Soil Substrate Without Cap - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-26-2011, 04:58 PM Thread Starter
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Soil Substrate Without Cap

Has anybody ever tried using soil substrate and not capping it? And not having any lower level fish to mess with it. I don't know if it would work but it could look pretty cool. You wouldn't want to re-scape though.
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-26-2011, 05:05 PM
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I don't see how it would be worth all the potential headache IMHO but thats just me
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-26-2011, 09:37 PM
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i gotta tell u. rescapeing is a pain in m soil tank with only a 3/8 inch cap.. i thought i had more.. i'dont and i hate having to move plants.. im glad im SUPER DUPER LOW LIGHt.. i trim about once every 2 months

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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-27-2011, 01:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zefrik View Post
Has anybody ever tried using soil substrate and not capping it?
Go for it. If it didn't work well, just drain down the water, pull the plants, cap it and replant. We need more people pushing the envelope. Knowledge grows through applied theory.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-27-2011, 01:54 PM
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I practically have dirt with no cap in my tank right now as alot of it floated up through my Eco- complete cap. The fish are fine and the water isn't cloudy but if I ever so much as touch anything in the tank or move plants the dirt goes everywhere! I'm sure it could be done but you would probably have to leave it alone and let nature take its course.


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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-27-2011, 03:03 PM
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"Dirt" can contain floating bits of organic matter, rocks, silt, clay, etc. Floating stuff will float! Silt and clay will become cloudy water if there is any disturbance in the water at all. Rocks are essentially natural cap material. I wouldn't even consider not using a 1-2 inch cap on any soil substrate.

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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-29-2011, 02:56 PM
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Hmm, I just filled a dirt tank yesterday and I'm starting to see this point. It won't be stocked for a week or two so I might have to go back and stick a cap in it. I was hoping it would clear up, but it hasn't cleared up much at all overnight.

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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-30-2011, 12:52 AM
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It all depends on what the "soil" is. I've got tanks both ways. As I've said in many other posts I use top soil. Some times it's wet and dried a few times before I use it but mostly it's just dumped in the tank and left with just water for a spell. Capped or not it's no big deal. I plant the same in either method. And I'm getting ready to thin out the plants in one tank. I've done it before without any real problems. Will the water get cloudy? Sure it will. So will a gravel substrate that's been done for a while. I just turn off the filter and let it settle out for a couple of hours. NBD.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-30-2011, 12:59 AM
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I have some soil sitting in a water under my emersed setup, it stayed cloudy for a long time, but when I added an airstone it cleared up very quickly. I tried stirring it up just now and everything was calm and clear again 20 minutes later. The 20L dirt tank I set up yesterday is still cloudy, but getting better. Is it possible that the bacteria in a tank break down the really small bits that would otherwise cloud the water??

Always curious.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-30-2011, 01:23 AM
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Doubt it. It just resettles. First time you put water and soil together there is a lot of surface tension and the water needs to penetrate the soil particles. Here in Florida with our sand I can watch the water just run over the sand. 2 inches of rain and the sand is only wet for about a 1/4". same thing happens with dry peat and a bunch of other substrates. Ever see gravel floating? It's surface tension. Experiment. Fill a glass to full. I mean full. Look a the surface. The water will actually be domed shaped. It's called meniscus. It's surface tension of the water. But you can make water wetter. Add detergent or isopropyl to it. OK Go ahead and google it. I'll wait.

Back yet? OK so you found out what you're doing is adding a surfactant.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-30-2011, 01:37 AM
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That makes sense, I just hadn't expected it with particles that small. Adding water to a cup of hot chocolate mix is an analogy more people may have seen. Don't stir it enough and there's still a concealed clump of dry powder when you get to the bottom an hour later.

Always curious.
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-30-2011, 02:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jccaclimber View Post
That makes sense, I just hadn't expected it with particles that small. Adding water to a cup of hot chocolate mix is an analogy more people may have seen. Don't stir it enough and there's still a concealed clump of dry powder when you get to the bottom an hour later.
What is this "hot chocolate mix" of which you speak?

Or flour when your making a batter for cake. MMmmmm Cake. Cheese cake, With strawberries
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-30-2011, 02:18 AM
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Well, I had this in mind:

But if you want something a bit nicer you could go with this:

Always curious.
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-30-2011, 02:33 AM
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And that ends the thread hijacking.
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-30-2011, 02:38 AM
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More on topic: I asked a similar question on another forum and found a couple people today that have used dirt without a cap. They said it does make a bit of a mess when they really stir things up. but that killing the filter for a couple hours fixes the issue. I suspect, but don't firmly know, that even with a filter on things would still settle out.

Always curious.
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