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Hi all,

I just joined this forum today as it seems it's naturally the place to be for information on planted tanks. I've been more or less following the directions on mineralizing topsoil found on this very site, but with a few tweaks. I just want to make sure I'm not getting myself into any trouble with my 20g-high tank.

First of all, the topsoil I'm using is from Home Depot and I believe the brand is Scotts. I says it's plain topsoil with peat moss added. I'm a little conflicted about this, but am planning on just going ahead with it since I'm already on the 4th cycle of soaking and drying the soil. I see that some people have said to avoid peat moss, yet some actually add it to bring down their pH levels.

I managed to find some dolomite at Vitamin Shoppe but couldn't find any muriate of potash. Instead I bought a salt substitute that is mainly potassium chloride. I've also visited a local art store to get some pottery clay.

My plan is to follow the instructions with the soil, clay, dolomite, and potassium chloride. Then I'm planning on adding a couple pounds of crushed coral to act as a buffer and help harden the water (very soft water here). On top of that will be a layer of black Eco Complete, plus some plain gravel if I need more.

When the substrate is finished I'll be dropping in a large piece of Mopani wood (which I hear lowers pH unfortunately) to which I'll attach some anubias. Around that will be some java fern and then some wisteria. I also have some ludwigia repens, but they haven't been growing too well. I'm hoping this new substrate will do the trick.

By the way I have a T5HO light fixture that holds two 24W bulbs. I only have one of the bulbs in there right now because two seemed to be a bit too much.

I guess the real questions here are:
1. Am I doing anything horribly wrong or should I be more or less on the right track?
2. Will the crushed coral help to counter balance the tendency of lowering the pH by the peat moss and mopani wood? Or am I just creating a disaster?
3. Are there any properties of the Eco Complete that I should be aware of?

Thanks,
Jim
 

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Hi Jim,

Welcome to APC.

The peat added to the soil you are using is counterproductive to the mineralization process, but it can still be used. It might just take a little longer to reach the mineralized state you are seeking. If you're already done 4 cycles it should be getting close at this point.

The dolomite you found is likely not the correct one. There is the mineral dolomite (the one you want) and dolomite lime that is sold in garden stores and as a supplement.

Soft water is actually favorable to most aquatic plants so I would just skip the dolomite step if you can't find the correct one. Most aquarium shops will have it in the marine substrate section.

Potassium chloride is the same as muriate of potash so you should be fine using that.
 

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I have a plastic bin in the basement full of mineralized topsoil, just waiting for setup in two 30 gallon tanks. My question is why add eco-complete to the mineralized? I thought the point was to avoid expensive "manufactured" products. Just wondering if I should consider this too..

Thanks, Mike
 

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I have a plastic bin in the basement full of mineralized topsoil, just waiting for setup in two 30 gallon tanks. My question is why add eco-complete to the mineralized? I thought the point was to avoid expensive "manufactured" products. Just wondering if I should consider this too..

Thanks, Mike
He's not adding Ecocomplete, he's topping the soil with EcoComplete. The idea is to have a nutrient rich substrate. Saving money is a big plus for many though. You can choose to top the soil with whatever you like.
 

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thanks for the clarification, AaronT.

Any thoughts about how coarse or fine the topping soil can be? Will sand work on the fine end? Is pea gravel too coarse?

Thanks, Mike
 

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thanks for the clarification, AaronT.

Any thoughts about how coarse or fine the topping soil can be? Will sand work on the fine end? Is pea gravel too coarse?

Thanks, Mike
I would say that pea gravel is too coarse, not because it will leach topsoil into the water, but because it won't be easy to plant plants in. Pool filter sand works well as a topping, just don't use the ultra fine sands like playsand.
 
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