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Does soil need to be mineralized?

1459 Views 14 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  zdnet
I was reading up on the walstad method, snd I see they use organic potting soil by miracle grow without mineralizing it

Is it possible to go this route on a large 75g tank? If I allow the soil to soak in a full tank, I'm able to monitor ammonia levels to see if there are any, plus non steralized organc soil can instant cycle a tank from wht I read
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I recall reading that Walstad suggests leaving the soil out in the air to let the ammonia dissipate. I don't remember what the basis of this is...

I will say this though, if you plan to go this method you should be sure to screen the soil and get rid of ALL debris, wood chips, etc.

Also, if you plan on moving plants around even once a month or just on occasion, this method can get very messy. Very. There is the potential for a lot of gas buildup as well. She offers some solutions for this but I was never able to get it to work.

If you're going the soil route, why not just use some MTS? Seems the best way to go if you're set on soil.
I would mineralize top soil, but it could still work. It will take a while for the organics to break down, so you will probably get a lot algae blooms, and murky water. I would do it a fishless cycle, and lots of water changes. Also there will probably be a lot of gas pockets. So frequent poking of the substrate would be needed. I would highly recommend going with the mineralized way to avoid a 75g disaster.
Just browsing different possibilities is all. I think I will just order some mts from the guy on this forum selling it. Just on a budget and wanted opinions.

Thanks :)
Its easy to make, and cheap. Its space that usually causes and issue, and may take a while outside in your climate.
Too cold to make it now ;)
And don't have the space
I did exactly what your talking about on a 55g. Tracked water parameters as they changed and posted the results until everything stablized. What, how much, details on plants and fish stocking.

Should have all the information to answers your questions asked so far.
I set up a Walstad tank three months ago with MGOC potting mix straight from the bag. Within two weeks my water tested 0 ammonia, nitrate, and nitrites. I have had no algae problems, fantastic plant growth, and healthy fish except for the suicidal kuhli loaches that jumped out.

Recently, I have begun removing some of the fast growing stem plants to make more room for swords, crypts, and others. Yes, some soil comes up with the rooted stems, but it rapidly settles below my rather coarse gravel cap. Within an hour after uprooting hygrophila, you can't tell I did anything.

The only minor problem I had was the soil staining the water with tannins. When I set up a second tank, I soaked the MGOC in a tub overnight beforehand, and poured off the water (and floaters) the next morning before adding fresh water. I did this three times. The new tank has been just as successful as the first, with almost no tannin color in the water.

I would use this method for any size tank with complete confidence.
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Yay, just what I wanted to hear! Thanks!

I'm now confident that I'm going to go down this route. Capped with some black flourite or similar material
leave some of the woodchips, they are a long term source of N (or so i was told). I have set up both (large & small) MTS and walstad tanks with co2 and both lead to the same end result.
Nice Wkndracer. I'm stealing your egg/lighting crate idea. I WANT FLOWERING BACOPA. Thats so nice!
I knew I wasn't crazy for wanting to try this! :p
It can be done right from the bag but is somewhat risky if you stock your tank with a bunch of plants and things go south. If you have the time soaking it in a steralite tub for a month will take out some of the ammonia issues sometimes present in this method.
I dont plan on stocking the tank right away, just planting and doing a fishless cycle, so I don't see there being a problem. Once I'm sure there wont be any ammonia I will stock the tank, and by that time, the plants should have grown in a bit more. I'll be using fast growing plants at first. Probably some duckweed
I have set up a number of Walstad tanks using top soil straight from the bag. I added fish within 24 to 48 hours. No problem with fish. No algae problem.

IMO, during the initial set up it is very important to have plenty of floating plants to start with. I typically started with duckweed covering half of the water surface. They sucked up the massive release of ammonia and other nutrients from the new soil while the submerged plants were adjusting to the new environment. Thus, preventing algae and making it possible to add fish very early.
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