How do you rescape your sub? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-05-2015, 02:42 PM Thread Starter
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How do you rescape your sub?

I've had a tank I've been working with that's had a lot of issues.
As a result, I've ended up emptying it, scrubbing it, sorting the aquarium gravel, sand, or soil from each other by various methods, and then after everything is clean, reinstalling everything from the beginning. (long story as to why, and not the point of this thread)

So my question is, do any of you have anything you do to help keep your "cap" and your "sub" separate if you ever need to completely re-do the tank? I know starting over from scratch shouldn't be a regular event, but aren't there steps we can take to help us out in the future if we ever have to?
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-05-2015, 04:43 PM
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I would 100% never try to reuse soil/dirt. Way too messy. If you have a mix of substrates you are probably not going to have much success separating/reusing both of them separately


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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-05-2015, 05:34 PM Thread Starter
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Mostly I mean how do you save your cap if you cap your substrate?
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-05-2015, 05:38 PM
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Very carefully scoop it out? I don't think there is an exact answer here. It's not going to be easy.

Definitely rinse the crap out of it because it will be a mess


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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-05-2015, 06:24 PM Thread Starter
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I'm considering purchasing a fine, flexible, mesh net. Perhaps the cheapest option would be a few yards of that wedding stuff "tulle".
It seems like if I use a ~6mm gravel for my cap, and dirt as a sub, I can layer this between and have an easier time scooping up the gravel by removing most by hand, and then lifting the corners of the mesh, lifting the gravel off the dirt, for the most part.

Or just getting ~10mm or up river stones. The typical aquarium gravel is small enough it just takes more work to sparate from the dirt when re-starting.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-05-2015, 08:14 PM
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Why are you bothering doing this?

Why would you deal with 6mm gravel for the sake of saving it later on? Coarse gravel is far from ideal for planted tanks and IMO it looks bad. If you're doing a dirt tank you will want to cap it with someone more fine. Just buy black diamond blasting sand for like $8 / 50lb bag. Even then you could probably manage to salvage most of the sand when breaking it down. Just rinse the crap out of it and you should be able to get most of the gunk out of it. Even still this is far more trouble IMO than replacing everything... Dirt capped with sand is like the cheapest substrate combo possible and isn't worth like $20 to replace everything to deal with the work of re-using it. Dirt tanks should last a super long anyways. Not like you'll be replacing substrate every 6 months.

I would absolutely not do the mesh idea. Plants will root right through it (or even worse - fail to root through it) and it will be a PITA to move anything deeply rooted. The whole point of having dirt is so plants root all the way down into the dirt.


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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-05-2015, 08:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blacktetra View Post
aquarium gravel, sand, or soil
Sand on top will always sift down through the gravel. I suggest choosing one or the other. Personally I went with Safe-T-Sorb oil absorbent ($8 for a 40lb bag at tractor supply) as the cap for my dirted tanks. It looks good, easy on cory cats, and plants root well in it.


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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-05-2015, 08:44 PM
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Why are you bothering doing this?

Why would you deal with 6mm gravel for the sake of saving it later on? Coarse gravel is far from ideal for planted tanks and IMO it looks bad. If you're doing a dirt tank you will want to cap it with someone more fine. Just buy black diamond blasting sand for like $8 / 50lb bag. Even then you could probably manage to salvage most of the sand when breaking it down. Just rinse the crap out of it and you should be able to get most of the gunk out of it. Even still this is far more trouble IMO than replacing everything... Dirt capped with sand is like the cheapest substrate combo possible and isn't worth like $20 to replace everything to deal with the work of re-using it. Dirt tanks should last a super long anyways. Not like you'll be replacing substrate every 6 months.

I would absolutely not do the mesh idea. Plants will root right through it (or even worse - fail to root through it) and it will be a PITA to move anything deeply rooted. The whole point of having dirt is so plants root all the way down into the dirt.
I agree with this; although when he says "sand" I'm quite sure he means large grained sand/small grained gravel.

You can be crazy like me and use aquasoil type substrates to cap the dirt. Carpeting plants grow better, and because the aquasoils are light and remain on the surface, the layer always stay separate. When I redo tanks, sometimes I replace the dirt layer, but I can always reuse the aquasoil layer.

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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-05-2015, 08:56 PM Thread Starter
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I agree with this; although when he says "sand" I'm quite sure he means large grained sand/small grained gravel.

You can be crazy like me and use aquasoil type substrates to cap the dirt. Carpeting plants grow better, and because the aquasoils are light and remain on the surface, the layer always stay separate. When I redo tanks, sometimes I replace the dirt layer, but I can always reuse the aquasoil layer.

How do you separate the aquasoil from the dirt when you need to?

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Originally Posted by klibs View Post
Why are you bothering doing this?

I would absolutely not do the mesh idea. Plants will root right through it (or even worse - fail to root through it) and it will be a PITA to move anything deeply rooted. The whole point of having dirt is so plants root all the way down into the dirt.
You've got a point on the roots causing issues. I'd figured I could just use fine-rooted plants and pick a screen with holes bigger than the roots, but they'll get tangled and make an awful pain to deal with either way.

I'll give up on the mesh net.
Mostly I'm just trying to save myself time when years from now I want to re-do the whole tank. While still trying to save cash by not just throwing out a perfectly good cap. If I pay $40 on sand, it would be nice if there was an easy way to keep at least a good portion of it instead of tossing it out with the old dirt.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-05-2015, 09:02 PM
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The thing is, it stays separate; so I just scoop out the top aquasoil layer with a flat head spade to reuse. Here in this pic; bottom layer is dirt/soil, next I used older aquasoil from previous tank (looks light grey) and lastly new aquasoil (dark grey) on top. About 4-5 months in and the layers are still distinct


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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-05-2015, 09:34 PM Thread Starter
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well, looks like the only simple solution is a little flat blade trowel then. That may be the easiest answer. May be a lot faster than what I've used before. I'll need to compare.
My current method has been to use larger grain gravel as a cap and dump it onto a giant sieve I made, then rinse it all gently with the hose. But this can still take hours.
Using the spade first would likely leave so little left over I wouldnt care about dumping it in the trash.

But as mentioned, larger grain size isn't great for roots. Though my plants tolerate it just fine.

Last edited by Blacktetra; 10-05-2015 at 09:35 PM. Reason: additional info
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-06-2015, 05:25 PM
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If it's gravel or something heavy, it's usually not challenging to rinse. Most potting soil or similar will mix with water while heavy gravel or something like Florite will just stay at the bottom of a bucket. I have done this successfully more than a few times. Those are the only types of substrate I would probably reuse, something more like Aqua Soil likely has broken down too much and is worth replacing for a rescape and other things like sand just are cheap enough to replace.

-Matt

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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-06-2015, 10:02 PM Thread Starter
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thank you Talon, that was the kind of response I was hoping for.
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-06-2015, 10:11 PM
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If you use a finer dirt capped with gravel, you can usually just dig the whole mess up and rinse outside. Then you're left with your gravel and you can replace your dirt. worm castings work best for me. they sift right out of my gravel.


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