Plain Ol' Top Soil + Flourite? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-18-2008, 10:16 PM Thread Starter
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Plain Ol' Top Soil + Flourite?

I currently have about a 1.5" Flourite substrate in my 20G tank, and I feel like this is not enough for plants like my jungle val and Crinum thaianum and hairgrass. I bought some regular old topsoil (meaning no additives like fertilizers or manure or peat or sphagnum or anything- just soil). I was wondering how I should go about doing this.

1) Do I mix them into a homogenous mix? or do I layer it? If layered (which I believe would be the better idea) would the flourite go on top like I think it would?

2) If the flourite goes on top, does anyone have any ideas on how to keep the two substrates separate? In case I screw up or the tank crashes, I'd like to have my old flourite back.

3) Is there anything I need to do to the soil before use? Anything I need to do to my tank during its use? Anything you should warn me about?

I am going to continue my research tonight and figure this all out, but I would be very grateful if all of you guys here could help me out and confirm my research.
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-18-2008, 11:27 PM
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I recommend mineralizing the topsoil and ammending it with clay. I've written an article on the process here. I've had great success with this method.


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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-19-2008, 01:26 AM
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I'll be trying Aaron's method sometime in the near future...

I don't think there's any way to keep the topsoil and Fluorite separate in your tank. However, topsoil tends to be much lighter than Fluorite, so you could probably wash all the topsoil out in a bucket down the road, since the heavier Fluorite would fall to the bottom more quickly.





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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-19-2008, 01:45 AM Thread Starter
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that is a good call!! I could just strain it or yeah- mix it in a bucket and then scoop from teh bottom . Good call- thank you
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-19-2008, 10:25 PM Thread Starter
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Does no one have any tips for me?

I am going to just lay the flourite on top of the soil, but before I can do anything I need to know how deep I should lay the soil (I was thinking about 3") and how I should prepare the soil for use.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-19-2008, 11:11 PM
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Did you read through Aaron's link? That would be the only way I'd consider adding soil to a tank... otherwise I think I'd end up with a never-ending mudsludge instead of a tank...





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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-19-2008, 11:19 PM Thread Starter
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yeah- I did read through that method- it was a great article. However I am not really interested in going through that whole process- half of the additives are unavailable to me right now, and the other half would be too expensive for me, or only available in large quantities (much larger than my 20G will need, you know?).

I guess what I meant when I asked about what I needed to do to make it suitable was more about something like soaking it, boiling it, or something like that.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-19-2008, 11:22 PM Thread Starter
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Oh! Well his article mentions soaking the soil. The first time I read it I assumed this was a step in mineralizing it and I didn't want to damage the soil (though it did seem odd ot me that soaking it would mineralize it). Now that I think of it a bit more I feel like an idiot, because all it is doing is water-logging it and sorting out debris and stuff. My bad. I will put it in a bin tonight with some water.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-20-2008, 03:12 AM
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Read through the article a few more times carefully. I bugged and bugged Sean (the fellow who introduced me to this concept) before setting up my first soil tank to make sure I got it right.

The soaking isn't the part that mineralizes the soil, the drying is. The moist soil exposed to the air (i.e. lots of oxygen) is what you want. Soaking it and changing the water on top serves to remove any soluble fertilizers and such that might be in the topsoil.

This method is about as cheap as it gets; especially since you won't need any fertilizers down the road.

I'm happy to send you just enough materials for the tank you want to setup if you can paypal me the shipping costs + a few bucks to cover my materials cost. I understand not wanting to buy $30.00 worth of supplies only to use 1/20th of them all on the tank.

I must have missed your question about the Flourite and soil mixing together.

Stick with a 1/2" to 1" layer of soil, trust me that's plenty. Cap it with about 2" of Flourite and you'll be good to go.

The larger grain sized Flourite will stay on top and the soil will always settle back to the bottom even after you've uprooted plants.


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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-20-2008, 10:26 AM Thread Starter
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oh man! That would be great! I'll pm you about the paypal stuff- thanks a ton Aaron!!

And that info about the flourite siting on top helps a bunch . What if I only have like 1-1.5" of fourite? Should I deepened my soil layer a 1/2" to make it 1 1/2" to give me a three inch bed?
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-20-2008, 10:58 AM
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oh man! That would be great! I'll pm you about the paypal stuff- thanks a ton Aaron!!

And that info about the flourite siting on top helps a bunch . What if I only have like 1-1.5" of fourite? Should I deepened my soil layer a 1/2" to make it 1 1/2" to give me a three inch bed?
1" to 1.5" of Flourite should be fine. Keep the soil later at 1" or less no matter what as you don't want it too deep so as to promote any anaerobic pockets.


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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-20-2008, 06:29 PM
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so AAron, when are you going to try and mineralize some aquasoil?


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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-20-2008, 06:35 PM
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so AAron, when are you going to try and mineralize some aquasoil?
I'll be trying before too much longer, and sure hope to pick Aaron's brains for help! LOL





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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-21-2008, 02:58 AM
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so AAron, when are you going to try and mineralize some aquasoil?
Probably never. That's a bit pricier than a $2.00 bag of topsoil and they work just about the same. Yes, I've tried both. Don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing Aquasoil. It's great stuff and I still use it sometimes, especially if I need to soften the water in a tank.


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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-21-2008, 03:45 AM
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Aaron- How would the procedure compare, do you think? What adjustments would you make if you were using AS instead of regular soil?





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