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Also, the soil I got doesn't smell at all of anything, whether wet or dry and has very gritty texture. I sifted it after the first dry and it's a type of brownish powder like but when wet, a brownish layer settles with a black thinner one on top.
 

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It sounds as though your soil is ready to go.. Do you have a link to the clay you purchased?

If you don't plan to run CO2 or dose liquid carbon I see no need to do so in the beginning and then stop. I would go with the medium lighting scheme. If algae persists even after the tank has matured you might consider lowering the lighting even more.
 

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Aaron I'm sure this has been covered but I can't seem to find many specifics. Quick overview of basics. My tank 75 gallon, 2xt5ho light, topsoil is done mineralizing, will be planting very heavily to start. Water (seems odd, but it is true, we have weird water) 1dGh, 22dKh, 8.2 Ph. I have clay and muriate of potash ready, I'll be capping with turface. No co2 currently. Some people swear you can't grow plants in those water parameters, but many of us have for years, just never done MTS before

Planning on doing about a 1" layer of MTS mud and 2-3" of turface. It'll be a fairly deep substrate but I want plenty of good root growth

Specifically how much muriate of potash do I need for my tank size?

I don't have dolomite. Can't get it. I DO have plenty of spare aragonite, and Epsom salt though. Can those be used as an alternative. And if so, specifically how much would it be smart to start with?

Ready to roll on this in a day or two so I want to make sure all my ducks are in a row. Thanks!
 

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Aaron I'm sure this has been covered but I can't seem to find many specifics. Quick overview of basics. My tank 75 gallon, 2xt5ho light, topsoil is done mineralizing, will be planting very heavily to start. Water (seems odd, but it is true, we have weird water) 1dGh, 22dKh, 8.2 Ph. I have clay and muriate of potash ready, I'll be capping with turface. No co2 currently. Some people swear you can't grow plants in those water parameters, but many of us have for years, just never done MTS before

Planning on doing about a 1" layer of MTS mud and 2-3" of turface. It'll be a fairly deep substrate but I want plenty of good root growth

Specifically how much muriate of potash do I need for my tank size?

I don't have dolomite. Can't get it. I DO have plenty of spare aragonite, and Epsom salt though. Can those be used as an alternative. And if so, specifically how much would it be smart to start with?

Ready to roll on this in a day or two so I want to make sure all my ducks are in a row. Thanks!
With a pH that high just leave out the dolomite.

Sprinkle enough muriate of potash to dust the bottom of the tank, but still be able to see through it quite well as in the picture. I've never really derived a weight / area formula or anything like that.

It sounds like you've got a good plan in place. :)
 

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Hi Aaron, thanks for keeping this great thread going, for years!

I'm new to planted aquariums and have just set up my first planted tank, low-tech Walstad style aquarium, and now I can't stop thinking about the next tank I want to set up. I will be using MTS\Flourite substrate in a hi-tech set up this time around and I've already started the mineralization process on 2 bags of topsoil.

I had a question about substrate depth. I read through this entire thread and there are several references to 1/2" to 1" for the soil and 1-2" for the cap that is recommended, but what is the maximum cap height I can get away with regular Fluorite Black? Will I run into issues with the substrate becoming anaerobic if the cap is over 4-5+"?

I have this "Rolling Hills" aquascape in my head. :D
 

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You should be fine using 4-5" of Flourite if you want to. Keep in mind that some plant's roots don't reach down that far so if you're thinking of rolling hills of Hemianthus callitrichoides you might consider also using a nutrient rich cap like Fluval Stratum or Aquasoil. If you'll be using something like stems or Crypts in the deeper part it should be just fine.
 

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I was thinking of stems and larger rooted plants in the deeper areas but was just wondering about the max height I could get away with. Thanks for the response and the suggestions. Much appreciated!
 

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Hi Aaron. Sorry to bother you again and thanks for your previous help.
I am almost finished mineralizing mine. The weather here is horrible so I had to do it inside.
I was just wondering, does the colour of the mineralized soil matter? The one on your picture looks kind of grey. Mine is like brown silt looking stuff.

I am also having trouble calculating the amount of clay to add since half of the soil or at least certain amount has disappeared after mineralizing and sifting and I've no way of measuring it. I kind of divided it in parts and and I'll add the relevant part in clay to achieve 5-10%. Are there any downfalls of putting slightly more or slightly less clay by accident?

Thanks in advance. Very much appreciated.
 

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Here's a concept when using Turface that you might find useful. As a former reef-keeper, I learned the Ferric Hydroxide was a phosphorous--absorbing material that was impregnated onto an inert medium (like Turface). The key was it had to say moist, because if it dried out, the ferric hydroxide oxidized, and turned into ferric oxide (rust).

Using that property, I created a "rusty Turface", which provided all the benefits of Turface along with those of laterite, without the laterite dust and mess. Here's what I did: Took a 50 lb. bag of Turface and saturated it with a strong solution of Ferric Chloride. Turned it into a reddish mush that had the consistency of oatmeal. Then I added a gallon or two of clear ammonia, turning the ferric chloride-soaked Turface into ferric hydroxide impregnated Turface. I then screened out the (now deep red) Turface, and dried it thoroughly. To make sure I had ferric oxide, I put the Turface in flower pots and baked it in my wood stove.

The end result is a dark red, stable, iron-rich Turface which behaves just like Turface but has the benefit of a darker red color and available root iron in the anaerobic conditions of an aquarium substrated.

This is probably more than you're interested in doing right now, but I thought I'd throw this idea out there as food for thought.

