55g Walstad Substrate - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-31-2019, 11:31 PM Thread Starter
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55g Walstad Substrate

So after over a year of lurking on this forum + others I've finally decided to make an account 😂 im currently working on my second walstad/first dsm tank. I'm planning on using a .5in gravel bed on the bottom, 1in top soil layer, another thin layer of gravel, then 2-3in of coarse grained sand (maybe 1mm-2.5mm) with a gravel layer in between. Basically gravel top soil gravel sand, or gravel top soil gravel sand gravel sand. I'm figuring doing this should help the sand/top soil from going anaerobic?
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 04:19 AM
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I would add compost, like those red or black bags of mulch that are in the sun at lowe's, mixed all in each layer to keep it good until it processes, and to chop some up in a food processor if it's too large to add small and regular size mulch at each layer. I don't believe in using course sand if it's sharp, as adding anything sharp doesn't make sense, as that's not found in nature. I would have to second swampgirl in that having several layers just adds height, and it would be better to add very thin layers of "blocking" areas. I would have the dirt layer 3 1/2" with large 1/2"-1" pebbles all mixed in to add a solid mass to the soil, and add hunks of clay to keep the soil held together easier. If the layer of sand on top is thin enough that you can see thin streaks of dissolved soil beneath (soaking that layer before adding sand), you could add a thin layer of fine gravel on top maybe to keep the sand from dissolving in a layer on top, and I would even add those painted gravel on top because that's exposed to the water, and the paint will keep the rock from reacting with the water..

Last edited by ntdsc; 09-01-2019 at 05:24 AM. Reason: ...
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 04:23 AM
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I think you are over complicating the layers. All those gravel sand layers will naturally settle out with the gravel working its way to the top of the sand no matter what you do, that's just physics.

I wonder about the gravel sublayer, could do something or also just be redundant? Mind sharing your thoughts on the purpose of that layer?
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 05:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SwampGirl View Post
I think you are over complicating the layers. All those gravel sand layers will naturally settle out with the gravel working its way to the top of the sand no matter what you do, that's just physics.

I wonder about the gravel sublayer, could do something or also just be redundant? Mind sharing your thoughts on the purpose of that layer?
Just for some reading but not pertaining to your question about exactly why heís adding it, read Dennis Wongs sections on substrate and especially the next section about layers and microbial action. Good info. Youíll note his deepest layer in his example there is a inert coarse gravel layer completely devoid of organic matter, itís also mildly anaerobic.

https://www.advancedplantedtank.com/...substrate.html
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 02:40 PM
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The area that could go bad is the soil layer (and gravel can go bad too), and I initially had a foot tall soil layer, no kidding, but the compost saved it. I took out more than half and added the large 1/2"-1" gravel all mixed in to keep it fresh. If I added a gravel layer on bottom of that, I don't think it would matter, beause I added a LOT of those 1/2"-1" gravel so technically it's kind of a gravel bed with soil mixed in, but having clay hunks still keeps it more soil like. What you don't want is a foot tall layer of soil and debris that you can push your hand like a lake all the way to the bottom easy. Having rocks mixed in with the soil, there's no layer that compresses. If I put thick clay in a 2 or 3 inch layer between rocks, and pushed everything down from the top, the clay would just squeeze in between the rocks. What I tried to do was make sure everything can't be lowered further by pushing down, and happened to have those larger gravel pieces. And when you add the top sand layer, go ahead and push on it, it's going to sink down, and I don't know how larger sand is going to prevent the soil from filtering up without adding a large amount.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 04:58 PM
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Diana Walstad has updated her recommendations for soil tanks recently with a post on this forum. She now recommends capping soil with a layer of safe t sorb.



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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 05:35 PM
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Diana Walstad has updated her recommendations for soil tanks recently with a post on this forum. She now recommends capping soil with a layer of safe t sorb.
That's not going to keep the water from being dirty as you drain it, you'll get down to dirty water. A thin layer of sand that lowe's sells is all you need, combined with what I said earlier about adding mass by mixing in larger gravel so that no layer has the ability to expand, the soil has a tendency to float apart, but having a lot of large 1/2"-1" gravel all mixed in, from above it looks like a clean bed (I add hunks of clay from an adobe brick rehdrated in between), or just use it straight with compost added. The thin layer of sand then seals it, sand makes the water from getting dirty.
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