9.6 gallon dirt tank - The Planted Tank Forum

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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-22-2016, 06:02 PM Thread Starter
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9.6 gallon dirt tank

I figure I might as well start from the top.
Once upon a time, I had about 4 fish tanks...that is until a lightning bolt decided to come to my house and say hello.
Long story short, my house burned down and all of my poor fishies/shrimps went with it. Thank god I had good insurance!
It's been almost a year, and the contractors my insurance hired are putting the finishing touches on my house, so I figure it's about time to start up a new tank.
I've never done a dirt tank before, but I like the logic behind it, so I figure I'll give it a shot.
Step one: Get the soil ready. I've got my bag of Miracle Gro Organic Potting soil. Luckily I had a window screen laying around in the basement of the house I'm renting, so sifting all the bark and rocks out wasn't too much of a pain.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-22-2016, 06:06 PM Thread Starter
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The sifting was especially easy because I had a good helper. (Hint: if you ever need a kid to help you sift dirt, throw some old spare change in it and tell them it's pirate treasure) Click image for larger version

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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-22-2016, 06:10 PM Thread Starter
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Now I'm keeping the soil damp and letting it mineralize while I wait for some of my supplies to come in the mail.
Unfortunately I can't put the soil outside because a certain neighbor's cat loves to use my yard as a toilet, and I'm sure he'd find my tub of dirt to be a wonderful litter box.
Instead I have it inside next to a heater. I figure the heat will help speed up the process a little.

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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-22-2016, 06:50 PM
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You don't throw a plastic sheet down on the pool table first? Or is the table scrap?

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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-22-2016, 07:05 PM Thread Starter
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The table is scrap. Otherwise I would definitely have thrown some plastic over it 😆

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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-22-2016, 08:27 PM Thread Starter
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Quick question, does anyone know about how long I need to leave the soil damp/open to air? From what I've been reading it seems like anywhere from 1-2weeks.

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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-23-2016, 03:10 AM
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If you are trying to mineralize the soil you need to dry, then wet, then Repeat. Until the dirt doesn't smell at all.
I have done tanks with the MGOPM before, but after my last batch with top soil when I followed the mineralizing instructions to a tee, I would not do it any other way. A tarp on the pool table, spread it out thin and use a fan on it. It will go quicker.

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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-23-2016, 03:43 AM Thread Starter
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Gotcha, thanks for the tip Big Buddha.

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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-30-2016, 02:44 PM Thread Starter
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Okay, so I'm FINALLY into my new house and have everything ready to fix this tank up.


Dusting the bottom of the tank with some Dolomite and Muriate of Potash

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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-30-2016, 02:46 PM Thread Starter
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Put a mixture of red clay and my mineralized MGOPM on top

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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-30-2016, 02:49 PM Thread Starter
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Capped with some Petco black sand and put my hard scape down

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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-30-2016, 02:54 PM Thread Starter
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I decided to go with cultured plants to reduce the risk of algae and pests.

Carpet is Dwarf Hairgrass 'Belem
Plants around the rock are S. Repens
Front right corner is Ammania Bonsai
Back right corner is Alternanthera Reineckii 'Purple'
Back middle is Pogostemon Erectus

After many hours of separating dwarf hair grass (Seriously, this stuff is a pain to separate into tiny plugs) I finally have my tank planted

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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-30-2016, 02:56 PM Thread Starter
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Here is the Alternanthera Reineckii 'Purple'



Side view of the tank



Top down view

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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-30-2016, 03:02 PM Thread Starter
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This tank is a product of these forums. Almost everything about it, from the filter, to the plant selection, were recommendations I received from people on this forum. Just wanted to give a quick thanks to all the awesome people on this forum that helped me put this tank together!

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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-09-2016, 04:54 PM Thread Starter
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Update: I added some Fissidens Fox to the rock, and some Rotala Romosior Florida and Rotala Macranda to the back left corner. I'm happy with how everything is growing, and I'm surprised that I have had zero algae. I shouldn't say that....probably just jynxed myself.

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