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Old 03-31-2015, 10:23 PM   #1
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Unhappy Testing dirt for live plants HELP!!

Hello, I'll start off by saying that I am a noob when it comes to aquariums. I have just started. A friend of mine is really good with them though and he wanted to try a new method for flooring once he moves out. I told him I'd give it a try in my empty tank so he knows the results before he tries it.

So what I did was, I took some dirt from the back yard, sifted it so I had ONLY dirt and no leafs or branches. I then laid that dirt down, added in 2 live plants, and layed down a layer of rocks. After adding in the water slowly, as you can imagine there was tons of dirt and small things floating and in the water. I have an Aqueon QuietFlow 10 with a filter cartridge Medium. On the back it gives the stages of water filtration. Stage 1: "Dense floss removes particles and debris" stage 2: "Activated carbon removes toxins, odors, and discoloration" stage 3: "Patented Bio-Holster removes toxic ammonia and nitrites" At first the filter did get almost everything out of the water. It's been running this water for 3 days now and it advertises 100 gallons per hour and I have a 15-20 gallon tank. The water is still a green color and when the sun hits it I can see all of the cloudiness in the water. Is this green/brown cloudiness going to get filtered out eventually or will it stay this color?
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Old 04-01-2015, 05:08 AM   #2
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It sounds like an algae bloom/bacterial bloom, likely caused by the addition of the dirt. If it's greenwater algae, it may or may not go away on it's own eventually. Bacterial blooms (white milky cloudiness) do tend to go away after a few weeks.
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Old 04-01-2015, 06:11 AM   #3
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It sounds like an algae bloom/bacterial bloom, likely caused by the addition of the dirt. If it's greenwater algae, it may or may not go away on it's own eventually. Bacterial blooms (white milky cloudiness) do tend to go away after a few weeks.

It could also be from the mention of direct sunlight hitting the tank. How long does light hit the tank each day? It's best to keep tanks out of direct sunlight as this is what causes algae to reproduce in nature. Same goes for the home aquaria. The more sunlight the tank gets the bigger algae problem you will have. Exceptions can be like heavily planted tanks that eat nitrates/nutrients pretty much preventing the algae from growing for the most part.

The cycling process and the dirt are likely clouding your water in addition to the algae or bacterial bloom. Have you read up on cycling the tank properly? It's fairly easy and will save your fish a ton of stress.

Can we get some pics? Shouldn't be hard to tell the difference between an algae and bacterial bloom once we get eyes on the tank.


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Old 04-01-2015, 03:52 PM   #4
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Old 04-01-2015, 04:17 PM   #5
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Yep it's just cloudy from the dirt. Water changes over time and some Purigen in the filter would clean it up.


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Old 04-09-2015, 06:02 PM   #6
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I made the mistake of placing my 55 gallon tank where it gets strong afternoon sun. Big algae bloom. I added a Zenblue canister filter with built in UV and it cleared up the water but tank is getting moved Sunday anyway. I don't know how high tech you want to go but the Zenblue is terrific.
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Old 05-07-2015, 12:49 AM   #7
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ah I know that color well, its just tannin (sp?) from the wood in the so called dirt..I have tried 3 brands now and looked at many more and all have a high percentage of wood in them, saddly shifting only gets the large bits out. That said the more plants you have the faster its removed without doing anything else, I've heard the purigen does a nice job, but I can't find it in a small(ish) amount that my pocket says I can buy it at.


So far all my planted tanks how settled out with my 125 taking the longest at about 4 months (no plants at the start) with my 45 tall showing clean in a few days (Xtremely heavy on plants)
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Old 05-07-2015, 01:16 AM   #8
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The concern I would have with using the dirt from my back yard is that I don't know for certain the pesticides, or herbicides, or anything like that has been used on it. It seems like a risk I would be unwilling to take. Also if using a layer of dirt under a cap of something else, planting and replanting will always make it stir up a cloud.
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Old 05-07-2015, 10:31 AM   #9
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I should point out I capped mine with a sand/gravel mix, if done slowly pulling plants doesn't stir much up, even this last time it was cleared up within a day and it looked like a bomb went off in the tank (removed a LOT of crypts and a 24 inch amazon sword), planting should do even less if its bare roots, just work slow and easy.
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Old 05-07-2015, 12:54 PM   #10
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I did the same with my first planted tanks and will probably do it again with my next tank. All Alabama dirt has tanins, which results in tea when you put it in an aquarium. Cycle as planned. The color will eventually go away with water changes. Then, keep root spikes in the dirt. The dirt absorbs and retains nutrients for your plants.
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Old 07-17-2015, 02:08 PM   #11
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I am also a noob aquarium owner but I am also a Golf Course Superintendent who knows soils very well. The only way I would use dirt from m back yard is if I could sterilize it. Depending on how old your house is may give you an indicator of what kind of pesticides could have been used. Some of the older pesticides have really long residual rates containing heavy metals. You could be playing Russian roulette
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Old 07-17-2015, 02:27 PM   #12
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My house was built in 1949, and, yes, they had some rough stuff then. Who would think about building with creosote saturated lumber today? I think Agent Orange was also in use then. Still, I got away with it. I bet using dirt from away from all buildings helped.
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Old 07-17-2015, 03:49 PM   #13
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I agree. You should have used some organic potting soil with no added fertilisers.

Soil tanks can take weeks to settle.


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Old 08-18-2015, 02:58 PM   #14
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ah I know that color well, its just tannin (sp?) from the wood in the so called dirt..I have tried 3 brands now and looked at many more and all have a high percentage of wood in them, saddly shifting only gets the large bits out. That said the more plants you have the faster its removed without doing anything else, I've heard the purigen does a nice job, but I can't find it in a small(ish) amount that my pocket says I can buy it at.


