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Old 04-23-2009, 02:21 AM   #101 (permalink)
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Default Re: How-To: Mineralized Soil Substrate, by Aaron Talbot

Dear Aaron,

First of all, thanks for sharing such an informative article on the subject.
In fact your article was quoted in a Malaysian based Planted Tank forum and it has attracted a lot of attention and encouraged many to try out the said process.

I have a some related questions on the subject of DIY substrate and I hope your experience will be helpful.

In my locality, laterite ( locally called 'red earth' and which I belief is the Clay you mentioned ) is readily available.
A few of the local hobbyist including me is also toying with the idea of using this laterite as the primary substrate for our planted tank.
What do you think, if we mix this laterite ( without top soil ) with some fine gravel/course sand and use the mixture as the bottom substrate then, ( to prevent excessive clouding of water ), top this bottom substrate with another layer of pure fine gravel/course sand.

I also assume that using this laterite, we do not have to mineralize it the way we use top soil instead.

Your comment and recommendation is highly appreciated.

Rgds

BT Lee
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Old 04-23-2009, 05:18 AM   #102 (permalink)
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Default Re: How-To: Mineralized Soil Substrate, by Aaron Talbot

Quote:
Originally Posted by disvegas View Post
Aaron,

I've deicded to transform my bore-looking, bare bottom 150g discus tank into a planted one. And I would like to use your method for the mineralized soil as substrate for the plants. Is there a way to calculate the amount of topsoil/clay, say, per 10g? Thanks.


disvegas,
What size is the bottom of the tank? You can't really go by gallons because some tanks are taller, etc...

For my 50 gallon breeder w/ a 36" x 18" bottom I used 1 bag of topsoil mineralized and sifted, 1 lb. of clay and just enough potash and dolomite to sprinkle the bottom, but still see through the glass.
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Old 04-23-2009, 05:22 AM   #103 (permalink)
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Default Re: How-To: Mineralized Soil Substrate, by Aaron Talbot

Quote:
Originally Posted by BTLee View Post
Dear Aaron,

First of all, thanks for sharing such an informative article on the subject.
In fact your article was quoted in a Malaysian based Planted Tank forum and it has attracted a lot of attention and encouraged many to try out the said process.

I have a some related questions on the subject of DIY substrate and I hope your experience will be helpful.

In my locality, laterite ( locally called 'red earth' and which I belief is the Clay you mentioned ) is readily available.
A few of the local hobbyist including me is also toying with the idea of using this laterite as the primary substrate for our planted tank.
What do you think, if we mix this laterite ( without top soil ) with some fine gravel/course sand and use the mixture as the bottom substrate then, ( to prevent excessive clouding of water ), top this bottom substrate with another layer of pure fine gravel/course sand.

I also assume that using this laterite, we do not have to mineralize it the way we use top soil instead.

Your comment and recommendation is highly appreciated.

Rgds

BT Lee
BT Lee,

That's neat to know it's spread globally. Again though, it was never my idea to begin with. I just wrote the article. The idea was first introduced to me by a friend of mine in my local club.

The laterite is an excellent substitute for the clay in the minerzalized soil "recipe." However, it doesn't have the nutrients that the topsoil does. Also using too much clay has been known to cause cloudy water and algae issues. You just want the soil to have a 5-10% clay content. It's just enough to provide good flocculation to allow the soil to settle out of suspension when plants are moved around and to bind nutrients in the soil.

Is topsoil hard to find or expensive? I just buy my topsoil for about $2.00 USD / bag.
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Old 04-23-2009, 08:18 PM   #104 (permalink)
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Default Re: How-To: Mineralized Soil Substrate, by Aaron Talbot

Dear Aaron,

Thanks for the prompt response and the good direction.

I suppose the reason for assumming the use laterite only without top soil is due to my misunderstanding of the term and nature 'top soil'.

Although 'Gardening Soil' is easily availiable in garden supplies shops ( they cost about US$1/= for each 5 liter bag ), in our local community, garden supplies outlet are typically small businesses and the use of local language is the norm.
As such, I was unsure if the soil typically used for gardening is the right 'top soil' we should be using.
Another concern is the uncertainty of foreign matter and thus possible toxicity in such gardening soil.
( in fact, some of the hobbyist has already statred their experiment with 100% laterite recently, hahaha )
One other reason that lead us to assume use of 100% laterite is because we read that laterite is rich in Iron, an important mineral that is hard to obtain on a DIY basis.

Anyway, your latest response has cleared up this matter, thanks again.

