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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited by Moderator)
So I posted a thread here a while back discussing the algae in my tank. @Plinkploop was a great help in that thread, I forgot to properly thank you, so thanks and sorry it took a while. During that time we also discussed water parameters and my tank's cycle.

We came to the conclusion that my tank cycled in less than 2 weeks. I've been preparing to set up another 25G tank using the same soil, mastersoil next HG. Now, while I was looking into it a bit more the description kind of confuses me.

The full description can be found here:

Links removed - you can put in the effort to explain what it is if you want people to put in the effort to help you

In short though, the part that confuses me is that it has a high absorption rate, removes impurities from the water and I think also removes tannins from wood. It's a great soil that I definitely recommend, one of the biggest pros is that it does not cause a massive ammonia speak in the initial setup phase.

The question that I have though, is this: what exactly does it adsorb? If it removes impurities and tannins from the water, does it also remove/adsorb nutrients from the water? I even started to wonder if my tank is actually cycled or if the soil just adsorbed all the NO2 and NO3 from the water.

If it does adsorb everything from the water including the NO2, NO3 and the ferts I'm adding. Will it at some point be "filled" or will it continually take all the ferts out of the water column?

I might just be over thinking this or I might have just missed the point completely so any help will be incredibly appreciated!
 

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I think it's making two different claims, one about aBsorption/porosity, meaning that tank water can penetrate the particles of soil, and another about removing impurities, I guess through CEC aDsorption, though that's not clearly stated and I don't understand how tannins are dealt with at all. Aquasoil products tend to be long on marketing jargon and short on technical specifications. I'm not saying they are ineffective, but it makes them difficult to casually evaluate.
 

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it makes them difficult to casually evaluate.
Heck, it makes this kind of product difficult to evaluate on a more serious or professional scale. In part because batches of product from the same manufacturer can vary from bag to bag. Just the nature of the beast. Stuff like this and Aqua Soil can be pretty great, though, depending upon needs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It's not removing much from your water. Probably just buffering out some carbonate hardness and trivial amounts of other stuff.

Use the search function here on the forum. Search cation exchange and CEC. You'll get your answers. It's like any other clay-based substrate.
Thanks for suggestion, I've been reading up on some of the threads on CEC but I have to admit that it's a heavier read than I expected. It seems there is still some debate and research being done into it. Might take some time to fully understand it all.

From the basics it's just ions binding to the soil. I was just a bit confused as the soil states that it also removes impurities and tannins from the column. From what I read on other sources there's also a chance that the soil might some of my liquid ferts until it's full. I'm guessing that was the biggest cause of my algae bloom then.

Sorry to include external links, I wasn't trying to be lazy on my explanation but rather to include an option to give as much information on the product beyond what I myself did not understand.

I think it's making two different claims, one about aBsorption/porosity, meaning that tank water can penetrate the particles of soil, and another about removing impurities, I guess through CEC aDsorption, though that's not clearly stated and I don't understand how tannins are dealt with at all. Aquasoil products tend to be long on marketing jargon and short on technical specifications. I'm not saying they are ineffective, but it makes them difficult to casually evaluate.
Well I'm not sure about tannins to be very honest, the description reads "The Substrate Quickly Removes The Color Of The Wood Resulting From The Roots Placed In The Tank". I assumed they were referring to tannins as I don't really see what else they could be talking about.

You are completely right about the lack of technical specification, but I guess it makes sense.. If they give out that information it would it incredibly easy for other products to roll out duplicates I think. Just kind of leaves people confused when read certain things on their descriptions, especially people like me that still new to the hobby. I've been in the hobby for about 1,5 year now but there is still so much I didn't even know I should know.

Heck, it makes this kind of product difficult to evaluate on a more serious or professional scale. In part because batches of product from the same manufacturer can vary from bag to bag. Just the nature of the beast. Stuff like this and Aqua Soil can be pretty great, though, depending upon needs.
See, this would already a difficult question for me to answer. What kind of soil do I need and why do I need it. What's in the soil and what nutrients should keep my eye on to in or decrease while dosing liquids. I just know that root feeders need an active substrate and I see all the pro's using them.
 

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Root feeders don't need an active substrate. Cheap pool filter sand can grow plants just as nice. Thousands of the best tanks on earth (documented here in tank journals) are using basic substrates. But the plants in my shrimp tanks are certainly a heck of a lot easier to maintain when I'm using a buffering substrate like this. And I think this kind of substrate looks nice.

This kind of substrate is especially great when you need to maintain acidic water parameters for something like sensitive types of shrimp. Honestly, it can be great in all kinds of setups. But it can be a hassle if you aren't trying to buffer water parameters or have to disturb your substrate on a regular basis for whatever reason.

My advice would be not to worry much about what the substrate is offering in terms of nutrients for the plants. It's likely not making its way back into the water column enough to make a difference in terms of algae. Unless it's at the beginning stages of a tank when the substrate could be releasing large amounts of ammonia/ammonium. And that's something that can be combated by doing tons of water changes.

There's a lack of technical specification with these products because it's tough to get too specific. Not so much about competition because there are tons on the market now. It's more about how difficult it is to get exact. Generally, it's some clay/dirt and some sort of humic substance with nutrient amendments. Tough to make each new batch identical to the last. But reputable manufacturers get pretty close.
 

