[RML] Use of Potting Soil as Substrate

Tom Ray (t_a_ray_cissp at yahoo.com)
Thu, 07 Jul 2005 06:37:48 -0000


We've "chatted" before via the r_m_l Yahoo newsgroup. I'd
appreciate your help on another matter.

I am looking to set up a small (12 gal.) new well-planted of those
JBJ Nano-tank cubes for my Anabatoids (pair of Day Pardisefish, 3
Chocolate gourami and a new pair of B. foerschi). In the past,
I've "experimented" with various substrates & combinations.
Specifically: a) Laterite covered by gravel, b) Fluval peat balls
(FPB) covered by Seachem Red Flourite, c) FPB covered by Red Sea
FloraBase, d) FPB covered by pea gravel, and e) just plain old pea
gravel. For some Killifish, I've also added boiled Peat to the top
of the substrate so they can play in it an feel at home.

This time, I've thought about trying your (or a variation on your)
bagged soil (kinda like the German drinking saying, "potting soil or
garden soil, one must choose" isn't it?) covered by pea gravel.
However, I may be a little confused. As I remember it:
1) Do you advocate for using heating cords? (Reason: promotes longer
soil life &/or more nutrient efficiency. Are we talking 2 yr vs 5,
or less than that?)
2) Do you advocate against using even DIY CO2? (Reason: depletes the
soil nutirents too quickly. How quickly?)
3) Don't you recommend NOT to add any Peat? (Reason: Acidifies soil
too much.) Although I've had tanin water, I've never had too acidic
water. And, my plants seem to thrive. So... Does that prohibition
include any boiled Peat on top of the gravel? Does it apply to a
layer of FPB in the substrate too? So far, the FPB are seeming to
not break down shape-wise. When should I expect them to lose their
shape and "settle"?

Also, doesn't your "soil + gravel" require a full 4 inches of
substrate? That seems like it may eat up a lot of vertical in one
of thse JBJ Nano-tanks (I think they are only 11.5 inches tall in
the water compartment). And, would you also use 4 inches for so
called low, "long tanks?" ...and for paludariums [NOTE: Some of the
new verticle terrariums at PetSmart seem like they could be made
into small, nice plaudariums.]? Or... can one use less soil? and
if so, how little? ...1/2-3/4 inch? How do I proportion it

Finally, I've also "chatted" with another person in an online forum
(I think it may have been in The Planted Tank.com) who is using just
plain bagged "pond potting soil." He repports that he is pleased
(eventhough it is just about as expensive as Flourite or
FloraBase). Is there any advantage to using it? And, do you know
anything about "artificial gelatin soils"? I've just heard them

Thanks in Advance,
--Tom (aka TommyBoy)

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