Just curious, I was told you needed soil for a planted aquarium. I used a half inch of soil and a quarter inch of sand. My tank erupted in algae. I am unable to click/use the Karen Randall article, and had trouble finding a PDF. This would be an amazing help in making sure I don't ruin my next tank.
I need to have one ready by the spring for an adoption I promised to take in.
If someone can provide me with a link it would be wonderful!
First off, plants will grow in any substrate, and some have more issues than others. Soil is one of these. It is not necessary, I personally would not bother given the other issues (like the one you mentioned, there are more). My preference is plain small-grain gravel. I have used this for 20+ years with good results, and notwithstanding anything else it is still the overwhelming recommended substrate by the vast majority of planted tank authors.
By the way, what is the article by Karen Randall you mentioned? I was not aware she had written specifically on soil substrates, and I'd be interested in finding it if you could give me some info. I've known Karen for more than 15 years (not personally, as a authority on planted tanks I mean).
I have friends on bettafish.com that use the Walstad method for planting their tanks and their tanks are doing wonderfully. I'm trying it again with 1.5 inches of soil and .5 inches of sand.
Here's the article I've read on the Walstad method thousands of times:
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Here's also some quick info and a step by step pictured guide:
Setting up a Walstad Natural Planted Tank. | Plants
Step by Step: Setting up a Walstad-Type Natural Planted Tank | Plants
Here's some forum babel:
What is "el Natural?" A Step by Step? - El Natural - Aquatic Plant Central
If you guys can give me some advice on why not to use it I won't.
I'm always up for learning. :) It's why I'm here.
If you could let us know what kinds of plants you have, lighting, fert dosing, co2 dosing, etc, it would help.
I personally have 3 soil tanks, all of them doing ok, no abnormal algae growth. I do know that soil has a different mineral ratio than what aquatic plants need so you need to take into account how to "feed the tank" to avoid too much excess of one mineral.
I do know that soil is usually recommended for those who have a lot of experience with more compact substrates such as sand because these substrates can get aerobic and the gas pockets that get dislodged can be very toxic to fish.
The counter to this is substrate turning via poking or getting MTS/worms to live in your substrate and keep it turned.
Another user on this forum, redchigh, has 2 guides somewhere about soil setups. One thing that he noticed was that you need heavy root feeders such as swords and crypts. I know others who use soil and they recommend getting fast growers such as stem plants left floating to keep the water chemistry stable and use up excess nutrients.
This will all be taking place in two 5 gallon tanks. (well, if there's enough plant mass that is. hoping the seller packs in a little extra just in case)
Here's the plant list so far:
Creeping Jenny (12-16 stems)
Water Wisteria (12-16 stems)
Anacharis (12-16 stems)
Bacopa Australis (12-16 stems)
Hornwort (12-16 Stems)
Red Cryptocoryne Wendtii (1 6" portion)
Green Cryptocoryne Wendtii(1 6" portion)
Java Fern (2 prtions)
Frogbit (Generous Handfulls)
Hoping to also find some Water Lettuce... If anyone knows of a good place to buy floaters, let me know!
Here is how I plan to stock it: 7 Blue Ramshorns, 10 brown/Amber Ramshorn snails, (hopefully) 5 Malaysian Trumpet Snails (which I tried ordering weeks ago but the were DOA) and maybe just a mystery snail or two. Not for cleaning purposes of course. Just for aesthetics. I heard rumors that rams horn snails are actually better at cleaning algae because of their buoyancy, they can get to places nerites can't.
Of course I also plan on having a White Dragon Betta I am adopting, but until he gets here I might stock it with two or three mixed sex Red Cherry Shrimp in hopes that they will multiply so I can stock my 3 gallon and ten gallon with them in the near (summer) future.
1, i thought creeping jenny was a terrestrial plant?
2, 4 stem plants is very good for long roots if you plant them and they grow very fast, excellent for soil imo.
3, Crypts are good root feeders, they will also do well in a soil setup
4, Java ferns are hardy but slow growing, they will do alright but wont have that many special benefits for a soil tank.
5, Floating plants like frogbit are good for keeping water chemistry stable.
You can also float any of the stem plants, they would just have roots floating in the middle of your tank, i know shrimp and fish fry love it.
You may also want to consider swords of some kind, they grow very deep roots and are good for soil systems.
