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Caribsea Samurai Soil?

Ah im glad it didnt just come across as a lengthy doomsday-esque ramble about the naughty black spheres :lol:
Lol, no no it was good info.
I did get this impression 😆 Dont worry there are more of us so youre in good company 😅 The key is not letting it take over completely
Lol, good to know. I'll try😂.
Yes this was one of the points I wanted to clarify so you didnt get a big surprise later on, inert substrates are superior for uprooting stuff with minimal mess, thats just a fact.
Yes, thank you for clarification👍.
While I dont really participate a lot in the hardcore aquascaping side of the hobby, I have noticed that a lot of beginners are quite surprised to discover aspects of the hobby that do not get touched on much at all by the quite glossy images and videos that are found on youtube, instagram etc. Theres a very large amount of pictures of beautiful plants and scapes, and very little of dirt and grime, stunted or unhappy plants with the confused aquarist, unexpected algae outbreaks and various other stuff. I think it doesnt help the matter that a 30 minute long video of someone scrubbing pipes and hoses while cursing under their breath doesnt make for quite as captivating viewing as beautiful pearling plants and shoaling fish.
Yes, I didn't fall into this trap but, camnsee how one easily can. It is detrimental to the industry so someone at Aquashella or one of the shows should tank to some of the big YTers and remind them that it is important to address how complicated this hobby can be and that it takes a lot of work and effort to even obtain a quarter of what most of them achieve. Success is definitely possible but, I think it takes a special type of person that is a bit of a spounge for learning and information as well as quite scientifically adept. That and maybe a healthy dose of OCD😂.
Since I am hoping your first high tech tank turns out the way you want it to and that you get to enjoy this hobby for many years to come, I feel like I should warn you about something.
I have seen a fair amount of times that the ones who do the most prep work and have the highest expectations for their brand new high tech tank, are the ones who take it the absolutely hardest when something goes either a little or very wrong with their new tank. Sort of like the higher up you are the harder the fall will be. Some people get really lucky, have a minimally painful maturation phase and glide smoothly past all the obstacles that life can throw at a tank. But the majority will run into some problem or another. Many tanks will have at least one or two types of algae that their system is prone to getting. Being prepared for "sh*t to hit the fan" at some point, may help with the shock when the high tech tank that was many months of planning and saving, many hours of scaping, gluing and planting, slowly but surely starts deviating from the proceedings outlined by all the youtube videos. Im not saying it 100% will happen to you, but it makes it a bit easier if you know about it in advance.
Yes, thank you for the warning. I am prepared for failure although strive hard in life to do the opposite so it's never an easy pill to swallow. Luckily these 8 small tanks I am currently propagating/experimenting with are teaching me a lot about just how hard this is. I can see that although I am a fast learner at even very technical things, this one is gonna take a while... Maybe years or likely even decades...That said, I am going to succeed in a shorter time then most!😁...
Thats one of the things I like the most about this hobby, to try out different approaches and methods and see which ones work for me and my tank. I think you will enjoy it a lot too, theres a lot of different branches of the hobby to deep dive into :geek:
Yes, there sure is. I am loving it so far and hope it gives me many years of learning and enjoyment.
While we have a few sand users participating in this thread, the majority of aquascapers and planted tank keepers do use aquasoil or some sort of enriched substrate as you already know. Many scapers are more interested in creating the scape that they envision in their minds, and arent necessarily interested in knowing more about fertilizer, growing rare or difficult plants, or getting really deep into all of the aspects of how a tank works. For them aquasoil and some sort of well known premade fertilizer is what makes the most sense, so they can spend less time on growing plants and more time on shaping the scape into how they want it to be. They usually trim off the top of the plants more than they uproot and replant the tops, the former technique is easier, takes less time and makes less of a mess substrate wise. But a group of stemplants can only be trimmed so many times until the old growth starts to deteriorate too much, and uprooting and replanting to restart the group is needed.
Some stemplants do not tolerate or tolerate poorly to be trimmed from the top. These need to be uprooted every time and length trimmed from the bottom. Aquascapers dont usually use these species of plants, probably because its too much hassle. Keep in mind that many pro aquascapes only run for less than a year before being taken down and rescaped. Usually this means that they are broken down before the soil becomes too depleted or silty. Dutch aquascapes are a notably different kind, here very minimal hardscape is used, and the focus is on growing an underwater garden of plants growing to their fullest potential. Uprooting is much more common in this style, and here sand or fine gravel substrates becomes more common, and I dont think it is by chance.
I'm not sure where I fall yet and may try all different genres but, for now I think I am somewhere in the middle. Thanks for the added info on stems👍. I really like stems so far so there will be a lot of different species of them in my new tank.
Basically what @KirstyF said. Sand and soil is commonly done, and commonly complained about :lol: They just really want to mix together!
I may have a solution. And, I started a test yesterday to see how it works. I'll start a post about it after this one...
Dang in that case sand looks a lot stronger of an option.. especially since you are having such trouble sourcing non-crappy options for soil.
Yes, I am definitely considering all options. The shipping is quite high on most AS too.
Im actually not a convert to sand, I have used sand all along (unlike some of these pretenders 😏 :lol: jk )
but experimented with using soil in pots to see if there was difference in growth.
With being used to sand from before, I was very unimpressed with how little handling aquasoil could take, and how messy it was.
But I have never run a high tech tank with all soil, that needs to be clear.
Roger that. Your experience is still very much appreciated however.
I personally dislike the look of aquasoil as well, but I have thought about eventually switching my tank over to aquasoil contained in something and capped with sand.
But the more I try to work out how to do it the more annoyed I become with the concept, I would want the roots to be able to reach the soil, but the soil must absolutely not come up through the sand, and the plants I keep frequently need uprooting. So I am actually thinking right now I might stay with only sand indefinitely.
See below post...
Our dearest @Wookii is going with something-or-other capped with sand on his new spaceship tank, so I was thinking I would wait and see how it goes for him.
Interesting. I will try and watch too.
One pro about going with sand first in your case would be the much lower cost upfront.
Yes, especially if I went with Play Sand. I can get 25KG bags of heat sterilized, screened washed play sand for less then $10CAD(7.37EUR) a 5 minute drive for my house lol. The only problem is I really don't want an oligotrophic look on my first build. I am somewhat hell bent on grey or black sand. This means my easiest options are BDBS, Seachem Flourite Black Sand or Onyx Sand. I will see if I can source any other options should I decide to go with sand.
Gosh you'll make us all blush 😊

