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Wonderful thread. I've come back to it now that I've been up all night reading EPA, a surprisingly fast read once you've spent some time on this forum.

Lately, I find that I keep coming back to the subject of clay. Diana's summer tubs are adorable and I find the look of a glass tank filled with clay pots aesthetically pleasing. But, I wonder at all that organic soil filling a 3" or 4" pot? Aren't you asking for anaerobic trouble? And, wouldn't some sort of clay, if merely for its cation-binding capacity, be the safer choice?
 

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Not after the roots get going.

I like clay though.
That makes sense in conjunction with the bottom of an entire tank. But, a single pot often has room for only one plant. If that plant happens to be a slow-growing anubias, wouldn't it still be asking for trouble? Or, what if it's just a bulb? No chance for roots to catch up there.
 

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If you have little anubias, it's good to glue them to something so they don't float away. In nature, you find them attached to the side of rocks by streams and such.
I don't really remember what kept them from floating in the early days. I think because I only saw them from the top down that it never really bothered me that due to their rhizome they were mostly untethered from my very shallow substrate. But, in their mature state they clearly have intricate root systems. They thrive on mulm, so that's an important niche in my bowl I'm not going to disturb. But, I could definitely see starting a new one in a pot.
 

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Hi Everyone,

I am just trying to find some good replacement of STS here in Australia as it is not available here. I tried searching in forums but couldn't find much details. Most of the Kitty litter I came across are made from 100% sodium bentonite. I am not sure if this can break down over time and release high quantity of sodium in tank. I can find another product called Fat-Sorb which is 100% Attapulgite. Some other products I found contains Zeolite.

I just want to check if any of these products can be used in tank safely or they can cause problems.

Thanks in advance
Safe T Sorb (STS) is made from fired or baked clay, montmorillinite clay specifically. So, you may want to widen your search terms when looking for it. I noticed on another thread that some posters also swear by something called, Oil Dri. I'm pretty sure there are no industry-wide manufacturing standards applicable to these off-label uses (like as aquarium substrates) so, it probably pays to try a little bit in a jar before introducing them to an established tank. And, yes, my understanding is that all clay products - unless they are porcelain or something of that grade - will crumble over time. I'm already thinking my 50 lb. bag may be a good investment after all!
 

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Thanks for replying.

If STS made from fired or baked clay, can we use crushed brick or terracotta pot and that can work and provide required CEC. I found some info in forum on people using brick in substrate.

I found study about the brick particles in urban soil and it says "The CEC of bricks is grain size dependent and reaches a maximum of 6 cmolc kg−1 for particles smaller than 0.063 mm". Below is the link for study.



Thanks
I guess my threshold question would be whether this stuff is commercially available or are they suggesting that you go out and clean, sieve and sort your own jar full of brick particles from a dump or vacant lot somewhere? I can't get past the practicality problem.
 

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Thanks for the articulate response! The appeal of such big plants in a small tank is that with relatively few plants you can have a full well planted tank that doesn’t break the bank and looks fantastic! I don’t mind clipping a few big leaves here and there. That kind of attention sounds less demanding than trimming giant hedges of pearl weed or hornwort actually. The whole idea of a tank achieving a balance point where for the most part the fish and plants prop up their little ecosystem is the cool part of El Natural that got me hooked. I don’t mind adding a little here and there to keep it going…that happens in nature when leaves blow into streams and ponds and insects land on the surface and get eaten. As an aquarium keeper though I am the rain, and the wind.
Be aware that in one crucial sense, lotuses may not be the conventional choice to start a Walstad tank. And, that is because for at least the first month of their existence - if you are growing them from a bulb - they aren't really great water purifiers. Until they reach maturity most of their nutrients come from the bulb itself. To achieve that steady state balance between fish waste and plants, you will need to supplement the lotuses with some other purifiers. Think floaters. Think lucky bamboo. Plants that won't directly compete with a lotus once they get fully grown.

Of course, you can always purchase a fully grown lotus. But, they're way more expensive than the bulbs.
 

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Hi everyone. Long time lurker first time poster. I'm starting my 5th soil tank, this being the largest yet (55g) and I was hoping I could get some advice. Would BuildaSoil 3.0 potting soil capped with sand work? BuildASoil Potting Soil Version 3.0. Would I also need to mix in STS?
I would experiment with a small jar of water and an inch of BuildASoil and whatever else you would like to add to it. STS is just baked clay and inert as far as organic material is concerned. I would want to know how cloudy it gets in a small jar and how long it takes to disappear on its own before I tried scaling it up in a 55 gallon tank.
 

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Dear aquatic lovers, could you please advise if the following soil is suitable for a Walstad tank: Terra Aquatica Organic soil light-mix 50L.

The description of the soil is following: T.A Organic soil light-mix - Terra Aquatica


Terra Aquatica Organic Soil Light-Mix 50 l, organic substrate
Light soil mixture for indoor and outdoor cultivation with low EC. Organic Soil Light-Mix with perlite from Terra Aquatica (ex GHE) does not contain any peat, but a mixture of organic compost and wood and coconut fiber of premium quality. It promotes mutual symbiosis between roots and beneficial fungi (Trichoderma Harzianum).

It is known that peat extraction releases carbon into the atmosphere, in addition to devastating rare communities of various organisms. That's why Terra Aquatica has taken a more natural path.

View attachment 75195

Advantages of the organic substrate Terra Aquatica Soil Light-Mix
  • suitable for beginners and commercial growers
  • ideal combination with a range of Terra Aquatica Organic fertilizers
  • perfectly airy thanks to the added perlite
  • with a minimum carbon content
  • without a negative impact on the environment in the form of peat extraction
  • ideally retains water and oxygen
  • minimum shrinkage between waterings
My concern is that the soil contains coconut fiber, perlite, and wood particles. Is it an issue? Thank you in advance.
I don't see a problem with wood particles unless they are trapped with no access to oxygen or with coconut fiber. But perlite will constantly float to the top of water and is a pain to get rid of.
 
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