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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys,

Im an absolute beginner in setting up a npt, and i am currently having issues.
My tank:
6 gallon nanocube
Cheap Lowes topsoil
Crushed eggshells
Gravel from petco

I put in 1.5 inch of topsoil, and 2 in of gravel.
I carefully put in water and the water quality seems great.
30 min later, there was a white cloud but it wasnt that bad.
This morning the water was totally reddish yellow.

I know that soil leaches, but what was your experience with leaching soil, and on average how many timew did you have to change the water in order to stop the leaching?
 

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1.5 inch of soil is on the high side. Most time it's around 1 inch but still ok. 2 inches of substrate is too much. Have it around 1 inch too. For a 6 gallon tank which is small, you are covering up 3.5 inches of vertical space already! I have not experienced any leaching in my setup. Usually, I try to remove as much of the wood chips I find in the soil before putting in the aquarium. Changing the water completely the next day and then increase the duration and do partial until it clears up. You have six gallon and ~20% used by soil/substrate so it's not too bad to change the water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for your advice..

I decided to scrap the soil after i changed the water 3 times in a row...the soil just kept getting muddier..it was a nightmare. I'll be picking up some flourite tomorrow.

I still have a small 2.5 gallon that i am dying to try...this time i'll use a lot less soil and see how it goes.
 

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Where did the soil come from? I've tried using soil from my yard and it has way too much clay in it.
 

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First of all, sorry to hear that you had a bad first experience :( ... I know that I did too when I first tried to set up a tank using soil but after another try or two, it's not that hard.

Question for you: Do you know the pH of your water? I know that I've read that other people have had issue w/ water cloudiness when they have acidic water and inappropriate gravel (I think it was TexGal, but don't quote me on that...). In this case, the water reacted w/ the "gravel" which turned out to be a some sort of carbonate based material (i.e. Acids & Bases react). I wonder if the Eggshell isn't doing the same.

It's actually okay to add lime (and eggshell, i'd bet), but I would add them to the soil sublayer, not on top w/ the gravel.

Also, what type of gravel do you have? I think I once tried a sandy looking gravel like material from either Petco or Petsmart (can't remember which mega-store it was) and i also ended up with cloudy water. Maybe the gravel is the issue?

Another thing: If you are doing a water change and the tank is still getting muddy, maybe the tank wasn't set up properly. I know that I have had problems w/ constantly muddy water when (1) I added the water too fast and the soil layer got disturbed or (2) I didn't have enough gravel and so even slowly adding the water made it get dirty again (to fix this, just add more gravel where it's getting muddy from).

Bottom line is this: Don't give up on the soil based method just because your first attempt didn't work. And fortunately your tanks are really small, making cleaning them up easier than a big tank (although cleaning soil based tanks is never fun.. blah)
 

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My tank leached tannins for a month or so. It was not a porblem i just changed water till it stoped. The fish and plants did not care.
 

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Thanks for your advice..

I decided to scrap the soil after i changed the water 3 times in a row...the soil just kept getting muddier..it was a nightmare. I'll be picking up some flourite tomorrow.

I still have a small 2.5 gallon that i am dying to try...this time i'll use a lot less soil and see how it goes.
Sorry that you're having problems. I would try the Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting Soil. (It doesn't contain the clay particles that are causing your turbidity problems.) Use 1" (or less) and then 1" of gravel. I wouldn't use Fluorite for an NPT. It doesn't have any organic matter, and thus, won't provide any natural CO2 for plants.
 

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I had the same experience but i then made mineralized soil and it doesnt make the water yellow/brown.

