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I was lucky enough to get a bag of Soilmaster Select and I'm new at this so I could use a little help. What is the easiest way to clean it before I put it in the aquarium? Also I've read some people here put a layer of peat on the bottom. Why and how is this done? Thanks
 

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When I use Soilmaster I normally don't rinse. Some swear by it, some don't. I'd personally just rather not mess with it and it has never given me any problems.

I put a piece of plastic down on top of the SMS (I just use a scrap of 6 mil plastic left over from redoing the crawlspace) and pour the water onto that. A plate or some other way to diffuse the flow of water would work too, just so you're not stirring it up really violently.

You'll notice as it fills that the dust gets kicked up and it almost looks like smoke rising off the SMS, a very cool effect. It'll look like champaign for awhile too - SMS makes lots of tiny little air bubbles. It will also be cloudy for 2-3 days, but don't sweat it! It'll clear up, I promise.

As far as peat on bottom, just use a VERY light dusting, sprinkle it lightly on. It is nice for an organic source of carbon, but not necessary. You can grow plants well without it.
 

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There is no need to rinse it as long as you fill it up at a super slow rate, it's actually more dusty if you try to rinse it. There will be a dust film on the water surface as you fill it up. Once the tank is almost filled, take a cup and skim off the surface film and you're good to go.

The peat is used to help soften the water. Not much is needed if at all. Good luck.
 

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I've had good luck with the store at thompson and harding. They might have some charcoal in stock. Last time I was there, few months ago, the lady said she was getting a pallet of charcoal in soon. I don't rinse mine either, just use the slow fill as described and you should have minimal clouding.
 

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I just filled up three more ten gallon tanks with it tonight. I do rinse it, but think I'll try not next time. I simply put three or four inches in the bottom of my bucket, then put it under the faucet in my tub, filling the bucket. I swish my hands around stirring the Soilmaster as the water runs over the edge of the bucket. I keep this up 'til the water's clearer than the coffee-like color it starts out as. It never does run completely clear ~ just a good bit clearer. Then I pour all the water out, dump in the aquarium, do another batch, etc. It's just easier in smaller batches.

I tried Jen's plastic trick tonight and it worked great! One tank is hardly cloudy at all ~ just about as cloudy as a light new-tank-bacterial outbreak. I'll bet I'll wake up tomorrow and it'll be crystal clear. The second tank is a bit cloudier than the clear one, but nowhere near as cloudy as when I used a plate instead of the plastic.

BTW, I used saran wrap and maybe that's why the second tank was a bit cloudier ~ I used the same piece of saran wrap and it was harder to work with the second time, getting all stuck together and bent easier since it was wet. I'll use thicker plastic next time. Shrimp are going in there, so I didn't want to use a garbage bag for fear of contamination with some unknown chemical.
 

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www.lesco.com

The Lesco on 86th and Zionsville keeps it in stock. It is in a strip mall type thing, sort of back off the street. Jeremy is a very nice guy, tell him Jen sent ya. If you are a CCAC member you get a discount :proud:
Thanks! I work up on 86th and Georgetown in the summer, so that will be perfect. I am planning on getting 50lbs of it on Wed. Thanks again!
 

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I did go to their site and did on a location search of Lesco stores. One is in Traverse City, MI......and hour from me but I go there to buy my fish. I see they have in stock 40 pounds bags (or 50, can't remember which) of the grey. Thanks everyone for the information. I had never heard of it before reading this forum.
 

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Have had good experiences myself.

I went to my local Lesco store seeking SMS charcoal. Before I even spoke the guys said "We don't carry charcoal but I can have a bag shipped for ya next week".

Almost a dozen other people have been in requesting single bags! I just let the guy know that it was a great product and a great help to us aquarium people that don't want to pay petstore prices.
 
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