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Manado - will it cap dirt?

Franks

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26 Aug 2015
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240
I've had planted tanks for a while. They've always been play sand cap but inevitably they get Cyanobacteria and have to be tested down.

I've now got some very fine pea gravel 1-3mm which is probably like a very sand. I'm thinking this would prevent future cyanobacteria infestation capping John Innes 3 soil. The rear will be built up with a course pea gravel and I'm attempting to keep oxygen flowing.

If I bail out on that, is the brown Manado (clay balls) heavy enough to cap dirt without making a mess when you uproot stems? I found with sand, you can achieve this if you take your time and shake the stem as you pull which allows the sand to fall in on the space preventing the dirt from escaping. All the reviews I read say Manado is very light so I've a feeling it won't be good enough and I'm best to stick with my fine pea gravel/coarse sand and not use any play sand.

Thanks
 

Tim Harrison

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Stick with the John Innes 3 capped with the sand/gravel. Although you might also want to consider using aquatic compost, it's perhaps better suited as a substrate.
The Mando will likely be too light and you could end up with a muddy puddle.
 

mort

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15 Nov 2015
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I've got manado capping tropica soil and it's been that way for 7-8 years now. I don't know if the tropica soil has crumbled down to dust but if I try and uproot anything the layers mix very easily.
I used manado because I had it but it's very light and can be a pain to plant in unless you plant really deep. I don't think I would want to use it with soil for the very reason Tim mentions above.
 

Franks

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I've decided to go for Tesco cat litter instead. I've been fighting constant yellow water since using soil and very fine gravel and this is something I want to avoid. I assume only sand can truly cap dirt properly but then I also want a deep substrate in places and I don't want cyanobacteria again. I feel the benefits of clay, more flow and it's it's high CEC values will do me well.

The litter looks great like manado, it's easy to plant in and washed very easily in a test portion I did. Took me 20 mins to wash two bags. I'll add Osmocote/Miracle grow capsules to it for a lasting leech of nutrients aswell as water column dosing and co2 injection.

Just need to finalise my hardscape now.

Thanks
 

Franks

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26 Aug 2015
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Just an update that I ended up swapping the kitty litter for Manado. I pulled the lot apart and started over. This time I used John Innes 3 (about an inch) capped with 5-8cm of Manado and the water quality is great. I used some of the kitty litter as support for Dragon stone before overlaying with John Innes/Manado and the stability from this is much improved. I find Manado really easy to plant in so I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. Sure, it's light but it's in no way difficult. I like that it also has a high CEC value and has by now probably become an established part of the filtration. One major point I will add is that the Diatom algae never returned after I swapped the kitty litter for Manado. The litter was dusty, even after washing and it was difficult to plant in because the grain size was very coarse.

I think I might up my lighting in the coming weeks and keep an eye on green spot algae which usually appears on the glass when my lighting is too high.

Thanks
 
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