Dirt, mud, and caps. . . - Page 2
Tropical Fish

Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources » Freshwater Fish and Aquariums » Beginner Freshwater Aquarium » Beginner Planted Aquarium » Dirt, mud, and caps. . .

Dirt, mud, and caps. . .

This is a discussion on Dirt, mud, and caps. . . within the Beginner Planted Aquarium forums, part of the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium category; --> I would definitely suggest having a cap. Also, I would recommend moving/adding plants as little as possible. I had a sand cap and even ...

Like Tree5Likes

Reply
LinkBack Thread Tools vBmenu Seperating Image Search this Thread vBmenu Seperating Image
Dirt, mud, and caps. . .
Old 02-24-2013, 07:43 AM   #11
 
funkman262's Avatar
 
I would definitely suggest having a cap. Also, I would recommend moving/adding plants as little as possible. I had a sand cap and even after 1.5 years, the soil was still making its way into the water column. The sand eventually just mixed in with the soil and became useless. I had to adjust my powerhead to limit the flow at the substrate because it would turn the entire tank into a muddy mess. All it took was a fish flaring or swimming fast towards the bottom and dirt was everywhere. I can't even imagine how bad it would have been if I didn't use any cap at all. And redchigh is right about the H2S buildup in the soil; occasionally when replanting trimmed plants I would pop open an air pocket in the soil and a large H2S bubble would rush to the surface. I personally don't expect to ever go back to a soil substrate; sure t was cheap, plant growth was incredible and I didn't have to start dosing ferts for like six months or so, but it was just too much of a hassles and I hated never having a clear tank. That's just my opinion though.
funkman262 is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to funkman262 For This Useful Post:
Chesh (02-24-2013)
Old 02-24-2013, 10:50 AM   #12
 
Chesh's Avatar
 
Thanks for the input, Funkman!

I've read a LOT of personal accounts that ended on same note as yours . . . a dirt tank was too much trouble all around than really necessary - which makes sense to me. . . it seems that the potential for disaster with this type of substrate - either with just plain muddy water or hostile algae takeover - is fairly high with this method.

For now, this is going to be STRICTLY experimental, I'm hoping that I have better luck than some of the accounts I've seen, but if things don't work out, I won't be out much money, and can chalk it down to a lesson learned, or try again with a cap.

I don't have any fish that need a home right now, and if that changes, I have other tanks that I can set up in a way that I'm more familiar with, plus my QT tank is up and running in case of emergency. . . so this is really just for fun and learning. . .

Fingers crossed that all goes well! I still have a lot of reading to do before I get started just yet. . .

What type of soil did you use when you ran your tank?
Chesh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2013, 12:56 PM   #13
 
funkman262's Avatar
 
I don't really recall, but I think it was miracle grow potting soil or something. I apologize if I came off as if I'm trying to convince you to not do soil at all, it's just that it's not the right substrate for me since I tend to move plants around a lot. With this method you really want to just set it up and leave it alone. I'm sure having no cap at all is possible, but the problem is you're really going to want to limit the amount of flow in the tank to prevent blasting the soil all around (and believe me when I say it doesn't take much for that to happen) which already presents a problems because the plants may suffer in stagnant water. Another problem with no cap is that it's really difficult to keep the plants buried. It may depend on the soil chosen but after my cap dropped towards the bottom of the soil, it wasn't really dense enough to keep trimmed stems down. Plants with roots already established weren't as bad though. Again, I'm not trying to discourage you; Walstad tanks are awesome, but I just wanted to make sure you understand what you're getting yourself into
funkman262 is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to funkman262 For This Useful Post:
Chesh (02-24-2013)
Old 02-24-2013, 01:44 PM   #14
 
Chesh's Avatar
 
Not at all, m'dear - I REALLY appreciate your point of view!

The soil alone not being heavy enough to weigh down the plants is one of my concerns... maybe adding clay will help there? Or mixing sand in and seeing if it caps itself. I'd really still like to try all dirt and see how it goes. I know it isn't the norm, and it seems that the reasons for this are fairly obvious! Still. . . I'll give it a whirl!

Though I am seeing two very different perspectives between you and Red - he is of the impression that the sand would naturally end up on the top and cap itself, where you're saying that in your tanks, the sand sunk down and into the soil. . . interesting. . .

A few users here, and a lot of reading on other threads has me pointed in the direction of Miracle Grow ORGANIC potting soil mix, not sure I've ever seen it IRL, but I'll have to check out the garden centers in the bigger shops. Hopefully I'll find it. Still curious as to if I could use just. . . regular soil that I dug up from the forest or something, lol! I suppose that the chances are WAY higher for contaminates in that stuff. . .lol!
Chesh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2013, 02:02 PM   #15
 
redchigh's Avatar
 
I agree whither his observation, there is just missing information.

