Potting soil ??? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 09:12 PM Thread Starter
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 09:25 PM
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yes and no.

use Miracle Grow Organic potting soil

thats what i used and it is great for plant growth
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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 09:31 PM Thread Starter
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Why YES and why NO?

I'm not sure ti find this brand of soil here. Can I use any one of them?

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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 09:36 PM
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well. some are better then others/ obviously.
some soils contain things that arent good for tanks that will cause problems, most use manuare, with is not good. the organic is the best choice. because it doesnt contain any chemicals or anything really un-natural.
you can find it at any hardware store. like homedepot, for like 6 bucks a bag.

then just top it with either sand or gravel.
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 09:43 PM Thread Starter
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I live far away from US and we don't have these stores over here. I'll will look for some organic soil in the local stores.



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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 09:58 PM Thread Starter
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Can I use any type of gravel to top the potting soil?

Does the soil leak in water while planting or cleaning the tank?

Thanks


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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 10:58 PM
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Potting soil can contain bits of wood and vermiculite, both of which readily float in water. That's one good reason to be careful about using it.

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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 11:16 PM
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You would be wise to read over the 60+ page sticky on how to make and use mineralized top soil. I personally think these alot more flexability than the thread leads you to believe, but from a safety standpoint, follow the directions and you wont be disappointed.

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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 11:35 PM
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If you don't use pesticides or fertilizers you could just take some topsoil from your backyard. Just make sure you remove all the rocks, chunks of leaves, and twigs. I bought a bag of topsoil from home depot the other day. The topsoil was bagged locally from some company and was labeled "Pure Natural Organic". The only thing they mix with it is peat. I basically filled a 5 gallon bucket up half way with soil then added scalding hot water from the tub until there was about 5 inches of water on top of the soil(This is for an experimental 15g tank). I swished the water/mud around for about 10 minutes and a huge amount of peat and twigs floated to the surface. I removed the floating bits by skimming it off with a net (and then put that stuff on some potted plants). I let the water soak for about a day so that everything would settle and then poured off the murky water. I repeated the soaking/stirring for 2-3 more days slowly pouring off the water that had been settling for about 12-24 hours each run. I wasn't really trying to mineralize it so much as I am trying to get rid of the large chunks/twigs since I plan on using the soil for a dry start method. Right now it looks like very smooth black mud. I have a tray of 1/2 HC and 1/2 DHG belem growing right now where I use the mud as 1/2"-1" deep bottom layer capped with about 1/2"-1" of eco-complete. This is just to grow out some plants before I put them in an actual hardscape. When I use the "mud" in an actual tank I will be mixing it up with pool filter sand. I had read a post started by Tom Barr where he mentions mixing the mud with sand to help dilute it and prevent it from getting stinky:

Some simple solutions to using soil in planted tanks

Dry Start Method (DSM) to mineralize soil while your plants grow out





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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 04:39 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all these answers.


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let the water soak for about a day so that everything would settle and then poured off the murky water. I repeated the soaking/stirring for 2-3 more days slowly pouring off the water that had been settling for about 12-24 hours each run.
OOGLYBOOGLY ; Does the process of "rinsing the soil" wash away nutrients present in the soil??


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post #11 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 05:44 PM
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Some nutrients will get washed away, but not many with that system: A couple of fill and rinse cycles is not much.

You ought to add fertilizer, anyway, not depend on what is in the soil. It will get used up no matter what, so plan on replenishing it gradually.

The only 'manure' that seems OK for aquariums is worm castings.

You are looking for a more sandy-soil sort of material, not a 'Composted fir bark' sort of product. Many potting soils are more like composted sawdust, peat and similar plant based products. These are the materials to avoid in the aquarium.
Also avoid products with wetting agents, fertilizer and any other amendments.
This does not leave much besides sand. And why pay for sand if it is available by the shovelful in the back yard?

If the locally available bagged products are unreliable, then the DIY mineralized soil is a great way to go.
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post #12 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 05:44 PM
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I use top soil but I was cautioned to keep away from any enriched soils. I found a soil that had almost nothing and then I filtered out the main wood pieces in it. Look at my sign for a build these on it


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post #13 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 06:06 PM Thread Starter
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This does not leave much besides sand. And why pay for sand if it is available by the shovelful in the back yard?

If the locally available bagged products are unreliable, then the DIY mineralized soil is a great way to go.

I think I'll try the DIY mineralized soil with soil from my backyard or i'll rather collect some soil in a forest to be sure that there is not contamination.


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I use top soil but I was cautioned to keep away from any enriched soils. I found a soil that had almost nothing and then I filtered out the main wood pieces in it. Look at my sign for a build these on it
I went through your thread and noticed that you didn't use the "rinsing process" before topping with sand. So that's not necessary?? Did you soaked the soil before filling the tank? Did you have any kind of problem when you add water??
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post #14 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 06:26 PM
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Have a look at my post to the thread "MTS... then winter hit".
There is a guide to using any sort of soil, though the comments make it look like garden soil, you can do the same thing to bagged mixes.

Once you have soil that has almost no floating matter (roots, leaves, sticks, compost) you can use it right away in the tank.

I would add some fertilizer tablets first, on the floor of the tank, then be careful not to disturb them. Slow release product like Osmocote is good.

Wet the soil pretty well so there is the least dust. Put the soil in the tank, rocks, driftwood... Shape the soil into hills and valleys.
Wet the soil some more, perhaps a spray/mist bottle for a smaller tank. Take this opportunity to rinse off the glass, too. Do not get the water higher than the soil.

Plant, misting often. Add a topping (gravel, sand...) after you are finished planting if you want.

Put a plastic bag or a plate over the substrate and start filling. Run the water in slowly so it seeps over the plate. This will minimize clouding.
In a larger tank you can run the water faster after it is about 8" or deeper. Aim the hose horizontally so as not to dig up the substrate.

Since this soil is an unknown as far as fertilizer and other components go, I would run the tank for a while and test for everything I have tests for.
Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate: For the plants these are fertilizers. For the fish, toxins. If ANY ammonia or nitrite show up then allow the tank to cycle to grow the necessary nitrifying bacteria to deal with these. Some soils release so much ammonia you can do a fishless cycle and not need to add any ammonia.
GH, KH, pH. If these are stable this is best. If they are changing then there is something in the soil doing this. If the soil was originally a limestone or coral parent material then the soil is likely going to make the water hard and alkaline. Think about keeping livebearers, Rift Lake fish, Rainbows...
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post #15 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 06:38 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Have a look at my post to the thread "MTS... then winter hit".
Didn't find the thread.

Anyway, thanks a lot for your advices Diana, will be a great help when I will start my new tank
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