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Soil Classification Question

Good Morning Everyone,

I've got a question for the geologists on the list, concerning the
classification of some soil I would like to use in a new tank. Living as I
do in a big city, finding soil that is free of industrial contamination is a
challenge. I have located a source (thankfully within walking distance from
home) of what I hope will be suitable substrate material.

It is a dark, very finely textured soil which contains a lot of sand and was
dug out from underneath a mixed Sugar Maple, American Birch woodland (in a
local ravine). There were lots of small wildflowers growing in the area and
a layer of leaf litter which was about 2" thick, which I removed (and then
replaced, after I had collected enough soil for my tank). The topsoil layer
was about six inches thick, and very dark and finely textured. The subsoil
was a light tan in color and also very fine and sandy - this stuff was very
easy to dig out and I noticed (and put back) a number of earthworms as I was

A reference on a local University's website to local geology states "the
valley walls are inhabited by Sugar Maple, Eastern Hemlock and American
Beech in rich, dark mesic soils." I can't find any definition of a "mesic
soil" on the soil links listed in Steve's webpage. Anybody have any idea of
exactly what this term means?

Of those of you who have had experience with soil substrates, would anybody
care to venture a guess as to the suitability of this material as a
substrate for aquarium plants? The area from which the soil was collected,
although located in the heart of the city, has never been developed and is
quite "wild" (I was visited by a family of foxes out for their evening
stroll while I was collecting the soil).


James Purchase
Toronto, Ontario
jpurch at interlog_com