I use dirt, which is relatively low in organic matter, heavy, and has really tiny particles.

Funkman likely used a potting mix or garden soil (which one of my old guides reccomends, and even Diane walstad reccomends it). Unfortunately these peat and bark-based mixes have large chunks and are very lightweight (which causes them to rise) and in being lightweight, they are airy, which encourages hydrogen sulfide pockets.

The top inch or so of substrate will be aerobic. The rest (except around plant roots) will be anaerobic, which is normal. The anaerobic areas break down nutrients, convert nitrate to nitrogen gas, and other beneficial things. Anaerobic bacteria is the main reason soil has benefits.
Just make sure the aerobic layer is healthy and the whole substrate is gritty enough that water can flow between the layers. The aerobic bacteria breaks down hydrogen sulfide, and converts it to H20 and co2. (I think the sulfur, which is a nutrient, remains in the substrate to continue the anaerobic cycle.
Posted via Mobile Device
redchigh is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to redchigh For This Useful Post:
Chesh (02-24-2013)
Old 02-24-2013, 02:12 PM   #16
 
I've had good luck with soil tanks, being pretty rock stable when I used soil I dug up myself. They often saw shrimp or fish the same day as setup and never had a problem. My most recent soil tank I setup in winter so I was forced to use a store bought bag of topsoil, which has proven to be quite the hassle in comparison. It actually killed off the few initial plants I stuck in there. It is slowly coming around and has growing plants as well as fish now, but its been quite a hassle in comparison to my other soil tanks.
Mikaila31 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2013, 02:25 PM   #17
 
redchigh's Avatar
 
Posted via Mobile Device
redchigh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2013, 02:26 PM   #18
 
Boredomb's Avatar
 
I have used Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting mix with no problems. The tank ran for 6months with the mix and a sand cap. I no issues of soil or particulars floating around. Though moving plants is a hassle it can be done if done right. Its not really recommend though as Funkman stated. I had fish in the tank 10 days later after the setup. Never had any ammonia issues. I would use it again though am curious about a soil tank without a cap is some kind.
Posted via Mobile Device
Boredomb is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2013, 02:31 PM   #19
 
redchigh's Avatar
 
I shoveled dirt into an old tshirt (tied up the sleeves) and washed it through the shirt really well, then soaked it a couple days, washed it again, soaked it etc several times and ended up with a really clean sandy soil with a few roots and tiny twigs... Thinking back, it would have probably made a nice natural cap for soil....
Posted via Mobile Device
redchigh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2013, 04:57 PM   #20
 
Chesh's Avatar
 
Thank you all for your input and experiences!

Mika - I was planning to pop on chat and pick your brain for info, lol! I know you've used dug-from-the- woods soil before. . . I've alwasy told you that I'd be entirely too much of a fraidy cat to do things that way, but that the idea appeals to me . . . I think I might finally be ready to go that route. How much more natural can you get?! Did/do you use a cap on your dirt tanks? (HEY! Am I missing updates to that last tank? I haven't gotten any notices from you!)

Nice t-shirt idea, Red, lol! I might have to give that a try! You're right in that almost everyone uses/recommends the topsoil. . . though most of the things I've read do recommend that you sift it through some type of screening first, it makes sense that it'd be lighter, just because it is.

Quote:
Just make sure the aerobic layer is healthy and the whole substrate is gritty enough that water can flow between the layers.
RIGHT up until you say stuff like this, then I get nervous again! Having never done this before, how do I know that the substrate is gritty enough to be healthy, and that the water is able to flow through? I'm not planning to actually layer it (I don't think). I suppose this is one of the areas where adding sand into the mix - even to separate naturally, and not as a cap - comes into play?

One last question . . . is there anything that I should do extra, aside from the mineralization process, to make sure that 'wild-caught' dirt is. . . clear of anything that would hurt the critters that may or may not eventually be living in the tank? Weird question, but should I bake it or boil it, lol?! To those that have used the stuff before, is it best to get it from an area that is farther away from water or actually in or near the water - or would it not matter? And what am I looking for in a good dirt?

John. . .we're both curious, and hopefully soon to find out, lol!

HAHA! So many really weird questions that I never thought I'd ask!!! Thank you guys for being patient and lending your experience! I appreciate it!
Chesh is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Florescent end caps "burning" GwenInNM Beginner Saltwater Aquariums 7 10-12-2012 07:11 PM
Dirt for substrate BradSD Beginner Planted Aquarium 43 11-30-2010 06:02 PM


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:50 PM.