Mineralized Topsoil mix questions
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Old 01-05-2014, 02:18 AM   #1
bcbishop
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Mineralized Topsoil mix questions


So i am building a 20G Long and have been researching that a mineralized topsoil mix capped with a aquarium substrate like eco-complete would be best for a planted tank.

This is the thread ive been following from AaronT http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...on-talbot.html

I am a beginner at aquariums and especially substrates.

I want to do this the proper and best way possible first; to get the best results.

I am wanting to have a carpet of dwarf baby tears and keep shrimp, bottom feeders, and a small assortment of fish.

My questions are,
What is the point of using a top soil and rinsing it? Arnt you rinsing out anything good about it? or is it just there to hold minerals you provide and fertilizers you provide? Or will the good minerals still be in the soil once it is rinsed?

I went to a local planting store to purchase potassium sulfate as the thread from AaronT asked for Muriate of potash but i have heard that potassium sulfate is less soluble and will last longer in the substrate.

For the Dolomite, i asked the guy working at the planting store if they had dolomite and said that is really hard to find and they sold me dolopril. I took it home and did some more research and couldnt find exactly what it is as the carrier was unexplained. I went back to try and get something closer to dolomite. He then told me that doloprils carrier was a form of clay (which would be good?) but i wasnt sure about it so i traded it for some dolomitic lime.
Is dolmitic lime a good replacement for dolomite? or will it work for an aquarium?

Lastly i asked them if they had a generic topsoil as i will be washing it like AaronT explains.
He then told me that asking for topsoil is as generic as asking for a mammal.
So i dont know what i am looking for in a topsoil or if it matters.
He didnt understand why i would be washing or rinsing the topsoil as it will wash anything good about it away and just be left with a peat like material and sand. and asked me why dont i just buy peat as it will act like a sponge for the fertilizers.

Any info on this would be great as i would like to get this rolling soon.

Thanks alot
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Old 01-05-2014, 02:36 AM   #2
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I use the cheapest TopSoil I can find at HomeDepot $1.27 for 40#s, sometimes on sale for 87cents.

I rinse in a 5gl bucket it because it usually is full of wood chips & rocks. I rinse stir, pour off the foam & wood bits, seeds & any thing else that floats up. Next I continue to stir and break up any clay lumps I find in the bucket with my hands. Next I remove and rocks & stones. The rinsing & washing will reduce a 40# bag down to about 30#s.

I do this before the drying process.

I dry mine of a plastic tarp:



After it dries, I wet it with a hose or rain. Then start another cycle. Continue cycles until it's like a fine powder.
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Old 01-05-2014, 02:38 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DogFish View Post
I use the cheapest TopSoil I can find at HomeDepot $1.27 for 40#s, sometimes on sale for 87cents.

I rinse in a 5gl bucket it because it usually is full of wood chips & rocks. I rinse stir, pour off the foam & wood bits, seeds & any thing else that floats up. Next I continue to stir and break up any clay lumps I find in the bucket with my hands. Next I remove and rocks & stones. The rinsing & washing will reduce a 40# bag down to about 30#s.

I do this before the drying process.

I dry mine of a plastic tarp:



After it dries, I wet it with a hose or rain. Then start another cycle. Continue cycles until it's like a fine powder.
Ok thanks for that info!
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Old 01-05-2014, 04:50 AM   #4
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The people at the garden store likely won't know or understand what it is you are trying to do. By mineralizing the soil you are hoping to mimic the nutrient rich silt found in lakes and rivers.

Muriate of Potash = Potassium Chloride. Please do not attempt to substitue potassium sulfate. While dosing either one in the water column is completely fine I worry about putting to much sulfate in the substrate where anaerobic pockets could easily cause hydrogen sulfide gases to form.

Dolomite is just Mg and Ca. Dolomitic lime is crushed limestone with some dolomite in it and will wreak havoc on your pH. You won't find dolomite in a garden center. If you can't find it it's not the end of the world to not use it. The two most important additives are the clay and potassium.

Top Soil in this instance = dirt. You don't want added fertilizers, peat, humics, etc...just plain old dirt like you would find if you dug up some healthy sod.

The rinsing phase of the mineralizing is not washing away nutrients. It's allowing any possible herbicides, insecticides, fertilizers, etc... to be washed out. The air drying phase is when the mineralizing is taking place.
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Old 01-05-2014, 05:10 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AaronT View Post
The people at the garden store likely won't know or understand what it is you are trying to do. By mineralizing the soil you are hoping to mimic the nutrient rich silt found in lakes and rivers.

Muriate of Potash = Potassium Chloride. Please do not attempt to substitue potassium sulfate. While dosing either one in the water column is completely fine I worry about putting to much sulfate in the substrate where anaerobic pockets could easily cause hydrogen sulfide gases to form.

Dolomite is just Mg and Ca. Dolomitic lime is crushed limestone with some dolomite in it and will wreak havoc on your pH. You won't find dolomite in a garden center. If you can't find it it's not the end of the world to not use it. The two most important additives are the clay and potassium.

