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Re: The Dirt on Dirt

I second everyone's advice on buying the right kind of soil, and preparing 
it properly! 

This summer I decided to try growing some swords in a "mini-bog" out on my 
deck.  I carefully researched all the applicable advice regarding soil 
substrate, then disregarded every word of it.  Mainly because I figured I 
didn't have much to lose - after all, any problems would be limited to a 
small container sitting outside. 

So I took a plastic 2-gallon container, filled it 3/4ths with potting soil I 
already had on hand for repotting houseplants, plunked in the swords, and 
added water until the soil turned into soup.  I set it outside in a 
partly-sunny corner of the deck, and topped it off with water every morning. 

(Here's a picture:  
http://fisherking.org/atlanta/archives/greenbughides.html - and bonus points 
if you can find the katydid!) 

After about a week of 90-degree temperatures (30 Celsius) I noticed that the 
soil level was creeping up towards the lip of the container.  After a few 
more days, it threatened to spill over the side.  I worked up my courage, 
then went out there with a chopstick and started poking the dirt full of 
holes.  Ah, swamp gas.  Nature's fart! 

The swords are loving it out there, and it's a very small swamp, so the 
smell isn't going to bother anyone.  Every morning I top off the water 
level, then use the chopstick to poke about a dozen holes into the soil to 
vent the gas. 

My setup is not at all a problem.  But let me be the first to say: you do 
NOT want to create these conditions in the substrate of your aquarium! 

Look both ways before crossing the street, never run with scissors, and 
ALWAYS choose the right soil and condition it properly before using it as an 
aquatic substrate. 

 - Erika