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SMS - questions

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by Gerryd, Nov 22, 2009.

  1. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi all,

    A few questions about Soil Master Select...

    1. Is it used by itself or mixed with some other substrate material?
    2. I have heard issues of getting just a single bag or two. Any truth to the rumours?
    3. Anything else I should have asked but did not?

    Anyone using this? Appreciate any info.

    Reading Tom's latest newsletter seems to indicate this product worked well....

    Seems worth a shot...

    Thanks,
     
  2. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    I haven't used the stuff, but I do know it's pretty much stand-alone. CEC makes it pick up some nutrients over time. Mind you, just about every substrate has been used to cap MS or had some sort of fert tabs stuck in it.

    Soilmaster Select seems tricky to come by; I see a steady trickle of posts asking where to get the stuff.

    Outside of texture, I'm not sure there's much difference between a lot of the SiO clay based substrates out there; the CEC all looks pretty tightly related. I think it's a matter of reputation more than anything. Turface Pro seems to be mentioned in the same breath quite frequently.

    -Philosophos
     
  3. bradac56

    bradac56 Prolific Poster

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    I've been using SMS for years. Turface is Lesco's replacement for SMS and there almost identical depending on which version of Turface you get.

    SMS is getting hard to find outside of Major League Baseball towns because it's been discontinued a few years ago. Your local Lesco or John Deere (Lesco owns JD) should have some version of Turface or should be able to order it for local pickup if they don't. I normally buy four or five bags but if you have a club see if anyone else will pitch in. I've gotten it for as low as $5 a 50lb bag if your willing to buy palates.

    You can use it anyway you want since it's simply a fired clay substrate, it has trace Fe and a decent CEC rating. The only thing I've found with a higher CEC is sphagnum peat moss (100.0 meq./100g) but it's a pain to deal with when you use it as a primary substrate in my opinion.

    I prefer to use it by itself or if I use non-fert top-soil I'll cap it with Turface or PFS.

    - Brad
     
  4. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    US 2 Cents

    Hi Gerry,

    I used SMS a few years ago as Brad pointed out it is just fired clay. I was not overly impressed with it but I would think great stuff to use with the worm poop recipe. :)

    The big thing I found was there is a difference in the screened (if I recall correctly it is labeled ‘premium’) and non-screened.

    I assume you have many baseball parks around, check with folks that sell to baseball parks, recreation and so on, the stuff I got was an odd lot leftover 50 lb bag, I do not recall what I paid, but it wasn’t much.

    The stuff is big time hydroscopic, I think it is worth soaking for a couple of days prior to use.;)

    My $US 0.02.:)

    Biollante
     
  5. bradac56

    bradac56 Prolific Poster

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    I've never used pre-used SMS or Turface so I haven't heard of screened or premium SMS. I buy it for $8 to $10 a 50lb bag new from Lesco and there's nothing different about the bags other than the color types (Pro League - red or grey) or if it has chemicals in it (Moundmaster).

    I don't wash it but then I don't try to put fish in it right away ether. I just put it in the tank and poor the water in dry. If you poor halfway fast it will kick a bit of dust up into the air that I blow out of the tank. Then I add a couple of Hagen Elite Mini filters ($7.99 petco online) and let it run overnight to clear the water. I also throw in a bunch of hornwort and other stems to fast cycle the tank.

    - Brad
     
  6. The Rockster

    The Rockster Guru Class Expert

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    Hi,
    I tried to purchase some through Lesco.
    The closest bag was in Mass.
     
  7. bradac56

    bradac56 Prolific Poster

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    That's odd there's like 40 Lesco's and even more John Deere stores in Florida I'd hit the phone book and call around and even if they don't have it you can probably find a nice store manager that will order you a few bags so you don't have to pay for shipping. I had that problem in Columbia, MO until I found a little John Deere dealer that would make a store order for me. Luckily I now live in Kansas City and I have multiple stores near me.

