I figured I would start a journal for this tank. I'm setting up my first high tech planted tank. I also decided to give MTS a try for the first time after reading good things. I bought a bag of Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting Mix and spent a good 1.5 hours sifting the large sticks and stuff out of it. Here's a picture of what the sifted dirt looked like and a strainer full of some stuff I sifted out.
I let it soak for about 24-36 hours and dumped all the water out. Then I spread it on a tarp on a covered porch. It was wicked humid at first so the first drying cycle took about 3 days. I wet the dirt twice more while it was on the tarp and allowed it to dry completely.
I used play sand and made a border around the front and sides of the tank and then sprinkled muriate of potash, organic dolomite, and some bits of clay inside that. I soaked some larger chunks of clay in water and after adding about 1/2 the dirt to the tank I did my best to mix the clay in. I think it resulted in a little too much water in the dirt and made it difficult to cap with the rest of the play sand.
I did manage though and only needed to do one large water change to siphon the bits that escaped the sand cap out of the tank and clear up the water.
Lighting is three 2ft. sunblaster nanotech t5ho's which I managed to hang about 3-4" over the top of the water with an EMT lighting stand that I put together today. I just need to paint the EMT and chain black eventually.
I have some plants in the tank already that I purchased in a package off a member on the forum. I wanted to get them planted to avoid further damaging them after shipping and floating them in a tangled mass for a couple days. I also have a piece of manzanita that I am looking into using for hardscape.
I purchased a Rex Grigg regulator set with an Ideal Needle Valve and Clippard solenoid off a local member here on the forum.
I'll be looking into a 5lb co2 tank at some point this weekend so I can get my first pressurized system up and running.
I had a few diffusers that I used with DIY co2 in the past but the only one I could find now is a ladder diffuser. They don't look so great in the tank so I'll probably look into ordering a glass diffuser. Any recommendations?
And I guess that's about where I'm at now. I'll possibly be doing the hardscape and moving some plants around this weekend. I'll do my best to stay updated with pictures.