Soilmaster; Turface Alternatives - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-28-2011, 01:09 AM Thread Starter
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Soilmaster; Turface Alternatives

Hi All,

I have been happy with Soilmaster Select Charcoal and Turface Pro League Grey for several years, but both have been discontinued and I am looking for a suitable replacement. I have looked at Black Diamond (blasting grit) and the black color is great but I would like a product that can store and release nutrients....something with a good CEC.

I was doing Google searches and came across this link on GardenWeb where they were also looking for a suitable replacement for Turface.

Quote:
i made some quick and dirty anecdotal observations of Diatomite (aka Floor Dry), Oil-Dri, and Special Kitty (warning: zero science alert!). of course, your results may vary depending on batch, bag, sample from bag, planetary alignment, etc. ad nauseum. all were run through aluminum window screen. some thoughts:
- all pass some product through screen, but in the small amounts i did, i don't see major differences in %, all are ~10%, which is way less than than what i hear about turface. what passes through is not primarily dust, more like small granules that remind me of fine clumping kitty litter.
- dustiness: kitty litter is least dusty, diatomite was most dusty, but the oil-dri sample was old so i cannot fairly judge its dustiness; it did not spew as much dust into the air as the diatomite, but it had the finest particles in the sift (you can see that in the photo) so i suspect it can probably be pretty dusty when new. i guess it makes sense that the kitty litter would be least dusty since people get excited about that sort of thing in their houses and some of the brands mention it in advertising (this one says 'low dust' on the bag).
- size consistency: diatomite wins by far, kitty litter is the biggest loser, oil-dri in between. you can see in the pic that diatomite has the smallest average size (1/8), then oil-dri (3/16), and kitty litter is all over the place. that's a BB (3/16) in the center of the pic.

that's kitty litter at 2 o'clock, oil-dri at 6, and diatomite at 10. the big pile for each sample is some of what stayed on the window screen, the small pile is some of what went through.
cheers
The Oil-Dri looks intriguing, I like the darker color it seems to have less 'dust'. Has anyone tried this product? If so please post a picture and let us know how it worked for you.

30 Gallon with Turface

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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-28-2011, 01:32 AM
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I used oil dri...great results...capped over enriched peat by miracle gro...no pics at the moment,sorry
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-28-2011, 01:39 AM Thread Starter
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Hi aquatic serenity,

Thanks for the response. Does it have a darker color when wet and in your aquarium? If you have an opportunity a pic in the future would be great.

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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-28-2011, 02:30 AM
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I used oil dri in my 75 gallon for almost a year. I hated it. Every last bit of it. It is soooooooo dirty. I couldn't possibly rinse it clean and my tank was never "clean" after that. A cap helped some, but every time I uprooted plants It was a black mess. I'll never use or recommend it again.

It also doesn't look natural at all. It looks light grey when wet.

I would use a soil substrate with a cap of black diamond.

The oil dri stripped kh for months, too. Even in my super liquid rock water it was stripping it down.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-28-2011, 02:55 AM
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I use oil dri in one of my 75G and like it a lot personally. I washed it alot and it is still a little dirty but I like the fact its more dirty than turface because it makes it easier to plant and holds the plants better. I think it looks better than turface also.

I've also not seen an kh drops. Since its not meant for aquariums though there may be large variations from brand to brand at least for our use. Plus it was like $4 for a 50 pound bag.


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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-28-2011, 03:06 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks OverStocked; I had GSAS member Erik Olson say the same thing about Turface but I did not experience the same issues. Possibly there are some substantial variations in the QC.

Thanks CrazyMidwesterner! I used to visit the Costco Depot in Morris, IL just down the road from you! How do you fertilize, water column or tabs in the substrate? If you have a pic I would appreciate it.

