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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am planning on getting mineralized topsoil for my 35 gallon tank. I am giving away my black moor, so it opens a window of opportunity to try something new.

1. OK so I can't find Dolomite for the life of me. Is it really that important ingredient in mineralized topsoil? Can I just buy a trace mix of some sort? I know it is for magnesium.

2. Where would one go to obtain pottery clay? I know it is for iron and for keeping stuff together... so I kind of want it.

3. Has anyone had any luck with water column feeders? I want subwassertang, willow moss, java fern and elodea, (along with a few other plants that grow roots better)

4. Same goes for brand new cuttings. Should one plant all the stems at the start and just remove the tops?

5. How does it get mineralized by sitting in the sun and drying out? When do the minerals come in?

I am not going to convert all my tanks to "MTS." (not malaysian trumpet snails) I just want to try it out and see if I like it better than "EI." I am going to order some KCl to put in. Should I get a trace mix if I can't get dolomite?
 

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I've recently done up my own batch of MTS, and can help with your first question. Basically, dolomite is comprised of calcium, magnesium and carbonate. The purpose of dolomite is to ensure that the MTS doesn't turn acidic and leech heavy metals.

The people on the forum are going to tell you that you need coral chips + MgSO4 (Epsom salts) to replace the dolomite. Coral chips can be replaced with cuttlebone. They're also going to illogically tell you that GH boosters like Seachem Equilibrium cannot be used. They're incorrect. You can, if you don't mind the slightly higher cost, use Seachem Equilibrium as a direct replacement for dolomite. I've posted several times asking for reasons why it can't be used, but the "experts" beat around the bush and are unable to give a logical response, which leads me to believe thy are just spouting nonsense and don't know what they're talking about.

Hope this solves the first of your queries =)
 

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2. Pottery clay - I got mine from the local university art department. I think it cost $3 for 2 lbs. Pretty cheap and I had enough to put some away until my next project came up. You can also look around at arts/craft stores. Make sure you are getting pure clay and not the polymer stuff.
3. I grew ferns and mosses in my mineralized tanks with no problems.
4. Plant the cuttings, but give them enough time to establish roots before cutting the tops off. Your tank will get messy/cloudy if you try to pull the bottoms out and replant the tops every time you want to trim.
I would rather not answer 1 & 5 since I'm not 100% sure on the answer and I don't want to misinform you.
 

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1. Dolomite is CaMg(CO3)2
So it's for a source of Ca and Mg, both of which are taken in from the water column.

Dolomite is not easy to dissolve, but will over time.
Most plants take in K+, Ca, and Mg via the leaves.
So the water column, routine water changes takes care of that, you can add GH booster once a week etc.

5. the minerals are already there, they are in reduced form, adding water and letting sit for a 2-3 weeks allows bacteria to "mineralize them" which is to say.oxidize them from the reduced state to the oxidized state, same thing we do, we eat sugars(reduced Carbon), burn them and expel the oxidized CO2(oxidized carbon).

This process can be done via bacteria, or you can boil the sediment for 10 min, or bake for 1 hour at say 500F etc.

They all oxidize the organic matter.

MS is not about using either EI or MS, some clowns here and else where seem to think so.

If you are smart and have a brain, you can clearly see using non limiting sediment nutrients and water column nutrients act synergistically, this way you cover both of your bases, since plants take up nutrients from both locations.

Not just one or the other, that either or business is for warped thinking.
It's good for experimental approaches, but for management for aquarist, it's a huge stumbling block.

If you forget to add ferts using the water column, then you have a back up for the sediment. If you want the sediment to last longer and have better growth, add ferts to the water column as well. There are some who seem to assume incorrectly that you cannot do both the water column and the sediment at the same time.

I'm not sure why, the logic is rather apparent and obvious. You do not gain much by not adding a few ferts to the water column and that is hardly hard.
Even with MS, you still need to add some things to the water column, another item or two does not save you anything.

Nutrients by and large are easy to manage, CO2 and light will provide far more success and gain for most aquarists.

Use MS, or ADA AS etc, then add water column ferts(full or 1/2 etc), then manage light and then CO2 carefully.

This way you cover everything,and everywhere..... not just one :icon_idea

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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1. Dolomite is CaMg(CO3)2
This process can be done via bacteria, or you can boil the sediment for 10 min, or bake for 1 hour at say 500F etc.
So to mineralize your soil, you can just put it in the oven? That is much easier than the other method of using water and drying in the sun. Have people done this with success?
 

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Not sure the wife is going to love it but keeps you from looking like a retard letting mud dry in your yard.
You can boil it also for 10 min, again, the folks in you home may beat you:redface:

So mineralizing it for 2-3 weeks might be better if so.
You also retain the bacteria so it starts with a nice colony and pre cycled.
But it does the same type of thing.

After we dry sediment at 60C for 48 hours, we weigh it and then do
the weight loss on ignition method is based upon measuring the weight loss from a dry soil sample(60C) when exposed to high temperatures (360C). The weight loss that occurs at this temperature is then correlated to oxidizable organic carbon. This is best suited for higher OM sediments.
Other methods such as acid digestion can be used for very low %OM sediments/sands etc.

But what do I know about wetland sediments:icon_roll


Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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Not sure the wife is going to love it but keeps you from looking like a retard letting mud dry in your yard.
Of course explaining why you are baking mud pies in the oven, when the wife asks, is much better than looking bad because you make a big mud pie and let the sun bake it.:) I often wonder what the response is when people wash their big pieces of driftwood in the dishwasher, too.
 