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There's a lack of technical specification with these products because it's tough to get too specific. Not so much about competition because there are tons on the market now. It's more about how difficult it is to get exact. Generally, it's some clay/dirt and some sort of humic substance with nutrient amendments. Tough to make each new batch identical to the last. But reputable manufacturers get pretty close.
Eh, I think they aren't more specific because they are not incentivized to be more transparent. There are tons of natural products that are sold for container use, soil amendments, fertilizer, etc. that have a ton for information about what they are made of and minimum expected nutrient content, at least in the United States, so there are models about how it could be done if they wanted to. Your summary that it's generally "some clay/dirt and some sort of humic substance with nutrient amendments" is exactly what I have gathered, but many of the major brands don't even give that much information about it and a lot of my understanding has come from reading old forum posts. ADA in particular is extremely hand wave-y about their system across the board - you get instructions about how to use their products, but not much about what they are and how they work.

I don't think this matters to many people, and that's fine! I think the utility of aquasoil has been demonstrated and that's what matters most, but if I'm spending $50 for 9 liters (or whatever) of substrate I want to know more about it. Like, why does it even cost that much?
 

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Like, why does it even cost that much?
Because the US. It's $10-$15 cheaper per 9L bag of ADA Amazonia in the EU. A little more spendy in the UK but still cheap compared to US prices most of the time. In Japan? I've seen it less than half what it is in the US on a regular basis. Distributors and retailers in the US don't like to admit that.

Used to keep track of pricing for tank nerd stuff like this back in the Before Times when work travel was still a thing. Nearly everything good in the hobby is marked up to the extreme in the US compared to everywhere else. To the point that I've carried smaller ADA tanks and such on flights with me so frequently I modified a suitcase to make it easier.

Sorry to hijack your thread with a rant about pricing, OP! But it's dirt. It shouldn't cost so dang much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Root feeders don't need an active substrate. Cheap pool filter sand can grow plants just as nice. Thousands of the best tanks on earth (documented here in tank journals) are using basic substrates. But the plants in my shrimp tanks are certainly a heck of a lot easier to maintain when I'm using a buffering substrate like this. And I think this kind of substrate looks nice.

This kind of substrate is especially great when you need to maintain acidic water parameters for something like sensitive types of shrimp. Honestly, it can be great in all kinds of setups. But it can be a hassle if you aren't trying to buffer water parameters or have to disturb your substrate on a regular basis for whatever reason.

My advice would be not to worry much about what the substrate is offering in terms of nutrients for the plants. It's likely not making its way back into the water column enough to make a difference in terms of algae. Unless it's at the beginning stages of a tank when the substrate could be releasing large amounts of ammonia/ammonium. And that's something that can be combated by doing tons of water changes.

There's a lack of technical specification with these products because it's tough to get too specific. Not so much about competition because there are tons on the market now. It's more about how difficult it is to get exact. Generally, it's some clay/dirt and some sort of humic substance with nutrient amendments. Tough to make each new batch identical to the last. But reputable manufacturers get pretty close.
Sorry for the late response, it's been a bit busy lately.

Most of the fish I am planning to keep do like a bit softer and acidic water. Maybe you could give me some input on the stocking plan, if you don't mind that is.

15 emperor tetra
1 Bolivian ram
5 to 6 kuhli loaches

Aq advisor tells me I'm 83% stocked, but I see a lot of criticism about them online. I just don't really know how to calculate stock by myself so I tend to turn to aq advisor to test all my stocking ideas.

I shouldn't have any ammonia spikes anymore, I'm about to end my 4th week in the ADA water change regime. The soil is said to be designed for a slow release of ammonia, even in the starting phase. I did check the tank today and found quite a bit of staghorn and black beard. So I'm a bit worried about that. The flow in the tank shouldn't have any dead zones, inlet and outlet in the left front corner and a fan in the right back corner, so it should have a very good circulation. My CO2 goes on an hour before the lights and goes off an hour before the lights and stays on a steady 4 BPS. The lights are about 40 lumen per liter, so medium lights with all medium light plants excep some java fern, and are on for 8 hours a day. I currently add 7 ml of micro ferts every other day. Do you have any idea why I have a sudden staghorn and BBA bloom?

Because the US. It's $10-$15 cheaper per 9L bag of ADA Amazonia in the EU. A little more spendy in the UK but still cheap compared to US prices most of the time. In Japan? I've seen it less than half what it is in the US on a regular basis. Distributors and retailers in the US don't like to admit that.

Used to keep track of pricing for tank nerd stuff like this back in the Before Times when work travel was still a thing. Nearly everything good in the hobby is marked up to the extreme in the US compared to everywhere else. To the point that I've carried smaller ADA tanks and such on flights with me so frequently I modified a suitcase to make it easier.

Sorry to hijack your thread with a rant about pricing, OP! But it's dirt. It shouldn't cost so dang much.
No worries, I get the frustration of different pricing. Although I guess in the case of ADA it does make sense right? It's a Japanese product that is still manufactured in Japan. It would honestly be quite astonishing if it would be cheaper to get in the US. A 9 liter bag of ADA Amazonia is about 30 dollars here in Indonesia, I think it's a lot cheaper than it is in the US but still pricey none the less. Yes ADA is the cream of the crop in terms of commercial soil but I get a soil that slightly less good for about 10 to 15 dollars cheaper. That's why I buy mastersoil instead ADA..
 
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