Potting Mix Question - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-25-2016, 09:35 PM Thread Starter
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Hi everyone!
So I finally got my 90 gallon tank and cabinet and amazon is dumping boxes on my porch like crazy. I purchased the fluval 406, the fluval fresh and plant 2.0, eheim's 300 watt heater, and now I'm working on finding rocks, substrate, and driftwood.

I've bought 2 17.6 lb bags of fluval shrimp and plant stratum, 1 20 lb bag of eco-complete, and 1 15 lb bag of flourite black sand. A Youtube guy https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYL...dz8xatJuUxbzpg that I watch a lot layers these three items. He puts down the flourite then the eco and finally the fluval stratum. Once i bought all of those bags I realized that I wasn't going to have enough substrate for planting/filling the tank and I don't want to spend what I'd have to to fill this 90 gallon. So I went looking for Miracle grow organic choice potting mix and couldn't find it anywhere. I've searched the forums here high and low and have found people that say it's great. The alternative is natures care organic potting mix by Miracle Grow. When I called my local nursery they said that the natures care is the newer version of the other organic mix. I've read on these forums that people have used it but they never updated their post about it. Have any of you had luck with it? I bought two huge bags but don't want to open it yet until you guys give your opinion. Also, since I have 4 different substrates (lol) what order would you drop them in?

THANK YOU! Sorry for the book.

Natures Care
https://www.google.com/shopping/prod...8O-_-204698486


Other miracle grow mix that I can't find: Shop Miracle-Gro 8-Quart Organic Potting Soil at Lowes.com

Also, while you're already looking, i found these rocks at this nursery I was at. I should have put something near them to give you an idea about size but they are huge! Are these suitable for aquariums. Posting this here so I don't have to make another thread.
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Last edited by Darkblade48; 04-26-2016 at 05:30 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-26-2016, 03:29 AM
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Hi jwd911,

According to the Miracle Grow website both products are available. The organic components of the two are basically the same, peat moss and composted bark plus other organics. Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting Mix uses pasteurized poultry litter for the nitrogen, etc. The Miracle Grow Natures Care uses the same source for nitrogen it does have 2X the amount of N, P, and K as the Organic Choice which could be a concern. The Natures Care product states it has "water conserve" which likely means they have added Miracle Gro Water Storing Crystals which are 100% Polyacrylamide. Read up on polyacrylamide and see what you think; what concerned me were comments about breaking down at 'elevated PH's' into ammonia. Also the comment about polyacrylamide containing minute amounts of acrylamide, a known neurotoxin concerns me.

Amazon still lists Miracle Gro Organic Choice on their website.

Hi jwd911,

As for the stones / rocks avoid limestones, sandstones, and marble they will affect your water parameters; go with granites, shales, basalts, or other 'hard' stones. If you put vinegar on it and it fizzes pass.

Basalt (however I went with Malaysian driftwood for this 'scape)

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Last edited by Darkblade48; 04-26-2016 at 05:30 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-26-2016, 03:24 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seattle_Aquarist View Post
Hi jwd911,

According to the Miracle Grow website both products are available. The organic components of the two are basically the same, peat moss and composted bark plus other organics. Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting Mix uses pasteurized poultry litter for the nitrogen, etc. The Miracle Grow Natures Care uses the same source for nitrogen it does have 2X the amount of N, P, and K as the Organic Choice which could be a concern. The Natures Care product states it has "water conserve" which likely means they have added Miracle Gro Water Storing Crystals which are 100% Polyacrylamide. Read up on polyacrylamide and see what you think; what concerned me were comments about breaking down at 'elevated PH's' into ammonia. Also the comment about polyacrylamide containing minute amounts of acrylamide, a known neurotoxin concerns me.

Amazon still lists Miracle Gro Organic Choice on their website.

Hi jwd911,

As for the stones / rocks avoid limestones, sandstones, and marble they will affect your water parameters; go with granites, shales, basalts, or other 'hard' stones. If you put vinegar on it and it fizzes pass.

Basalt (however I went with Malaysian driftwood for this 'scape)
I did see the 2x of those 3 ingredients. I've read on another thread here that someone said their ammonia level went up to .5 or 1 ppm but if that decreases in time it should be okay because that ammonia could naturally cycle my tank. The magic question is will it leach for a long period of time BUT the bacteria that builds up over time could consume that ammonia? I love your rock, it looks great. I'm going to bring a little spray bottle of vinegar to the nursery and try out the rocks. I'm a little worried about the weight of those rocks that i posted. I'd just be putting a couple of them in there but still... they're huge (basketball size).

