Miracle Grow Organic Potting Soil? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-10-2012, 03:08 PM Thread Starter
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Miracle Grow Organic Potting Soil?

So before setting up my new tank this weekend, I have a few more questions about using Miracle Grow Organic Potting Soil.

I plan to dose my tank, as I already do so and my plants that I will move are used to it. Is that going to cause any problems with using the soil?

Also what happens in a year or two, will the soil still have benfit? I have no plans to have to pull the tank apart in a year from now.

Just want to make sure this is the correct way to go still before I spend hours this weekend.

Also with using the Miracle Grow Organic Potting Soil? Do I need to do anything with Dolomite & Muriate of Potash or Clay? Just wanted to confirm, before I have to start a mad hunt looking for this stuff this weekend?


Thanks
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-10-2012, 03:20 PM
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I would go with Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting MIX not soil. the soil may have cow manure in it and other undesirables. The mix may have some chicken poo or not, but alot of folks are using it with no issues. i've set up two tanks with it so far. As far as dosing goes, if you are shooting for high light and co2 then dosing the water column should be fine. If you are low light, low tech. there really isn't a need as the dirt will give the plants everything they need through their roots. Assuming you aren't keeping demanding plants. hope that helps...


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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-10-2012, 03:21 PM
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oh...and the need for "Dolomite & Muriate of Potash or Clay" . this is personal preference, imo. you can use them if you want. but you certainly don't have to. like I said the dirt has everything you will need.


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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-10-2012, 03:30 PM
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I've done it a bunch of ways and they all work for me.
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Originally Posted by wkndracer View Post
Enriched substrates. I post this information often answering questions about soil tanks because I have a few of them and like the results.

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. I use this product because even though it varies on the contents found in the bag it's been consistent enough I trust repeated good results. The potting mix is claimed to be 0.10 - 0.05 - 0.05 so the ratio is low but fairly balanced. Currently I have been setting up tanks with it for 3yrs.

To you're question/comments on sub and lighting I've have done exactly what you are thinking about more than once. Placing up to a 2" layer of soil under the cap works very well for me. A 2" layer of Eco Complete should hold it down fine as a capping material. Another option would be to use it (Eco) and add some coal slag blasting media as a filler with the Eco to help close gaps in the capping material and keep a black appearance. Using a mixture of Black Beauty and Eco 1.5" held the lighter organics of the potting mix great here. Even thinner on the cap will work using sand size grained materials. 1" holds very well in my experience. The mixed size of the Eco Complete I have handled 2" would be my minimum capping thickness.

Tank balance.
No matter what you put in a tank be it too much or too little without light energy plants don't grow. Extremely high nutrient levels won't cause algae to grow. But intense light without all nutrients at good levels will. Even non injected at medium/low light energy lacking a macro or micro algae will grow and higher plants fail. Following many threads algae in a planted aquarium is caused by imbalance. All planted aquariums are limited by one factor or another and always out of balance one way or another so it's a tricky answer to find.
Light (imo) is easiest to control. Floaters filter the water column removing excess NPK and can greatly help controlling light rather than changing photo period as another option. Good growth both in rooted plants and emerged without dosing the water column for 3 years is my greatest success to date. Water column dosing of trace/Fe with a soil substrate seems to benefit my tanks the most.

Low and medium light with a potting mix base like I'm discussing using phosphate and nitrate on weekly parameter checks will be zero or a static value most of the time without additions. Recorded periods of over 2 months without change on tanks following the Walstad outlined method. TDS showed a gradual increase but other readings remained static. Even with no PO4 or NO3 tested in the water column plant growth was good and little or no algae in these tanks.

Reading the opinions on algae issues I find them all across the extremes. Lacking phosphate causes GSA. Shortage of nitrate or CO2 swings are blamed for BBA outbreaks. High organic content (DOC) is blamed by many yet the Walstad outlined method can be followed and adjusted to great success. Growth of plants always has a limiting factor based on what I've read. What I have seen succeed here is what I'll post. If it works here I'll repeat it in a post once I've tried it seeing results.

All my new tank starts now include floaters. Added starting out many are cleared completely after a few months.
With my belief that light energy is easiest to understand and adjust without changing the tank in any major way. Great at filtering the water too goes almost without saying. Ricca, Frogbit, Moss or Subwassertang, Salvinia cheap easy plants with great value (imo).

Low tech having a number of soil based tanks all containing a high percentage of organics adding macro nutrients (NPK) to the water is only done at start up and water changes. Trace is more liberally applied.

Higher lighting levels and CO2 injected I'll hold a parameter range in the water tests. PO4 is what bottoms out on my tanks when things shift almost every time.

Flourite, Eco Complete and gravel mixes release to the water more during the first few months. Using sand or a mixture of sand and frag my water parameter always test a lower nutrient content.
I don't care for traditional river gravel very much as it doesn't produce a very good boundary layer.

