Safe-T-Sorb, staying cloudy - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-19-2013, 11:02 AM Thread Starter
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Safe-T-Sorb, staying cloudy

This is my second planted tank. I decided to use a Safe-T-Sorb substrate. My problem is that my water stays significantly cloudy. Here's what we did:

We emptied the STS into a plastic tub, poured in water to cover, stirred it around, and poured off. We did this 4 or more times. We also let it soak over two nights and one day, with added baking soda. Then we placed it into the tank with some water (unfortunately our water supply is limited so we did not add a large amount of water), cleared a corner and siphoned off. We did this three times. I filled the tank carefully.

However, I did some moving of the gravel. This was Thursday. By Friday morning it was still cloudy so I set up a HOB filter with quilt batting and cotton balls stretched out and laid side by side as a cartridge. I periodically changed or cleaned this cartridge. At lunchtime on Friday I did a lot of smoothing out of the uneven spots in the gravel. This made a mud soup. This was the last major disturbance of the substrate. It has not been touched at all since Friday evening. (I even turned the filter off on Friday evening.) It is now Sunday morning and the water remains cloudy

So, my questions are: I notice from much googling that not all have had such a messy time with STS. However, are there some who have, and did it turn out all right? Is the cloudy water likely to eventually settle, or will it take weeks? Is this some kind of colloidal clay that is likely to stay in suspension for days after every disturbance? Am I likely to make mud soup every time I replant a few stem cuttings, or will this improve over weeks or months? I won't be adding fish for at least a month, but when I eventually do, this would obviously be a problem for them. I'm also thinking I'll have to remove most of the water to plant my plant order tomorrow; otherwise after a few plants are in I will not be able to see a thing or know what I'm doing! Does it sound like this particular bag of STS is hopeless, or should I press ahead and still use it? I really don't want to have to go to the work/expense of changing to a new substrate, but I do not want to set myself up for failure either (my last tank was an algae disaster so I consider myself still a newbie.)

Thank you so much for your help!
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-19-2013, 05:47 PM
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cleaning STS is one of the cons for this substrate. I poked holes in my 40lb bag of STS and run a hose through it for an hour and it was still dirty. I gave up and put the STS in my 29g thinking I could do this slowly. after about a month or two it is still dirty but not as bad. Running filters with sponges help a lot. Make sure to clean your filters daily or at least once or twice a week. periodically, is not enough. I have fish in my 29g and I don't see any ill effect from the dirty cloud created from disturbing the substrate.

I rigged up my gravel siphon to help me suck the dirt out of the substrate by cutting a piece of window screen and affixing it with a rubber band. see photo below. This reduces the amount of dirt kicked up in the process of cleaning
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-20-2013, 12:15 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you so much, Mizuhuman, for taking time to answer my question. I'm glad to hear that your STS is not as dirty as when you first started. That's encouraging. The gravel vac you adapted with screen is interesting too. After I plant tomorrow, I'll start the filter again. The day that I ran it I cleaned or replaced the filter media three times. So it was quite a job. But I had really disturbed the substrate and made a terrible mess.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-20-2013, 07:51 PM
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Yeah this substrate takes time. A lot of people had to give it a very very very good rinsing before its clear. keep replacing those filter medias. It should clear up eventually and even if it didn't, it won't harm your fish in my experience. good luck
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-20-2013, 08:37 PM
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Boy, you either got a bad batch or it was shaken up in a paint mixer for a few hours before you got it.

I used the coke bottle technique to add it to my tank and didnt even bother washing it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-XB0bwtZh8

I only had a slight haze in the water that cleared up in a few hours.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-20-2013, 11:46 PM
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Use Acurel F. The stuff is amazing.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-24-2017, 05:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mizuhuman View Post
Yeah this substrate takes time. A lot of people had to give it a very very very good rinsing before its clear. keep replacing those filter medias. It should clear up eventually and even if it didn't, it won't harm your fish in my experience. good luck
Use a sieve to remove minute particles BEFORE washing. Even then, it will take couple days of filtering before it settles.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-24-2017, 05:49 PM
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Hi All,

First of all remember that this is a clay product and although calcined (fired) to make it hard it is still clay. I do a couple of things to minimize the cloudiness when I open a bag and use STS the first time. First I screen the STS through 1/8" hardware cloth. That removes most of the dust and 'fines' but it also results in a loss of about 50% of the bag volume. Then I rinse the STS about six times, put it into my empty tank and do the slopes and grading I think I will want. lay down some wax paper and a dinner plate so when adding water I don't disturb the substrate, finally I fill. I have done both pre-charged and non-charged setups this way. I pre-charge typically with baking soda (NaHCO3) and GH Booster which contains potassium (K2SO4), calcium (CaSO4), and magnesium (MgSO4).

This is what my tank looked like during filling


Immediately after filling


24 hours later; ran 2X 350 gph canister filters with micron filtration sleeves


Two months after planting


3-1/2 months after planting

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-24-2017, 05:53 PM
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W/ proper water pouring I'm not even sure you would need to strain it..
Turface (same idea) didn't produce more of a mild one day cloudy-ness. no straining/washing..

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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-24-2017, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle_Aquarist View Post
Hi All,

I have done both pre-charged and non-charged setups this way. I pre-charge typically with baking soda (NaHCO3) and GH Booster which contains potassium (K2SO4), calcium (CaSO4), and magnesium (MgSO4).
Can you explain the process of pre-charging
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-24-2017, 07:23 PM
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Can you explain the process of pre-charging
see this 11 in part.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/29...periments.html

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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-24-2017, 08:50 PM
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Hi markf,

I have used high cation exchange capacity (CEC) substrates for over 5 years now with good success, specifically various calcined (heat treated/fired) montmorillonite clay materials such as Soilmaster Select Charcoal (discontinued), Turface Pro League Grey (grey discontinued but other colors available), and most recently Safe-t-sorb #7941.

The calcined clay products I have used, because they are calcined, are very, very dry (STS #7941 is used as a spill absorbent) and when they first come in contact with water they absorb a lot of it into their microscopic pores along with whatever is dissolved in the water. High CEC substrates naturally absorb and release nutrient ions mainly the cations of calcium (Ca2+), magnesium (Mg2+), sodium (Na+), potassium (K+), and to a lesser extent manganese(Mn2+). This explains why high CEC substrates, when activated with water lower the PH (dKH). Most of the aforementioned cations are bonded with bicarbonates, carbonates, sulfates, or chlorides in water. When the positive cations are absorbed by a high CEC substrate the percentage of negative anions increases and the PH (dKH) drops.

"Pre-charging" sort of takes advantage of this. What I do is mix up a solution of nutrients that I want the substrate to absorb (typically I use baking soda (NaHCO3) and Seachem Equlibrium. Why Seachem Equilibrium and not the generic GH Booster sold in the hobby? Because the generic GH Boosters typically only contain calcium (CaSO4), magnesium (MgSO4) and potassium (K2SO4). Seachem Equilibrium contains those three ingredients plus ferric sulfate (FeSO4) and manganese sulfate (MnSO4). Equilibrium is a little more expensive but I want to insure I have iron and manganese available in my substrate.

I don't "pre-charge" my macro-nutrients although others have done so; why? because I like to know the amounts of nitrates and phosphates I am making available to my plants.

I find even with 'pre-charging' my montmorillonite clay substrates that I have to added baking soda once or twice a week for a little over two months to get my PH/dKH to stabilize.

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