Substrate: Aqua Soil, Power Sand Special L, Bacter 100, Clear Super, Tourmaline BC, Penac W/for Aquarium, Penac P
It's been a while since I've set up a Walstad style tank, so I pulled out my copy of The Ecology of a Planted Aquarium and have been doing some revisiting of chapters, especially on the soil she uses and when she adds in fish. According to Ms. Walstad, she would add fish the very next day after setting up the soil substrate, using regular potting soil without added fertilizers.
Since these plants are often used to create a layout in the Nature Aquarium style, the substrate must contain a sufficient amount of nutrients. It is also well known that microorganisms in soil play an important role in plants taking up nutrients though their roots. So I contemplated on how to store nutrients and grow microorganisms in the substrate.
Soil Substrate For Planted Nano Tank | My Aquarium Club
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When I joined the Greater Washington Aquatic Plant Association about four years ago, I attended my first official meeting at the home of Sean Murphy. Sean is a Fisheries Biologist by trade and has been employing mineralized soil in his planted aquariums for nearly two decades now. He developed a “recipe” for the soil substrate during his collegiate studies of wetlands soils. It is his recipe that I have recently begun using with great success.Mineralizing the soil beforehand helps to speed the breakdown of organic materials in the soil. In turn the mineralized soil will help shorten the initial algae outbreak period that many aquarists experience when using a soil substrate. Soil mineralization occurs from exposing bacteria, enzymes and other soil microbes to oxygen in a moist environment. The microbes break down the organic materials in the soil into bio-available minerals. As an added bonus these new bio-available forms of nutrients are generally only available to plants and not to algae.Using topsoil or potting soil as a substrate is not a new idea. Aquarists have been using this method to grow healthy aquatic plants for decades. However, this method does seem to pose some problems, namely algae outbreaks resulting from light intensity that is too strong. This is especially true when you first set up your aquarium with this type of substrate. The algae likely results from the excess nutrients that decomposing organic materials release in the soil. The decomposing organic materials are not bio-available to the aquatic plants. As the tank matures, the algae dissipate slowly as the organics in the soil finish breaking down.If your option is to save money with substrate, you can always go with sand as it is a natural substrate and can also blend in well with other substrates or potting soil, but it may cause filtration problems. One aspect some people do not know is that you can add up to four levels of planted aquarium substrate if you want.