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RE: Mini Bow a la Walstad

Hi Ellen,

I use sieved organic potting soil mixed with peat and clay in my tanks, with
a layer of gravel on top, the finer the better, what I am using in
preference is called 'sand' by the LFS, although I'd say its more a 1-3 mm

Yes, some soil does come up with the roots of plants, especially ones like
Swords that have a big root ball; if its just stem plants, I add a small
handful of the gravel as soon as I've got the plant out of the tank, on top
of any debris, it settles it all down really quickly.  If I am going to move
a big rooted plant, I empty out the tank as much as possible, taking out the
fish too, easy enough in a small tank, do the changes, add gravel on top
around the new plant or the hole, add a bit of water, which is usually
pretty dirty, take it out again, then refill the the tank properly.  If
there's still sediment in the water, I run the filter for a while before
putting the fish back, and change/rinse the filter sponge.  Yes, a bit of
hassle, but I think the plant growth I get, and the lack of needing to fuss
about iron and extra nitrate etc, worth it.

I suppose over time your substrate would get thicker, but the soil tends to
settle too, and a handful really doesn't go far, only a very thin layer, so
it hasn't been an issue.  the trick is to get it where you want it!

I find that using some stem plants is good in any tank, to soak up extra
ammonia and phosphates from overfeeding etc, no need to go to crypts and
anubias only.

I am planning on getting a Mini-bowfront too, to house my betta, and will be
doing a soil substrate again, and using just the standard light, as I have
done with my 6 gal Eclipse tank.  I use Excel for carbon and add a bit of
dolomite powder in the filter under the sponge I use instead of the standard
filter cartridge, for calcium, and also add liquid potassium (no KNO3 stump
remover at Home Depot in Canada!), that's it, it works great.

Kind regards,

Susi Barber