Since we are on the subject of substrate, may I ask for your comment for my following idea :-

I have a 5 ft tank that has a foot print of 150 cm X 60 cm.
In our local community ADA soil has been a highly recommended choice of substrate.
However considering the size of my tank and the cost of the ADA soil, I reckon I will need about 80 litre of it and it will cost me around US$250/= for the ADA soil alone.
I am wondering if its worth the trouble if I were to use say a mixture of laterite ( this should provide a long term source of Iron ) and sand for the bottom layer of substrate ( especially the back portion to build up height ).
Then, to minimise clouding of water during future replanting / maintenance work, top up this bottom layer with a layer ( say 2.5 cm ) of clean sand.
Then, for good measure, lay a thin layer ( say 2.5 cm ) of ADA soil on top of this layer of sand.
Oh, I also hear that there is this '5 Elements' sort of chemical from ADA that is typically laid at the bottom of the substrate to give them long term benefit.
I will consider using them as well.

Again, in the above proposal, do you think it is necessary to mix mineralized top soil to the said laterite bottom layer?

Your comment is highly appreciated.

Cheers!

BT Lee
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Old 04-24-2009, 12:37 PM   #105 (permalink)
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Default Re: How-To: Mineralized Soil Substrate, by Aaron Talbot

Thanks AaronT. My tank's bottom is 18" x 72" and the height is 24".

Quote:
Originally Posted by AaronT View Post
What size is the bottom of the tank? You can't really go by gallons because some tanks are taller, etc...

For my 50 gallon breeder w/ a 36" x 18" bottom I used 1 bag of topsoil mineralized and sifted, 1 lb. of clay and just enough potash and dolomite to sprinkle the bottom, but still see through the glass.
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Old 04-25-2009, 10:48 AM   #106 (permalink)
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Default Re: How-To: Mineralized Soil Substrate, by Aaron Talbot

Should I get rid of the peices of wood that are in my top soil. There is some that floats to the top when I am soaking it.
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Old 04-25-2009, 06:01 PM   #107 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: How-To: Mineralized Soil Substrate, by Aaron Talbot

Ok, I need to know where to start lookin.

Where do you guys get your Muriate of Potash?
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Old 04-26-2009, 12:08 PM   #108 (permalink)
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Default Re: How-To: Mineralized Soil Substrate, by Aaron Talbot

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Originally Posted by Knotty Bitz View Post
Should I get rid of the peices of wood that are in my top soil. There is some that floats to the top when I am soaking it.
Yes, you can screen the soil once it is dried out.
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Old 04-26-2009, 12:11 PM   #109 (permalink)
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Default Re: How-To: Mineralized Soil Substrate, by Aaron Talbot

Quote:
Originally Posted by BTLee View Post
Dear Aaron,

Thanks for the prompt response and the good direction.

I suppose the reason for assumming the use laterite only without top soil is due to my misunderstanding of the term and nature 'top soil'.

Although 'Gardening Soil' is easily availiable in garden supplies shops ( they cost about US$1/= for each 5 liter bag ), in our local community, garden supplies outlet are typically small businesses and the use of local language is the norm.
As such, I was unsure if the soil typically used for gardening is the right 'top soil' we should be using.
Another concern is the uncertainty of foreign matter and thus possible toxicity in such gardening soil.
( in fact, some of the hobbyist has already statred their experiment with 100% laterite recently, hahaha )
One other reason that lead us to assume use of 100% laterite is because we read that laterite is rich in Iron, an important mineral that is hard to obtain on a DIY basis.



Anyway, your latest response has cleared up this matter, thanks again.

Since we are on the subject of substrate, may I ask for your comment for my following idea :-

I have a 5 ft tank that has a foot print of 150 cm X 60 cm.
In our local community ADA soil has been a highly recommended choice of substrate.
However considering the size of my tank and the cost of the ADA soil, I reckon I will need about 80 litre of it and it will cost me around US$250/= for the ADA soil alone.
I am wondering if its worth the trouble if I were to use say a mixture of laterite ( this should provide a long term source of Iron ) and sand for the bottom layer of substrate ( especially the back portion to build up height ).
Then, to minimise clouding of water during future replanting / maintenance work, top up this bottom layer with a layer ( say 2.5 cm ) of clean sand.
Then, for good measure, lay a thin layer ( say 2.5 cm ) of ADA soil on top of this layer of sand.
Oh, I also hear that there is this '5 Elements' sort of chemical from ADA that is typically laid at the bottom of the substrate to give them long term benefit.
I will consider using them as well.

Again, in the above proposal, do you think it is necessary to mix mineralized top soil to the said laterite bottom layer?

Your comment is highly appreciated.

Cheers!

BT Lee
People have been using laterite as a low substrate for decades. It does help, but you will still need to dose the water column with macronutrients. If you choose to use mineralized topsoil in addition to the laterite the need for dosing lessens dramatically. Topsoil is the top fertile layer of soil.
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Old 04-26-2009, 12:11 PM   #110 (permalink)
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Default Re: How-To: Mineralized Soil Substrate, by Aaron Talbot

Quote:
Originally Posted by disvegas View Post
Thanks AaronT. My tank's bottom is 18" x 72" and the height is 24".
You'll need 2-3 bags of of topsoil for a tank that size.
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