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Old 10-17-2014, 09:23 PM   #1 
Cranly
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beginning a planted tank soil questions

I've been trying to research and begin planning planted tank. I have some basics, but also have some things that are tripping me up. Sorry if they sound bizarrely obtuse.

We'd like to do a dirt-ed tank. I've been told that Mircle Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix is a good soil, which is what I'm planning on using.

1) I know there are a lot of plants that don't technically need soil, but can just use root-tabs. Can they still go in a dirt tank? Or what are some plants the are specifically for dirt tanks or thrive in dirt tanks?
1b) I know I need to rinse the soil. I've tried to begin this process, but it's kind of a mess. How are people rinsing the soil? I started rinsing it how I figured one might rinse soil - but found it to be kind of a mess (figuratively - though literally also is accurate).
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Old 10-17-2014, 10:48 PM   #2 
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hmm im thinking that your only suppose to rinse the sand that goes ontop of the soil, not the soil itself (it is dirst after all, an why youd rinse sand). when i did my NPT i just added declorinated water to make it wet, and put the rinsed sand ontop then planted my plants. I adore anubis, java ferns, water wisteriea and water sprite, they are all easy to keep.
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Old 10-18-2014, 01:57 PM   #3 
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Pretty much every plant except floaters, mosses, and rhizome based pants that are tied to decor above the substrate will use the soil fine (rhizome plants can if their roots are long enough to reach the soil but keep the rhizome off the substrate), anything stuffed in the substrate with roots will use the soil.
MCOPM (miracle gro organic potting mix) is a common choice, but other orgnaic brands an be sued, just make sure its organic and has a 'nutrients bar' like breakdown of what all is in it. If it doesn't list what goes in don't touch it.
As for prepping soil I generally sift out the wood chips using a mesh screen like you get for windows and back doors. Then just dampen the soil left so its a dough like consistency but not runny, mix it up and then gently pat it down before adding my cap (black diamond 'sand')

If you have not yet, look into the "Walstad Method" or buy Walstad's book: "ECOLOGY of the PLANTED AQUARIUM - A Practical Manual and Scientific Treatise for the Home Aquarist" Its very helpful.

I will note that even with my sand cap the soil can leeche ammonia for a while (has for me twice). So you if you have a filter, you can get a partial fish-less cycle from it. Its its already cycled it will feed the beneficial bacteria in the filter and give you raised nitrates for a few weeks. If you do not add a fish immediately just do water changes on the schedule you plan to keep, if you do add a fish you will need more frequent water changes with the higher levels caused from soil leeching. Test water daily to keep an eye on it. Remember soil is just decomposing organics and in water that means ammonia. But it does not go on forever, and when its done leeching into the water column it is still providing nutrients to plants under the substrate.
If you have going to have hardscape like rocks or areas that will not have plants with roots (like an unplanted foreground) don't put soil there, only where there will be plants.
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Old 10-18-2014, 03:22 PM   #4 
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Many ( but not all) aponogetons can be sensitive to soil. the issue is too much available nitrogen which can cause black spots and holes in the leaves. A. ulvaceus and A. madagascarensis are the REAL sensitive plants in this group
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Old 10-19-2014, 10:34 AM   #5 
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Nice heads up on the info Bama, I didn't know that.

Organic soil is great in all, but it's messy for me and capping it with other substrate just kills me. Great thing is it's cheap.

I tried a lot of substrates, but nothing beats ADA aquasoil. It's clean and I don't have to cap it with other substrate. I also use power sand special S, M, or L at the bottom. The only down fall is it's very expensive. I guess you get what you pay for.
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Old 10-19-2014, 02:13 PM   #6 
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Very helpful. Thanks, all!
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Old 10-19-2014, 02:27 PM   #7 
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also Encyclopedia of Aquarium Plants by Peter Hiscock

great book with great technique on growing beautiful plants and though I would never advise breaking a law-- it is downloadable on piratebay as well
Also a GOOD mineralized TopSoil that has gona through a couple mmonths of wet dry cycles will not leach as much ammonia for nearly as long through the cap layer.

Last edited by BamaPlants; 10-19-2014 at 02:29 PM. Reason: added info.
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