Using plain old soil - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-08-2006, 03:43 AM Thread Starter
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Using plain old soil

I just want to put my two cents worth in were using plain old soil is concerned. Let me first say that this 180gal tank is my first planted tank and only my second tank period (my first was a 30 gal salt water tank I had twenty years ago). I used garden soil I bought from Home Depot. My plants grew like crazy for awhile than a bunch of them started melting. I started adding CO2 and Greg Watson ferts, my plants stopped melting and things settled down. Thing is now whenever I disturb my soil my filters gets all clogged up and my tank becomes a mess. I have to clean my filter weekly because it's all clogged up. I would never use soil again I think it's just too buoyant and because of this messy. When I set up my big tank I'm going to use either ADA Amazonian or Eco-complete. IMHO
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-08-2006, 03:49 AM
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I was there once about 8 years ago using potting soil. It was in my 55gal tank everything grew great my swords benefited from it the best. But in due time the soil turned rotten and the foiled the water colum. Wow I will never forget the small cleaning out that tank. Never ever try soil again big mistake.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-08-2006, 08:18 AM
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IMO, I have alot of success with soil, but it wasnt my first suggestion to use if it is my first or second tank, after 4 tanks, use soil with a 4"-5" gravel layer and everything is doing great, substrate thickness is important, 2"-3" inch and you are in pain. Garden soil is best for me, potting soil and plain soil is what I am having trouble with.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-08-2006, 01:29 PM
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I use a mineralized top soil mixed with a little clay so I won't have the problems you are having. This type of soil stays under the cap layer, falls back out of the water column if disturbed, and sifts back down under the cap layer. Garden soil has too much humis and compost materials (the boyant stuff) to be used in a tank.

Sean

Aquascape? I'm a crypt farmer.

It's a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore looking like an idiot.

That IS an aquascape, it's titled "The Vacant Lot".
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-09-2006, 04:59 AM
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NO problems here with soil. Used the cheap stuff - about 1/2" to 1" layer and capped it with about 2" of peagravel. I usually shut off the filter when doing any major work, but in general the plants grow very slow in this tank so (it's only 2WPG no Co2) I don't really have to ever do anything too major that often. For large swords it's generally suggested to leave them where they are- so good planning in the beginning is always a good thing since moving them later is problematic.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-09-2006, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
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Ya, I capped it with only about a 1" layer of gravel. I think that's the biggest problem.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 08:14 PM
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Well that's easy to fix.. add more gravel.

But Soil is more tuned to low tech IMO and it seems that you are heading more towards high tech (at least mid tech) with Co2 and GW ferts so ADA Aquasoil may be better if you did it again. It seems that everyone who uses it is really happy with the results.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-11-2006, 12:48 AM Thread Starter
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I added a bag of Eco-complete I like the black color and it has not clouded my water up. To be honest I mianly added it because I wanted to darken up my substrate. I really can't "just add more gravel" for thickness though. I can't cover any more of the base of my swords and I can't pull them up because they're wraped around my heating cables (will NEVER use substrate heating again). I'm not sure what will happen to the dwarf hair grass either if I fool around with the gravel. I just chalk it up to experience and know what I will do different when I set up the big tank.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-11-2006, 09:53 AM
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same goes for me, garden soil works realy well for me

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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-11-2006, 02:50 PM Thread Starter
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So maybe 3" garden soil capped with 2" of gravel?
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-11-2006, 04:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhinoman View Post
So maybe 3" garden soil capped with 2" of gravel?
Reverse those numbers and you'll be better off.

Sean

Aquascape? I'm a crypt farmer.

It's a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore looking like an idiot.

That IS an aquascape, it's titled "The Vacant Lot".
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-11-2006, 11:07 PM
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I think 2" soil and 1" to 1 1/2" gravel, 2"+2" tops or you could end up with anaerobic activity.

Diana Walstad has written a book on soil tanks (REALLY GOOD READING!) and she is the host/moderator of the "El Natural" section of the forums at APC Aquatic Plant Central .

You may want to check out the "El Natural" forum, or see if you can get a copy of her book at the library
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-12-2006, 01:37 PM
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With a soil substrate, (actually any substrate,) you are going to have anaerobic processes going on. The idea is to have enough rooted plants ensuring that aerobic processes are going on too. I set up a mineralized topsoil/clay substrate capped with gravel in a 10 gallon, filled it up with water, and let it sit unplanted for about a year. That substrate was as anoxic as they get. (unintended experiment ensues) I put a couple sag subulata and crypt spiralis in with the roots just in the gravel. In two months they had colonized the entire tank. The anoxic substrate was overcome by the plants.

The anaerobic problems that people have are from putting soils with humis and other incompletely decomposed materials in the tanks and then not planting enough rooted plants. These materials are what the bacteria feed on producing hydrogen sulfide (the rotten eggs smell) and methane in anoxic conditions.

Sean

Aquascape? I'm a crypt farmer.

It's a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore looking like an idiot.

That IS an aquascape, it's titled "The Vacant Lot".
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-12-2006, 03:06 PM Thread Starter
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Good info!
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