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Thanks Lizzz.
I guess alternative, we can probably just mix up some fert with Clay, and roll up some small clay balls and push them under the substrate.
 

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From the number of post begging for brand names of topsoil, I'll add this:

Currently finishing the mineralization of a bag of EarthGro brand topsoil, from my local Home Depot. This seems to be exactly what Aaron tells us to look for, cheap ($1.33 for a 50 pound bag) and soil only. The stuff has some sticks and rocks, but nothing in excess. Because of it inexpensive natural, it has no added humus, peat, or fertilizer. It appears to be breaking down just as Aaron promised.

When you screen it dry, watch that you don't discard clay that has dried into small pellets. Half of what appeared to be rocks were actually small chunks of clay. Of course since we are to add more clay, it shouldn't be that big a deal if some is lost.
 

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Hi Aron, I was simply amazed by your article as I have been readvy up on DIY aquarium soil and found your methos both simple and effective. I am a beginner and have a coupleof tanks which aLL have plants. I want to try this method in one of my 20g tanks. Iam in the UK and cannot get my hand of some of these ingredience. can I use any type of clay. "DAS Air Drying Modelling Craft Clay"

thanks in advance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #264 ·
From the number of post begging for brand names of topsoil, I'll add this:

Currently finishing the mineralization of a bag of EarthGro brand topsoil, from my local Home Depot. This seems to be exactly what Aaron tells us to look for, cheap ($1.33 for a 50 pound bag) and soil only. The stuff has some sticks and rocks, but nothing in excess. Because of it inexpensive natural, it has no added humus, peat, or fertilizer. It appears to be breaking down just as Aaron promised.

When you screen it dry, watch that you don't discard clay that has dried into small pellets. Half of what appeared to be rocks were actually small chunks of clay. Of course since we are to add more clay, it shouldn't be that big a deal if some is lost.
Thanks for sharing your experience so far Rick. It sounds like you definitely bought the right bag of dirt. That's a good tip on the screening. I do use a fair bit of force when screening to make sure I only get out the leaves, sticks and rocks.
 

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Hi Aron, I was simply amazed by your article as I have been readvy up on DIY aquarium soil and found your methos both simple and effective. I am a beginner and have a coupleof tanks which aLL have plants. I want to try this method in one of my 20g tanks. Iam in the UK and cannot get my hand of some of these ingredience. can I use any type of clay. "DAS Air Drying Modelling Craft Clay"

thanks in advance.
Usually modeling clay is synthetic and should NOT be put in an aquarium.

Do you have any local pottery shops? I just asked my local pottery shop where they get their clay and they directed me to a supplier in the city that sells it in 10 lb. blocks.
 

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Aaron,

Thanks for writing this great article and share it to the commiunity. I have been thinking about this for a while and atlast I collected all the things in the list that I can get hold off. I just want to make sure I collected the right items and also the process I am following is right.

I know you explained pretty clear but when I started the process of mineralizing right then the questions started hitting me for each and everything in the list below.
• Cheap topsoil
• Pottery clay
• Dolomite
• Muriate of potash

The Aquarium I am currently working on is 90 GAL (48 Lx 18 W). So please help me with the quantities if I am putting toomuch or too low.

Topsoil: I got the Topsoil from peterose. Usually this store sell them in tones but the guy let me fill the 5GAL bucket pure topsoil(Without any mulch/peatmoss mix) for free. I noticed minimal organic stuff in it. I started mineralizing the soil. During the process when I dump the muddy water, I noticed Fine soil(Creamy texture) is getting dumped with muddy water. According to my understanding this creamy texture soil is pure soil. When this creamy texture soil dried its turned out like soft powder. The soil sitting in the container bottom has sand like texture that you feel in the beach. The questoin I have is Do I need to keep this creamy texture soil along with sandy texture soil or just sandy texture soil or just creamy texture soil?

Q 1) Which texture soil do I need to keep?

Q 2) 5 GAL bucket Topsoil is that enough for 90 GAL Tank ?

