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[APD] Flourite vs. Soil

Message: 7
Date: Wed, 11 Aug 2004 00:09:27 -0400
From: "James Purchase" <jppurchase at rogers_com>
Subject: [APD] Flourite vs. Soil
To: <aquatic-plants at actwin_com>

Greetings Mr. Purchase :)

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post to Scott, not because of the possible flame war which might ensue :) but at the moment I'm on a mission of choosing a soil based substrate for my next planted tank. I have a couple of questions to ask of you (and others willing to chime in) if you don't mind.

First off, I have Diana's 2nd edition EOPA and have setup a small (10g) tank paludarium style and I must say "so far so good". I literally used soil from my back garden. This soil is just plain old brown dirt with bits and pieces of who knows what mixed into it...there are no fish in this tank at the moment, its purely experimental. I did'nt even let the soil soak for 6 weeks as recommended by Diana, I just bombed the whole lot in, planted the plants, small powerhead for circulation and thats it, No filter. Funnily enough, after the initial murky water settled down the tank is doing extremely well, chrystal clear water and slow but good plant growth, minimal algae. 

A couple of kilometers from my house is quite a mountainy area which is rich with a very fine reddish sand, do you think this type of soil would have been a better option over the plain brown dirt?
Is the soil a reddish colour because it contains a high count of iron or is this caused by something else?
When setting up your soil based tanks did you add large amounts of humus under the soil layer or perhaps mixed in with the soil? I seem to recall Tom Barr saying that he uses a half inch layer of humus mixed with vacuumed detritus from an existing established tank, covered by a 2-3 inch layer of the soil and then capped off with 5cm or so aquarium gravel. I am planning on using this recipe but would also be interested to hear of your methods if you don't mind as you seem to have good experience with this type of setup.
Thanks a stack for any input or weblinks offered.

Warmest regards
Cameron James
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