Will this work well or am I messin up - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-07-2019, 12:14 AM Thread Starter
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Cool Will this work well or am I messin up

Converting a 125 to a planted, 2-FX6s-Beamswork DA FSPEC in place. On advice of a friend, I ordered 6 bags of CS eco-complete, black. After more research I am finding it might not be that great, so I am planning on first putting down 1Ē of new, clean garden/turf soil and then cap with the eco complete.....Good?Bad? Stupid? Your thoughts please and Thanks in advance
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-07-2019, 12:40 AM
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Caps for soil beds need to be much finer than eco complete. 1-3mm sandy gravel required but no smaller.

EC by itself is completely capable of growing most modest plants. All you have to do dose water column and CEC binding sites in substrate will grab nutrients and hold them there for plant roots to uptake.

What plants were you planning on and what dosing/co2 are going to use?
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-07-2019, 12:49 AM Thread Starter
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Probably a natural setup/mild jungle.for small schoolers and some discus after established. Just liquid co2 for now... Using Nilogco Thrive in my others tanks so will stick with that.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-07-2019, 08:00 PM
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Well if your talking something like this picture EC is fine for only substrate.



Sounds like you already ordered it. Only thing I don’t like about EC is grain size of it. It’s just a bit coarser than needed so it tends to trap detritus in deeper layers. But nothing that can’t be overcome by setting up proper circulation patterns in tank from the start and good maintenance/husbandry practices. Turkey baster will be your best friend.

When I talk about circulation patterns I’m not talking gph, which you’ve got plenty of, truthfully 1 FX-6 at 563gph would give you 10x turnover in tank and would be plenty. You just need to to take that one filter and split it’s output into 3 outputs in tank. Say one one spraybar down back wall and 2 nozzles in ea of top corners blowing towards front covering front half of tank. I’d actually send one of those fx-6 back cause it’s not needed. Most fish we keep in these type tanks like calmer quieter waters anyway and 1000gph blowing around in a 36x18x18 tank will be blowing your plants sideways and making many areas of tank inaccessible to many fish because of strong currents.

Split that one canister up like this (3 outputs @ 180 gph ea) it will keep tank swept up of debris/detritus by having a nice gentle breeze of a current sweeping across whole substrate bed front and back with no dead zones as well as carrying oxygenated water to substrate bed so it’s biological activity is alway running at its peak. The plants themselves and a high functioning substrate is main biofilter, not the canister, it’s mainly for circulation, mechanical filtration and occasionally chemical filtration if needed.

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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-08-2019, 01:01 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for this I already had the 2xFX6 in place (30 clown loach tank) and your recommendations make sense, yet im not a plumber so if you could diagram the back plumbing diagram as fantastic as the front, this old stoner would appreciate it.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-13-2019, 01:25 AM Thread Starter
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DaveKS I took your advice and pulled 1 FX out and found a flow buster spraybar on amazon, its 58Ē so covers 80% of the length of the tank, it is in sections so I directed the flow in the middle downward and the outer sections blow straight across the top.

Bump: DaveKS I took your advice and pulled 1 FX out and found a flow buster spraybar on amazon, its 58Ē so covers 80% of the length of the tank, it is in sections so I directed the flow in the middle downward and the outer sections blow straight across the top.

Bump: DaveKS I took your advice and pulled 1 FX out and found a flow buster spraybar on amazon, its 58Ē so covers 80% of the length of the tank, it is in sections so I directed the flow in the middle downward and the outer sections blow straight across the top.

Bump: DaveKS I took your advice and pulled 1 FX out and found a flow buster spraybar on amazon, its 58Ē so covers 80% of the length of the tank, it is in sections so I directed the flow in the middle downward and the outer sections blow straight across the top.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-15-2019, 04:41 AM
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That should work. Thatís one thing nice about segmented spraybar designs. Outer ones just angle slightly up (1į+-)so they make just a slight ripple at water surface, that helps both oxygen and CO2 absorption into water.

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or tag (mention) them ó> @Aquatroy50

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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-15-2019, 04:46 AM
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I haven't run a canister filter for a while, but that looks great! Very minimal. Personally, I would move the left bracket to be symmetrical with the unit on the right, if possible.

