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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-08-2011, 04:24 PM Thread Starter
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soil question

i just set up my 29 gallon with a soil and play sand base. i have never done this before. the only plant i am going to have in the tank is java moss. when i set up the tank i was thinking dwarf hairgrass but i haven't been able to get any. do you think it will be ok to have the soil in there even though i won't have any rooted plants?

and, i haven't put my fish or shrimps into this tank yet because i am waiting to get the java moss in the mail and also because i am nervous... haha! i have the following test kits:

ammonia
nitrites
nitrates
gh
kh
pH

if i use those kits will it tell me if the water is safe for my fish and more importantly the shrimp. i don't want any of them to die but i know that shrimp are more sensitive. i have blue tetras and amano shrimp.

i was planning to add the fish/shrimp to the 29 gallon after i put the java moss in and i was going to use some gravel from the established tank in a pantyhose sock to help seed the new tank. but, now i am worried and i am thinking i might do a fishless cycle on the 29 first. my 20 is overrun with pond snails (i will always listen to good advice given to me from more experienced people from now on!) and i am also a little worried that bringing some gravel from the other tank and putting it in the new no snail tank will be asking for trouble.

also, what is a safe depth for sand/soil. i have about 3 inches total, between 1.5-2 inches of soil in most places and between 1-1.5 inches of sand on top. is this ok or do i have to worry about anaerobic problems?

please help!

thank you
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-08-2011, 04:35 PM
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The problem with having a sand soil without any rooted plants is that there can be a build up of anaerobic gas which can poison fish. This is offset by plants as they stir up the sand with their roots and provide oxygen into the soil. I do know that there is something about having what's called a deep bed sand substrate where anaerobic activity is the goal because at over 4 inches deep there is a benefit to having this occur, but this is for Marine aquariums I believe.

Your test kit will tell you it when it is safe for your fish, but if you don't know how it will then that is a problem. Check out the forum articles on cycling a tank. You need to build up the beneficial bacteria in your tank which will process ammonia to nitrite to nitrate. The first two should remain at zero in an established tank but will both spike as it cycles.

It seems if you put the gravel in a filter sock then the possibility of snails escaping would be minimal. Possibly there could be eggs but use a fine mesh net and I would think you'd be alright. If you have filter media from your established tank that would be even better.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-08-2011, 04:49 PM
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Without rooted plants (imo) soil should not used in the aquarium as no purpose is served by it being there. I have no idea what type of problems you'll face with your water parameters with this combination of soil and sand without rooted plants. I've always planted a large number of rooted plants with any soil substrate be it NPT or mineralized. Your soil layer is quite thick as well (imo). The maximum depth I've used is 1 1/2" with 1 - 1 1/2" cover of capping material starting out. Your in the range as far as depth but 2" is over what I try to use with rooted plants.

I'm sure others will have had other results but my experience has been that snails and shrimp that stay close to the bottom were at risk for the first 3 months or so with natural soil tanks.


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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-08-2011, 05:21 PM Thread Starter
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thank you for your replies.

higher thinking, i do know what to look for with the test kits, i just needed to know if they will test for all the things that might come about because of the soil. i don't know if i need to get more test kits.

like i said, i was planning to put rooted plants in my tank when i set it up. problem is i live in super rural newfoundland and the closest lfs hardly carries any plants. i wanted dwarf hairgrass but i haven't been able to find any online. i found java moss so that is what i have to go with. are there any plants that i can go with that are easier to find that will look ok with an iwagumi style tank? i can put a row of taller rooted plants in the back maybe?

i really don't want to take everything out and start again.

i set this up a week ago and i noticed yesterday that a bubble came up from the middle of the sand. i don't know how many more may have come out, but that is the only one i saw. i guess this means problems?

this sucks!
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-08-2011, 05:36 PM
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Don't worry about it. If you'd like other plants, just browse through the Swap N Shop (Canadian) forum here, and/or make a thread offering to buy specific plants. Heck, offer a bit of money for a small plant package, describe your setup, and see what kind of response you get.

To me, it seems as though the Canadians on this forum tend to be pretty supportive of each other. I bet you'll get some bites.

Don't worry about the bubbles, it happens. Poke around with a chopstick every few days.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-08-2011, 05:38 PM
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You need to get some stems/rooted plants in there ASAP. Since you are in Newfoundland you should try to purchase plants off of ebay or aquabid. I know there are sellers on those sites that will ship internationally.


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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-08-2011, 06:08 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevmo911 View Post
Don't worry about it. If you'd like other plants, just browse through the Swap N Shop (Canadian) forum here, and/or make a thread offering to buy specific plants. Heck, offer a bit of money for a small plant package, describe your setup, and see what kind of response you get.

To me, it seems as though the Canadians on this forum tend to be pretty supportive of each other. I bet you'll get some bites.

Don't worry about the bubbles, it happens. Poke around with a chopstick every few days.
thanks

i did post in the canadian section here and i didn't get a single response to my post. i did get a pm from someone though that offered to buy some glosso from their lfs and mail it to me. i thought that was so nice of the person, to take time out of their day to do something for me, a complete stranger. but, i don't really like the look of the glosso and i am not sure if i have enough light for it.

i was just looking on aquabid and i found some dwarf chain swords. i think that would look nice in an iwagumi style tank but the seller is in malaysia. i think that is too far. i already ordered java moss from taiwan and it got here 4 weeks later and dead. i don't want to spend money on plants that are more than likely going to show up dead. i will ask my lfs if they can get that plant in for me. i will have to see how it goes.

i was thinking about poking a knitting needle down into the sand/soil, i don't have any chopsticks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tuffgong View Post
You need to get some stems/rooted plants in there ASAP. Since you are in Newfoundland you should try to purchase plants off of ebay or aquabid. I know there are sellers on those sites that will ship internationally.
like i just said above, i have been looking but am having trouble finding what i want in canada. i ordered moss before and it showed up dead. i will keep looking for something in canada, and i will check with my lfs.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-08-2011, 08:08 PM
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Yea there will definitely be some bubbles that are natural going to come up as there is air trapped in the sand. Be sure to dig around in there ever so often and you wont get any issues I don't think. Like I said though, there is definitely going to be alot of bubbles coming up for a while due to its being newly set up.

Sorry, I don't know too much about testing extra because of soil. Outside of the hardness, pH, nitrate, nitrite, ammonia I don't think there is anything more to be tested as far as water parameters. Of course if you start dosing with fertilizers there will need to be more testing, but that is another issue.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-08-2011, 08:36 PM Thread Starter
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thank you.

i don't know if there is anything else i need to test for with the soil either. that is why i asked

i was nervous that maybe there is fertilizers in the soil even though the bag didn't say there was. i was nervous that i would put the shrimp over and they would die. i didn't know what else i could test for just to be certain that the water is ok.
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