I cant tell you definitely that you will be able to grow every species of plant in plain sand. I dont have the experience or the evidence to support such a claim. Also, while I have many years of experience using sand in a fish tank (closing in on 20 years now), I have only a couple years of experience in seriously growing plants, and the step to CO2 injected I took only just february this year. I will also say im not super good at it yet, I grow some things ok but some are still a struggle and I still have a few algae issues :) So definitely not a super pro like Dennis Wong etc. Basically I dont want you to give my words more weight than they deserve.
Thanks for the transparency but, I still think your experience/wisdom is very valid. I will continue to draw on it if you don't mind😁...
Plantnoobdude is a much better source for which plants can grow in plain sand, hes got a couple of species going that I still struggle with figuring out. He's also a dirty cheater who uses RO water 😁,
which may or may not make things a bit easier (jury is still out.
Yes, he is being super helpful as well and I am going to check out more of his threads eventually. I am finding the Journals of great value. I hope you don't mind but, I am slowly reading through your "consistently deficiency" one now.
The con for you going with sand right off the bat would be that you are thrown right into the deep end if you decide you want to keep all the difficult stemplant species.
I do but, I may have a compromise.
Especially within the family of plants Lythraceae there are some plants that seem to struggle a lot with being fed only through the leaf.
If you havent read the thread called Rotala kill tank yet then boy, grab something to drink and a snack and cancel all of your upcoming appointments :lol:
I will have to check it out. There isn't enough time in the day to read all of this stuff though so it's going to take me some time to digest.
Im quite sure you are up to the challenge personally, but there is no guarantee that the result will be satisfactory to you, if that makes sense.
Im optimistic about being able to grow all my plant species "flawlessly" in sand eventually, but I dont know for absolutely sure if I will get there with all of them, and I wont make any promises to anyone else.
I really enjoy trying to figure it out though, which is why I dont mind a bit of struggle along the way :geek:
Yes, I too love learning and adapting to issues. Sometimes I purposely dive into something without adequate research just to make things more of a challenge. This hobby may be a little much for that style though😋.
So, I needed to replant one of my propagation tanks(a glasslock) as some of the plants needed topping and I had been neglecting it causing a bit of algae. It was stocked with Rotala Rotundifolia, Rotala Green, Helanthium Tenellus Green, Taxiphyllum "Spiky Moss", and Vesicularia Ferriei "Weeping Moss". Pic was a while back before it grew up...

