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Discussion Starter · #301 ·
It was my experience to give the soil a few days to soak in water before starting to dry it out again. My soil would dry in two days and then I would soak it for 3-4 days.

I imagine you can achieve the same results in a week by drying it in the day and soaking it at night by spraying down soil in the evening and letting it sit overnight.
Yes, that would work fine. Once the soil starts to feel and look like sandy silt and no longer has a strong odor when wet it is ready to use.
 

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So as I mentioned in my last post I did have success in making the mineralized top soil, it took me about 3 weeks total but it turned out well. However, my first attempt at putting MTS in a tank with a sand cap was less than perfect and has resulted in me having to possibly redo the cap.

Where I feel I went wrong was after putting the in the MTS I rinsed my flourite black sand and then proceeded to spread it out in the tank. What happened was that the MTS was a little too soupy and when I tried to spread the wet sand overtop it sank partially in to the MTS soup creating spill over on top of the sand.

Now I have dirty sand that isnt black at all but a closer to a brown/grey color. There are thin spots in the sand where I can actually feel the MTS underneath, barely below the surface of the sand. So part of my problem was not enough sand it seems. There is still a distinct separation between the soil and cap for most of the tank but its not even across the bottom. I would like to actually have a black sand bottom instead of the brown sand it looks like right now.

I dont know what my next step should be. Should I drain the tank and try putting in more sand to get the cap a bit thicker? Should I try and do it with a full tank using the sock method or PVC pipe method?

Currently I am leaning towards draining the tank since there are no fish and just plants.
 

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Discussion Starter · #303 ·
So as I mentioned in my last post I did have success in making the mineralized top soil, it took me about 3 weeks total but it turned out well. However, my first attempt at putting MTS in a tank with a sand cap was less than perfect and has resulted in me having to possibly redo the cap.

Where I feel I went wrong was after putting the in the MTS I rinsed my flourite black sand and then proceeded to spread it out in the tank. What happened was that the MTS was a little too soupy and when I tried to spread the wet sand overtop it sank partially in to the MTS soup creating spill over on top of the sand.

Now I have dirty sand that isnt black at all but a closer to a brown/grey color. There are thin spots in the sand where I can actually feel the MTS underneath, barely below the surface of the sand. So part of my problem was not enough sand it seems. There is still a distinct separation between the soil and cap for most of the tank but its not even across the bottom. I would like to actually have a black sand bottom instead of the brown sand it looks like right now.

I dont know what my next step should be. Should I drain the tank and try putting in more sand to get the cap a bit thicker? Should I try and do it with a full tank using the sock method or PVC pipe method?

Currently I am leaning towards draining the tank since there are no fish and just plants.
Either method should work just fine. The Flourite Black sand is quite fine and that could be the reason for the sinking into the mud. My favorite was 3M Colorquartz T-Grade, but they stopped making it and the only product close to it isn't available in my area. :(
 

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My FBS sits atop my MTS without difficulty. My cap is about 1-2" thick. How thick is yours? Mine was capped immediately after putting in the MTS while it was still the consistency of cake batter.

Jim
 

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I picked up what I thought was enough flourite sand but it ended up giving me about 3/4-1 inch of substrate depending on the area of the tank as I had such difficulty spreading it around evenly.

I am going to drain the tank and attempt to spread out the new sand while it is dry and hopefully get better results.

On the topic of colorquartz and spectraquartz the availability in Canada is astonishingly bad. I called the makers of spectraquartz and they didnt even know if they had a distributor in Canada. I called as many places as I could looking for any remaining colorquartz with equally bad luck. I wasnt even able to find a single bag of something like coal slag (black diamond or black beauty) and I am from a city with over a million people.
 

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Got a quick question and one observation, would it be okay to use a bag of humus and a bag of worm castings mixed into my MTS? I intend to screen them as well as wet and dry them several times. Also, the last time i was up to date on this thread me and a few other people were trying to shortcut the process by wetting the soil on the plastic it was laying on. What I found with this is that it will get the bacteria going (soil turns grey-white) but it does not do a good job of leaching out contaminants and organic material. I decided to put my mts back into the bin and wet it and was amazed out how much organic material was floating to the surface.
 

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Discussion Starter · #307 ·
Got a quick question and one observation, would it be okay to use a bag of humus and a bag of worm castings mixed into my MTS? I intend to screen them as well as wet and dry them several times. Also, the last time i was up to date on this thread me and a few other people were trying to shortcut the process by wetting the soil on the plastic it was laying on. What I found with this is that it will get the bacteria going (soil turns grey-white) but it does not do a good job of leaching out contaminants and organic material. I decided to put my mts back into the bin and wet it and was amazed out how much organic material was floating to the surface.
Adding the humus is counterproductive to trying to reduce organic matter so I wouldn't bother. I do have a friend who has used worm castings underneath his Aquasoil with good success. However, if MTS is your method of choice I would leave them out as well.

That's a good point about the soaking cycle. It does also serve the purpose of removing chemicals that may be in the soil.
 

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Here is an update on my previous issues with the MTS and sand cap.

My first attempt didnt go so well with not a thick enough cap and the MTS mixing a lot with the black sand making a brown mess and cloudy tank.

