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Old 09-25-2012, 10:08 AM   #31 
Oldfishlady
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For soil-anything that doesn't have any type of chemical additives, ferts, too much manure, pine bark.....Organic type potting soil, top soil, dirt from your yard.

I have used all kinds of different soil bases-and really haven't seen much difference as far as water quality-but I have seen differences in plant growth.

I used a local nursery brand potting soil they make and it was full of the perlite and that didn't cause any problems other than it floats when disturbed and looks a bit ugly until you net it out.

My dirt I use from my pasture "black gold" I like to call it-since it is from virgin land high in organics, composted leaves...etc....It will have lots of bugs, critters, worms and the like. I don't stress over it-I leave them and they drown-I look at it as more plant food or even food for the fish.

I like to add a bit of native sand and clay to my dirt and I sift it all together.

I have used generic clay kitty litter-but found it too messy when I pull plants-but it is great when used in a 25/75 mix. The added Iron is loved by the rosette plants.

When I set one up-
I add my dirt-then add just enough water to cover-then I add my sand-I don't rinse my sand-I like to use everything dry. Then I add water-drain and repeat until clear. Then I add about 2-3 inches of water and start to plant-I already have my hard scape placed, filter, heater and check the hood for placement if one is used.
Once I have everything planted-I fill with water and drain and re-fill if needed until clear.

Its important to start with enough stem plants from the beginning and clear water for best light penetration to plants. The active plant growth is what keep the water safe.

The cap-its up to you on what you want to use-My first NPT I used sand but I had some really nice 1-2mm gravel and used that on one tank and larger on yet another. I use both on some or use sand with handfuls of gravel around the base of plants to help keep them anchored until they take root or for some contrast in texture......It endless...no right or wrong per se...The goal of the cap is to help hold the soil in place until it is water logged and starts its life under water and why you don't need that much.

I used pool filter sand for the first time on the 55gal I re-setup last Oct. and it has worked fine.

This is the tank that I experimented with using sand I collected from my stock pond and ended up needing to add an inch of gravel on top of that sand due to the silts from the pond sand-What a mess-but the gravel worked to help collect the silts and to prevent more silts in the water column. I also had some anaerobic soil issue due to too deep of substrate layer, however, even with all these problems the tank lasted for 5 years before I got tired of looking at it and 2 of those years it didn't have a filter running-but only because it stopped working and I didn't replace it-that is how well the plants worked as the filtration-Plants or fish never suffered-everything thrived.....And this is the tank that also got the flea powder in it at one point-killed a lot of shrimp but nothing else......

I have needed to replace sand on occasion-after a time the sand will start to discolor and I will suck it out with my python that drains out in the garden. I use a plastic cup with dry sand-lower it into the tanks and pour in the places I need it. Best to have the filter off if one is used and usually within 2-3min its all settled.

I have also used a larger meshed net to kinda turn the sand a bit and to remove the hundreds of snails-I scoop them up along with a net full of sand and kinda shake it or sift it and that brightens the sand back up.

I don't use any specific brands-honestly I don't think it matters, I don't stress over water prams. I watch the water, plants, fish, shrimp and snails and they tell me when something is wrong-You can't beat the power of observation. Too many things can cause skewed water pram readings and you are going to do the same thing with the results that you would do with change in behavior of livestock....Water change......

If the plants are thriving/growing and needing regular trims-provided that you used enough stem plants-they will keep the water safe.
Shrimp usually will be the first thing to tell you that you have a water quality issue. Bettas will be the last to tell you since they can tolerate more harsh conditions than other species of fish.

By understanding normal behavior it will be easier to pick out abnormal behavior.....

And when in doubt....make a water change-by the time you complete the water test it might be too late.....

Most important...relax, have fun, use your imagination and enjoy your little ecosystem....That is what its all about...
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Old 09-25-2012, 04:12 PM   #32 
12thletter
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Thanks for the info about filters. Makes Sense!
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Old 09-25-2012, 05:54 PM   #33 
mkayum
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Is the organic peat moss safe to use as layer?? You said any soil, dirt but I want to make sure.... thanks! c:
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Old 09-26-2012, 09:58 AM   #34 
Oldfishlady
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Peat moss you want to limit that to about a handful or 2 per 10 gallons. Make it your first layer under the soil.

If you have soft water or plan to use R/O water add a 1/4 cup/10gal of bonemeal to the soil. For smaller tanks a tablespoon or so....

Most plants that work well in the soil based-low tech tanks like hard water and higher pH-so soft water or R/O water isn't needed.
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Old 09-26-2012, 09:16 PM   #35 
Fredsterbit
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I'm going to use a Fluorite Black substrate for my planted tank, will that work well? It is what the LPS uses in their tanks and it seems to work for them..
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Old 09-27-2012, 09:31 AM   #36 
Oldfishlady
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fredsterbit View Post
I'm going to use a Fluorite Black substrate for my planted tank, will that work well? It is what the LPS uses in their tanks and it seems to work for them..
I would like to keep this sticky on topic of soil based planted tanks...

Start a new thread in the planted tank section about your substrate....
Thanks....
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Old 09-28-2012, 08:35 PM   #37 
titolatino1970
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you got me very intersted i would like to make a npt out of my 20 long and use it as a betta growout tank what filter do you recomend hob or sponge
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Old 09-29-2012, 09:17 AM   #38 
Oldfishlady
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I use all kinds of sources for my water movement and haven't really seen a difference in them-from HOB, canisters, sponge-I do try to limit the agitation of water at the surface so not to degas the natural CO2 that is created in the system itself.

Since this will be a grow out for Betta fry-you need to look at how the filter will affect the fry-HOB might be too strong and you risk sucking them into the filter and the sponge might be the best option. With a 20gal long I would use 2 sponge filters placed at either end.
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Old 09-29-2012, 03:54 PM   #39 
titolatino1970
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so im thinking hob baffled with a sponge attached to the intake with the sponge possible resting on a cave or rock maybe might work
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Old 10-05-2012, 02:55 PM   #40 
Lady Courage
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Oh wow! I LOVE this!!! I'm a natural gal, always have been. We feed and care for all our animals as close to nature as we can. We make the dog's raw food, the horses go barefoot, the cattle are grassfed only, all of them are treated with homeopathy... This just lines up with our whole philosophy perfectly.

I don't think I'll do it with this 3.5 gallon, primarily because we may have to take it on the road in an RV and I can't imagine a dirt floored tank would do well... Seems to me it would kick up a lot of mud to be joggled around so.

But someday! I MUST try this! Thank you for the wonderful info!
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