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So I've been searching on the forums and have been confused so I guess I'll just ask directly.

1. Do you have to soak SMS in a fertilizer soup before adding it to the tank?

2. Do tanks with SMS have to have more dosing of ferts vs tanks that have eco/flourite/aquasoil?
 

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Hi speechless33759,

I use both Soilmaster Select Charcoal and Turface Pro League Grey. I do not soak, or even wash either of them prior to use. The first couple of times I used them I tried washing before using but even after 7 rinses the water was still very "milky".

Last Thursday I set up a 30 gallon with SMS Charcoal. I put it in the aquarium "dry", did a rough contour, and started filling. When I was done, it was less "milky" than the aquariums where I had washed it first. Then I turned on my canister filter (filled with already used media to start my Nitrogen cycle) which does about 150 gallons per hour. After about 5 hours this is what it looked like.
 

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Like Roy said, you can wash and wash and SMS will still be dirty. Best to just to a dry start.


As far as dosing. While SMS has a good CEC, it takes time for it to absorb nutrients. Trying to do a "fertilizer soup" with the SMS won't benefit too much because of the time required to fully saturate the SMS. A good way to watch this is to measure your KH. SMS drops KH, and it'll drop it for a long time. It's dropping KH because it's absorbing cations from the water. When it stops dropping KH, the SMS is saturated with cations(nutrients). This took over one and half years in my 45g tank with 25 lbs of SMS.

Point is, don't bother.

If you are dosing EI, you will not need to add any additional fertilizers.

One final suggestion: Using root tabs with SMS to start with is a great idea. It takes time for SMS to gather it's own nutrients, so root tabs are a great way to make it nutrient dense until it sustains on its own.
 

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Personally, I would do a quick rinse of the product and then put it in the aquarium because (at least my experience with the SMS and Turface AllSport) a noticeable amount of dust gets into the air when it is poured from the bag and when the water hits it and I do not want that dust inside my home.

I poured the product into a 5 gallon homer bucket in layers; some product then some water until the bucket was full. I then pour water out through a strainer and then took the moist product inside for use. The moist product layers well. Then add water.

I put floss into the filter temporarily to help clean it, replacing once a day for three days.
 

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I rinse my SMS fairly thoroughly by hosing it down in a DIY strainer. I then spread it out over a large piece of cardboard and let it dry before adding it to the tank. You'll never get it completely clean, and rinsing too aggressively could potentially ruin it. It's dirty stuff out of the bag though. I prefer to remove as much dust and debris as I can.
 
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