Playing In Dirt - The 55 Long Journey - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-04-2013, 01:37 AM Thread Starter
MrG
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Playing In Dirt - The 55 Long Journey

Here it is! I waited 3 months to pull this tank out of storage. My brother's old tank which he left behind to move into an apartment. Hasn't been used for 5 years and needs a cleaning bad!


Couple hours later, I think I've got it as clean as I could.


Got the MGOCPM, dumped it into a Rubbermaid container. So much floating going on here. Worked the dirt around with the hoe you see in the next picture to break up all clumps.


Used this container as a strainer to pick up all floating debris/dirt and dumped it into the orange bucket.


Then dumped the Rubbermaid container onto this tarp/garbage bag I had laid out so it dries up a little in the sun. At this point it's too wet and heavy for me to carry through the house to the tank without making a mess and upsetting my dear wife.


Then dumped the orange bucket of floating wood chips/dirt back into the Rubbermaid container for a second phase of straining. I'd hate to waste that much dirt!



That's all I've got so far. I went down to the LFS seeking plants to start this tank off with, but found nothing but disappointment. Perhaps I'll order a selection online!

More updates to come!

Last edited by MrG; 08-04-2013 at 01:50 AM. Reason: Had to figure out how to work images!
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-04-2013, 11:13 AM
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I hope you enjoyed playing in the muddy water and things work out for you.

Scanning the forum these days it seems many have decided this is the way to go.

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If at first you don't succeed,,, keep kicking it
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-04-2013, 11:24 AM Thread Starter
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I just wish I had stumbled upon this method before I started. Like I told my ol' lady, before I got into this hobby, even my research methods were limited due to my knowledge of the fish world to begin with, so I would just look up the type of fish I wanted to keep. Nowadays, I'm digging up all kinds of info.

Thanks! I hope things work out for me too.....or my wife is shafting my fish funds lol
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-04-2013, 12:23 PM
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haha! I've dirted a bunch of systems creating journals here with the attraction being to push alternative methods (not just the cost savings). Spawning fish and saving the babies from being eaten was the needed push for my wife. ("babies are soooo cute")
I now have all the tanks I can handle keeping up with.

The Fraternity of Dirt
If at first you don't succeed,,, keep kicking it
RubberSideDownOnTheLanding,
2-75g planted, 5-55g planted, 5-20g planted, 110g w/30g sump, 8-10g, Refugium, doghouse/newbie
2012 update adding table top pleco pans & a 90g (Nutz)
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-04-2013, 03:36 PM
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great stuff ! if you REALLY want to give the dirt the extra boost and have angelic patience, i now love mineralizing my top soil, by letting it dry out on a tarp or in the greenhouse and then wetting again then drying out again, i only repeat as many times as my patience allows haha but it kick starts the biological breakdown, so thats not taking up much needed nutrients etc in the tank itself away from plants, lowers algae breakout likelihood (though with my low tech tank i had nothing more than a few spots that made me feel woohoo my tank is mature and plecos had just enough lunch that day) lots of care and love going into this tank already its great watching !
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-04-2013, 04:42 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by wkndracer View Post
haha! I've dirted a bunch of systems creating journals here with the attraction being to push alternative methods (not just the cost savings). Spawning fish and saving the babies from being eaten was the needed push for my wife. ("babies are soooo cute")
I now have all the tanks I can handle keeping up with.
Haha sounds like my wife, or perhaps everyone else's wife too!

The cost of getting the 29 going was what actually put my wife off. She was anticipating a low cost addition to a small home since a dog wasn't feasible. She thought it would be a simple task to keep fish, as I did. But the more I delve into this hobby, the more I become intrigued by creating such a natural environment to make me feel like I'm under water.

It's a real addiction! The more she says "that's enough", the more I say "would you rather I smoke crack?!"
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-04-2013, 04:47 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by musicmarn1 View Post
great stuff ! if you REALLY want to give the dirt the extra boost and have angelic patience, i now love mineralizing my top soil, by letting it dry out on a tarp or in the greenhouse and then wetting again then drying out again, i only repeat as many times as my patience allows haha but it kick starts the biological breakdown, so thats not taking up much needed nutrients etc in the tank itself away from plants, lowers algae breakout likelihood (though with my low tech tank i had nothing more than a few spots that made me feel woohoo my tank is mature and plecos had just enough lunch that day) lots of care and love going into this tank already its great watching !
Well, the first thing that drew me away from mineralizing my dirt was that I was informed it had to be top soil, where as I had already gotten into a couple bags of potting mix.

Second thing that drew me away, was that I had preached to my significant other how cheap this is and that I only needed 2 things, dirt and a cap!

The more I looked into mineralizing, the more I found it hard to find the supplies I needed to go through the process. Dolomite and potash? Surprisingly enough, I can't source them out, nor do I have the patience to order them online! Which brings me to the point of my angelic patience! You can say, it's pretty demonic! Haha

I'm already having a hard enough time not just throwing all this dirt, sand, plants and fish in the tank all at the same time!
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-04-2013, 08:57 PM
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There are sooooo many opinions within this hobby (part of the fun) and I try really hard not to method thump on the forum. That said I post what I use and how I use it with journals to chronicle the timeline and results. Every time I setup a new tank system I've done a journal. I tank a lot of MGOCPM and do it differently almost every time.