Here's what I have so far. This is in my office at work. Dying to start putting the substrate in.
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-26-2016, 03:52 PM
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Congrats on the 90 gallon. The organic potting soil mix/ cheap topsoil is what I used in my 90 (miracle grow/ orange bag from amazon)Just make sure to sift out big chunks. About the order of substrate, I personally would just make sure that the sand is the top off. I have had tanks with both eco complete and flourite and the sand is so much easier to plant and rearrange in ( I use black diamond). Just realize that with the layers that eventually the others will make their debut to the surface. Also what kind of lighting do you have? I had lots of issues until finally just used a cheap quad shop light with T5HO bulbs.And plant, plant with super easy plants at first till gets balanced. Good luck.

Last edited by osbora; 04-26-2016 at 03:57 PM. Reason: ...
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-26-2016, 04:28 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by osbora View Post
Congrats on the 90 gallon. The organic potting soil mix/ cheap topsoil is what I used in my 90 (miracle grow/ orange bag from amazon)Just make sure to sift out big chunks. About the order of substrate, I personally would just make sure that the sand is the top off. I have had tanks with both eco complete and flourite and the sand is so much easier to plant and rearrange in ( I use black diamond). Just realize that with the layers that eventually the others will make their debut to the surface. Also what kind of lighting do you have? I had lots of issues until finally just used a cheap quad shop light with T5HO bulbs.And plant, plant with super easy plants at first till gets balanced. Good luck.
This is the light that I bought. It hasn't came in yet.

Fresh & Plant 2.0 Full Spectrum Performance LED | A3990 | Lighting | Fluval

I'll probably top off with sand. I don't think I'll have enough of these other substrates to fully cap the soil so I'm going to buy some sand. Also, I plan on putting the large rocks in the back and banking up the substrate from the middle half of the tank toward the back and leave the front half of the tank sand bottom. I want to bank it up about 25% of the height of the tank and have some of the long rocks sticking up maybe. I need to find a diy for dividers to stick in the substrate so it doesn't just flatten out over time. The green machine guys on youtube do this and it works. I could use thick food grade plastic and cut it up and stick in there. Haven't gotten that far yet.
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-26-2016, 05:26 PM
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You have done your research. I have never raised my substrate with anything just added more to back and now that I am looking at it, it does look a bit flatter now. Also I added dolomite powder, muriate of potash, and red clay before putting dirt in.To add nutrients to soil ( all from amazon)
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-26-2016, 05:53 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by osbora View Post
You have done your research. I have never raised my substrate with anything just added more to back and now that I am looking at it, it does look a bit flatter now. Also I added dolomite powder, muriate of potash, and red clay before putting dirt in.To add nutrients to soil ( all from amazon)
I wanted to add some of the powders that I see some youtubers use but since it's not a have to have item I skipped it so I could spend more on the light etc. I have done a lot of research and the below link was my inspiration for this whole thing. These guys are the gods (imo) to planted tanks. Not up to Takashi Amano's level but I'd say just below. I've put in a lot of hours drooling over their videos.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_r...5CKai3ZMfXyASw

Here is a link to the substrate supports that I've seen used.

TGM Substrate Supports

I'm trying to think of a DIY for those.

EDIT:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IozJ-FzFvJk

Easy enough!

Last edited by Darkblade48; 04-27-2016 at 03:58 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-28-2016, 04:57 PM Thread Starter
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I got my substrate and rock put in and did a couple of water changes and my ph is a whopping 8.4!!!! blahhhh! I checked the ph out of the tap and it's a high 7. My Fluval Fresh and Plant 2.0 comes in tonight and my plants come in Friday or Saturday. Are they going to live in that water???
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-29-2016, 02:39 PM Thread Starter
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I started my heater yesterday and got to work this morning and this huge white cloud took over my tank. It was perfectly clear yesterday. The filter hasn't been started yet. I just started that and unboxed/hooked up the light. I've had white clouds with water changes in the past but never when I started the tank. Any ideas?? I sure hope this rock is right. That could be why my pH is sky high.

