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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok after reading every thing here about all the KH and pH problems And then using the search botton to look it up.

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/substrate/37982-soilmaster-select-ph.html

Soilmaster Select PH and KH? - Aquatic Plant Central

I am thinking that it may be stupid for me to use this in my tank.

Here are my current stats

Tap water left out over night.

pH 7.6
KH 7d
GH 8d

Out of the tanks with co2 injected.

pH 6.4
Kh 7d
GH 10d

I REALLY REALLY like the cost of soilmaster select but don't want to mess up my tank adding it. I plan to wash it very well and as long as i do it wih flourite. Flourite cost me 20.00 a bag +tax where as soilmaster select cost me 17.00 for 50lbs. Not a bad deal if i may say so my self.

What should i do?
 

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I am thinking that it may be stupid for me to use this in my tank.

What should i do?
You might consider heading down to your local supplier with some sort of jar and ask for a handful or two.

Add some water to the jar and then test every few days or so. This will tell you what that particular batch will do in your particular water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi

That sounds like a great idea. Now would they just give me a hand full is the next question.
 

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The effects seem to be of a short duration. Buffering back by adding baking soda will offset the drop. Approx. 1 teaspoon per 13gals raises 1dKh. Also you only need about 1 50lb bag for a standard 75/90 gal footprint.
 

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I have Soilmaster in three tanks; two - Soilmaster Red, one - Soilmaster Select Charcoal. I absolutely LOVE it as a substrate. I think the plants do extremely well in it. When I uproot plants to prune &/or rearrange I am always impressed with the large healthy root mass.

I have one tank that is Flourite and I do not see the same jumbo roots in this tank. By the way, I went with Eco-complete for my 10g shrimp tank. Having experience with all of these I LOVE the Soilmaster best!!!!! ( I hate the Eco-complete because large grained - split pea size - pebbles rise to the top layer; compared to the finer grains it looks like little boulders, yuck - ugly - blakkh!)

I did have my KH decrease initially, however the effect does stop as the Soilmaster develops a bio-film coating and some mulm build up. I also used some baking soda to buffer the water for the first month or two.

One other thing, at first the Soilmaster is extremely light weight due to its porous structure. I found I had to be careful planting; just waving my hand too quickly thru the water column would disrupt the planting bed. This effect also lessens as this substrate ages. Some of the more bouyant type plants were harder to keep in place; for some I used plant weights to help, others I just started with smaller (4" - 5") stem cuttings. I insert the cuttings diagonally at a 45 degree angle into the substrate, this also helps them stay put.

Even with these things to adjust for I still find it to be a superb substrate. Now that I've grown accustomed to using it I find it much easier to plant in than the heavier substrates like Flourite.

However, now that I've declared my love for Soilmaster, my best secret is I actually make a blend!!!! My 75g tank is 25% Red Flourite w/ 75% Red Soilmaster. The little bit of Flourite adds some weight but the overall lightness of Soilmaster is easier for the roots to spread and my hands to work. Luckily, Soilmaster is the less expensive of the two so the savings is great.
 

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Great post on Soilmaster, in my experience the size of the root mass has more to do with the relative abundance of nutrients in the substrate than anything else. I'd suggest that the fluorite has less root growth due to higher nutrient levels, and that the Soilmaster develops more roots to access the relatively (but adequate) scarce nutrients.

Thoughts?
 

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original kuhli is correct.

A large root mass means that the plants are searching for nutrients. So when you pull plants out of a substrate and see a small mass of roots that means they are not having to search for nutrients in the substrate. Plants don't waste energy growing roots they don't need.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
original kuhli is correct.

A large root mass means that the plants are searching for nutrients. So when you pull plants out of a substrate and see a small mass of roots that means they are not having to search for nutrients in the substrate. Plants don't waste energy growing roots they don't need.
Wow thanks that is good. I might just stick with my flourite then if this is the case. Also i have a hard time getting plants to stay planted in it for the first week or two and i don't want to make it worse.
 

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Sorry Rex, your conclusions are just erroneous. Just following your assumption further, in heavy water column fertilization stem plants would have NO need to grow any roots if they were only seeking out nutrient!??!

original kuhli is correct.

