A few questions regarding soil and CAC - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-17-2013, 10:00 PM Thread Starter
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A few questions regarding soil and CAC

If I understand correctly, humus is a colloidal material and will break itself down smaller and smaller. Is there an easier way of collecting humus than evaporating the water it is suspended in? Or should I simply remove the larger particles from around the base of plants in my tanks?

I'm reading about a product called azomite which is a volcanic clay product containing "67 trace minerals and nutrients" and also claims to have a CAC of 25-30 meq/100 g. I can't seem to easily locate what that means in simpler terms. What is a high CAC? Low?

I have a few tubs that im growing crypts in emersed using MTS. Everything seems fine but the fact that I can do it better bothers me.
I'm now in the process of making another batch using rainwater to soak the dirt to help lower the pH. I don't have a soil pH meter, but the excess water has a pH of 6.4. Is this at all related to the pH of the soil or would I need a probe to get an accurate reading?

I had a few more questions but I think I've answered them myself rereading information before posting this.

Any help would be very much appreciated and if you see something I've said is wrong, I urge you to correct me.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-17-2013, 10:41 PM
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I was also wondering if adding Azomite to my dirt would be good for my next aquarium plant out. I use it in the garden with seemingly good results but don't really know how/if it would affect Gh/Kh in the water column.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-18-2013, 12:32 AM Thread Starter
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It has a pH of ~8 but according to the FAQ it won't raise soil hardness at a noticeable level. That being said, I'm not sure how it would handle being submersed. I assume not much but if you're going for a very low pH, it might need to be used with a gentler hand.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-18-2013, 03:44 AM
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Cationic Exchange Capacity is CEC.
If you look up the CEC of various materials you will find that humus and certain types of clay (montmorillonite, for example) have very high CEC. Sand and gravel are very low. Most clay soils are pretty good, especially compared to larger particles.

Start with some organic matter, like making a compost pile. Now add organisms to break it down. Once organic matter has broken down to humus it slows way down, and humus does not break down very fast. Microorganisms have done all they can to whatever the original material was and what is left is humus. Humus has high CEC.

Most concentrated source of humus is probably a well rotted compost pile. Screen it to remove the larger particles, and use the finest material blended with other things to make aquarium substrate. The finest material out of a compost pile will not all be broken down as far as humus, but a lot of it will be that fine.

Here is a pretty good link about CEC, including a chart with the CEC of several soil types, and some details about which sorts of clay have the highest CEC.

http://soils.tfrec.wsu.edu/webnutrit...rops/04CEC.htm
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-18-2013, 05:44 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you Diana for providing the link. That is exactly the answer I was looking for to determine what high and low is.
And also for pointing out my spelling mistakes! I've been typing CAC all day today and didn't even notice.

I have a bucket that had a few large handfuls of excess plant material from trimmings. I lost track of it and found it 4 months later with a few inches of thick gunk. There was a handful of pond snails that came along with them that all ended up dying. Would this material be broken down far enough to use as a soil additive?
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-19-2013, 03:33 AM
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I was able locate Azomite easily off e b a y , and that was 2 years ago and I still have 75% of the the 2lbs I got back then. The thing about Azomite is if you add too much to a tank, it will start overdosing your plants with nutrients eventually killing them.

I only use 1/2 a teaspoon per 55 gallons of water each month, and man-o-man my plants doubled in size in just the first month. And continued to grow at a rapid pace that I trimming them every week just so the fish had some room to swim lol.

Azomite is a great addition to your dosing regime, but again a 1/2 teaspoon should be used once a month to 55 gallon of water. Obviously not everyone has a 55 gallon tank so you should calculate how much you should use based on my usage amount.



Hell I even use it in my cichlid tank, 1/2 teaspoon every month to keep them healthy, and helps their immune system fight off infections/disease/parasites. I also use 1/2 teaspoon of Azomite mixed into the cichlid pellets, I just toss the 1/2 teaspoon of Azomite right into the bag of pellets and shake it up before each feeding.

45g Long - High Light Planted Tank / 30g - Plant Grow Out Tank / 100g Tank - currently resealing
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-19-2013, 05:33 AM Thread Starter
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So you use azomite as a food and fert supplement? Do you think the slow release variety would be fine below the substrate like you would with osmocote or similar?
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-19-2013, 04:44 PM
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I only use Azomite powder for my fish food additive, fertilizer, and for my cichlids. I wouldn't use the slow release Azomite or the Azomite granules because it would throw off the exact measurements, and could possibly overdose your tank.

45g Long - High Light Planted Tank / 30g - Plant Grow Out Tank / 100g Tank - currently resealing
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-21-2013, 01:35 AM
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Just about anything that is composted is a possible source of humus.
Usually a compost pile starts as chipped twigs, grass trimmings, leaves (shredded or whole), plant based kitchen waste and so on.
It gets moistened and turned regularly for the optimum microorganism activity.
The end result is usually dark, fine, loose material. The last few bits of twigs might still be visible, but in finished compost you should not be able to ID what it used to be.

I would be concerned that the stuff you found (old aquarium plants and dead snails) might not have fully composted. If it looks like fine crumbly soil, then it is done. If you can still tell that it used to be plants, and still see snail shells, then I would add this to a proper compost pile, not use it the way it is.
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