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Compost contain lots of nutrients so mineralizing it would help with excess nutrients. You can add peat to add extra organic without nutrients and increase the CEC property.
 

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........Can I use grey clay usually?
Grey clay could be very high in aluminum or not, and very low in iron, or not. The color isn't a perfect way to tell what metals are in the clay. If the clay was made for artists, it might contain some plastic stuff, which would be harmful to the plants. Ideally it is pure natural clay with ample iron in it.
 

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Grey clay could be very high in aluminum or not, and very low in iron, or not. The color isn't a perfect way to tell what metals are in the clay. If the clay was made for artists, it might contain some plastic stuff, which would be harmful to the plants. Ideally it is pure natural clay with ample iron in it.
Thank you! It's 100 percentage natural clay, and it's usually obtained from rever or near by. I see little grasses grow on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #564 ·
Soak and drain is done to remove excess nutrients, and tannin that might discolor the water. The full mineralization process (wet to dry cycles) breaks down the organic matter into a more fully decomposed and stable state. Adding peat or a high CEC substrate is a way of accomplishing the same thing in a shorter time.

If you have access to a natural clay that supports plant life, it will probably be a good ingredient for the substrate. You don't need very much.
 

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Soak and drain is done to remove excess nutrients, and tannin that might discolor the water. The full mineralization process (wet to dry cycles) breaks down the organic matter into a more fully decomposed and stable state. Adding peat or a high CEC substrate is a way of accomplishing the same thing in a shorter time.

If you have access to a natural clay that supports plant life, it will probably be a good ingredient for the substrate. You don't need very much.
Thank you for answering my questions!
 

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Hello everyone,

I'm new to the aquarium keeping hobby and i would like to start my first Walstad tank

Here in Greece we don't get miracle grow or any other of the suggested mixes and most packed soils do not list ingredients.
So after much searching and asking around i found this soil.
I would like to ask if it is suitable for the Walstad method
 

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Hello everyone,

I'm new to the aquarium keeping hobby and i would like to start my first Walstad tank

Here in Greece we don't get miracle grow or any other of the suggested mixes and most packed soils do not list ingredients.
So after much searching and asking around i found this soil.
I would like to ask if it is suitable for the Walstad method
It has bat guano in it. I would not use it straight out of the bag.

If you can find regular top soil, it would be better, not soil for the garden.
 

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Discussion Starter · #568 ·
As gardeners say, bat guano is really hot! Other than that the soil mix looks reasonable. If this is the most convenient soil for you to use, I definitely recommend three rinse and drain cycles before putting it in the tank.
 

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As gardeners say, bat guano is really hot! Other than that the soil mix looks reasonable. If this is the most convenient soil for you to use, I definitely recommend three rinse and drain cycles before putting it in the tank.
Thank you for your response.

Unfortunately is the only mix i can find that i can be sure it haw no chemicals in it and also does not contain perlite.

Could you please send me a link with proper rinse and drain instructions?
 

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To keep things simple, I would go to a garden store and ask owner or store clerk to recommend a good potting soil that people use to grow houseplants. No need to know what the ingredients are. If the soil supports good growth of houseplants, all the ingredients--whether they are bat guano or goat manure-- should be thoroughly composted/decomposed. Soil should smell "earthy." Perlite is a minor nuisance.

Your other option is to follow Michael's recommendations.
 

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After much searching only online due to lockdown restrictions here in Greece i think i found a suitable solution.

I will try and translate the composition:

"Special natural substrate for cultivation in pots, window boxes and on the ground."
Without any addition of chemical fertilizers

Composition according to manufacturer:

Blonde Peat 40%
Black Peat 10%
Clay(?) 20%
Humus(plant based) 30%
Ph 6-7
Humidity 40%

I hope this does the trick
 

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Discussion Starter · #572 ·
This looks good! No added fertilizers. It may lower the pH of tank water, but this is unlikely to be a problem.
 

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I'd appreciate any thoughts on doing Safe T Sorb (STS) and slow-release ferts with a gravel cap. I like to pull / move the stems and rescape regularly so I'm just trying to figure a way to reduce the mess.
 

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Discussion Starter · #575 ·
I haven't done it, but think it is possible. Do a search on SeattleAquarist's posts for more information about using STS as a stand-alone substrate. He soaks the STS in a fertilizer solution before putting it in the tank.

You would not need to use a gravel cap except for appearance. Over time, some STS will migrate to the surface, especially if you like to rearrange thing often. So you will see a mixture of gravel and STS.

If you try this, please let us know how it works!
 

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Thanks for the leads Michael. I think I've done enough reading now that I'm getting comfortable with this method. I'll update with more info if I go this route.
 

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Miracle Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix (MGOC) is often recommended, and by Diana Walstad herself in her on-line article about small aquaria for shrimp at Shop BTPS. Unlike many other "potting soils", MGOC has a clear list of ingredients and a nutritional analysis on the bag:

50-55% composted bark
Sphagnum peat moss
Pasteurized poultry litter
"organic wetting agent" (whatever that is)

Analysis 0.10-0.05-0.05
total nitrogen 0.10%
available phosphate (P2O2) 0.05%
soluble potash (K2O) 0.05%
". . .feeds up to 2 months. . ."

