Soil & gravel treatments for algae

> From: krombhol at felix_TECLink.Net (Paul Krombholz)
> Date: Sat, 18 Nov 1995 20:05:16 -0600
> Subject: Re: "floating on hellish spores"
> This notion that hair algae comes in on spores has not been substantiated
> in my experience.  Ever since I got rid of it about 20 years ago with the
> bleach treatment, I have had almost no problems.  I got some once from some
> soil, but I am pretty sure it came from surface soil that got enough light
> to support the alga.  It didn't grow very well under water, and it was no
> problem to eliminate.   Now, I scrape off the top half inch of soil before
> I collect any.  I got some once from some rain water.  Apparently some can
> grow in the eavestrough of my house.  [snip]
> Just try setting up a hair algae-free tank. Give a few plants the two or
> three minute 5% bleach treatment, and set them up in the tank with topsoil,
> snails and Daphnia.   Once you have a 'haven' set up, you will want to
> bleach more of your plants and set them up free of hair algae.  With snails
> to control soft attached algae and Daphnia to control green water, you will
> be able to give all the nutrients, light and CO2 you want, and you won't
> have to worry about hair algae taking over.  You should see growth rates
> not possible in a hair algae-infested tank.
The thought of setting up an algae free tank is very interesting.
One of my tanks is set up with soil and one with gravel and only a few
Tetra fertilizer tablets and "clay" cones but I'd really like to convert
this one over to a soil based tank w/o algae. This would enable me to
really utilize the stronger lights I now have. Some questions:

Are you recommending a 50:50 mixture of soil and composted manure for
a kind of general purpose but rich substrate?

The problem of smells while composting manure in my kitchen is really
a concern. Would it be ok to do this outside with an average temperature
of about 10C?

What, aside from scraping off a half inch or so of topsoil, would you
recommend as a treatment for soil to preclude the possibility of algae
in it? Would keeping it in a sealed dark container for a few weeks do

Can used gravel be salvaged? Or is it best to turf the old stuff and
buy fresh (expensive) stuff?

Have people used those plant fertilizer spikes or other
solid fertilizer tablets as undergravel supplements?