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Yeah, I'd like to know if it does too. Finding top soil in Southern California is hard. Seems like everything has added stuff. :(

You know, I've never seen that brand at a local Lowes though.

I thought you were in CA. Your profile doesn't say so thoug.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
oo ya i am in so cal...the timezone wasnt correct....the lowes website must stock different to the actual store
 

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Don't try the Earth Gro topsoil from homedepot. I've bottled tested it. Result: smelly, dark yellow water. :(

Let me know if you find a good brand!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
well according to the lowes site, they dont sell the black cow topsoil in my local areas.

hmm looks like ill have to look at osh's stock

thanks for the tip revernance
 

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omg! from OSH:
Please note that we do not have an online product catalog.

well looks like I'm going to have to go local!

Is it just me, or is finding topsoil in CA really difficult?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
yup osh doesnt have a online store _>_
n i just got reminded of a armstrong garden when i drove by one.
revernance did u air out the soil or just did the jar test straight from the bag?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
hey revernance would a jar test matter since in el natural the soil would be covered by a layer of gravel or sand?
 

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A jar test is important because it tells you what it capable of leeching out into the water column. Even if you cover with 2 inches of gravel, it would probably still leech out. I had maybe less than an inch or so. When I was testing, a whole bunch of tannin and some other brown stuff leeched out. Plus the water stank! :(
 

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I just did a new tank setup with what I thought would give me the best results.

I used the generic Top Soil from Home Depot that "Data Guru" used in her excellent "step-by-step". The fact that it cost just $1.29 for 40 lb practically guarantees that no fertilizers were added!

Before adding the Top Soil to the tank, I did mix in bone meal. Bone meal is nice, because its an organic source of phosphate, which will stimulate root growth. Since bones are mainly calcium phosphate, I know its got plentiful calcium, too. I mixed 2/3 cup of bone meal with the the 4-5 gal of topsoil that I used to line the tank. (The best plant growth I've gotten so far is in my 45 gal with a generic potting soil plus added phosphates.)

Because so many APC hobbyists seem to be doing okay with sand (and I wanted to encourage chain sword (Echinodorus tenellus) growth), I used a sand covering (pool-filter sand from Home Depot). I used as little sand as necessay to cover the soil.

Results are a little initial hazing and a little yellowing, but its looking good. After a couple days, plants started sprouting new leaves and coloring up. I'm keeping activated carbon in filter, and tomorrow I'll do a big water change to get rid of yellowing. No big deal. The main thing is that I can see the plants like it.

I think that you can get similar stuff (inexpensive potting soil and/or top soil and bone meal) from Lowes, Wal-Mart, garden centers, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
hi diana, i bought your book which was a great read...
on the top soil from homedepot could you tell me what brand?
how thick could we use sand as a top layer like 1"?
another question could i not use a electronic for water movement because im trying to use least electronics
 

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hi diana, i bought your book which was a great read...
on the top soil from homedepot could you tell me what brand?
how thick could we use sand as a top layer like 1"?
another question could i not use a electronic for water movement because im trying to use least electronics
Glad you liked the book.

Top soil is the generic brand TOP SOIL (i.e., not made by Scotts or Miracle-Gro companies).
The other brand I'd tentatively recommend is Miracle Gro's "Organic Choice", which doesn't have chemical fertilizers. Recently, I used it in a 5 gal tank, and it is working very well. So far I haven't had any tannin or cloudiness problems like I got from the TOP SOIL. Plants grow nicely and fish aren't complaining.

If I had to do the 50 gal over again, I probably would have used Organic Choice instead of TOP SOIL and added some Bone Meal to it. But what I used will probably still work out; "perfection" is ever so elusive. :p

I used the least amount of sand I could (1" or less). During initial planting, I spooned in enough sand to keep the soil from releasing turbidity into the water.

Filters/water pumps aren't absolutely necessary. But plants do grow better with a little water movement. The pump distributes heat, especially necessary during the winter. I use submerged powerheads, that is, the Aqua-Clear 30 (with attached Quick Filter) for my 50 and 55 gal tanks. They're about $25 and work very well.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
interesting thanks for the post, but i still need to make the local landscape yard and try out the plain soil that they have bulks of
 

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Diana,
For the Miracle Gro Organic, this was said on the bag:
"This product is regionally formulated with organic materials (derived from one or more of the following: forest products, peat humus, or compost) sphagnum peat, composted manure (in Florida, cow manure) and pasteurized, pelleted poultry litter. "

I thought manure is bad?
Also, would this bone meal be okay to use? http://www.miraclegro-organics.com/bonemeal.htm
Do you have a picture on google image of the product you are using? :)
 

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Diana,
For the Miracle Gro Organic, this was said on the bag:
"This product is regionally formulated with organic materials (derived from one or more of the following: forest products, peat humus, or compost) sphagnum peat, composted manure (in Florida, cow manure) and pasteurized, pelleted poultry litter. "

I thought manure is bad?
Also, would this bone meal be okay to use? http://www.miraclegro-organics.com/bonemeal.htm
Do you have a picture on google image of the product you are using? :)
If the manure is composted, it is probably okay. My little 5 gal tank is doing fine with this product- Miracle-Gro Organic Garden Soil.

As to the Miracle-Gro Bone meal, it says it has 6-9-0 NPK, which means it has a fair amount of nitrogen (for every phosphate, it gives 9/6 or 0.67 N. The NPK on Vigoro is 1-11-0, which means that for every phosphate, it provides 1/11 OR 0.09 N. Thus, the Miracle-Gro include 7.4 (0.67 divided by 0.09) more nitrogen per phosphate. Excess nitrogen can cause problems, so I would go with Vigoro Bone Meal.

I would be glad to send pictures of what I used, but I don't yet know how. Don't have URL.
 

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I have a 5gal using earth gro topsoil. It had a little bit of tannin stain and brown algae on the glass, but it gets sunlight. I was running an HOB filter with only a tiny bit of floss and nothing else.
I setup this tank just to keep my plants alive "By THE Book" (invaluable resource, by the way!) until I get enough funds to redo my big tank. In the first month I did 2 water changes and after that I completely neglected it. 5 months have passed and the water level dropped down to 2/3rds (not recommended!), so I turned off the filter and have no electronics except for a 20watt light.

Within 2 weeks of turning off the HOB all algae has disappeared (absolutely none on the glass). My duckweed has gone ballistic and grows all over itself, so bad it gets tangled in the plants near the substrate. The MTS snails eat the dying duckweed leaves and now I have a bunch of duckweed stems allover (but no algae!).

Long winded post as always, THANKS for your book Dianna, good stuff!

PS: I would definitely have some kind of internal powerhead for any tank over 10 gallons.
 
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