replacing substrate soon- advice much appreciated - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-28-2014, 06:17 PM Thread Starter
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replacing substrate soon- advice much appreciated

I plan on completely removing the sand/Flourite/gravel mess of a substrate in my planted tank -29g- and replacing it with dirt and Oil-Dri as a cap (at least this is my intent ). Please be kind as I am not good with rhetoric.

Never swapped out a substrate before and I want away from sand. I am not a fan of sand anymore. I'm going to dump that mess in the woods as soon as it's out of my 29g and let the outdoor kitties use it for a potty spot. I just don't like it anymore- had it in there for about 3 years.

Right now,I have about 80% of the 25lb bag of Oil-Dri in 5 gallon buckets soaking in fertilized water and plan to do this for two weeks until I go on vacay from work and have a day or two to devote to this project. Also to maybe help combat the Oil-Dri lowering my pH. I have to buffer my water with crushed coral (my driftwood made my pH crash well below 6.5 when I started,and straight out of the tap it's off the charts well past 8- Mississippi River water gH was 3 and kH was 5 or so if I remember right) and really want to be proactive about helping prevent it as much as I can.

I have some questions as I am fretting about the day to come,worries are taking over in my mind...hoping I can be put at ease or pointed in the right direction.

1) Where I live,my supplies are limited thus me purchasing the Oil-Dri. I have researched it for weeks and surprisingly the bag I purchased is a nice dark gray color mixed with red and brown pieces. I really wanted the reds and browns so I am happy about this-but it is MESSY. Will the Oil-Dri hold down the topsoil (I am buying Scott's Topsoil brand)? OR,would you fore-go the soil all together and just do the Oil-Dri? I am torn and unsure,figured I'd ask advice of some pros out there. I know down the road I'll have to add fert tabs and all that,but I do that now so that's not really a concern. Thoughts?

2) In the 29g right now I have about <20 mixed danios and a bunch of plants. I have two sponge filters and a HOB (established for years). I need the plants and fish to go back into the tank within 24 hours as I really will be taking a chance putting them in a smaller tank with curious kitties in the house who will destroy everything they touch (like kids). How long would you wait to put them back in providing I already have established filtration? Worried about this as well...

[[[Also,I feel the need to shout out that I got a great deal on a 30" Finnex Planted + fixture due here any second and I am super excited! My first LED fixture. Thanks to this forum I discovered it existed. ]]]

Sorry about the fretting,I do this every time I go through a huge tank change and I am a noob first timer doing it. I appreciate your time.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 07:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HeatherH View Post
I plan on completely removing the sand/Flourite/gravel mess of a substrate in my planted tank -29g- and replacing it with dirt and Oil-Dri as a cap (at least this is my intent ). Please be kind as I am not good with rhetoric.

Never swapped out a substrate before and I want away from sand. I am not a fan of sand anymore. I'm going to dump that mess in the woods as soon as it's out of my 29g and let the outdoor kitties use it for a potty spot. I just don't like it anymore- had it in there for about 3 years.

Right now,I have about 80% of the 25lb bag of Oil-Dri in 5 gallon buckets soaking in fertilized water and plan to do this for two weeks until I go on vacay from work and have a day or two to devote to this project. Also to maybe help combat the Oil-Dri lowering my pH. I have to buffer my water with crushed coral (my driftwood made my pH crash well below 6.5 when I started,and straight out of the tap it's off the charts well past 8- Mississippi River water gH was 3 and kH was 5 or so if I remember right) and really want to be proactive about helping prevent it as much as I can.

I have some questions as I am fretting about the day to come,worries are taking over in my mind...hoping I can be put at ease or pointed in the right direction.

1) Where I live,my supplies are limited thus me purchasing the Oil-Dri. I have researched it for weeks and surprisingly the bag I purchased is a nice dark gray color mixed with red and brown pieces. I really wanted the reds and browns so I am happy about this-but it is MESSY. Will the Oil-Dri hold down the topsoil (I am buying Scott's Topsoil brand)? OR,would you fore-go the soil all together and just do the Oil-Dri? I am torn and unsure,figured I'd ask advice of some pros out there. I know down the road I'll have to add fert tabs and all that,but I do that now so that's not really a concern. Thoughts?