This tells us several important things. First, this product is 100% organic matter. Remember, natural soils are almost never 100% organic matter-less than 20% is more common. So this soil is going to undergo a lot of decomposition in the aquarium.

Second, it has chicken manure in it, which makes it much more fertile (higher nutrient level) than most other potting mixes. But, these nutrients come from slow-release organic sources, not synthetic inorganic chemicals. Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with synthetic fertilizers, but they behave differently when submerged than organic ones do. This higher fertility is expressed in the analysis (which shows much more nutrients than typical for potting mixes or natural soils) and the last statement, "feeds up to 2 months".

What does MGOC look like when you open the bag? It is dark brown, with a mix of fine particles and some pretty big chunks of not-yet fully decomposed bark. These chunks are a source of concern, for several reasons discussed below. I did a quick test with a ¼" soil sieve, and about 20 to 25% of MGOC will not go through the sieve, even after rubbing it hard with a gloved hand.

MGOC has three major advantages:
1. It is a nationally available product
2. The ingredients and analysis are clearly listed on the bag
3. It is relatively consistent no matter where you buy it. (Many other products vary greatly from one region to another.)

Used straight from the bag, MGOC has four major disadvantages:
1. The big pieces and many of the smaller pieces float, which can make a big mess if your cap is not heavy enough, or if you change your mind and move a plant.
2. The high nutrient content usually causes an ammonia spike in the first month following tank set-up.
3. The partially decomposed bark releases a lot of tannins into the water. This is not usually harmful to fish or plants, but the tea-colored water may look bad to you.
4. Because it is 100% organic matter, if the soil and/or cap is too deep, the soil layer may become very anaerobic. This is bad for many reasons.

Fortunately, there are easy ways to deal with all of these disadvantages.

The simplest ways are a thin soil layer, patience, and water changes. This soil is hot stuff, you do not need much! How deep a soil layer to use depends on size of tank and types of plants, but I would never use more than 1.5". For beginners and small tanks, 1" or less is plenty. Patience is necessary to allow the biological filter to develop properly and absorb the ammonia. Water changes help with that, and also remove the tannins. Eventually the big pieces become saturated with water and no longer float.

The more sophisticated ways to deal with these problems involve processing MGOC in some way before you use it. A quick and effective process is "soak and drain". Put the soil in a big bucket, cover it several inches with water, and stir well. Let it sit over night, then carefully pour off the floaters and the brown water. Fill, stir, and let sit over night again. Repeat the soaking and draining cycle until you see no floaters and the water is reasonably clear, or until you can't wait any longer, LOL. Seriously, three complete cycles is usually enough to make a big difference. This method will result in a loss of total volume of soil of 25-30%, so start with more than you need for the tank.

Another way to process MGOC is to mineralize it. This process is described fully in several great threads in the library forum. Mineralization greatly speeds decay of organic matter into a very stable form called humus. Humus does not release ammonia into the water, and is unlikely to become anaerobic.

And there is one last tip for using MGOC or any other highly organic soil: mix it with an inorganic substrate that has a high cation exchange capacity (CEC). Examples are laterite, Flourite, Turface, plain cat litter (no perfume, antimicrobials, or clumping agents), and Safe-T-Sorb. Remember, natural soil is almost never pure organic matter. Mixing the organic matter with inorganic high CEC substances means that the ammonia and other nutrients produced are held in the substrate where plant roots can use them, but where they will not harm fish. And by reducing the percentage of organic matter, you reduce the likelihood of the soil becoming anaerobic. I like a 50/50 mix. Phil Edwards first gave me this advice, and it has worked well for me.

Let's hear from eveyone else! What kinds of soil have you used in your Walstad tanks, and how well did they work?
Miracle Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix (MGOC) is often recommended, and by Diana Walstad herself in her on-line article about small aquaria for shrimp at Shop BTPS. Unlike many other "potting soils", MGOC has a clear list of ingredients and a nutritional analysis on the bag:

50-55% composted bark
Sphagnum peat moss
Pasteurized poultry litter
"organic wetting agent" (whatever that is)

Analysis 0.10-0.05-0.05
total nitrogen 0.10%
available phosphate (P2O2) 0.05%
soluble potash (K2O) 0.05%
". . .feeds up to 2 months. . ."

This tells us several important things. First, this product is 100% organic matter. Remember, natural soils are almost never 100% organic matter-less than 20% is more common. So this soil is going to undergo a lot of decomposition in the aquarium.

Second, it has chicken manure in it, which makes it much more fertile (higher nutrient level) than most other potting mixes. But, these nutrients come from slow-release organic sources, not synthetic inorganic chemicals. Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with synthetic fertilizers, but they behave differently when submerged than organic ones do. This higher fertility is expressed in the analysis (which shows much more nutrients than typical for potting mixes or natural soils) and the last statement, "feeds up to 2 months".