So, I wanted to try the 24 coarse mesh bags I recently bought to use for the eco-complete space filler under the main layer of aquasoil(my original substrate plan)...

I went to a local store and bought a large vase(maybe 2 gallon+) for dirt cheap...

I have a small bag of German made Clay Hydro Balls for a terrestrial plant I have and decided to use them for the test. They were also dirt cheap...


I added them to a mesh bag and tucked it in the bottom of the vase. I used black but, put some in a white one for the pic...


Then I added the soil, infused with 3 NilocG Thrive Root Tabs, and planted...


Here are the results. I used small suction cups to secure a bunch of each moss too either side. Now I will let it grow...



So, if this works out well I am about 90% sure this will be my Substrate plan for the new big tank...

I will fill these bags with aquasoil and root tabs and line the bottom of the tank with them. Then, I will add sand over top. The roots should be able to easily grow through the coarse holes in the bags, into the infused aquasoil, and when I uproot, it shouldn't pull any(or at least very little) soil out with it. To recharge I will use a thickened liquid fert solution, that I design, injected into the high CEC aquasoil with a large medical syringe at regular intervals. Or, just push root tabs on to the top of the bags should work too.

What do you guys think of this plan?
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Ive had a long day today so ive probably just missed it, can you explain what was the link between the leca/hydroton pebbles and the future aquasoil?
It sounds like a solid plan, get a good 6+ cm of sand to plant in and enjoy the benefits of, and then some enriched soil on the bottom for the roots to get into 😊
You definitely need to start a journal for the big tank, I will be watching closely to see how the substrate performs :watching:😁
What are the hole size of the mesh bags you got there?
I know Tropica soil (standard version) is about 2-3mm grains, so I would aim for bags with about 1mm diameter holes or a bit less in that case
Ive had a long day today so ive probably just missed it, can you explain what was the link between the leca/hydroton pebbles and the future aquasoil?
Yeah, sorry I should have been more clear. I just used the clay balls in place of the aquasoil(and as a space filler in the vase) as I don't have any aquasoil and didn't want to buy a $50 bag of Fluval Stratum(the only aquasoil available in my town) just for the test. The clay balls still have a bit of CEC and are dirt cheap. This should allow me to see how the root growth permeates the mesh bags but, not allow me to see the actual effect with aquasoil. I used Seachem Flourite Black Gravel also as that's what I had in hand. If I do go with this plan, I will use sand in place of the gravel(maybe just Flourite BLACK Sand).
It sounds like a solid plan, get a good 6+ cm of sand to plant in and enjoy the benefits of, and then some enriched soil on the bottom for the roots to get into 😊
Yes mam, I plan to go on the deep side as with all of my tanks now I am a bit too shallow(partly on purpose as they are so small). Do you think 3 inches of sand with 1 inch of aquasoil underneath is excessive? Would 2 inches of sand and 1 inch of AS be enough? Or, half and half? Total depth recommendation?
You definitely need to start a journal for the big tank, I will be watching closely to see how the substrate performs :watching:😁
Definitely. I will start a Journal as soon as my new tank arrives. But, I warn you, I will really be taking my time with this one so it will be months before I even plant. I plan to get most of the tank accessories on Black Friday sales so I won't even have the canister or plumbing until early December. I am then going to build the scape and do a dark start. After the tank is cycled I will order plants, drain tank, and plant. After a few months, or when I feel comfortable with the plant growth and stability, I will then add a large number of fish including a diverse cleanup crew. At least that is the plan now but, it is evolving as I learn.
What are the hole size of the mesh bags you got there?
Approximately 2mm on the long side of the oval...

