[QUOTE] I was getting ready to set up a new 29 gal tank about a week ago and this time did some bottle testing. I just used the old bag that had been laying open in my living room for the last 3 months. The tank has been set up for 5 days and I tested the water just on a whim. I expected to find really high ammonia and/or nitrite b/c that is what happened with the other tank. But NO I find all readings are 0. The plants are growing and there's a little brown algae starting even. Why would 2 tanks set up with the same soil, water, water conditioner, and even fed the same fish food react so differently do you think? The only thing that I can think of is that with the first tank I did a very poor job and the tank was very cloudy. With this 29gal tank the water was almost crystal clear right from the start[QUOTE]
Ammonia is a gas that readily escapes into the air. Maybe hobbyists should let their bags of soil air out a few days before using the soil.
Also, if the soil (left in the bag) was moist and unsterilized, soil bacteria would almost surely be degrading ammonia, nitrate, etc-- just as they do on agricultural soils. Your letter brings up a point that I had never thought of. A bag of soil that's been freshly prepared by the manufacturer may have more fertilizers than the same bag that's been sitting on a store shelf for 6 months. This may cause variation in results with the "same" soil brand.
Finally, water cloudiness from soil turbidity can create lots of problems. Soil dust on the leaf surface will automatically result in a coating of bacteria and algae on leaf surfaces, thereby blocking light uptake, gas exchange, nutrient uptake, etc. Its not a good way to start a new tank.
I think we've all learned something from your "mistake". Thanks for the info!
Last edited by dwalstad; 09-25-2006 at 12:21 PM..