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Bag of Supersoil left, and tank with Supersoil on the bottom on the right.
By Tony Griffitts
This is a new concept in keeping aquarium or pond plants. I first heard about this technique from Earl Jack, a member of the Sacramento Aquarium Society (SAS) who is a master at growing aquatic plants. This is the technique he uses to grow some of the best aquatic plants I have ever seen. Earl gave a presentation at one of our SAS meetings in 1997 and showed us some of his techniques in growing plants. Earl does not use laterite, or plant fertilizers. He uses "Supersoil" and Chelated Iron (used for growing marine macro algae). Earl also does not use the expensive fluorescent bulbs you buy at the aquarium store, he uses the cheaper bulbs you buy at the hardware store. Earl does not use CO2 either.
Here is the basic technique Earl uses for growing his plants: Before you add water to the aquarium or pond you need to prepare the gravel bed for planting the plants. Use "Supersoil" for bottom 2 inch layer of the bed and top it off with 1 1/2 to 2 inches of #3 natural gravel or silica sand.
Supersoil tank illistration.
Make sure you thoroughly clean the sand or the gravel before you top off the "Supersoil." The gravel or sand will help keep the "Supersoil" from floating to the top of the water. The "Supersoil" can be purchased at most garden supply stores, and is relatively inexpensive. After the bed has been completed add water slowly by pouring it on a plate. You do not want to disturb the soil, otherwise you will have a lot of soil floating at the top of the water and that can make quite a mess.
Malaysian Live Bearing Snail.
After the aquarium or pond has been filled with water you can then start planting the plants. Add Chelated Iron to the water as recommended for marine macro algae. Another technique that Earl uses is adding the "Supersoil" to a plastic container 4 inches deep and placing it in an aquarium. Earl highly recommends using the Malaysian Live Bearing (MLB) Snail that like to burrow in the sand and the gravel. MLB Snails help bring fresh water to the roots of the plants and help control some types of algae.
If you have any questions about this article, please fell free to Email me, I will try to answer the question myself or I can contact Earl if I don't know the answer and get his opinion.