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Discussion Starter · #441 ·
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.
I'm glad you're going to give it a try. I think you'll be really pleased with the results. Also, welcome to APC. :)
 

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Hello all,

I want to make my first planted tank with soil, and I like this method a lot, but I'm thinking to make it with a twist, and I would appreciate your opinions: I want to add Laterite instead of clay, and also add some Vermiculite.

I also have a question regarding the clay and or slit present in my soil, I have rinsed the soil serveral times, but it seems to me that the slit is also behaving like a coloidal and it never settles down, so the water is always black-brown, and is a large % of the soil I got. I can feel the sand in the botom and is spongy like Aaron said. Should I keep rinsing it?

Thank you,
have a nice week :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #443 ·
Hello all,

I want to make my first planted tank with soil, and I like this method a lot, but I'm thinking to make it with a twist, and I would appreciate your opinions: I want to add Laterite instead of clay, and also add some Vermiculite.

I also have a question regarding the clay and or slit present in my soil, I have rinsed the soil serveral times, but it seems to me that the slit is also behaving like a coloidal and it never settles down, so the water is always black-brown, and is a large % of the soil I got. I can feel the sand in the botom and is spongy like Aaron said. Should I keep rinsing it?

Thank you,
have a nice week :)
Laterite is fine to use instead of clay. It is clay. I would crush it up into a powder and mix it dry with the soil. Isn't vermiculite those little white balls in potting soil? They would get uprooted and float all over your tank. I would leave that out.

It sounds like your soil is ready. Once you add the clay you won't have that issue and also remember you'll be capping the soil with a much coarser gravel or sand.
 

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I just wanted to mention that I followed Aaron's method and finally setup the tank a week ago.
I can't comment on the growth of my plants because for totally different reasons I had a set back and they melted(growing back slowly) and I am also still waiting for the proper lights to arrive so currently just keeping the plants alive with minimal light. But for a start after setting up the tank and filling it up I got 0 clouding, and the water came out crystal clear. Mineralizing the soil certainly has it's good sides. I even moved a few plants afterwards and it didn't manage to make a mess at all. It's like the soil isn't there. And even with my current 0.3W light there's new growth already. I can't wait to see what happens when I get a bit more light in there.
My water stats(Gh, Kh ) didn't change much at all so far either so the dolomite is staying put at the bottom I guess. And I've got no ammonia or nitrIte at all readable but my filters were cycled prior to putting the soil in.

Good luck to all. I loved the challenge and don't regret the hard work prior.
 

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Hi. I love this thread! I see that you can use LAterite instead of clay, which I like because I stock that in my store... I'm new to planted tanks, but have been keeping fresh and reef tanks for 15+ years. So, I have bare topsoil that is rinse/drying as we speak and when it comes time to make the "mud", what can be used in place of Dolomite?? I am doing up a 125 for Discus or Angels (haven't decided yet) and want to get the tank filled within the next 2 weeks. Thanks!
 

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Hey Aaron thanks for the awesome thread. I'm getting ready to set up my first planted tank and plant to use the MTS process for it. One question I have is about the soil. Instead of using topsoil I was wondering if I could use the silty mud stuff thats on the bottom of the lake at my cabin. The plants in the lake go crazy in the stuff and grow big and fast. Could I take some of this stuff and mineralize it.
 

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Hello, Aaron. Thanks so much for this ultra-helpful post. I'm a newbie trying to be extra careful. I'm getting ready to set up my first planted tank and have a few questions:

I'm not so good at eyeballing things. Would it be best to measure ratio of clay to topsoil by weight (scale) or by volume (measuring cup)?

Is it okay to mix topsoil with leaf mold (product description says: produced by a very slow breakdown of leaves from trees and shrubs into a rich humus....long slow composting period...screened to ensure consistency and size-1" 3/8" This product is rich in beneficial microbes....)? Since its already humus would it cause algae blooms, or would it bind to minerals and make them more available to plants?

Do you think this substrate would work with a dry start method?

Thanks again for providing this information!
 

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Discussion Starter · #449 ·
What size tank are you setting up s2b?

It's okay to add a very light dusting of the leaf mold to get bacteria started, but in general organics are what we're trying to minimize with this process.

Yes, it can be used to do a dry start method.
 

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I'm setting up a 6.5 gallon long for a betta and a few shrimp or mini corycats. I want to do a SE Asia biotope (I know, corys are South American, but I love them so!) with cryptocorynes and prevent melt.

In chapter VIII, Diana wrote that "Investigators have repeatedly shown that aquatic plants grow much better in sediment or soil than in sand [31,32]. Aquatic botanists may use fine-textured inorganic sediments containing mostly silt [27] or terrestrial soils rich in organic matter [28]. For example, 6 species of submerged plants grew 2 to 7 times faster in a mixture of sand, horticultural soil and leaf mould (equal parts) than in pure sand [28]. And one investigator [33] used a 3 parts soil and 1 part leaf mould to successfully grow 'difficult' Cryptocoryne."

I wondered why, so I did a little research and learned that one of the causes of melt is the sudden decrease of CO2 when transitioning from emersed to submerged, and leaf mold will release lots of CO2 into the water.

