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I've been doing a little research on my area's soil. I live in southern Virginia where any thing below 4 to 6 inches is know as Virginia red clay. Here's a little info I ran across at the VA DEQ:

"The A Horizon, or surface layer, is usually darker than the lower layers. It is most often loose and crumbly and contains more organic matter than deeper layers. In the A Horizon, water soaks or leaches into the soil with ease. Clay and other dense compounds are missing; they have been carried by water deeper into the soil profile.

The B Horizon is the subsoil. Subsoils are usually light colored and dense and contain little organic matter. Materials washed or "leached" from the A Horizon collect in the B Horizon. Therefore, this horizon holds more clay, iron and other mineral compounds."

I wonder how well it would work if I use the local red clay subsoil, and mix in store bought top soil. Go through the procedures, and leave the clay addition out. What do you guys think? Would the clay content be too much? Below is a photo of the red clay subsoil.
As long as you think its not contaminated with fertilizers or anything like that, give it a try. Maybe wash it a few times during the wet dry cycle with the topsoil?
 

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i also did i see you could get this at a vitamin shop? i was looking back threw the pages and didnt see it but i was for sure i saw something about there being something you could get at vitamin shop?
 

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As long as you think its not contaminated with fertilizers or anything like that, give it a try. Maybe wash it a few times during the wet dry cycle with the topsoil?
From what I gathered the subsoil contains around 20% -30% clay, and all the minerals from the topsoil that have leached through rain fall. It contains very little organic matter. My thought was to mainly use the local subsoil, but add some top soil to cut down on the clay percentage. I would still do the wet / dry process to eliminate organics. I wonder what percentages of topsoil, subsoil to use?
 

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From what I gathered the subsoil contains around 20% -30% clay, and all the minerals from the topsoil that have leached through rain fall. It contains very little organic matter. My thought was to mainly use the local subsoil, but add some top soil to cut down on the clay percentage. I would still do the wet / dry process to eliminate organics. I wonder what percentages of topsoil, subsoil to use?
Sounds like a plan. Go through a couple wet dry cycles with it. If it has no odor at the end, I am going to say you have something worth trying out.
 

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Wow! Thank you for your time putting this very informative thread up! I am planning several low-tech tanks and was going to use "Low tech planted tank the Walstad way" but after reading (a lot) I think your method will suit me best.
Thank you! If you have anymore tips tailored to a low-tech planted tank using you method for the substrate please give me a shout! I am new to fish keeping and am only limited to what I can find on the web as well as through others experiences (since I haven't any experience as of yet)

I do have one question:
If you were planning a river style tank in a 75 gallon, but wanted to keep it low tech and planted, would this method work? I want to use dark sand for my top substrate, and I know a lot of plants won't fair well in a river-like set-up...but I thought perhaps you might know of a way to make it work. ;)
Thank you for you time! :D
 

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can i use api's first layer laterite soil? I got something called mexican pottery by amaco, but it seems like it is modelling clay so I don't think I can find any other clay related items that works except for laterite from petsmart.
 

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I am redoing my 90 gal planted tank. I plan on draining the water and placing fish into containers with the original water as well as existing plants. After redoing substratea and placing the plants back and refilling with most of the original water, will it be ok to place my fish back into the tank? My current substrate is mixture of laterite and gravel. I have CO 2 and good lighting. My tank has bee set up like this for a couple of years but want to improve my substrate as my plants aren't as good as I would like.
 

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Hi Aaron, or anyone who can speak to this;

How long would you estimate the minerals will be available for uptake to the plants, for instance in the tank you used in your example? Years perhaps?

How are the plants and water conditions in that tank now?

Is this method compatible with adding DIY Osmocote (a la Pushak) clay balls around the roots, or are fertilized clay balls overkill?

Same question for EI approach. Can I do EI at a lower dosage level, or is it completely unnecessary?

Thanks for maintaining the thread that never dies!
 

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Discussion Starter · #351 ·
Hi Aaron, or anyone who can speak to this;

How long would you estimate the minerals will be available for uptake to the plants, for instance in the tank you used in your example? Years perhaps?

