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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi.

I just finished what I "think" is my first batch of MTS. I started out with 80 lbs. of topsoil from the local garden center. The soil went through 4 wet/dry cycles.

I now have ~38 lbs. of soil and, after screening, ~20 lbs. of small rocks, leaves and twigs.

The resultant sand like material is very smooth to the touch and has no noticeable odor.

Two Questions:
1. Is this amount of loss typical?

2. Since I cannot easily acquire the correct kind of Dolomite locally, I will be substituting Crushed Coral and Epsom salts. Any ideas for the proper amount of Epsom salts to add?

Thanks

Scott

After Screening


Left over rocks/detritus
 

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I am not very clear on how much of actual MTS you have left since you say 38lb of soil and 20lb of pebbles, twigs and others. Does that mean you have 18lb of MTS?

Anyways, the amount left depends on the top soil you bought. If the topsoil you bought have a high organic matter content to begin with, then there is no surprise that you're getting that little of MTS as the end product. But I got about 30-40% of the total volume I started out with.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I am not very clear on how much of actual MTS you have left since you say 38lb of soil and 20lb of pebbles, twigs and others. Does that mean you have 18lb of MTS?

Sorry for the confusion, 38lbs of MTS and 20lbs of junk. I guess I am just curious as to the makeup of the other 22lbs of "stuff".
 

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What size tank are you setting up?
 

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Your going to need more topsoil.
When i start my MTS process i think im going to start with 3 bags of topsoil, maybe 4.
 

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I'm no expert, but seems like 38 lbs should be enough for 3/4"to 1"depth in a 48x18 footprint tank.

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I'm no expert, but seems like 38 lbs should be enough for 3/4"to 1"depth in a 48x18 footprint tank.

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I don't think I would want any thicker layer of MTS than that. I would prefer to top that with 1.5-2 inches of Flourite, pool filter sand, or any other relatively inert substrate. I found that the MTS tends to settle to the bottom what ever you do, so mixing it with sand, etc. doesn't do much. Might as well leave it at the bottom to start, and make up the rest of the substrate with inert materirals, preferably high CEC materials.
 

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Right, from all the info i've read, you want a max depth of 1"for the MTS, so 38 lbs should be plenty.

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I just finished sorting through a 40 pound bag and ended up with about 20 pounds of 'dirt' and the rest was rocks and twigs. I think it depends on the top soil and where it is collected. But for the most part, it seems like it is normal to loose a lot to debris.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for the replies.

My plan is to layer additional substrate (http://bit.ly/9k3JOX) and pool filter sand on top of about 1" of MTS (per Aaron Talbot's original document).

Since a cubic inch of the material (no water or clay added) weighs about a 1/2 oz, I think I will make it with a little to spare.
 
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