Quick question about soil - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-09-2012, 05:29 PM Thread Starter
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Quick question about soil

So you can use miracle grow in a tank? Would it be fine to put sand on top of it if I can?
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-09-2012, 07:46 PM
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You can use Miracle-Gro Organic, but that's about it. I wouldn't use sand to cap it, because you'll get little air pockets and the sand will trap it in the soil which could be harmful depending on if the air bubble is Co2 from organic waste, or something more harmful.

15g Fluval Flex - Will be a planted shrimp tank
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-09-2012, 08:34 PM Thread Starter
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Alright, thanks. I've been seeing pole talking about putting miracle grow in, and it just seems strange and I wasn't sure lol
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-10-2012, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xxUnRaTeDxxRkOxx View Post
I wouldn't use sand to cap it,
The black blasting media I used in this tank is no different really than sand except the color. Both are small grain and inert.

I have several tanks done with it and this one is the simplest thread description on any of my setups.

1 day change over. Switched from an established 20L to a new 29g tank.
Flora and fauna same day. 7/17/2011
Marineland 280 HOB, single t8 15w bulb.

There are a minimum of risks doing it but risks none the less. Growth is extremely slow due to the extremely low light energy provided.
(Plant types are limited without more light.)
But adding more light can complicate things if keeping it simple is the goal and it was for me on this tank. I wanted a tank I could just walk by and feed the fish.

3 - 5g buckets were used and I kept all the things from the original set up wet in those buckets making the change. Every surface in the tank will hold bio film so I protected it and transferred that to the new tank.
The filter was dirty with 2 weeks use since the last cleaning.
Emptying the 20L I saved about 14g of tank water.



I placed a barrier ring of the black blasting media around the sides and front edge of the tank then added 1 1/2" of mud pudding. Miracle Grow Organic Potting Soil has cow manure listed on all the bags I've seen. Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting Mix (exact wording on the label) has chicken waste added in the mix and has less tendency to spike parameters when first submerged. Setting up the tank dry is easily done also. Press the palm of your hand down firmly on the soil then gauge the depth of the layer. I recommend staying at 2"or less on the soil thickness.



Capped the dirt with 1 to 1.5" of capping material then added about 4" of water to the tank from the buckets and planted it. Followed with all the water remaining in my buckets except for enough to hold the fish. Topped off the tank with new water, matched temperature to the bucket and transferred the fish back in.
2 adult angels, 2 albino cory, 2 LFBN.






7/22/2011 I did a 50% WC to reduce tannins released by the soil.
8/22/2011 another 50% WC to reduce tannins. Never saw NO2 or NH3/NH4 on a water test. The filter was cleaned for the first time after this water change.

Pictures taken for the last thread update and the tank has never been trimmed. Growth is very slow but the plants are healthy.




Plants included are Java Fern, Java Moss, Subwassertang, various Crypts and anubias. I do not fertilize this tank in any way.
Dwarf sag would do very well also but I didn't want it in this tank.

Sand capping is not a problem. Setting up a tank wrong is.


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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-10-2012, 03:28 PM
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Sand is fine the anaerobic conditions that can happen with the bubbles of air he was talking about happen when the sand is deeper than would be recommend. Normally the successful setup consists of a 2" layer of miracle gro organic Potting mix (see my 10 gallon journal for a picture of the bag) and a 1 inch cap of your choice, I personally like sand (black or natural color) because it looks more natural. If you want to ensure that the sand does not become anaerobic then when you vacuum your sand stick the pointy end of the gravel vac in the sand. 1/4 inch should be sufficient for a inch cap or go the natural route and use Malaysian Trumpet Snails and they will do it for you. Good luck!

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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-10-2012, 03:43 PM
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'anaerobic' is always bad?

'anaerobic' is always bad?

Very broad statements create confusion (imo).

Avoided on the forums but consistently reported and supported as fact;
All substrate containing aquariums will have anaerobic conditions present.
Anaerobic bacteria are part of the nitrogen cycle aiding in biological balance and the last part of the nitrogen cycle chain of bacteria.

First, it must be accepted that anaerobic bacteria is always present. (Even in the gut of our fish but that is another topic.)

