Injecting Soil -- Do I need to "Age" the potting mix? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-21-2011, 03:47 PM Thread Starter
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Injecting Soil -- Do I need to "Age" the potting mix?

My aquarium is a 210 with apx 2-3 inches of play sand as the substrate. I was thinking of getting some of the Miracle Gro Organic potting soil, sifting all the chunks out of it, making a sludge or soup and then injecting it deep in the sand under some of my plants like my swords.

Do I need to make up the mix and let it sit for awhile as a mud before I inject it? Will I need to do this on a yearly basis? I curently use Root tabs for my plant.

Any other thoughts on this?


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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-21-2011, 03:56 PM
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I'm not an expert, but you may want to consider making mud ice cubes and putting them underneath your sand substrate.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-21-2011, 04:06 PM Thread Starter
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I was planning on using a very big syringe with some of that clear rigid airline tubing, that way I could get it at the very bottom of the sand, when I am placing my root tabs I sometimes run into issues getting them deep enough and take several attempts. With frozen mud I suspect it would break down quickly.


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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-21-2011, 04:25 PM
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to decrease thaw time. turn off extra flow pumps or powerheads.. the reduced flow will decrease surface contact time with freshwater and allow it to stay frozen longer.

objects form pockets around them to give an idea what im saying.

take a glass of water.. huge if u like. drop one ice cube in it.. see how long it takes to thaw
take an ice cube and run it under cold water, see how long that takes! extra flow means less time for the cold object to insullate itself with cooler water

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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-21-2011, 05:22 PM
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I like both the mud injection and mud cube ideas. I vote for injection, just because I want to see how well it works. I think the cubes would be easier to control though. I have MGOCPM under about an inch of sand in my tank, and the problem is when you stir up the substrate, you get lots of tiny floating bits released, that eventually sit on top of the sand and just look kinda shi**y. They are fairly easy to remove with a siphon during a WC, especially if you're sifting out the larger wood pieces, but it's still unsightly. Good luck and post some pics.
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-21-2011, 05:27 PM
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Oh, and your original Q about aging the soil. If you do the mud injection, I would start with as small of an amount of water as possible, and slowly add until you have a mixture you like, then just let it sit and soak up moisture until fully saturated, which means you'll probably have to add water and monitor at least a couple times. I would think overnight would be plenty of time for a full soak.
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-21-2011, 05:31 PM
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Age the soil in water if possible. There's a method called mineralizing where soil is soaked and dried several times. It promotes a chemical process to break down harmful chemical like NH3 to something safer. Heat would do the same thing.


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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-22-2011, 01:58 AM
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Is there any reason this couldn't be combined with pre-mineralized top soil?

Mineralize the soil first like in normal MTS applications and then just wet it as discussed above for the actual injection/insertion.

It would remove the risk of decaying organics (which is both a benefit and a drawback of using un-mineralized Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix). That organic decay is somewhat predictable and controllable when starting up an aquarium but when adding it to a populated aquarium I would be nervous. Not saying that it would go badly just saying that without experimenting with it I sure wouldn't want to recommend it to someone.
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-24-2011, 07:05 AM Thread Starter
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Well I picked up a single bag of the MGOPS today and spent about a half hour sifting it with small old window screen, this allowed me to get really fine soil, left about 1/3 of the bag left over with the wood chunks and bigger stuff. I had a 2-3 layer in the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket for the fine stuff, I added water to just let it sit overnight and soak up all the liqued and get the mud mixture going.

I do not plan to mineralize the soil, I am going to direct these mud injections under specific plants, my swords, crypts and hygros. Think of it more like a longer term liqued fert tab. These are plants I don't plan to uproot any time soon so the soil can mix with the sand, since its so fine it may spread and provide a nice layer of organics in the sand that normally takes years to develop waiting for the fish mulm to saturate your substrate.


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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-24-2011, 03:00 PM
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You might want to add clay into the mix to give it some viscosity. You can even form them into little balls and dry them. Insert the 'root tabs' would be easy.


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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-24-2011, 04:36 PM Thread Starter
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I was thinking of adding a small amount of play sand into the mix to "Thicken" it up


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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-24-2011, 07:03 PM
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Play sand is very very very dirty. Would take quite a few rinsings before I would put it in the mix. I've never tried either of these methods, but I feel like the pressure of the injection into the substrate will cause it to make quite a mess. Im gonna follow this because im mighty curious now too

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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-25-2011, 07:12 AM Thread Starter
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Well lots of different kinds of news, first the injection method is just not going to work. The basic problem is that even with the soil really well sifted the soil just compacts in the syringe and the water flows out.

A 24 soak worked nicely to let all the material absorb water and become saturated, a paint mixer bit for a drill worked wonders to mix the slurry, I also saved all the large chunks leftover from the bag of MGOPS and attacked it with my mixer, got almost another full cup of powder doing this.

I picked up these nice icecube trays that make a 1 inch round puck thats about 3/4 inch thick, I'll come up with some sort of rod and cap to hold the pucks while I insert them into the sand, since my tank is 2 feet tall reaching the bottom is a chore.


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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-25-2011, 01:31 PM
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Very interesting thread. Like many I'm curious about the feasibility of this procedure.

Having a little experince using a injector for the Smoker & BBQ I was expecting the results you had. It's difficult to keep different viscosities flowing. You had the additional challenge of the water in the tank.

Two PVC caps attached back to back with one on a length of PVC pipe will get you a cupped tool to do your "planting". I think I would drill a small hole dead center in the planting cup. I'd runs a small doll rod through the middle of the pVC pipe to push & hold the ice cube pucks in place as toy remove the PVC planter.

I salute your imagination. I would just tear it down, root prune all the plants, lay in some MTS & rescape it for the next 4-5 years. But, I'm OCD like that.

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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-26-2011, 06:49 AM Thread Starter
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Well I made up my first batch of dirt cubes last night, popped em out of their tray and into a gallon freezer bag. Each tray makes 21 apx 1 ouce dirt pucks that are flat on one end and rounded on the other, kinda like a gum drop, I have 2 trays. I made a second batch tonight and will most likely have enough dirt to make a third before I am out. I have a couple questions for those who have NON MTS under their sand/Gravel caps....

First, my tank is already well cycled, should I run into any risks of a mini cycle when I insert the dirt cubs under the sand?

Second, should I "Aim" these under my heavy root feeders like my crypts and swords or should I just space them out evenly and salt the whole tank bed with them? I will have upwards of 126 dirt cubes and my tank is 14 square feet of surface area.


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