Last night I pretty much tore down the tank completely. I took out the plants and hardscape, and even soaked up any water in the bottom of the tank. It was clear where there was not a thick enough sand cap as well as the areas where the MTS was uneven. I did my best to even things out before adding more sand on top.


Afterwards the tank came out better than I had ever expected given my failed first attempt. The water was crystal clear from the start and the plants really pop against the black sand background. I just hope that the MTS is spread out evenly enough under the sand cap to allow for all plants to grow strong. The tank looks great and I am quite happy with it.

I think a big key to all of this was adding the sand to the tank DRY. Previously, I added the sand to the tank immediately after rinsing it which I believed caused some of my problems.
 

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So I got some soil soaking right now. Woot. I live in west Texas and the USDA soil profile describes this region as 'amarillo loam'. There is lots of red clay around here, I was wondering if I could use this instead of pottery clay. I am pretty certain that its got plenty of iron, but I am not sure if it will bind the soil well...any thoughts, soil experts?
 

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Discussion Starter · #310 ·
So I got some soil soaking right now. Woot. I live in west Texas and the USDA soil profile describes this region as 'amarillo loam'. There is lots of red clay around here, I was wondering if I could use this instead of pottery clay. I am pretty certain that its got plenty of iron, but I am not sure if it will bind the soil well...any thoughts, soil experts?
Sometimes the only way to find out is to try it. Is this a small tank you could easily redo if it doesn't work out?
 

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Pretty good size, at 75 gallons, 4'x2'. I am also making it for my friends 20 gallon, I may let him guinea pig it for me, haha. But really, what is the worst that could happen? In theory as long as I had a good cap, which I am planning on a gentle slope down to 2" in the front, it shouldn't muddy the water too much right? I would just have to take extra super care in uprooting and planting. I wish I could find out what pottery clay is actually made from...
 

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Did a little more research and I am fairly certain that it will work, so I am going to go for it. I will post some results on here, it will be a while though, just started the process.
 

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I tried reading through all the posts to see if I could find an answer to my question but I couldn't find it. Perhaps I missed it but do you have to wait to add fish after you've put it all together and filled the tank?
 

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Discussion Starter · #314 ·
I tried reading through all the posts to see if I could find an answer to my question but I couldn't find it. Perhaps I missed it but do you have to wait to add fish after you've put it all together and filled the tank?
I don't, but waiting for invertebrates is probably a good idea.
 

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Hey everyone im Don not new to planted tanks i did them for about 3 years before i switched to reef tanks in 2007 but im back after seeing some contest tanks using mts. my wife went to walmart yesterday and picked up a bag of earthgro topsoil and since its been raining in jersey almost every other day the 40lb bag was about 90lbs. so i called up to complain about my wife receiving no help from any employee and asked them how long has the dirt been sitting there like that and the manager for that department said about 2 months cause its their least selling brand. so that got me thinking is it possible that the soil has been going through the mineralization process since its been damp then in direct sunlight for about 2 months?

I ask because when i opened my bag i filled a 10 gallon rubbermaid halfway with dirt and water, sifted about 3lbs of rocks out of 20lbs of dirt, flooded and drained twice i was left with whats in the pics. there was very little in the way of organic material and had absolutely no smell it has the exact same texture as the muck i would pick up from the bottom of streams and lakes when i used to fish. so is this what im looking for?



 

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I'm in the process of mineralizing topsoil for the first time. Is it a problem to use Potassium Sulfate (KSO4) instead of muriate of Potash (KCL)?
Thanks much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #318 ·
How long would you wait for inverts?
4-6 weeks ought to be good. They're so much more sensitive to any chemicals that might be in the soil that didn't get rinsed out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #319 ·
Hey everyone im Don not new to planted tanks i did them for about 3 years before i switched to reef tanks in 2007 but im back after seeing some contest tanks using mts. my wife went to walmart yesterday and picked up a bag of earthgro topsoil and since its been raining in jersey almost every other day the 40lb bag was about 90lbs. so i called up to complain about my wife receiving no help from any employee and asked them how long has the dirt been sitting there like that and the manager for that department said about 2 months cause its their least selling brand. so that got me thinking is it possible that the soil has been going through the mineralization process since its been damp then in direct sunlight for about 2 months?

I ask because when i opened my bag i filled a 10 gallon rubbermaid halfway with dirt and water, sifted about 3lbs of rocks out of 20lbs of dirt, flooded and drained twice i was left with whats in the pics. there was very little in the way of organic material and had absolutely no smell it has the exact same texture as the muck i would pick up from the bottom of streams and lakes when i used to fish. so is this what im looking for?



Yeah, that's pretty much what it looks like, though I'd be inclined to go through at least a couple wet dry cycles if for anything to rinse any chemicals that might be in the soil still.
 

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Discussion Starter · #320 ·
I'm in the process of mineralizing topsoil for the first time. Is it a problem to use Potassium Sulfate (KSO4) instead of muriate of Potash (KCL)?
Thanks much.
I believe the concern is with the sulfate part of the equation. It could cause an issue with hydrogen sulfide formation in the substrate. You can always omit it altogether and dose potassium or add root tabs after the tank is planted.
 
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