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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a large amount of fresh worm castings. I was considering using them as a substrate on some new aquatic plants I picked up recently, Amazon swords and some others.
Anyone ever tried this?
I was going to use a tester tank set up with a couple guppies, but if there are some proven methods or dangers to this I wont bother with the tester.

thanks
 

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I use them, covered with an ecocomplete cap, and probably will never use them again. When they leech into the water column, and they will, water gets cloudy, and greenwater shows up.

Plus, it makes aquascaping a pain because you can't just pull up plants, you HAVE to cut them otherwise the roots will bring up the worm castings into the water leading to further issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Do you recomend anything as a replacement Alym? I seem to recall you have pretty nice growth in your tank.
 

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2 of my tanks have worm casting capped by 1 inch layer of gravel. Plants grow fine and it's cheap.
Disadvantage is that you have to be careful when you uproot plants to minimize the soil coming to the surface.
That's why it is recommended to mineralize it or to boil it at least for 10 minutes before you use to remove as much of the organic compounds. The Ammonia and organic leeching from the soil when disturbed (when you uproot plants and replant) can be minimal and I usually do it at maintenance times which is water change times.
 

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I love my worm castings:) That being said it is not ideal for pulling plants they must be cut at the base.

Shultz aquatic soil as well as Turface from bonsai/landscaping stores is what I use as a cap and have used it stand alone in other tanks with good results...
 

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I mixed the worm castings with coco peat, then capped with gravel. I don't get much disturbance when pulling stem plants. With swords or crypts there is debris though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
What about a build up of CO2 in the soil?
My understanding was that unless most gravel is vacumed or at least stirred up, CO2 builds up from waste decomposition. I was told this can be toxic to smaller fish especially bottom feeders.
Doesn't the soil "cap" pr3vent any movement of O2 and CO2?
 

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It's not Co2 that builds up in the soil but Hydrogen Sulfide. When the soil is new, there is bound to be more organic compounds in the soil so anaerobic decay will create H2S. Once in a while, you will see a few bubbles escape the gravel barrier and rise to the surface. That is why it is recommended to reduce as much of the organics from the soil before use. This by mineralizing it or boiling it. This happens in the first 3-4 months but after that, the bubbles dissapear. I guess the soil would be more matured then and the organics have been decomposed.
Unless you put a very thick gravel cap on top, the bubbles should purge themselves and escape regularly. If it is released in small amounts then there is no problem with your fish. But if you disturb the soil a lot during maintenance and release a lot of gas, then it may get toxic to your fish.
Having plants help as well since the roots of the plants will help aerate the substrate.
 

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if you really plan a head, get a rubbermaid container and soak the soil for months (disturb every few days, change water too). it'll greatly reduce the amount of h2s buildup. Also with h2s, sure it release small amounts, but theres potential for substrate to compact and bubbles form, planting can release larger bubbles which hard the fish.
 

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I have to admit laziness that worked out.
I bought a bag a worm castings from the hydronic store and just dumped it right in. Up and running 8 months now I think great. I have never seen the escaping of gasses when I have moved stuff.

However in a tank that was just turface that would get pleco gunk and food caught in it I DID see gasses escaping when I was vacuuming. No ill effects were observed as they came out into the python head when cleaning said substrate.

My large tank did take a while to stabilize, green water was never one of the problems though.

I think( total conjecture on my part) there is an unwarranted fear of worm castings.

That being said I would not use soils from my yard/or worm castings I made. I think the stuff at Hydroponics stores has been sterilized at high temps....

There is lots of info on mineralized soil beds, but its alot of work for I think the same results...
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
You sound like you know your stuff. Could you describe the mineralization process for me pls?
also would there be any benefit to adding castings to some flora base. I grabbed a bag yesterday.
I am planning to use pots rather than do my whole tank. Reason being that I have alot of plecos and find bare bottom really convenient to keep clean.
I do love plants also though.

