Mineralized Topsoil Q - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-19-2015, 05:03 AM Thread Starter
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Mineralized Topsoil Q

So I'm starting to make some mineralized top soil for a 2.5 gallon emersed planted tank I'm bringing to college with me. I've got the top soil, and I've got the dolomite (actually oolite or some other crushed carbonate sand I used in my reef tanks). However, I'm not sure where to find KCl, nor iron rich clay. Where would I go about finding these things in person? What brands do you recommend?

I found this red clay, "Amaco Mexican Self-hardening clay" on the walmart site, does anybody have +- reviews for it? KCl, I can understand, but dirt...dirt, I just don't understand at all!

The topsoil I got said it had sphagnum moss, as well as composted wood products. Is that okay?

Finally, my mom told me to get a bag of vermiculite. Should I incorporate it since it's so good for land plants?

So many fish to keep, not enough aquaria.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-19-2015, 04:43 PM
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Vermiculite is a pain as a substrate. It is very light, so it floats, and it never gets waterlogged enough to not float. I tried it many years ago for the same reasons you mentioned, and never stopped regretting it.

Personally, when I use mineralized topsoil as a substrate I use soil I dig up outdoors. The point is to save money and have a fertile substrate. "Topsoil" you buy in bags isn't really topsoil. It is a mix of partially mulched wood products, manure, and any number of other non-soil stuff. Real, dug from the ground, topsoil works very well and costs nothing at all.

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-20-2015, 05:17 AM
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KCl they sell as potash at plant nurseries. It should come as pink granules. Amaco brand Mexican Self-hardening clay is the clay to use as long as it's all natural.

The peat and composted wood products might take a while to break down if you do the wet dry cycles. Personally, I'd take Hoppy's advice and mineralize topsoil dug from an area that hasn't been exposed to pesticides or herbicides.

Vermiculite should be avoided since it floats. It's useful for water retention in terrestrial setups though.

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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-20-2015, 02:22 PM
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Back in the 90's when I tried vermiculite in my substrate it was recommended only if you took the considerable time needed to "massage" it under water to break up the big particles into fine particles, rubbing the water into the particles. I did that, but wasn't as thorough as I could have been. The random large particles were floating up for 3 years after that. Perhaps it was a good additive in the substrate, but it has been many years since I have seen anyone recommend using it.

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-20-2015, 03:45 PM
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I used it once as a media for Pinguicula. When I hydrated it, pieces of it would break causing an explosion of gold colored flakes in the water I used to rinse it. I could imagine an aquarium looking like the contents of a Goldschlager bottle if vermiculite flakes ended up in the water column.

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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-21-2015, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
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OK, so no vermiculite, got it.

So when it comes to the actual mineralization process, why don't you just spritz a layer of dirt with water daily since the soil mineralizes the most when it's moist and exposed to air? Aside from washing away any fertilizers of course.

Additionally, will old potting soil work? I guess I'd need to rinse it more due to added fertilizers, but it should still work the same way, right?

So many fish to keep, not enough aquaria.

Last edited by ichthyogeek; 12-21-2015 at 08:42 PM. Reason: new question
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-22-2015, 01:08 AM
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I prefer using a hose since I make large batches but spritzing it should work. Just moisten the soil until it's the consistency of mud then wait until it's dry again to rehydrate. You should turn over the soil between drying to make sure all of it is mineralized equally.

Depends on the composition of the potting soil. If it has a lot of aggregates, both organic and inorganic, you will have to sift it first.
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