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Discussion Starter · #581 ·
Welcome to APC!

This is a highly organic soil mix with added fertilizer, similar to the often used Miracle Grow. You can treat it in the same way. There are two basic approaches. The first is to use it straight from the bag, and be prepared to do large water changes in the first weeks or months. The second is to prepare the soil first, either by soak-and-drain or by mineralizing it. This will reduce the need for water changes. This soil may lower the pH of the water, but this is rarely a problem.

Good luck and show us your tank!
 

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So, I've started the soak-and-drain process described both here and in the Aaron Talbot's topic on mineralization, but I've run into a problem.
Here you mentioned to add a substrate with a high CEC, but I'm having a hard time finding the ones you mentioned here. Would clay have the same effect? I've read in the other thread that
bentonite clay (which should be a type of montmorillonite clay) has a stronger CEC than normal clay, and I know where to buy it. Would that be ok? If not, do you know any alternatives or any other names to refer them to?

Also in that same thread, they mentioned to sprinkle some Dolomite and Muriate of Potash (whatever it is) on the glass, before adding the mineralized soil. How important is that? I could get the Dolomite but I have no idea on where to find the Potash thing.
 

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Potash is soluble potassium. I wouldn't overthink it or spend too much money on it. Any affordable clay is fine. The soil itself has high CEC. You can cap the soil with large grain sand or small gravel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #585 ·
Mistergreen is right, you can skip the potash without problems. Dolomite is a source of calcium and raises the pH slightly. It is useful if you have very soft water, but not necessary. After the tank is set up if you find the water lacks calcium, there are easy ways to fix it.

And don't worry much about the clay. Any type of clay is OK as long as it doesn't have any additive. If you can find some natural clay soil from a garden where no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides are used, that will work just as well.

The beauty of the Walstad method is that it is simple.
 

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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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Aren't you asking for anaerobic trouble?
Not after the roots get going.
You'll need as many plants as you can get when you start the tank. When you think you have enough...add more! Some will die off (that's just the way it is) and the rest will do their thing. You want lots of rooted plants to help aerate the soil. And some floaters too to help absorb excess nutrients. If you don't have a lot of plants to start with you're inviting algae to take hold in your tank, along with the possibility of anaerobic conditions developing in your soil which you want to avoid.
I like clay though.
 

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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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Maybe we shouldn't pot Anubias and bulbs. I haven't given it much thought. It was a revelation to me that roots aerate soil.
 

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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.
 

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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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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?
From Ms. Walstad's Small Scale Guppy Breeding article: "For potting plants, I only use a clay garden soil. (Potting and organic soils can become severely anaerobic when confined in a pot.) I cover the soil with a little aquarium gravel." Article is linked on this page: Planted Aquariums
 

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Hello! First post. My daughter and I have been reading Ms. Walstad's book, lurking on this forum, and watching a bunch of YouTube videos and we think we're about ready to take the plunge into our first planted tank!

Of course, we're stuck on the question of what soil to use. There is a garden center nearby that has a number of options available, and they provide detailed descriptions on their website. At this point, I think the best option is one they call "Potting Mix"...it clocks in at around 20% organic matter, composed of "Sandy Loam, 5/16" Horticulture Lava, Coarse Sand, Organic Diestel Compost, Organic Garden Compost, 1/4"-Fir Bark, Ligna Peat, and Organic Feather Meal".

Can someone take a look this (their provided soil analysis) and let me know if this would be a good choice:

https://store.lyngsogarden.com/inet/storefront/getpdf.php?recid=278

Thank you!
 

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No guarantees, but I don't see why it wouldn't work. I assume that this soil is being sold by a reliable garden center to grow houseplants. The fact that it is only 20% organic matter will lessen its tendency to go anaerobic. (Some potting soils are over 60% organic matter.)
 
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