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Flourite vs Soil Substrate

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by Gordon, Dec 19, 2006.

  1. Gordon

    Gordon Junior Poster

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    Hi all,

    I'm about to set-up a low tech planted tank (no CO2, 1.5W per Gallon light), and would like to know whether you recommend using a soil substrate or Flourite. I live in South Africa where Flourite is quite expensive so I was thinking of trying my hand a making a soil / gravel mix. Is this a good idea for a relative novice, or should I just bite the bullet and buy the Flourite?

    Thanks in advance for any help!

    -Gordon
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Soil and sand on top.
    Soak the soil for 2-3 weeks first or boil for 10 min.
    Then use it.
    This oxidizeds out the NH4 to NO3.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. Gordon

    Gordon Junior Poster

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    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for your valued advice! So I can just take normal soil and sand from my garden? No gravel on top of it (as most people seem to recommend)?

    In other words, if I just dig a hole in my garden then the soil will be what comes out of the bottom of the hole (and goes in the bottom of the tank) and the sand will be the what comes out of the top of the hole (and goes on top of the soil in the tank)?

    I do have a compost heap, but I think I should avoid soil with humus. Correct?

    Thanks Tom, I know I'm asking a lot of questions, but I don't feel like re-doing my tank in a month cos of some stupid mistake!

    -Gordon
     
  4. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    Thanks to Tom, you've avoided wasting money on a boutique substrate that you don't really need to have a successful planted aquarium. (Flourite might have other positives to it, though.)

    I suggest that you soak your garden soil for a week or two, to reduce the amount of organic matter. Change the water several times. You will be surprised at the junk that you get rid of.

    Good luck.

    Bill
     
  5. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    The top layer needs to be 2 mm to 4 mm (roughly) sized particles, whether you call that sand or gravel. If it is too fine the substrate packs down and becomes anoxic. If it is too coarse it is hard to plant in.
     
  6. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    To add to Vaughn's comments, the garden soil layer should be no more that about a half inch, wet. You might also want to put a small amount of peat most and mulm under it.

    Bill
     
  7. Gordon

    Gordon Junior Poster

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    Thanks guys - I think I'm getting the idea:

    The tank has actually been running for a year, but I'm about to move houses so I thought I'd redo the substrate at the same time. So to take your advice I should take normal garden soil, soak it for a few weeks, then add that to the bottom half inch of the tank. Then I could add some of my old gravel on top (my old gravel's particles are about 2mm big)?
    That means that I'd have about 1/2 inch sand and 4 1/2 inches of gravel.

    I don't know where to get peat moss from (I live in South Africa and things are harder to come by here). I'll try a nursery?

    Thanks again! I'm getting excited for my soon-to-be-fertile tank!
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Go to the nursery, get some ground peat, they will most likely have it.
    Get some decent garden soil there as well.

    Soak/boil good(just the soil), then add, then mix the peat and the mulm in.
    Add about 0.5-1 inch soil(wet), then 3-4 inches of sand(2-3 mm, sand blasting places often sell nice grit sizing like this).

    Be careful for the first few weeks uprooting etc, basically do not uproot at all til the plants out grow things. Top instead of uproot for the first few weeks.
    Add lots of plants from day one.

    BTW, Flourite does work extremely well for a non CO2 tank also.
    Better over time IMO, but the cost issue can be a serious issue for you, and getting KNO3, KH2PO4 etc is harder in some cases.

    You can try that later.
    For now, stick with this, it's easy and cheap.

    I dose 2x a week with ferts for the non CO2 tanks I had with flourite.
    But small amounts, not much.

    The ferts can come from the sediment, the fish or the aquarist adding things to the water column once every week or 2x a week if you have a lot of plants and/or low fish loading etc.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  9. Gordon

    Gordon Junior Poster

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    Thanks Tom! You make it sound easy!

    I've got next week while I'm on leave to find some nurseries in my area!

    I think I'll see how my plants do without ferts at first, then if they battle I'll try using your EI - at the moment it looks pretty involved!

    Just one more question:
    Would my existing gravel (1 - 2mm pieces) be too small to use on top of the soil? I really like the look of it!

    Thanks again for all your help - and patience!
     
  10. Mooner

    Mooner Lifetime Charter Member
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    Hi Tom,

    Lets say fish load is 1" to the gallon for the above mentioned tank(heavy load right?), at what amounts of ferts would you use weekly. Just tring to understand-still. This tank is close to what I am doing except using lenardite/peat/mulm and if you remember I had way to much light. At 1.5 watt per gal now based on water column.

    When one talks of light and ferts. Is it gallon size of the tank or is it the water column that is being refered to? 3"-4" of substrate displaces water.

    Thanks Chris
     
  11. Gordon

    Gordon Junior Poster

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    Hi Guys,

    I'm following your advice and have been soaking some potting soil for about a week now. I noticed today that when I stir the water I can smell a rotting egg smell. I figure this is sulphur dioxide from anaerobic decomposition, but is this normal? Should I be changing the water at all, or just leave it for the rest of the 3 week period?

    Once again, thanks for your help.

    -Gordon
     
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