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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-28-2011, 10:37 AM
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I got my oil dri from walmart in the automotive section..it took alot of rinsing -but the end result was nice....looks a little like flourite when wet...earthy grey color with flecks of red clay here & there...
there are at least 2 kinds of oil dri that I know of -the other is tan in color-looks and rinses nothing like the one I am using...so check around & experiment..
another HIGH CEC product thats not too expensive is pond care aquatic planting media...also tan in color...used for ponds and contains zeolite...you might want to look that over also...HTH
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-28-2011, 06:00 PM
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Quote:
I used oil dri in my 75 gallon for almost a year. I hated it. Every last bit of it. It is soooooooo dirty. I couldn't possibly rinse it clean and my tank was never "clean" after that. A cap helped some, but every time I uprooted plants It was a black mess. I'll never use or recommend it again.
That has been my experience with clay floor sweeps and pure clay kitty litter. They give off extreme amounts of dust- fine particulates of the clay. It also breaks down. You will notice over time a build up of clay sediment at the bottom of the substrate and just above that a layer that is soft. This area is then prone to be anaerobic. I think the problem is they do not bake it to be as hard as they do the Turface.

Robert Paul Hudson

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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-28-2011, 10:47 PM
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Oil Dri is fine for me, but I prefer the color I get mixing it with Fluorite. Your mileage may vary as the product is mined and fired at different sites. The mineral content isn't guaranteed.

Oil Dri as a substrate has all the positives and negatives that people bring up. It is fired at a lower temperature than Turface or SoilMaster products, but higher than clay cat litter. Over time it does break down a bit and give off "dust". Since it's a clay product that is to be expected. Over a couple year period it will keep breaking down into smaller bits - just like Turface and SoilMaster. Like other high CE products, it will mess with the pH for several weeks.

This weekend I took down a tank with about two year old Oil Dri / Fluorite mix and rinsed it for storage and re-use. It's held up reasonably well - especially - considering the price. For a planted tank, Oil Dri is, in my so so plant success, opinion, a suitable substrate.

I also tore down a several year old Color Quartz (black) tank.
Oh, do I wish we could still get that - at the price we used to get it at. ;-)
post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-29-2011, 01:44 AM
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You could try Stalite Permatill.

It's made from something like slate (rather than Montmorillonite), porous like Turface, fairly low bulk density (roughly 50 lb/cu ft, vs Turface at 35 lb/cu ft), fairly high CEC (though not as high as Turface), and overall color not too different from Turface gray.

Their primary distribution network apparently doesn't extend way out west. But according to their website (permatill.com), they also distribute thru Espoma (espoma.com), which sells the stuff rebranded as Espoma Soil Perfector. Good luck!
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-29-2011, 04:07 AM Thread Starter
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Hi All,

Thank you all for your input! What I am learning is there seems to be varied experiences with this product; sort of like the comments I hear about ADA Aquasoil. I am going to pick up a bag locally and see what it looks like and provide some feedback.

Here is a picture that a member of another forum provided that I really appreciated because it gave me some idea of grain size and color (although it looks lighter than I had hoped). This is also proof that one picture is worth 1000 words!

Oil-Dri

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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-29-2011, 06:02 AM
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i used oil dry in my low tech cray tanks and really varies as far as color and quality from batch to batch. personally i dont care for the color, but it is cheaper than dirt and if you get a bad batch (soft and breaks down after a few months), toss it and try again. the one constant was that it stripped KH like nothing else (only akadama redline stripped kh faster/longer), so you will have to wait a while before adding fish/shrimps. didnt know they stopped making the turface, glad i bought a pallet of the stuff last year, we dont have many cheapish options for gravel on this rock.
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-29-2011, 10:49 AM
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The Oil Dri in walmart looks completely different than the tank above...That color oil dri (above) I found at ace hardware...comes from 2 different mines..
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-24-2012, 04:22 PM Thread Starter
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Hi All,

Sorry, life has been a little crazy. I did pick up some Oil Dry Premium Absorbent from Wal Mart about two weeks ago. The color when wet looks a lot like the stuff shown in the 'plate picture' in post #1; it has A LOT of small grains and grit. I am trying it in an emersed setup first, then we will see.

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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-06-2012, 07:28 PM
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I was in a bonsai greenhouse today. They had large bags of Turface. Seems that they can still get it in regularly, but do admit it is difficult to get.
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