What does ADA Aquasoil offer that potting soil doesn't. - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-16-2018, 04:30 PM Thread Starter
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I have had a 35g hex with 3+ inches of plain old generic potting soil capped with gravel up and running for about a year now. The plants are growing like crazy and the guppies are multiplying so fast we lost count of how many we have a long time ago. I gave up on ferts and any kind of amendments after the first month... the tank just does not seem to need anything extra for strong fast growing healthy plants.

We just purchased a used 180g Acrylic tank that I am in the process of refurbishing (cleaning and polishing). I am very tempted to go the same route and use good old generic potting soil topped with gravel... but I want to consider all my options.

Does ADA Aquasoil offer anything that good old potting soil doesn't? If so, what?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-16-2018, 04:41 PM
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Does ADA Aquasoil offer anything that good old potting soil doesn't? If so, what?

Thanks!
A bigger price tag.....and maybe some bragging rights in a weird way.

Maybe I'm being a bit too cynical. I suppose you could look at it as an experiment. You already know what great results potting soil can get you. So you can either try and duplicate that in a second tank or try a new approach just as a learning process. (From a cost basis the aquasoil would be better in the 35 gallon and the soil in the new 180!)
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-16-2018, 04:51 PM
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Rescape your tank or pull up a bunch of plants through the cap and move them around with your current setup of potting soil and a cap and report back what happens?
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-16-2018, 04:55 PM
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Texture is the biggest difference in my view.
Make no mistake, plant's been growin in all manner of soils for eon's.
Is as @ houseofcard's say's though,soil turn's to mud so is not what you or I might want if moving plants about frequently.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-16-2018, 04:59 PM Thread Starter
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A bigger price tag.....and maybe some bragging rights in a weird way.

Maybe I'm being a bit too cynical.
I am thinking the exact same thing! Potting soil has been working great for me. Is there really any advantage to ADA Aquasoil other than marketing and hype?

I would rather spend my money on plants and fish.

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Texture is the biggest difference in my view.
Make no mistake, plant's been growin in all manner of soils for eon's.
Is as @ houseofcard's say's though,soil turn's to mud so is not what you or I might want if moving plants about frequently.
OK, if ADA Aquasoil has a heavier texture and doesn't blow around as much when moving plants I can see that as an advantage. I haven't had any problems with the fine particles in potting soil so for me the extra money doesn't make sense. I can see how some others would pay extra for less mess when moving plants.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-16-2018, 05:08 PM
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I'm a HUGE believer in potting soil planted tanks. The only benefit that ada offers is that it buffers your ph like nothing else out there and it isn't even close.

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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-16-2018, 05:48 PM
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I am thinking the exact same thing! Potting soil has been working great for me. Is there really any advantage to ADA Aquasoil other than marketing and hype?

I would rather spend my money on plants and fish.

Bump:

OK, if ADA Aquasoil has a heavier texture and doesn't blow around as much when moving plants I can see that as an advantage. I haven't had any problems with the fine particles in potting soil so for me the extra money doesn't make sense. I can see how some others would pay extra for less mess when moving plants.
Yep, you figured it out it's all hype.

One is granular and designed to be submersed the other isn't (thus the cap). Soil-based tanks usually operate under a thinner-bandwidth of parameters (like lower light) due to the higher level of organics that is feeding your plants. High organic loads and higher light don't usually do well together unless the tank is very heavily planted.

If aquascaping or refining the aesthetics of your tank soil is not a good choice so again it really depends on your goals. At the end of the day there is more you could do with a ADA AS-based tank then a soil-based one.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-17-2018, 05:06 AM
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I started to also use the substrate additives like the old school ADA system that is now discontinued and it might be placebo but I swear the root system of my carpets look way healthier than without it. I don't use water column fertilizer at all and my dhg belem doesnt seem to care. This is what I sprinkled on the bottom of the tank before the substrate.

Charcoal powder
Humic acid powder
Iron oxide powder
Dolomite powder
ADA Bacter 100
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-17-2018, 07:00 AM
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I would rather spend my money on plants and fish.
That would be the rational approach in your case.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-17-2018, 07:43 AM
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Plenty of things or nothing... And that is my main issue with potting soil. What you use for potting soil is different than what I use, this will definitely influence the development of the substrate. (Even in the same brand I've seen differences from year to year.) Here I am referring not only to consistency but also the actual substances in the substrate.

