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Does the oil dry crumble easily? You might add it as a powder to substitute for the clay.

I would be able to that via a hammer :)

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.** then I will find it - Thx

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?
****I had a tank with only oil dri & was looking for a different look. I also found oil dri to be difficult to plant in initially as it takes a while to compact. It also does not hold shape.

Pool filter sand works also, but it's an algae magnet if you plan to use higher lighting.
****Hmmmm... I did not know that. I was planing on this tank being lower maintenance than a high light tank and was going to use a Catalina single bulb T5HO for a 55 gallon. I had a 4 X 55 watt CF which was to much work.

I do not think a single bulb will be to much but frankly do not really know. Can anyone offer additional comments based on experience?

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.
Thanks Aaron - I appreciate your reply & will post pics once I put it together
 

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I bought topsoil and mineralized it following the recipe . After completion it looks and feels like tan/gray sand . Also while wet it really compacts. Should it be like that? thanks
 

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Yes, it should feel sandy like. It sounds like you did it correctly.
 

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instead of using dolomite can i use dry fetilizers?

in the local store where i buy muriate potash they also sell calcium nitrate, looks like little pebbles and they also sell magnesium in powder.
 

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You would be better off using Crushed Coral or Oyster Shells than CaNO3. One of the reasons for the dolomite is the Carbonate component helps neutralize excessive soil acidity. The nitrate will likely leech and can cause algea since it's levels will get very high.
 

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i cant find dolomite in my country. no one know what dolomite is. what about magnesium powder, should i add it to the crush coral? can i use corals from the beach?
 

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i cant find dolomite in my country. no one know what dolomite is. what about magnesium powder, should i add it to the crush coral? can i use corals from the beach?
Just do not use it. It's not absolutely essential for success. Adding crushed coral will raise the pH.
 

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Dolomite is one of the products used in reef tanks to help maintain a high alkalinity level of around 8.3. I cannot see its use in a fresh water substrate especially if your trying to keep the pH fairly neutral.

The other thing I used to use in my planted tanks was red clay. I used to be be able to get it in powdered form and would add it in layers dry when I was setting up the tank. The red clay has a much higher content of cleated iron than standard gray clay.
 

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Do many people use this method for large tanks? I'm starting the plan for my 125 and would love the low maint idea of capped substrate.
Does planting cause issues with disturbing the soil layer?

Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2
 

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Do many people use this method for large tanks? I'm starting the plan for my 125 and would love the low maint idea of capped substrate.
Does planting cause issues with disturbing the soil layer?

Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2
Yes and no.It depends on dept of the layers and how gentle and careful you are in the planting.
 

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I don't mind a thick cap, the black sand sounds good. I have used play/pool sand in tanks, but prefer the black look like eco complete.
Is there any danger in to thick a cap, like circulation to the soil?

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I have run large planted Aquariums in the past. Going back to when I had my store I had 4 75 Gallon tanks in one display area with rainbow and Discus fish primary and a combination of plants which were constantly outgrowing these tanks.

I used commercial substrate mixed 50/50 with for the first 2" of the soil when I set it up. I used both Tetra's substrate as well as Seachems substrate with virtually equal success. The gravel I used for mixing with these substrate as well as the 1" top layer were a combination of fine red flint and a product sold as Black diamond which was supposedly a pot ash by product.

These tanks were on slow supply of CO2. I would add liquid balanced commercial fertilizers on a weekly bases. The positive comments from my customers was unbelievable about these tanks. Some of which were experienced planted aquarium enthusiasts themselves. Because I imported a variety of plants I had some people coming from three different states just for getting a new plant or two that others did not have.

I'm planning on converting my reef to a planted tank now. Going a little more elaborate on the CO2 and lighting than the old 75 gallon tanks but basically using the same principles. This will be a 120 gallon tank however so it is a little larger.
 

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Do many people use this method for large tanks? I'm starting the plan for my 125 and would love the low maint idea of capped substrate.
Does planting cause issues with disturbing the soil layer?

Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2
The largest tank I have set up myself with soil substrate is a 90 gallon. It worked very well, essentially the same techniques as smaller tanks.

With any soil substrate, you don't want to make either the soil or the cap too deep. I usually use 1.5" as a maximum for both. If you want to create more topography, use something inert (stone, tile, bags of gravel) to build up the bottom before you put the soil layer in.
 

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Thanks for the advice, I like the idea of not needing much liquid dosing. 1.5 sounds great to me, when planting do you generally just plant the roots into the cap to prevent disturbing the soil? I'm sure the roots will make their way down on their own.

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I plant with forceps, and insert the plant as deeply as I can into cap and soil. Then if it is a rosette plant, I pull it up so the crown is just below the top of the cap if necessary.
 

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is this soil fully mineralized?

I did the soak/dry process 3 times. should i do it another time?

this is a really close shot of the dirt, im going to try to find a really fine sieve to get the remaining little bits of twigs and wood.

 
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