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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I was wondering how MTS and Aquasoil compare, both in a planted tank, and in an emersed set-up. I honestly don't know much about MTS as I have never used it before, but I am very interested. What are the differences between the two? What are the pros and cons of each? What's your opinion from your experience? I know money is a factor for both, but that's not really what I'm asking about. Any input is much appreciated, thanks! :smile:
 

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MTS vs. Aquasoil

The only PRO of Aquasoil I'll comment on is you can ode red it online from a dozen or so site and have it on your door step in a few days.

I have never used it so I'll stop there.

MTS - THAT I know about. :icon_mrgr

To the #1 reason to use it, in Nature plants grow in dirt.

You can "build" to suit your specific needs, it will last for years. You don't need to put any type of Root Caps in it. Just plant and enjoy. Natural dirt will have enzymes, micro nutrients, trace elements that you are just not going to find in a bag of anything from a factory. even if you are going to buy some from a dirt 'chef' it still should her less expensive. The best way of course is to make your own. That does require space to dry it. But , if you can find the space it really is easier than log-in to the get to this site.
 

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How does the MTS slurry stay at the bottom of the tank? I would think that the slurry consistency of the MTS would get stirred all over the tank because of the water current. If I cap the MTS with AquaSoil, would it remain at the bottom of the tank? I know I have to be careful not to disturb it when doing water changes. Does it easily get blown around or does it settle down easily?
 

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How does the MTS slurry stay at the bottom of the tank? I would think that the slurry consistency of the MTS would get stirred all over the tank because of the water current. If I cap the MTS with AquaSoil, would it remain at the bottom of the tank? I know I have to be careful not to disturb it when doing water changes. Does it easily get blown around or does it settle down easily?
Many of us use a 1-1.5" Sand Cap over 2-2.5" of MTS.

When planting or removing turn off all water movement equipment. Use tweezers to plant pulling the roots into the substrate. To remove slowly and gently wiggle the plant free.

I get very little MTS pulled into the tank like this. If left to settle before turning water movement devices, dirt will settle back through the sand to the bottom of the tank. Larger pc of Dirt of source can be syphoned out.
 

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Are there any particular types of sand or anything that you can use to top off the MTS, or just any sort of inert sand works?
If you read through this Sub-Forum it seems other members have had more problem with fine gravel Caps than Sand Caps.

Any inert sand will work. Most need a good rinse, some need more rinsing than others. Other than rinsing it's really a matter of color preference.

PFS - Pool Filter Sand is Snow white (Not NYC Snow white)
Play Sand - Yellow
Black Diamond Blasting grit - Black

This three are very uniform.

For a mist of fine sand and very small pebbles there's Sakrete All Purpose Sand also yellow.

I've used all but the PFS. They all work. Currently I'm using a mix of Play Sand and All-Purpose sand. I feel the really benefit is the very thin "seal" layer. the finest sand will settle on the top of the MTS(Dirt). I believe this holds the nutrients or slows down their movement up into the water column so the roots of the plants can get them. Also preventing over feeding of the water column that would stimulate Algae growth.

But, I can't prove that theory :wink:
 

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i USED to have MTS in my big tank. I have AS now.

MTS: i found that the mts was a pain when removing and moving plants. it always puffed up dirt when doing so and then it would settle down on top of my cap and stay there. No matter how careful i was pulling up the stem.

I experienced an algae bloom with the mts, and fought SUPER HIGH nitrate levels from day one with the mts. Im talking: after sunday 50% WC the Nitrate would read 40 by the next sunday it was 100+. I cant say for certian the mts was the blame......BUT after i redid my tank with AS i no longer have that issue.

The upside. My plants grew like crazy!

The AS: Doesnt have to be capped. I love the looks of it. You can form mounds with it. Plants love it as well.

the downside. The initial ammonia spike. Although mine was only 1 week long and i had to do only 2 WC's. BUT the ammonia instantly starts the cycling proccess. Thats a bonus.