My opinion is that every time you wash the dirt draining off the water or remove material you are removing plant food. Again here that being said I'm not against the mineralization method of tanking,,, I just don't spend the time doing it. Mineralization or the breakdown of the organic material makes your 'dirt's' mineral nutrients readily available NOT time release. Time release (imo) can be directly related to lasting longer. Tanked twigs, bark, peat, leaves, etc aren't nutrient available for uptake until bacteria break down the organic material so that is what I would call time release ferts. Bacterial decomposition in tank doesn't waste anything that the plants could use because ultimately it's still contained in the substrate layer. Science claims energy and matter are never truly 'used' or destroyed just transformed. The submerged rate of decay puts the total breakdown of MGOCPM at over a year based on poking around in my older tanks. I choose to just tank the high organic content and allow the breakdown to happen within the tank and it works fine with little work on my part. Guess I'm lazy LOL. Multiple dirt tanks here with little fuss and no failures to date.

Opinions will always vary as does plant selection.
Lighting, the materials used, the number of fish and even the hardness of your source water will effect how long a tank can sustain itself. I use nothing but sponge equipped 5w power heads for water movement and mechanical filtration on a number of tanks.

Joked often that as long as it's smaller than a 2x4 leave it.

Mineralization to me is spending the time prepping and playing in the mud along with testing your patience. I prefer to spend a small amount of time testing water parameters and have the patience when adding critters. Adding a few at a time as the tank develops and settles in, I prefer a load and go method .

Having the plants I say load that sucker and flood it LOL!
The easiest way to maintain a tank for me is not relying solely on any single 'method' in rigid steps but a combined approach. Use of a rich substrate along with light chemical dosing of the water column is what I like the best.

I look forward to following along as you post how you setup your system and how you like the results.

The Fraternity of Dirt
If at first you don't succeed,,, keep kicking it
RubberSideDownOnTheLanding,
2-75g planted, 5-55g planted, 5-20g planted, 110g w/30g sump, 8-10g, Refugium, doghouse/newbie
2012 update adding table top pleco pans & a 90g (Nutz)
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-04-2013, 09:05 PM
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I've never washed the MGOS, just dumped it in. I never had a problem w/ ammonia or anything.

Multiple planted tanks 1.75g to 55g.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-04-2013, 09:14 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by psalm18.2 View Post
I've never washed the MGOS, just dumped it in. I never had a problem w/ ammonia or anything.
Really? I've read of different outcomes of just dumping it into the tank. You speaking of MGO Soil in general? Or specifically Potting Mix? I heard the Topping Soil could be problematic.

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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-04-2013, 09:23 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wkndracer View Post
There are sooooo many opinions within this hobby (part of the fun) and I try really hard not to method thump on the forum. That said I post what I use and how I use it with journals to chronicle the timeline and results. Every time I setup a new tank system I've done a journal. I tank a lot of MGOCPM and do it differently almost every time.

My opinion is that every time you wash the dirt draining off the water or remove material you are removing plant food. Again here that being said I'm not against the mineralization method of tanking,,, I just don't spend the time doing it. Mineralization or the breakdown of the organic material makes your 'dirt's' mineral nutrients readily available NOT time release. Time release (imo) can be directly related to lasting longer. Tanked twigs, bark, peat, leaves, etc aren't nutrient available for uptake until bacteria break down the organic material so that is what I would call time release ferts. Bacterial decomposition in tank doesn't waste anything that the plants could use because ultimately it's still contained in the substrate layer. Science claims energy and matter are never truly 'used' or destroyed just transformed. The submerged rate of decay puts the total breakdown of MGOCPM at over a year based on poking around in my older tanks. I choose to just tank the high organic content and allow the breakdown to happen within the tank and it works fine with little work on my part. Guess I'm lazy LOL. Multiple dirt tanks here with little fuss and no failures to date.

Opinions will always vary as does plant selection.
Lighting, the materials used, the number of fish and even the hardness of your source water will effect how long a tank can sustain itself. I use nothing but sponge equipped 5w power heads for water movement and mechanical filtration on a number of tanks.

Joked often that as long as it's smaller than a 2x4 leave it.

Mineralization to me is spending the time prepping and playing in the mud along with testing your patience. I prefer to spend a small amount of time testing water parameters and have the patience when adding critters. Adding a few at a time as the tank develops and settles in, I prefer a load and go method .

Having the plants I say load that sucker and flood it LOL!
The easiest way to maintain a tank for me is not relying solely on any single 'method' in rigid steps but a combined approach. Use of a rich substrate along with light chemical dosing of the water column is what I like the best.

