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How about replacing laterite with red pottery clay? Some time it is even sold in a powder form.

I was wondering where the nitrogen will come from to feed the plant from the current list of ingredients?
Or will it be supplied by fish food and fish wastes?
 

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Discussion Starter · #62 ·
Most humus, especially that prepared on commercial scales, is pretty consistently at a 10:1 ratio of carbon to nitrogen. There is roughly 5% nitrogen in any given bag of humus so it could be said to be nitrogen poor. The reason for this is that too much nitrogen will off gas as ammonia which is nitrogen lost. So when composting (mineralizing) there is a balance that needs to be maintained or you're just wasting nutrients, or more specifically nitrogen.

Staying nitrogen lean is probably the safest bet until we figure out more. However, nitrogen will build over time in these conditions from biological activity, fish waste and fish food. Overloading with nitrogen to only lose it in a cloud of ammonia later sounds too much to me like an invitation to catastrophe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #63 ·
I think I found something more raw and rich in organic acids and humates than the Menefee Humates, with more potential to form fulvic acids, straight leonardite. It looks like a very good substitute or rather it should probably be considered a primary, with the Menefee Humates as the substitute. It appears to be an impressive organic carbon source in and of itself. It's also rather reactive and a rich source of phosphorous and nitrogen.

Let's do this:

1. Laterite 10%
2. Sul-Po-Mag 5% Can be substituted with K-Mag or Min Plus (also known as Rock Dust).
3. Raw Aragonite 5% Can be substituted with regular aragonite.
4. Leonardite 10% Can be substituted with Menefee Humates (first choice) or peat pellets (second choice)
5. Horticultural Carbon 10%
6. Azomite 10% Can be substituted with Min Plus (also known as Rock Dust)
7. Humus 50%

I think it's finished, now :eek:.....
 

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You are much better off with no numbers than meaningless ones. The minute you believe numbers uncritically, that is, without understanding how they're calculated and how well they measure whatever they're supposed to measure, you will generate a breed of employee who will produce numbers and not results. Your data-processing system will then serve not to describe reality but to lie about it.
I've been reading this thread with great interest. One thing I seem to have missed in it, though, is whether the percentages are by volume, weight or something else. It'll be some time before I can re-substrate my tank, but that seems like a handy thing to know for mixing this stuff up.

Thank you, everyone, for the excellent thread!
 

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Discussion Starter · #65 ·
You're most welcome and it was intended to be done by mass, I stated that earlier in the thread because it would be easier to work with because you combine so many disparate materials that any calculation by volume would be a guess at best. If you can make a bunch of it, then fill it up to 1.5 to 2 inches then you could reasonably say that all these components together equals x number of gallons.

Nope, do it by mass for now until we figure out volume. Much easier that way.
 

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As I suspected, I missed the mass. I figured it more or less had to be mass, but I didn't want to assume and ... well, you know. :rolleyes:

Thank you for restating, in any case.


Do you think there would be any issue with storing this mixture once it was made up?

I'm thinking that whatever happens, I'm likely to end up with (a fair bit) more of the ingredients than I'd need for a single tank, so I was contemplating the notion of mixing up as much as I could, and just storing it somewhere in plastic buckets. Logic tells me that the ingredients all, essentially, being dirt, that would be fine, but logic is often just a way to be wrong with confidence, so I figure it's a good idea to ask if anyone has any specific knowledge on the point. :shrug:

I don't know that I'd want to do that, but I'm wondering about it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #67 ·
The only concern I have is that the leonardite would invite some microbial activity but as long as it stays dry, then it can be stored indefinitely. Fulvic acids on their own are shelf stable for very long periods of time, this is most likely true with the leonardite so store away your excess by all means.
 

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Discussion Starter · #69 ·
Even better!
 

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Discussion Starter · #71 ·
Actually, that's the very stuff I was looking at the other night :D! I think it's perfect and exactly what we're looking for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #73 ·
I would feel better with a solid, but it seems this is more accessible.

I did manage to find something by Tera Vita, 85% humic acids, http://www.organicgardengrower.com/leonardite-humic_acids. I believe I would gravitate towards the soluble powder but they want you to call for special pricing. Other than that they have liquid and granules.
 

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Discussion Starter · #75 ·
Ideally, yes if only because it is easier to deal with by mass.
 

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I'm sorry if this has already been addressed, but where are the supplies of phosphorous and nitrogen going to come from in this mix? Seems a very good base of micros and potassium but as the only organic matter being added is humus I can't see where a steady source of N and P would come from.

Additionally, is there a reason all of these soil recipes call for KCl rather than something like glauconite as a potassium source?
 

