Owning an aquarium requires plenty of responsibilities to deal with. Just taking care of certain residents in the aquarium would not be enough until you make a progress in the bottom layer as well. This layer is known as substrate and mostly consists of sand and gravel.
But these two elements are not enough if you care for the entire residents including plants. Hence, you must be thinking now about how to make aqua soil.
Well, some aquarists will just buy the commercial soil from stores. Since you are on this site then surely you prefer a DIY solution.
Undoubtedly, aquarium plant substrate will enhance the beauty of your entire aquarium with greenery. So, to help you with that we are here to offer you a complete guide regarding the topic.
Is Soil Necessary for Your Aquarium Plants?
Just like any plant, aquarium plants also require a proper mixture of substrate materials like sand, gravel, and soil. Thus, it proves that aquarium soil also requires soil to thrive and grow well.
Only fertile soil can provide all the essential nutrients to plants. Moreover, you should also know that each plant species requires unique needs for nutrition. Hence, the soil substrate also has to be made in that way.
Also, without a proper bottom layer of soil substrate, your aquarium might invite many bacteria and beetle larvae. These organisms might hurt your aquarium pets causing them several diseases. So, yes, the soil is necessary to let your aqua plants grow properly.
Moreover, your tank might also contain some bottom feeders. Loach, catfish, or similar species prefer soil substrate to feed themselves. Thus, aquarium soil brings good things to the entire tank kingdom.
Can You Use Regular Garden Soil as Aquarium Soil?
well, yes you use regular garden soil as your aquarium soil. But you cannot directly use the soil in it. Moreover, not all garden soil offers the same nutrients and quality. You have to keep in mind that, unlike garden soil, aqua soil has to be submerged.
That is why it has to have different soil properties along with the composition. So, sometimes garden cannot perform well with the plants and inhabitants in the aquarium. Aqua plants have their very own style to absorb nutrients, unlike terrestrial plants.
Again, regular garden soil is not always balanced and may have issues with imbalanced algae. Moreover, the soil might also carry excessive nitrates. Ammonia spikes in the garden soil may also kill the aqua fish.
However, it is possible to make regular garden soil useable for your aquariums as well. The soil just has to go through many preparations and processes.
How to Make Aqua Soil-A Complete Guide
Step – 1: First, Collect Organic Soil
This is the first and foremost thing to do in this process where you want to make aqua soil by yourself. You can, however, collect the soil from your garden with the help of a trowel or spade and bucket.
However, before collecting soil you must consider the measurement of your aquarium. To measure the aquarium surface, you need to collect the amount of soil as well. The soil amount also depends on the thickness you require for your tank.
Thus, proper measurement and calculation have to be done. However, you also have to be careful of the place where you are collecting the soil. It would obviously be unwise if you collect from an unfamiliar place.
You never know if the place might have chemical spray or other unwanted fertilizers that would be harmful to aquarium habitats.
Thus, while collecting soil you have to ensure that the soil remains chemical-free for a long time. Otherwise, you can also buy a bag of organic soil or potting compost from any nearby local nursery or garden center. It will be way safer.
Step – 2: Prepare the Soil
It is the most crucial step in this process. Only good soil preparation can result in the best aquatic soil. However, for preparing the soil, follow the below steps.
Sift the Soil
After collecting the soil from your garden, it is important to sieve the soil. You can sift using a strainer. It will remove the large stones, wood chips, or twigs from the soil. The main intention of sieving the soil is to make it clean and improve its texture.
Time to Bake
When you are done sifting the soil, it is time to bake it. Bake the soil at 200 degrees for 20 minutes. This step will eradicate several microorganisms from the soil like fungi and bacteria.
Also, soil bugs and unseen seeds will be gone. Overall, it sterilizes the soil. When you are done with baking, consider the soil is prepared.
Step – 3: Lay the Soil
When the soil preparation is done, lay the prepared soil on the tank floor. A thin layer of soil will also help the aquarium plant to grow.
Step – 4: Preventing Muddy Mess
The next step is to prevent the muddy mess the soil would make inside the tank. That is why it is mandatory to add a layer of sand and heavy gravel on the top. The heavy gravel will not allow the soil to float around the tank.
