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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm tearing down & redoing a 55 I have - I did a dirt tank for the first time with it and I'm not so sure I liked it. Besides the constant mess of peat particles forever covering my leaves, the tank never was as healthy or balanced as my 40c -which is identical, minus the MG.
I'm sure I had my share of noob-inspired mistakes, so the problems with the tank could be unrelated to the MG, but I'm looking to see if anyone has ever regretted doing a dirt tank. I would like to learn more about alternatives to dirt.
I have specific things I'd like to hear about, one is a clay base - but I can't remember what it's called. Laterite, or something like that. They sell it at Petsmart.
Anyhow, I'm running late for work. I'll get a more coherent post togther when I come home! lol
Thanks!
 

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Curious on the failed first attempt how the sub/cap was constructed?
The depth on the soil layer?
Type of material, depth on the cap?
The 'constant mess' and lack of balance seems surprising without another factor involved. Tannins I can consider a PITA starting out but growth is always explosive (for low light LOL) and dirt tanks for me have been a positive experience (obvious by it's repeated use). With the thread titled the way it is odds are good it will have a south bound trip but the devil is in the details, why things work for most and others have issues.

MGOPS in the title caption, was it soil or potting mix used?
edit; If your signature thread is the tank in question I have answered most of my own post reading the opening introduction to that thread. And have clues in mind LOL reading the rest of it today.

Many would be surprised if I wasn't one of the first responding to this thread LMAO.
 

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"...Besides the constant mess of peat particles forever covering my leaves..."

Maybe it has to do with how /where you added the peat and the type used. I use a very fine powdered peat and lay it down below the MTS. I build it potash, worm casing (powder) dolomite worm casing, peat, MTS, Sand cap.

Maybe you can savage your substrate and reuse it. If you pull it an rinse out the peat, I'd think you could reuse the dirt, maybe up the clay a bit.

I'm sure Mike will have some good ideas once you fill use in with more details.
 

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My thoughts exactly...Just a nood mistake and not enough research took place.
The one real danger/hurdle with a soil based tank seems to be getting the water in without blowing the capping substrate around and bringing the soil up to the surface of the substrate.

In my planted bowls I didn't feel like pouring the water in super slowly so I got some of the MGOCPS in the water column but I didn't really care. There is no water movement so it eventually settled and just gave the tank a more 'natural' look.

I can see how that situation would annoy someone with a bigger tank that they wanted to keep really tidy though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
lol - I will try to add more details now that I am home from work...
I didn't "build" my substrate at all - this isn't MTS. I will be the first to admit I don't have the funds OR patience to make my own MTS. There. I said it. ; )
What I did do, is buy Miracle Grow Organic Potting Soil and lay it in the bottom of the tank about an inch, inch-and-a-half deep. I didn't compress it at all (not knowing better) and the "fuffy" measurement is what I'm quoting. I capped with a one to one-and-a-half inch layer of a mix of pea gravel from Lowes, and FloraMax from Petsmart. By the time all was said & done the whole thing probably compacted to little over two inches total. Not deep enough I know now.
The tannins I don't mind - I actually like the tea water look. It's quite possible the peat was stirred up by my adding water too quickly - that's a good point! I moved my plants around a lot, too.
I guess because I'd never used anything but gravel/FloraMax before, I wondered if the peaty mix could have thrown off the tank. Perhaps by coincidence, this 55 is also the first tank where I've had diseased fish - with the exception of a mild ick in one tank some time ago. Hopefully you can see where I would be suspicious! (you do all remember being a noob yourselves, don't you? lol)
The 40b is doing fantastic without the addition of dirt, so it's hard for me to see the need for dirt at all. Is it just another alternative - not better, not worse - than all the other options? I see people using things like Eco Complete, Fourite, etc. I don't know a thing about these products - the benefits of one over another. There is a seller on SnS now offering a substrate that looks good (but too pricey for me and my low budget). My point is, there are so many products out there, and if you are like me - someone who only was exposed to Plain Jane gravel - it gets very confusing. I have no planted tank background, so I'm trying to learn what the plants need, how they get it in a tank, while setting up tanks. Did I mention I'm not good at waiting? lol I want to get these tanks up & running! I'm not looking for a show tank, I only want a simple tank I can enjoy and relax with. To play Devil's Advocate - the 40b without dirt is providing just that, and no mess.
So, I'm open for all kinds of discussion - help teach a stubborn noob! lol
PS - yes, wkndracer, I would be shocked if you didn't reply first! ; )
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
DogFish;1518945 Maybe it has to do with how /where you added the peat and the type used. I use a very fine powdered peat and lay it down below the MTS. I build it potash said:
Dogfish, you are perking my interest in MTS. I was just reading your response to a poster's thread seeking MTS recipies. I finally noticed you were talking about layering your ingredients. If I'm right in thinking that, then this sounds a lot like lasagna gardening. Although I'm still not sure about the whole MTS sift/make mud/dry mess. When I read that people use dolomite, etc., I want to know why these ingredients, and why in the stated ratios. I suppose I'm afraid to blindly follow the intructions when I know I don't understand why I'm doing it.
I'm going to read the MTS sticky tonight and see if I can learn from it...
 

