Eco complete and B&Q topsoil/mud from my garden.

gerlewis

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13 Jun 2009
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hey guys, im thinking of getting some Caribsea Eco-Complete

http://www.aquaessentials.co.uk/index.p ... cts_id=190

purely cos I like the look. I dont know much about substrates - but, to bulk it up, can I use topsoil from B&Q?, with the eco-complete on top? Also will topsoil sink? - and can I just use soil from my garden? (my garden is very clay, my dads is more silty - nearer the river. Which would be best, and would I need to treat/test tehm or just chuck it in!?)
Thanks
 

ceg4048

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Err..topsoil/river silt on top will turn your tank into a mudpit. If you have a real desire to use topsoil or silt then it would be more productive to have it under the EC, not above it. Organic, natural substrates are rich in nutrients and organic material but they are also messy and can cause problems with ammonia. If you intend to have a low tech, non-carbon enriched, low light tank and will not be doing a lot of replanting or pulling then it will be fine. The problem is preparation of the soil. You can bake the topsoil/silt at several hundred degrees for an hour or so or, you can put the sediment in a container and keep it moist for 3-4 weeks. This allows the ammonia to become mineralized so that it does not become a pollutant.

In the end though, a less messy solution is to simply bulk up your EC with similarity coloured plain gravel and ensure that you dose the water column.

Cheers,
 

gerlewis

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thanks for that detailed reply.

Your last sentence about using gravel under the EC: "In the end though, a less messy solution is to simply bulk up your EC with similarity coloured plain gravel and ensure that you dose the water column."

I thought soil from the garden would contain more useful nutrients than simply gravel from the LFS?

Thanks again. Food for thought!
 

Dave Spencer

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gerlewis said:
I thought soil from the garden would contain more useful nutrients than simply gravel from the LFS?

Thanks again. Food for thought!
Very true, but that is why Clive has high lighted that you dose the water column sufficiently. EC does have a CEC that means that some nutrients will be held in the substrate, but just make sure the water column is loaded with nutrients, as per EI dosing and you should be OK. Many successful planted tanks run on a 100% inert substrate, and the plants get their nutrients from the water column.

Dave.
 

gerlewis

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Thanks

When people say 'dose the water column' is there a product you can recommend which comes in bulk and is cheap?
 

nry

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Pfft...I used aquarium peat topped with a layer of bleach-free kitchen paper topped with pea gravel many years ago. Plants grew absolutely amazingly well and I never had cloudy water etc.

Topped with sand things should do better, I don't see how the topsoil is any more likely to cloud things if disturbed vs many of the other aquarium specific produtcs, I know my Tropica substrate makes loads of mess if I disturb it.
 

gerlewis

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nry, why use the kitchen towel? (I assume to stop the peat mixing and getting messy - but wont this also stop the nutrients mixing?)

Also what is aquarium peat?

Lastly, why should sand be better?
 

gerlewis

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nry

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Aquarium peat - no idea, this was sold to me boxed as that around 15 years ago :)

The kitchen paper held the peat down whilst the tank was filled and the peat absorbed the water, it stopped it floating up until it was compressed safely under the gravel/sand. I believe this was advice from PFK back in the day too...considering I had low lighting and no fertiliser beyond Tetra Plantamin, the plants did superb!
 

john starkey

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Hi,eco-complete is a complete soil on its own it does not need to be capped,i realise you maybe just want to add something to make it go farther,in my opinion i would just use black gravel,
regards john.
 

gerlewis

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13 Jun 2009
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Hey guys, a quick update question:

I like the look of pale bright sand at my local maidenhead aquatics - BUT if I put soil underneath it, will it eventually mix and look horrible? or do they stay seperate? - I have visions of the mud rising above the sand, and having a horrible soup!

If so, am I able to grow some plants, hairgrass etc as long as I dose the water column?

Thanks guys
Ger
 

john starkey

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Hi,don't take this the wrong way but I think you need to do some more research,take a look at how to make a sand foreground using dividers,and how to maintain the look without it mixing together,
Regards john.
 

gratts

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If so, am I able to grow some plants, hairgrass etc as long as I dose the water column?
Most plants will grow fine in plain sand if you take care of the other factors.
All a fertile substrate does is give them a slight advantage and take emphasis off water column dosing somewhat.
 
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