    - Brad
     
  8. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Bentonite

    Hi Gerry, All,

    I did not realize this is Bentonite, which is actually Montmorillonite, (Na,Ca)0,3(Al,Mg)2Si4O10(OH)2•n(H2O), now I get why it is so cheap, hydroscopic and really needs to be screened, also I suspect diatoms really like the stuff. :confused:

    But when fired it does have good properties. :)

    I suspect you can find this as something other than SMS, Bentonite has got to be available all over the place.

    Me, I'll stick to silt or clay kitty litter, mix in some peat and worm poop and such. ;)

    Biollante
     
  9. bradac56

    bradac56 Prolific Poster

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    Please if you haven't used the product don't make guesses as your just making conclusions based on assumptions which are almost always wrong.

    I've *never* had to screen it, it's just fired clay it looks like gray Eco or Fluorite not pine bark top-soil. It's no more susceptible to diatoms than any other substrate, in my opinion diatoms are caused by bad water chemistry or light levels not by one substrate or another.

    Funny enough your already championing Turface, Oildri makes SMS and Turface for Lesco and Kitty Litter for others so there extreamly similar it's just a matter of what additives they use for what products.

    - Brad
     
  10. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Having use it*(SMS), I think Brad is correct there:cool:

    I do not like it as it's too light weight, I'll pay more for Flourite.
    Others are fine with the lighter color and weight for the much reduced cost factor.

    ADA AS is also light, but no rinsing, and the clay locks together well and can be packed, but the clay does not last forever either.

    Every sediment will have some trade off we might not like at some level.
    We might change our desires over time also and want something different.

    Given Gerry's initial question set:

    I'd consider adding maybe 5 grams or so per 1 sqft of osmocoat on the bottom and a dusting of ground peat, some mulm from a filter/sediment from an older tank ....then, 4-5" worth of the SMS on top of that.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  11. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Which Assumptions?

    Brad, I guess Tom as well,

    None of my comments were based on anything other than my experience.

    Which of my assumptions were wrong?
    1. 1. That you said it is fired clay and I agree it is fired clay. (You are correct.)
    2. 2. The people that sell it say there is a difference between screened and unscreened. (Your argument is with Mid-America Sports Advantage, not me.)
    3. 3. That I assume there are ball parks around the area Gerry lives. (You may have me here, I do not know where Gerry lives, and they may not have ballparks or recreation areas in South Florida.)
    4. 4. That the folks that sell this stuff sell it to ballparks and recreation centers. (Your beef once again is with Mid-America Sports Advantage, not me.)
    5. 5. Big time hydroscopic. (I will live with this one, perhaps absorbing 4 to 5 times as much water is not ‘big-time’, a pretty petty point, not allowing me a little literary leeway.)
    6. 6. I think it is worth soaking for a couple of days. (That is what I think.)
    7. 7. I did not realize this is Bentonite, which is actually Montmorillonite, (Na,Ca)0,3(Al,Mg)2Si4O10(OH)2•n(H2O), now I get why it is so cheap, hydroscopic and really needs to be screened. (I did not realize it until yesterday.)
    8. 8. I suspect diatoms really like the stuff. (I will give you this one; we have an extra silica based problem with the well water here, so silicates worry me. I have not experimented enough to know if this is true or not, nor am I likely too.)
    9. 9. When fired it does have good properties. (You are the one that continues to use it; I assume you agree it has good properties.)
    10. 10. I suspect you can find this as something other than SMS, Bentonite has got to be available all over the place. (That is what I suspect.)
    11. 11. Me, I'll stick to silt or clay kitty litter, mix in some peat and worm poop and such. (I will, what right have you to deny me my choice, my opinion.)
    I do not recall “championing” Turface, I have never used Turface, for all I know Oildri makes the kitty litter. As to the Kitty Litter, it is just cheap and readily available. I simply did not opt to continue using SMS, I suppose had it struck me as that much better or cheap and readily available I would. The Kitty Litter I like is a WalMart brand that compares itself to a major national brand. I do not necessarily think it so superior just cheap and readily available.

