Mineralized Topsoil Help - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 42 (permalink) Old 09-22-2012, 08:42 PM Thread Starter
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Mineralized Topsoil Help

i got the supplies to make some mts and have put it off for a while. well i finally started soaking the soil yesterday but noticed something im concerned about. The soil i got is organic garden soil and nit organic topsoil. will this still work? i looked up the difference between the two and most sites said that there is really no specific definition of what is in garden soil but it is rather a term used more as a marketing technique. anybody know?
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post #2 of 42 (permalink) Old 09-23-2012, 01:01 AM
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If you're doing the MTS process, it really does not matter.

You only have to soak long enough to float any wood chips out. The dirt can only get saturated after that point you are wasting time that could be spent drying out.
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post #3 of 42 (permalink) Old 09-23-2012, 02:05 AM
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You are right that there is not a definition for garden soil or top soil.

Garden soil is a marketing term and has nothing to do with what is in the bag.
Topsoil is whatever was stripped off a site, often to prepare it for building.

Read the ingredients.
If it is anything like 'Forestry by-products', 'peat moss', or any form of animal waste then this is all organic matter. It can work in an aquarium, but some of these things will be rather coarse, and it may produce a lot of ammonia. Good that you are doing the MTS system.
If it is anything like Sand, Silt or Clay these are terms with a specific definition in soil science. They are the mineral fraction that makes up a soil. Each particle has a specific range of sizes. The right ratios are very good in an aquarium.
If it says humus this is supposed to be organic matter that is very well broken down, and is small enough to have some cationic exchange capacity. This is usually quite stable in the soil in the garden or the aquarium, and is a good ingredient.
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post #4 of 42 (permalink) Old 09-23-2012, 08:54 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
You are right that there is not a definition for garden soil or top soil.

Garden soil is a marketing term and has nothing to do with what is in the bag.
Topsoil is whatever was stripped off a site, often to prepare it for building.

Read the ingredients.
If it is anything like 'Forestry by-products', 'peat moss', or any form of animal waste then this is all organic matter. It can work in an aquarium, but some of these things will be rather coarse, and it may produce a lot of ammonia. Good that you are doing the MTS system.
If it is anything like Sand, Silt or Clay these are terms with a specific definition in soil science. They are the mineral fraction that makes up a soil. Each particle has a specific range of sizes. The right ratios are very good in an aquarium.
If it says humus this is supposed to be organic matter that is very well broken down, and is small enough to have some cationic exchange capacity. This is usually quite stable in the soil in the garden or the aquarium, and is a good ingredient.
most of the ingredients just said "natural or organic matter" but i did see manure, peat moss, humus, and water soluble potash. it is drying now. thanks for the feedback
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post #5 of 42 (permalink) Old 09-24-2012, 10:39 PM Thread Starter
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how dry does the soil need to be? its still kinda moist. is that ok? how long should i soak it? what i was originally going to do is soak it one day and dry it another but it is taking more time to ry than i thought.
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post #6 of 42 (permalink) Old 09-25-2012, 02:29 AM
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As I posted you don't need to soak longer than 15min. it doesn't get any more "wet" over time.

Dry should be completely dry. Rake it, turn it, stir it, what ever you need to do to speed up the drying. Each cycle AFTER the 1st, all you need to do is wet the dirt, you don't need to soak a 2nd time.

The initially soaking does two things, it will float out wood, leaves, plant matter etc. it will also allow rocks to separate from the dirt. Any thing floating after 15min in you bucket will float in your tank, pour the floating mater out, then dry your dirt in the Sun.

The more cycles you rum the more effective the mineralization is. My last back was 7-9 cycles as the rain added a few extra cycles. I spend a month aging it.

2-3 cycles will work fine.
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post #7 of 42 (permalink) Old 09-25-2012, 04:01 AM
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I just boil the dirt for a few hours. It accomplishes the same end faster than waiting for bacs to decompose the organics. Some feel that this is not a good practice as it destroys the beneficial bacteria in the soil, but I and others believe those bacteria drown when you fill the tank and are replaced with more appropriate ones anyway. I reduce it on the stovetop until it is as thick as pea soup then add seachem stability to seed it with the right stuff when its cool and about as thick as brownie batter then pour it in the tank. If you want an ammonia spike to help plants leave it more organic. If you want instant fish ready with no spike take it down to less than 10% organic. I boil the hell out of it and aim for 100% mineralized. An advantage to boiling is not worrying about weird organisms like fungi causing you grief later.


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post #8 of 42 (permalink) Old 09-25-2012, 04:11 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks DogFish. Not soaking it should save me some hassle. Gold Finger, i have quite a bit of dirt so i think it would take me a really long time to boil all of it but thanks for the suggestion. Do you guys now where i could get the clay, potash and dolomite.
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post #9 of 42 (permalink) Old 09-25-2012, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Tcal01 View Post
.... Do you guys now where i could get the clay, potash and dolomite.
Potash & Dolomite - Go to Amazon.com

I use Powder Red Art clay, find a distributer of Pottery supplies. Or if you have a local Pottery shop they might sell you some. I get mine in 40# bags.

