Question for the Pros at Mineralizing Topsoil - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-12-2010, 02:03 PM Thread Starter
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Question for the Pros at Mineralizing Topsoil

When I rinse this stuff should the water turn completely black? I purchased some topsoil at HD and I'm currently in the process of rinsing it. On a side note, I went with one of the methods Tom Barr suggested for those with limited space (me): boiling it.

*disclaimer* boiling dirt is messy and might not be for everyone. Also requires big freaking pot.

Anyways, the reason I'm concerned is each time I rinse the soil/dirt/sand/mixture, the water turns completely black. And if I take a small enough chunk of the "topsoil" and run it under the water long enough, all I get is sand. Since I'm not a dirt expert, is that what dirt is? I'm guessing the black stuff I'm rinsing out is the organic matter I want to mineralize and the sand is part of the mix? I've already screened this stuff to get rid of the twigs, rocks, etc.

If someone has experience with this, I'd appreciate the assurance that I'm doing this either the right way, or the complete wrong way.

Help?

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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-12-2010, 02:19 PM
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I dont know if this is correct as I have never done it. But I think that you are supposed to get it wet, like a muddy mixture then spread it out to dry. Then repeat. I dont think you are supposed to "rinse" the dirt as you are probably washing it down the drain. Leaving the only the heavy particles...sand. I may be wrong....

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-12-2010, 02:38 PM
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Good question, I am not too sure but I would love to know as well. I have black water now while its doing the initial soak. i have some particles on the bottom of the bucket it is soaking in but the water is very black. Do we have to remove all this black and just keep the sand in topsoil? I would like to know as well, good question though.


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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-12-2010, 04:02 PM
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Repeated wetting and drying cycles allows bacteria to chew through all the organics leaving only the minerals, wetting not rinsing.

Not sure about Tom's method.


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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-12-2010, 04:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThatPlantedAquariumGuy View Post
When I rinse this stuff should the water turn completely black? I purchased some topsoil at HD and I'm currently in the process of rinsing it. On a side note, I went with one of the methods Tom Barr suggested for those with limited space (me): boiling it.

*disclaimer* boiling dirt is messy and might not be for everyone. Also requires big freaking pot.

Anyways, the reason I'm concerned is each time I rinse the soil/dirt/sand/mixture, the water turns completely black. And if I take a small enough chunk of the "topsoil" and run it under the water long enough, all I get is sand. Since I'm not a dirt expert, is that what dirt is? I'm guessing the black stuff I'm rinsing out is the organic matter I want to mineralize and the sand is part of the mix? I've already screened this stuff to get rid of the twigs, rocks, etc.

If someone has experience with this, I'd appreciate the assurance that I'm doing this either the right way, or the complete wrong way.

Help?

Any soil contains sand, sand is natural part of top soil. You supposed to soak it not rinse it. You soak it for about a day or 2, then repeat. The water will be dirty of course it will never be clean , it is dirt.
Here is a link to AaronT method http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...on-talbot.html


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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-12-2010, 04:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PRSRocker3390 View Post
Good question, I am not too sure but I would love to know as well. I have black water now while its doing the initial soak. i have some particles on the bottom of the bucket it is soaking in but the water is very black. Do we have to remove all this black and just keep the sand in topsoil? I would like to know as well, good question though.

You soak it for a day or 2, dump the water then repeat. The water level should be few inches above the top soil. Yes you keep sand in it. After all the soaking and drying the soil will be very light and sandy. The big particles you can remove after it's dry.


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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-12-2010, 04:38 PM
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You boil and then let settle, then decant.
Same for Worm castings.

If you have issues, then simply allow to soak good in shallow pan outside and keep adding water to keep it fairly moist/wet, slightly submerged.

If you collect nice wetland clays, agriculture soils etc, then you should be able to screen(say 1/8") them with a garden hose into a bucket, allow to settle for a few hours, then decant and allow to dry and then use that without boiling or mineralizing as the soils tend to be already lower in organic matter and high in clays.

These work better over time than most store bought soils.
ADA As is pretty much typical wetland clays that have been enriched with NH4.



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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-13-2010, 12:36 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the help everyone. Although I think I dumped out some of the good dirt, my final product has come out light grey in color and has a sandy texture. I think all in all, my result is what I was looking for.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-13-2010, 12:43 AM
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Hello Thatplantedaquariumguy,
Just that I'd add my two cents that mine came out just like yours. a good bit of sand, dirt and itty bitty stick bits. I just put mine in the tank today, and it looks pretty swell.
Just thought I'd share and it sounds like yours is about right,
Cheers,

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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-13-2010, 12:59 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Hello Thatplantedaquariumguy,
Just that I'd add my two cents that mine came out just like yours. a good bit of sand, dirt and itty bitty stick bits. I just put mine in the tank today, and it looks pretty swell.
Just thought I'd share and it sounds like yours is about right,
Cheers,
Thanks pianofish! I really appreciate it! If you decide to have a tank journal on this forum, please feel free to post it here. I'd like to see the end result with the mineralized soil.
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-13-2010, 01:03 AM
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That's what it should look like so you did good


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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-13-2010, 01:20 PM
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Thanks pianofish! I really appreciate it! If you decide to have a tank journal on this forum, please feel free to post it here. I'd like to see the end result with the mineralized soil.

Look at my sig, and then click it.

Piano
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-13-2010, 01:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pianofish View Post
Hello Thatplantedaquariumguy,
Just that I'd add my two cents that mine came out just like yours. a good bit of sand, dirt and itty bitty stick bits. I just put mine in the tank today, and it looks pretty swell.
Just thought I'd share and it sounds like yours is about right,
Cheers,
Another trick for MS, add some of the actual substrate you are agoing to cap it with. Mix it really good together.

When you put the MS into your tank, over time the capping substrate media and MS will separate, however, by mixing it up, you will get the nutrients closer to the surface for the initial planting.

Did that make sense at all? Coffee hasn't kicked in yet.

I have never boiled topsoil before, but it sounds like your end product is correct.


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