using dirt for nano planted tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-17-2013, 01:30 PM Thread Starter
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Talking using dirt for nano planted tank

I have been researching planted tanks, and found alot of info on the benefit of using Miracle Grow Choice organic potting soil....then a top thin layer of gravel for a planted tank. All of this info though was for larger tanks. nothing about Nano tanks, i should be getting my Fluval Spec V today and want to get it started with at least substrate and a few plants. has anyone here used dirt for a nano tank. or is it too small and area ? i worry it will just stay too cloudy and messy? thanks again!!!!!
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-17-2013, 01:57 PM
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It works for nanos. I have a 2.5 gallon with that potting soil capped with sand, and it is doing pretty well. One thing I can say is that whether it's 1 gallon or 100 gallons, rescaping is messy and I would advise against it unless you have a lot of time for clean up. Even in my 2.5, if I'm moving a well rooted plant, it takes the soil up through the cap and makes a mess. The method works, though. I like it because you don't have to worry about strong light, ferts or CO2, and the plants will still grow pretty well.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-17-2013, 02:08 PM Thread Starter
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ok, great thanks. that was my plan! and I also plan on taking my sweet time placing my plants etc. ! i have a lot of time on my hands right now anyway!!!! cant wait to get my tank today and get it set up!!!! i will be sure and post some pics through the process. thanks redtail84....
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-17-2013, 03:51 PM
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Believe you want potting mix, not soil. Should be in an orange bag. I have three dirt tanks, a 2.5g, a 4g, and a 6g. All are just fine. I recommend sifting the dirt first, and using a sand rather than gravel cap.

Have fun!

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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-17-2013, 04:14 PM
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Potting "mix" contains additives and usually little to no actual dirt. Potting "soil" is mostly dirt with a few sticks and stones. The extra fertilizers in the"mix" can help the plants grow better, but I think might have an effect on water parameters. The "soil" is more natural, but might not contain as much nutritional value for your plants. None of this factors in fish waste and other things like uneaten food.

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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-17-2013, 04:32 PM
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Normally, yes. I should have been more clear. I was recommending Miracle Gro Organic Potting Mix. Dirt + sticks, basically.

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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-17-2013, 07:24 PM Thread Starter
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got ya, so why sand and not gravel? just looks or is there a technical reason?
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-17-2013, 09:12 PM
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i would recommend sand over gravel, especially at a nano level

the small grain size helps make the tank look larger than it is, imo
plus i feel like it is better and holding down the dirt.

my 0.02
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-17-2013, 09:37 PM Thread Starter
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ok, great thanks alot for the info!!! you guys are very friendly and active on this forum!
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-17-2013, 10:41 PM
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Depending on the size you need, it's also perfectly possible to sift flourite--or a similar product--to get just the smaller sized particles for my pico-tanks (sizes ranging from 1x1x2.5" up to a 3" diameter bowl).

A bit of screen tacked to cheap wood picture frame makes a pretty good sieve, though in my case I just grabbed a fine grade fruit sieve out of my kitchen drawer.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-17-2013, 11:09 PM Thread Starter
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good idea about the sieve. it just arrived via UPS! will get started on rinsing etc. tomorrow!
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-18-2013, 12:34 AM
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No rinsing needed. At least, I don't. Just sieve and go. I usually put a line of sand around the edge so you don't see the layers, soil in the middle, sand cap on top. Put some plastic down, fill to a few inches above the cap, plant, fill all the way. Easy peasy.

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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-18-2013, 12:45 PM Thread Starter
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sorry, i meant rinsing out the tank etc for dust.... i like the idea of edging then putting the soil in the middle! thanks a lot...i see MTS coming on now!
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-18-2013, 06:10 PM
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I'm sure it will work, but I think the biggest benefit of using dirt is that it is super cheap, and when planting a large tank, the idea of spending a hundred bucks on substrate is hard to swallow. I use dirt in my big tank and I love it, but it has it's disadvantages, especially if you want to move things around. I would go with aquasoil, or other pricy substrate for a nano. No reason not to in my opinion.
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-18-2013, 10:54 PM
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It works the same. As some have stated, it has its disadvantages. I have said it in other threads but I like to use much less than other members (only like 1/4-1/2 in) and that works about the same. I then use a bigger cap. The main reason I do this is because I have had the soil become anaerobic a few times. That has never happened to me when I use a lot less. A few side benefits are it is easier to move plants as the cap is not just bigger but it seems to contain the dirt a bit. When you restart, you have 80% substrate, 20% soil so you can just rinse and reuse if you please.

I actually love this way for my nano's, not that it applies to nano's specifically but all my nano iterations in the past few years are mediumish light, no co2, light flow, low bioload, super heavily planted. Works great for that in general, just happens to be what I have done with my nanos.
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