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More direct answer to your question 5 - typical soil initially smells, umm, musty, swampy, like somebody let a nasty silent one go , when underwater for a day. You also get this crusty film on the water surface hours after agitation. After a few cycles - maybe 3, maybe 5... it won't smell anymore, and there isn't that nasty film on the water surface. When the smell is gone and the film doesn't show up, it is ready.

Side note stuff -

I'm of the understanding that the wet and dry cycles are to promote natural bacterial consumption of organics.

I did ask the person I learned it from about baking it and was told it would kill that very same bacteria I was trying to use to do the process, and so not to do it. I don't know enough about the finer points of how the bacteria works versus heat to say whether ones works better or worse, or anything. I simply knew to listen to the dude(s, was two of them actually) with the degrees and history of working on this type of stuff and did it the way he (they) suggested at the time.

But then, there are currently three containers of driftwood soaking out my my deck, too. I guess I lean towards being the one with it in the backyard for a week or two vs. messing with mud pies in the kitchen or steel wool on a destroyed pot. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for the replies everyone! I didn't check until now and there is a lot of good information here.

More direct answer to your question 5 - typical soil initially smells, umm, musty, swampy, like somebody let a nasty silent one go , when underwater for a day. You also get this crusty film on the water surface hours after agitation. After a few cycles - maybe 3, maybe 5... it won't smell anymore, and there isn't that nasty film on the water surface.
Is this the stench that bubbles up from ponds when the bottom is disturbed? I dislike the scent.

I think I'll just buy dry ferts online to get magnesium.
 

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Not sure about boiling it but baking does nothing towards mineralization. It just gives you toasted dirt.
Do you know what mineralization does to sediment?

What is the effects on say wood to high heat?
Wood is reduced organic carbon.
What happens when you oxidize(eg burn it)?

What do you think bacteria do with they oxidize (eg aerobic respiration) reduced forms to oxidized forms? They burn it for the energy in the reduced chemical bonds. So do we for that matter.

One is a biological slow process, however, heat does oxidize reduced carbon and heat is a standard method to measure % organic matter in sediment by loss of ignition.

http://aesl.ces.uga.edu/protected/methods/details/stl-soil/13.html

And a sample protocol:
pasternack.ucdavis.edu/protocols/LOI.doc

The organic fraction is converted into CO2.
That is what the bacteria are doing while they are mineralizing.
Heat does the same thing.

That is why we use it for measuring things like % organic matter.
It does not merely toast the dirt, it oxidizes it specifically.

Boiling is not nearly as hot, but accomplishes a similar process and both methods have been used for many years successfully.


Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
CxHx +O2 -> CO2 + H2O

Cellular respiration and burning hydro-carbons are one and the same. Only difference is that cellular respiration produces liquid H2O rather than steam. All organic compounds have carbon and hydrogen, sometimes oxygen or nitrogen... (and others)

CASE CLOSED!

Thank you for your time, Tom Barr, and others whom of which have answered my questions.

Chemistry is the future. The future... is now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I think it only neutralizes the PH but you never know. I thought something had to have OH in it to raise PH. In theory, if dolomite reacted with HCl...
... CaMg(CO3)2 + 4HCl -> 2 H2CO3 + MgCl2 + CaCl2

If it neutralizes acid, it would probably raise PH. (I'm in chem 30, so I do reactions every day) Bear in mind hydrogen-carbonate is still a week acid.
 

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Doesn't boiling the substrate make a nasty smell?

About the dolomite putting it in substrate I found will raise the ph. Thus if ph is high best to use peat or dirt with peat in it. I trying out cactus substrate with reptile coconut brick along with scotts top soil.
 

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Is Dolomite the same thing as calcium carbonate?

The Aqua Medic bottle description reads "Pure calcium carbonate for use as a soil ground, as filtration media in sea water...." My LFS carries a very coarse sand/fine gravel that is white and labeled as 100% calcium carbonate. They sell it as a bed for crab terrariums.
 

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Doesn't boiling the substrate make a nasty smell?

About the dolomite putting it in substrate I found will raise the ph. Thus if ph is high best to use peat or dirt with peat in it. I trying out cactus substrate with reptile coconut brick along with scotts top soil.
No, it gets rid of the stank.
There's not need to add dolomite to sediments.
You can if you want, I use it, but it's because it's a nice white color, asethetics only. It dissolves much slower than CaCO3, eg aragonite and the less soluble calcite(eg seachem onyx sand).

It does give off some Ca and Mg over the long term, but these are taken in from the water column typically in most aquatic plants. It's not even considered a limiting nutrient in most studies I've ever seen on soft water systems, it is just rare that it might occur with most soils we might use.

Does it hurt?
No, but I think many are just adding things they think might help even though there's not much to it really helping.

So the MS turns into a stew of various things folks might think will help, vs something that is consistent or has really shown to important, significant.

ADA AS is pretty low, so is wetland soils in general.
Florida has some massive changes, some sands are limestones, others are super soft bog peat, pH of 4.7 etc. Same plants growing in both locations.

I have to wonder if there's an issue with not putting Dolomite, or a carbonate, Ca, Mg etc.

Most folks do water changes and this adds it, and most plants take it up via foliar. Folks also add traces with rich sediments(ADA, Worm castings etc all suggest this), even though there's plenty of Fe in both and in most soils used for MS. Even a year or two later, there's still a lot of Fe.

So adding GH booster would address that once every week or two etc even if you did not do any water changes.

Why put all your nutrient eggs in one or the other location when both makes the most logically sense?

You still are stuck with dosing "something", adding another item or two is no biggie and takes virtually hardly any extra "management". CO2 is far more relevant.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 
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