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Soil question.

1047 Views 7 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  d33pVI
I was planning on using soil as a base substrate in a new build I am doing. My thought was to use it for the carbon that is made available as the bacteria breaks down the soil but then I realized the down sides of not using mineralized soil. Has anyone mixed the two? Using mostly mineralized soil and sprinkled in a small proportion of non mineralized soil? I read about someone doing it but they offered no additional details in terms of results. The whole reason I would consider doing this is for access to the carbons that are released. Your thoughts and experiences are appreciated

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I am a bit lazy, so I have never used mineralized soil.
I normally place a thin layer of soil on the bottom glass to keep osmocote pellet's from rolling about , sprinkle a little osmocote,then place more soil (plain topsoil,no additives) over that, and cover it with sand/fine gravel.
I try and cram the tank with plant's,perform weekly water change as usual but seldom place fish in the tank till tank is a couple month's running.
Been all over the place with soil's and mixes such as azomite,green sand,peat,clay,and usually just sift out the wood bit's from top soil now and cover it with a cap of some type.
Current cap is safe-T-sorb.
My concern with straight non mineralized soil is the abundance of nutrients in the absence of enough carbon. Also the majority of the plant mass will be java fern so they won't be sucking up the nutrients. Where as if I only did a small amount of non mineralized soil the Monte Carlo and blyxa should be able to keep up.

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Believe I would dose the water column for the java fern and the ground cover plant's would /could draw nutrient's also from the water while substrate matures.
Mineralized soil would maybe make the nutrient's therein more quickly available for the carpet plant's.
Be careful trying to produce enough PAR at the substrate level with less light hungry,slower growing java fern.
Me thinks the carbon produced by substrate bacterial activity develops bout right for low tech method NON CO2,but product like Excel if tank is not too large could be used regularly.
Still gotta be careful with too much light for too long in NON CO2 tanks even allowing for the organic carbon produced in the soil and that which might be added in the way of the Excel/Metricide.
Even with the Gas,I would not get too wild with light intensity/duration during first few week's.
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I'll be running a finnex stingray. Should be about 35/45 par so it should be ok. The substrate nutrients should be passing back and forth between the water column and substrate but I will also be dosing to some extent. I'll let the plants do the talking for a bit and see. I'll prob start with some light k,n and micros. Dose to low levels and keep up on water changes.

I'm guessing this is like anything in this hobby and prob isn't necessary but I think there are some good benefits to doing it as well. The only reason I would do this is to avoid adding a different carbon source for a while until I set up co2 on this (6-12 months). Has anyone done a mix of soils and if so, what are your thoughts?

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Every planted soil tank I have I have just taken a bag of top soil from the BBS and dumped it into the tank. Planted it. Filled it. Wait a few weeks then added fish. Never had trouble with it. Never use a cap.

I've gotten away from a full dirt bottom the last few years though. Now I use the net pots from hydroponics and fill that with dirt. I do add some sand to the top to keep the dirt in place but I bury the pot into the gravel. I've found about the same growth as the full soil but a lot less problem when I want to move things around.
The main thing I'm dealing with here is that I won't be cramming in a bunch of fast growers the way Diana Walstad says to do to absorb excess nutrients. Mostly slow growers (java fern, anubias) and Monte Carlo and probably one additional stem like blyxa japonica. It will be fully planted from the beginning but not with fast growers. It seems like no one is doing this so I'll give it a shot. I'm going to thinly cover the glass with non mineralized soil followed by about 1" of mineralized soil followed by a sand cap. I'll post my thoughts in a couple months. If anyone does have experience with doing it this way please leave your experiences and opinions.

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Go for it, no need to over-think it. It's all just dirt in various stages of organic decomposition. Mineralizing soil just advances the break-down outside of the tank instead of inside the tank. Either way in the beginning you still need to do frequent water changes.
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