Style: Organic soil (dirt), sand, gravel, plants, moss, algae, biofilm, mulm, snails, shrimp, small fish
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-07-2020, 04:23 PM
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I read you want to use plain garden soil capped with ecocomplete. I had the same idea the first time I wanted to set up a planted tank but I thought more about it and added some things to the plain dirt to create a real soil. Some things you might want to consider adding could be several different sources of essential minerals in the form of rock dusts or greensand.

You might also run into problems keeping water parameters steady particularly KH and pH adding organic matter that has not been buffered up to at least 6.0 if not 6.5 pH. Your dirt could easily be 5.0 pH if it has a good amount of peat which most soil mixes do. This will cause some nutrients that may be in the soil to become unavailable and others could raise to toxic levels.

Peat has a high CEC and holds negatively charged micronutrients that are constantly being exchanged for other minerals in the soil and water. You might have difficulty with pH fluctuations in the aquarium. Because organic matter is acidic which eats up KH in your water and it will eventually send your pH way down. The issue with buffering pH in soils with high CEC is that there is an unknown amount of hydrogen bound in the soil. When you add lime you will be adding calcium and magnesium that both can exchange positions with the hydrogen bound to positively charged sites within the organic matter. What you have with all of that bound up hydrogen is reserve acidity. What will happen is when you add lime no pH change will happen until you exhaust all of the hydrogen in the soil with the calcium and magnesium in lime.

You should do a soil test on the dirt if you want to do a dirt bottom tank right. What you want to test is neutralizable or reserve acidity to properly adjust pH. While you're at it have your soil tested for NPK as well and micronutrients and see where you really stand. This can all be done at a good nursery or gardening center. Reserve acidity measures the amount of Hydrogen bound in the soil. Then you will be able to properly use lime to buffer acidity when you know how much hydrogen you will have to displace before you have can raise the pH with additional lime. When you figure that out add the suggested amount of lime and then add small amounts until you reach your desired ph. I would also consider adding at least some type of clay, sand, or silt to the dirt. Clay is a must have in a dirt bottom tank (look into CEC and AEC of organic matter, clay, and how anions and cations are constantly moving within these exchange sites changing soil nutrient availability constantly making nutrients available to plants when they need it in small amounts that can be maintained for a much longer time than most people want to keep a tank up) and so are the rock dusts and green sand if you want to start off with a soil that is ready to grow plants. You really can maintain a tank for years without having to dose any fertilizers if the right components are used in the soil and the is properly buffered to a pH that promotes healthy soil CEC and AEC, beneficial bacteria, and the slow breakdown of sediments containing the essential nutrients to feed growing plants everything they need.

If you build your soil right you won't have to fertilize for months, if ever. Clay, greensand, and Azomite rock dust will add a lot to soil structure which is very important when you consider that these sediments are vital in root development, facilitating proper oxygen content in the soil feeding roots and plants, and adding micronutrients to the dirt slowly as plants need them. About 50/50 organic matter to sediment is what I like and have found appropriate and practical. To casually add organic matter of unknown makeup, with no idea of what it is composed of, which is almost certainly nutritionally incomplete doesn't should like it was well thought out. Not adding clay and micronutrient rich sediments is not how people who have had good results approach the dirt bottom methodology. Create a soil that has micronutrients and K. You don't need to add N and P because keeping and feeding fish will provided them adequately. Build a soil with appropriate structure, that is nutritionally complete, then cap it with something fine and heavy. You can easily go 2.5-3" deep with the soil mixture with a 1" cap. The depth of the soil will give you longer life of the soil and nutrients will not have to be supplimented for a longer time. It will be obvious when your plants are showing signs of distress from a lack of any of their vital nutrients. Then when you start to see slowed growth or nutrient deficiencies all you have to do is dose a micro supplement once a week.

Good luck I hope I was able to express to you that a simple soil botton tank is not going to give you results you are looking for most likely. If you don't set up a dirt bottom with these considerations in mind you are overlooking very important aspects of building a soil botton tank and you will probably have tons of parameter issues and after dealing with them for months you will give up on dirt bottom tanks I promise.