I have included some clays a couple times now to increase Fe and used the additions listed for mixing when setting up MTS tanks.
That said having a tank set up with dirt alone MGOCPM and nothing else for over a year I saw nothing to indicate the plants were lacking any nutrient at all and growth never stumbled. Beyond 3yrs. now and still no additives or changes made. Growth has slowed but the tank is still stable and growing plants.

still here, flooded 4/30/2009 still growing plants.
No changes made, no daily or even weekly ferts, no root tabs ticktock ticktock


hope my thoughts posted here make some sense LOL.
I'm sold on using soils containing organics when it comes to planted tanks.
Adding Muriate of Potash or Clay was done in my stainless rack build but what effect it has long term is years away from knowing.


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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-10-2012, 03:36 PM
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-10-2012, 03:41 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frrok View Post
I would go with Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting MIX not soil. the soil may have cow manure in it and other undesirables. The mix may have some chicken poo or not, but alot of folks are using it with no issues. i've set up two tanks with it so far. As far as dosing goes, if you are shooting for high light and co2 then dosing the water column should be fine. If you are low light, low tech. there really isn't a need as the dirt will give the plants everything they need through their roots. Assuming you aren't keeping demanding plants. hope that helps...

Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting Mix, is what I got, sorry typo on my part, just went in the garage and checked the bag.

I do have high light, at least I think I do. 4 x 54 watts, they are staggered, and I do put CO2 in my current tank and will move it to the new tank via CO2 reactor.

I do have some swords, which I was thinking I would add root tabs as I do now.

I am wondering do I need to add these to dirt as or add them to my cap?

Thanks
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-10-2012, 03:47 PM
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Adding root tabs really didn't change anything on my potting mix tanks the first couple years.


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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-10-2012, 03:51 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wkndracer View Post
Adding root tabs really didn't change anything on my potting mix tanks the first couple years.
If I were to add them, do I put them in the potting mix before I cap it or do I put them in the cap, like I do now?

Thanks for all your help.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-10-2012, 04:01 PM Thread Starter
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Dolomite & Muriate of Potash or Clay, finding it difficult to find these local, and I really don't want to delay the start of setting up my tank another weekend, so I might just skip, unless I can find them today.

I found Dolomite Lime at my local Lowes, but I don't think that what I want is it?

Also, do I need to put a layer around the outside of my tank with what I am using for my cap, before I put the dirt in?

Thanks
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-10-2012, 04:04 PM
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Using the organically rich soil layer (potting mix) I would save them rather than put them in starting out. All the root tabs as long as they stay dry won't go bad and honestly I never saw the need for them.

With you're setup being a sump based system with overflow weirs it will limit the use of floating plants. On most of my tank starts the parameters remained flat but those that did release ammonia were tab supplemented. (happened twice)

Using tweezers it's easy to add them later if you feel they are needed but I would either hold off or bury them deep on a new tank.

Edit; the outer 1.5" edge (front and sides) I just add the capping material in a berm first then load the tank.
On several tanks I added egg crate to eliminate soil creep from happening later just placing it along the edge under the berm.


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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-10-2012, 04:14 PM
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Wire cutters seem to work the best for me.






I only cut it on an angle when it's going against the glass.
Cutting straight across then snapping off the tabs while wearing gloves gets rid of the sharp edge for everything else.


HTH


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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-10-2012, 04:19 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wkndracer View Post
Wire cutters seem to work the best for me.






I only cut it on an angle when it's going against the glass.
Cutting straight across then snapping off the tabs while wearing gloves gets rid of the sharp edge for everything else.


HTH
Cool thanks for the info. I have 2 of those already, so I can just trim them like you did.
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-10-2012, 04:40 PM Thread Starter
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I do have one other question, so I am going to mix my eco-complete with the blag sag sand I got, but I am still not clear on how much. Since the eco-complete already in another tank and I will move it to the new tank, say if I add 1lb of eco-complete how much sand should I add 1 cup? I bought 2 bags of blag sag, I know it way more than I need, but the store not every close, and did not want to have to make another trip.
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-10-2012, 05:24 PM
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Increasing the area going to the larger tank try to gauge how thick the EC you have will spread out to cover. You can add the cap material unmixed in layers starting out and let the nature of frag sizing mix things on it's own over time. Spread a layer of blasting media over the soil first (1/2" or more), then add the EC on top to keep the active bacteria exposed to the water as much as possible.

Posted this earlier in you're other thread;
Using the grit to fill in the gaps in my capping material I just filled 22oz plastic cups after filling the tank with everything used to set it up, dirt, main frag capping material and 1/2 tank water fill. Then I scattered 5-6 cups (55g tank) over the top and did my plant placement. It settles into a mix in short order. All my soil tanks get a little capping material added over time as I think touch up is needed so I hold some in reserve. In a years time I've added maybe 5lbs of grit if that doing it twice.

Posting a precise mixing ratio is hard for me as each tank is filled to range on layer depth then finishing touches done by eye. Starting out make the goal be 1.5" total capping depth and attempt to keep the seeded EC exposed on top.

2" soil base, 1.5" capping layer, 3.5" total.


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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-11-2012, 05:27 PM
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I have a couple of questions, too.

Is the capping material berm necessary, or is it just so you don't see the dirt?

Two inches of dirt will do?

Can you do the float it/skim it for floatables/wood bits in the new tank itself, or does it really need to be done in a bucket first? I'm trying to save an already injured back by not lifting buckets of wet soil.

TIA
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