I LOVE AS!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
i dont think that there is a need to do that. One or the other would be fine.
I guess my thinking was I might procure some MTS from someone I know who has some left, but not quite enough for my purposes, and I have some old aquasoil in an empty tank that I could use as well. The tank had only been up for about a month or two before it was taken down, but I left the aquasoil there, took everything else out. You think it'd be okay to use this year-old aquasoil?
 

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Cost is the main trade off.

I will correct some folks : aqua soil is in fact dirt, soil and the same stuff you would fine in a rice paddy.........nice clay loam, it's been slightly processed(MTS is for that matter when we process it for use)

From there if you uproot and rescape and do not like layers mixing together, well.............or do not like caps of sand.........then ADA AS is the clear winner.

I do not think the plants care, but for use and for the look and mistakes we make, ADA AS is likely a better choice, but it's not that cheap either, but....over the time frame, say 8 years on my 180 gal...........

It's still doing very nice and I keep using it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3VNwfNtNA0
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Didn't you start the tank in early 2008 or late 2007 at best?
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/showthread.php?t=59705
So it's about 5 years old, not 8. Impressive service life nonetheless.

Dude it's 2016, catch up with the times, jeez!

On a serious note, anyone have experience with humus, humic/fluvic acids, or EHS? I know all this is unecessary and expensive, and that I should probably just go with aquasoil, or MTS and stick with that, but I just like toying around with these ideas in my head, as I'm sure many of you do as well. And it doesn't help that I have a few empty tanks lying around lol.... :help:
 

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I've used both. I will never use AS again. If you have a full foreground, and aren't looking to keep a sand cap sparkling clean as it will all be covered up by plants anyhow, than MTS is as good as AS, if not better. And with Frank's "Batch II," it can be way better than AS, in terms of growth, health, and color. I got nice results from AS, too, but it is pricey, and if you don't like the dark color, you will have to cap it anyhow.
 

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Heres my $.02 worth: MTS isn't a defined product. We can use ordinary dirt, which can vary greatly from location to location. We can add varying amounts of clay from none to lots. We can add potash and dolomite, or not add it. We can use manufactured "topsoil" or nature's topsoil, or other soil. We can do a thorough job of mineralizing it, or a half way job. The result can still be called MTS.

ADA Aquasoil may not be 100% standardized either, but I would bet that it is much more standard than MTS.

I don't think that is an argument for or against either one, but it is a difference. If I could afford it I would use Aquasoil. I can't, so I have used MTS, made from more than one source of soil. To me the low price, near zero $, is the primary virtue of MTS.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
It's fine to toy around with the ideas in your head...just becareful about listening to the voices in there.
But... the voices... they tell me what to do!

I've used both. I will never use AS again. If you have a full foreground, and aren't looking to keep a sand cap sparkling clean as it will all be covered up by plants anyhow, than MTS is as good as AS, if not better. And with Frank's "Batch II," it can be way better than AS, in terms of growth, health, and color. I got nice results from AS, too, but it is pricey, and if you don't like the dark color, you will have to cap it anyhow.
Cool, thanks for the input. Where can I find Frank's "Batch II" ? Sorry, I've been on like ten different forums over the last few days and am all spun out lol.

Anyway, I'm really leaning towards trying MTS since I've used AS before, and there's just something intriguing about it. However, if I am going to be planting a lot of microsorums, crypts, and bucepalandras for instance, I know the crypts will dig into the MTS well, but will the roots from the java ferns and buces reach? Cause I am planning on attacing the buces to small lava rocks or pieces of driftwood, and I'm not sure yet about the microsorums. What about mosses? They wouldn't have any direct contact with the MTS, but would the MTS still put more nutrients in the water column that the mosses could absorb? Sorry, I'm not really an expert on the chemistry behind all this, that being said, my understanding is that the nutrients from MTS are trapped below the sand and slowly released over a looooooooong time right?
 

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Moss, buces, ferns will get all their nutrients from fish waste, while all your root plant should get all their nutrients from MTS.

Think... Think... Think...

top soil is cheap to buy, MTS is easy to make... Since you have so many tank laying around... POP one OPEN and MTS that TANK. TEST DRIVE THAT THING...

Any more QUESTION SIR?
 
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