Finally, someone said that your canister filter is not for biological filtration and that it should be focused on mechanical and chemical filtration. I have never used chemical filtration on a planted tank. I have never had the need because I use science and patients to manage my aquarium parameters. I tend to give problems time to work them selves out usually having to do nothing but wait for a parameter to change favorably. The sediment and plants themselves aren't the primary filtration yet nor will they be in a new aquarium even if you filled that tank with plants. The plants wouldn't do well unless you were dosing ferts even then soil tanks do best with a complete soil mix using what I have told you. Because you don't have an adequately deep substrate layer and you don't have any plants in the tank that are growing fast enough to be the primary filtration on a large tank.That might be the case if you had a deep substrate fine enough to restrict the oxygen from reaching the lower layers of soil where anoxic denitrifying bacteria live and a substrate that provides a high surface area where denitrifying bacteria can live and work exclusively. The plants will feed off of NH4 and maybe a little NO3. Without bio media at least 1/2" in diameter you won't have enough anoxic area to house the bacteria for the denitrification process, then you are stuck doing water changes weekly because you have high NO3, that is deadly to your fish if not addressed. The soil chemistry and how nutrients are moved around in the soil replicates a natural aquatic ecosystem more closely than anything else I have seen. In the end it is much less work and much better results. Nature can be closely replicated especially if you have a large tank. It allows for that deep layer of organic matter as a substrate. Another thing that will happen when you keep a deep substrate of soil is that you will produce CO2 inside your aquarium from soil breaking down and it will be released fully dissolved into the water column right where your plants can get to it. That doesn't happen unless you have specific soil bacteria and a deep soil bottom working in the tank. Although, it will be a long time before that happens. Good luck I hope you read all this and give it some thought.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-07-2020, 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Aquatroy50 View Post
Thank you for this I already had the 2xFX6 in place (30 clown loach tank) and your recommendations make sense, yet im not a plumber so if you could diagram the back plumbing diagram as fantastic as the front, this old stoner would appreciate it.


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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-07-2020, 09:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy H View Post
I read you want to use plain garden soil capped with ecocomplete. I had the same idea the first time I wanted to set up a planted tank but I thought more about it and added some things to the plain dirt to create a real soil. Some things you might want to consider adding could be several different sources of essential minerals in the form of rock dusts or greensand.

You might also run into problems keeping water parameters steady particularly KH and pH adding organic matter that has not been buffered up to at least 6.0 if not 6.5 pH. Your dirt could easily be 5.0 pH if it has a good amount of peat which most soil mixes do. This will cause some nutrients that may be in the soil to become unavailable and others could raise to toxic levels.

Peat has a high CEC and holds negatively charged micronutrients that are constantly being exchanged for other minerals in the soil and water. You might have difficulty with pH fluctuations in the aquarium. Because organic matter is acidic which eats up KH in your water and it will eventually send your pH way down. The issue with buffering pH in soils with high CEC is that there is an unknown amount of hydrogen bound in the soil. When you add lime you will be adding calcium and magnesium that both can exchange positions with the hydrogen bound to positively charged sites within the organic matter. What you have with all of that bound up hydrogen is reserve acidity. What will happen is when you add lime no pH change will happen until you exhaust all of the hydrogen in the soil with the calcium and magnesium in lime.

You should do a soil test on the dirt if you want to do a dirt bottom tank right. What you want to test is neutralizable or reserve acidity to properly adjust pH. While you're at it have your soil tested for NPK as well and micronutrients and see where you really stand. This can all be done at a good nursery or gardening center. Reserve acidity measures the amount of Hydrogen bound in the soil. Then you will be able to properly use lime to buffer acidity when you know how much hydrogen you will have to displace before you have can raise the pH with additional lime. When you figure that out add the suggested amount of lime and then add small amounts until you reach your desired ph. I would also consider adding at least some type of clay, sand, or silt to the dirt. Clay is a must have in a dirt bottom tank (look into CEC and AEC of organic matter, clay, and how anions and cations are constantly moving within these exchange sites changing soil nutrient availability constantly making nutrients available to plants when they need it in small amounts that can be maintained for a much longer time than most people want to keep a tank up) and so are the rock dusts and green sand if you want to start off with a soil that is ready to grow plants. You really can maintain a tank for years without having to dose any fertilizers if the right components are used in the soil and the is properly buffered to a pH that promotes healthy soil CEC and AEC, beneficial bacteria, and the slow breakdown of sediments containing the essential nutrients to feed growing plants everything they need.