    If I champion anything, it is do-it-yourself substrates (and pretty much diy anything else). If I champion any substrate material, it is silt, peat moss and worm poop. Can't help noticing that even with the swipe at me Tom Barr would recommend peat moss in the mix.

    Primarily I was answering a question, with a given set of conditions, posed by Gerry, someone I respect and would try only to give my best response. The reason for your upset is beyond me.

    Indeed, I have used SMS; for a couple of years. Please be kind enough not to presume to know what I have or have not used. I am quite sure I have never met you and I was clear in my posts.

    My opinions are my own based on my experience. If you like SMS, I am truly happy for you.

    What I learned about screened and unscreened, I learned from the folks building and maintaining the Cactus League spring training ballparks. They sold me a 50 lb (unopened) bag of http://www.sportsadvantage.com/product_info.php?product_id=698 for I think three dollars (I really do not remember, it wasn’t much) five or so years ago, I never said I screened it, the product claims to have been screened. I didn’t wash it either, I soaked it for a few days or week, whatever, it is what I do with most of my substrates, how that is significantly different from putting it in a tank adding water and waiting, I do not know. Nor do I understand why it should upset you.

    The whole question and exchange along with other posts caused me to do a little more research, I only discovered yesterday that SMS is what I had always referred to as Bentonite, which is actually Montmorillonite, (Na,Ca)0,3(Al,Mg)2Si4O10(OH)2•n(H2O), which I think is a silicate, hence the diatom reference. (Note: For clarity, I am not claiming it caused a diatom bloom, and I am seriously unlikely to test it further.)

    I have 50 plus years of experience and I keep a bunch of plants and fish, I have tried a whole bunch of combinations of stuff, most of them I have not continued to use, SMS is one of them, I was not impressed, big deal.

    I did not tell anyone not to use it, in fact, now that I know that it is Bentonite, I figured it might increase the odds of finding it for those that wish to try it, but are not privileged, as you are to have it readily available.

    Brad, saying you don't like my opinions, that is okay, it is tough sometimes realizing we live in a world of conflicting opinion, it was not a personal attack. Look you made Tom Barr happy! If you knew me, you would know that if you are happy with what you are doing, I am happy.

    I am exuberant, I love to try all kinds of things, and I love to share what I learned. If you or anyone else has tried things or has information to counter something I have said it is fine.

    However, just because you hold a particular opinion does not obligate me or anyone else to agree. Likewise, you are under no obligation to agree with me.

    Biollante
     
  12. bradac56

    bradac56 Prolific Poster

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    You do realize that your link isn't to the SMS that everyone recommends correct?
    The bag should have looked like this: { http://aquamaniacs.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=26387 } take a look at my link, does the stuff your talking about look like this?

    - Brad
     
  13. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Yes

    Hi Brad,

    I believe the product I used is identical, even the size of the material (I am going to go out on a limb and say that much uniformity of size is a pretty good indicator that it was screened) except for the bag. ;)

    I think part of the problem people are having locating it is that it is really marketed as a top dressing primarily for baseball fields.

    It is however what back in the day we referred to as Bentonite. Until the day before yesterday I really never gave it much thought. :eek:

    I have tried many kinds of clay most recently Akadama, fired and unfired and I fired some of it myself. Many folks were saying Akadama was what the expensive Japanese guy used. The fired (both purchased and diy) did alright, just given the price, I am not overly impressed, but I will give it a year or 18 months before I really make up my mind.

    To be completely honest, I am guessing my kitty litter is really just Bentonite, I really had not given it any thought at all. But looking at the kitty litter now, it does look suspiciously like Bentonite and certainly swells up in water and has the ‘feel’.

    I am aware that some who have tried kitty litter (we are talking no additives) have complained theirs was not fired hot enough and broke down to easily; I have not had this problem. However, this WalMart store brand and some stuff (I do not recall the brand) marketed for sweeping garage floors are the only ones I have tried.