Tanksalot
 

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I'm getting back into planted tanks after a few years break. I set up a MTS tank about 2 weeks ago and I'm having a lot of "burps" from the soil. Is this Hydrogen sulfide bubbling out? Will this eventually work itself out or do I need to start over? Not sure if it's relevant, but I added some Bacter 100 to help jump start bacteria colonies.
I have no fish so I can patiently wait this out if needed.
 

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My understanding is that the bubbles could be due to a number of reasons. One is hydrogen sulfide of course, especially if you put too tick of a soil layer with a thick cap made of too fine particles that don't promote oxygen exchange ,or the plants haven't grown good roots yet to do that job. You may need plants like swords and crypts that develop good root system.
The left over organics in the soil, will also start a fast decomposition, creating excessive organic carbon, but in a low oxygen enviroment such as as a soil layer, this promotes creation of hydrogen sulfide. So theoretically, in time the initial stage of decomposition will decrease, decreasing both the production of organic carbon and hydrogen sulfide and by that time your plants should have grown into the substrate enough to promote more oxygenated conditions to prevent on another hand another dangerous process associated with low organic carbon and low oxygen, such as the conversion of nitrAte back to nitrIte and ammonia for example causing spikes. I suppose you can just poke with something to see if it will come out and whether it has any smell. But some bubbles coming out wouldn't be an immediate danger and should be part of the process.
I wouldn't put any heterotrophic bottled bacteria, because bacteria of this family is responsible for hydrogen sulfide creation so you may make it worse. You need different type of bacteria establishing once more oxygenated conditions are created.

Another possibility would be that the plants are moving oxygen and CO2 up to the surface already.
 

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My soil layer is no more than 1" and I capped with pool filter sand.
I was home most of the day today and didn't see any bubbles while the lights were out. I can't say exactly when the bubbles started, but I noticed them a couple hours after lights came on.
 

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How old is the setup? Any big decomposition and anoxic conditions would take a bit longer to happen, like in many weeks rather than in the beginning of the tank being setup.
It's really impossible to say what type of bubbles they are. See if they come out from certain area of the substrate, where particular plants are, or possibly other decor or all over the place? What happens if you press against the substrate or just poke it with a stick? Does it smell of rotten egg? From what I see, many folks are experiencing the same thing. How bad and how long, depends on the soil and each setup.
 

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My setup is about 3 weeks old. If I poke it, I can get bubbles from all areas, but most of the daily bubbles come from the back and sides where I have stems and crypts. I haven't noticed any smell so I'm not terribly concerned. My ammonia and nitrite levels have come down a lot but not completely gone yet.
 

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If there's no smell I wouldn't worry about it. Hydrogen sulfide pockets would stink badly. Did you wet the soil before you added it? It can take a while to thoroughly soak if you add it dry, cap it and then add water.
 

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I made a nice mud slurry about the consistency of pudding prior to adding to the tank. I just stuck my nose over the water and no bad smell, just your normal fish tank smell. I guess I'll relax and let nature do it's thing in my tank. Thanks.
 

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I'm about to begin my 1st MTS tank. 2nd time planted. I'm going to experiment on a 125 I bought on ebay first, which will be basically walstad with some extra filtration.

The prize for me will be ending up with a 72 bowfront filled with a beautiful jungle of healthy green aquarium plants on a well thought out and interesting landscape, centered in my main living space. My wife and I recentlly took a trip to a special forest and a bunch of these almost blue/purple mountain stones just fell into my truck while we were driving home ! Imagine the luck !
Anyway, I want them to be the centerpiece along with some interesting driftwood. I like the idea of caves and interesting features for the fish to interact with.

Before discovering this thread in my research, I was torn between eco-complete and Flourite black sand. Now I'm torn on them as a cap to Aaron's excellent MTS recipe. Kudos man for the inspiration and knowledge. It's cool how long you've been teaching people to do this. Frankly I feel lucky that I found you guys. I've read this entire thread over the course of 2 weeks and I feel pretty comfortable with the concepts and procedures.

I'm maybe 3 days into the mineralization of my soil and I've been sifting it fairly frequently to continue reducing the organic footprint when I lay it down over the potash and dolomite. I'm shocked how much organic material and pebbles were hiding in what looked dry, like an almost entirely organic-free topsoil. I bought half a cubic yard from a small company nested in the middle of orange county that normally sells to landscaping companies. Since I don't have a truck, I just filled several bins with as much as I could lift into the mdx and brought it home.

I'm looking at an Aquatec regulator, 20lbs CO2 tank, a beautiful dropchecker from greenleafaquariums.com, Fluval 406 w/inline heater and infusion, and recently bought T5HO 24wx4 lighting which currently exists to keep me in shape scrubbing algae on the weekends. I know, turn the lights down. My wife and I like to watch them swim though.

Tank will be totally sanitized before I begin this. Bleach bath, no reused components except a couple of hydor nano powerheads. I want to introduce as few organisms unselected by me as possible. No fish to begin with, they're all going into the walstad tank.

I'm super excited about this and will post again as I have cool experiences with this or have questions for Aaron and the other experts. Thanks again !

-Swordfish
 

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Sounds like a really nice project Swordfish. Be sure to start a journal thread so we can watch it evolve. :)
 

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Hello everyone. I'm in the process of setting up my first planted. It so happens to be a 47 gallon bowfront. I saw this post on how to make mineralized soil substrate on another forum and it sold me. I had done a ton of reading and this one just seemed to me the best to DIY. I love DIY. There is so much satisfaction in it. I want to thank Aaron for the awesome write up. I'll be sure to update on how the soil turns out. It's currently in my driveway drying. I don't know what kind of lighting to use yet or the plants ill have but I do know it will start out low tech.

Again, thanks Aaron for the great write up.
 
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