If you build your soil right you won't have to fertilize for months, if ever. Clay, greensand, and Azomite rock dust will add a lot to soil structure which is very important when you consider that these sediments are vital in root development, facilitating proper oxygen content in the soil feeding roots and plants, and adding micronutrients to the dirt slowly as plants need them. About 50/50 organic matter to sediment is what I like and have found appropriate and practical. To casually add organic matter of unknown makeup, with no idea of what it is composed of, which is almost certainly nutritionally incomplete doesn't should like it was well thought out. Not adding clay and micronutrient rich sediments is not how people who have had good results approach the dirt bottom methodology. Create a soil that has micronutrients and K. You don't need to add N and P because keeping and feeding fish will provided them adequately. Build a soil with appropriate structure, that is nutritionally complete, then cap it with something fine and heavy. You can easily go 2.5-3" deep with the soil mixture with a 1" cap. The depth of the soil will give you longer life of the soil and nutrients will not have to be supplimented for a longer time. It will be obvious when your plants are showing signs of distress from a lack of any of their vital nutrients. Then when you start to see slowed growth or nutrient deficiencies all you have to do is dose a micro supplement once a week.

Good luck I hope I was able to express to you that a simple soil botton tank is not going to give you results you are looking for most likely. If you don't set up a dirt bottom with these considerations in mind you are overlooking very important aspects of building a soil botton tank and you will probably have tons of parameter issues and after dealing with them for months you will give up on dirt bottom tanks I promise.

Finally, someone said that your canister filter is not for biological filtration and that it should be focused on mechanical and chemical filtration. I have never used chemical filtration on a planted tank. I have never had the need because I use science and patients to manage my aquarium parameters. I tend to give problems time to work them selves out usually having to do nothing but wait for a parameter to change favorably. The sediment and plants themselves aren't the primary filtration yet nor will they be in a new aquarium even if you filled that tank with plants. The plants wouldn't do well unless you were dosing ferts even then soil tanks do best with a complete soil mix using what I have told you. Because you don't have an adequately deep substrate layer and you don't have any plants in the tank that are growing fast enough to be the primary filtration on a large tank.That might be the case if you had a deep substrate fine enough to restrict the oxygen from reaching the lower layers of soil where anoxic denitrifying bacteria live and a substrate that provides a high surface area where denitrifying bacteria can live and work exclusively. The plants will feed off of NH4 and maybe a little NO3. Without bio media at least 1/2" in diameter you won't have enough anoxic area to house the bacteria for the denitrification process, then you are stuck doing water changes weekly because you have high NO3, that is deadly to your fish if not addressed. The soil chemistry and how nutrients are moved around in the soil replicates a natural aquatic ecosystem more closely than anything else I have seen. In the end it is much less work and much better results. Nature can be closely replicated especially if you have a large tank. It allows for that deep layer of organic matter as a substrate. Another thing that will happen when you keep a deep substrate of soil is that you will produce CO2 inside your aquarium from soil breaking down and it will be released fully dissolved into the water column right where your plants can get to it. That doesn't happen unless you have specific soil bacteria and a deep soil bottom working in the tank. Although, it will be a long time before that happens. Good luck I hope you read all this and give it some thought.
Thanks for sharing this post. I have some questions:

Wouldn't a 3" soil layer with an additional 1" cap be a recipe for anoxia, as well as a crazy amounts of nutrient leaching at first? Most of what I've read recommends half that depth for soil, so I'm wondering what you're basing your recommendation on, and how you avoid anoxia & hydrogen sulfide production?

What kind of soil do you recommend using here? There are many so-called "organic soils" all with different ingredients--even within one brand.

What amounts or proportions of greensand, azomite, & clay are you recommending, and what kinds of each? Being natural products, all can be highly variable.

