Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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-   -   Soil (http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/beginner-planted-aquarium/soil-77375/)

Cgold 08-07-2011 08:43 PM

Soil
 
I'm thinking about trying Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting soil in my 10 gallon tank to see how it affects aquarium plants. Maybe covering the soil with a thin layer of gravel. Idk if having the soil exposed to fish is healthy?

Has anyone tried this? Is this a bad idea if i want to add fish to the tank one day?

Thanks, Cody

amazon21 08-07-2011 09:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cgold (Post 771888)
I'm thinking about trying Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting soil in my 10 gallon tank to see how it affects aquarium plants. Maybe covering the soil with a thin layer of gravel. Idk if having the soil exposed to fish is healthy?

Has anyone tried this? Is this a bad idea if i want to add fish to the tank one day?

Thanks, Cody

Im a fan of soil substrates. It really helps the give substrate plants their nutrients. redchigh has a guide on soil substrates that you should check out. http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/a...planted-51702/

Cgold 08-07-2011 10:03 PM

That was a great read, thank you for bringing that to my attention. My ph is always high no matter what I do, so I'm hoping this experiment will keep my ph closer to 7.0. And I'm hopeing to notice crazy growth of the plants I'm going to put in the 10 gallon. I'm just gonna let the plants take over lol :)
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SinCrisis 08-07-2011 11:23 PM

i run soil in almost all my tanks, be away that the organic choice will decompose so any aquascape features like hills will eventually disappear. It is great for plants but also be aware that its prone to anerobic bacteria pockets so it needs to be poked every once in a while or you will need to get MTS to stir it.

Cgold 08-08-2011 06:41 AM

Could I mix in clay into the organic choice? And by Poke do you mean just tap the surface of the substrate or like stick my finger in the substrate? Also how long is the soil good for till you have to resoil the tank?
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Byron 08-08-2011 10:56 AM

Soil can obviously be used, though I question whether it is really worth the trouble.

If you do, make sure you research the issue well; most authorities suggest setting up a soil substrate tank and leaving it for 6 months before any fish are added. This I gather is to allow the biological system to properly establish itself. Not doing something like this can cause sudden rises in ammonia which will kill fish and plants. There will be fluctuations during the first six months; Diana Walstad even admits this [she is the major proponent of soil substrate tanks].

The problem with using commercial terrestrial plant soils is getting nutrients in the tank that you do not need, or that can cause trouble. Plain pure clean soil is suitable, but it should not contain any fertilizers. The prime idea behind soil is releasing CO2, not trace element nutrients. Walstad writes that the best results are obtained with unfertilized potting soils. Soils containing any fertilizers have nitrates that when submerged in water quickly convert to toxic nitrite; sulfates will convert to hydrogen sulfide that will kill plant roots and bottom fish.

Anaerobic conditions can occur much faster, as someone mentioned. This pulls a lot of oxygen out of the water, especially during the first 8 weeks, causing an oxygen shortage if fish are in the tank. During the first few weeks, the soil will flood the water with nutrients, causing an algae increase. Plants have to be growing well before all this "chaos" begins. [The info in these two paragraphs is taken direct from Walstad.]

Also note that Walstad limits the number of fish in such tanks. I could never have a planted tank with as few fish as she advocates; I like the fish too much.

Byron.

Cgold 08-08-2011 01:40 PM

Well thanks for the info. i still think im gonna try it. But im not gonna add any fish to the tank for 6 months.
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amazon21 08-09-2011 11:02 AM

I havn't finished reading Walstads book yet, but i thought the low stocking levels were due to her infrequent water changes rather than the substrate
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Byron 08-09-2011 12:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by amazon21 (Post 774765)
I havn't finished reading Walstads book yet, but i thought the low stocking levels were due to her infrequent water changes rather than the substrate
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The issue is balance, and her method allegedly establishes a natural balance between fish and plants that basically runs itself. The thing about such methods is that one can't really fiddle with any one aspect, since the whole is held together by the interaction of each aspect with the others. It's like removing a wall and having the roof collapse because of it.

Water changes have quite an impact on a closed system. Without them, there is no way to remove the toxins that occur during the first few months of a soil setup, so you are relying totally on the plants, and this means the fish load must be small or the plants will not be able to handle it. Long term the lack of water changes have much the same impact, requiring moderate fish stocking to maintain that balance, otherwise toxins again increase, though they may be different toxins at the point.

No where does she mention just how many fish are "moderate" but other authors have pointed out that the fish stocking must be quite low for this to work. After all, the fish are releasing pheromones and without water changes they are not getting removed. Plants will in time handle them, but very slowly.

Mikaila31 08-09-2011 01:34 PM

I have not read any of walstads book either. From the tanks i have setup with soil though. Not one has had an issue. I have laid soil and added a full stock all in the same day. My filterless 15 gallon has about 2 dozen small fish along with higher numbers of inverts. I do regular water changes weekly. Regardless though water quality is never an issue in any of my tanks. My 20 gallon got a soil substrate after I moved it. It was filled, replanted, and the 30 or so fish were reintroduced. If anything algae has gone down in this tank since the soil was added. I only had one fish loss and that was a rummy nosed tetra. I had another rummy survive and it doesn't take a lot to kill off those tetras.


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