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Substrate Ideas

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by Frolicsome_Flora, Apr 20, 2007.

  1. Frolicsome_Flora

    Frolicsome_Flora Guru Class Expert

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    Well, as you may have read, due to a split tank and a handy insurance claim my friends are giving me a 200 litre (that i need to repair, but this is assuming that I manage it).

    Now I know far more about what Im doing than I did the last time, I intend to go and do things properly, although still on a tight budget.

    Id like to go for a soil substrate, with pea gravel covering. Ive been thinking about using aquatic compost, as Ive been using dried plugs of this to enrich a sandy bottom for a while with good results. Does this idea hold water? (no pun intended) Id use garden soil, but I dont have access to enough of it without making a large whole in my garden!

    After looking at the prices of all the commercially available aquatic composts, it seems that I have to rule that option out, as Id need a mortgage!

    Any ideas, tips, comments greatly received.
     
  2. Frolicsome_Flora

    Frolicsome_Flora Guru Class Expert

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    any ideas guys/gells?
     
  3. neil1973

    neil1973 Prolific Poster

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    Well i've never used a soil substrate in an aquarium but if you are after top soil i know you can get it in any garden centre, B&Q etc. for £3 - 4 a bag (should be plenty for a 200 litre tank). Something else i've wondered about but never tried in an aquarium is the bags of aquatic soil/loam sold in garden centres and fish shops for potting plants in garden ponds. Again this stuff is fairly cheap for the amount you would need in a tank.

    cheers
    neil
     
  4. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    Hi, Flora (or Frolicsome),

    I have 3 soil-based tanks set up at the present time. One is well into its third year. A fourth one is in process.

    I use the least expensive topsoil that I can find. It should be low in organics with no additives. Before I use it I soak it for about fortnight, stirring and changing the water occasionally, to get rid of whatever "junk" might be in the soil.

    I cover it with an inch or so of 2mm to 3mm quartz or silica gravel. Here that is called "blasting sand/gravel" or "builders' sand/gravel." The purpose of the gravel is to keep the soil where it belongs and out of the water column, as well as to provide something for the plants to root in. Pea gravel, if the grains are the size of a pea, might be too coarse.

    Good luck!

    Bill
     
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    One thing I do at the lab in the holding tanks: I mix the soil with 2-3 parts sand to each part soil.

    Then I add a sand cap of 1-2" over that.

    That way the soil stays put and the sand mix gives it some weight.

    Yes, it reduces the nutrient content, but that's seldom an issue until much later.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  6. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    What does mixing sand with the topsoil do? I hadn't heard of that before.

    Is the "sand cap" composed of fine-grained material? I hope not, because it doesn't let water column nutrients through very well.

    Bill
     
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    You likely have not heard about it because I often do not tell folks everything and every detail.
    :p

    I'm not sure why others always use a pure super ultra rich layer that can make a huge mess if you pull things up without much care.
    Just seems like common sense to me:cool:
    It reduces the richness, but not the area, and it makes replanting much easier and far less messy and no troubles at all.


    I am rather curious why other folks have not discussed nor tried that, but then again, I've done a lot more with sediments and testing than any other plant hobbyist over the years.

    So perhaps I'm just weird and try all sorts of things trying to improve and address issues and trade offs.

    I use 900 pots at the lab for herbicide test, they all use this set up and it does not make 1/10th the mess the other lab people make.

    If I made the layer pure soil, then it floats and makes planting tough and I have to soak it etc.

    This way It makes no mess replanting, can be used right away, needs repotting more often(every 6-9 months instead of 9-12 months, no big deal there) and less algae issues.

    I think mixing it with the sand is a very wise thing to do and weighes that muddy mess down and keeps it in place.

    But like I said, just seems like common sense to me to do that.

    Maybe that is a reason why I have such good growth with soil tank and suggest ADA and soil based tanks+ 2-3 mm sand are similar as far as the sediment.

    Perhaps the soil is less messy in some cases:)

    I have a pot or two of the ADA As out at the lab, seems to do the same, but I have not tested both under enriched CO2 conditions etc.

    Will be a good one and I'd liked to run a dozen pots for comparison and lots of CO2 to see.

    I have to grow out some more Hydrilla for a the test this spring yet however.
    After that, the tanks inside will be free.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  8. Frolicsome_Flora

    Frolicsome_Flora Guru Class Expert

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    Thanks folks :)


    Tom Ill give that a try, Ill have lots of sand coming out of the old tank, so thatll be handy anyway.

    Ive mended the tank now, with a nice peice of new glass. Siliconed in easy, amazed how easy it was to do. The hard part was cleaning up the old crappy silicon around the old bit of glass.

    It might take me a while to set this new one up, as Ill need to buy new PC tubes and a longer outlet hose, but should be good :) very much looking forward to it.
     
  9. Frolicsome_Flora

    Frolicsome_Flora Guru Class Expert

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    Well, the big changover is all done. Took me ages and ages.

    The repaired tank seems to be holding up fine.. Ill be well happy if it holds, its given me alot of confidence in making my own tanks, its something that I might well try.

    Ive gone for a different layout this time, much more themed.. will see how it goes. Ive gone with Toms idea of sand/topsoil topped off with sand.

    Ive also realised that its bigger than I thought to, it comes in at just over 235 litres, which is a full 100 larger than my last. Much fun.
     
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