I've seen Azomite recommended as kind of a "magic sauce" for many horticultural applications, but even on the company website I'm unable to to find out what minerals it contains, and in what proportion. Supposedly it's a mineral rich montmorillonite clay--just like SafeTsorb, or kitty litter for that matter. So it's not clear what advantage of this would have over SafeTsorb--which makes a fine substrate (and cheap!) in it's own right. I've got it in my tank over a thin (≈1/2") layer of organic potting soil, and most plants seem to love it. The tank has only been up 7 months, so I can't attest as to the durability of the substrate and nutrient availability. I do supplement it with low-dose Thrive for the stem & floating plants.

What kind of clay do you use, and how much? In other threads people talk about using iron-rich pottery clay. Do we know what kind of iron is in pottery clay, if it's bioavailable to plants, and does that vary with the pH or other water parameters?

If you have a link to your resource/s for this, that would be most helpful.

Thanks!

Last edited by Desert Pupfish; 01-09-2020 at 06:19 AM. Reason: Typos
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-08-2020, 06:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Desert Pupfish View Post
Thanks for sharing this post. I have some questions:

Wouldn't a 3' soil level with an additional 1" cap be a recipe for anoxia, as well as a crazy amounts of nutrient leaching at first? Most of what I've read recommends half that depth for soil, so I'm wondering what you're basing your recommendation on, and how you avoid anoxia & hydrogen sulfide production?

What kind of soil do you recommend using here? There are many so-called "organic soils" all with different ingredients--even within one brand.

What amounts or proportions of greensand, azomite, & clay are you recommending, and what kinds of each? Being natural products, all can be highly variable.

I've seen Azomite recommended as kind of a "magic sauce" for many horticultural applications, but even on the company website I'm unable to to find out what minerals it contains, and in what proportion. Supposedly it's a mineral rich montmorillonite clay--just like SafeTsorb, or kitty litter for that matter. So it's not clear what advantage of this would have over SafeTsorb--which makes a fine substrate (and cheap!) in it's own right. I've got it in my tank over a thin (≈1/2") layer of organic potting soil, and most plants seem to love it. The tank has only been up 7 months, so I can't attest as to the durability of the substrate and nutrient availability. I do supplement it with low-dose Thrive for the stem & floating plants.

What kind of clay do you use, and how much? In other threads people talk about using iron-rich pottery clay. Do we know what kind of iron is in pottery clay, if it's bioavailable to plants, and does that vary with the pH or other water parameters?

If you have a link to your resource/s for this, that would be most helpful.

Thanks!
It would be a recipe for anoxic conditions if the lower levels of soil were restricting O2 from moving through soil aggregates. Exactly what I want. Denitrification only occurs where there is little to no O2. While the soil depth and structure are ideal for plants to root well. Hydrogen Sulfide is not as big a threat as people make it out to be. H2S will be neutralized by O2 into harmless SO4. Basically as soon as H2S moves up through the low O2 soil it reacts with O2 in the upper levels of the soil and becomes SO4. Remember H2S forms in the absence of O2 and is neutralized with the presence of O2. If your soil structure is ideal you will have aggregates of silt, clay, sand, organic matter, and oxygen at all any depth in your soil substrate.

I recommend decomposed peat humus for several reasons. It is really important in my recipe to have acidic organic matter with high CEC and no mystery nitrogen compounds causing problems cycling. Because ammonium levels become very inconsistent which is a result of the cations NH4 being exchanged with other cations in the soil and being released from dissolving sediments. So that means one day I could have a ammonium spike and the next day ammonium is no longer available in the water column because it was exchanged for calcium or any one of many cations. The positive charges associated with different cations is what causes these mineral cations to exchange charged spots on the negatively charged organic matter and clay.

I believe to achieve and ideal soil structure some things need to be understood. Terrestrial soils have different structures depending on what the soil is composed of, the amount of rain, forrest fires, and volcanic activity can all drastically change soil structure. A loose crumbly soil rich in nutrients that holds water well and allows for O2 to be evenly disturbed through the soil. So you have silts, clays, and sands bound together by organic matter and the clay in the soil. All of these variously sized sediments are evenly distributed throughout the organic matter. Clay and calcium help hold the sediments together in aggregates and are a big part of the texture of the soil.