I look forward to following along as you post how you setup your system and how you like the results.
You know, as I was straining all the water from the dirt, I thought to myself "Does all this water contain nutrients the plants would love? Boy, I hope I don't regret this!" haha. Perhaps once I've collapsed my 29 and I'm ready to rebuild it again I would try a different approach as you said.

Out of curiosity, what type of lighting do you like using for your 55's? I currently am running 79W T5HO's over my 29 that I'm moving to the 55. I know it isn't a lot of WPG, but it's all I can afford for the time being. I do plan on dosing with Seachem Excel as I have enough left from the 29.

Tank is currently outside going into 4th coat of black sprayed background. I tried the black poster on the 29, and what a waste of money and time it is - never mind the mess!

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Playing In Dirt - The 55 Long Journey
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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-04-2013, 10:57 PM
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I really can't say on lighting because I use such a wide range of fixtures and they all grows water weeds. Guess I'm saying it all works LOL. Just a question of how fast. Use what you have already. My 5' tank (110g) has 4X54WT5HO on it so missing light on the outside 6" at both ends. I have 55g tanks with all kinds of light energy provided from lowly 18WT8 to 2X54WT5HO and just about everything in the middle. Most of my 55g tanks have floaters added or the lights are suspended anywhere from 4" to 14" above the tanks. Less = better in many cases.

All my tank threads contain the setup information up front (usually the opening pages) with only a couple exceptions. The oldest is about 4yrs wet and all contain the tested parameters and the dirt tank threads hold comment on substrate aging as it effected plant growth.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrG View Post
Really? I've read of different outcomes of just dumping it into the tank. You speaking of MGO Soil in general? Or specifically Potting Mix? I heard the Topping Soil could be problematic.
The bagged organic garden soil contains cow manure. Used by some in error and others by choice. Having the manure in it ammonia issues early on are reported by many but it still clears up settling in with a few water changes.

Miracle Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix is the bagged 'dirt' product I use.

MGOCPM (potting mix) contains soils and a large portion of organic material (55-65% by volume). Sphagnum peat moss, composted bark fines, leaves, twigs, wood chips etc. and "pasteurized poultry litter" (cooked chicken crap). 0.10-0.05-0.05

http://www.scotts.com/smg/products/M...PottingMix.pdf

(I post alot on this method of tanking ) Seeing you have posted in the frat thread welcome to dirty tanking!

"The easy way:
Purchase MGOCPM
Remove any big (huge) wood chips.
1.5" added dry, press the flat palm of your hand onto the soil mix to compress it when measuring depth.
1 to 1.5" of your sand or preferred capping material.
Flood slowly to about 3" of water above the total substrate and again use your hand to pat the base to release trapped air.
Fully plant the tank and fill it up. Floaters are nice if you have them.
After a week change 50% of the water if the tannins stain the water more than you can stand for.
Run the lighting 6-8hrs per day and watch for algae issues and reduce lighting if needed.

enjoy!

The Fraternity of Dirt
If at first you don't succeed,,, keep kicking it
RubberSideDownOnTheLanding,
2-75g planted, 5-55g planted, 5-20g planted, 110g w/30g sump, 8-10g, Refugium, doghouse/newbie
2012 update adding table top pleco pans & a 90g (Nutz)
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-05-2013, 12:21 AM
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Originally Posted by MrG View Post
Really? I've read of different outcomes of just dumping it into the tank. You speaking of MGO Soil in general? Or specifically Potting Mix? I heard the Topping Soil could be problematic.
I used topsoil for a few tanks. Never used potting soil, it has urea in it, not good for fish.

Multiple planted tanks 1.75g to 55g.
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-06-2013, 02:51 AM Thread Starter
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Here we go! Made some strides yesterday. The tank is up and running, and it took aaaall day till 2am to get it happening, but I was in a zone!


Picked up Krylon Gloss Black spray paint for my background, as I hated using a poster on the 29. This is the 6th and final coat in! I thought I was done at 5 but there were some light spots. I had to make sure it was dead right before taking it into the house


Here it is with the lights on. I think it turned out pretty good!



Got my pool filter sand cleaned up and threw it down around the border. I think it actually looks pretty damn good rather than the "really white" sand people were describing. Then worked the potting soil around and up to the sand.



Then set my driftwood and rocks up where I want 'em



...And cap it all with more sand!



Filled it up a little and got all my plants in



Filled it the rest of the way and all is looking right so far, I think! This is 2am!



...and of course a slight re-scape next day. A little cloudy but a lot better than I had expected!



After re-scaping a bit, realized I wanted some more plants to fill in the right side. This is the final outcome, and I'm leaving it to grow in as this..



Moved my 10 Neon Tetras over to keep the plants company






My water parameters all checked out so far. Nothing ridiculous for a newly setup tank.

pH - 7
Ammonia - 0/0.25 It's right in between the 2 colors
Nitrites - 0
Nitrates - 0

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Playing In Dirt - The 55 Long Journey
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-06-2013, 06:32 PM
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Looking good. Congrats on getting it all set up. Bet the wife is happy now.

Multiple planted tanks 1.75g to 55g.
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