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Old 12-28-2010, 09:24 AM   #1 
CrankyFish84
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Rave for using top soil as substrate :)

It's been about a month since in a 10G I put plain top soil, a bit of sand, and topped it off with gravel to
help hold it all down during water changes...and the usually slow growing Java plant has grown much
bigger than is normally expected! I swear it looks about 2x the size! :) I also use a drop of Flourish
once a week. The crypts are going nuts too.
I will definitely redo all the tanks to a soil base & highly recommend it!

The only "con" is during changes, it does all cloud the water a bit unless you pour really, really slowly.
It's getting more brown algae than non-soil tanks also.
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Old 12-28-2010, 11:35 AM   #2 
Oldfishlady
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Awesome.....the brown may be tannins from the soil and it can be a bugger in the beginning...lol.....in glass tanks it is easy to take care of with a razor blade...if it is brown algae or diatoms that wipe off easy then you are right they will go away as the tank matures-just make sure your light bulb are not too old...sometimes they will come back when the light bulb ages-I have to change mine out every 6 months or so since I am on a 12 hour photo period.

When I pour the water back in my tanks I use my free hand under the water flow so I don't disturb the soil and this has worked well for me and once it matures you won't have to make as many water changes anyway....another neat thing about these setup...lol....

Great that you are seeing result and fast growth in the plants...it didn't take me long to get all my tanks changed to this system....I had no choice with the fast plant growth...I had to do something with all the plants...laffs....
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Old 12-28-2010, 12:34 PM   #3 
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OFL - Thanks for all your help before :)

The NPT system will be a life saver for me in the coming months when I have to travel more & can't
do changes on the schedule I do now.
I'm ordering some Iron and Phosphorus tablets for the Swords because they appear to be yellowing and
some root browning (they are in just plain small gravel). Also getting some AquariumPlants.com brand
gravel that has good reviews for a double punch. I hate seeing my swords fading. :/
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Old 12-28-2010, 01:04 PM   #4 
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Make sure the crown of the sword is above the substrate some-when their crown gets covered they can start to rot on you....I am surprised that your soil is not supporting your swords...it must have been low in Iron...the root tabs should help.....I have pretty good luck with my dirt, but I also added some clay soil from my yard as well....going on 3 years and still have not had to add any food...just some flake fish food and livestock/fish waste...lol....if I need to add any iron for my sword I plan to try the home made clay balls that you let harden and cram in the soil next to the plant and see how they work..I have plenty of clay in my area...lol...
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Old 12-29-2010, 10:01 AM   #5 
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Well the red flame swords are in soil, and they are doing good...It's the Amazon's in the sorority tank
that are yellowing...And that's the tank I need to redo using soil....Right now the substrate is
very fine gravel. And I will uncover the roots some too...The roots on a few are turning brown (crys),
but still some white root, and a few shooting off pods (which are growing past the waterline!)
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Old 12-29-2010, 06:08 PM   #6 
weluvbettas
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Did you just add the soil straight away and just pick out the sticks and things. Or did you have to wash the soil?
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Old 12-29-2010, 07:25 PM   #7 
Oldfishlady
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I sift my soil/dirt first and remove as much of the large pieces of rock, wood...etc.....you can't rinse it...well you could...I wouldn't....then you would have mud or a big mess...lol

Once I put my soil layer in the tank and the sand or fine gravel cap- (less than half inch to 1 inch of dry sand)..as gentle as I can I add just enough water to just cover and then I will let it soak for a min or two and then I add more water about 3-4 inch above the sand....I then do the hard scape and plant...(in larger tank with larger hard scape items like big rocks or driftwood I will place half my dirt in first and then add my hard scape items then add the rest of the dirt and sand cap)

Once I completed the hard scape and planted-depending on how cloudy the water-I may siphon the water off and re-fill...I may siphon and re-fill a couple or three times...depending on how cloudy...I don't rinse the sand either because it is too hard to get in place...so I rinse it in away with a bunch of water changes in the tank-remember to add dechlorinator on the finial fill (chlorinated water usually will not hurt plants for the short contact time)

I use my free hand to pour the water over so it doesn't disturb the soil too much...really slow.....I don't fill all the way to the top...yet.....sometimes you need to get in with your hand and fix things-like re-plant-moving things etc.....

Sometimes I use small amount of gravel around the base of plants to help keep them anchored until they root and anchor themselves

Once filled I will let thing settle before I turn the filter on (if I am going to use one) so any sand floating in the water column will not get into the impeller (depending on type of filter)and bind it up.

Sometimes you have to go in with your hand and carefully brush the plants or wave you hand over the hard scape items to get the sand/soil off

If using a filter-depending on what kind-make sure you know where is will be and the heater-I usually place them when I do the hard scape-so I can place plants/hard scape- so they will not be in the way or will hide them

In small tanks it is a good idea to place a hard scape item or low growing plants where the overflow will be-so the overflow will not blow the sand around-I also will place a flat rock under the intake so it doesn't sit directly over the sand if the intake is low to the floor and suck sand up into the impeller.
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Old 12-29-2010, 07:33 PM   #8 
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Thanks Oldfishlady! Saved that info so I dont forget! Setting up my 20 tomorrow using this method , cannot wait. :)
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