Only a couple documented freshwater bacteria routinely release sulfur / acid compounds based on several published papers. The remaining strains, the vast majority (numbering in the hundreds), of anaerobic bacteria only do so when presented with a lack of food (NO3). Most die without any cumulative effect. Changes in the bacter food source is the cause of this shift to sulfate production and release not disturbance alone. Normally produced is the splitting of nitrogen and O2 (oxygen).

The presence of anaerobic bacteria is almost impossible to avoid except in bare tanks with positive flow sponge filters. These systems only have the first half of the nitrogen cycle in place and are dependent solely on water changes to remove all remaining waste products. Adding plants and substrate it's an entirely different game being played in system maintenance.

Anaerobic bacteria and the production of sulfides along with acids seems to always be reported in 3 ways;
Hobbyists repeating what they have heard or read with the majority being short on facts.
Those selling products inciting fears to help do so.
Scientific study papers which are very hard for most to read. (boring and chewy)

Almost anything can be stated as toxic above a threshold limit and allowed to become imbalanced.
Controlling anaerobic conditions in a nutrient rich substrate is absolutely possible. Anaerobic bacteria factor directly into natural planted tank keeping (Walstad published method) and ages old filter systems.

Conscientious Aquarist Magazine / Seachem published copyright 2010.
Freshwater Deep Sand Beds Work by Deirdre Kylie
closing excerpt;
While some tales of anaerobic disasters surely are true, bubbles from the substrate rise too quickly and have too little surface area to sufficiently contaminate even a small tank. It’s more likely that dissolved gases and toxins from anaerobic decay were released into the water column when they were disrupted by the fishkeeper. Bubbles percolating up through the sand leave it to harmlessly close up behind them without even mixing much - this phenomenon can easily be observed in bubbles which form against the glass because the anaerobic sand is black and contrasts with the oxygenated sand.

Important Acknowledgement
Though my tanks are not Walstad tanks, they are inspired and informed by Diana Walstad’s method and information as presented in her wonderful book, "Ecology of the Planted Aquarium." I suggest that book as a great source of information about nutrients, bacteria, lighting, etc., comprehensible to the layperson. Without it, I might have red and blue epoxy covered gravel, plastic plants, some overcrowded goldfish, and little enthusiasm for the hobby.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume...e_7_1/dsb.html

I absolutely agree with all these statements.
Rex Grigg's planted tank guide, D.Walstad's book, George & Karla Booth (thekrib.com) are the primary source reference for my aquarium knowledge. Expanded with experience and further reading on topics of my interest.

Anaerobic bacteria feed on nitrates not ammonia and nitrites.
Good flow and circulation through the layers of substrate will maintain imbalance but WILL NOT eliminate all anaerobic forms of bacteria nor should you want it too.

Hobby related links
http://www.monsterfishkeepers.com/fo...ater-Aquariums
http://www.aquariacentral.com/forums...he-Long-Answer
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/f...quarium-74891/
(luv this site on a range of tanking topics)
http://sites.google.com/site/moashow...ater-aquarists
Remaining Wastes topic
http://sites.google.com/site/moashow...nges-necessary

Published study
http://horizon.documentation.ird.fr/...0-21/26560.pdf
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC169723/

Link list "anaerobic bacteria + freshwater" Scholar search all articles and patents.
http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=...=1&oi=scholart

is what it is I consider myself a baby on the topic of bacteria but gassing substrate doesn't scare me anymore.


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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-10-2012, 05:45 PM Thread Starter
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Does the miracle grow seem to help with the growth of your plants at all?
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-10-2012, 05:48 PM
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I don't think they would grow without it.
Soil, root tabs or water column dosing plants are living things so they gotta eat.

I'm completely happy and satisfied with the growth results.


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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-10-2012, 05:53 PM Thread Starter
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Alright I think I'll give it a try then. Never had a planTed tank but I've always liked the looks of them. I currently have an amazon sword, java fern and some dwarf hairgrass. Planning on getting some more plants soon and finally have a nice looking tank lol.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-10-2012, 06:00 PM
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I suggest you read a couple threads that track the setup / settling in period first so you know what to expect before making the change.

I would have most of the plants in hand before making the changes simply because they help so much with any ammonia.
Changing things on a tank with critters I prefer to hedge all the bets I can to best advantage. Learn what you can first and feel good about understanding what to look for making the changes.


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