Slopes in a dirted, sand capped tank
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Old 10-11-2013, 12:07 PM   #1
Dobie Swift
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Slopes in a dirted, sand capped tank


I've got a newbie question. I want to build up a 5"-6" "hill" in the back left corner of my tank and then slope it down to 3" or so. When using MGOCPM + blasting sand, do I make it with 5" of soil and cap it with 1" of sand, or 3" soil and 3" sand or 1" soil and 5" sand? Or something else?

If it changes the answer at all, I plan on using egg crate to aid in laying out the aquascape.
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Old 10-12-2013, 05:37 AM   #2
Diana
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Build a retaining wall with stones or driftwood and expanding foam filler. Otherwise the sand especially, but probably also the soil will end up leveling itself.
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Old 10-14-2013, 05:23 PM   #3
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I don't even like 1 inch of potting soil, I find a lot less works about as well with out the issues you can get from soil. For me, I would use something like lava rock for the slopes and try to keep the soil to a minimum. In my experience, 3 in of soil may cause you a bunch of issues. It may not but it's not very predictable.
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Old 10-14-2013, 08:18 PM   #4
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I agree with them, using something under the hill to give it umph, and not dirt.
the issues with mounding miracle grow dirt is that it wants to float, and even if you slowly add water to the tank, itll bubble up and crumble, I've had first hand experience. It took me nearly a week to clean up the mess after that.

Once the hill is built and as you cap it with sand, you can take plastic pieces to hold the hill up. Something with flat/strong/plastic sides, like a fiji water bottle. cut each side of the bottle into a hill holder, and cut to the length you like. you can place them length wise and shallow, or straight down. doing the latter you can place the pieces where you want as you lay the foundation of the hill.

sssss
@@ss|ss
@@@|@ss|s
@@@|@@|sss

kind of like that where the @ is the foundation of the hill and the | is the plastic holder. s is the sand.
let me know if that doesnt make sense

Last edited by Nestle_; 10-14-2013 at 08:19 PM.. Reason: ll
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Old 10-16-2013, 04:07 AM   #5
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sssssR
@@@R
@@@Rsssssss
XXXXXR@@@@

Same code as above:
@ = substrate for plant roots.
R = rocks held together with expanding foam filler.
s = sand cap.
X = optional alternate filler, coarse to allow more water flow through it. I have not done this in my tanks.
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Old 10-16-2013, 04:27 AM   #6
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Check out TPT member Luminescent and some of her tanks. You can search Sleeping Beauty Castle, a tank she did impressively well with a non natural decorative element. I think she mentioned substrate tied into panty hose "bags" to create hills and slope... you could ask her what methods work best for her.

I bury rock in the substrate to hold slope and if it shows in places, not a big deal. With a fine substrate I'd incorporate lots of small lava rock pieces, as mentioned above, and some larger rock to help hold the shape you want. Lava rock is a great choice because it will not affect your pH and being very porous it should take on your substrate and not inhibit root growth.
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Old 10-16-2013, 12:24 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the input. I think I have a better understanding of how to do what I want to do now.
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Old 10-16-2013, 05:40 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dobie Swift View Post
Thanks for all the input. I think I have a better understanding of how to do what I want to do now.
I would not over think it too much as it's an experiment when you have large slopes, even without soil. With most substrates, it's not a big deal in the short term but it might be after years as mulm builds. Just remember that soil allows for very little water flow through it, so I wouldn't add more than what the plants can reach.
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Old 10-19-2013, 06:13 AM   #9
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I also used old knee high pantyhose filled with lava rock to make elevation at the back of the tank.

Frankly, I used waaaay too much substrate, and ended up with an almost level bottom, anyway (first attempt at this).

You can see pics of the rock 'sausages' in my journal, linked below. Good luck!
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Old 03-07-2014, 12:08 AM   #10
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How did your "hill" turn out?

I'm getting ready to start my first planted tank and I want a hill. After reading this, I'm thinking of using egg crate to build up the hill and filling the holes with Great Stuff so the soil and stagnant water doesn't build up in the egg crate.

Thanks!
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