upgrading substrate - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-11-2012, 02:13 AM Thread Starter
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Cool upgrading substrate

Planning to go dirty!!! Judging from the sticky thread miracle gro organic choice potting mix is the most optimal way to go. No hassle as with MTS, but includes everything that plant will eat for a while(?) plus the price is right. The only question is what to cap it with.

Pool Filter sand compacts too tight this inhibiting carpet spreading via roots and CO2/O2 exchange with substrate, but also prevents unwanted matter leaching to the water column.

Blasting sand? Sharp, does it hurt the fish that likes to dig in the substrate?

Flourite? Price and effectiveness of keeping dirt in check?

And perhaps most important question CYCLING! How can I avoid keeping my fish in 10gal temporary tank for too long while dirting.

Please critique and comment. Also links to threads are welcome (though I did look at some before asking)

Last edited by MVA; 09-11-2012 at 12:29 PM. Reason: ment to say
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-11-2012, 03:27 AM
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i have blasting grit in two grades in tanks with fish like corydoras, a dragon goby, a banjo cat, etc... no problems, none of that "barbel damage."

"pool sand," i have never used, but i have uniform grade quartz/silica filler sand in a tank, as long as there are plenty of plants to keep gas exchange going, it should be okay. there are a couple creepy dark spots showing up in that substrate though, i'll likely replace that in a few months.

never used flourite.

a ten gallon too small? go to a big box store ang grab a 30+ gallon tote, theyre only a couple bucks...

cycling? try to keep as much old media with the bio-load of the fish in the holding tank/tub...

a guru or two should be here shortly =]
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-11-2012, 12:34 PM Thread Starter
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Meant to say pool filter sand. well I have 3 pearl gouramis who just got fry (postponing the update for a couple of months for that reason) and 2 SAE. So I think 10 gal will be fine for a day.....not for a week though....but if I'll have to cycle again tote is the way to go i guess.

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-11-2012, 01:09 PM
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Really any sand is a good cap for dirt. I use playsand in a couple tanks (worst choice IMO) - its too fine and gets stirred up easily. Pool filter sand works well.
Cycling with dirt is usually pretty quick. If you can add an established filter you should be ok stock the tank in a week (or less)
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-11-2012, 02:12 PM Thread Starter
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Right, I am running aquaclear 70; so by keeping sponge and bio-media, also large driftwood and bunch of plants I am truly hoping to eliminate any ammonia/nitrite spikes. would the dirt give off considerable amount of ammonia?
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-11-2012, 05:25 PM
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I do not know if MGOPM gives off ammonia when it is submerged. Lets say, worst case, it is as bad as ADA products that way. Here is what I would do:

Option 1) Soak it in lots of water changes before placing it in the tank. Any sort of storage bin would work. It does not matter if it is cycled or not. ADA products keep on giving off ammonia. This can grow a good bacteria colony, but that is a side effect, not a cure.

Option 2) Put the fish and all the stuff from the original set up into the storage container (other tank) and put the new soil in the main tank. Let it go through its ammonia cycle there. Be prepared to keep the fish happy for a month.
-----------------------------------------------------------------

Better scenario:
MGOCPM produces little or no ammonia, but needs a few days to settle in.

I think I would still prep it in a storage container. Dump it in, get it wet and test the water every few days. If there is something you do not like do lots of water changes and stir the material a lot. Otherwise, get ready to do the switch.
Do the switch, let things run for 24 hours and test. If there is something you do not like then do water changes as needed. If everything is fine, put the fish back in.
-----------------------------------------------------------
Conserving bacteria:
You currently have enough bacteria to handle the waste from the fish you have.
That bacteria lives mostly in the filter (roughly 50%) and a fair amount on the upper layer of the substrate (Which you want to get rid of).
To replace the amount of bacteria you are throwing away there are a couple of things you can do:

Plant very densely. So dense you cannot see the back of the tank. Keep the plants happy with good light, CO2, other nutrients (but not nitrogen- make them scavenge the ammonia)
Skim the upper layer of your old substrate and keep that in mesh bags (like nylon stockings). Hang these in the new set up and remove 1 per week for a month. This will ease the loss of bacteria, spread it out over time.
Add bacteria in a bottle. Look for Nitrospira species of bacteria. Do not waste your money on anything else.
You can certainly do all three of these things.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-11-2012, 07:27 PM
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if you can get peat humus you can skip the MTS wet/dry cycle, if im right peat humus is MTS in its last form.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-11-2012, 11:25 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, in either case storage bucket is recommended, got it. Does anyone have an experience with MGOCPM? Does it leach ammonia?