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No Problem Hunter I used Miracle Grow as well... I didnt have the funds OR patience either. However I didnt really experiance much tannins since I use Purigen in both filters, but I did compress it...which I heard was VERY important going this route. I still have bubbles coming up daily, this has been setup since march.
I think if I would have had a little more patience I would have added the Potash(sp) Dolomite and other stuff. I thought Miracle grow had EVERYTHING I needed in it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
JasonG75 ~
I didn't wet & dry the Miracle Grow repeatedly like you're supposed to for the MTS - are we supposed to? Did you go through a wet/dry cycle, or did you add it fresh to the tank & go from there? Did you use only MG with a cap, and if so what is your cap? I'd love to know how satisfied you are with it...
I've been reading the MTS threads all night, and my head hurts! lol. I've bought osmocote capsules and liquid macro/micro ferts, and now I read that you use them very, very sparingly - if at all - with MTS. Feed the roots, not the algae? Mind you I knew to use the capsules lightly and the Yamato Green says to dose appropriately (lightly) monthly or so, depending on lighting/Co2 etc.
Well, I still have more reading and deciding to do, but not tonight!
 

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I included pics and #'s in the setup on my threads. Only one tank started wet and it was a bit of a PITA. Layers are used adding the MTS kickers in the SS thread. I'm believing the Lowes gravel kicked your behind. I never saw anything in that store small enough to use and round pea gravel isn't great with dirt.
Did you add peat in a bag too like you talked about?

Beyond 8 months to a year is where you will see the benefit of soil use. Without adding ferts or without soil algae and poor growth will haunt any tank, plants gotta eat.
 

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If I had to do it all over again I wouldnt use MGOPS. It just has too much wood/bark in it for my liking, but the plants are growing pretty well. The next time Im going to use the MTS that I have, wish I would have done it the first time, but I was too impatient.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I am too impatient, too. In reading the posts in the MTS threads, I wonder how the people fared that used soil from their gardens - soil that has been rained on & dried by the sun numerous times? I would think it'd be too high in organics - isn't that a problem?
As for the clay aspect, will laterite from the petstore suffice?
 

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"lasagna gardening" - When I read that skicky about MTS the part about laying down the potash, them dolomite, then the MTS and finish by sand capping it, made me think how I garden.

Weither it's flowers in a pot, Bonsai, vegetable bed I always use layers. I compost here, everything I do is organic. I compost the lawn, leaves, vegetable scraps and the dogs contribute too. When I pot up something Gravel on the bottom, "hot" compost, sand & dirt - maybe peat if that plant likes it. Them i plant and use some type of mulch. I had a greast bunch of hot peppers (Kung Pao & Thai) that were grown in pots this year

So the lasagna MTS made perfect sense to me.
 

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surgery prep at 8:30am so last tag for a couple day's.

hahaha we all think alike actually, only slight changes in the thought process.

I see organics in the soil as time release food for the plants. Added bonus being the CO2 produced by the bacteria that eats the organics making the nutrients available for plant use. That's not a negative but a free plus. All the 'tree bark' and what not in MGOPM is simply time delayed plant food. Nature wastes nothing. Think about that,,,

,,, and remember reading all the posts regarding carbon as the primary building block of all things? MTS is the bomb why? Readily available to plants right? But what if the materials aren't readily available?

Are they then wasted? My thinking is no. Time released. Plus free CO2 :hihi:

So NPT setup's burp!,,,, so what! Doesn't hurt anything, or does it????
I don't think so. But I'm not certain as I have only done tanks in this method for about 3 years.

I do know that fish spawn and fry grow in NPT tanks. I know I don't have to change water ever week and I know I don't have to add water column supplements every other day. If it comes down to dollars spent and effort applied I'll stack up a row of NPT tanks against any other method of tanking and spend less time and less funds for the the same results.

The only difference is time.

patience grass hopper LOL
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
See, now you're talking about organics in the tank soil as a good thing - yet the MTS threads say to avoid organics - this is how I get confused!
For instance, in my yard right now I have over a thousand pounds of high quality organic compost sitting in a plie. I get it by the truck load from a new (a few years old) local company that is one of only a small handful of compost companies in the state of Virginia to pass the complicated & strict guidlines to qualify as organic. (If I remember corrctly there are fewer than 7)
Can I use this as my "dirt"? (it's been sitting outside for over a month, it would be so easy to use!) Or will the high organic nature of it cause problems? Some of the MTS posts said organics breaking down will cause an algae bloom that's hard to shake - others said the soil is capped for just that reason, it feeds the roots but starves the algae because it's not in the water column.
 

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apples and oranges

apples and oranges

MTS and NPT have the same goal but are entirely different.

Favorite Barr Quote; Never a one trick pony.
Especially on forums you need to understand that.

Both NPT and MTS are dirt based yes but advocating one or the other is a personal choice.
Diana Walstad is the only one publishing work directly dealing with organic content that I'm aware of. The majority of substrate gas issues and hazards while they are valid concerns as they relate to NPT are a non issue. Monitored for a month or so then part of the method. OR deal with the effort and mess making MTS and provide all the CO2 by another means.

Leaving the organic content in place for use in the aquarium flies in the face of the MTS crowd. Some of the stated claims of it's advocates contradict the published Walstad writings. Doesn't make either entirely right or wrong in my opinion.

'Method thumping' is wrong.
 
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