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I am under the assumption that we will be providing plenty of N and P from fish food, mulm, among other things. Ukamikazu stated earlier that he felt it was safer to stay lean in the N and P department. This is experimental at best and I think its wise for now. I am sure once more people have toyed with this substrate we will see ratios tweaked and possibly new ingredients and/or removed ingredients.
 

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Discussion Starter · #78 ·
I'm sorry if this has already been addressed, but where are the supplies of phosphorous and nitrogen going to come from in this mix? Seems a very good base of micros and potassium but as the only organic matter being added is humus I can't see where a steady source of N and P would come from.

Additionally, is there a reason all of these soil recipes call for KCl rather than something like glauconite as a potassium source?
A more active thread at http://www.aquaticplantenthusiasts.com/substrate/4256-new-recipe-procedure-mineralized-topsoil.html has recorded our experimentation and glauconite is now part of the reformulation. Since then, reading many documents on wetland soils, they are high in organics and in reality can only contain very little P and N because they are wet but because they are wet, P and N are produced almost entirely through biological action.

Have a look at that thread and I'll update this one later tonight.
 

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A more active thread at http://www.aquaticplantenthusiasts.com/substrate/4256-new-recipe-procedure-mineralized-topsoil.html has recorded our experimentation and glauconite is now part of the reformulation. Since then, reading many documents on wetland soils, they are high in organics and in reality can only contain very little P and N because they are wet but because they are wet, P and N are produced almost entirely through biological action.

Have a look at that thread and I'll update this one later tonight.
Thanks for the link that thread is a good read. I think I may be misunderstanding what you mean by humus as to include a humate fraction and a fulvate fraction, as my original contention was that humus is so thoroughly processed that it does little but provide a good bed for the organic processes to continue.

In your research have you come across any plants that grow full submersed and have a nitrogen fixing capacity? It seems like a system like this would need to draw more nitrogen in through N2 fixing in order to be able to replace the nitrogen lost to a completed cycle. Or do you intend to incorporate an aquaponic portion using legumes or some other nitrogen fixing plant?
 

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Discussion Starter · #80 ·
Thanks for the link that thread is a good read. I think I may be misunderstanding what you mean by humus as to include a humate fraction and a fulvate fraction, as my original contention was that humus is so thoroughly processed that it does little but provide a good bed for the organic processes to continue.

In your research have you come across any plants that grow full submersed and have a nitrogen fixing capacity? It seems like a system like this would need to draw more nitrogen in through N2 fixing in order to be able to replace the nitrogen lost to a completed cycle. Or do you intend to incorporate an aquaponic portion using legumes or some other nitrogen fixing plant?
That I know of, there is no such aquatic plant that can do that. If there is, I'd be happy just to possess it.

The humus itself is a mere a sink for nutrients and is to host the very biological activity I'm describing and thus promote. I also comes with a few nutrients, though not many, can serve as an alternate, bio-available carbon source and triggers favorable hormonal responses from plants.

The same activity that will eventually create P and N. This ought to be easy after a tank is established in this fashion given the fact that it is a closed system and we do tend to overfeed and not vacuum our substrates hence my insistence on a capping material with a very high CEC. You hold N and P in the substrate from food and poop and the necessary bacterial activity will release it into a useful form provided you can meet or exceed chemical oxygen demand. This can be tricky.

There is wisdom in this. If you can PM me a reminder for tonight, I will share some of my source material where wetlands were studied and this material reveals, incredibly enough, that high P and N are actually lethal to wetlands, encouraging the production of some very caustic substances that are also anti-microbial as well as, surprise surprise, trigger massive algae blooms that do throw such habitats into tailspins.

On average, the typical bog receives less than 1 gram per square meter per year of N or P ,astonishingly enough, which is enough to replenish what is in reserve in the soil of the bog. Remember, the plants in that bog are getting what they need from the biological activity in their natural substrate is providing it almost on demand as it reduces all the poop, dead bodies, leaves, etc, which happens constantly, such that adding more throws the system into chaos. A bog is, after all, an organic soup so throwing that little extra in there is a bad thing.

This is what I intend to replicate. A completely biological solution that does not force us to essentially have our tanks teeter tottering on the brink of eutrophication or starvation. This is where I seek to find the balance. Ultimately, the system will be self feeding as long as you feed your fish and do a water change every now and again.

Almost naive the sentiment but I feel strongly that replicating the wetland ecosystem is the way to go and that means establishing several elemental cycles like iron and sulfur and the accompanying microorganisms. Granted, getting enough P and N in for the initial start up is still proving tricky but that's why it's a public discussion. Many minds are better than just one.
 
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