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Re: substrate

"Daniel Wiznia" <danielwiznia at hotmail_com> wrote:

> I was wondering. Which subtrate do you think is better?  Do you have any 
> suggestions for what I should use?

This depends upon how you define better. Since you haven't specified,
I'll wait a bit before I answer more.

> First I am goint to mix top soil with vermiculite.  This I will put in 
> as the bottom layer, mabe 4 inches.  Then a one inch layer of sand.  In 
> the substrate, I will put osmocote 14-14-14 to fertilize the substrate. 

You are a brave man Daniel Wiznia!

I suggest you skip the vermiculite and mix the top soil with sand
instead. How fertile is the top soil?

Use no more than one inch layer of soil mixed with sand, not 4 inches.

I would recommend you to skip putting Osmocote fertilizer. Depending
upon where you got your topsoil, it can contain a fair amount of macro
nutrients. Its pretty easy to add macro nutrients at the 6-12 month mark
using either clay balls or Jobe's. IMHO, its easy to overdose using
Osmocote in a substrate (although you can get phenomenal growth rates).

From the perspective of keeping algae problems low, you want to have the
substrate relatively low in macro fertility. Presoaking the soil in a
bucket of water for a month helps if you have the time for it.

A report on my 50 gallon tank which was setup about a month ago with a
one inch layer of dirt from the garden covered with a one inch layer of
aquarium gravel. I mixed the soil with enough water to make a thick mud
and puttied it onto the bottom and let it dry partially. This makes it
foolproof later when you add water and during planting; no cloudiness.
The drier you let the mud get, the harder it is and the longer it takes
for it to get soft again later.

There is strong lighting from a 250 watt MH pendant, CO2 injection and
sunlight hitting the tank most mornings. No fish are in this tank
presently. The tank is dosed with Mg, K and Ca but no nitrates
initially. I anticipate nitrates from the soil.

After a month, there is a good growth of brown diatoms especially where
the water flow from the powerhead is strongest. It would be nice to have
some Otocinclus in there, if I could only catch some from the 75 gallon
tank. In the corner of the tank where the circulation is weakest, there
seems to be signs of blue green algae forming. No green water and no
filament algae evident so far. I'll test for nitrates and phosphates
tonight and do the first big water change. I did one 25% change a couple
weeks ago. Today I think I'll change almost 100% to reduce any nitrates
and phosphates. Then I'll add fish.

The plants are doing fairly well. Most of them are slow growing plants.
I don't have large amounts of fast growing plants available right now so
I'm making do until the samples of fast growers have time to propagate.
I have several delicate plants that grow real fast that I want to get
nice and healthy. One of these got bleached and is recovering. Another
sample wasn't in as good condition, so I didn't chance bleaching it. I
know there is some BBA in the tank so I'm not going to be completely
paranoid about bleaching stuff and hope that I don't get any Oedogonium
(the fine furry velvet stuff that is impossible to deal with and can
coat all the leaves in an aquarium).

Steve Pushak                              Vancouver, BC, CANADA 

Visit "Steve's Aquatic Page"      http://home.infinet.net/teban/
 for LOTS of pics, tips and links for aquatic gardening!!!