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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was at my local garden center to buy potting soil for my first NPT. However, every type I looked at had slow release fertilizer included, which I didn't want. However, I found a bag labeled "African Violet Mix" that looked promising, so I bought it.

Here are the ingredients - anyone had experience with this? Anyone have any trepidations about the mix? Additionally, the mix contains limestone which I would think would be ideal for buffering, but I may be mistaken.

Sphagnum Peat Moss
Vermiculite
Limestone
 

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Aside from the pH creep issue associated w/ lime, I'd be wary of vermiculite as it likes to float, or sit on top of sand/gravel and it's tough to vacuum out (some always manages to elude the siphon).
 

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Peat Moss is not usually used as a planting substrate by itself. It will work, but needs to be well soaked before it will sink.

I have used peat moss mixed with other materials as a substrate, and the 2 tend to separate.

No problems with water quality. GH and KH of my tap water are around 5 degrees, and some gets removed by the peat, but not enough to cause problems.
 

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I would venture a guess that this would be a great experimental 10 gallon tank substrate. However, with the way all three of those materials function biologically/chemically, the real interesting stuff wouldn't happen until about month 10 or 12. As others have mentioned, the vermiculite will float. I suggest you soak it for awhile, and then smush it all together (if you don't want to get your hands dirty, you could try a bucket and a potato masher I guess, but who doesn't want to get their hands dirty?).
You want to get the vermiculite to absorb as much water before you start planting as possible, or you'll have bits of it floating in the water column every time you pull out a plant. This might, really, defeat the purpose of vermiculite in general, however. It has a very high cation exchange rate as its essentially a clay but I don't know how that changes when its been all mushed up. Probably not much, I just assume that the CEC is only measured for terrestrial planting.

ANYWAYS, give it a shot. I had a tank with mostly playground sand, vermiculite and peat moss, and it did fairly for the first year and started to take off towards the end of the second year. Then my fish got sick and due to a number of other reasons I had to tear it down. Were I to do it all over again I'm sure I'd fair better, so it wasn't necessarily the substrate's fault. I'd be interested to see your results with it. If I had the space I'd try it myself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks all. I have 1.5" of the potting mix I described along with 1" EcoComplete down. So far the EcoComplete has held the potting mix down so no floating or separation has occurred. I take delivery of my plants next week and am looking forward to journaling my experience. The tank is a 4 gal Finnex with 13 watts of CF lighting. The plant mix will be primarily low light plants, as follows:

Frogbit
Anubias Nana v. Petite
Java Moss (sold as Singapore moss, think they are the same)
Bolbitis fern
Bronze Crypt
Tropica Sword
Lilaeopsis mauritius
Egeri najas
Bacopa monnieri
 

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I was at my local garden center to buy potting soil for my first NPT. However, every type I looked at had slow release fertilizer included, which I didn't want. However, I found a bag labeled "African Violet Mix" that looked promising, so I bought it.

Here are the ingredients - anyone had experience with this? Anyone have any trepidations about the mix? Additionally, the mix contains limestone which I would think would be ideal for buffering, but I may be mistaken.

Sphagnum Peat Moss
Vermiculite
Limestone
I've never used it, but one serious hobbyist had excellent results with African Violet Mix and recommended it highly. I don't see why it wouldn't work.

Remember that the first 2-3 months may require water changes and extra aeration to keep the fish healthy.
 
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