Using a Heater to Dry MTS? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-09-2011, 11:59 PM Thread Starter
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Using a Heater to Dry MTS?

I am starting the MTS process and it is below freezing here in the Chicago area, so I am doing it inside, it's soaking right now but I have laid out a shower curtain under my basement stairs where I am going to spread out the dirt to dry.

My question is, since it is cooler down here in the basement, is it ok to use a small electric space heater blowing over the dirt to help it dry faster? Or will that somehow ruin the mineralizing process?

Thanks,
Ella~


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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-10-2011, 12:30 AM
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You're trying to culture a bacteria environment to do the breaking down of the organic material. So you want to keep it warm and moist to promote bacterial growth, not necessarily dry it out. Drying out is a consequence of not keeping it moist enough. So try to keep it warm. A heat lamp is what I've been using.

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-10-2011, 02:25 AM
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I used a heater with a blower behind it blowing on the soil. dries in day/2 days like this, use a mist sprayer to keep it moist.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-10-2011, 03:23 PM Thread Starter
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Ahh I got it! Thank you guys so much for the explanation!


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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-10-2011, 04:43 PM
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I asked Tom Barr (plantbrain) about MST a couple of weeks ago, and there are actually a few ways of going about mineralizing the soil. The way you are going about it takes the longest, as you are using bacteria to mineralize it. You can also mineralize (the process of breaking everything down into a mineralized state) through boiling it for about 15 minutes, or baking, at 500 degrees, for about an hour. If you don't want to spend several weeks wetting and drying... I went the boiling rout, with a large pot. However, this will still take you all day, and be VERY careful with the plumbing. I had to completely rebuild my garbage disposal, due to too many small rocks and wood getting down there, even after filtering it through a strainer.

Just my two cents.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-12-2011, 04:07 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moonshinetheslacker View Post
I asked Tom Barr (plantbrain) about MST a couple of weeks ago, and there are actually a few ways of going about mineralizing the soil. The way you are going about it takes the longest, as you are using bacteria to mineralize it. You can also mineralize (the process of breaking everything down into a mineralized state) through boiling it for about 15 minutes, or baking, at 500 degrees, for about an hour. If you don't want to spend several weeks wetting and drying... I went the boiling rout, with a large pot. However, this will still take you all day, and be VERY careful with the plumbing. I had to completely rebuild my garbage disposal, due to too many small rocks and wood getting down there, even after filtering it through a strainer.

Just my two cents.
I would like to try the boiling way, but I'm wondering exactly how you did it? And you said "Boil for 15 minutes" and then "it will take you all day"?


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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-14-2011, 01:06 AM
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Here is how I did it, I couldn't find the right kind of clay, so I let some steel wool rust in a Tupperware container filled with water for a week. I couldn't find muriate of potash, so I used nosalt salt substitute. I couldn't find any dolomite, so I used calcium reptile sand. Now, on to the "boil for fifteen minutes, and it will take you all day" portion.

I have a large pot, which holds about three gallons of water, and I filled it roughly half full with topsoil, then the rest of the way with water. It took about half an hour to get the water bubbling a little, and about 40 minutes to reach a full blown boil. So about an hour after putting it on the stove, I began straining the stuff through a strainer (in order to remove rocks and wood chips) approximately a third of the stuff was wood, and I no longer had enough to cover the bottom of my tank as deep as I would like. Also, it was a pretty big pain trying to strain this stuff, as the strainer clogged almost immediately. I therefore had to keep sifting the stuff in order to strain it. That took about half an hour.

Then I started the process over again, in order to have enough MTS for my tank. So all in all, add in setup time, cleaning time, etc. And you are left with about 4 hours. Then add in the time I spent fixing the garbage disposal from accidentally pouring some wood chips and rocks down there... (whoops) and you have yourself an all day event. And a house that smells like a swamp.

Hope this helps. And use the substitutions at your own risk. I've only had the new substrate in for a week or two, and I haven't had any deaths yet, but I have some pretty hardy fish. And btw, this was enough MTS for a ten gallon tank with a little left over.

As a matter of fact, yes, I always post, or reply, in novels. I'm adding it to my signature because it seems like I say it in every post!
Fraternity of dirt #32 I'm dirty

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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-14-2011, 04:28 AM Thread Starter
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Awesome thank you! I have the other supplies, but I just started my dirt, after you boiled it, did you just set it out to dry on a tarp (or something similar)? And was it all "sandy" like they say it's supposed to feel like?


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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-14-2011, 01:00 PM
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I didn't let it dry at all. I just let it cool down, scooped the fish out, and poured the mud in (after pouring off as much excess water as I could) then I put the plants in, filled the aquarium, and let it sit for a few days (the water was REALLY muddy) then I capped it with white play sand. Hindsight though, there's still so much dirt in the tank that a few days after capping it, the sand started to look really dirty. I guess I should have waited a couple weeks before capping it off. Or capped it off immediately with the sand, and poured the water in much slower.

As a matter of fact, yes, I always post, or reply, in novels. I'm adding it to my signature because it seems like I say it in every post!
Fraternity of dirt #32 I'm dirty

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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-14-2011, 05:21 PM Thread Starter
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Awesome! Thanks so much for the advice!


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