Red Dirt Substrate
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Old 08-23-2007, 10:36 AM   #1
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Red Dirt Substrate

Okay Ill have to admit that I used to keep a planted tank in NZ a few years ago but have just set up and pulled down a reef tank....... Im going back to plants....... reefs are so much work you don't get time to enjoy them... Anyway we're surrounded by red soils up here in Ballina (North NSW) and as an environmental engineer I get to dig around the place a fair amount. Ive been reading through this forum about substrate and am more confused than ever. What I was envisioning was to use about 1inch of red soil capped with around 1 inch of 3-5mm sand or gravel. We get pure white silica here and its super cheap but experience from the reef tank showed me its a pain to keep clean and the gravel vac sucks it up (amanos tanks look good with it though). As for the red dirt, well its a krasnozem (ferrosol) so very high in iron and of volcanic basaltic origin. Some of the varieties up here are very high in aluminium but there is one that seems to be okay. I have provided the physical and chemical breakdown below for readers to comment on its suitability. (the details and interpretation comes from Morands Soil Landscapes)

Name: Coolamon (co)
Soil Type: Clay Loam to light clay (Krasnozem)
Permeability: Slow to moderate
pH: 5.5 6.5
Dispersion %: 5% (V Low)
Organic Matter: 2.13% (Low Moderate)
CEC: 15.50 me/100mg (Moderate)
Ex Al/CEC 7.64% (Low)

What are your thoughts on this soil type???
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Old 08-24-2007, 02:19 AM   #2
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how well do regular plants grow on this stuff. Too much iron can cause out breaks in bacteria & algae maybe. That's what I figure.

But your soil might be good. Try it out in a little 5 gallon tank or something before investing it in a big tank.
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