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Am fairly experienced with NPT and am setting up a new tank.
Is fine silt an good substrate for aquatic plant growth?

We moved in the last two years and before the move I had a very successful NPT with yard dirt but that was Vermont dirt. Now I live in Maine. Since the move our yard dirt that is very silty. This soil is typical of the region and considered not very good for agriculture tho' it does support a decent lawn. Did a test on it using 1000 ml graduated cylinder and it settled out at 5% sand, 5% clay and 90% fine silt or something like that.
I used a very similar soil from similar location in a remarkably unsuccessful 20 gal NPT; the plants grew decently for about 6 months and then got slower and slower, and BBA started to take over. Turbidity was not a significant problem.

Am considering making a mix like 70% silt, 20% MG Organic Choice and and 10% sand for the new tank. (Will cap with gravel of course) Really want to get substrate right; awfully hard to modify once the tank is up and running!

What do you think? Thanks

Mary
 

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Do you live on flood plain? Typically silty soils are found in flood plains, ancient lake beds, and the like. If so, your soil could already be 'mineralized' and could be fine as is. Or go ahead and amend it slightly with the soil and have a slightly longer lasting soil base. Either way you should be able to have a very nice npt.

I have used bagged topsoil, worm castings, mineralized soil, Red River Valley black dirt (read VERY fine, silty, and fertile), and forest dirt in my npt's and I have had good success with each of these sources of soil.

Hope this helps a bit and good luck.

stu
 

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Sounds good to me, but I might try to find some clay loam or other clay soil somewhere to mix in (for nutrient load and storage). That might give you longer life with it than the 6 months you had in the 20. I'm getting ready to redo a 10 gal for the same reason. The tank was doing GREAT for about 1 year...and then suddenly it's as though the system is completely devoid of nutrition...even with overfeeding the fish.
 
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