Here's the link on how to make your top soil mineralized:

http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/library/52554-how-mineralized-soil-substrate-aaron-talbot.html

Im thinking its the wood chips that they include in the soil that leaches. Maybe if you add water in it and stirr it up and take out the floating wood bits it will do without going thru the whole mineralization proccess! (theory)
 

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Sorry that you're having problems. I would try the Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting Soil. (It doesn't contain the clay particles that are causing your turbidity problems.) Use 1" (or less) and then 1" of gravel. I wouldn't use Fluorite for an NPT. It doesn't have any organic matter, and thus, won't provide any natural CO2 for plants.
Oh, wow, Walmart here I come. I hope they carry that.

That is why I worship you, Ms. Walstad. I wanted to have a tank with water and plants in it almost as long as I wanted fish. That's about 40 years for plants, 45 for fish. It wasn't til I wandered across your book in Amazon by chance this last winter that I knew I could do it. Back home in NY the water was so hard I had to clean big chunks of lime deposit rocks out of my water heater every 6 months or lose another element. Cost a fortune to keep fish back then because of that problem so it never happened. But out here in WI the water is just made for freshwater fish. But I don't trust my garden dirt for a tank and don't want to buy another 50# of top soil either. It works ok but I wanted something better and easier for a 10 gal. nursery tank to play with. (Getting that topsoil would be real hard to do in cold weather months. This far north garden centers don't exist except for a few short months. I got mine at the very start of this season and it was frozen solid.) And for hopefully changing more tanks over to planted tanks. Especially if I can find plants that work with big fat fancy goldfish. I'm really good at weekly maintenance on 5 regular fish tanks but I'm bad at remembering how old carbon is. Plants and fish working together is the way to go.

Thank you thank you thank you for being actively interested.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yea I bought this cheap topsoil from Lowes for $1.95.

It had a lot of wood chips, and lil pebbles.

As for the gravel, I used premium river gravel from Petco, and they were rinsed before hand.

I added the eggshells with the soil, and then placed the gravel on top.

I believe when I placed the water in...i also must have deeply disturbed the soil lol. But when i went in for a second water refill, the soil was already really muddy, and thus i could not save it.

I will try the miracle grow potting soil as that seems like a better option. I hope mineralization works as well.

Thanks guys.
 

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I believe when I placed the water in...i also must have deeply disturbed the soil lol. But when i went in for a second water refill, the soil was already really muddy, and thus i could not save it.
That's not really that uncommon a mistake. I had exactly that problem the first few times I set up a soil based aquarium. lol. Trying to salvage a tank that has had the soil layer disturbed like you describe wasn't very successful in my experience. It's definitely better to just start all over by removing the plants, salvaging as much gravel as possible (and then cleaning / rinsing it well) and then completely removing the soil layer and starting over. (Trying to put gravel on top of a salvaged muddy soil layer doesn't work... lol) The only way to get good at it is to keep practicing. :)
 

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Yep, I've done the clay/mud thing.... it is a pretty common difficulty, especially for a first time setup!

I first experienced this LONG ago, back when I was playing with "kitty litter" tanks, which used a deep bed of hardened clay granules (obtainable as Hartz pH 5.5 kitty litter, which was straight Georgia baked clay granules) and slow release fertilizer (Osmocote), "capped" with very fine sand to keep the layers separate. Mmmmm, I'll always remember THAT mess..... I poured water in too quickly, and promptly had kitty litter soup! Fortunately, round two went much more smoothly. Experience is such a valuable thing!

I hope you DO give the Walstad-style NPT setup a second chance! I'm a total convert - these tanks, once settled in, are just wonderful!

-Jane
 

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I find when I make my Walstad tank (see http://theaquariumwiki.com/Walstad on how to set one up ) that I get Ammonium released not Ammonia. I've never 'mineralised' the soil as that would kill off the good bacteria, fungus and viruses!

Any others finding that?

I use plain cheap 'J.Arthur's Bowers - John Innes #3 Soil -based compost' available from any decent Garden shop in the UK.

Pictures of bag
http://www.theaquariumwiki.com/Image:John_Innes_front.jpg
http://www.theaquariumwiki.com/Image:John_Innes_back.jpg
 
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