Soil for aquatic plants


Joshaeus

Water hawthorn, Aponogeton Distachyos
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Hi everyone! I keep hearing conflicting reports about how to make an ideal soil mix for aquatic plants...pond forums and vendors consistently suggest a clay-rich soil of some kind, but people who keep planted aquariums insist on much more porous substrates. Are both views correct? Could I strike a middle ground with 1 part topsoil, 1 part clay cat litter, and 2 parts pool filter sand for my pond plants this year (and perhaps my aquarium plants)? Thanks :)
 
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Joshaeus

Water hawthorn, Aponogeton Distachyos
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Depends on what plants you want to grow
For the water garden? A Water hawthorn, likely a water snowflake, and perhaps a marginal or two. For my aquarium? Stem plants, perhaps a dwarf water lily or marsilea mutica.
 
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you do NOT need soil.. the plants gets its everything it needs from the water.....if you use clay the water quality will suffer. when the fish get bigger [koi] they will tear the up must plants, making a mess. frogs will also root around in soil making a mess there are a few plants that they dont like. i would recommend play sand and wash it good before its put in the water...add a few holes and use screen non metal. for the holes to retain the sand.
 
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JOSH, i would NOT recommend the use of any cat litter, you never know whats in the stuff. its NOT regulated as far as i know. NEVER add anything to the pond or areas which can drain into the water if you do not know whats in the stuff.. i have used sand for over 50 years now, NO issues ...i do however put a few stones around the top to keep the frogs from digging .. vendors most dont even have a pond and will sell you anything to make a buck..adding clay or top soil you add bacteria...and just another place for it to hide along with leaches and a host of other things...
 

mrsclem

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Clay cat litter is labeled as 100% pure clay. No additives. Many of us on the forum use it and have had no issues. I experimented with using Oil-Dri several years ago. Same product- pure clay but bakes at high temps. Found it does not get as messy and stinky after a few years. There is no guarantee that the sand does not have anything added or contaminating it. Just my opinion.
 
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Joshaeus

Water hawthorn, Aponogeton Distachyos
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Clay cat litter is labeled as 100% pure clay. No additives. Many of us on the forum use it and have had no issues. I experimented with using Oil-Dri several years ago. Same product- pure clay but bakes at high temps. Found it does not get as messy and stinky after a few years. There is no guarantee that the sand does not have anything added or contaminating it. Just my opinion.
Plus...if a water lily would keel over from a single stray contaminant in their soil, how have they survived on earth since the Cretaceous, in conditions that are far less sanitary?
 
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Clay cat litter is labeled as 100% pure clay. No additives. Many of us on the forum use it and have had no issues. I experimented with using Oil-Dri several years ago. Same product- pure clay but bakes at high temps. Found it does not get as messy and stinky after a few years. There is no guarantee that the sand does not have anything added or contaminating it. Just my opinion.
you are correct, thats why i always disinfect everything that goes into my pond..im sure YOU dont.if i remember right you dont even test the water. i think your key words are messy and stinky. this place is nothing but a water garden society, you guys know nothing about koi and fish keeping.. i dont loose NO fish NEVER......some of my fish have sold for over 15000 , i have fish older than you...im done with this place. i came here to help new people trying to raise koi...i wonder how many you have killed by just saying i never test my water...CHOKE ON IT IM OUT OF HERE.
 

mrsclem

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WOW! Chill out Mike. As I stated, just my opinion. I have raised and sold koi for over 20 years. Don't test my water, don't need to. My fish are healthy and happy. This is a forum for pond people who are here to help others. No 2 ponds are the same, what works for one person may not work for another. I'm sure we have members who have spent tens of thousands of dollars on their ponds and fish and others who have spent hundreds. I was just stating that clay cat litter has been a good choice for many, don't remember too many using sand but I don't read every post.
If you choose to leave, that's on you. We all have bad days.
 

Joshaeus

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Oy...didn't mean to start a thread war. Sorry about that :( I was just trying to understand why there is a disconnect between advice for ponds and advice for planted aquariums (which, while not identical, should not have drastically different soil requirements).
 
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No worries Joshaeus, you didn't do anything wrong at all. We all have opinions and our experiences. Some things we do work very well for our specific applications and perhaps that same method or material won't work for someone else in a different location or under different conditions. That is the beauty of the scientific method. As I recall, you are not keeping fish at this time outdoors. You can take more 'liberties' with a plant only water feature. So continue to ask your questions and surf this site for information. We are here to help and share our experiences.
 
