DIY substrate - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-17-2007, 07:02 PM Thread Starter
 
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DIY substrate

have any of you ever used topsoil and peat, topped with sand for substrate? I'm thinking about using it.
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-17-2007, 08:53 PM
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Hi

Ahhh take this link and read about EL Natural because this is what you are talking about. I have seen many great El Natural tanks yours may be next.

El Natural - Aquatic Plant Central
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-18-2007, 04:08 AM
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Will, not too helpful linking to a different forum... that does not answer any questions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TigerLilly View Post
have any of you ever used topsoil and peat, topped with sand for substrate? I'm thinking about using it.
There are many, many recipes for substrate mixes, some more, some less successful.

Soil covered by sand is a common mixture for low tech setups. Many have success with it, at least for a while. The soil provides a rich mixture of nutrients for plant roots, including a carbon source which helps in tanks that are not CO2 enriched. The sand covers it all up so the water column doesn't turn green in an instant.

There are certain risks and disadvantages with a setup like that. First off, soil is a term for many different things. Organic, inorganic, different levels of fertilizer all make it difficult to define what soil really is.

Fine sand keeps circulation to a minimum, some plants don't like that. Plus it keeps all the goodies that fish excrete on top of it, not visually appealing, and not usable for our plants. And it doesn't have much nutrient exchange capacity.

After trying a couple of different mixtures, I found one that works well for me. Instead of unpredictable soil, I use peat. Peat is peat. I enrich it with an initial charge of nutrients, using Jobes sticks which provide NPK. I put those underneath a 1.5in layer of peat. The peat is covered with a high CEC (nutrient exchange capacity) fired clay substrate. Examples are Flourite, Soilmaster Select, Schultz Aquasoil, Profile, etc. Actually I found a Kitty Litter (Special Kitty) which works well for me and is extremely inexpensive.


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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-18-2007, 04:30 AM Thread Starter
 
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Will, not too helpful linking to a different forum... that does not answer any questions.



There are many, many recipes for substrate mixes, some more, some less successful.

Soil covered by sand is a common mixture for low tech setups. Many have success with it, at least for a while. The soil provides a rich mixture of nutrients for plant roots, including a carbon source which helps in tanks that are not CO2 enriched. The sand covers it all up so the water column doesn't turn green in an instant.

There are certain risks and disadvantages with a setup like that. First off, soil is a term for many different things. Organic, inorganic, different levels of fertilizer all make it difficult to define what soil really is.

Fine sand keeps circulation to a minimum, some plants don't like that. Plus it keeps all the goodies that fish excrete on top of it, not visually appealing, and not usable for our plants. And it doesn't have much nutrient exchange capacity.

After trying a couple of different mixtures, I found one that works well for me. Instead of unpredictable soil, I use peat. Peat is peat. I enrich it with an initial charge of nutrients, using Jobes sticks which provide NPK. I put those underneath a 1.5in layer of peat. The peat is covered with a high CEC (nutrient exchange capacity) fired clay substrate. Examples are Flourite, Soilmaster Select, Schultz Aquasoil, Profile, etc. Actually I found a Kitty Litter (Special Kitty) which works well for me and is extremely inexpensive.
So basically...

1st layer: sand (maybe)
2nd layer: top soil
3rd layer: peat
4th layer: kitty litter
5th layer: root tabs

correct? Is it possible to skip the peat and just get the kitty litter? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-18-2007, 10:06 AM
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What Wasserpest is saying is no soil.

His mix is:

Top dressing
Peat


A 5 layer substrate like you are planning is almost always doomed to fail. The first time you have to remove a plant you have a mess.
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-18-2007, 03:56 PM
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And the Walstad style tanks (el-natural/NPT), you don't want to use sand over the soil because it might eventually end up at the bottom, and it doesn't allow for proper nutrient flow.


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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-18-2007, 08:41 PM
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Quote:
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Will, not too helpful linking to a different forum... that does not answer any questions.



I don't agree. I see no reason not to link to other forums if that is where a good source of information is. Of course it is better to add the information here, but sometimes that would take far too much time and space. This is just my opinion, of course, but the forum "rules" may say otherwise.

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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-18-2007, 09:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TigerLilly View Post
So basically...

