Capping MTS. with an Active Substrate - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 08-02-2015, 01:43 PM Thread Starter
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Capping MTS. with an Active Substrate

I am in the process of mineralizing some topsoil to dirt my tank and remove the safe t sorb that I have currently. I've searched over and over on this forum and many others for any examples of people capping there MTS or dirt with active buffering substrate ( controsoil, brightwell). I have to imagine this would be highly beneficial because any nutrients leached from the MTS would be trapped in the high CEC substrate cap and not leached into the water. I believe this is similar to the method Xiaozhuang uses in his incredible high tech tanks.

I'd love to hear everyone's opinions I already have a few bags of brighwell volcanit rio escuro to play around with if this turns out to be a solid idea like it seems in my brain.
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 08-07-2015, 04:24 PM
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Eh since my name is quoted I'll explain myself. It's not about nutrient trapping per se; substrate nutrients will always leech into the water column to a certain degree. No substrate is "Waterproof" in that sense or we'd all have anaerobic substrates. There is always gradual but sure water movement between substrate layers and the water column.

I like capping with ADA or similar because while my dirt layer is deeper down, I can make small changes to the landscape by moving the thick cap layer. If all my slopes were dirt with a uniform half-inch cap, I'd need to move the dirt portion of the substrate when making small changes to the landscape and it is very messy. Hence I use thicker aquasoil layers in areas that I may rescape. This point doesn't really apply to tanks that just have a flat substrate.

Comparing heavy gravels as a cap compared to aquasoils, I prefer aquasoils as they are lighter and will always remain on the surface. If your planting technique is rough, one easily mixes heavier gravel with the softer lighter soil underneath. This is exaggerated if you have thick soil layers like I do.

Comparing aquasoils to smaller granular size sands etc; I like that dirt/livestock waste falls through the gaps in aquasoils and becomes trapped in the substrate. In sand tanks debris accumulates easily on the surface.

In some sense, I'm trying to have the advantages of an aquasoil tank while saving costs on the layers that don't move. Also, dirt can be considered a "superfine" substrate, and I find some delicate plants do better in it

Regards, Dennis
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