Soil preparation for re-doing a tank - Releasing ammonia - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-05-2015, 07:20 AM Thread Starter
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Soil preparation for re-doing a tank - Releasing ammonia

Lets say you have a tank that has been running for 1-2 years on aquasoil. If the aquasoil has broken down and lost it's nutrients, and you plan to replace all the substrate with new aquasoil, how do you prepare the new substrate without relocating the fish for an entire month(until the ammonia has been leeched from the new substrate). If you just dump aquasoil and water in a bucket, should it automatically "cycle" within a month and be ready to use on the day you empty your tank?
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-05-2015, 12:48 PM
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Yes, though to speed things along you might want to use an established filter (beneficial bacteria and circulation), and stirring would also be helpful... but exactly as you thought should work as well, though not as quickly


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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-05-2015, 07:03 PM
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I believe ADA recommends daily big water changes until the ammonia leaching stops. The newest version of Aquasoil Amazonia doesn't leach nearly as much ammonia anyway. I agree that you should use a filter that is already colonized by the bacteria if you want to add any fish immediately.

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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-06-2015, 12:49 AM
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jcmv4792,

if you want to replace your substrate, why don't you replace it patches at a time? That way you wouldn't have much to worry about, since filters plants and fish are left in place!

If you take all the substrate out, you are virtually braking down the entire tank and you are starting all over again.

I wouldn't take the substrate out at all; just add root tabs or similar beads that provide new fertilizer and replace what has leached out!
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-06-2015, 03:34 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by g4search View Post
jcmv4792,

if you want to replace your substrate, why don't you replace it patches at a time? That way you wouldn't have much to worry about, since filters plants and fish are left in place!

If you take all the substrate out, you are virtually braking down the entire tank and you are starting all over again.

I wouldn't take the substrate out at all; just add root tabs or similar beads that provide new fertilizer and replace what has leached out!
Thanks. My main concern was whether or not broken down aquasoil would mix with the water column(from the flow) making it cloudy. I thought I had to take everything out once that happened.

Is broken down aquasoil the same as MTS/dirt? And in that case, could I just cap the aquasoil with sand once it breaks down like in dirted tanks?
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-06-2015, 04:38 PM
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Aquasoil has a high CEC, so will accept fertilizers and allow the plants to take them even when the original fertilizer has gone. I would not replace it just because the fertilizer is used up-

You don't throw away your dinner plate when the food is gone, do you? Soil is the same- it is a holder of plant food, you just need to add more plant food.

However, I understand that Aquasoil does break down and become pretty much mush. If you do want to replace it, then prepping the new material can be done outside the tank.
Try putting it in a bucket or any sort of container, and doing daily water changes.
Adding nitrifying bacteria will help, but in this way:
The soil will keep on producing ammonia, the bacteria does not stop that.
But the bacteria will grow in the soil in places that suit the bacteria- high oxygen areas. This will benefit the fish when you remove the old soil (and its bacteria) from the tank.

You will keep doing water changes in the prep system. Do not just leave the Aquasoil in a bucket of water. As the ammonia builds up in the water less ammonia can leave the soil. When you do daily water changes you are keeping the ammonia level low in the water, so more ammonia can leave the soil.
No need to actually stir the soil, but I would make sure there is good water flow through the soil to keep removing the maximum amount of ammonia. You could do this with a bubbler buried in the soil if you are prepping it in a deep bucket.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-06-2015, 05:26 PM
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I have been using AS for close to two years and though I am unsure about how much nutrients it has compared to new, I am still getting great growth in a "mid tech" setup, lower light levels, still injecting CO2. I fertilize about one day of EI levels once a month or so, very low on water column ferts. I am not sure it breaks down in terms of nutrients as people say, nor do I think MTS does, I have seen example of 10 year old MTS tanks with minimal ferts added, I find I have to start dosing MTS tanks after about 2 years in a low tech setup but not often, about the same as what I am doing now. My AS hasn't broken down and become dirt/dust either, it still looks the same as it did when new, for the most part. Older AS seems to fall apart after a few years, they have changed it 2-3 times since I have been familiar with it.

That said, if you want to replace it, there are a few ways. Some will put in on an established tank. Supposedly the newer stuff doesn't leach as much ammonia and some feel an established filter can take care of it. Most would expect to do a 50% water change daily an monitor ammonia levels. Other people just let it sit in a bucket for a period of time, and once ammonia levels drop, they will add it to the tank. More than a few ways people deal with it, for me, it would give me an excuse to setup another tank and move fish over to that haha.

-Matt

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