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[APD] moving plant in soil substrate

Soil substrates come and go in fashion. They have distinct advantages
and disadvantages. Moving plants is one of the big challenges. In my
tanks with dirt substrates, I try not to move plants around. Stem plants
can be harvested by pinching them off and leaving the roots behind. To
harvest Crypts, you just have to work your fingers down under the
rhizome and gently pull up until you have got most of the rhizome free.
You will release a lot of soil. It will help a lot if you drain all the
water out before you do this. If you have fish and that's not practical,
you can simply use your gravel vacuum after you've done ripping up the
substrate to remove soil that settles onto leaves and everywhere. Its
not really very practical or ideal. The simple way is to put the soil
into pots and then simply lift the entire pot out, scoop out the plants
you need and cover the hole with gravel. This works very well! The
disadvantage of using pots is that the amount of soil available to the
plant is very limited and so the plant will not achieve the same size
that it would if the roots were free to spread out in a large soil

You might be tempted to use plastic containers to hold soil for your
aquarium. Evidence has shown that plastic causes toxicity problems with
certain kinds of aquatic plants over the long term. I would recommend
either glass or pottery containers. I tried using yoghurt containers and
the results were dismal. I use pots of soil or soil under my substrates.

An alternative to using soil would be to use clay fertilizer balls in
plain gravel. In my opinion, soil is still the best approach to use for
Crypts. It also works well for Anubias; you let the roots grow down into
the substrate where they can benefit from the soil nutrients.

Steve P

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