Dirt for low tech

Macman6

Member
Joined
14 Dec 2017
Messages
55
Location
Manchester
I'm going to be setting up a 4x2 ft low tech with Big Tom's scapes as an inspiration, and want to put a bit of soil in ...

what would everyone reccomend?

i want to create soft acidic conditions so i can keep some Apistos

Cheers
 

zozo

Member
Joined
16 Apr 2015
Messages
7,473
Location
Netherlands
I guess in the end you're stuck with what commes from the tap.. What ever you use to make water more acidic, will flush out with water changes. But it seems most Apistos in the trade are captive bred and already used to less acidic conditions.

Anyway getting water more acidic with natural sources you can forget about "a bit". It requires quite a lot, regardless if its leaflitter, alder cones or peat. Depending on the buffer capacity of the water it needs quite some humic substances to have effect on the water parameters. And as said it aint acidic for ever, once the water is done buffering pH slowly will rise again even faster if you do water changes with tap water. Trying to create a stable low pH with additions is very tricky and the lower you get, you also nearing that crash point. Hard to determine where that crash point is..

For example you can add acids and lower it 1.5 unit relative agressively, next day you measure again, water has buffered a great deal and its risen 1 unit again. Than to get it down again to the target parameter you need much less acid than the day before, how much is trail and error. A bit to much and it will shoot down realy fast. It's very tricky to keep this stable. Very easy to crash it beyond healthy conditions.

I would recomend forget about altering pH :)
 

Macman6

Member
Joined
14 Dec 2017
Messages
55
Location
Manchester
guess in the end you're stuck with what commes from the tap
sorry, i guess i worded it poorly, my tap water is pretty soft, however im worried about a substrate driving up hardness, im sure Tom had this problem in one of his journals?
 

dw1305

Expert
Joined
7 Apr 2008
Messages
10,964
Location
nr Bath
Hi all,
im sure Tom had this problem in one of his journals?
<"He did">, he used <"John Innes No.3">, and that has lime (CaCO3) added during processing . Also you don't know the origin of the "loam" component (but it is usually the soil riddled from potatoes (or Sugar beet) during processing) is with JI mixes.
and want to put a bit of soil in ... what would everyone reccomend? i want to create soft acidic conditions so i can keep some Apistos
What is your garden like (if you have one?). I always PYO my soil.

My garden <"isn't very suitable"> (Limestone clay brash), but I can collect leaf mold and clay from the greensand to the east of me.

If you do have access to the moors etc, anywhere heather (Calluna vulgaris) is growing is likely to be suitable, it only grows where the soil is acidic. Molehills on commons are often a good source for soil.

cheers Darrel
 

zozo

Member
Joined
16 Apr 2015
Messages
7,473
Location
Netherlands
sorry, i guess i worded it poorly, my tap water is pretty soft, however im worried about a substrate driving up hardness, im sure Tom had this problem in one of his journals?

I do not recall that Journal, but that might be i didn't read them all, Tom is an old time UKAPS member from long before i joined the club.

But if any substrate drives up the hardness it could be premixed with Calcium and or Magnesium, some dirt soils from the garden centres are premixed with that stuff, than the contents on the lable should say so.

Regarding dirt soil i have very good experience with Velda Lelite, it specialy developed for Lilies in the pond.
https://www.velda.com/pond-products/bottom-plants/plant-substrates/lelite/

It contains blue loam and dried fenlland peat, this makes it a very steady compact but still rather soft soil and it stays long time fertile.. I have one aquarium setup with this alreaddy for the 3th season now with a bunch of rather fast growing plants and still didn't need to add any additional fertilizers till now. Plants grow mental on it.. :)

But still regarding creating a soft acidic condition, it might do for a little while depending on the tap parameters because of the peat it contains. But peat will buffer and somewhat soften your water and lowering pH. But it isn't permanently, at one point it is done buffering and it stops altering water parameters. Than for example most tap water is /- nutral in pH around 7, since it is under pressure it contain some extra CO² affecting the pH. After 24 hours not beeing under pressure anymore the water will be depleted from that extra CO² and rise in pH above 7. If teh peat in the tank is done buffering and saturated than you have to add new peat again. Mean to say in the substrate it can't be done, than you need to put peat in the filter etc. In general, theoreticaly it is said, peat for altering water parameters needs to be repalced +/- every 6 to 8 weeks. If you don't than regarding pH you will be stuck with what you get from the tap. If peat alters you water parameters is highly depended on what comes from the tap..

For me personaly, since the usual recomeded dosage of peat doesn't alter zip for me other than making the water coffee brown, this also was a point of consern with my idea that i can never keep any Apistos. But regarding other experienced UKAPS members it aint an issue because all captive bred Apistos in the trade are addapted to live healthy in higher pH vallues than their wild caught cousins are.
 

dw1305

Expert
Joined
7 Apr 2008
Messages
10,964
Location
nr Bath
Hi all,
want to create soft acidic conditions so i can keep some Apistos
I should also have said that if you aren't too far away <"Peter Clarke"> is in Chesterfield, and he should be able to advise you (and he should have a range of species available). If you NW Manchester then Pier or Leyland Aquatics might be an option.

Another really useful PYO item are <"Alder "cones"> you can buy them, but it is a very common tree in the UK. I have a few in all the tanks, along with a bit of <"structural leaf litter"> (leaf litter bits are towards the bottom of the page).

cheers Darrel
 

Similar threads

Top