A Diary of Dirt *Update 11-7*
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Old 09-06-2013, 01:04 AM   #1
thewesterngate
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A Diary of Dirt *Update 11-7*


Hi all, it looks like I've come full-circle back to the world of the planted tanks! I still have all my tanks including an empty 75 and 55 gallon along with a good half dozen 10Gs and maybe three 20L. And a little 2.5G.

This time around I'm going dirty: trying both MTS and MGOCPM. I'm fortunate enough to have held onto my canister filters, so the only thing I have to buy are plants, the MG and other odds and ends. Fish will come last, and probably quite a ways down the road unless I get impatient.

My first steps will be to grab some MG from a local store (possibly tomorrow). So far I'm planning two small tanks to start: a 10G experiment with the MG capped with sand, and a 10G Xmas moss tank for shrimp and/or some other nano fish. I can't wait to start up again! I have a lovely package of plants that should be here next week; I'll be sure to bombard you with photos of the process.

Once I'm comfortable enough with dirt tanks, I hope to scape the 75G for angelfish. That's my goal!

Last edited by thewesterngate; 11-08-2013 at 01:54 AM.. Reason: Update!
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Old 09-08-2013, 11:04 PM   #2
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Update!

I was blown away to find that my local Walmart was actually carrying MGOCPM, and not only that, but a HUGE bag for about $10.



And I was able to set up my 10G and cap it with a mix of fine and slightly coarse sand, along with my favorite piece of driftwood.



Now I just have a few questions before my plants arrive tomorrow:

When should I begin dosing dry ferts to maintain a good nutrient level? I know the soil should provide plenty of nutrients for a while, but when will it deplete? Should I still dose trace?

What is the best filter to use that won't ruin the cap? Do I even need a filter initially? Or would a sponge filter suffice?

Thanks for any and all input! I also have sand in my 2.5G but the driftwood nuggets are currently soaking before they get the christmas moss treatment!
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Old 09-08-2013, 11:13 PM   #3
frenchie1001
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i said the same thing about fish when i set my tank up. did not take long to get impatient.

i saw tom barr say you can start from day one, anything not used will just be pulled out on the water change (massive paraphrase).

sponge would be fine, espically fish less! as long as it pushed the water around enough.


edit : i just realised how stupid it looks handing out advice with 23 posts.

Last edited by frenchie1001; 09-08-2013 at 11:14 PM.. Reason: .
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Old 09-09-2013, 12:35 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by frenchie1001 View Post
i said the same thing about fish when i set my tank up. did not take long to get impatient.

i saw tom barr say you can start from day one, anything not used will just be pulled out on the water change (massive paraphrase).

sponge would be fine, espically fish less! as long as it pushed the water around enough.


edit : i just realised how stupid it looks handing out advice with 23 posts.
Haha, it's not stupid at all, I'm always up for learning! I read the article on Tom Barr's low-tech tanks, and about starting with a 6 hour photoperiod and once weekly dry ferts. But because this is using soil with plenty of organics, I may wait and see if they're needed at all for a while.
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Old 09-09-2013, 10:03 AM   #5
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i like the idea of the EI dosing. def going to start that at some point.
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Old 10-02-2013, 04:48 PM   #6
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I finally got around to getting the photos off my camera, so here is a huge, overdue update.

9/9 - I received my box of plants from HigherThinking. Can you say LUSH?

E. 'Red Flame'




E. 'Oriental'


A. reineckii 'Red'


S. subulata and C. spiralis

9/10 - Planted and filled.


9/13 - Extra plants (vals, the red flame, cabomba and rotala) in the 10G acrylic.




But then, most likely due to vastly different parameters, I had a 'meltdown' of most of the stem plant leaves. And of course, due to my impatience, the driftwood began leaching horribly. The only stems that survived were R. rotundifolia, Cabomba and the two struggling A. reineckii 'Red' (they've since thrown roots and look like they're perking up).



This little 2.5 is just for Christmas moss.

9/30 - I ditched the 10W CFL and replaced it with a 23W in the acrylic, it looks much better and seems to have boosted growth. I also started dosing both with Excel and Flourish (after water changes, which they're all getting 50% every week).



10/1 - If you look closely, you can see the sword leaves growing in just a day!


Needless to say, the acrylic 'plant dump' tank became my favorite in spite of the odd shape and distortion in the pictures. I ditched the DW and added three cultured C. wendtii 'Tropica' to both 10G tanks. I'll be swapping my bag of Purigen into the glass tank to help with the tannin issue.

Quick stats:

10G Glass Tank
Substrate: MGOCPM w/ sand cap
Ferts: Flourish & Excel
Light: 23W CFL
Flora: E. 'Oriental' x2
S. subulata
C. wendtii 'Tropica' x3
C. spiralis x3
Cabomba
A. reineckii 'Red'

10G Acrylic Flatback Hex
Substrate: MGOCPM w/ sand cap
Ferts: Flourish & Excel
Light: 23W CFL
Flora: Jungle Vals
Cabomba
E. 'Red Flame' x1
C. wendtii 'Tropica' x3
Java Fern
A. reineckii 'Red'
R. rotundifolia (60% leaf melt, growing back)

Whew, sorry for the sloppy update/images but I also came into possession of another foster kitten while working 2 jobs and things are hectic! I hope everything improves and starts filling in. I also have a crapload of riccia coming soon! If I can't be patient I'll probably pick up more root plants (I prefer them over stems anyway). Now on to the fauna debate.



Austrolebias paucisquama 'Sao Sepe', a species of killifish, is one of the most stunning killies I've seen. I'm trying to get a group of eggs of these and possibly A. nigripinnis:



Or threadfin rainbows (another favorite). My other idea for the glass tank would be a pair of pea puffers. I had two in the acrylic a few years ago and I was quite fond of them.

If you've stayed with me this long, I appreciate it! I'll try to keep this journal updated. Thanks!
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Old 10-02-2013, 05:27 PM   #7
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Those killis are jaw droppingly gorgeous. They look a little like pygmy sunfish. Can't wait to see which direction you end up going!
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Old 10-02-2013, 05:50 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by VJM View Post
Those killis are jaw droppingly gorgeous. They look a little like pygmy sunfish. Can't wait to see which direction you end up going!
Thanks! I agree on the killies, I just bought 30 of the A. paucisquama 'Sao Sepe' eggs because I couldn't take it anymore. Luckily they won't be ready for a proper tank for a good month or two (they'll be in growout dishes until then) so the tanks will be cycled and ready!
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Old 11-08-2013, 02:03 AM   #9
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It's been a little over a month since my last update, so here's the acrylic tank as of 10-8 compared with tonight! I keep trimming and replanting the cabomba and added some wild-collected Ludwigia sp. (either palustris or repens). The scape is terrible but it's all growing, so that's what counts! It's more just something for me to look at.

10-8


11-7


Excuse the low water level and slate at the front--I'm trying to take advantage of the good lighting/CO2 combination in this tank to start a riccia mat for my 55. The vals and dwarf sag have tapped into the soil layer and are growing wildly, but the stems of rotala indica are just sad. You can't even see them anymore over the sword, which I regret planting at the front.

One of these days I'll run a siphon while replanting it to catch those awful soil particles I know will flood the tank. Any scape suggestions would be wonderful!
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