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hey aaron,
great post! very useful! going to be using it soon! i would just like to ask some questions please!

at step 6 when putting the gravel over the mud wouldnt some of the gravel sink into the mud? thus causing a mixture thing?

and as for adding the clay? is there any sort of specific clay you must use or any?

thanks
I used pottery clay, the red stuff. I am not sure if the other clays have lotsa iron, but I can attest that I have great growth and have never dosed iron in my mineralized topsoil tank. Therefore, one can conclude that red clay has iron. You could probably find some at an art supply store, if there is one in your area.

Adding sand overtop is fine. I don't think it matters what kind, but allegedly playsand is more lightweight than other sand so it's less likely to sink. I didn't have enough sand, so some of the soil was exposed to open water. All that happened was the tank was cloudy for a few weeks. A couple water changes and filter cleanings and it is all good.
 

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Hey aaronT,

I am going to be trying this method with my 90 gallon tank, which I am going to be redoing now in the 5 week holidays we have here in South Africa during the Soccer World Cup. I am too lazy to go and look around for proper topsoils so i just dug some out of my garden and have started soaking it today! I will continue to post updates over the days ( weeks ) and will post pictures of the final product, so stay tuned :)

The Garden soil


Starting to rinse
 

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Ok, i walked my dog just now to the local art/ stationary supplies shop and i found this stuff called terracotta? It was in some weird language so i couldn't find out if it had a high iron content, it say moulding clay/paste at the back, heres a pic of it -

Funky clay


should i give it a shot its only R29 which is about $2 or $3
 

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Just make sure that it has no other additives that may harm plants or fish. That looks expensive for a very small package. I got my big block of pottery red clay at a local pottery studio. It was 25 lb for about $5.
 

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Ok i have just started to lay it out to dry on a cut refuse bag, can some one please tell me if this is how its supposed to look?

Drying Out


Close Up
 

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has anyone used earthgro topsoil? after i did the 4 rinse n drying i have more organics then dirt, is this ok or should i try a different brand.
 

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Hello! I live in georgia and was wondering if I can use the red Georgia clay that is so prevalent in this area? This is the kind of clay that makes our rivers turn red when it rains and will stain your clothes orange.

Can I use only Georgia clay since I wouldn't be using the type of clay you use for pottery? I would just be digging it up from the yard. Could I get away with only a 1/4 inch layer of pure ga clay with 2 inches of fluorite over that?

Also, assuming i can't use Georgia clay place of garden center topsoil, can I use silt from a pond? We have a cabin on a small lake that's being filled in with silt from erosion upstream (construction). There is a lot organic matter in this silt since the lake has basically become a bog. Would using this organic rich silt be preferable? It doesn't appear to be clay-based because it's dark brown and clay isn't common at our cabin.

The silt seems to be extremely low in nutrients and minerals, and seems to be primarily organic matter because sphagnum moss and pitcher plants grow well in it, and sphagnum moss and pitcher plants can not tolerate nutrients or minerals. I'm unclear as to whether it's desirable to start with soil that's mostly organic matter so that you'll end up with more mineralized media in the end, as opposed to substrate that is mostly inorganic to start with. This stuff is thick silty muck.
 

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question? How well do fish cope with a new tank with Mineralized Soil Substrate?
It depends on how well you plant from the start. If you start off heavily planted, the plants will use whatever ammonia is released rapidly (assuming your lighting is decent). If you start off with very sparse planting, your fish may suffer.
 

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Hello! I live in georgia and was wondering if I can use the red Georgia clay that is so prevalent in this area? This is the kind of clay that makes our rivers turn red when it rains and will stain your clothes orange.

Can I use only Georgia clay since I wouldn't be using the type of clay you use for pottery? I would just be digging it up from the yard. Could I get away with only a 1/4 inch layer of pure ga clay with 2 inches of fluorite over that?
I tried using the type of red clay we have here in FL and it just turned into an orange mess. Maybe I wasn't doing something right, but when I mixed it with water it all pretty much stayed suspended in the water until you let sit for awhile then the slightest movement of the water would stir it all up again. It doesn't seem to be the type of clay the the pottery stuff is more silty dirt clay. But then again thats the FL clay i used from my yard.

You could always go through the process then test a small amount out and see what happens.
 

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I'm sure it's the same or almost the same stuff. I was thinking of just using a small amount, like a quarter of an inch covered by two inches of fluorite.

How many inches of substrate did you top it with, and how deep was your layer or clay?
 

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hi guys just a quick question, please respond quickly. I bought some $6 clay for my 16 gallon fish tank which i am going to be converting into a mineralized topsoil tank with plants. here are some pics of the clay please tell me if its suitable, because it doesnt mention ingredients on the back( high iron content ) and i put it in the oven to bake abit as i am going to crush it then put it in. thanks alot

package
http://i672.photobucket.com/albums/vv90/cheddar254/29062010235.jpg

actual clay
http://i672.photobucket.com/albums/vv90/cheddar254/29062010236.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #216 ·
I'm sure it's the same or almost the same stuff. I was thinking of just using a small amount, like a quarter of an inch covered by two inches of fluorite.

How many inches of substrate did you top it with, and how deep was your layer or clay?
I wouldn't use just clay as the soil layer. The mineralized soil layer should be about 90% soil and 10% clay. Using too much of any type of clay will result in a cloudy mess.
 

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I don't see the point in trying to keep all the minerals in the soil. Plants can take all the macronutrients (N, P, K, Ca, Mg, and S) quite efficiently from the water column.
 

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I would like to thank Aaron and Diane K and of course other members on contribution to this topic.
I'm in the process of setting up 120 gal. Amazon theme and going to try this approach.

Wondering if Kril is still around and any progress on his approach..
 
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