Last Updated on August 24, 2023 by David
When we think about aquarium decoration, we usually focus on aquatic plants, rocks, and decorative elements. However, there is another important factor that can play a crucial role in creating a sustainable ecosystem in the aquarium – that’s soil for flowers. Does it sound unusual? Yes, but the use of garden soil in the aquarium is becoming increasingly popular among aquarium enthusiasts. In this guide, we explore what garden soil actually is, how you can use it in the aquarium, and what benefits and precautions you should keep in mind.
Garden Soil: Can I use garden soil in aquarium
Garden soil is a substrate used for growing plants in pots or gardens. This substrate often contains a combination of peat, compost, sand, and other materials that provide nutrients and good drainage for plants. The idea of using garden soil in the aquarium might sound unusual, but there are several reasons why this practice could be beneficial.
Safety of Using Garden Soil in the Aquarium
When considering the use of garden soil in the aquarium, the first question that arises is – is it safe for fish and other aquatic organisms? In most cases, using flower soil in the aquarium can be safe, but there are a few precautions to keep in mind.
- Fertilizer-Free Selection: When buying garden soil, choose products that don’t contain added fertilizers and chemicals. This is crucial to avoid water contamination.
- Thorough Sterilization: Before adding soil to the aquarium, you must sterilize it to kill any potentially harmful organisms. More on this in the following section.
- Minimizing Dustiness: Garden soil can create dust that clouds the water. Thoroughly rinsing and preparing the soil before adding it can reduce this issue.
Buying Garden Soil for the Aquarium
When selecting garden soil for the aquarium, there are some key factors to consider to ensure a quality substrate that will be safe for your aquarium ecosystem.
- Composition and Nutrient Content: Examine the composition of the soil to ensure it contains the necessary nutrients for plants. Peat and compost can be beneficial for releasing nutrients over an extended period.
- Chemical and Fertilizer-Free: Choose products without additional chemicals and fertilizers to avoid water pollution and harmful effects on fish.
- Good Drainage: A good substrate should allow for proper water drainage to prevent excess moisture retention.
- Coarse Granules: Soil with coarser granules generally provides better drainage and reduces the risk of dust formation.
Sterilizing Garden Soil Before Use
Sterilizing garden soil before use is crucial to eliminate potentially harmful organisms and pathogens that could enter the aquarium ecosystem. There are several methods you can use:
- Oven Baking: Place the soil in a baking tray and heat it in the oven at around 120°C for about 30-45 minutes. This will kill most microorganisms.
- Stovetop Boiling: You can boil the soil in a large pot of water for about 15-20 minutes. Then let it cool and strain it.
- Microwave Sterilization: You can also sterilize the soil in the microwave. Spread it out in a thin layer and microwave it in short intervals until sterilized.
Adding Garden Soil Substrate to the Aquarium
Once the garden soil is sterilized and ready for use, it’s time to add it to the aquarium. Here are a few steps to follow:
- Prepare the Aquarium: Before adding the soil, carefully remove fish and plants from the aquarium. Clean the bottom to remove debris and muck.
- Distribute the Soil: Evenly spread the sterilized soil across the aquarium’s bottom, leaving enough space for the top substrate layer, usually fine-grained sand.
Approaching Planting and Decoration After Adding Garden Soil Substrate to the Aquarium
- Adding Water: After placing the soil, carefully add water. You can do this by using a thin layer of sand or fine gravel to prevent the soil from becoming too disturbed and clouding the water. Gently pour water over the sand or gravel to avoid disrupting the soil layer.
- Plant Placement: Now is the time to reintroduce plants to the aquarium. Carefully place the roots of the plants into the soil, making sure they are firmly positioned and deep enough to be stable.
- Adding Additional Substrate: If you want to add a finer sand or gravel layer over the soil for better visual effect, now is the right time. Gently pour the additional layer over the soil, being careful not to disturb the planted plants.
Do Plants Need Fertilization Across the Water Column After Adding Garden Soil Substrate to the Aquarium?
After successfully adding garden soil to the aquarium, you might wonder about plant nourishment and other care aspects. Here are answers to some common questions:
- Do plants need additional fertilization if we use flower soil? Yes, although Garden soil provides basic nutrients, supplementing with liquid fertilizers can enhance plant growth and color. Follow the dosing recommendations on the fertilizer packaging.
- How do we know if plants need more nutrients? Watch for signs of slow growth, faded colors, or changes in leaf appearance. These are signs that certain nutrients might be lacking.
- Will we experience water cloudiness if we use garden soil? If you’ve rinsed and prepared the soil properly before use, you should minimize water cloudiness. The sand or gravel used for covering the soil also helps prevent cloudiness. Regular water changes are assumed and especially more frequent upon adding soil.
- Will the garden soil disintegrate over time and make aquarium maintenance difficult? Garden soil can gradually break down over time, especially if proper fertilization and maintenance are not applied. Regular maintenance, along with occasional partial substrate replacement, can help prevent issues.
- Is it safe to use regular garden soil in the aquarium?
No, regular garden soil can contain harmful organisms and pathogens that can harm your aquarium ecosystem.
- How often should I change the soil in the aquarium?
This depends on several factors, including the type of plants, the number of plants in the aquarium, maintenance frequency, and fertilizer use. Generally, it’s recommended to replace a portion of the soil every 1-2 years.
- Can I use garden soil in an aquarium with bottom-dwelling fish?
Fish that like to dig into the substrate might disturb the soil layer and cause water cloudiness. In such cases, carefully consider the compatibility of the fish and garden soil.
Using garden soil as a substrate in the aquarium can add an interesting dimension to your aquarium ecosystem. This innovative approach provides additional nutrients and support for plant growth, contributing to the aesthetics and liveliness of your aquarium. It’s crucial to carefully choose and prepare the soil before use to ensure the safety of your fish and plants. By following sterilization, fertilization, and maintenance guidelines, you can achieve a successful aquarium system with garden soil.
Note: Before deciding to use garden soil in your aquarium, it’s recommended to consult with an experienced aquarist or expert to ensure that this practice suits your aquarium environment and its inhabitants.”