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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I'm going to be setting up a 75 gallon tank pretty soon, and am planning on using dirt. I've been saving up egg shells, drying them, crushing them, and then throwing them in a coffee grinder. It is pretty much egg shell sand. I wouldn't quite call it powder. I was thinking about mixing it in with the topsoil that is going to be in the tank. Right now I have about 3 dozen egg shells, which equates to half of a small ziplock sandwich bag full.

Has anyone ever tried this? I'd imagine it would be great for the plants. I guess the shells are about 93% calcium carbonate, and if I remember correctly, you typically add a bunch of that when you do mineralized topsoil.

Also, what is the benefit to using mineralized topsoil, instead of just regular old topsoil, with all the sticks and rocks taken out? The plants use it better/quicker somehow? I mineralized some topsoil a while back, and my wife asked me why I was boiling dirt. I told her that I was mineralizing it. "What for?" "So the plants will grow better" "Why not just use dirt?" "um.......... cus...?"
 

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mineralizing it removes a lot of the ammonia content

ammonia = potential algae bloom and because the organics are mineralized out of the tank, you avoid the H2S gas being produced w/ the swamp smell

when i set up my dirt tank...I went to the dollar store and bought a box of white blackboard chalk (typically CaSO4 or CaCO3) and crushed a few sticks into chunks and mixed it in my tank...it was much easier/faster
 

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never heard of anyone using egg shells

nutrients in MTS last longer than nutrients in plain topsoil. the trade off is the work and time it takes to make MTS.

I would recommend Miracle Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix (MGOCPM) over plain top soil.

My take on dirt is MTS > MGOCPM > plain topsoil
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I started to mess with some of the miracle grow, and poured water over it, while it was on a metal screen. It's close to 90% wood. I figure that's the reason people have problems with tannins for the next 6+ months after they put it in their aquarium. I think I will just go the mineralized route again, and boil up some dirt. Hopefully I don't have to take apart my garbage disposal again this time.
Why do the nutrients last longer in MTS? Are they less broken down or something?
And the question still remains, anyone know if the egg shells will work, or at least, not be hazardous to the fish or plants?
 

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they should work...people put them in filters when they have shrimp tanks...I know weve used them in our garden before...but Im not sure how long it takes egg shells to decompose

either way...shouldnt hurt anything

I screen out the wood chips and bark my MGOC when I setup my tanks...and dont have problems with tannins leeching
 

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Also, what is the benefit to using mineralized topsoil, instead of just regular old topsoil, with all the sticks and rocks taken out? The plants use it better/quicker somehow? I mineralized some topsoil a while back, and my wife asked me why I was boiling dirt. I told her that I was mineralizing it. "What for?" "So the plants will grow better" "Why not just use dirt?" "um.......... cus...?"
Mineralization is a process that takes place constantly and continuously (for the most part) in all topsoil. It is one of the many steps in the good ol' nitrogen cycle. It is basically the conversion of an organic form of nitrogen (usually ammonia (NH3) complexed with carbon), to ammonium (NH4), then to nitrate (NO3) via bacteria in the soil (which is called nitrification) which "eat" the ammonium and release nitrate as a byproduct.

This process is beneficial in many ways to plants, animals, and the environment. First, nitrogen in an organic form (complexed with carbon) is entirely unavailable to plants--plants can't take it up and use it at all. Once mineralization occurs, the nitrogen is still is a relatively unavailable form to plants (most plants cannot use ammonium at all, there are a few, but not many). It is not until nitrification has occurred (NH4 to NO3) that plants can actually take up the nitrogen, which is now in the nitrate form; thus plants will grow better because they have an accessible form of nitrogen. Second, and what is important for fish tanks, is that nitrate is not toxic to fish and invertebrates, whereas ammonia is highly toxic. So mineralizing organic nitrogen to ammonium, then to nitrate reduces the risk of killing our fish due to high ammonia levels. Also, from an environmental standpoint, nitrogen in the nitrate form is much "safer" than nitrogen in the ammonium form because of its overall electrical charge. Nitrate has an overall negative charge (NO3-), and soils have an overall negative charge. So this means that nitrate can be bound and held to soils, thus not running off an polluting groundwater or surface water. Ammonium (NH4+) has an overall positive charge and actually repels the positive soil surface and runs off very easily.

So, to answer your wife's question, you mineralize topsoil for the fishtank so that the nitrogen is in a bioavailable form that the plants can use. This NO3 will also be "built up" in the soil, giving your plants an ample amount of nitrogen for quite a long period of time. Mineralization is basically the release of nitrogen in an organic form (unavailable to plants) to an inorganic form (available to plants).

Hope that helps you understand a little. Sorry for the long-winded explanation--I get carried away whenever a topic relates to my college studies of soils and agronomy haha
 

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just throwing this out there.. eggshells take a long to decompose and you would be better off using another substitute for calcium if you wish to supplement that particular element. People suppliment calcium for shrimp keeping, what is your motif?

Personally I will vouch for the topsoil /mud tank. Works a charm if you don't wish to use mineralized top soil ;)
 

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1.Mineralization is a process that takes place constantly and continuously (for the most part) in all topsoil. It is one of the many steps in the good ol' nitrogen cycle. It is basically the conversion of an organic form of nitrogen (usually ammonia (NH3) complexed with carbon), to ammonium (NH4), then to nitrate (NO3) via bacteria in the soil (which is called nitrification) which "eat" the ammonium and release nitrate as a byproduct.