Also, in my experience, soil always floats when first added, my first attempt used .5" of fine gravel and when i planted soil floated up. I would recommend 1" of substrate and 1" of soil under that.
Lucy, re the ramshorn snails, another member here had them eating her plants something terrible. Many people say ramshorn snails do not eat plants unless they get hungry, so this may have been the cause. A heads up, in a planted tank this could be disastrous.
Malaysian trumpet snails and pond or bladder snails are in my tanks and to my knowledge have never eaten live plants, except for decaying leaves. Of course, they do have other food with lots of fish present.
On the earlier reference to Karen, those "sticky" articles are by me so I know that source; she wasn't talking about soil substrates there. To my knowledge, she is not a soil substrate aquarist.
I have some soil guides in my signature.
The problem that I see is the lack of rooted plants.. Sure, crypts work, but not unless you have tons..
I would get a couple E. Blehiri Compacta.
Also, what kind of algae did you have an outbreak in?
Whats your lights, etc?
Also about the snails- It seems that there is no "ramshorn" species, and there are dozens, perhaps hundreds of nearly identical species... Perhaps some eat plants, some don't, and some do if they're starving?
Creeping Jenny grows on land, emersed, and submerged in nature.
When my stem plants are planted, im finding really deep and extensive root systems in my substrate. My water sprite roots of plants that are planted have deeper roots than my amazon sword thats 4 times the size of the plant.
It's been a while. Sorry guys!
Sorry it's been so long! I'm editing a movie trailers for school...
Anywho, I'm currently re-ordering MTS. :) Also trying to research the prime conditions for them to spawn so I have many more for the four tanks I have which will be planted in the same style.
I was very interested in swords but I don't know what kind of water chemistry they thrive in. Any advice? I have hard water with heavy chlorine, but I use a little extra dechlorinator for good measure and it's been fine so far. Plus my tank is low light low tech.
As for the setup:
I have CFLs for all my tanks. 10 watts 6,500 Kelvins for my 3 gallon (making it medium lighted I suppose), 10 (same kelvins) watts for both my 5 gallon tanks, and two 10 watt bulbs (20 watts 6,500 Kelvins) for my 10 gallon.
Moving water in all tanks but the three gallon (more than likely will be baffled with filter sponges so it's not too much movement for my floaters. No actual chemical filtration to speak of.)
I plan on planting everything except the Frogbit. And water Lettuce if I can find it. (Any ideas where to order water lettuce off the net???)
I'm trying to find out how best to plant the Hornwort. It would not stay seated in my tank the last time.
I will probably do the 1 inch soil 1 inch gavel method SinCrisis recommended.
Using the plants listed earlier and with plenty of MTS and Ramshorn.
Probably ditching the mystery snail idea even though they're gorgeous tank mates. (Magenta and Prurple brigs with orange bodies!)
Instead I'll get some shrimp. Probably from a seller on aqua bid. But I'm not sure when a good time to have them shipped would be... It is rather cold out right now. :(
Also I'm currently feeding my ramshorn snails algae wafers. Should I feed them something different?
I've been keeping the ramshorns in a 1 gallon jar with some of the leftover Frogbit from the last go and you're right Byron. They're munching on the Frogbit.
I don't want to just get rid of them. :( That seems cruel on both ends: I can't just introduce them into the environment. They'd be an invasive species. And I don't want to mercy kill them just because they eat plants. That seems cruel. I'd be interested in getting some pond snails if I can. Anyone know where I can get them? (with out going to an actual pond? they're all frozen here)
And yes, redchigh, you're very right. I've researched creeping jenny and it is both a submersed plant and a terrestrial plant. I've seen it raised successfully in other tanks around the web. In fact it fared the best in my last go. It was the healtiest, even with the algae. My Mexican Oak Leaf just withered and died. (which is weird because I've heard good things about the MOL)
And I'll also be looking at your guide on setting up a soil substrate planted tank.
I also have API Leafzone, if that should be mentioned. But I didn't use it on the first try.
Also: The algae was hair algae and another algae I'm not familiar with. My sister chimed in that it might have been mildew or mold from the decay of the plants, but this confuses me. I didn't think that could happen? The smell was bad though. I wish I hadn't gotten so swamped with work/school. I should have kept a better eye on things regardless though. A mistake I won't make again!
Looking forward to some posts on this thread! :) Thanks for all of your advice and help so far!
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