Which soil to use? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-21-2019, 01:18 AM Thread Starter
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Which soil to use?

What do you all think of my using Black Gold Organic Potting Soil Plus Fertilizer with inert gravel on top? Also, perhaps a little layer of Seachem Flourite and/or Caribsea Eco-Complete in between? Using about a couple inches per layer for a total of 6", at most. Is that too deep a substrate? Do you think it will cause issues with the pH? Someone told me he tried that and couldn't get the pH below 8, even over a year after the set up. I think he ended up isolating the problem down to the Flourite, and he did get a refund on the stuff, but still, what a hassle.

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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-21-2019, 03:40 AM
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Do not use soil with fert in them. 1 soil with 1-1.5 of 1-3mm sand on top.

6 is insanity

Read up on substrate and microbial layering here to get a better understanding how it works. If anything youd want fluorite on bottom for a inert layer.

https://www.advancedplantedtank.com/...substrate.html
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-21-2019, 11:30 AM
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Also be aware that you can not expect multiple layers (more then 2) to actually remain separate over the life of a tank, they will inevitably mix. Additionally, eco-complete is essentially inert and adding it plus a different inert substrate does nothing but complicate the layers. If you are doing it purely for aesthetic reasons because you like the look of eco-complete then well and good, but do not do it because you think adding eco-complete will make your plants healthier.

Typical advice for soil substrate options are 1" of soil (or less) and 1" to 1.5" of inert gravel on top. More then this and you risk blocking off all flow of water to your soil and then you can have situations where the bacteria living in your soil die and when later disturbed release bad stuff into your water. This is why 6" of substrate is WAY WAY WAY too much.

As for your PH, it will be largely determined by your starting water parameters. Soil can lower ph a little but its not going to by itself drop your ph a point or more. So a ph of 8 out of the tap won't turn into a ph of 7 just because you have soil in your substrate.

Ideally you will want organic garden soil or potting mix with nothing added to it. You will then need to sift it to get rid of any twigs, leaves, pieces of bark, etc. These decompose too quickly in an aquarium and release a lot of tannins to boot.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 02:37 AM Thread Starter
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So would Foxfarm soil be better than Black Gold? Why not use soil with fertilizer? We end up having to put in fertilizer root tabs anyway.

On the other hand, that link made me think, for the long term, sounds like one would just want some sort of porous inert media, along with root fertilization tabs (porous so it can house bacteria, and inert so it wont break down and become too compacted). Is that what you all would think is ideal? Seems weird though, for us to try to imitate nature, but not use actual soil? Anyhow, seems to me that Eco-Complete and Seachem Flourite are both porous and wont break down, so I'm now considering not using any soil, but yeah, it just seems really weird to me.

One thing about the info in the link, it says that organic material provides great surface area and I can't seem to agree, especially when you consider how the organic material will break down and become too compacted, while the use of porous substrate would actually provide more surface area. The link does say that the organic material can become too "liable". Anyhow, I'm rather curious as to what other biological processes there are in the aquarium (besides the nitrogen cycles), as the link alludes to. I do know about denitrification, which requires anaerobic bacteria as opposed to aerobic bacteria, so maybe things getting too compacted could be a good thing? huh?

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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 05:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkFleener View Post
So would Foxfarm soil be better than Black Gold? Why not use soil with fertilizer? We end up having to put in fertilizer root tabs anyway.

On the other hand, that link made me think, for the long term, sounds like one would just want some sort of porous inert media, along with root fertilization tabs (porous so it can house bacteria, and inert so it wont break down and become too compacted). Is that what you all would think is ideal? Seems weird though, for us to try to imitate nature, but not use actual soil? Anyhow, seems to me that Eco-Complete and Seachem Flourite are both porous and wont break down, so I'm now considering not using any soil, but yeah, it just seems really weird to me.

One thing about the info in the link, it says that organic material provides great surface area and I can't seem to agree, especially when you consider how the organic material will break down and become too compacted, while the use of porous substrate would actually provide more surface area. The link does say that the organic material can become too "liable". Anyhow, I'm rather curious as to what other biological processes there are in the aquarium (besides the nitrogen cycles), as the link alludes to. I do know about denitrification, which requires anaerobic bacteria as opposed to aerobic bacteria, so maybe things getting too compacted could be a good thing? huh?
Phosphorus cycle, sulfur cycle, there is pretty much a microbe/fungi/enzyme for everything to break them down and make them safe/reusable again.

Anyway it's substrates CEC binding sites that grabs and holds nutrients for plants, safetsorb has a good CEC value and is a inert clay, all you have to do is make sure there is good circulation through substrate bed and dose the water column. It grabs it, holds nutrient there waiting for root processes to strip it away.

And to me there is no absolute need to use root tabs with soil, the decomposition of soil releases CO2 and converts elements locked in organic matter back into a usable form.

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