I think a 50/50 mix of organic matter and sediments will produce soil mix similar to ideal terrestrial soils. My thinking is that an ideal terrestrial soil is no different that ideal aquatic soil.

I am personally using 25 pounds of green sand hoping the sand will be a mixture of roughly sand sized particles, five pound of montmorillonite clay that is very fine, five pounds of micronized Azomite because thats what I have. If I was going to buy more I would get the next size up so it would in theory take longer to dissolve.

If you want to see a list of trace minerals in Azomite and what they do google: "Primary Trace Minerals and Rare Earth Elements in Azomite" you will see what is claimed by the company to be in Azomite. Azomite is hydrated sodium calcium aluminosilicate from volcanic mineral deposits. Volcanic ash and sediments are full of minerals and trace elements. Azomite is not a clay of any kind.

The red clay powders you can get on eBay or anywhere for that matter do contain iron oxides not available to plants as iron. Iron oxide is a variably charged particle meaning it is covered with positive and negative sites that attract positive and negative anions and cations. It is actually moving micronutrients around in the soil with other particles of iron oxide.

Clay should make up about 10% of the total volume of a soil. Any more the soil can become too silty and because it is wet in a tank it will hold the soil together with the help of calcium in the lime I use to buffer the soil after everything is mixed in the soil. I don't think I can remember what I have read in learning about soils. If you have any questions that stick out to you I will find you an answer and try to explain it the best I can and Ill share the source wit you so you can check it out. I have some websites saved that might interest you explaing soil stucture and what and ideal soil aggregate looks like and what it is made of. As well as, anything I found interesting that applied to soil in any way that helped me put together a plan that is thought out.

I will link some websites I found helpful and if you have any questions shoot me a pm and I will get back to you.

A good read on someone preparing their soil substrate: How-To: Mineralized Soil Substrate, by Aaron Talbot - APC Library - Aquatic Plant Central

What makes a fertile soil:
https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-...963-story.html

Read section IV. Physical Properties of Soil:
https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/extensi...lant-nutrients

Soil Structure:
https://m.espacepourlavie.ca/en/soil-structure

Soil-Nutrient Relationships:
https://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/mauisoi...ationship.aspx

Soils, Plant Nutrition and Nutrient Management:
https://extension2.missouri.edu/mg4


I started a tread in the Low Tech forum titled "Soil Substrate Recipies Please Chime In" that will tell everything I plan to use and why. If you take the time to read through those sites and then read my recipe things will make a lot more sense.
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-08-2020, 04:08 PM
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Thanks for sharing this, and all your resources. Don't want to hijack the OP's thread, so will try to find & read your other thread as well.

So is this recipe something you have experience with? Or is this something you're trying for the first time? Various kinds of dirted tanks have been extensively discussed on here, so I think what most on this forum would want to know is how this or other recipes performed in the tank: did they cycle okay without crazy amounts of ammonia, how did the plants perform, and how stable and durable was the tank over time? Look forward to hearing your experiences.

Thanks!
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-08-2020, 08:25 PM
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Thanks for sharing this, and all your resources. Don't want to hijack the OP's thread, so will try to find & read your other thread as well.

So is this recipe something you have experience with? Or is this something you're trying for the first time? Various kinds of dirted tanks have been extensively discussed on here, so I think what most on this forum would want to know is how this or other recipes performed in the tank: did they cycle okay without crazy amounts of ammonia, how did the plants perform, and how stable and durable was the tank over time? Look forward to hearing your experiences.

Thanks!
I have tried a similar recipe with a lot success but I am still adding things the second time around. Check out that thread and you will get to see them both and why I want to change the recipe. I actually am adding nitrogen rich worm castings to help the tank establish a bacterial population in the beginning. My last tank was rock solid after it was cycled. A little acidic for the fish I was keeping but that's it. I also thought the plants developed nutrient deficiencies later in the life of the tank. I didn't and enough mineral rich sediments and I never fertilized for two years. I actually think I have some photos of the tank on an old phone somewhere. I will look for them and post them on the thread I started if I can find them.
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