40G – Wormstrate Aquascape!

July 22nd, 2008

After my previous soil vs. earthworm casting experiment, I decided that it was time to really give one of the methods a chance in a “real” setup. For this, I decided to tear down my ailing 40G aquascape, and start anew, using an earthworm castings mixture as the base for this substrate. Following a mixture of Vladimir Simoes’ method and the soil substrate method used by many GWAPA members, I setup the tank.

Miracle Mud

Earthworm castings, Sand, 1 lb Clay

Vladimir Simoes’ method is basically just a mixture of earthworm castings and sand in a 50/50 ratio. As I did more research, I found that several of the past successful aquascapers that used this method, also used a clay source with a high CEC ratio. For this, I decided to follow much of the soil method by liquifying a pound of clay into the EC and sand mixture.

Dolomite, Potash, and Traces

Dolomite, Potash, and Traces on bottom. Aquasoil around edges.

Also borrowing from the soil substrate method, I added a handful of dolomite, potash, and CSM+B traces to the bottom of the tank prior to adding the earthworm castings mixture. The purpose of these minerals is to provide a nutrient source while the neccessary bacterial colony builds up in the substrate to make these same nutrients available to the roots longterm. Additionally, my final modification is to reuse the spent ADA Aquasoil that was in my 40G previously as the top layer of the substrate. For aethestics, I used aquasoil exclusively around the visible borders of the tank.

40G Hardscape

Basalt and African bogwood

After adding the earthworm casting mixture, and topping it with the Aquasoil, it setup my hardscape. I’ve never really attempted a “mound” style aquascape before, so I decided to give it a try. I used a combination of the porous mossy rock (basalt) and African bogwood for my hardscape. I left plenty of space behind the hardscape to plant my background plants.

40G - Just Planted

Finally, the planted scape is above. At this point, I’m not entirely pleased with the result. I need the plants to grow in a bit more, and I need the background plants to fully crest over top of the mound. I suspect that I may have placed the mound too far to the front of the tank, but am willing to let things play out for awhile to see how it looks. I basically just reused the plants that I had in this tank previously, but I did add some Echinodorus angustifolius ‘Vesuvius’, Pogostemon stellatus, and Ludwigia sp. ‘Cuba’ to the tank, removing Rotala rotundifolia and Eriocaulon sp. ‘Type 2.‘ My goal for this tank is to have a successful aqauscape while having the earthworm casting substrate provide all of the minerals needed so that I do not have to add supplemental fertilization. Comments welcome!

13 Responses to “40G – Wormstrate Aquascape!”

  1. Tmom Says:

    oh wow, it’s beautiful! It looks so natural, and I love the look of the substrate

  2. guitarfish Says:

    Thanks Tmom! The visible substrate is ADA Amazonia Aquasoil. It’s a great substrate in it’s own right.

  3. Phillip Brown Says:

    When I searched for Echinodorus angustifolius ‘Vesuvius’ – your post is alreasy first on Google. That’s fast. New plant to me – what was your source ? Looks good to me.

  4. guitarfish Says:

    Phillip, that’s cool to know about the google results! E. angustifolius ‘Vesuvius’ or also known as Echinodorus sp. ‘Vesuvius’ is a very unique looking sword plant. It actually looks more like a short spiral valesneria than a sword plant. It’s a good midground plant, and spreads by runners like a Val or dwarf sag. From what my GWAPA friends tell me, it likes a fair amount of light. (I got the plant from another GWAPA member.) You can see some pictures of the plant here:


  5. Chris Says:

    Give it some time to grow in and it should look great. I have used liquidized clay before and it works wonders. Good luck :).

  6. guitarfish Says:

    Thanks for the optimism Chris! Tonight it’s pearling like crazy, and the water’s clear, so I think that’s a good sign!

  7. Chris Says:

    Now why would clear water and pearling plants be a good sign 😉

  8. Chris Says:

    Oh, and what filter are you using?

  9. guitarfish Says:

    I’ve got an Eheim 2213 in there, and a Fluval 304 that’s just doing extra mechanical filtration. CO2 injection is going directly into the Eheim. 2x96W lights over top, but lately, I’ve only been running one of the 96W bulbs with good results.

  10. Chris Says:

    How do you like the eheim? I am foing to buy the 2213 for my 20 gallon.

  11. guitarfish Says:

    In simplicity and durability, the Eheim is very nice. But because of that simplicity, it’s sometimes difficult to prime, or clean compared to some others. I do recommend this filter, but just know that it’s meant to last, not meant to have every feature in the book.

  12. 40G - Wormstrate - 1 Month In-- Guitarfish Says:

    […] a month ago, I tore down my 40G aquarium’s aquascape, and redid the entire thing using earthworm castings as a base substrate, with previously used ADA Amazonia as the top layer. Below, you can see how the […]

  13. 40G - Wormstrate - After 3 Months-- Guitarfish Says:

    […] been almost three months since I tore down my 40G aquarium, and restarted it with a substrate based on earthworm castings produced from my kitchen scraps. From the beginning I experienced great growth, but I also had a […]