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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is a thread for observations on using mineralized topsoil (MTS) in riparium planters.

This is the stuff that I have used.



I acquired this from torpedobarb.

It's late now and i need to do the dishes then go to bed, but I'll be back with more tomorrow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
are you adding the dolomite, potash, and clay? (just curious)
I didn't add those other materials this time and instead just used the straight MTS. I first tried it out this way a couple of months and saw what looked like real good results, although I did not do a rigorous comparison. It would be a good follow-up activity for later on to try those other parts of the recipe too.

Here is a planter cup with the basic substrates, but only 1/2 full. It still requires the rooted plants and a cap of planter gravel. On the bottom is a layer of Hydroton clay pebbles. These are topped with planter gravel filled, a baked clay material similar to Turface or kitty litter. Finally, a shallow layer of mineralized topsoil was added on top of the planter gravel. I only added 1 1/2 tablespoons MTS.



If you look closely you can see that the MTS layer is below the level of the suction cup keyholes in the back of the planter cup. Since it will covered with another layer of gravel this will help to prevent it from washing out through the keyholes.

Here is the plant that I used, a Ludwigia sp.. I think that it is L. repens(?). I received it in trade from gmccreedy. It is a good one to use planted in the Hanging Planter, then trained to grow across a Trellis Raft to make a nice floating lawn effect.



This next picture shows the whole deal with all substrate layers, Trellis Raft and plant.



The thick top and bottom layers of planter gravel should prevent the mineralized topsoil from washing into the aquarium. It will be even more tightly held inside the planter cup as the plant roots begin to form.
 

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I suspect that the fine particles of MTS will migrate down to the bottom of the planter within a few months, and then out the drain holes. I used MTS, that I made, in some planters, with pool filter sand, and it didn't work well at all, compared to just plain Flourite-type substrate-actually the very dark clay based substrate you sent me. Only after I removed the pool filter sand from one of the planters did I realize that there was no MTS in it! And, finally I remembered that fine particles always settle down under coarse particles.

However, since you are having good results with your MTS, something else (probably the sand I used) may be the cause of my less acceptable results. Still, I feel much more comfortable with plain clay based substrate, fertilizing separately.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I have been planting this way for a couple of months and I have not been seeing any appreciable migration of the soil particles down through the gravel. In fact, if the plant in the cup grows well it holds everything tight in the cup with its roots. It is my impression that sand is too dense for use in the planter cup, especially the Small Hanging Planter which doesn't have any drain holes along the front surface to permit water diffusion.

I agree that clay gravels are best for the primary substrate inside of the planter cup, except for certain plants, such as Anubias, where it is better to fill most of the cup with Hydroton instead.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Here is a another picture of the whole thing ready to stick in the tank.



With time to grow and pruning and rearranging of stems the Ludwigia will eventually cover the raft and planter and form an attractive floating mat of foliage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I have an important update! I am observing a pretty wild algae bloom in my tank where I situated several planters put together as described above. I think some quantity of the MTS must have gotten away through the suction cup keyholes in the backs of the cups.

Nevertheless, I am also seeing great plant growth in those planters and I have not had to do any of the usual dosing of liquid ferts into the cups. I still think that the MTS is a good idea, but it would work better to pour it into the planter cup so that the layer does not extend to the back flat surface. That way it will be surrounded on all sides by gravel and plastic and less likely to get into the aquarium water. I can imagine doing this by just tipping the cup forward, adding the MTS and then adding more planter gravel behind it.
 

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I wonder if you can do a wabi-kusi whatever you call it style application here in conjuction with the planter. Perhaps using clay, make a ball around the mineralized soil to kind of lock it in. Then just poke the stem or plant through the clay?? Not sure if this will work... I am not 100% sure how these holders breath with the water column. Would love to do one of these ripariums one day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
That is exactly what I have been thinking. I believe that clay would make most of the nutrients in the MTS less mobile through the water, but hopefully they would still be available to the plants.