EDIT: Water test.
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-29-2016, 02:51 PM
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According to test in photo pH is not high at all.
White cloud in my view is likely bacteria bloom,that will go away as the tank matures over next several week's.
Water changes and or Carbon will have little affect on it and best to just wait it out while planting the plant's.(lot's).
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-29-2016, 04:34 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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According to test in photo pH is not high at all.
White cloud in my view is likely bacteria bloom,that will go away as the tank matures over next several week's.
Water changes and or Carbon will have little affect on it and best to just wait it out while planting the plant's.(lot's).
Can you believe that it went from 8+ to 6 in 24 hours???? The only difference was turning the heater on and topping off the last 1 to 2 inches of water with drinking water. Also, I just got that light in last night and set it up this morning. The light was dimmed down all the way in that picture and I didn't know it. It is wayyyyy brighter than that. I'll post another picture when it clears up. It's already gotten a lot better since I fired up the canister filter.

All of my plants came in!
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Last edited by Darkblade48; 04-30-2016 at 05:28 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-29-2016, 11:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwd911 View Post
I started my heater yesterday and got to work this morning and this huge white cloud took over my tank. It was perfectly clear yesterday. The filter hasn't been started yet. I just started that and unboxed/hooked up the light. I've had white clouds with water changes in the past but never when I started the tank. Any ideas?? I sure hope this rock is right. That could be why my pH is sky high.

EDIT: Water test.
Hi jwd911,
It is not uncommon for new tanks with new substrate will go through a bacteria bloom; no beneficial bacteria and micro-organisms to keep the bacteria in check. It sometimes takes a few days to clear....keep the filter running.

I like the light, look forward to some shots with it a full brightness and when you adjust the blues and reds.

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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-02-2016, 05:23 AM
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My only concern would be the drop from pH of 8+ overnight, to 6.
Perhaps clay from fluorite ,and or any peat that the soil might contain is somehow adsorbing carbonates.I am not sure this would happen that quickly.
While this would be of no mind for plant's,I would be concerned from fish perspective with the sudden change from source water with pH of 8 + at weekly water change down to pH of 6 that quickly.
While fishes can handle gradual shift's that take place each day,they may or may not appreciate this sudden change overnight.
I would be tempted to perform smaller water changes as opposed to large 50% or more changes if test result's are to be believed, and no measures of adjusting the water are being performed by you.
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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-03-2016, 04:21 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Seattle_Aquarist View Post
Hi jwd911,
It is not uncommon for new tanks with new substrate will go through a bacteria bloom; no beneficial bacteria and micro-organisms to keep the bacteria in check. It sometimes takes a few days to clear....keep the filter running.

I like the light, look forward to some shots with it a full brightness and when you adjust the blues and reds.
I just read the instruction manual and it doesn't say how to or if you can adjust anything at all. The first picture of the light was dimmed all the way down and at first I didn't realize that it was dimmed. The second picture is at full brightness. The water is about the same cloudiness as the 2nd picture, maybe a little better. The plants seem okay so far. The Echinodorus Ozelot sword is getting brown spots on it but those might have been there. I can't remember. Here are some updated photos. I'm using the Bacopa and the lilaeopsis mauritiana as carpeting foreground plants. When I got the Bacopa in I planted -> trimmed -> replanted the trimmings because they were so long. I love the red repens so that will be my main background plant along with my jungle val that STILL hasn't come in yet.

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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-03-2016, 04:30 PM Thread Starter
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Here are the photos.

Bump:
Quote:
Originally Posted by roadmaster View Post
My only concern would be the drop from pH of 8+ overnight, to 6.
Perhaps clay from fluorite ,and or any peat that the soil might contain is somehow adsorbing carbonates.I am not sure this would happen that quickly.
While this would be of no mind for plant's,I would be concerned from fish perspective with the sudden change from source water with pH of 8 + at weekly water change down to pH of 6 that quickly.
While fishes can handle gradual shift's that take place each day,they may or may not appreciate this sudden change overnight.
I would be tempted to perform smaller water changes as opposed to large 50% or more changes if test result's are to be believed, and no measures of adjusting the water are being performed by you.
I'll keep an eye on it. My main concern is the plants right now. I just want my plants to live. I spent a lot of time researching this and a good bit of money getting the right light and everything else. Once I see they're not going to die I'll worry about fish and shrimp. Today I'm going to buy extra canister filter media and put it in my HOB filter at home so I can seed this tank. I'm going to take out the carbon out of this fluval canister and replace it with the seeded media. How long should I leave the media in my tank at home before I move it to this canister? I was thinking about a week or should I seed it a different way? The goldfish tank at home has black sand and the carbon filter pads in the HOB. I thought about taking out one of the large carbon pads and folding it in half and sticking it in one of the canister compartments but I'm worried that it might cause filter problems. It might block the normal flow. I could take some of the sand out and sprinkle it on the substrate in this planted tank. What do you guys think would be the best route?
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