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Joshaeus

Water hawthorn, Aponogeton Distachyos
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No worries Joshaeus, you didn't do anything wrong at all. We all have opinions and our experiences. Some things we do work very well for our specific applications and perhaps that same method or material won't work for someone else in a different location or under different conditions. That is the beauty of the scientific method. As I recall, you are not keeping fish at this time outdoors. You can take more 'liberties' with a plant only water feature. So continue to ask your questions and surf this site for information. We are here to help and share our experiences.
Thanks :) To get back to my original question...would a mix of 2 parts pool filter sand, 1 part clay cat litter, 1 part top soil work well? I was trying to strike a balance between relatively good oxygen levels for the roots and some capacity to hold onto fetilizers added to the soil (I intend to fertilize monthly with something like 3 water lily tabs per gallon of soil, but I want some nutrient retaining capacity in the event I forget).
 
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sorry i never test my water i did originally to see what i was working with and once again when things became established. Its the typical koi pond " sterile" to the mother nature bugs bacteria and algae garden pond battle . Sterile is not my cup of tea but i am sure in time something will surface. It's the same as humans if you ever noticed Dr;s and nurses who work all day every day with those who are sick there immune system is very strong and they can be exposed to a lot before they get sick well to me thats the garden pond... And the germa phobe who runs away from bacteria and anything with germs as soon as they do come in contact they get ill almost instantly and often. I can understand some of his frustration what is common sense to most here is hardly so with some who come in now and then. I would liked to have seen mikes set up and his ponds but he refused to show pics untill the spring
 
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i’m struggling with this issue. I lost 12 beautiful goldfish this summer due to water quality. I’m still sick over it. I will never use soil again. I probably won’t use sand or kitty litter either. When my water lilies were planted just in river rocks they did great. So I’m going back to that next year. i like the book “Building Natural Ponds” by Robert Pavlis. He makes a lot of sense and I think I’m making too much work for myself.
 

addy1

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Sorry to hear that! I have used litter for 10 years without issue, have never used soil of any sort.
 
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mrsclem

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Did you have plants potted in soil? What type of soil was it? Garden mixes often have fertilizer as well as other things that may not be safe to use in ponds.
 

HARO

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I realize I'm a bit late chiming in on this topic, but here's my 5 cent's worth. (Canada no longer uses pennies!) I've been into water gardening for about 55 years, have raised many beautiful water lilies as well as other plants, and believe me, NOTHING has been 'sterile'! Early on, I used any heavy clay soil I could get, then garden soil mixed 50/50 with kitty litter. When I started working at the garden center, we carried a product that was just fired clay (terracotta) pellets about 1/4" to 3/8" in size. It was rather expensive, and plants grown in it had to be fertilized more often than those grown in soil.
I DID say "water gardening", right? I am not a koi keeper, because I prefer a planted pond over a swimming pool full of colourful koi. Just my personal preference, and IF money was plentiful, I'd have one of each!
John
 
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Make positively sure that you buy good and healthy transplants. It is much wiser to spend more money for quality plants that will return a hundredfold in produce to your work. Make sure as well to give the transplants a lot of water, or they will not survive to thrive. However, the growing season is not as long as many people may think, so you have to get the plants into the ground at the proper time, and they will hit the ground running!
 
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you are correct, thats why i always disinfect everything that goes into my pond..im sure YOU dont.if i remember right you dont even test the water. i think your key words are messy and stinky. this place is nothing but a water garden society, you guys know nothing about koi and fish keeping.. i dont loose NO fish NEVER......some of my fish have sold for over 15000 , i have fish older than you...im done with this place. i came here to help new people trying to raise koi...i wonder how many you have killed by just saying i never test my water...CHOKE ON IT IM OUT OF HERE.
Wowzers. I guess the forum name "GARDEN POND FORUM" wasn't a big enough clue, huh?

No worries @Joshaeus - you asked a fine question! Most everyone here has a "live and let live" attitude about how others do things in their own pond. I mean, this is supposed to be a fun, relaxing hobby. Poor Mike is all stressed out! But koi keepers tend to feel very strongly about their pond practices. That's why we always emphasize the difference between Dedicated Koi Pond and Eco-System/Garden pond. Night and day.
 
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