Using humus as a 'soil'? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-26-2020, 03:45 PM Thread Starter
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Question Using humus as a 'soil'?

Hi everyone! Here is the product in question; https://growgen.pro/general-organics...0-5-cu-ft.html

Humus, from what I understand, is thoroughly decayed organic matter and has a very high CEC. Would this work as a dirt substitute in a planted tank? I would expect it not to cause major ammonia spikes like many traditional soils would, though since it doesn't have many nutrients I would need to fertilize such a tank (granted, I was going to anyway...). Thanks!
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-26-2020, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Grah the great View Post
Hi everyone! Here is the product in question; https://growgen.pro/general-organics...0-5-cu-ft.html

Humus, from what I understand, is thoroughly decayed organic matter and has a very high CEC. Would this work as a dirt substitute in a planted tank? I would expect it not to cause major ammonia spikes like many traditional soils would, though since it doesn't have many nutrients I would need to fertilize such a tank (granted, I was going to anyway...). Thanks!
It doesn't list NPK values which in my opinion makes it questionable. I prefer to know how much nutrients is going into my tank.

Anyway I've done dirt a few times and what I've learned is that 1) dirt, pretty much any dirt near as I can tell, has more nutrients then we want or need, and 2) we should add a lot less of it to a tank, especially small tanks then some guides suggest.

Having gone out of my way to grab special dirt from garden stores I now feel the best solution is just to dig it out of the ground. MD Fish Tanks did a video on it a while back and I frankly liked his method the most of any youtuber I've seen thus far.


Skip to the 5 minute mark for the dirt portion.

I personally would add a deeper cap then what he uses.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-26-2020, 04:28 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, dirt does tend to have more nutrients than I would like...I am trying to see if this has much (if any) nutrients, as if it had a good CEC (which humus, by definition, does) but little to no ammonia (the bane of DIY soil users, as ammonia is among the chief algae triggers in addition to the threat it poses to fish), then it would likely be a good substrate component. I sent an email to the manufacturer to see if they have an NPK value (or if it has much for nutrients to begin with)...will post the results.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-26-2020, 04:34 PM
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Microwaving dirt. Who woulda thunk it. I left my bag of dirt outside to dry out the best I could.

Anyway. Just try the humus out! See how it works out for you.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-26-2020, 04:38 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks! The manufacturer replied to me...and turns out I had asked about a discontinued product;

"Ancient Forest is discontinued, but has never had an NPK rating as there is little content to reflect- falling below detectable limits in most reporting standards.

thank you"
- General Hydroponics

At least they got back to me quickly and confirmed that the humus has little to no nutrients (as I had hoped). Now to look for another source...
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-26-2020, 04:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grah the great View Post
Thanks! The manufacturer replied to me...and turns out I had asked about a discontinued product;

"Ancient Forest is discontinued, but has never had an NPK rating as there is little content to reflect- falling below detectable limits in most reporting standards.

thank you"
- General Hydroponics

At least they got back to me quickly and confirmed that the humus has little to no nutrients (as I had hoped). Now to look for another source...
That's pretty good customer service. Let us know what else you find. I used Miracle-Gro for mine. The raised garden bed one.
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