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Re: My mud

Karen wrote

>First, I'd like to congratulate you for a beautiful and well thought out
>site.  There's a lot that can be learned by following the progression of a
>tank like this.  And your tank is clearly thriving.


>I do have a couple of comments, however.  I'm sure you realize this, but
>for the novices on the list, I want to point out that talking about testing
>"pennsylvania soils" is only slightly more specific than "U.S. soils".
>There's a HUGE variation of soils in your state.  One only needs to drive
>through Amish country, coal country and the Poconos to realize that.  

Agreed!  You don't even have to drive that far:)

>You have clearly proven that the soil you picked at least supports early
>growth very well without terrible problems, although I would not find that
>amount of fish loss in the early weeks acceptable.

I will agree that is was not a good thing.  I belive it was due to a
nitrite spike and the secondary infections.  I went to fast as usual:)  I
have recently lost a couple of the hill stream loaches, but i think this is
lack of food.  There is very little algae, and the snail population is
large.  I have increased feeding, I am sure the plants will enjoy some
measurable nitrate too:)

>As you point out later in your post, you would not hesitate to recommend
>your source to a neighbor WITH GOOD MENTORSHIP, but the results might be
>very different for someone 20 miles away.  

Very true.

>I also was impressed by the amount of work you went to to get your soil
>ready for the tank.  My poor tendonitis would certainly not appreciate me
>schlepping 5 gallon buckets of dirt out of the woods, let alone digging the
>hole to get to it.  Did you happen to have a screen on hand that you could
>use to sift the stuff, or did you need to buy supplies to make a screen and
>frame?  It sounds like hard work sifting it out, but even if it's not hard
>physically, I'm _sure_ this whole process is time consuming.  

Well when I was done collecting I said I will buy Duplart!  Now after
seeing the results, and the passage of time, I may again venture into the
woods.  I did have a screen in the garage, and the buckets too:)  Here the
subsoils are laced with loads of shale fragments, and that made it
difficult to obtain "soil" (carefully avoiding the term Mud).  Time, yes
that was another thing, if I was about 15 miles away at me inlaws house the
task would have been simpler as they have very little gravel and shale in
their soil and it has a high clay content.  

>I guess the point I'm getting at is, how much is my time and effort worth?
>I still think I'm ahead of the game paying $20 for my little box of dirt
>;-)  If you're the kind of person who feels that doing it yourself is one
>of _the_ most important aspects of your hobby, then this approach is
>probably the way to go (along with building your own aquariums from

Oh no, I would not build an aquarium, I know it would leak:)  But again I
agree, there is a certain amount of satisfaction is doing it yourself, and
I feel that also.  Right now I like the look of that experimental tank in
the basement.  To give you and idea on my confidence level of "my soil" in
a tank, I still have not mustered up the gumption to add it to my show tank
when fertilizing the root zones.  Plus there is a certian confidance useing
a "bottled" product like now with the loss of a couple fish, is it lack of
food or the soil????

See ya,