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Fluval Stratum.... did I screw it up!


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Hi all. So I'm in the process of setting up my first planted tank, and I think I've already botched it or I'm just very impatient.

 

So I bought some Fluval Stratum, the odd round balls of dirt. Last night, I rinsed it gently in a colander and set it into the tank, then filled it with water. Well, the water is like murky pond mud. The package says it should have settled in a few hours. It's now going on 24 hours and its not any clearer. I'm starting to worry a bit and I'm so tempted to just throw it all away and start over! I tried about 6 hours each with the filter off and the filter running, and its still exactly the same with not much settling.

 

Did I mess up the substrate somehow? Is it toast? I'm just worried about using this at all, won't any kind of disturbance kick up the dirt? How am I going to vacuum it or plant anything? I regret everything!

 

This isn't for a goldfish tank, by the way (still don't have the room!). It's a 5.5 gallon for a Betta. I'm a complete newbie to planted tanks, and so far I want to run away screaming!

Edited by Caretta Rose
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Take a deep breath, it's okay. :)

Aquatic soils don't need to be rinsed, but it's not the end of the world either. Chances are you've crushed some of the pellets and this is why it's quite dusty. To be fair though, most soils produce a tonne of mess when they're new. Usually it will take a few days to settle and/or filter out. Leaving the filter running and performing a couple of water changes will help a lot.

Go ahead and plant, it doesn't matter whether it's cloudy. It also doesn't matter whether it ends up cloudy, eventually the water will stop clouding. The less aggressive the water change, the less muck will be kicked up. Generally what I do is just trickle the water in gently for the first few water changes. Once you've performed enough water changes and/or have enough plant mass covering the substrate, it will be less of an issue. That's not to say you can dump water in, but it won't have to be gently trickled either.

As for cleaning, just skim the top of the substrate. Actually stirring it up and vacuuming it like people do gravel or sand will break the pellets down faster. Over time it will basically end up as silty mud, but it's still very much useable at that point. I've had the same ADA Aquasoil in my tank for 3 years now. Parts of it are basically muddy sludge, but it still grows plants well. :)

Edited by dan in aus
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Aw, darn! I was too excited and read the package in super speed which said to rinse it before putting it in the tank. I know better now, though - live and learn the hard way.

 

It's been 48 hours now and it's mostly settled, still a little murky. I'm picking up some plants on Tuesday when the fresh shipment arrives at the LFS that I work at. I'm quite excited! It should be even better by then.

 

Thank you for the pointers, it's nice to know I won't have to buy an extra vac.

Edited by Caretta Rose
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Aw, darn! I was too excited and read the package in super speed which said to rinse it before putting it in the tank. I know better now, though - live and learn the hard way.

 

It's been 48 hours now and it's mostly settled, still a little murky. I'm picking up some plants on Tuesday when the fresh shipment arrives at the LFS that I work at. I'm quite excited! It should be even better by then.

 

Thank you for the pointers, it's nice to know I won't have to buy an extra vac.

 

Odd, I've never seen one suggest rinsing first. I still think rinsing is a bit too rough though. What I prefer to do is put it in the tank and then fill the tank by about 1/3-1/2. It's usually that initial filling that releases the most rubbish, so a small fill and water change helps a lot. 

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  • 5 years later...
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I lived and thought I learned the hard way, with both bettas as well as the stratum question. So thank you all! 

I was so not prepared, so I have about 10 or 11 bettas on their own 1.5 gallons. I really wish pet store staff knew more than all the sites and customer reviews.

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On 9/25/2021 at 9:22 AM, Leslieanne420 said:

I lived and thought I learned the hard way, with both bettas as well as the stratum question. So thank you all! 

I was so not prepared, so I have about 10 or 11 bettas on their own 1.5 gallons. I really wish pet store staff knew more than all the sites and customer reviews.

Most pet stores don't have the knowledge as they are always hiring new ppl and they have to be trained. One reason I love the Mom and Pop shops. They do it for a living :) 

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4 minutes ago, koko said:

Most pet stores don't have the knowledge as they are always hiring new ppl and they have to be trained. One reason I love the Mom and Pop shops. They do it for a living :) 

That's the issue, I always go to a family friend's family run small pet store and they never mentioned it. Oh well. I guess. 

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