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Old 08-19-2007, 06:55 PM   #1
ILuvMyGoldBarb
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Adding Soil to existing setup


In just a couple of weeks I will need to move my 60gal to a new location in the house and when I do so I am wanting to put a first layer of soil in the bottom of the tank. How much of a problem will this be since this tank is well established? Would there be an advantage to soaking the soil for the next few weeks to get the ammonia out or should my established biofilter be capable of handling this? I considered using peat as a first layer but that would change my water parameters too much.
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Old 08-19-2007, 09:49 PM   #2
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you don't want any spike in ammonia. that'll compromise the fish's health and will cause an algae outbreak. So do all you can for that.
Airing out the soil for a week and soaking for a few days does it for me.

And what what you can do is freeze the wet soil in chunks.. and then push it under your substrate. No mess, no fuss.

ps. if you want, you can test the wet soil for ammonia before freezing it.
pps. Any soil will affect you PH, acid or base.. You might want to test things out first in a jar.
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Old 08-19-2007, 10:12 PM   #3
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I'm gonna have to completely empty the tank to move it. I have something to put the fish and plants in during the move. I'm thinking I can air out the soil for that week, then soak it and then when I'm ready to move the tank I can take up my substrate (keeping it wet of course) and then put down the layer of soil and then add the substrate back on top of things after I plant some of my larger root feeders (Aponos) and then fill the tank. I can then test for ammonia and then add the fish back once safe.

Can you explain the process of airing out the soil? Do you normally do this inside or outside?
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Old 08-19-2007, 10:17 PM   #4
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yeah, that's fine.. just be careful with the lights so you won't get an algae outbreak. the soil will mess your with your params depending what you get.

oh, airing is just laying out the soil in a pan or something and let the soil dry... The ammonia will oxidize or evaporate and will be safe.
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Old 08-20-2007, 12:32 AM   #5
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I have a 37gal Rubbermaid trashcan to put the fish in during the move, this has only ever been used for fish purposes, and I was wondering if the lid of that would be good enough to air out the soil in? I also have an extra Rubbermaid storage container that I could use as well. How thin do you normally spread the soil?
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Old 08-20-2007, 12:52 AM   #6
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1-2 inches is fine.. This is where I get my info.
aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/el-natural/
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Old 08-20-2007, 01:22 AM   #7
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I've posted there a bit but not much.

Ok, I got it all spread out tonight. Should be ready to soak by Saturday. Although it may be earlier than that since we've been having temps in the 95-100 range here for the last week.
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Old 08-20-2007, 03:04 PM   #8
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You can also bake(1 hour at 400F) or boil the soil(10 min) to speed the process up. This oxidizes the NH4 and organic matter just like the bacterial 2-3 weeks method.

When using richer manures etc, we boiled it first to reduce the NH4/OM.

This works well for all soils.

It removes the part that makes it variable and problematic in initial set up phase(first 1-2 months)and generally where folks might fail.

With "Mud cubes", a suggestion from a Kiwi some years ago, you do not need to boil/bake oxidize etc since the relative volume of OM and NH4 is small and the tank is well established by that time you need to redose.

I suppose if you added a lot of them..............but most spot fertilize with them.

Most tanks can handle a fair amount of NH4 and organic matter(OM).
But in new tanks, low plant biomass, poor plant growth/poor plant species choices and overloading tanks etc, you can exceed that.....then you get problems and algae issues.

The trick is to keep things in favor for low as possible NH4 and in favor for higher O2 levels. A balanced fish load, lots of algae herbivores and no water changes.

Later, you can add some GH booster, traces, perhaps some KNO3/KH2PO4 as very very small amounts once a week or two to relieve any slight limitation.
This is easy to do(you under dose every time and then only when the plants start to get wimpy) and allows more species to be kept together without some hogging all the nutrients.

It also allows you to get far far more out of the sediments and have them last longer.

It does not add that much complexity to the method but you get a significant gain, so it's a very fair trade off.

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Old 08-20-2007, 03:51 PM   #9
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So Tom, are you saying that if I bake the soil for 1 hour at 400F it will be ready immediately afterwards for use?

The tank does not have a high plant biomass, it is not low either. The tank is made up of almost entirely root feeding plants. I have one bunch of Rotalla roundifolia, and one small bunch of Ludwigia repens. Other that those 2 plants I have 2 species of Apono, 3 different species of Crypt and Sagittaria subulata. This is a low tech planted tank. I have 130w of PC light over the tank (60gal) and no CO2 injection. Everything seems to be doing rather well. except for the root feeders due to a plain substrate. The reason for adding the soil is to give them the required nutrients.
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Old 08-20-2007, 07:02 PM   #10
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root tabs does well if you're just looking to fertilize root feeders.
But the soil thing is kinda fun too.
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Old 08-20-2007, 08:29 PM   #11
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The soil thing is fun and lasts much longer. Root tabs last a maximum of 4-6 months and can get rather expensive. I used soil in my 2.5 gal nano and I've had some great results in just over 2 weeks so I really want to try it with my larger tank.
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Old 08-22-2007, 02:12 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mistergreen View Post

And what what you can do is freeze the wet soil in chunks.. and then push it under your substrate. No mess, no fuss.

what a smart idea!! Will this work with regular small grain substrate such as SMS?
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Old 08-23-2007, 01:22 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ILuvMyGoldBarb View Post
So Tom, are you saying that if I bake the soil for 1 hour at 400F it will be ready immediately afterwards for use?

The tank does not have a high plant biomass, it is not low either. The tank is made up of almost entirely root feeding plants. I have one bunch of Rotalla roundifolia, and one small bunch of Ludwigia repens. Other that those 2 plants I have 2 species of Apono, 3 different species of Crypt and Sagittaria subulata. This is a low tech planted tank. I have 130w of PC light over the tank (60gal) and no CO2 injection. Everything seems to be doing rather well. except for the root feeders due to a plain substrate. The reason for adding the soil is to give them the required nutrients.
If plants have roots, then they are root feeding plants
If they have leaves and stems, they also feed in the water column.

It is not an "either or" process, terrestrial plants are the same FYI.

You need to add something, water column or sediment.

Soil works well, a shallow tray in the over ought to provide rather immediate results.

Regards,
Tom Barr
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Old 08-23-2007, 02:49 AM   #14
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It may not be an "either/or" process but there are definitely plants that are much more adept in taking nutrients in through the roots. My Red Rubin Swords are the perfect example of that. I was using root tabs on them but stopped when I started using dry ferts and dosing using the EI method. Since then those swords have dropped off in growth and all my bunch plants have taken off. On the flip side of things, at the same time I had a root tab under my Alternanthara reineckii and it didn't help one bit, I began dosing with dry ferts and that plant is absolutely beautiful with the brightest pink on the underside of the leaves I've ever seen and some absolutely incredible growth.
Both species may take from either source but they definitely have their preferred source.
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Old 08-23-2007, 04:25 PM   #15
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Quote:
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what a smart idea!! Will this work with regular small grain substrate such as SMS?
anybody know?
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