Good choices for soil cap? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-27-2019, 09:14 PM Thread Starter
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Good choices for soil cap?

Hi all,

I got a new aquarium bowl for Christmas and wanted to try using soil for this one. I watched a lot of "Foo the Flowerhorn's" videos and am using this as a starting point. I'm going to use miracle grow organic choice potting mix (filtering out large pieces). My question is what to use for a cap? I'm not in love with using gravel. I really like the look of sand but will sand make the soil anaerobic? Additionally, would using fine controsoil (1-3mm) work or be too much nutrients with the soil? Any suggestions for good soil caps? I will not be running co2.

Thanks,
Chris
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-27-2019, 10:46 PM
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Do not use aquasoil if using soil. For one thing its not needed with soil. For another, aquasoil is very very light and you want the soil to remain very firmly capped. You want to minimize the mess soil makes when you need to pull plants and aquasoil is not ideal. You can if you want, skip soil and just use aquasoil either by itself or capped, but don't mix them together.

I have two tanks with soil in them right now. One is my quarantine tank that has a bare minimum of soil. The other is a proper walstad bowl. (foo the flowerhorn's tanks are all walstad tanks) Here is a link to the journal if interested.

Anyway in both my soil tanks I am running a 50/50 mix of HTH brand pool filter sand and Safe-t-sorb. Its working quite well.

Regarding your soil turning anaerobic under sand. Well, it will. However, if you plant heavy everywhere you have soil in the tank, the roots of the plants will aerate your soil. This means you won't get buildup of sulfurous gases. Any cap of sufficient depth or fineness will make soil go anaerobic because the soil itself is incredibly fine. Only the roots of plants will keep it/change it to aerobic.

You also might have trouble finding organic choice potting mix as its been discontinued. Fortunately any organic soil will work fine. You will want to use one with the lowest concentrations of nutrients possible. So flip over the bags at your local gardening supply store and find the one with the least nutrients.

I also wouldn't spend a lot of time sifting the soil. Just put in a bucket and then soak it in water. Wait a few hours and then remove anything still floating. This will be about 5/6ths of the "soil" so fill your bucket with that in mind. What sunk to the bottom is your soil for your tank. The stuff that floats will be ground up wood and leaves.

For my tank I did a couple of weeks worth of water changes on my soil while it was in a bucket to get as much nutrient leech as possible. It worked incredibly well but not everyone wants to spend that kind of time so /shrug.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-28-2019, 01:06 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks or the help minorhero, this helps a lot. Quick follow up question: how thick is your pool sand cap?

Thanks,
Chris
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-28-2019, 04:46 PM
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About 1 to 2 inches depending on where in the tank you look.


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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-28-2019, 06:51 PM
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Follow minorhero steps, especially the part about pre-leaching soil of excess nutrients. That simple easy to do step will put you months ahead on having a stable soil tank.

As far as cap stick to 1-3mm sand about 1-1.5 thick in general.

The one on left here is the HTH pool filter sand and proper size. One on right is to fine and will suffocate the soil bed resulting in bad anaerobic activity, the pore size of one on left will keep soil down but it still breaths properly.



If this is just small bowl might consider Caribsea Peace River, costs more but on smaller bowl not prohibitive. Itís about most perfect sized planting substrate Iíve ever used.

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Last edited by DaveKS; 12-28-2019 at 07:03 PM. Reason: Typo
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-28-2019, 07:55 PM
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I use black diamond blasting sand over top my miracle grow organic potting soil. Works wonders unless you spray it with a hose like I did. I went kind of shallow for some reason, only about an inch. I'd go with a bit more if I could do it again. I slowly add more sand when I change the water, erosion has moved some of my cap due to flow.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-30-2019, 04:42 PM Thread Starter
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Awesome, thanks all for the help! This is a small bowl with about 2 gallons so I'll likely go with the Caribsea peace river.
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bowl, cap, controsoil, low-tech, soil

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