Safe T Sorb as a substrate - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-14-2015, 01:45 AM Thread Starter
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Safe T Sorb as a substrate

Considering using Safe T Sorb in a planted tank. I've read the CEC is great, and it help drop the KH of the water drastically. Now the real dilemma. ITS DIRTY. LOL Just wondering if anyone has experience with using this product in their planted tanks. If so were the tanks hard to clear up after installing this stuff? Everything sounds like pros with this product except the cloudy water.!!
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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-14-2015, 04:45 AM
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Originally Posted by foster View Post
Considering using Safe T Sorb in a planted tank. I've read the CEC is great, and it help drop the KH of the water drastically. Now the real dilemma. ITS DIRTY. LOL Just wondering if anyone has experience with using this product in their planted tanks. If so were the tanks hard to clear up after installing this stuff? Everything sounds like pros with this product except the cloudy water.!!
Unless you already have soft water...that can be a detractor also.

I will tell you a tale of 2 bags. (actually 3, but we'll go with 2)

The first bag I got I sifted and placed in the bucket. Washed, washed, washed, washed. Let it sit, washed it again. Let it sit, washed. Repeated this for about 2-3 months (cause I didn't have a tank for it yet). I would top off the water as it evaporated and then rinse it again until the water ran clear. I then added it to a tank. It felt "softer" to me, and I have never gotten the dirt out of it. I added it to the tank, it was extremely cloudy, and I have to deep vacuum it every week and get out the dirt that accumulates. looks like muddy water. I'm not happy with how cloudy it gets, and how the dust settles on the plants. But it does clear up.

I bought 2 more bags of it, sifted it, washed it until it ran clean and added it to a different tank as a dirt cap. It's harder, doesn't cloud the water, and "so far" has been great! It seems like it was harder (baked longer) and therefore doesn't break down like the first bag.

Moral of the story....with cheap substrate you might get a winner or you might get a dud. It depends on the bag. If you don't like how it's turning out, buy a different bag from a different store or wait a little bit if you can to see if you've got a bad batch like I did.

I also use ProsChoice SoilMaster Select Red in 2 other tanks, and I really like it. The color is really light for most substrate choices, maybe an amazon or african tank biotype, but the grain size and hardness is fantastic. I wish they made it in Black. I'm using it as a cap in a growout tank so the color doesn't bother me.

The STS and ProsChoice Red are both montmorillionite clays. I'm also interested in AgSorb Gray since it comes in a variety of sieve sizes. All the listed products are part of the Oil-Dri Corporation.
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post #3 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-14-2015, 05:46 AM
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I too have a "tale of 2 bags".

The first bag of STS I used I split it between a 10gal and a 29gal. I didn't rinse it in either tank, the 10gal wasn't to cloudy, the 29gal was so cloudy I couldn't see 1/8" into the tank it was straight muddy water and I thought that I had made a serious mistake by not rinsing it. I filled a canister filter with pillow stuffing and let it run all night, within 12 hours the water was crystal clear and is so to this day, that tank is 4 months old.

The second bag I used on my 40b CO2 injected tank, though this time I not only sifted it with a strainer, but I also rinsed it after sifting before putting it into the bucket I was using to transfer it into the house. When I filled that tank it was still cloudy but not as bad as it was when I did my 29gal, you could barely tell the water had a brown tint to it, I set a canister filter the same way and over night it was crystal clear. My 40b was nice and clear until this past week when I shut the light off for a few days while I was waiting to replace my CO2 tank and I personally think the issue is either bacterial because I recently increased the stock just a week prior to having to go for 4 days on reduced lighting, or it's a floating diatom issue created during those 4 days of reduced lighting, I really haven't had the chance to check out this tank with the light on since bringing this tank back to "normal operations" 2 days ago when I got my CO2 tank and set the light back on its' normal scheduled.

A couple of differences between my 29gal and my 40b. In the 29gal diatoms didn't present until the 3rd month and it wasn't what I would consider bad, I put a lone otto in and he cleaned the tank within a week.

In the 40b within a month diatoms started showing up and I'm not real sure about the "why" it's different.