Ada AS is much more consistent, standardized across the globe and thus the results are more predictable. Every soil tank developed differently, ADA AS not so much.

Even broken down As settles much faster than soil.

With decent cleaning it will not go anaerobic, soil rich in organics is much more likely.

Which one is more suitable for you? That is a different question and depends on goals and limitations you want to work within.

Most / all aquatic plants grow fine in pure sand if water fertilizer is given. Some plants grow fine in sand with low light, mostly fertilizer from a lot of fish and some traces and K from time to time. Some examples can be found in Vallisneria, Saggitaria, Cryptocoryne, Hygrophilla(corymbosa, polysperma) , Egeria, Bacopa, Cabomba, Myriophyllum (some) etc. Sand is cheaper, settles easier, can be vacuumed, can be reused, can plant without problems. But sand is definitely not suitable for all combinations.

So what plants would you like to grow? What fish do you want to keep in the large tank?

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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-17-2018, 03:15 PM
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The main point that folks didn't point out here is that ADA aquasoil is heavily loaded with ammonia. Soil binds ammonia, but not nitrate which will precipitate into the water column. Specific plants that favour heavy intake of ammoniacal nitrogen through their root zones will grow significantly faster in ammonia rich substrates. You can enrich potting soils similarly, but need to calibrate the saturation yourself. Some plants root more quickly in fine texture potting soil compared to fresh large grained aquasoil, but the difference is small enough that most folks won't notice or make use of this point.

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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-17-2018, 04:33 PM Thread Starter
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I'm a HUGE believer in potting soil planted tanks. The only benefit that ada offers is that it buffers your ph like nothing else out there and it isn't even close.

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I was under the impression that plain old potting soil also has ph buffering properties? Once our 180g tank has been up and running for a year or so and is very stable we are considering trying our hand at keeping Discus. I know Discus are very PH sensitive. Would AD AquaSoil be a better match than potting soil?

I guess I should do a ph test on my 35g potting soil planted and see where its parameters are currently. The 35g was kind of our test tank to get acquainted with soil bottom tanks.
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-18-2018, 04:43 PM
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If you want pH buffering ADA Malaya and Africana will lower the pH very much (even more than Amazonia, maybe too much to your taste), Malaya and Africana don't send nutrients much in the water column. They are quite different than Amazonia in the way that they don't release much nutrients. They are good for cryptocorynes and the pH can go down to less than 6.

I use Malaya (in my non co2 tank), my tap is pH 7,6 and pH goes down to 6 or lower many weeks after the water is added. The crypts like it, but crypts would probably like top soil too.

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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-18-2018, 06:03 PM Thread Starter
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If you want pH buffering ADA Malaya and Africana will lower the pH very much (even more than Amazonia, maybe too much to your taste), Malaya and Africana don't send nutrients much in the water column. They are quite different than Amazonia in the way that they don't release much nutrients. They are good for cryptocorynes and the pH can go down to less than 6.

I use Malaya (in my non co2 tank), my tap is pH 7,6 and pH goes down to 6 or lower many weeks after the water is added. The crypts like it, but crypts would probably like top soil too.

Michel.
Thank you, it is very helpful to know the effect ADA Malaya has on your tank. I believe I read a ph of 6.8 is optimal for Discus. I really need to check the ph of my current tank to see where it is at and if it has a good ph for discus.
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-18-2018, 09:18 PM
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We just purchased a used 180g Acrylic tank ... use good old generic potting soil topped with gravel... but I want to consider all my options.
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I believe I read a ph of 6.8 is optimal for Discus. I really need to check the ph of my current tank to see where it is at and if it has a good ph for discus.
I would suggest doing more research into keeping Discus, especially if you are not going to buy adult size individuals. It's best for you and the fish to be focused and not force two things together unless you have loads of experience in both things. The pH of the tank will be your last problem in a tank with potting soil/aquasoil as substrate and juvenile discus. Captive bred discus are able to live in harder water and higher pH than the wild individuals. They still need lots of food and clean water, however. A good starting point is here : SimplyDiscus also float your ideas by @discuspaul , he knows a thing or two about discus

For what it's worth, potting soil will also release a good load of NH4 and will lower the KH and pH if enough humic (and other) acids are there. Here again the problem of consistency and confidence into what is going to happen.

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