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How to Mineralize Soil Substrates?

Discussion in 'AquaScaping World Magazine Discussions' started by John N., Apr 10, 2008.

  1. John N.

    John N. Administrator Staff Member

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    Please discuss and comment on Aaron Talbot's How to Mineralize Soil Substrates here.

    [​IMG]

    NOTE: Article was removed but can be found here.

    -John N.
     

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  2. hooha

    hooha New Member

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    I've used this method for 'no-fuss' nanos for my brother and brother-in-law. With no planted aquarium experience, these are doing great. Hemianthus micranthemoides, Eliocharis parvula and surprisingly Anubias nana 'petite' all grow well.
     
  3. jfrank85

    jfrank85 New Member

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    I havent tried this way yet but i am interested in how it will work. Im going to conduct diffrent experiments over the course of 6 months to see the best plant growth with diffrent variables. Ill keep ya posted!
     
  4. ingg

    ingg New Member

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    I am using this method in a high light, co2 injected 180g, and couldn't be happier.

    I dose next to nothing (a tiony amount of potassium) and have great results.
     
  5. plantbrain

    plantbrain Aspiring Aquascaper

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    I think some of this has long been over looked and forgotten, about every 3-5 years, someone brings it up and suddenly several folks discover something that's been known in the hobby for at least 70 or more years now.

    So it's good to have it appear and show up.

    But this one single method is hardly the tip of the iceberg with sediments.
    the sediments can be boiled or baked (thermal oxdiation), some folks in Brazil suggested the boiling method(10 min ought to do) and for 15 minutes of fame, everyone thought they knew everything. Baking is an old method, dating at least back to the 1970's when I started.

    Simply allowing it sit out for several weeks in shallow pan and add water every so often will allow bacteria(Biological mineralization) to do the work.

    There's the chemical method as well.
    Using zeosand(Lesilie pool supply etc), and adding a mix of this in the sediment will remove the NH4 as well.

    You can also mix the mud/sediment with 75% sand and then add a 2-3" layer instead of a 1", to 3/4" layer of solid mud on the bottom, this makes less mess and allows more O2 in there/less reduction(but not too little as well).

    I think many have moved too far away from nutrient rich sediments these days. Then those that use them make all sorts of kooky claims. So the end result is muck for many folks and poor understanding about the benefits and uses.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
    LindenOnline likes this.
  6. AaronT

    AaronT New Member

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    I know a large part of the reason it took me a long time to try the method is because I wanted to understand it a bit first. It can get messy when you replant and uproot plants. Topping stems is the best way to go if they can handle it; most can. :D

    For me, the little extra mess it makes when I'm rescaping and such is totally worth it and it clears up by the next day. I love that I can become busy and forget about my tanks for days and not have to worry about them having gone to heck because I wasn't dosing. I can also go on vacation and leave instructions on how to feed the fish and that's it. :D
     
  7. John N.

    John N. Administrator Staff Member

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    Aaron, Hooha, and Ing, speaking of replanting and creating a mess when rescaping, when using this soil method, do you ever encounter algae problems from the excess organics that may bloom up into the water column? From your experiences are there any cons that one should know about before attempting to use this method?

    -John N.
     
  8. JDowns

    JDowns New Member

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    In the fall when I reset up my 150 with a scape I've been jonsing to do, I will definatly have to try this as a substrate.

    Great article. Now start writing one on how to grow/maintain moss. :-"
     
  9. hooha

    hooha New Member

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    John,
    I haven't rooted up too many plants, and if I do it's only a couple crypts or stems at a time. I quickly syphon up the soil that's pulled up. I haven't had any algae issues so far myself after doing this. I would think it could get pretty messy if you tear up the whole scape though.

    The only 'con' I've had is the initial bloom of cloudy/green water for the first couple of weeks when you set up. With daily/every other day water changes this clears up without much issues over time.
     
  10. SCMurphy

    SCMurphy New Member

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    Aaron, great job with the article. I'm glad you got around to writing up your experiences. I didn't notice a single 'kooky' claim in there.

    Just a note for the comments:

    Since the article is about a mineralized substrate I'd like to point out that boiling or baking soil does not mineralize the organics, all it does is gas off free ammonia. You still have the (now cooked) organics in the soil. This might make the organics easier for bacteria to digest, but they seem to do fine on their own. Boiling or baking might work best for the "El Natural" folk, but they tend not to use high light intensities. This substrate will work in either situation.

    John, if you do a water change after disturbing the substrate during a rescape or plant harvest you can head off any algae bloom. However, this holds true for any substrate you use in a planted aquarium.

    The nutrients can be "locked up so hard" in the mineralized substrate that when you start the aquarium you might have plants struggling to get settled. I've solved this for crypts by giving them a tiny piece of Jobes stick under them to help them get started. This holds them over until they have fully rooted and can take advantage of the soil.

    The green water is expected and welcomed: For some reason other algae don't do well in green water, so they don't gain a foothold; when it clears up you know that the bacteria fauna have established themselves and are going to town. The plants have also had a chance to 'take root'. ;)
     
  11. AaronT

    AaronT New Member

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    Thanks for chiming in Sean. I knew the boiling and baking were different, but I couldn't remember specifically why they weren't as effective.

    As Sean mentioned doing a large water change after a major replanting will help to clear up the water and avoid any algae outbreaks. The cloudiness that ensues usually clears by the next day assuming you have some sort of mechanical filtration. It's important to also turn off your filter and any powerheads while rescaping. Doing so gives the soil a chance to settle before being blown all over the tank into suspension where it will then be filtered out instead.

