowing animals would be fine with it.
4. If you create a hill or a slope, will it stay, or will the slightest movement from a fish or snail or shrimp shift it?
- It seems to stay in place just as gravel would. One thing to note is that when it is disturbed (i.e. by me moving plants), it does create more dust than gravel.
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Old 08-07-2007, 04:45 PM   #7
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I started a 20 tall on 7-15 with SMS, I added peat and Laterite. I may have put too much peat on the bottom of the tank. I am experiencing high nitrate readings. So be careful if you add peat.

Also, my pH dropped, probably due to the peat as well. No water discoloration though.

It was easy to plant in. Just using my hands, as I don't have any special planting tools.

Since the grain is small in size and light I figure my corys will like it, easy on the barbs.

Don't have any inverts yet. I am a newbie fish keeper and plant keeper.
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Old 08-07-2007, 05:08 PM   #8
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I am mainly concerned about SMS holding shape for aquascaping. I would like to have slopes and mounds in the tank, and if the SMS will just slide and level off, it might not be a good idea. I'm not talking about anything extreme here, just some gentle hills.
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Old 08-07-2007, 06:10 PM   #9
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Gentle hills should be ok, especially if you grow a carpet, if not it's easy enough to push back into place if needed.
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Old 08-07-2007, 06:17 PM   #10
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I haven't had any problems with the slope in my 10 gal., been set up for about 7 months now. It is heavily planted with dwarf hairgrass and blyxa japonica though. I had some difficulty getting the b. japonica to stay down initially, but as others have said once it is in the water for a while it become water logged and isn't as light.
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Old 08-07-2007, 07:45 PM   #11
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I apologize, aquascaping thats an advanced topic, I'm still on plants 101.
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Old 08-07-2007, 10:18 PM   #12
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Ok, I'm set to order. Lesco's quoted me at 16 bucks for a 50 lb bag of charcoal SMS.
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Old 08-08-2007, 02:47 PM   #13
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^ That's about what I paid. I really think you'll like it. My experiences were pretty much exactly what Yoink said.
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Old 08-08-2007, 05:13 PM   #14
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One thing you'll appreciate about it's light weight will be the gigantic bag you're about to get. It takes a lot of the stuff to reach 50#.
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Old 08-26-2007, 04:50 AM   #15
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I have found SMS to be great once it settles, never washed it just put in the tank & added plants, used floss in filters to clean it up to start with but after that no problems. This is my 125gal low tech tank W/ SMS(1 Watt PG nearly) & excel once in a while, never do tests.

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