My last batch of MTS:



Boiling is not an option when I make it.
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post #10 of 42 (permalink) Old 09-25-2012, 11:40 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DogFish View Post
Potash & Dolomite - Go to Amazon.com

I use Powder Red Art clay, find a distributer of Pottery supplies. Or if you have a local Pottery shop they might sell you some. I get mine in 40# bags.

My last batch of MTS:



Boiling is not an option when I make it.
yah i think boiling is a good technique but out of the question for the batch im making. this is for my 90g so i will need quite a bit. i asked my environmental science teacher and she said to get the potash and dolomite from garden stores but i think ill go with amazon. i read somewhere that you can get normal pottery clay and then let it dry and then grinding it up into a powder and then distributing it in the dirt that way.

how much dolomite, potash, and clay should i get or a 90g?
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post #11 of 42 (permalink) Old 09-26-2012, 03:14 AM
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I add clay before the last cycle, so the clay and dirt are wet together and dried. I find I get it mixed better that way.

Arron's recipe says 5%, I'm sure I'm using more as I don't measure. I stop when the dirt color has lightened up, having a peachy-red tint to it. I know that's not a great explanation. Maybe a better way would be to put a shovel full of MTS to the side, add your clay then check the color of the sample shovel full.

I put down a 1/4" layer of MTS, then sprinkle Potash on it, Think crushed red pepper on a pizza. Don't get to carried way. the layer of dirt help the potash stay evenly distributed. Next I put down another 1/2" of MTS, if you are adding worm casing or Peat this is the time to add that layer. I would add my dolomite at this point also. The I add the rest of my MTS and CAP.

After my final dry,I run the MTS through a fly screen. I end up with very fine silty dirt that feel like talcum powder.

Last edited by DogFish; 09-27-2012 at 12:35 AM. Reason: sp.
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post #12 of 42 (permalink) Old 09-27-2012, 12:28 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DogFish View Post
I add clay before the last cycle, so the clay and dirt are wet together and dried. I find I get it mixed better that way.

Arron's recipe says 5%, I'm sure I'm using more as I don't measure. I stop when the dirt color has lightened up, having a peachy-red tint to it. I know that's not a great explanation. Maybe a better way would be to put a shovel full of MTS to the side, add your clay then check the color of the sample shovel full.

I put down a 1/4" layer of MTS, then sprinkle Potash on it, Think crushed red pepper on a pizza. Don't get to carried way. the layer of dirt help the potash stay evenly distributed. Next I put down another 1/2" of MTS, if your adding worn casing or Peat this is the time to add that layer. I would add my dolomite at this point also. The I add the rest of my MTS and CAP.

After my final dry,I run the MTS through a fly screen. I end up with very fine silty dirt that feel like talcum powder.
AWESOME!!! thanks so much for all the help. i haven't found any other internet sources with this sort of information so this is a great help. i will make sure to post a pic of my hardscape when the soil is all done
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post #13 of 42 (permalink) Old 09-27-2012, 12:59 AM
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Here's my other trick. Before I put any dirt in the tank I place a plastic CD cover in one corner and made a Triangle void space. I fill the tank with MTS & Cap it. Next I add water to about 2" above the Cap. Then I take a Coffee Break. I use a syphon placed in the Void area to drain the water out. I gently press the cap and dirt before I plant and refill. I do the Void space in a back corner. After planting I fill the void with Cap Sand.

I find this extremely neat and clean way to plabr a new dirtied tank.

I don't put hardscape over MTS. I either have the Rock all the way ro the bottom or I use Bags of Gravel to prop the hardscape on. I used pea gravel inside a woman's nylon stocking.

Last edited by DogFish; 09-27-2012 at 04:03 AM. Reason: content
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post #14 of 42 (permalink) Old 09-27-2012, 03:53 AM
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a few things I did that seemed to make things easier.
I dumped mine in a large tote fro each soaking, this way I was able to much easier remove rocks and wood. the 4th soaking I used an old fishing net to cleanout the rocks by scooping the dirt into the net and swooshing it through with water while in the tote...worked like a charm.
to add the clay I soaked it till kinda sludge like and slowly add the dry dirt to it in a large bucket while mixing with a mixer/blender bit on a drill, adding water as needed.
I put my tank together whil the substraight was damp/muddy

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post #15 of 42 (permalink) Old 09-28-2012, 11:43 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DogFish View Post
Here's my other trick. Before I put any dirt in the tank I place a plastic CD cover in one corner and made a Triangle void space. I fill the tank with MTS & Cap it. Next I add water to about 2" above the Cap. Then I take a Coffee Break. I use a syphon placed in the Void area to drain the water out. I gently press the cap and dirt before I plant and refill. I do the Void space in a back corner. After planting I fill the void with Cap Sand.

I find this extremely neat and clean way to plabr a new dirtied tank.

I don't put hardscape over MTS. I either have the Rock all the way ro the bottom or I use Bags of Gravel to prop the hardscape on. I used pea gravel inside a woman's nylon stocking.
wait so the void is there so you dont suck up the soil?
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