    The green water isn't as bad as people make it out to be as Sean mentioned. I've actually just let it go and only done water top offs and it clears on its own after 3-4 weeks once the good bacteria become established. Some of our club members have used UV sterilizers to stop the green water as well.
     
  12. AaronT

    AaronT New Member

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    I'm not sure how long of an article that would be. Growing mosses well isn't too difficult when you know where they are found in nature. Most of the aquatic mosses are found in flowing cool water in the shade.

    Given that knowledge the best moss is often grown in cooler water (75 degrees or cooler), with good ciculation and moderate lighting.
     
  13. Shurik

    Shurik New Member

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    Dear Aaron!
    Many thanks to you for posting this article. I just finished setting up my two tanks (10 gal and 20 gal) using somewhat similar method, well, whatever I could remember from my grandfather telling me about “how to do the fish tanks” (he was born in 1911 and he is long time gone now). It wasn’t as advanced, there was no theory, no explanation, he would just tell me “this is what I’ve learned from my grandfather”, then he would look at me the way I would shrink down to 1” tall, :-s and it was the end of arguments. :eek:

    Finally you brought up some understanding to it! :Happy:

    I just wish I saw your guide before I started, it would be soooo helpful! Now I am up to using the same method with my new 50 gal. because it is definitely worth bothering with.
    When I was doing my 10 and 20 gal, I started out from your “optional” step 4. That way I minimized the amount of mud to mineralize in my living room, sifting out all extra organic components before wetting the soil. To me it is just a matter of space and girt flying all over the place.
    Another step I ignored (I just didn’t know about it) was adding clay, dolomite and potash, and I see I missed something very important. This is probably why I don't have any green water though... I wonder what price I will have to pay for it.

    At any rate, I am really happy to see your step by step guide, this is great!
    Thank you! :amillanbliss:
     
  14. AaronT

    AaronT New Member

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    I'm glad you like it. That's a pretty funny story about your grandfather. I hope to be stubborn and ornery one day myself. :D

    The clay definitely makes a difference. It really helps the soil to settle back out of the water column when rescaping and also serves to help bind nutrients.
     
  15. oregonaqua

    oregonaqua New Member

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    aaront love the article!!! and im going to start it in my 55gal (hopefully) sometime next week.

    the clay i can find but where are some places to find the potash, dolomite, and i really want to get that 3m black sand. i cant wait to start this!!!!

    2nd ?. i like the plants i have now will i have to dump them because they have some algae on them? or will the algae go away because the nutrients are more locked up in the soil?


    this will be my first soil tank besides my 4gal nano and im still doing that emersed growth style (im scared to flood it because it looks so good now and i dont wanna mess it up lol)

    Jeremy
     
  16. AaronT

    AaronT New Member

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    Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

    I found the potash at my local garden center. It's the Hoffman brand sold as Muriate of Potash. The Dolomite is an Estes product that my LFS carries regularly. Crushed coral would probably work too, though the dolomite is nice because it's a much slower release. The 3M sand I found by using their website. 3M Worldwide Look up Colorquartz under their products and follow the links to find the nearest dealer.

    Nah, I never throw away healthy plants with algae on them, only dead ones. :) The algae won't go away because of the nutrients locked up in the soil. The algae will eventually go away because the water column will have little to no available nutrients in it for it to thrive. An algae clean-up crew is also a good idea.

    I understand your fears completely. It took me a couple of years to try this method and even then I only used a small 20 gallon tank to begin with. A little patience will be greatly rewarded. :D
     
  17. oregonaqua

    oregonaqua New Member

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    thanks for the answers:bling:

    i have a few more questions

    i found the potash and dolomite at my garden center =0)
    for clay i found terracotta clay or a white clay called pearl paperclay(it says all natural non toxic)?

    i cant get the 3m sand:Blah: no local distributer. so i guess i will be using my old sand and flourite mix? i was thinking of washing the sand and flourite then baking it to sterilize it and get all my fertz out of it?

    last questions for today. how deep can the soil be? and the sand? im thinking in spots i would like to have 4 or 5 inches maybe a little more? so is like 4 inches soil and 1 inch sand going to be ok? or am i asking for trouble?


    i started step one yesterday=0)
     
  18. AaronT

    AaronT New Member

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    Sure thing!

    The dolomite sold at garden centers is different. You are looking for dolomite that is crushed limestone. It should look like the picture at the top of this page: Dolomite - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The clay I used came from a pottery store. Just make sure that it is real clay and not a polymer. You can also use laterite from the LFS.

    There's no need to bake it. Just give it a good rinse and call it good.

    I wouldn't make the soil any deeper than 1". Any deeper can be asking for trouble. The layer of gravel on top doesn't need to be very thick either. The notion that a healthy substrate is deeper doesn't hold water. If it's just for aesthetics it will be fine, but make it deeper with gravel, not soil.

    Sweet! This is a great time of year as the warm weather greatly speeds up the process. :D
     
  19. oregonaqua

    oregonaqua New Member

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    :Di was goin to ask about the laterite but i forgot.

    the dolomite i found is Turf King pelletized dolomite lime its made from mined calcium carbonate & magnesium carbonate

    if this wont work i will just go spread it in the lawn:D
     
  20. AaronT

    AaronT New Member

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    Yes, that's the stuff you don't want to use. I made the same mistake when I went to setup my first soil tank too.
     

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