It's not Co2 that builds up in the soil but Hydrogen Sulfide. When the soil is new, there is bound to be more organic compounds in the soil so anaerobic decay will create H2S. Once in a while, you will see a few bubbles escape the gravel barrier and rise to the surface. That is why it is recommended to reduce as much of the organics from the soil before use. This by mineralizing it or boiling it. This happens in the first 3-4 months but after that, the bubbles dissapear. I guess the soil would be more matured then and the organics have been decomposed.
Unless you put a very thick gravel cap on top, the bubbles should purge themselves and escape regularly. If it is released in small amounts then there is no problem with your fish. But if you disturb the soil a lot during maintenance and release a lot of gas, then it may get toxic to your fish.
Having plants help as well since the roots of the plants will help aerate the substrate.
 

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From what I know, soil mineralization is basically the conversion of the organic compounds present in the soil into inorganic material by the use of bacteria and other microbes in a moist environment.
You can google "soil mineralization". There are quite a bit of info on how to do it but basically, you start off with a type of soil that doesn't have additives added to it. Plain topsoil would be a good choice.
You put the soil in a big tub and you rinse it a few times, then you drain as much of the water. Lay out the soil somewhere to dry (outside and you can spread it out). Once the soil is dry, you repeat the process 2-3 times.
I have never done it because I was too impatient so I used my topsoil straight from the bag.
I do however have 2 planted tanks that are run on earthworm casting. About 2 inch layer capped by a 1 inch gravel layer. I read somewhere that earthworm casting is already mineralized since the worms have already done it. It doesn't smell and if you play with it with your hands, it doesn't really make your hands dirty. I suppose you could further reduce the organic matter by mineralizing it some more but then I don't know if it would be worth your time for the extra benefit gained.

I have no experience with commercial substrate (eco complete, florabase, Fluorite, ADA soil, etc.). I am of the mindset that plants in nature grow on soil and If I can provide soil of my own to my planted tanks, then I would choose that route. Not only is it cheaper but it does bring me some satisfaction that way. I am a bit of DIY believer first. To each his or her own.

Interesting idea to grow in pots. I thought the same for some plants but I never got to do it. Are you using clay pots? I suppose you could mix florabase and soil together. There could be some additional benefits in doing so.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
thanks, I'll add any info I learn the hard way in the future.
I will be using clay pots yes, either that or pyrex glass, I was thinking of maybe a low sided pyrex caserole dish. I have seen them used for a buck or 2.
 

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I've got a question. I want to get into plants and have a red wiggler colony working on some castings now. I am reading back on what has been talked about in this forum and it seems to have mixed reviews (with majority indicating it is messy at best) to add worm castings to a planted tank.

I have read about "compost tea" that seems like a fairly reasonable alternative to putting the castings directly into the tank. I can't seem to find any info on this method being used in the aquarium hobby (only in aquaponics and gardening). It sure sounds like it would provide all the benefits of the more direct method (using it as substrate) without all the negative affect of the mess.

Does anyone have any real, first hand experience with compost tea? I'm more of a try and test rather than theory kind of guy. So any theories saying it won't work from people who haven't tried will most likely be put to the test ;)
Please let me know if you think it is a good idea, bad idea, or if your on the fence and want me to guinea pig a tank (probably going to do it either way).

Cheers,

C
 

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more of a try and test rather than theory kind of guy. So any theories saying it won't work from people who haven't tried will most likely be put to the test ;)
Please let me know if you think it is a good idea, bad idea, or if your on the fence and want me to guinea pig a tank (probably going to do it either way).

Cheers,

C
I was wondering about castings too. I'm all for the Guinea pig tank !! Lol but I wonder about having too many nutrients in the water column and creating an algae issue.

The try and test vs theory part was my favorite !!!
 

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It's been a slow conversion because I have to wait until I finish my crayfish tank project. They are in my plant tank, just had more babies and another one is berried now! LOL I think it may be a month or two until I finish the cray tank, then comes the worm casting project/vermiculture project. Only problem is I am worried about my worms outside. It may be too cold. I just did a weigh in, 2 weeks, gained .6oz of worms. I suppose the reproduction may slow down now, or worse they die. I need to try and keep mortality rate down and reproductive rate up during the winter or this becomes a spring project.

PS don't suggest bringing worm container inside unless you are planing on trading places and sleeping outside. Found that out the hard way :bigsmile:

Colin
 
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