If it is not done properly then the soil might float and stir up the tank water creating a cloudy show of mud. Therefore, you have to be careful with the process. The plants in the aquarium will find their way into the soil and uptake nutrients as well.
Nonetheless, for your information, this particular step is named as Walstad style tanks or EI natural. However, if you are using garden soil in the aquarium and the tank plats are already rooted in it, then it is hard to move the plants.
If you give it a try then you might discover yourself stirring the entire soil substrate layer. Thus, professional aquarists suggest soaking the garden soil first for about 1 or 2 days. Then when it dries, put the soil inside the tank.
Also, know that sand and gravels work to guard the soil by covering it. So, the substrates will fight any disturbance against the soil.
Step – 5: Time to Fill the Tank
When you are done placing the soil properly in the bottom layer of your aquarium, it is time to fill up the tank with water. However, this step is also very crucial and requires immense carefulness. Remember that, once the tank water gets muddy, it will take hours to settle down.
So, obviously, you do not want to interrupt the soil layer that is capped with gravel and sand. Thus, it is convenient to pour the water from the downsides. It will prevent the stirring of the substrate to a great extent.
However, before pouring water, make sure there is no debris in the water. If there is any, skim it off. Moreover, it is better to go for a drain-and-flood method in the tank for several times. It will eradicate the murkiness of the tank water.
Certainly, it is up to you how many times you want to change the water. However, doing the step until the water gets transparent, clean, and visible would be preferable. When you finish doing this last step, bravo! You have done it all!
Here are some little tips for you
- Until the tank water stabilizes after adding water, do not add fish to it. Its stabilization might take one month or even more.
- Perform frequent water changes by that time since the soil has the possibility to release excess ammonium and nutrients in the water. It immensely takes place in the first week which is harmful to the tank habitats. Thus, constant water changes can reduce the level of excess release of nutrients and ammonium.
Pros and Cons of Aquarium Soil
Using aquarium soil substrate has some benefits but it is not perfect. The soil might not always play a suitable role for aquatic plants. Hence, let’s get to know their pros and cons.
Help Altering the Water
Aquarium soil substrates can alter the tank water ensuring the betterment of the aquarium. It neutralizes the pH of tank water and brings a balance making the water soft. Hence, tropical fish are benefit from the properties.
Beneficial for Carpet Plants
If you own carpet plants in your aquarium then surely aquarium soil is the best choice. The soil substrate helps the plant to thrive and spread fast and easily. All you need to do is spread the plant seed in the substrate layer and wait.
After some days, you will be amazed to see how fast they are growing and spreading.
It is known to all that good soil always contains a great deal of nutrients necessary for plants to grow be it terrestrial or aquatic plants. Thus, if you manage to add quality aquarium soil to the tank then there is no need to add other nutrient-imparting elements like root tabs.
Induces Beneficial Bacterial Growth
Aquarium soil substrate offers bacterial growth that is beneficial to the entire ecosystem of the aquarium.
It is one of the biggest problems of aquarium soil. It makes the water murky creating a mess. Also, this situation ruins the beauty of the tank. Moreover, it also interrupts the free movement of fish.
Capping is a Must
If you want to add aquarium soil, then you will also have to take the extra hassle of capping the soil as well. Hence, you need to add gravel along with sand over the soil as well which takes up more space in your aquarium.
Commercial Soil is Expensive
If you are not making the soil on your own but rather willing to buy it, then know that it is expensive. But what is more expensive are the substrates including sand and gravel.
Another big drawback is that the aquarium soil is not going to serve you forever. In fact, it requires replacement after every two or three years. It is because, at a certain point, the soil has no nutrients to offer the plants.
Thus, there would be no point in keeping the soil in the tank. So, replacing it with new soil along with replanting new plants becomes necessary in the tank.
Now that you know how to make aquatic soil, you better give the process a try. Even though there are some drawbacks to aquarium soil and its substrates, you need to make your aquarium look healthy and beautiful.
Again, though commercial aquatic soil is expensive, you have options to make it by yourself. It would surely save some bucks.
So, if our article was helpful to you then let us know through your feedback. Also, shot any queries and we will answer.