2) In the 29g right now I have about <20 mixed danios and a bunch of plants. I have two sponge filters and a HOB (established for years). I need the plants and fish to go back into the tank within 24 hours as I really will be taking a chance putting them in a smaller tank with curious kitties in the house who will destroy everything they touch (like kids). How long would you wait to put them back in providing I already have established filtration? Worried about this as well...

[[[Also,I feel the need to shout out that I got a great deal on a 30" Finnex Planted + fixture due here any second and I am super excited! My first LED fixture. Thanks to this forum I discovered it existed. ]]]

Sorry about the fretting,I do this every time I go through a huge tank change and I am a noob first timer doing it. I appreciate your time.
For planted tanks I've experimented tons with various substrates, brands and DIYs. My fave latter is Oil-Dri. I am even considering testing out their "fine" version called "Quick Sorb" as sand-like substrate by testing some soaking for a few days (or week to see if it turns to mush) and test water parameters if similar to the granules which for me has not melted or turned to mud...which happened to "Safe T Sorb"...which is too bad since STS had a nice, natural earth brown varied colors and tones. Maybe I got a bad batch or a bad mine where they didn't oven kiln bake it enough. No matter how many times or how many hours I washed it in various ways, still cloudy because it kept breaking down. Oil-Dri for me however is awesome, cleared up in two hours, and plants thriving.

Oil-Dri a good choice but I am not sure on your cloudy-water tolerance or how much your rescape your tank as soil will be messy., even after you mineralized it for a few weeks (or not, Walstad method etc.)

Someday I shall post a more detailed reviews of all the substrates I have tested and have worked for me.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 09:53 AM
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Seems your Floor-Dry question is answered. I'll just add that I read a thread on here where the OP said he was keeping track of all the threads where they had a seeping problem/w dirt under a cap and he said the ones with coarse gravel on top and any with less than 2" of cap were most of the problem type.
I would run some fresh water through that before I would put in in my tank if you have it soaking in fertilizer.
I'm about to do a new one and thinking about dirt also. So no exp to help you on that if I should thing. I would however spread some Osmocote+ beads under it, but just a
small amount. I use it now and only do the individual pieces of it with tweezers under
each plant. Small plants only get one or two for each plant. If I do use the dirt I plan on putting down one in each 2" square inches. One bead, not one capsule. On the
container it says "good up to 6 months" so I plan to add every 4 months as I have not used them before I recently started.
If you have two sponge filters and an HOB, if you started early you can finish before noon and check the water clarity. You actually can return the fish the same day but I would wait till the next morning. If the water is reasonably clear after filling it.
I would however have some dechlorinated water ready for a water change and check the ammonia level a few hrs after putting back the fish and then every 12 hrs for
about a three day total starting with the first check. Dirt often causes an ammonia spike. So also will changing the sub in general so just be ready for it with prepared water. If I changed everything like that I would check the water for ammonia 8-12
hrs after I filled the tank and then again just before I put in the fish.

The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line...in the opposite direction...
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 11:12 AM
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I have quite a bit of driftwood in my tanks and it does not lower the pH very much at all.
I am surprised to hear that it lowers yours from tap reading above 8 to 6.5.
I guess it could if water changes were few and far between.
With the tap water you have and weekly or bi-weekly water change,you maybe would not need to use the crushed coral ?
If GH,KH you posted is from the tap,then this would not be a problem for most fishes.
Saftety sorb or oil dry is very absorbent ,so I think it would be heavy enough once submerged to hold plants in place.
I am considering using some plain unscented cat litter myself for substrate on tank I am tearing down this weekend.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 02:47 PM
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How fast to add the fish back:

Do the swap, plant.

Put a plate or plastic bag over the substrate and fill slowly, allowing the water to seep over the edges of the bag. This will minimize clouding.
Add the equipment and turn it on when the water is deep enough.

When the new set up has reached a stable temperature add fish. This might just be an hour or so, or even less if you refill with warm water (put your aquarium thermometer in the bucket to make sure it is the right temp)
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