Capping dirted tank with Safe-T-Sorb? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 12-07-2017, 08:33 PM Thread Starter
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Capping dirted tank with Safe-T-Sorb?

Hello, new to planted tanks and redoing the substrate in my 72 gallon bow from huge gravel to dirt/STS. I was originally going to do 1'' dirt, 1'' STS, and 2'' of fine gravel, but I cant find affordable gravel anywhere. I was wondering if I could just cap it with STS? Im worried that it will be too light to use as a cap by itself, anyone have any experience with this, or know where I can find cheap, very fine gravel? Have checked every pool, landscape, nursery, construction store I can think of, to no avail.
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 12-07-2017, 11:41 PM
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Cap with a finer product such as PFS or BDBS.
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 12-07-2017, 11:44 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply. I actually just got done reading your "charging STS" thread lol. Do you think BDBS is safe for corys/loaches?
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 12-08-2017, 01:38 AM
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Many use BDBS with cory's, even myself.
BDBS is easier to keep clean than PFS.
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 12-08-2017, 04:42 PM
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I wouldn't recommend capping with safe t sorb (STS) since it's very light. However, I am trying a dirt experiment atm with dirt mixed 60/40 with STS. This is then capped with eco complete in an edge 6. In my 180, I will cap it with BDBS. My theory is the STS will provide some CEC which will reduce the "hotness" of dirt in the initial months to absorb nutrient spikes. It should also be able to absorb liquid ferts or leaching root tabs later.
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 12-08-2017, 07:58 PM
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I've successfully used "builder's sand" from Lowe's as a cap. I've even sifted it to use the finer stuff as a cap, and then the used the slightly larger stuff I sifted out to help hold down plant roots. I think it's called "Sakrete 60-lb All-Purpose Sand" and it's $4.80 for a 60 pound bag.

I don't know how it would do for your cories or loaches.
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 12-08-2017, 10:28 PM Thread Starter
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Interesting idea about mixing the STS c the dirt, I think ill try that out as well. I saw the Sakrete sand today, I liked the natural brown color of it. If i end up going BDBS, should i go 20/40 or 30/60? Also, was looking for the organic miracle grow, and the only one they had was a "Natures choice" or something organic soil by miracle grow, although it said it had "moisture lock" or something in it, which made me hesitant to try...any experience with that?
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 12-09-2017, 09:37 PM
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The concern about substrate weight has already been addressed, so I'll just add a note about grain size.

I prefer to use sand because in my experience it is the safer option for preventing cap breach. Even in very old tanks, I do not experience any dirt migration or leaks unless I've been really aggressively moving things around without taking the proper precautions. It's also easier to plant in, and I personally prefer the way it looks.

That said, some dirted tank owners (including Diana Walstad herself) prefer gravel, because it allows fish mulm to slowly migrate down to the dirt layer and compost into fresh substrate. This is for stone-cold serious Walstad tank people. I personally don't have the rocks for it.
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 12-09-2017, 11:40 PM
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A word of caution with topsoil and potting mixes.
Sift all wood chips unless you enjoy tannin stained water.
Soak all soil in a bucket in small portions to remove any floating matter.
You will have cap breaches @ some time in your future.
This allows for a quick vac of the sand surface and no cloudy water for a week.
I'm just say'in!


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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 12-10-2017, 11:20 AM
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I have an STS capped low tech dirted tank running for about 8 months now. It's my first planted tank so I can't speak to other substrates. I've found it works pretty well, the STS being light seems to kinda float over the dirt. I've only really had one messy incident when I removed a Crypt. wendtii with big long roots. I did find that I had to start water column ferts sooner than I expected which I suspect might be because of the high CEC of STS. My tank:
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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 12-10-2017, 07:53 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all this advice everyone! really glad i joined this forum. I think im gonna mix some STS with my dirt after i sift/soak it, and then top that with a small layer of STS, followed by about 2' of the Sakrete multi-purpose sand. The color matches the STS that i have, kind of a dark brown. What do yall think of that idea? Think that sand is ok?
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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 12-10-2017, 08:39 PM
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I'm still not very clear on the benefits of mixing STS with the dirt; seems like you'd just be diluting the dirt. Using the STS as part of your cap (in addition to sand), however, seems like a fine idea.

Can't give much input on the safety of that sand product, but make sure you give it an extra good rinsing. "Multi-purpose" = "very dusty".
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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 12-10-2017, 09:14 PM Thread Starter
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Snarkinturtle, that's a beautiful tank! What foreground plant is that? I think im going mostly crypts, maybe crypt parva for the foreground, but yours looks great
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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 12-10-2017, 11:25 PM
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Thanks topgun! The foreground is dwarf sag (Sagittaria subulata) all from one pot of Tropica tissue culture. I'm very pleased with it even though some of it has gotten tall lately.
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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 12-11-2017, 01:43 PM Thread Starter
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Would you recommend dwarf sagg over crypt parva for a foreground carpeting plant in a low tech?
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