Top Soil in this instance = dirt. You don't want added fertilizers, peat, humics, etc...just plain old dirt like you would find if you dug up some healthy sod.

The rinsing phase of the mineralizing is not washing away nutrients. It's allowing any possible herbicides, insecticides, fertilizers, etc... to be washed out. The air drying phase is when the mineralizing is taking place.
Ok thanks for the info.
I guess what I got is useless for the aquarium. I will call around tomorrow and see what I can find.
Thanks

Any suggestions on what to use for a substatute of dolomite? And Muraite of potash if anything?
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Old 01-05-2014, 12:09 PM   #6
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Muraite of potash & RED Potters Clay

I get my Muraite of Potash from Amazon. I get my Red Potters Clay in 20# bags from a Local Pottery Supply house.

But, I make large batches each summer, some for myself some to sell to friends here.

You can post WTB ad here looking for MTS supplies there are few people that sell small quantities.

I have Hard water I don't put a lot of emphasis on Dolomite. I add Chicken Grit as a substitute. Chicken grit is typically Crushed Oyster shell, some mixes have limestone in them.

You can substitute Hard Wood Ash for Muraite of potash.
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Old 01-05-2014, 12:36 PM   #7
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If you want to use dolomite you might have better luck checking pottery or ceramic suppliers.
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Old 01-05-2014, 01:03 PM   #8
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Muriatic of potash is actually potassium chloride which can be found at Home Depot (in what I believe is crystallized form) it is used as a water softener. I put some in a paper bag and wrapped it up before smashing with a hammer to make it power. I was also wondering if I could have put some in water so it would be soluble then let evaporation take place.Wouldn't the potassium chlorite be the major component only thing left especially if you used distilled water to do so?

PS I now have two dirt tanks and I am not sold on it yet. One has been set up for almost two months and the other 2 weeks later. The older one is a 55 gallon set up. I came very close to starting over as I do not like to wait two months for a tank to settle down. I still may do so. I wound up stuffing the tank with fast growers so now it looks like a weed collection. Yes I save money but not time mineralizing. Not sure I would do it again when aqua soil is like magic! The cost verses the time to do the dirt IMHO may be worth every penny. Lots of people are trying dirt tanks. Whats your opinion?
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Old 01-05-2014, 04:20 PM   #9
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I'm still just wondering if I should get a store bought aqua soil like Eco-complete or up aqua soil. For the amount of work this is I may as well just buy somthing.
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Old 01-05-2014, 05:18 PM   #10
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Eco is inert, but is a great option to have it cap the mineralized soil.
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Old 01-05-2014, 07:07 PM   #11
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Quote:
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Eco is inert, but is a great option to have it cap the mineralized soil.
Would Activ-Floura be a good one instead of doing a MTS?
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Old 01-06-2014, 12:42 AM   #12
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Quote:
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I'm still just wondering if I should get a store bought aqua soil like Eco-complete or up aqua soil. For the amount of work this is I may as well just buy somthing.
MTS is not about being cheap, it's about crafting your own substrate to meet you individual needs. In can or can not be inexpensive as one chooses based on how you 'build' it.

Pre made substrates, like fast food offer convince.
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Old 01-06-2014, 12:49 AM   #13
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Quote:
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MTS is not about being cheap, it's about crafting your own substrate to meet you individual needs. In can or can not be inexpensive as one chooses based on how you 'build' it.

Pre made substrates, like fast food offer convince.
Yes I understand that and would love to do a MTS but I cannot find dolomite and Muraite of potash anywhere. Even topsoil is hard to find this time of year.
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Old 01-06-2014, 12:52 AM   #14
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Quote:
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Yes I understand that and would love to do a MTS but I cannot find dolomite and Muraite of potash anywhere. Even topsoil is hard to find this time of year.
Not to mention the Sun.
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Old 01-06-2014, 01:35 AM   #15
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Dolomite is a mix of magnesium carbonate and calcium carbonate. Both of those will raise the KH of the water - the carbonate does that. You need some magnesium, but it doesn't matter if it is accompanied by calcium, so whatever the store sells as dolomite or dolomitic lime should work fine - dolomite is often called dolomitic lime. (If I am off base on this I'm sure someone will say so!)

"Topsoil" contains loam and humus. Humas is very likely to have lots of ammonium compounds in it, or to breakdown when wet, releasing ammonia. Too much ammonia isn't at all good, so mineralizing the topsoil - converting the ammonia compounds to nitrate compounds - is a good idea. Nitrates are not a gas, so they remain in the mineralized topsoil after it is dried out. If we did too many washing cycles, dumping out the wash water each time, we could deplete a lot of the nitrates. But, we normally only do 2-3 washing cycles. If we were growing terrestrial plants the ammonia compounds wouldn't be a problem, and would help the plants, so that is why a gardening store would tell you what they did.
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