So far all my planted tanks how settled out with my 125 taking the longest at about 4 months (no plants at the start) with my 45 tall showing clean in a few days (Xtremely heavy on plants)
buy it off amazon for $13
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Old 08-25-2015, 12:22 AM   #15
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I think that you make a big mistake with this soil.
Soil usage is a legal practice, and nothing wrong with it, in general. Many Russian aquarist using it for many years, especially who living in a small towns without a good specialised stores. The better soil should be from a deciduous tree forest, but a backyard may be good enough, too.

But the problems are:

1. Bad water circulation. Without a good water circulation, you will have putrefaction шт your soit which is not good in many reasons. To prevent it, you have to use the bottom layer with a medium fraction (5-10 mm) of lava rocks or at least gravel. Also, you have to made your soil layer more porous, mixing your soil with a sand (1-2 mm fraction).

2. Any soil contain ALOT of a raw, unprocessed, organics. So, soil should be properly prepared. The main technique, as I know: put a pure water in your soil (ALOT, to receive a liquid mud) and put it to a sun for 2-3 weeks, mixing each day. Bacterias will processing all raw organics, create the great humus from a soil. When you will see that any active process and gas secretion will stop, just dry the soil at the sun and mix it with a pure sand 1:1. This will be a great substrate. And it will not cloud your water too much, even with replanting.

With a raw soil in the tank, you will have much longer cycling with a high level of ammonia, and probably other toxics, at the first stage. But all will be OK finally, just have a patience

3. Also, according your photo, the rocks over your soil are tooo big. The top layer should be with smallest fraction of a gravel, for many reasons, these big may be added as decorations only.

I did something similar for my tank just about a month ago. I used Ada Power Sand Special as a bottom layer, and I used not a soil but biohumus (same thing n general just more concentrated). Instead a soaking, I boiled the biohumus (about 15 minutes of boiling), for a same reason - oxygenation of any active organics and ammonia; soaking is better because you will receive the bioculture of a proper bacterias in your soil/biohumus, but boiling is much faster


This tank is (about one month old):
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Old 08-25-2015, 03:50 AM   #16
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I think that you make a big mistake with this soil.

Soil usage is a legal practice, and nothing wrong with it, in general. Many Russian aquarist using it for many years, especially who living in a small towns without a good specialised stores. The better soil should be from a deciduous tree forest, but a backyard may be good enough, too.



But the problems are:



1. Bad water circulation. Without a good water circulation, you will have putrefaction шт your soit which is not good in many reasons. To prevent it, you have to use the bottom layer with a medium fraction (5-10 mm) of lava rocks or at least gravel. Also, you have to made your soil layer more porous, mixing your soil with a sand (1-2 mm fraction).



2. Any soil contain ALOT of a raw, unprocessed, organics. So, soil should be properly prepared. The main technique, as I know: put a pure water in your soil (ALOT, to receive a liquid mud) and put it to a sun for 2-3 weeks, mixing each day. Bacterias will processing all raw organics, create the great humus from a soil. When you will see that any active process and gas secretion will stop, just dry the soil at the sun and mix it with a pure sand 1:1. This will be a great substrate. And it will not cloud your water too much, even with replanting.



With a raw soil in the tank, you will have much longer cycling with a high level of ammonia, and probably other toxics, at the first stage. But all will be OK finally, just have a patience



3. Also, according your photo, the rocks over your soil are tooo big. The top layer should be with smallest fraction of a gravel, for many reasons, these big may be added as decorations only.



I did something similar for my tank just about a month ago. I used Ada Power Sand Special as a bottom layer, and I used not a soil but biohumus (same thing n general just more concentrated). Instead a soaking, I boiled the biohumus (about 15 minutes of boiling), for a same reason - oxygenation of any active organics and ammonia; soaking is better because you will receive the bioculture of a proper bacterias in your soil/biohumus, but boiling is much faster





This tank is (about one month old):

This is fantastic advice. I believe the term used for what you describe in point 2 is mineralisation. I am starting my mineralisation process this week. It is to prevent (as much as possible) the chaotic start to a soil substrate tank.

Basically put soil in a container of choice and fill water to just above the soil line. After a couple of days drain old water and replace with new. After two days pour water out and let the soil dry outside (if possible). This is when the bacteria will begin the breakdown of organics. Once dry you soak and repeat the drying process 3-4 times. You will know when the soil is mineralised because is will be a very powdery soil with no smell.

You can add whatever you want to it then, clay, lime etc.


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Old 08-25-2015, 04:05 AM   #17
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Quote:
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drain old water and replace with new.
Hi! Yes, "Mineralisation" should be correct word, sorry my english
I'm not sure about water changes, if you suggest to pour out old water. It may be turning process faster, but with an poured water you will washed out many of useful minerals. But what about some cycles of draining and soaking, I know one very experienced man at the Russian forum who advised this way, too. I believe it is a very good suggestion.

When I boiled my biohumus, I did not poured water out, but I drained it "as is".

And you are right, the final soil should have no bad smell, and almost no any smell at all.
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Old 08-25-2015, 04:37 AM   #18
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Hi! Yes, "Mineralisation" should be correct word, sorry my english
I'm not sure about water changes, if you suggest to pour out old water. It may be turning process faster, but with an poured water you will washed out many of useful minerals. But what about some cycles of draining and soaking, I know one very experienced man at the Russian forum who advised this way, too. I believe it is a very good suggestion.

When I boiled my biohumus, I did not poured water out, but I drained it "as is".

And you are right, the final soil should have no bad smell, and almost no any smell at all.

Pouring the water out initially is just preparation before the mineralisation and is a preventive just incase the are any harmful chemicals in the soil as well as useful. You can also remove the floating particles this way


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