I'm considering mixing 1 part leaf mold with 3 parts mineralized cheap topsoil in Sean Murphy's soil method. Then I'd do a DSM with a gradual increase in water level over a month or two so the crypts have time to get used to pulling CO2 from the substrate.

Does this sound crazy? It's all theoretical based on bits of information from different sources. I don't plan to set up the tank until mid/late July so there's plenty of time to change or tweak it.

VAL
 

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I'm setting up a 6.5 gallon long for a betta and a few shrimp or mini corycats. I want to do a SE Asia biotope (I know, corys are South American, but I love them so!) with cryptocorynes and prevent melt....

I'm considering mixing 1 part leaf mold with 3 parts mineralized cheap topsoil in Sean Murphy's soil method. Then I'd do a DSM with a gradual increase in water level over a month or two so the crypts have time to get used to pulling CO2 from the substrate.

Does this sound crazy? It's all theoretical based on bits of information from different sources. I don't plan to set up the tank until mid/late July so there's plenty of time to change or tweak it.

VAL
Yes, i do think this sounds crazy. The reason i say that is because the 'difficult' crypts mentioned in the literature are some of the more uncommon 'black water' crypts. These crypts have adapted to growing in more unusual environments and need a more specific substrate (usually composed of oak leaf mold). So unless you're going to go find a source of some of these more difficult (and rare / expensive / both) crypts, there's really no reason to freak out about crypt melt.

Furthermore, most of the crypts commonly available are grown submerged in other people's aquariums. Therefore, there should be no reason to do a DSM to convert the submersed crypt to an emersed crypt, only to then submerge it again. My experience with crypts is that melt just happens (rarely) and with a soil substrate, they usually grow well (sometimes too well - i've never had C. lutea stay small in a soil substrate, for example). I've only had issues w/ some of the more unusual species and i would blame their demise more on bad planted aquarium practices rather than some mysterious crypt melt.
 

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What a relief! I'm glad I won't have to do a DSM.

The leaf mold I'm considering is completely broken down into stable (or passive) humus. I read that fully composted humus consists of humic acids and humins, which are so highly insoluble, or so tightly bound to clay particles and hydroxides, that they cannot be penetrated by microbes and are greatly resistant to further decomposition. Thus stable humus adds few readily available nutrients to the soil, but plays an essential part in providing its physical structure, and encourages the formation of good soil structure. -- The incorporation of oxygen into large organic molecular assemblages generates many active, negatively charged sites that bind to positively charged ions (cations) of plant nutrients, making them more available to the plant by way of ion exchange.

It seems that many new Walstad tanks need a few months for the soil, even mineralized soil, to completely break down. Am I correct in thinking that the fully broken down soil in an established tank is actually stable humus, as described above?

VAL
 

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Yes. Humus formed in a terrestrial oxygen-rich environment is different than humus formed in an aquatic oxygen-poor environment. But both probably are functionally similar in an aquarium.
 

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Oh, that's great! I found a place in Houston where I can get long, slow- composted, finely ground leaf mold. I'm going to try mixing a bit with mineralized soil. Thanks so much to everyone for your help!
 

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I have used Scotts brand top soil and half of the dirt is not sinking.... is this normal? Is this possible peat moss that was put in the topsoil?
 

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I plan on using this soil that I am using Aaron Talbots recipe for to put in my 35 gallon, 3 sq ft. "growing tank", then once the plants are Mature enough I can pot them, and properly secure them to put in my future African Cichlid Tank.... Has anyone here had any problems with this in the past?
 

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Hello,

I had the same problem a while ago, inverts kept dying, etc etc.

I have setup a mineralized aquarium (http://translate.google.com/transla...riofilia.net/forum/index.php?showtopic=154475) about a year ago, and only added any inverts after 6 months of maturation.

I am convinced that some ageing of the substrate is needed.

Good luck.
I just set up my tank using the potash, and I'm having the same problem with my shrimp... they've all died, and I got some new ghost shrimp that have all died as well, within 24-48 hours. If I wait to add shrimp until 3-6 months, I guess that means no more dosing with the potash in the future? What should be used then, for the plants?
 

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Hi Aaron,
Well I have been mineralizing 3 large bags of the suggested MGOC. It is my understanding that once mineralized I can add a product like Oil Dri which has a high CEC in lieu of the other products listed. I have had an all oil dri tank in the past and have an extra bag on hand. I am not sure of the amount, percentage wise, that I would mix in before capping, would it be 10% or less? Also I have never used a capping material & thought I would check out white pool filter sand. Is the cap approximately 1.5 inches thick? I will try this on a 55 gallon tank & if I like it I expect to try on other tanks (65, 40, 29) . Thanks for spearheading this thread
 

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Discussion Starter · #460 ·
Does the oil dry crumble easily? You might add it as a powder to substitute for the clay.

The dolomite isn't super necessary, but the KCL will help a good bit to get things going with no dosing at all for 3 months or so.

I've never used the Miracle Grow soil. I've always just used the cheapest top soil at the big box stores.

Why not use the oil dry as a capping material? Pool filter sand works also, but it's an algae magnet if you plan to use higher lighting.

The cap should be at least 1.5" thick. I usually make it thicker in the back to give a feeling of depth to the tank.
 
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