Advice For Switching To Aquasoil

Richard Jones

New Member
Oct 26, 2020
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4
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Austin,TX
Hi everybody, I'm new (and noob) here, and been seeing less than stellar growth using Flourite Black Sand with Flourish root tabs, so I'm considering changing to UNS Contrasoil Black extra fine. I want to rescape anyway since when I first started this tank it was designed for a single Ranchu, but it morphed into a fully planted tank for a Betta (and friends) as I caught planted tank fever.

Being my first planted tank, things aren't going quite as I expected. I actually have a ton of questions about why things aren't growing the way I want them to, but I want to keep this post focused to start. So I really want to add some height in areas and give some more soil depth for planting the scape I envision, so while I'm doing that, I figure I'll switch to an aquasoil as well.

I did some research and it looks like UNS Contrasoil produces a lot less ammonia than other aquasoils. I have Fluval Stratum in my plant growout tank, and it didn't take long to get the initial ammonia spike down since I used cycled media to set it up. I'm wondering if the Contrasoil will be better or worse in this regard.

Ideally (for my convenience), I would keep my fish in a bucket while I rescape the tank, and I would be able to put them back in as soon as I'm done since I'll keep the same filter media. It is a 7.5 gallon tank with a custom internal sump filter with almost a full liter of matrix and a 3x4x2 inch course sponge and 3x4x0.75 inch filter floss pad. There is still a 3x3x10 inch compartment available for other media as necessary. Total water volume is about 6-6.5 gallons.

Current stocking:
1 male Koi Betta
5 Ember tetras
3 small Zebra Otos (2 inch)
4 small Amano shrimp (1-1.5 inch)
1 small Nerite snail (0.5 inch)

Tank seems well-cycled since I started it in November 2020.

One of the issues I see is that even though I use RO water, our water here is Austin has a pH of over 9! So I lower that to about 7.0 during water changes, but my pH is still consistently 7.4 - 7.6 in the morning after aeration to gas off the excess CO2. I use pressurized CO2 to target 30 ppm. I know that if I switch to aquasoil, my pH will drop considerably, so I'm trying to figure out the best way to not shock my fish.

I'm sure a lot of you will think I should just stick to the Flourite sand, but I am also setting up a 90P that will use aquasoil, and I want to be able to easily move fish and plants around if necessary, and I don't want to have to be constantly calculating how to keep my water parameters consistent between the 90P, this 7.5 gallon, and the plant growout tank.

Any advice is appreciated.
Thank you,
-Rich
 

sovrappensiero

New Member
Nov 30, 2020
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Atlanta, GA, USA
I don't think you'll have any problems with ammonia spikes since, like you said, you'll be used the media in your current tank that's already cycled. Remember to keep that filter in a bucket of old aquarium water while you're scaping the tank, and maybe add air if you're going to take awhile. From my research, all the aqua soils except ADA Amazonia original version are basically the same... they all create a minimal ammonia spike. Too many people complained about the ADA Amazonia ammonia spike, so the new "gold standard" is less nutrient-dense aqua soils that don't cause a big spike. What I mean is: UNS Contrasoil is fine, but so are ALL the other aquasoils you'll come across (except ADA Amazonia original) ...so just go with whichever is cheapest or most readily available to you.

I can't help you with the pH shock thing, unfortunately...it's good that you've thought about it! I'd try asking this question specifically on another forum, like plantedtank or ukaps, since it's been awhile and you've not gotten any replies here. I would also be interested to know what people say about that!
 

PhilipS

Lifetime Members
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May 10, 2014
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I recommend a pH controller to dose the CO2 (carbonic acid) to maintain pH. Wise investment.

Transferring aqua soil isn't an issue to jump start the new tank. Many of the rootballs of the transferred plants will contain plenty of bacteria to innoculate the tank. You will still have bacteria blooms and go through a cycling period. Aquascape with a few inches of water till you are ready, then add RO water with an airline to minimize the Ovaltine effect of stirred Debris. Filter floss in the filter helps clear the water.

Keep monitoring water parameters such as Ammonia and nitrite and maybe use some feeder Rosies or Ghost Shrimp as Canaries.
 

Richard Jones

New Member
Oct 26, 2020
8
4
3
49
Austin,TX
Thank you sovrappensiero, that makes me feel a lot more confident. And I think it is a great idea to post a specific question about the pH shock. Thanks!
I will also follow your advice carefully PhilipS. I really appreciate it.
-Rich