How are the plants and water conditions in that tank now?

Is this method compatible with adding DIY Osmocote (a la Pushak) clay balls around the roots, or are fertilized clay balls overkill?

Same question for EI approach. Can I do EI at a lower dosage level, or is it completely unnecessary?

Thanks for maintaining the thread that never dies!
I know of MS tanks that are 20 years old and still growing plants well. It seems potassium is the limiting nutrient. Dosing it after water changes seems to work well for me.
 

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Ok. I began the process a few days ago. I wasn't thinking about pollen/seeds falling when I started, but that's whats happening now. Will this ruin my soil? I'm only on the first drying cycle.

Doing this indoors is just not possible for me. If the pollen is a problem, can I fill the tank when the soil is ready, then fill with water and drain it a few times to remove it or something? Any suggestions would be appreciated! Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #354 ·
The same thing has happened to me and the pollen caused no problems.
Agreed. Just skim off what you can. If you do the sifting of the soil when it's done it gets out any big chunks of sticks, leaves, etc... that are left.
 

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I registered here since I saw this to be a very intersting topic.

My tank has a footprint of 29"x11". I want 1" MTS and 1.5" cap.

I've got a few questions for Aaron or anyone knowledgable about MTS. Some may seem stupid/trivial but I just want to be sure.

1. Approximately how much unmineralized topsoil should I need? I would appreciate it if you could answer in lbs. I live in the tropical areas of Asia and we have a fairly big backyard and a couple of compost mounds(not pits) where we throw away biodegradable kitchen wastes(fruits, veggies) and leaves. I could use the soil underneath the compost, right?

2. Can I use river sand as my cap? Please give me an estimate(also in lbs) of the amount i need for capping and bordering.

3. What is the average particle size of the 3M colorquartz you used?

4. Can I soak the soil in a bucket instead of a rectangular container?

5. I do not have any dolomite source so can I use crushed corals instead?

6. When planting, do I stick the plants down to the MTS or just the gravel?

7. You said something about dosing K after every water change. Is this KCL like the one sprinkled on the tank bottom or is this something else?
 

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Discussion Starter · #357 ·
I registered here since I saw this to be a very intersting topic.

My tank has a footprint of 29"x11". I want 1" MTS and 1.5" cap.

I've got a few questions for Aaron or anyone knowledgable about MTS. Some may seem stupid/trivial but I just want to be sure.

1. Approximately how much unmineralized topsoil should I need? I would appreciate it if you could answer in lbs. I live in the tropical areas of Asia and we have a fairly big backyard and a couple of compost mounds(not pits) where we throw away biodegradable kitchen wastes(fruits, veggies) and leaves. I could use the soil underneath the compost, right?

2. Can I use river sand as my cap? Please give me an estimate(also in lbs) of the amount i need for capping and bordering.

3. What is the average particle size of the 3M colorquartz you used?

4. Can I soak the soil in a bucket instead of a rectangular container?

5. I do not have any dolomite source so can I use crushed corals instead?

6. When planting, do I stick the plants down to the MTS or just the gravel?

7. You said something about dosing K after every water change. Is this KCL like the one sprinkled on the tank bottom or is this something else?
I'm glad you liked the article. You don't need to use deeper than 3/4" layer of MTS.

1. It depends a little bit. Don't use the compost. You want dirt like in your yard. Probably about 20 lbs. is enough to start.

2. Yes, you can use river sand. Probably another 20 lbs.

3. The 3M sand I used (it's no longer made here :() was about 2-3mm in diameter.

4. yes

5. just go without it

6. plant them as they should be planted. Rosette plants should be planted with roots only the substrate. Stems should be planted as far down as you like.

7. No, dose K2SO4 (potassium sulfate) in the water. Do not do this until you notice the plants begin to need it. They will start to look pale after several months.
 

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Thanks a LOT!

Now I'll be on my way to switching from plain crap gravel to MTS.

Another question:
Will MTS go together well with Diana Walstad's method?
 
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