STS does mess with the kH at least early on until the sub gets its' equilibrium. I have read that eventually the tendency for it to drop the kH is a temporary affect. In my 40b it's been a nightmare trying to keep the kH stable enough to inject CO2 consistently with a pH probe and the kH has to be monitored constantly. In my 29gal no CO2 I haven't even tested it and don't worry about it, the fish seem fine and the plants are doing wonderfully so I don't worry about that tank, I only change the water once a month and give it ferts once every other week, my 40b gets a 75% WC weekly and EI ferts dosed daily with baking soda as needed to keep my kH stable.


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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-14-2015, 12:48 PM
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A little off-topic, but I'd like to add that the Pros-Choice Soilmaster Red was the easiest substrate to work with. After the normal sifting for size and a quick rinse (Like fill a bucket and slosh it around to get the dust off) it went straight into the tank. No cloudiness, etc. It was easier than EcoComplete, and the added benefit it's not sharp like Eco.
I just like the color of STS better.
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post #5 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-14-2015, 01:55 PM
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I have used:
Soil Master Select Charcoal (3-4 bags)- discontinued.
Turface (one of the tan-orangey colors) (1 bag)- discontinued.
Safe-T-Sorb (3 bags).

All 3 products clouded the water at first.
I rinsed the SMS in a bucket, so there was less clouding.
The others, I just dumped them in the tank and rinsed them in there. Partially filling, stirring a lot, then siphoning out the water several times.

All the tanks still generate clouds that are not mulm, but seem to be dust from the substrate material. Not much, and there is no dust as long as I do not disturb the substrate. But it does make it difficult to replant- this kicks up the dust.

I am not sure if some of the material is softer than others.
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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-14-2015, 03:36 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grizzly_a View Post
A little off-topic, but I'd like to add that the Pros-Choice Soilmaster Red was the easiest substrate to work with. After the normal sifting for size and a quick rinse (Like fill a bucket and slosh it around to get the dust off) it went straight into the tank. No cloudiness, etc. It was easier than EcoComplete, and the added benefit it's not sharp like Eco.
I just like the color of STS better.
Where did you get your Pros-Choice. Would you happen to have a pic of it in your tank?

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Originally Posted by FatherLandDescendant View Post
I too have a "tale of 2 bags".

The first bag of STS I used I split it between a 10gal and a 29gal. I didn't rinse it in either tank, the 10gal wasn't to cloudy, the 29gal was so cloudy I couldn't see 1/8" into the tank it was straight muddy water and I thought that I had made a serious mistake by not rinsing it. I filled a canister filter with pillow stuffing and let it run all night, within 12 hours the water was crystal clear and is so to this day, that tank is 4 months old.

The second bag I used on my 40b CO2 injected tank, though this time I not only sifted it with a strainer, but I also rinsed it after sifting before putting it into the bucket I was using to transfer it into the house. When I filled that tank it was still cloudy but not as bad as it was when I did my 29gal, you could barely tell the water had a brown tint to it, I set a canister filter the same way and over night it was crystal clear. My 40b was nice and clear until this past week when I shut the light off for a few days while I was waiting to replace my CO2 tank and I personally think the issue is either bacterial because I recently increased the stock just a week prior to having to go for 4 days on reduced lighting, or it's a floating diatom issue created during those 4 days of reduced lighting, I really haven't had the chance to check out this tank with the light on since bringing this tank back to "normal operations" 2 days ago when I got my CO2 tank and set the light back on its' normal scheduled.

A couple of differences between my 29gal and my 40b. In the 29gal diatoms didn't present until the 3rd month and it wasn't what I would consider bad, I put a lone otto in and he cleaned the tank within a week.

In the 40b within a month diatoms started showing up and I'm not real sure about the "why" it's different.

STS does mess with the kH at least early on until the sub gets its' equilibrium. I have read that eventually the tendency for it to drop the kH is a temporary affect. In my 40b it's been a nightmare trying to keep the kH stable enough to inject CO2 consistently with a pH probe and the kH has to be monitored constantly. In my 29gal no CO2 I haven't even tested it and don't worry about it, the fish seem fine and the plants are doing wonderfully so I don't worry about that tank, I only change the water once a month and give it ferts once every other week, my 40b gets a 75% WC weekly and EI ferts dosed daily with baking soda as needed to keep my kH stable.
Not too worried about KH/PH swings. The tank will be used for propagating soft water plants, and will contain no fish. I would actually be happy if it lowered the KH.
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post #7 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-18-2015, 10:41 PM
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I got mine locally at a farmers co-op. I don't know what you have over there, but go find a local high school and ask the guys working the landscaping where they buy their infield conditioner. You have a John Deere Landscapes dealer fairly close, give them a call and ask for Turface Heritage Red. Alternatively you can call Oil-Dri and ask for their product distributors for your state.