Peat humus sounds very interesting. Outdoorlivingbymrmulch.com sells it for $3 for 40lb bag. hmmm can someone comment?
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-13-2012, 07:54 AM
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You can read a bit more about peat humus here.
http://www.aquaticplantenthusiasts.c...d-topsoil.html
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-13-2012, 12:28 PM
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I use MGOC and haven't had much ammonia leaching. Not sure if the soil mix varies by area. You can start soaking it now if you're concerned it may be a problem.

I soak it in a bucket overnight and remove any floaters the next day. Then add it to the tank and cap. With established filter media I had 0 ammonia/nitrites in a couple days. I usually give it a week before stocking however.
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-13-2012, 01:28 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by In.a.Box View Post
You can read a bit more about peat humus here.
http://www.aquaticplantenthusiasts.c...d-topsoil.html
Very interesting read...but I have a feeling that after a year or so this guy is still experimenting and still not satisfied with it. (will continue to follow that thread though)
I think what I'll do is add some clay. Personally I do not want a ultra fast growth rate stimulated by high light and CO2 but rather healthy and stable (let it be even slow).
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-13-2012, 01:33 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThinkTank View Post
I use MGOC and haven't had much ammonia leaching. Not sure if the soil mix varies by area. You can start soaking it now if you're concerned it may be a problem.

I soak it in a bucket overnight and remove any floaters the next day. Then add it to the tank and cap. With established filter media I had 0 ammonia/nitrites in a couple days. I usually give it a week before stocking however.
Thanks for the input. What did you cap it with? Did you add any other ingredients like dolomite?
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-13-2012, 03:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MVA View Post
Thanks for the input. What did you cap it with? Did you add any other ingredients like dolomite?
I've capped with black sand, playsand and gravel. The gravel tank was a mess. Too many gaps between the pieces. I ended up re-capping with sand.
I haven't added anything else, but I would have if i'd had it around at the time. Hasn't caused any issue though.
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-13-2012, 06:55 PM
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Oh, it's capped with Safe-T-Sorb

Quote:
Originally Posted by MVA View Post
Does anyone have an experience with MGOCPM? Does it leach ammonia?
I don't think so, but it does outgas. When I changed my substrate to MGOCPM and added the plants, they pearled with little light. Likely the soil has CO2 stored from previous decomposition, and continues to release CO2 as it decomposes. Previously I had dried out the soil on a tarp in my patio all morning. I also ran my tank with the light and filter on for several hours after noticing the pearling to hopefully use up whatever was in the water. Since I had an established filter and lots of plants, I felt comfortable enough to put my fish back within six hours after adding the dirt. They didn't show any signs of stress even though I'd changed everything.
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-14-2012, 01:21 AM
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I am fairly new to planted tanks, but I converted a 16g around late May or so, and it's doing really well! After a lot of research and a budget in mind (I'm a college student so I try not to spend too much if I can help it), I ended up going with MGOCPM after my local family LFS recommended I try it. I just poured it into my tank how I wanted it and put enough water to soak it well without completely saturating it, and left it for a couple nights to let the natural bacteria in the soil acclimate. Overall, I've been pretty happy with it. I had a lot of extra gravel laying around from my fish-only tank, so I tried to use that as a cap which I'll never do again. The sticks from the soil kept managing to work their ways up through the gravel and, well, it was a mess. So I took everything down and put a pool sand cap on it- so far so good. It's been about 3 months now and I've had no problems with ammonia, other toxins, clouding, algae, or annoying sticks! Replanting can get kind of messy, but it's not too bad to clean up. I ended up constructing a DIY CO2 system and supplemental lighting because I got impatient with the growth rates, but I don't think the problem was the soil since my plants have exploded since. I was also able to put fish in only a day after the (initial) setup, and never had any problems. I spent just under $10 (soil & sand!) for a functional, nice looking substrate and I'd definitely recommend it.
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