A large root mass means that the plants are searching for nutrients. So when you pull plants out of a substrate and see a small mass of roots that means they are not having to search for nutrients in the substrate. Plants don't waste energy growing roots they don't need.


Roots serve several functions in addition to nutrient uptake. Roots also serve to help ancor a plant in place and provide support to above ground portions. For some species by spreading their roots they also serve another important biological function: reproduction. Plants like Cryptocoryne can produce new plants from their expanding root mass. Plants also store "food" in the form of starches in their root system and can use these at later times; some even regrow entirely from the root when the above ground stems and leaves are damaged (due to weather extremes or predation).

Two, small root systems can indicate quite the opposite of a plant living a happy, luxurious life finding all nutrients easily; small, puny roots can sometimes indicate very bad conditions and unhappy plants. Think: soil compaction and anerobic conditions.

Thirdly, per original kuhli:
I'd suggest that the fluorite has less root growth due to higher nutrient levels, and that the Soilmaster develops more roots to access the relatively (but adequate) scarce nutrients.
Again, the opposite is true: Soilmaster has a greater nutrient breakdown than Flourite. Soilmaster also has a CEC that by far exceeds Flourite; I'm not a plant scientist but I wonder if some of the better root growth may be due to the greater CEC?

Here is a link to an article which has a nutrient analysis chart for over a dozen different substrates (the chart is near the end of the page).
Substrates for the Planted Aquarium



While Soilmaster itself is not listed, I believe it to be VERY close in make up to both Profile and Turface.

Just a few comparisons:
Nutrient ---- Profile ---- Flourite
mg/kg
Ca ---- 12800 ---- 520
Fe ---- 13200 ---- 9610
K ---- 3920 ---- 1710
Mg ---- 4220 ---- 1490

CEC
me./100g
33.2% ---- 1.7%

Once again, I LOVE my inexpensive Soilmaster!:biggrin:
 

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Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, and Tactical Nuclear Weapon delivery systems.

Some plants are going to grow extensive roots not matter what. Others will grow stems after they are anchored. I have pulled out masses of stem plants (up to 12') long out of my tank with barely enough healthy white roots to anchor them down.

The same holds true for a LOT of terrestrial plants. Larger root mass means more hunting for nutrients.
 

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Yep, I think we're agreeing to disagree. Nobody said Soilmaster didn't work, just that the nutrient availability in the fluorite seems higher in the cases you've descirbed.
 

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just to point this out 50 lbs will not do a 75 gal ! i used 8 bags of flourite for my tank and its only about 2-3 inches high.
 

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just to point this out 50 lbs will not do a 75 gal ! i used 8 bags of flourite for my tank and its only about 2-3 inches high.
Yes it will with no problem! I have had SMS in my 75G for over a year. 2" in the front to 4" in the back (50 LB bag).

SMS is an inert substrate that requires fert addition. If you have root feeders, fert tabs will have to be added. Stem plants will do fine with EI.

I happen to like this substrate for the simple fact that you can plant anything in it.

Rinse it alot, add the proper buffering (baking soda), an you wont have any problems.
 

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original kuhli is correct.

A large root mass means that the plants are searching for nutrients. So when you pull plants out of a substrate and see a small mass of roots that means they are not having to search for nutrients in the substrate. Plants don't waste energy growing roots they don't need.
I'll have to respectfully disagree as well Rex. Plants have roots for a reason. True, they might send out more looking for nutrients, but as long as they find them they'll do great.

Here's a picture of my 20 gallon long tank. It has a topsoil / clay mixture substrate topped with 3M colorquartz sand. I don't dose a thing, save pressurized CO2 and high lighting.



Here's a macro shot of the Rotala sp. 'colorata' and Rotala macrandra 'green' in that tank:
 

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Nice pictures. But how are the roots?
Long and thick roots. I don't uproot that often, but when I do there are lots of them.

It's just a different growing technique. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with the way you do things. Water column dosing is just as effective when employed properly. Some plants won't survive without it. Blyxa japonica wouldn't survive in this tank if I put it in there and didn't dose. Many plants do great though.
 
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