Oh oh! Don't tell me I've done it wrong! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-08-2010, 05:27 AM Thread Starter
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Oh oh! Don't tell me I've done it wrong!

I just finished mineralising my topsoil for my new tank, following the sticky at the top of this thread. Somehow though, I missed the part where after you submerge the soil you are supposed to let the silt settle, and THEN dump the water. I filled it up, stirred it around heaps, and then dumped the water (very muddy dark water) and spread to dry. Repeated this a few times. The soil has the correct sandy texture, but now I'm worried that all that's left is sand - have i wasted my time and topsoil by dumping all the good stuff? Will I have any nutrients left for my plants?? Agh!! Don't tell me I have to start again!
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-08-2010, 05:33 AM
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Well... um, generally speaking you are supposed to let it settle, then just dump off the floating top particles, not the actual mud, its your call, but I say redo.

Before you do, am I correct in understanding that you put the mixture in your bucket added water, mixed it together, then dumped out some mud, or am I wrong?

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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-08-2010, 05:36 AM Thread Starter
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I had a large 60 litre tub, put the top soil in, filled with water, stirred it around heaps to thoroughly soak the soil, then tipped out the dirty water. I kept my hand under the flow as it ran off to make sure no particles were draining away, but I suspect that I just wouldn't have been able to feel the fine silty particles in the water. Darn!!
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-08-2010, 05:39 AM Thread Starter
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I'm so cranky with myself lol. You wouldn't believe how many times I have read up on mineralising topsoil, and for how long (4 months of preparation for this tank gathering bits and pieces etc) and somehow I missed one of the most basic principles!!
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-08-2010, 05:39 AM
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I really don't know what to tell you other than better be safe than sorry. Get someone else's opinion but I think your best bet to make sure you have good soil would be to redo, you may have somewhat fertile soil with the additives that you put in before it goes in the tank, but I have no idea how much damage pouring out the dirty water did.

We all make mistakes, part oh life. Just cool your jets and no regrets.

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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-08-2010, 05:49 AM Thread Starter
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Hmm. Right, well it looks like I'll be out the back with fresh mud this arvo then....lol
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-08-2010, 06:08 AM
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I've done mineralized soil. What I did was poured the water through a strainer and removed the particles then repeated until there was no floating anything. Then I strained it onto a tarp and let it sit out in the sun until it was dry, then I stirred it up, let it dry again, then put it back into water & repeated about 4x.

You said you had a bunch of sand left over. Are you sure you are using the right stuff? I mean, you're not supposed to be left with sand, you are supposed to be left with dirt
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-08-2010, 06:16 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neoh View Post
I've done mineralized soil. What I did was poured the water through a strainer and removed the particles then repeated until there was no floating anything. Then I strained it onto a tarp and let it sit out in the sun until it was dry, then I stirred it up, let it dry again, then put it back into water & repeated about 4x.

You said you had a bunch of sand left over. Are you sure you are using the right stuff? I mean, you're not supposed to be left with sand, you are supposed to be left with dirt
All topsoil has a component of sand, that's normal. I'm just worried I might have washed away everything but the sand part. But it's hard to tell as the mineralised finished product is SUPPOSED to be sandy in consistency. Maybe I'm thinking about it too much. It's probably fine the way it is, but seeing as I'm determined to do this right, I may as well start mineralising the topsoil that is still left. I just went out now and found enough left in a large tub to start again. Not only that, but the bucket had been filled by the rain a couple of weeks ago and has been soaking ever since. In fact, there was a nice thick layer of pea soup green water on top! (hmm so this is what my tank is going to look like) I went to pour the green water off, but the minute I tilted the tub, it instantly turned to runny mud, and there was no way to pour out the water without pouring out mud, so I just spread it out as it was to dry. So here we go again!

By the way, what do you mean when you say you strained the water?
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-08-2010, 10:59 PM
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From what I gather youre doing it right. you dont want a light silty layer sitting on top otherwise youll be cleaning your filter everyday for weeks( ive done it). I think the idea is to trap fine particles in the sand to use as fertilizer. the stuff you poured off would have settled. then added to your tank only to have fliter curret blow it back up into the water column. I mix loam and gravel in the tank, top it up, and siphon it off, then retop and siphon until it comes out fairly clean so im not chasing my filter and killing my nitrobachter everyday. makes for a long cycle if you clean it daily.

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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-09-2010, 01:09 AM
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If you have a good cap, then you should have no problems with clogging filters. I have yet to have it happen yet.

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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-10-2010, 12:27 AM
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from what i can gather, you really don't want to loose any of the actual mud. that fine silt is what you're after. the whole process of mineralizing topsoil means you are breaking down all the components in the dirt. getting the soil wet and letting it dry repeatedly speeds up the the whole break down process. for the first couple times wetting and drying, just make mud. you can sift out all the big stuff later.

What would Honey Badger do?
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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-14-2010, 04:46 AM Thread Starter
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Ok, so I just soaked and laid my topsoil out to dry for the 3rd time, no obvious change in consistency yet, but there is a big difference between this batch and the first batch where I rinsed the soil and didn't wait for the silt to settle before draining. This batch is noticeably richer, with a lot of fine silky silt in it which turns into a very soft slippery mud when wet - All of that got washed away in my first batch, and no doubt a large majority of the nutrients are contained in this part of the soil, so I'm glad I'm redoing it. I think my plants will be a lot happier for a lot longer with this second batch.

So to all future new MTS-ers, When the sticky on mineralising topsoil at the top of this forum says "rinse" your soil, make sure you let the silt settle before draining the water, do not literally rinse the soil!
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-15-2010, 04:12 AM
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I accidentally left out my tarp covered in soil when it was "drying" and it rained...will the rainwater do any harm?
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-15-2010, 11:59 AM Thread Starter
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The rainwater itself is fine, it's just mineralising naturally! As long as it didn't wash all of your topsoil away of course.
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-15-2010, 07:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kamivy View Post
The rainwater itself is fine, it's just mineralising naturally! As long as it didn't wash all of your topsoil away of course.
Nope, it all stayed on the tarp...which now has a bunch of tree buds collected on it. Yay for mandatory sifting!
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