Pottery Clay: I got 2.5 pounds of gray color Pottery Clay for 2$. Not sure whether that is the right clay for this project or not. see the Picture
Q 3) I am not sure also whether the picture helps or not. if Helps Is this the right pottery clay?


Dolomite: Not sure whether this is the right thing I purchased or not. Please see the pictures.
Q 4) Is it the right one? if so howmuch do I need to put in 90 GAL Tank?

Muriate of Potash: Not sure whether this is the right thing I purchased or not. Please see the pictures.
Q 5) Is it the right one? if so howmuch do I need to put in 90 GAL Tank?

I really appriciate your help on this
 

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This weekend I did the First step of minerlizing the soil process in the aquarium and dumped the water and let it dry in the tank itself over the night and day. Today I thought of bringing the bottom layer upside to make the bottom layer exposed to air, I noticed the top layer is nothing but 1/4 inch of PURE SOIL and rest of the bottom layer is fine snad.

The Reason These Layers were seperated might be because of the additional water poured into the tank because of the rain and the way that I mixed/washed the soil when there was still half tank of water.

As these are separated, Do I still need to keep both of these different substrates(SOIL,SAND) or
can I throw away the sand and keep the Pure Soil and continue the process?
 

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Varma, wouldn't it be easier to wash the top soil in a bucket and pour it out on a big piece of plastic sheet, as suggested? The 90 gallon going to be difficult to empty and refill repeatly, what with its weight added to the topsoil.
 

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Rick

Thanks for your reply.

I live in an area where wind is heavy most of the time in my patio because of the landscape. drying the topsoil on the floor causes huge mess because of the wind and also I am afraid fine soil will be blown away by the wind which will spoil the purpose of topsoil. thats the reason I opted for tank.

I already emptied the tank couple of times so I believe with just soil and 5 inches of water above the soil is not that hard to empty out the water.

Once the minerization is completed I will move the soil to bucket and move the aquarium into the home. This is what my plan is. but If I have to follow the process and use only the sheet I have to dry this soil in my friends place.
 

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Aaron,


Really Appriciate if you could confirm the bags that I purchased are proper bags. Please see the images attached on 3/17/11


Thanks in Advance
Varma
 

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I purchased Earthgro topsoil also from homedepot to find the difference. When I was mixing the water and with earthgro soil I noticed Greasy kind of substance sticking to Hand. Is this natural?
 

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Just passing on something I learned when searching for clay:

AMACO (American Art Clay) is a common brand found at crafts stores in the USA, such as A.C. Moore and Micheal's. I emailed their technical support to ensure some of the stuff I found would be fine for aquarium subtrate use. AMACO warns that a lot of their clays found in craft stores have preservatives added and they don't recommend using those in aquariums. Two AMACO clays that may be found in craft stores that didn't have preservatives are "Sedona Red Casting Slip No. 67" and "Magic Mud".

The AMACO Terra Cotta Air Dry clay I had found in 10 and 25 pound boxes at my local A.C. Moore were not recommended because of preservatives. They did have Magic Mud but it was a white clay, so it's likely is not iron rich enough for Aaron's MTS recipe.
 

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Rick

Thanks for your reply.

I live in an area where wind is heavy most of the time in my patio because of the landscape. drying the topsoil on the floor causes huge mess because of the wind and also I am afraid fine soil will be blown away by the wind which will spoil the purpose of topsoil. thats the reason I opted for tank.

I already emptied the tank couple of times so I believe with just soil and 5 inches of water above the soil is not that hard to empty out the water.

Once the minerization is completed I will move the soil to bucket and move the aquarium into the home. This is what my plan is. but If I have to follow the process and use only the sheet I have to dry this soil in my friends place.
The topsoil will kinda clump together when it dries out so I've yet to have an issue with it blowing away and I set mine out in a fairly windy area as well. One important part is to have it in an extremely thin layer so that it goes through the drying process really well (and much faster) each time.

I use heavy plastic sheeting material and spread it out with a rake.

As far as the clay and other materials go, I just ended up buying them in bulk amounts so I have a ton to work with, but it justified the cost of having it shipped in.
 

