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shrimpzoo 11-02-2012 07:27 AM

Planning on making a low tech 10gal dirt planted tank
I decided I want something green and lively in my room and have the plants mass produce + glow a healthy green.

I feel my current tank (which is a CRS breeding tank) can't sustain the nutrients my plants need for the time being, so I'm going to move the plants from there to this tank I'm planning.

so here's what I've come up with:

Substrate: Miracle Gro Organic Potting Mix + Seachem Flourite

Lighting: Low/Medium Lighting (definitely not high)

Plants: Marimo Ball / Java Moss / Amazon Frogbit

Livestock: None.

Equipment: Light only, no filters, no heaters, no nothing.

I'm trying not to over-complicate things so what I'm basically going to do is:

2" of Miracle Gro Organic Potting Mix covered with 1" of Seachem Flourite

Then I'm pretty much done...

Planning on only dosing the tank with:

API Root Tabs (For Macronutrients) - monthly

Seamchem Flourish Comprehensive (For Micronutrients) - during WC which will be every 2 weeks

Only questions I have is:

- whether or not I require red clay. I doubt I do because my plants are really undemanding (I believe). What do you guys think?

- some people seem to make a rectangular border for their dirt tank then fill it in with dirt. I've read it's so algae doesn't form against the glass? Is that true? Because I do have some inert black sand substrate I can use for that.

That's all I guess. Thanks for reading, feedback/comments/tips are greatly appreciated. Planning on getting what I need for this tank on Saturday so do not hold back (: if there are better cheap alternatives for what I've planned tell me, since this will be my first time doing this.

if my plan is okay let me know if it isn't let me know!

steven p 11-02-2012 10:29 AM

You want to shield the substrate from intense light. Iron reduction or something? Its in Walstad's book.. i just duct taped the bottoms of two of my tanks today.

Also, if you have decent top soil.. use that. It is going to have all the micros, including enough iron to drop your jaw.

Prepare for slightly stained water, it is actually a bit helpful in our tanks.

Edit: you probly wont need to dose micros. Maybe not even N-(P)-K

acitydweller 11-02-2012 10:44 AM

java moss, amazon frogbit and marimo balls do not need fert supplementing nor root tabs. These are the traditional low maintenance beginner plants.

If you want faster growth, reappropriate your fert funds to improving your lamp fixture and make an effort to develop biofilm and microbes which fosters a healthier tank. Careful pairing of livestock also attributes to the health of your plants. I find moss grows exponentially faster in my shrimp tanks than fish tanks.

The only dosing I do for mosses are in my window containers.

If you are the type of person who puts 93 octane in a car that only requires 87, more power to ya :)

shrimpzoo 11-02-2012 02:42 PM

I guess I'll aim towards having medium light.

What lamp fixture/brand would you recommend? I'm probably just going to ask the LFS person working to offer me a medium light fixture for a 10gal aquarium lol.

wkndracer 11-02-2012 03:27 PM

If your not going to have rooted plants why dirt the tank?
(can't believe I'm posting not to dirt a tank LMAO)

CoffeeLove 11-02-2012 03:55 PM


Originally Posted by wkndracer (Post 2065117)
If your not going to have rooted plants why dirt the tank?
(can't believe I'm posting not to dirt a tank LMAO)

I concur.

None of those plants will be in the dirt rendering your dirt useless. Do you plan on adding plants that actually root in the ground?

Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk 2

shrimpzoo 11-02-2012 04:42 PM


Originally Posted by wkndracer (Post 2065117)
If your not going to have rooted plants why dirt the tank?
(can't believe I'm posting not to dirt a tank LMAO)

Won't the nutrients from the dirt still go to the plants even if they aren't rooted?

and I will get stem plants I suppose just to make use of the dirt lol and make the tank look nicer for my room XD

My main purpose of this tank was to make my amazon frogbit more green and grow more of them.

and to make my marimo balls more green (they are a bit yellow since I kind of gave them too much light long long ago).

CoffeeLove 11-02-2012 05:51 PM

Nope. You need to fertilize the water column too.

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caoder 11-02-2012 06:11 PM

Just as a simple med. light option is just to use a desk lamp with a 19~w CFL. I have it on my 10g and my 15g. Its perfect for the entire 10g if you center it and perfect for a bright half of a 15.
here it is on my 10. its dirted with river gravel and i dose flourish.

Uploaded with

shrimpzoo 11-02-2012 10:53 PM

so floaters and marimo balls won't benefit from dirt? only stem plants that root into the dirt will ;/ ?

I would of thought that nutrients from the dirt would leech into the water lol.

lochaber 11-03-2012 12:52 AM

I believe that's part of the reason to put a sand cap on the dirt - to slow the rate at which the water will circulate through it, and cut down on the amount of substances leaching into the water column from the dirt.

It's good for plants since they grow their roots into it, and can pick up whatever nutrients directly.

I don't think there is much need to use flourite either, if you have a cheaper alternative. Also, 3" of substrate will take up a lot of room in a 10gallon. You might want to put just a bare minimum of substrate in- enough to cover the bottom/look nice, but not to take up so much of the tank volume.

I don't think there is any problem with your plant selection, could be an interesting tank, but I think the setup can be a lot easier/simpler then what you are planning.

I know you weren't planning on putting any critters in, but it might be worth throwing even a couple feeder guppies in.

Django 11-03-2012 12:09 PM

I'm a newbie, but I just felt compelled to put in this post. Seems like most people in this thread, if not all, have more experience than I do.

I have been working on a 10g planted with "da da da daah" big gravel. Right now it's looking a little sickly because I put too much light on it and got about four kinds of algae. I'm sure it will come back The hair algae seems to be receeding and not growing so much.

I thought I'd ask if a source of ammonia was needed for the nitrifying bacteria and the plants. I imagine more plants and a few fish (as mentioned) would be good. Just thought I'd mention again. Also if possible getting an ajustablle height lighting can be very helpful.

caoder 11-03-2012 05:24 PM

i have roughly an inch of substrates in my tanks which has about 1/4" of dirt. THe cap is mainly to keep the dirt from being disturbed. It provides good nutrients, but mainly to root feeders. Most tem plants don't feed off of their roots. Most beneficial ones will be swords, bulb plants and other large leaved heavily rooted plants. As far as i can tell, various stem plants i have do fine without any substrate. Ludwigia repens, h. polysperma, and hornwort are the stem plants i have, they do as well floating as planted.

shrimpzoo 11-04-2012 02:52 AM

Alright, finished creating the tank.

So far the only 2 plants in there are:

- Rotala rotundifollia
- Hygrophila polysperma

I got a Zoo Med Coral Flora Sun Plant Growth Bulb T8 15 Watts, 18-Inch for lighting (5,000K).

Sadly, when I bought it home it started emitting a high pitch noise so I'll prob have to exchange it when I go back to the store tomorrow.

And I have to remove more of the sponge at the bottom of the plant which the roots grasped onto pretty tightly lol.

Hopefully this lighting is good for my low tech dirt tank? Let me know if I should get something different lol.

Basilisk 11-04-2012 03:45 AM


Originally Posted by shrimpzoo (Post 2064897)
I decided I want something green and lively in my room and have the plants mass produce + glow a healthy green.

You could grow quite a batch of green wendtii's with what you've put together.

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