What does MGOC look like when you open the bag? It is dark brown, with a mix of fine particles and some pretty big chunks of not-yet fully decomposed bark. These chunks are a source of concern, for several reasons discussed below. I did a quick test with a ¼" soil sieve, and about 20 to 25% of MGOC will not go through the sieve, even after rubbing it hard with a gloved hand.

MGOC has three major advantages:
1. It is a nationally available product
2. The ingredients and analysis are clearly listed on the bag
3. It is relatively consistent no matter where you buy it. (Many other products vary greatly from one region to another.)

Used straight from the bag, MGOC has four major disadvantages:
1. The big pieces and many of the smaller pieces float, which can make a big mess if your cap is not heavy enough, or if you change your mind and move a plant.
2. The high nutrient content usually causes an ammonia spike in the first month following tank set-up.
3. The partially decomposed bark releases a lot of tannins into the water. This is not usually harmful to fish or plants, but the tea-colored water may look bad to you.
4. Because it is 100% organic matter, if the soil and/or cap is too deep, the soil layer may become very anaerobic. This is bad for many reasons.

Fortunately, there are easy ways to deal with all of these disadvantages.

The simplest ways are a thin soil layer, patience, and water changes. This soil is hot stuff, you do not need much! How deep a soil layer to use depends on size of tank and types of plants, but I would never use more than 1.5". For beginners and small tanks, 1" or less is plenty. Patience is necessary to allow the biological filter to develop properly and absorb the ammonia. Water changes help with that, and also remove the tannins. Eventually the big pieces become saturated with water and no longer float.

The more sophisticated ways to deal with these problems involve processing MGOC in some way before you use it. A quick and effective process is "soak and drain". Put the soil in a big bucket, cover it several inches with water, and stir well. Let it sit over night, then carefully pour off the floaters and the brown water. Fill, stir, and let sit over night again. Repeat the soaking and draining cycle until you see no floaters and the water is reasonably clear, or until you can't wait any longer, LOL. Seriously, three complete cycles is usually enough to make a big difference. This method will result in a loss of total volume of soil of 25-30%, so start with more than you need for the tank.

Another way to process MGOC is to mineralize it. This process is described fully in several great threads in the library forum. Mineralization greatly speeds decay of organic matter into a very stable form called humus. Humus does not release ammonia into the water, and is unlikely to become anaerobic.

And there is one last tip for using MGOC or any other highly organic soil: mix it with an inorganic substrate that has a high cation exchange capacity (CEC). Examples are laterite, Flourite, Turface, plain cat litter (no perfume, antimicrobials, or clumping agents), and Safe-T-Sorb. Remember, natural soil is almost never pure organic matter. Mixing the organic matter with inorganic high CEC substances means that the ammonia and other nutrients produced are held in the substrate where plant roots can use them, but where they will not harm fish. And by reducing the percentage of organic matter, you reduce the likelihood of the soil becoming anaerobic. I like a 50/50 mix. Phil Edwards first gave me this advice, and it has worked well for me.

Let's hear from eveyone else! What kinds of soil have you used in your Walstad tanks, and how well did they work?
What do you mean by 50/50? I am setting up my first dirted tank and plan on using BDBS as a cap. Should I mix that with something like say Stratum? Or can I just put a very thin layer on top of the soil, then a cap on top of that?
 

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Discussion Starter · #579 ·
Welcome to APC!

When using a 100% organic matter soil, I like to mix the soil half and half with a high cation exchange substrate, like Safe-T-Sorb, Flourite, Turface, or the other products mentioned. This reduces the percentage of organic matter to some more similar to natural topsoil. Please note, when I say "organic" I mean it in the chemical or soil science sense. I am not using the marketing term capital O "Organic".

The soil mix doesn't affect which cap you use.
 

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Hello everyone! I'm trying to set up a NPT but here in Italy I've been having some trouble finding a suitable soil to use, as the ingredients are described generically.
Here's one I found, but I'm not sure if it's okay for plants and fishes. I'll roughly translate it for you, please let me know what you think. Thank you :*


73418

Produced with the use of Hochmoortorf peat (h2-h4, slightly decomposed), vegetable substances from gardening and landscaping (compost from organic waste), vegetable substances from forestry (bark humus, wood fiber) and complex mineral fertilizer (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium).

Organic matter: 28% (FM)
pH: 6.4 (CaCl_2)
Saline content: 1.8g KCl / l
Electrical conductivity: 0.03 dS / m
Dry apperent density: 420 g / l
Total porosity: 87% (v / v)

Bioavailable (soluble) nutrients:
Nitrogen (N) 250 mg / l
Phosphate (P_2O_5) 300 mg / l
Potassium oxide (K_2O) 900mg / l
Magnesium (Mg) 150 mg / l
Sulfur (S) 450 mg / l


Thank you again.
 
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