I know Tropica soil (standard version) is about 2-3mm grains, so I would aim for bags with about 1mm diameter holes or a bit less in that case
Not sure what I am going to use yet soil wise but, I want to keep the holes on the large side for effortless root growth and syringe penetration if I go that route. Im probably going to go with one of the cheaper aquasoil options as I don't think it needs to be very durable for this application. It's basically being used as a nutrient spounge and will never be disturbed other then the odd careful uprooting. If I have to I will get mesh bags with smaller holes(there are very limited options with the coarse ones and most are too fine) but, I would rather use these as I have 23 of them left and already spent the money.

Although not the highest quality option normally, I am thinking Fluval Stratum might be the best option for me in this application. It is the cheapest option, I can get it at a store 3 minutes from my house, it has an on the larger side 3-5mm grain size so it should work in the mesh bags I have now, and it still has a pretty good CEC so should work great as a slow release nutrient spounge. What ya think?
I have both aquasoil and sand in my main tank and have plants thriving in both.
Thank you for the detailed post, it is appreciated👍.
The one thing I will say (having learned from experience) is that if you do both then spend as much time and effort as it takes creating a clear separation (with hardscape, bits of rock and planting etc) and plug your holes thoroughly, especially if you are going to bank the substrate up.!
Thanks, I definitely see it can be challenging to keep it seperated.
As I have both shrimp (who love re-arranging aquasoil) and SAE’s (who do super charged rocket stuff just above ground level) I’m not sure I ever had much chance of keeping the two separated but still…..I would do a lot more work on this next time around.
Lol, yeah it's harder when you have the kids throwing a tantrum😂.
The aquasoil on my sand drives me nuts and I have to siphon some off on every single water change.
Yes, it would drive me nuts too. Definitely a pain if it's gets away eh.
And also here, as an example:
This is my shrimp/snail tank. It’s not designed to be pretty, hasn’t been properly scaped (yet) and I don’t bother tidying up….but look at all this soil. (The hoards have just been fed - snails everywhere 😂)
View attachment 196140
Yeah, definitely not the nest look and probably quite a bit of work to fix all of the time.
And yet the only aquasoil in the tank is up behind these rocks so very well tucked away. (I thought)
View attachment 196141
Crazy,it sure gets around lol.
This tank has never had a single plant uprooted in it. Either the snails are re-landscaping 😂 or the movement of soil is pretty much entirely down to the shrimpy inhabitants.

So just be aware that a mix can become a mix….more than you would like it to. 😊
Good to know, thanks for the heads up👍.
Well, my decision is made guys. Fluval had a big sale on so I snagged the last 5 x 8.8lb bags of Stratum in town. Got a killer deal that even got better when the store employee ripped one bag and gave me an additional 15% off(in addition to the 20% off already). Any other aquasoil would have cost me much more and required shipping so it was an easy decision. That and it will just be used as a nutrient spounge under sand anyway.

In other news, I have decided to replace my annoyingly small 3 gallon with a 60cm(16 gallon) in addition to the new 90cm(49.1 gallon). So, I'm getting rid of everything and will just be running the 2 tanks going forward.

The 60 will be the new home for my Dragon Scale Plakat Betta and Zebra Nerite Snail and will likely see some new additions like maybe some Cory's and Tetras. It will stay low tech planted with mainly easy and medium class plants.

The 90 will be a fully stocked community tank with CO2, all the fixings, and many harder to grow plants.

Both will use matching Fluval canisters that I snagged for a great deal today with the aquasoil...