I'll post a pic later.
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post #8 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-21-2015, 03:21 PM
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I use STS in all my tanks (10 total). Great for a plant substrate. I have never rinsed it prior to putting it in the tanks. I just fill with enough water to completely cover by about 2 inches then give a quick stir and siphon off as much as possible. Then i add more water to about a couple inches deep and plant. Fill it up, water will cloud for a few hours, but I help clear it up with pillow stuffing in the filter. After 2-3 days I'll setup my filter with proper filter media.
STS has its problems, but most are minor. It will lower KH and PH for awhile, then it stabilizes. It does create dust clouds when planting or rearranging, usually clears in an hour or less. If you are careful and go slowly, you can minimize the dust clouds.
My overall experience with it has been great. Plants grow well in it, cories love it, it looks natural, and its cheap. I won't use anything else now.


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post #9 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-29-2015, 03:18 PM
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Here's a pic of the Pro's Choice SoilMaster Select Red. You can still get this stuff, but Turface is more prominent.

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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-16-2015, 07:00 PM
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Safe T Sorb as a substrate

I have used oil dri . First things first... Do not rinse! I have had very successful results after it calms down. It does not hold well and you must learn how to plant in it. Like most things in this hobby it is all about patience. LOL any body have any? However I probably will never use again unless I lose my job - AS is far superior imho



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post #11 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-18-2015, 11:27 PM
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I've had Soil Master Slect Charcoal in my tank for a little over 2yrs now and I LOVE IT....I did wash it first which took all of an hour....still have half a bag left and I have to convince the life every time she cleans not to throw it away. Lol She doesn't understand that you just can't find this stuff anymore or how great it really is. Lol

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post #12 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-19-2015, 12:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foster View Post
Considering using Safe T Sorb in a planted tank. I've read the CEC is great, and it help drop the KH of the water drastically. Now the real dilemma. ITS DIRTY. LOL Just wondering if anyone has experience with using this product in their planted tanks. If so were the tanks hard to clear up after installing this stuff? Everything sounds like pros with this product except the cloudy water.!!
Its dirty, its super lightweight, it drastically changes water parameters, its not the best color.

I used it for about a year in my 75g and I don't recommend it to anyone. I hate the stuff with a passion.

75 Gallon Low Tech w/ Green Terror Pair
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post #13 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-21-2015, 04:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Aquaticz View Post
I have used oil dri . First things first... Do not rinse! I have had very successful results after it calms down. It does not hold well and you must learn how to plant in it. Like most things in this hobby it is all about patience. LOL any body have any? However I probably will never use again unless I lose my job - AS is far superior imho
Why no rinsing? I'm sure AS (Aquasoil) is superior, but it's also $45 for 16lbs, whereas STS is $13 for 50lbs. Yes, it's a bit lighter, but didn't have much trouble planting anything that wasn't already mature.

Quote:
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I've had Soil Master Slect Charcoal in my tank for a little over 2yrs now and I LOVE IT....I did wash it first which took all of an hour....still have half a bag left and I have to convince the life every time she cleans not to throw it away. Lol She doesn't understand that you just can't find this stuff anymore or how great it really is. Lol
Did you sift it, or just use it right out of the bag?
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post #14 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-22-2015, 03:59 AM
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I tried using STS on my 55g when i first set it up a couple years back.
I remember it being to light (weight wise) under water.
I scooped it all out and ran dirt capped with gravel.
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post #15 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-22-2015, 08:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grizzly_a View Post
Why no rinsing? I'm sure AS (Aquasoil) is superior, but it's also $45 for 16lbs, whereas STS is $13 for 50lbs. Yes, it's a bit lighter, but didn't have much trouble planting anything that wasn't already mature.



Did you sift it, or just use it right out of the bag?
Poured it into a bucket stuck my garden hose in with my thumb over it and blasted the crap out it while mixing it with my other hand. Water was only slightly milky for all of a day and have never had any problems with it clouding my water since.

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