Understood, thank you very much.Welcome to APC!
The answer is no. Flourite has high CEC but only traces of micronutrients. And it does not produce any natural CO2, so it does not provide two of the major functions of soil. Flourtie is a good cap, and is suitable for mixing with a highly fertile organic soil in the same way SafeTSorb is.
Thank you. I really appreciate this forum and your tireless answering of questions. I've been lucky to pick up a collection of Metaframe aquariums and have decided to use the 5 gallon as a first trial, before embarking on my 20 gallons, as it will be inexpensive and easy to tear down if I make mistakes.Good questions!
I have accidentally set up tanks with soil depth as much as 1.5" and they were OK. But I don't recommend it. If you want the total substrate to be deeper than 1" of soil and 1" of cap, use a cap that is a little deeper with larger particles but keep the soil at 1". Cap particle size should still be 2-4 mm, just don't use anything smaller.
Mixing Flourite with soil is good if your soil is higly organic or very fertile. It reduces the organic matter percentage and fertility. But it doesn't help much with anaerobic conditions. If the jar test on your natural topsoil turns out well, use that without mixing it with anything else.
I'll let someone else recommend a water test. My tap water is very consistent, and after testing the first few tanks I don't bother anymore. I'm lucky!
Yes, nothing beats actually doing it. I am just about to set up my 20, having found lots of plants in my swimming hole I can harvest for it. Sure beats paying!I did a 5 gallon for my first NPT and learned a few things that I really wouldn’t have wanted to on a larger one. Scaled up to a 10 for my next tank and with what I learned have a tank I’m happy with. There are lots of variables from how a soil is going to behave to the way light reaches different areas of the tank that I didn’t consider when I set up the 5. I’m feeling confident enough now though that I’m seeing maybe a 40 or 50 in the future.