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majorwoo 04-29-2013 04:14 PM

Finally joining the big boys!
I've got a 180 gallon coming today, made a deal with a local guy on Craigslist and I'm super excited.

I'm NOT super excited about the substrate cost - I used Flourite black sand in my 65 gallon and the calculator says 2" is 8 bags and that stuff isn't cheap! I think this time I may use some pool sand in the back (to help with the slope towards the back) and put something over top of it.

Step one though, carpenter friend is coming over to reinforce the floor with me. It's going on the second floor, across 4-5 floor joists on an outside load bearing wall. Just to be safe, we are going to beef up the floor some. Good news is it's over the garage - unfinished ceiling there so we have easy access to do it.

majorwoo 04-29-2013 04:19 PM

Sadly enough, yesterday I just completed a massive pruning in my tank as I won't be able to the next 3 weeks trim anything down - and now I have 6 more feet of tank coming I need plants for. Guess it's time to grow!

GMYukonon24s 04-29-2013 04:25 PM

Sweet congrats on getting the 180!

starquestMM 04-29-2013 04:42 PM

contgrats, I love the 2' front to back on the 180s / 120s...

Al G 04-29-2013 05:42 PM

If you like the look of dark sand, I can totally recommend Black Diamond Blasting sand. I use it in my 48 gal (about a year now) with no issues with any fauna (shrimp, cories, plecos, etc), and plants grow well. I do use fert tabs for root heavy plants though.

kseanm247 04-29-2013 05:52 PM

For a tank that size to alleviate the cost, have you considered using organic dirt and chemical free cat litter as your substrate? That is what I will be using when start on my 180 gallon tank.

James M 04-29-2013 06:49 PM

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If it were me I'd be using sifted topsoil from my property here, sifted gravel from the beach complete with shells. Free, and free.
Consider using dirt. I actually mixed some Turface in with the dirt since I had a bag laying around.

majorwoo 04-29-2013 07:02 PM

I've read about a lot of people using dirt, or dirt and kitty litter combos. I am not opposed to trying it, but I admit to being a bit worried about it. I've heard a lot of problems that people have attributed to soil - and as I live in GA red clay I'd have to buy dirt.

Currently I'm obsessing over positioning of my canister inlets/outlets - open to experiences from other people with large tanks.

James M 04-29-2013 07:10 PM

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Put a sponge on your canister intake.
I combined the dirt with the Turface, which is just calcined clay, for the cation exchange properties that the clay offers. The dirt I used was just my local, outside topsoil which is very good stuff. Lots of people use the Miracle Grow organic, which works great, but has a lot of organic matter in it (surprise surprise) that will mean a large ammonia spike. The trick is lots of plants to start with, which means a big expense for a tank that size. Has to be done though. You want lots of floaters to begin with, like water lettuce, and Hornwort - nutrient sponges they are.

If you do research you'll find a lot of stuff about mineralizing the topsoil before you use it - ignore it if you wish. A huge effort, and not at all necessary. You're red clay is actually a good thing - I'd mix that in with your purchased soil if you go the dirt route - your clay has iron in it - that's good. I put clay balls in my soil mix.

kseanm247 04-29-2013 08:59 PM

I didn't have an ammonia spike with my organic soil, but I also used my already cycled water and filter media from my old setup. I did go with a bunch of hornwort at first, which is cheap or free from the LFS. As I populated my tank with other plants, I took some of the hornwort out until I no longer needed it.

If you do go with dirt, make sure you use some method to de-gas it before moving forward with the rest of the build or you will have bubbles galore for a couple of months.

majorwoo 04-29-2013 10:08 PM

Miracle Grow Organic Potting Mix seems like a popular choice as I poke around the forums - the idea of topping it with something else like a sand just seems like a waste - wont they all eventually just mix together anyway?

James M 04-29-2013 10:14 PM

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No, you need to cap. The soil is too light, and you'll have a giant mess.
There are a lot of things perpetuated on the net that are not necessary (mineralization) or even inadvisable - capping your soil isn't one of them.

majorwoo 04-29-2013 10:20 PM

Thanks James. What about the idea that soil will release a massive ammonia spike for several months - and that you need to wait it out before it's really safe for fish? The wife might kill me if I have the room crowded with two tanks that long - she's not incredibly thrilled as it is :)

(If there a thread with information you do approve of I'd love to read them - the danger with Google, is I never know if I trust what I find)

James M 04-30-2013 12:36 AM

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Every tank is different. If you stock heavily with fast growing plants, especially hungry stem plants and floaters like water lettuce and hornwort, you shouldn't have any ongoing ammonia issues.
People dirt tanks all the time, wait a few days and add fish. That said, you want to monitor your parameters for some days first. I just set one up and didn't test anything before adding fish, but you get a feel for these things over time. With all those floaters eating and growing, and with the soil I used, there was no way I was worried about ammonia. Just take it a step at a time.
I sifted my dirt through some 1/4" hardware cloth to remove any larger particles, and in my case rocks. I just used topsoil from the property where I live mixed with some Turface and some red clay balls.

Bruce_S 04-30-2013 01:44 AM

What about oil-dri?

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