Mineralized topsoil clay substitute - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-22-2011, 06:08 PM Thread Starter
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Mineralized topsoil clay substitute

I purchased a large bag of plain topsoil for $1.50 from walmart. Everyone said get the cheapest stuff you can, with no additives rinse and sift. As long as it isnt sand/pine bark mixture its perfect. Well after rinsing and running mine through a screen it is nothing but the exact same sand I currently used, mixed half and half with pine bark.

I realized since I don't live in a concrete jungle, and I have plenty of yardspace with healthy soil, I'm just going to dig a small patch under one of my bushes in the yard, rinse and use that soil, filling the hole with my pine bark mixture. So I have that figured out

I found a bag of hermit crab sand that is labeled as a pure mixture of calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate. It is only $3 and I was hoping to use it as a substitute for dolomite.

I was hoping to also use NOSALT as the potash substitute since it is pure potassium chloride.

So I have my soil, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. I lack an iron source which is obviously the last piece of the MTS puzzle.

There are no pottery shops anywhere within a couple hundred miles of me and I am striking out trying to find any red clay online. I can obviously get Laterite from the LFS but at 20 bucks a box, I'm trying to save money and that might not be the best route. Does anyone have an alternative source of iron for the bottom layer of my soil?

I'll be capping it with some rinsed river gravel and play sand. Low tech setup with no CO2 and only dosing with Excel and Flourish root tabs.

Anyone have any suggestions for an iron source? Thanks so much!
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-22-2011, 07:14 PM
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I don't know about your place, but most foundation dirt around my area is made of clay. I just dug up my backyard
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-22-2011, 07:42 PM
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I'm not sure about what substitutes would work, but from what I've read the clay is not necessarily for the iron. It's mostly used to help bind the soil together so it won't float around as easily if disturbed. I'm pretty sure I remember seeing someone post a link where they ordered some clay online, but I don't know which thread. I think it was a dry powdered type of clay though, so it's easy to mix in.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-22-2011, 07:50 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the quick replies. I just finished digging up about 80 pounds of dirt from the back yard, and wouldn't you know, it was mostly clay. Red and black to be specific. I rinsed it really well through a window screen and what I ended up with is what feels alot like very fine beach sand that went through the screen and is drying right now. The rest was roots and balls of clay. I have the large clay balls drying right now because i think that will make them easier to separate from the woody organic matter that is in the mix.

So I have my clay/sand mixture, clay balls, potassium chloride, hermit crab sand (calcium carbonate,magnesium carbonate), and some fine river gravel from Home Depot.

Sprinkle the KCL, CaCO, MgCO on the bottom directly on the glass, put about 1/2" of the clay sand mixture down, 1.5 inch of fine gravel, and then decorate the border and the soil cap with play sand? Root tabs every 6 inches or so where plants are going? Top it off with rocks and driftwood, then plant?

Am I missing anything?
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