I need to go look and see where people have gotten the all-natural clay for MTS kits.
 

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That is exactly what I have been thinking. I believe that clay would make most of the nutrients in the MTS less mobile through the water, but hopefully they would still be available to the plants.

I need to go look and see where people have gotten the all-natural clay for MTS kits.
I bought a big chunk of red clay on the swap n shop forum last month, expecting to experiment with DIY substrate "tabs", but I have far more than I'm going to need. I can send half of it to you if you want it.
 

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Hopefully I'm planting on Saturday :bounce: and was hoping to use MTS in the planters. I have 2lbs of red clay left. I'd love to try this out, but not sure how it would work as when the clay is mixed with water, it melts. :eek:
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Have you tried adding just a little bit of water?

I think that it ought to be OK to add just a small amount, 1 tablespoon or so, of MTS so long as it is surrounded by the planter gravel.

In the picture below you can see how I had situated the MTS so that it came right up against that void in the back of the planter cup and the screen. That must be how the MTS got out, because when I have inspected the planters I am not going to plant like that again.

 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Wow! I knew that this thing was growing well, but I didn't have an idea of how large it had gotten to be until I pulled it out of my 55-gallon emersed crypts riparium. This is a C. wendtii ('Mi Oya', maybe[?]) in a hanging planter.



I found a stake in the planter dated June 14. So this is a little less than five months' growth. I remember that it was just a couple divisions with just a few leaves when I potted it up. Although I would need to do a more rigorous side-by-side trial for a more valid comparison, I can say that this is much better growth from this plant than I have ever seen when grown in straight gravel with MTS added to the planter cup. If you look closely at the planter you can see the shallow lens of MTS between layers of planter gravel. It looks like just about 1 1/2 tablespoons or so in there. The leaves also have much deeper color than any I have seen grown in straight gravel.

A second picture with spritzer for scale--what a huge octopus of a plant!

 

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That is exactly what I have been thinking. I believe that clay would make most of the nutrients in the MTS less mobile through the water, but hopefully they would still be available to the plants.

I need to go look and see where people have gotten the all-natural clay for MTS kits.
Bought mine from www.utrechtart.com. 5lbs for $13 delivered to my door.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I have just a quick note to add. I tried a new mixture using 1 part MTS + 1 part dry red pottery clay. Preliminary observations suggest that it works very well. I imagine that the clay will better retain the MTS and nutrients in the planter cup and prevent them from washing into the aquarium water. The plants in those planters are growing well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Here is another update. I think that I found the perfect way to add the MTS to the planter cups. This picture is a good illustration.



Notice that the MTS + red clay is contacting the plastic only up along the front surface of the planter cup. This placement surround the material with plastic and gravel, so it will not spill through the holes in the back or bottom of the planter cup. To place it in this manner I first filled the cup to a little less than 1/2 full with gravel, then tilted the cup forward while adding the 1 tablespoon or so of MTS + red clay. At that point I positioned the plant (a Cyperus umbrella sedge) and filled around the roots and MTS + red clay with planter gravel to fill up the cup.

The plant is growing great. Most of these are new leaves.



Aside from the nutrients in the MTS + red clay powder, the only ferts going into this tank are fish waste and some casual dosing of CSM+B and potassium. Here is a close-up view of the planter.



It is difficult to see in this picture, but it looks to me as though the plant roots have a pretty strong affinity for the MTS + red clay. It also seems that the clay has bound the mixture in the planter gravel very well. There is very little settling or washing of the powder into the surrounding gravel.
 

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Make sure you put the planter gravel in the bottom and then the MTS. I made the mistake of putting the clay balls in then the MTS and when I put it in the aquarium water it all settled to the bottom and out the slots in the bottom and into the water. Needless to say, I had to take it out and redo it. I should have read this thread before doing it and saved myself some trouble!
 
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