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Aaron,

Thanks for writing this great article and share it to the commiunity. I have been thinking about this for a while and atlast I collected all the things in the list that I can get hold off. I just want to make sure I collected the right items and also the process I am following is right.

I know you explained pretty clear but when I started the process of mineralizing right then the questions started hitting me for each and everything in the list below.
• Cheap topsoil
• Pottery clay
• Dolomite
• Muriate of potash

The Aquarium I am currently working on is 90 GAL (48 Lx 18 W). So please help me with the quantities if I am putting toomuch or too low.

Topsoil: I got the Topsoil from peterose. Usually this store sell them in tones but the guy let me fill the 5GAL bucket pure topsoil(Without any mulch/peatmoss mix) for free. I noticed minimal organic stuff in it. I started mineralizing the soil. During the process when I dump the muddy water, I noticed Fine soil(Creamy texture) is getting dumped with muddy water. According to my understanding this creamy texture soil is pure soil. When this creamy texture soil dried its turned out like soft powder. The soil sitting in the container bottom has sand like texture that you feel in the beach. The questoin I have is Do I need to keep this creamy texture soil along with sandy texture soil or just sandy texture soil or just creamy texture soil?

Q 1) Which texture soil do I need to keep?

Q 2) 5 GAL bucket Topsoil is that enough for 90 GAL Tank ?

Pottery Clay: I got 2.5 pounds of gray color Pottery Clay for 2$. Not sure whether that is the right clay for this project or not. see the Picture
Q 3) I am not sure also whether the picture helps or not. if Helps Is this the right pottery clay?

Dolomite: Not sure whether this is the right thing I purchased or not. Please see the pictures.
Q 4) Is it the right one? if so howmuch do I need to put in 90 GAL Tank?

Muriate of Potash: Not sure whether this is the right thing I purchased or not. Please see the pictures.
Q 5) Is it the right one? if so howmuch do I need to put in 90 GAL Tank?

I really appriciate your help on this
I know you were talking to aaron but hopefully I can help answer a few of these.
A1) I sift the soil several times so its a fluffy light texture.
A2) a 90g, assuming it has a 48x18 footprint, would need about 30lbs of soil, give or take, to make a 1/2-3/4" layer. This is based on a very rough estimate that approx 5lbs cover a 1sq ft area.

A3) As long as its natural and not a polymer clay it will work. It's hard to say just by the looks. Usually when its labeled as pottery clay, it is the right stuff, modeling clay is not. However I would still do more research through the source.

A4) Actually, no. Check the analysis and I think you will find that it probably has calcium oxide in it.

That being said, though, I've used this type of pelletized lime in setups and had no noticeable effects because of it. The amount being used is very minute, mind you. A light dusting or sprinkling at best. The best kind to use (imo) can be found in powder form either through a pottery supply or at a vitamin supply place. Vitamin shoppe has it in powder form so you don't have to crush the pills.

A5) yes that is the right stuff. A light dusting is all it takes.
 

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I am at a halt on my collection of materials, since I can't get Muriate of Potash in Canada, its been banned.

Am I correct to assume, that it is the same as Potassium Chloride, then assume, that I could also use Potassium sulphate, I did some looking and it seems that its better for the plant roots as the sulfate form. But is it worse for the livestock? Would it substitute if I could find it.

Also, what % of potassium am I aiming for, 40%?

I could order Lab grade potassium chloride from a chemist supplier, but I'm not sure if that will be the right stuff either.
 

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also, when laying out the soil to dry, is it alright to strain the water? or do you want it to evaporate (into) the soil?
 

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Hi aaron I was wondering where you got the 3M Colorquartz T-Grade Black Sand and how much it costs, I like the idea of the soil I'm going to try it for my first planted beta biotope, thanks for the idea by the way. and of course the instructions.
 

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would using garden soil (rinsing with water) which has no additivies skip the whole wet/dry cycle process? since this process is to remove organic matter, i would assume that soil which has been laying in the garden for a month would be well removed of organics
 
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