Tom's 38g Dirt Tank
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Old 04-06-2014, 04:00 PM   #1
oltombon
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Tom's 38g Dirt Tank


So, I've been slowly gathering materials over the last couple of months and this weekend I finally started the preparation on this tank. I've had a several 20g tanks and a couple nano shrimp tanks since I joined the forum two or three years ago. This is my first attempt at a dirt tank and I decided I was going to go the extra mile with this one...so here's the plan:

- 38 gallon glass tank (36"x12"x20")
- Substrate: 1" mineralized top soil (AaronT's recipe), 1-2" gravel cap
- Filtration: Fluval AC 70 (mechanical/biological only - removing carbon insert, replacing with another sponge)
- Lighting: Coralife 36" Aqualight 2x39w T5 HO bulbs
- Flora: Amazon Swords, Various Crypts, Bacopa, Rotala, Dwarf Sag, Java Ferns, Hornwort, Various floaters, more that I can't identify. I'm acquiring as many different species of plants as I can. Once the tank is up I'll post pics and go about identifying everything. HUGE thanks to gobluewolverines4, crice8, gparr, genocdex, and pink4miss for their generous contributions to my flora You guys are the best.
- Fauna: Undecided

So, this weekend I started prep. Painting the back glass with some Satin Black spray paint. Here's the first coat:


And finished:


Started AaronT's mineralization process. Got a cheap bag of topsoil from Lowe's per his instructions. After the first soak and drain:


Bought a bag of natural deco stone from Home Depot. I think it's too big to use as my cap, but I'm separating out the biggest stones and I'm going to use them for accenting.



That's where I am for now. I'm taking 10 days off work starting this Friday and I'll be updating this thread as the tank goes up. Any suggestions on the fauna would be very appreciated as I'm completely undecided. Wish me luck!

Last edited by oltombon; 04-06-2014 at 04:34 PM.. Reason: Added pics.
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Old 04-14-2014, 10:09 PM   #2
oltombon
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Okay, big update. Quite an eventful setup. I'll start at yesterday...

Finished mineralizing the topsoil per Aaron Talbot's method. Sifted most of the big stuff out, added clay from NilocG:


This morning, I broke down my old 20g and started work on the 38g. I ended up changing my plans at the last minute (should have know things were going to go south at that point) and decided to cut up one of my wife's old exercise mats to use as a foundation for the hardscape/slope.

Foundation:


Dirt added:


Dirt capped:


At this point, I started adding some water to the tank. Proceeded to plant a majority of the plants. After I had roughly 3/4 of the plants planted, about six hours had passed since I first started working on the tank. I decidded to fill the tank enough to submerge the plants so they didnt dry out.

When I got the tank about halfway full, I added my fish from the 20g to the tank. I then began filling the rest of the tank. At about the 3/4 full mark, disaster struck...

The big main piece of drift wood, which had dried out a good bit at this point, decided it wanted to float. This ruptured the gravel cap around the left side of the log where it pulled the slate base up and dirt came oozing out. I grabbed some of my wife's pantyhose, filled them with rocks, pressed the driftwood back down to its original position, and draped the rock-filled pantyhose over the top to hold it down.

2 mins after rupture:


A shot of the ruptured area of the cap:


After a good 15 minute freak out, I decided to head back to my LFS, get a 5lb bag of gravel and some larger rocks to try and repair the ruptured area. I recapped the area where dirt had broken through the cap, and then laid some rocks around the base of the driftwood (on top of the slate). After my Aquaclear 70 working for a couple hours, here is the current state of the tank:


Pretty dern cloudy. So, I've got the aquaclear chugging away. Hopefully this clears up sooner rather than later.
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Old 04-15-2014, 03:01 AM   #3
Andrew Goldfish
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Best quote ever on a fish forum: "I grabbed some of my wife's pantyhose..." Good thinking.

When I dirted my tank a few weeks ago (my first) it was very cloudy for a good 24 hours and I had to skim off some of the floating stuff. But it settled down pretty well after that. Your fish are going to think they've escaped from the aquarium and are roaming in the wild!
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Old 04-15-2014, 03:42 AM   #4
jcgilmore2
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Another reason dirt is just not for me... I like moving plants around too much. My tank would look like that on a daily basis.
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Old 06-25-2014, 06:03 PM   #5
Blackheart
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Any updates?
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