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El Natural Diana Walstad's low-maintenance, soil-based 'El Natural' method for keeping plants and fish.

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Old 04-15-2019, 06:21 AM   #461 (permalink)
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Default Re: Suitable soils for the Walstad method

Hi. As I live not in US or UK, our local brands and types of bagged soil are kinda different.
And all this veriety of fertilized, organic, peats, bio etc is confusing me a bit...

I`ve found two types of soil, that as I think can fit for Walstad method, but still not sure.

1. components: high-moor peat, low-moor peat, biohumus
75% organic metter
pH 5-7
N - 15mg/100g
P - 15mg/100g
K - 20mg/100g
Not fertilized

2. Ingredients: Brown humus based on bird guano, coconut fiber, wood fiber, compost, natural organic fertilizers.
100% organic metter
pH - 5-7
N - 50-350 mg/l
P - 200-700 mg/l
K - 500-1500 mg/l

So, if anyone who has experiense with setting up NPT can give me some advices with the choice, I`d apriciate it alot.
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Old 04-25-2019, 03:22 PM   #462 (permalink)
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Default Re: Suitable soils for the Walstad method

I just finished a careful reading and re-reading of “Ecology of the Planted Aquarium”, the section about substrates. I think I learned a lot, and understand a lot more about the things I have seen going on in my aquarium. So, I decided to try to make a summary of that section, covering most of the most important parts. I'm doing this primarily to help me remember it, and so I can re-read this if I forget!

The two basic substrates are “gravel” and “dirt, with a gravel cap”. Gravel, whether it is pool filter sand, Flourite, or a higher cost material, relies on the water for most of the nutrients the plants need, and the plant roots have limited access to nutrients. “Dirt, with a gravel cap” provides a concentrated supply of nutrients, available to all of the rooted plants. It keeps the water relatively free of nutrients, and the substrate nutrients can last for years. Those nutrients are isolated from algae, making avoiding algae easier.

“Dirt”, better called topsoil, is made up of: mineral particles, most of which are primarily silicon, aluminum and iron, which are abundant in most topsoils; clay, which is also primarily aluminum, and silicon, in the form of tiny sheets of aluminum silicate; organic matter or humus, which is the final state of organic matter; precipitated inorganic matter, like calcium silicate, phosphates and carbonate, from shells of micro and other organisms; and microorganisms, like bacteria (mostly), protozoa, fungi, algae and yeast.

One positive feature of topsoil is that the humus particles have strong negative electric charges, which makes them bind to cations, like iron, potassium, calcium, etc. The anions associated with those cations tend to remain attached to their cations, so they, too, are bound to the humus particles. This means the nutrient ions remain in the soil and nutrient ions in the water tend to be adsorbed by the soil, making them also less available to algae.

The organic matter in the topsoil will decompose over time, producing CO2 as a byproduct. That CO2 seeps into the water and is available as a nutrient for the plants.

A good “dirt” substrate will consist of about an inch of topsoil, leveled, and covered with about a half inch of inert fine gravel, like pool filter sand, or Flourite, etc. Too deep a gravel cap can become too anaerobic and begin forming hydrogen sulfide, which is toxic. If we use topsoil from flowerbeds, yards, gardens, etc. it might have residual chemicals in it, that are possibly harmful to the fish or plants. This can be removed by using activated charcoal in the filter for a few weeks before planting the tank or adding fish - something rarely necessary.

The only things that should be added to the topsoil might be dolomite, for calcium and magnesium, and possibly phosphates. No other “fertilizers” should be added. The soil shouldn’t contain a lot of peat, because that tends to lower the pH of the soil excessively. No sulfates should be added, because they may be converted to hydrogen sulfate.

This substrate should be good for several years.
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Old 04-29-2019, 07:05 PM   #463 (permalink)
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Default Re: Suitable soils for the Walstad method

A soil or dirt with a smaller percentage of organic matter would be less likely to become anaerobic, right?
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Old 04-29-2019, 07:56 PM   #464 (permalink)
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Default Re: Suitable soils for the Walstad method

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Originally Posted by Dude View Post
A soil or dirt with a smaller percentage of organic matter would be less likely to become anaerobic, right?
Ms Walstad mentions, in her book, that most substrates are anaerobic - little or no oxygen. That is normal. What we should avoid is excessive organic matter, like peat, which can lower the pH too much. Just ordinary dirt, like from a vegetable or flower garden will have a good level of organic material. There are potential problems with real dirt, but there are also potential problems with bags of "topsoil" in stores. We should avoid "soil" that smells like pine or cedar sawdust. And, no fertilizers, like manure should be in it. It should smell like real dirt. I have made mistakes by trying to boost the nutrient content of my real dirt by adding things like worm castings. We don't need that much nutrients for a non-CO2 tank.

I've been studying "the book" every day for several days now!
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Old 05-08-2019, 04:44 AM   #465 (permalink)
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Default Re: Suitable soils for the Walstad method

Just want to add my 2 cents. This soil is amazing! Black Kow Topsoil. I've used it twice. There's no sticks or junk in it, just good soil. It's not "hot" but I still rinse, dry, mineralize X3. I highly recommend!

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