Is an aquasoil such as Amazonia need for planted tanks - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-01-2019, 10:00 PM Thread Starter
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Is an aquasoil such as Amazonia need for planted tanks

After 2 years, I unfortunately have to redo my 40G high tech tank since I have to move it. Currently I am using ADA Amazonia. I am beginning to question whether Amazonia (or any aqua soil for that matter) is a good choice for me. Please note that I like to keep my tanks for 3-5 years and prefer slower growth since it means less maintenance.

Does something like flourite or clay based substrate with substrate tabs offer the same fertilizer advantages as aqua soils? Aqua soils seem to disintegrate after 1 -3 years, requiring the tank to be broken down. I prefer to keep my tanks longer and clay based substrates seem to go on for ever.

I realize a clay substrate with fertilizer tabs does not have KH buffering. However, I don't know why KH buffering helps plants - after a lot of search I wasn't able to find a convincing answer. It seems to make the water acidic and lower the KH to 0. Do plants really like low carbonate hardness? Do they thrive in acidic conditions as opposed to PH Neutral water? As a possible downside, when the KH buffering is depleted, what happens to the plants? Do they all go into shock? So even if there are benefits, if the benefits are short lived, why bother?

Based on above thoughts, I am beginning to think that aqua soils are for people who like to build and breakdown tanks in rapid succession (maybe keep them for a year or so). And the aqua soil, due to the added fertilizers allow the plants to grow very quickly so that they can enjoy the tank for most of its life rather than waiting for things to grow - still not sure how lower PH and KH buffering fits into this. Moreover, when tanks are kept only a year or so, all of the concerns I mentioned regarding longevity are moot.

Are my conclusions above correct? Or am I missing some major benefits and/or misunderstanding the longterm disadvantage. Should I once again use Amazonia or its equivalent? If I do, will I be able to maintain the tank for 3-5 years?

Any thoughts would be appreciated.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-01-2019, 11:35 PM
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I use capped soil and 18 months is about the lifespan, nutrients mostly depleted.
Capped soil does not drop the KH, use RODI and/or HCl to keep KH @ 1
Many species prefer lower to non-existent KH
Don't use aquasoils myself due to cost.

Many people here add fresh aquasoil on top of existing to give it a refresh periodically.


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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-02-2019, 12:10 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Maryland Guppy View Post
I use capped soil and 18 months is about the lifespan, nutrients mostly depleted.
Capped soil does not drop the KH, use RODI and/or HCl to keep KH @ 1
Many species prefer lower to non-existent KH
Don't use aquasoils myself due to cost.

Many people here add fresh aquasoil on top of existing to give it a refresh periodically.
Thanks Maryland Guppy. So what do you do at 18 months - do you break down the tank?

Interesting idea re topping up the aquasoil. I had never thought of it. How do people do that without disturbing the plants and fouling the water? Maybe scoop out old soil with a scoop and replace it with new soil, one scoop at a time. before each water change?
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-02-2019, 12:28 AM
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using miracle gro here.I set up 2 tanks with miracle gro nature's care topped with blasting sand in october,both are going nuts so far.I also have a 10 gallon nuvo I set up 4 years ago with NGOCPM,and it's still growing plants,though I did add a single DIY root tab.(using for a grow out).

MTS? no,I just need one more tank...
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-02-2019, 12:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Sordbodan View Post
Thanks Maryland Guppy. So what do you do at 18 months - do you break down the tank?

Interesting idea re topping up the aquasoil. I had never thought of it. How do people do that without disturbing the plants and fouling the water? Maybe scoop out old soil with a scoop and replace it with new soil, one scoop at a time. before each water change?
At about the 18 month mark I pull everything and add new substrate.

I think when the aquasoil breaks down and compacts many just add to the top.


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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-02-2019, 01:51 AM
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Is it needed? Nope, lots of folks grow plants in inert substrate just fine, myself included. Does it have useful properties? Sure, it has a high cec value allowing it to store nutrients. Other options also have high cec values as well.

Most folks here are dosing with some kind of fertilizer. Generally it's agreed that just root tabs is a bad idea since you have no idea when it runs out and what plants are actually accessing which tab. So most add ferts to the water a few times a week/daily.

There are other substrates that have high cec values such as turface and safe t sorb. I have 2 tanks with a mix of sand and safe t sorb and it's working quite well. I dose thrive twice a week. Though I am thinking of adding micros a couple times a week as well.


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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-04-2019, 01:44 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies everyone. Here is my summary of what I understood above (and also my research) re aquasoil:

Benefits: auqasoil has some desirable properties for plant growth - it is nutrient rich, it has high CEC, lowers PH to acidic levels preferred by most plants and granule size is good for root growth.

Drawbacks: With the exception of high CEC, all other properties are exhausted in relatively short time. Fertilizers and PH buffering seems to run out in anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. The physical shape is lost within 2-4 years (the granules turn to mud, compacting and making it undesirable for root oxygenation). Therefore it needs to be replaced every 2-3 years. And you need to add fertilizers just like with other types of substrates. And of course it is expensive. Finally, based on my experience, I find it very messy to work with when uprooting plants for replanting - lots of mud is released into the water as the roots are pulled out - something I did not experience with gravel or eco complete.

Alternatives: The benefits (with the exception of lowering the PH) can be replicated easily using other substrate combinations such combining soil or high CEC compounds with sand or gravel. Adding fertilizer and root tabs takes care of the nutrients - you'd have to add fertilizers with aquasoil at some point in any case. Some of these alternatives are also much cleaner to work with. Finally, most of these alternatives do not physically break down in time.

Given that my tap water is neutral, I supplement with Flourish comprehensive and NPK fertilizers, and I like to keep my tanks going for a long time, I really do not see any need to use aquasoil again.

Thanks for all your input and if I missed something please chime in.
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