1st layer: sand (maybe)
2nd layer: top soil
3rd layer: peat
4th layer: kitty litter
5th layer: root tabs

correct? Is it possible to skip the peat and just get the kitty litter? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
Sorry for writing such a long-winded post. Sometimes images are easier to grasp. If you'd like to, click on the 36gal Journal link in my signature, the first couple of posts contain pictures of the substrate setup that I am was trying to describe.


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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-19-2007, 03:11 AM
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Aged topsoil and a coarse grained sand (like T-grade ColorQuartz) makes a great substrate. All of my tanks have a substrate with a topsoil/clay mix under a cap material. I avoid peat like the plague. So there you have it, pick a technique and don't try to combine them. Either peat or soil, not both.

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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-19-2007, 03:47 AM Thread Starter
 
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So there you have it, pick a technique and don't try to combine them. Either peat or soil, not both.
Thank you. That tells me something I was wondering. I'll pick the soil, since I already have it.

I want to keep a high tech tank. Is soil topped with gravel, or stones a good idea for this type of tank?
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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-19-2007, 04:07 AM
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Not the best choice for a high tech tank. And be very careful about the soil you use in any aquarium. You don't want topsoil that has been treated or fertilized. Nor do you want soil high in organics. The stuff you want is the hard pan soil that lies below the topsoil.
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-19-2007, 04:37 AM Thread Starter
 
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Not the best choice for a high tech tank. And be very careful about the soil you use in any aquarium. You don't want topsoil that has been treated or fertilized. Nor do you want soil high in organics. The stuff you want is the hard pan soil that lies below the topsoil.
So that's good for high tech?
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-19-2007, 04:41 AM Thread Starter
 
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The peat is covered with a high CEC (nutrient exchange capacity) fired clay substrate. Examples are Flourite, Soilmaster Select, Schultz Aquasoil, Profile, etc. Actually I found a Kitty Litter (Special Kitty) which works well for me and is extremely inexpensive.
So I could use...

1st layer kitty litter
2nd layer peat suplimented root tabs

for high tech?
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-19-2007, 11:37 AM
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Soil and high tech don't go well together unless you have a LOT of experience. And just by asking these questions I doubt you have the experience. Read my rant in my Guide about Cat Piss Absorbent aka kitty litter.

Your best/safest/cheapest way to go with a substrate that is not going to give you grief is to either get some SoilMaster Select ~20 for a bag or just use small gravel/large sand. You should put down a fine layer of peat under this. And if you want you can put a fine layer (1/4-1/2" at most) of the hard pan soil and then cap it with the SMS or gravel.
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-19-2007, 01:16 PM
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Hi

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wasserpest View Post
Will, not too helpful linking to a different forum... that does not answer any questions.



There are many, many recipes for substrate mixes, some more, some less successful.

Soil covered by sand is a common mixture for low tech setups. Many have success with it, at least for a while. The soil provides a rich mixture of nutrients for plant roots, including a carbon source which helps in tanks that are not CO2 enriched. The sand covers it all up so the water column doesn't turn green in an instant.

There are certain risks and disadvantages with a setup like that. First off, soil is a term for many different things. Organic, inorganic, different levels of fertilizer all make it difficult to define what soil really is.

Fine sand keeps circulation to a minimum, some plants don't like that. Plus it keeps all the goodies that fish excrete on top of it, not visually appealing, and not usable for our plants. And it doesn't have much nutrient exchange capacity.

After trying a couple of different mixtures, I found one that works well for me. Instead of unpredictable soil, I use peat. Peat is peat. I enrich it with an initial charge of nutrients, using Jobes sticks which provide NPK. I put those underneath a 1.5in layer of peat. The peat is covered with a high CEC (nutrient exchange capacity) fired clay substrate. Examples are Flourite, Soilmaster Select, Schultz Aquasoil, Profile, etc. Actually I found a Kitty Litter (Special Kitty) which works well for me and is extremely inexpensive.
Hi i love this site because it has a lot of great info but the fact remains that there is more info there instead of here and the have a whole section about it. My love for the planted tank it self comes before the whole competing of the sites over it's members. I have always use both sites to post the same question at the same time and some times i get answers here without getting any info there. At other time i get more there. As a hobbyist i have and will always read and tell people where to get they can get the most info on what they are looking. Had you of had an El-natural/NPT section here i would have linked him there.

Maybe you guy/girls should make an El-natural thread here. So that the info will be here when it's needed.

I don't mean to sound like an a$$ and if i am i'm sorry for that. I just don't care about the war between the sites. We are all here to share the love of this great hobby and that should be it.


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