    Regarding the silicates issue, one near and dear to me, if I gave offence, I really did not mean too. Diatoms are a bit of an interest of mine and I guess I antagonized a number of people, I only partly meant too ceg4048 came at me pretty hard and so over the top I thought he was joking. Well me being, well, me, sometimes I cannot help myself.

    Honestly I am interested in anyone who can cite rational academic sources indicating silicates are not the major limiting factor for diatoms. :)

    I have been informed a bunch of folks on some forum somewhere ‘decided’ silicates play no particular role. I went to school with a kid who decided gravity didn’t exist; he still broke both his legs and an arm.

    Saying something loud or repeatedly or bullying does not make it true. A rational discussion is one thing that is why I thought I was having my proverbial leg pulled.

    Edit:I realized the kitty litter is likely calcined Diatomaceous earth. I dug out the Pro's Choice Soil Master Select stuff (what I incorrectly identified as SMS), I have a few pounds left over and it is different than the kitty litter in texture and wieght.


    Biollante
     
  14. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Sure,

    Si is loaded in virtually all FW's, and in many systems, N and P can and does limit Diatoms more than Si does, for many pelagic systems. In shallow systems, Si is virtually never limiting. Like our aquariums.

    I think many do not address Si for a few reasons, it is mostly due to the fact Diatoms are rarely even any issue except for a small window of time in the first 2-3 weeks and then very rarely thereafter.

    So Si is not a management issue for many.

    You can try and limit Si in the aquarium.
    Since diatoms are not much of an issue, it's not going to have much effect till you really mess up the tank trying to induce Diatoms.

    Diatoms are present on virtually all plant leaf samples, but not in profuse densities. Herbivores seem to prefer them over other species.

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=Si+limitation+Diatoms&hl=en&btnG=Search&as_sdt=2001&as_sdtp=on

    You can look there. Most are for Marine systems.
    Adding freshwater lakes:


    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=2000&q=Si+limitation+Diatoms+freshwater+lakes

    Now add macrophytes to that search:

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=Si+limitation+Diatoms+freshwater+lakes+macrophytes&btnG=Search&as_sdt=2000&as_ylo=&as_vis=0

    I just do not think there's much issue for us and Si. Otto cats etc, nothing is left after the initial bloom at the start.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  15. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    My Humble Apologies

    Hi All,

    Sorry for the hijack! :eek:

    Thank you Tom I appreciate that and as I said the diatom Si issue is more a water issue here. :)

    I will honestly add it to the list of things I do not discuss here, I do humbly apolgies for raising the subject, I agree with Tom Barr diatom blooms are rarely anything but a new tank nuisance. :)

    A small correction to my last post, I realized the kitty litter is likely calcined Diatomaceous earth.

    I dug out the Pro's Choice Soil Master Select stuff (what I incorrectly identified as SMS), I have a few pounds left over and it is different than the kitty litter in texture and wieght.

    SMS is another issue I will put in my off-limits bucket. Probably need to make that clays and substrates in general. :)

    Biollante
     
  16. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Good advice: don't sweat it too much.

    Read, learn, make mistakes, try again.
    I'm really good at making mistakes.
    See if you can try the SMS out and then see.

    I wish it had the qualities I wanted.
    It's got some. At least is widely available.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  17. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi all,

    Many thanks to all for the great information!

    It is exactly what I was looking for and expected to get :)

    I think I will try some in the future. Am house hunting and hope to have a fish room (of sorts) in the next few months.......I also want to try ADA and the wormcasting method. I think a few new tanks will be needed for this experiment he he

    Tom,

    Would the 5 grams per sq foot of Osmocote recommendation also be applicable to EXISTING flourite or other inert substrate???
     
  18. LoudCreature

    LoudCreature Prolific Poster

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    For the record SMS and Pro's Choice Select are identical material.

    So unless there is some claim that the bag has magic I do not understand.

    I also do not understand why Biollante's deciding not to continue using the material is the end of the world yet Tom Barr decides the same thing and no comment it is just fine.

    Brad, why not answer the questions Biollante posed?

    Why should anybody be upset that materials are screened for consistency?
     
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