Re: Peat, Soil

>Check Neil Frank's recent contribution on peat substrate. Yes, mix it
>in the lower half. Neil, are you recommending peat substrates as general
>purpose? (plant types, lighting intensity, CO2 or not, beginner, experienced)

I have not tried all combinations, so my recommendations are limited. I have
only used peat substrates  without added CO2 and have gotten excellent
results. Possibly even better with CO2. Lighting, fluorescent, is low to
moderate (e.g. 20w in 30g tank -36"x13"x16", 80w over 70g - 48x18x18).
Plants that I have tried and do well in these setups include chain swords,
crypts, Vallisneria, Rotala macrandra, Mayaca fluviatilis. I don't do
anything special, so it should be fine for the beginner. My only caution is
to not vacuum the substrate, especially after leaving it undisturbed for
long time.

>From: Mike Bateman <vandi at well_com>
>Date: Tue, 7 Nov 1995 20:15:48 -0800
>Subject: Soil Substrates

>This leads me back to your point: Keeping the nutrients out of the water
>column.  What type of soil mix have you found works best for a range of
>plants (ie: not just crypts or apons)?

I can't recommend a particular soil mix. I have experimented with some
packaged potting and top soils. I only considered those that do not have
bark chips or other organic matter that would not float. They all work a
little differently and involve some trial and error. The soil that I like
the best is what I found in my back yard. North Carolina clay with
decomposed leaves from a wooded area. This seemed to match the definition of
loam that the old European books talk about. There are some good articles in
The Aquatic Gardener on soils and how they should be used as an aquarium
substrate. Check out the index on the AGA web page. You will see that this
is not MY method. The real proponents of garden and potting soils include
Diana Walstad, Dorothy Reimer and Paul Krombholz. 

>Do you add any fertilizers to the water column?  Do you use CO2 on
>these soil-substrate tanks?
I use soils in my higher tech tanks, with more lighting and CO2. Other
people use it without either.
I added trace elements initially, but haven't done so much in the last 2
years. The plant growth has slowed down, but that is fine. The tank is
overcrowded anyway. I still add KCl once every 1-2 months.
When I am not feeding much, or when I do not have enough fish I actually
have to add nitrogen.(NaNO3)

>How long do you think the nutrients last in
>the soil and how do you replace those nutrients?

Some of my tanks with soils are over 4 years old.

Neil Frank   Editor of "The Aquatic Gardener"  Aquatic Gardeners Association
 Visit the AGA home page at <http://blake.oit.unc.edu/~fish/aga/>