2.This process is beneficial in many ways to plants, animals, and the environment. First, nitrogen in an organic form (complexed with carbon) is entirely unavailable to plants--plants can't take it up and use it at all. Once mineralization occurs, the nitrogen is still is a relatively unavailable form to plants (most plants cannot use ammonium at all, there are a few, but not many). It is not until nitrification has occurred (NH4 to NO3) that plants can actually take up the nitrogen, which is now in the nitrate form; thus plants will grow better because they have an accessible form of nitrogen. Second, and what is important for fish tanks, is that nitrate is not toxic to fish and invertebrates, whereas ammonia is highly toxic. So mineralizing organic nitrogen to ammonium, then to nitrate reduces the risk of killing our fish due to high ammonia levels. Also, from an environmental standpoint, nitrogen in the nitrate form is much "safer" than nitrogen in the ammonium form because of its overall electrical charge. 3. Nitrate has an overall negative charge (NO3-), and soils have an overall negative charge. So this means that nitrate can be bound and held to soils, thus not running off an polluting groundwater or surface water. Ammonium (NH4+) has an overall positive charge and actually repels the positive soil surface and runs off very easily.

4.So, to answer your wife's question, you mineralize topsoil for the fishtank so that the nitrogen is in a bioavailable form that the plants can use. This NO3 will also be "built up" in the soil, giving your plants an ample amount of nitrogen for quite a long period of time. Mineralization is basically the release of nitrogen in an organic form (unavailable to plants) to an inorganic form (available to plants).

5.Hope that helps you understand a little. Sorry for the long-winded explanation--I get carried away whenever a topic relates to my college studies of soils and agronomy haha
1. true...nitrogen cycle is a part of the decomposition cycle...you missed a step in there tho ammonia-->nitrIte-->nitrAte...same for phosphorus cycle and carbon cycle...mineralization is basically about taking the nutrients from living things and breaking them down after ____ dies so that the next set of living things can acquire them

2. easy explanation...if the nitrogen is bound in other plants, animals and bacteria (hint hint ORGANIC form) etc etc etc...the plant cannot get to it...so mineralization is basically letting the bacteria, plants, fertilizers etc break down into a form plants can get to (INORGANIC)

3. wrong...the negative charge of nitrate means that it does NOT bond to soil surfaces...which is why plants in bogs (carnivorous plants specifically) would have nitrogen deficiencies (the nitrate flows away with the groundwater)

and soils have a negative charge (from teh clay and organic matter)...which is where we get cation exchange capacity (a measure of ca+ion retention ability and groundwater buffering ability to cation pollution -Mg2+, K+, Ca2+ Na+ ...etc) of the soils

also ammonia/um concentrations is dependent on pH of the solution...so having low pHs (abundance of H+ ions would swing concentration towards NH4+) and high pH the opposite

4. this simplified explanation is pretty good...so i agree

5. Im all for using your higher education for teaching the masses (not everyone has the privilege)...but however well intended, dont spread misinformation...and actually, I think it was you that we had a discussion about aDsorption vs aBsorption...may be wrong tho:flick:
 

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1. true...nitrogen cycle is a part of the decomposition cycle...you missed a step in there tho ammonia-->nitrIte-->nitrAte...same for phosphorus cycle and carbon cycle...mineralization is basically about taking the nutrients from living things and breaking them down after ____ dies so that the next set of living things can acquire them

2. easy explanation...if the nitrogen is bound in other plants, animals and bacteria (hint hint ORGANIC form) etc etc etc...the plant cannot get to it...so mineralization is basically letting the bacteria, plants, fertilizers etc break down into a form plants can get to (INORGANIC)

3. wrong...the negative charge of nitrate means that it does NOT bond to soil surfaces...which is why plants in bogs (carnivorous plants specifically) would have nitrogen deficiencies (the nitrate flows away with the groundwater)

and soils have a negative charge (from teh clay and organic matter)...which is where we get cation exchange capacity (a measure of ca+ion retention ability and groundwater buffering ability to cation pollution -Mg2+, K+, Ca2+ Na+ ...etc) of the soils

also ammonia/um concentrations is dependent on pH of the solution...so having low pHs (abundance of H+ ions would swing concentration towards NH4+) and high pH the opposite

4. this simplified explanation is pretty good...so i agree

5. Im all for using your higher education for teaching the masses (not everyone has the privilege)...but however well intended, dont spread misinformation...and actually, I think it was you that we had a discussion about aDsorption vs aBsorption...may be wrong tho:flick:

Thanks for pointing out no.3, I totally got that backwards. I knew it, just wrote it wrong. So very simple, yet I managed to mess it up haha. And about nitrite to nitrate, that is an intermediate step in the process of nitrification and is often omitted--but you are correct, the entire process would be NH4-->NO2-->NO3

And yes I pointed out the miss-use of adsorption vs. sorption (not absorption).
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Wow... good thing my wife is a microbiologist! I'll just have her read all the egg-head stuff y'all spilled out there, and translate it. And what's my motif with the eggshells? Pretty basic. I like eggs. They are very yummy. Nutritious and delicious. Well, my wife, son, and I, will go through 18-36 eggs a week. One day, when I was throwing out two 18 pack cartons of eggs, I thought "hhmmm... you can use this stuff in gardens... I could probably save some up for the aquarium" After that I thought "And Lance (my 5 year old) can help me! We'll have a great time smashing the h311 out of egg shells. Then, when the plants grow in the aquarium and big and pretty, I can say that they're so pretty because he did such a great job smashing egg shells" Plus, ya know, maybe my plants really would be greener/nicer becaues of them.

So, the reason, really, is an excuse to do something with my boy that's fun, educational, and will hopefully give him a bit of an ego boost.

But thanks for the dicussion on MTS!
 

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Ive added them in the past i ground them very fine, i added them to aid with my snails shell and shrimps*the snails i got were in poor shape*. i do enjoy using things that we just toss as junk an reusing them to make plants much more happy like bananna peals for roses.
 
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