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I set up a 10 gallon 2 weeks ago with an inch of Miracle Grow Natures Care Garden Soil and capped it with an inch and a half of 2-3mm gravel. I air dried the soil first and sifted it through a window screen before wetting, capping, and filling the tank. I have kept a heater and air stone running and covered the whole thing with black plastic to block light. No stirring…just soaking the soil and doing a weekly water change. This is the second water change so far. Lots of tannins!!! I’m thinking a couple more weeks before I add plants.
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Hello,
I wanted to ask if straight Flourite isn't a suitable substrate for the Diana Walstad method? I see some mentions of Flourite caps over soil but didn't find anyone reporting solely using Flourite. Many thanks in advance for your replies.
 

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Discussion Starter · #644 ·
Hello,
I wanted to ask if straight Flourite isn't a suitable substrate for the Diana Walstad method? I see some mentions of Flourite caps over soil but didn't find anyone reporting solely using Flourite. Many thanks in advance for your replies.
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.
 

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Michael, may I ask you a further question? I got D. Walstad's book, have read it all since my first question (would have been best to do before asking) and understand the need for real soil now and the necessity of keeping the substrate layer shallow enough to prevent anaerobic conditions.
I am wondering however if one might want it slightly deeper than 1" if growing mostly Echinodorus spp. due to their vigorous roots, in order to give them sufficient? I am planning a 20g aquarium, the height is 15-1/2" I am doing a bottle test with my native topsoil from the pasture behind my house.
Further, does mixing Flourite give one some leeway to deepen the substrate by aerating the soil, or is that basically just diluting the soil and therefore of little use?
Thirdly, do you guys recommend a particular water test for pH and hardness measurements?
Thank you very much in advance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #647 ·
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!
 

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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!
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.
 

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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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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.
Great idea. I have a few 2-3 gallon jars I can test it out in. In the past, even the messiest of soils tended to have no cloudiness when I capped it with sand. Will be a good time to experiment to see if it's still the case with BuildASoil.

Does anyone know if the soil composition is good or will it cause issues?
 

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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.
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.
 

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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.
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!
 
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