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Old 06-19-2013, 03:11 AM   #1
tdiggs
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How do you deal with dirt?


My 75G doesn't have fish yet, but it's got dirt with pool filter sand on top. How do you people deal with dirt!? I can't seem to keep the dirt specs off the sand and from floating along the top. I did a water change and gas pockets have ruined me...

I can't afford a bunch of bags ($100+) of eco-complete (what I have in the 29G and it's so hassle-free, with some root tabs it'll be plenty nutrition for the plants) so I went with dirt, but what can I do to keep it clean?
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Old 06-19-2013, 03:23 AM   #2
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Did you sift the dirt to remove the large wood pieces that can float?

What I did when I had a Mineralized Topsoil tank, then I capped it with playsand from homedepot. Then for the next week I used a net to gather up anything that floated to the top, and installed a cheap sunsun circulation pump and aimed the water flow so it would push the leftover debris around on the bottom while doing small water changes. Then I used a straightened out coat hanger to poke around the tank to eliminate any gas pockets.

After a couple of days of doing this the sand was clear of debris, and I finally started to add plants to the tank.
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Old 06-19-2013, 08:46 PM   #3
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The approach described above sounds good. I deal with the issue by using black blasting sand, so loose stuff that comes up when I break the cap blends in.

I generally vacuum well, and I keep a couple cups of extra, clean sand around in case I really blast the cap open (should really be more careful when i do WCs). It sounds like you are expecting pristine looking sand? If so, it might take some patience.
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Old 06-19-2013, 10:28 PM   #4
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I did my setup with MGOCPM and black flourite. I put in the hardscape (driftwood bolted to slate) and then added ~2" of topsoil, and a little bit of water to help moisten it, and poked/prodded it around to get it in the gaps and get out air pockets, break up clumps, etc. Then I added the ~2" of flourite, and added enough water to thoroughly wet the soil layer.

Then I planted, and slowly added the rest of the water (poured onto a large filter sponge about a liter at a time).

I think the black color of the substrate helped a lot, as I didn't notice too many floating bits.
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Old 06-20-2013, 01:37 AM   #5
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I didn't think of using black blasting sand! I suppose I'll follow everyone's tips and be extra careful and keep some 'touch up' sand handy. I have no choice but to scoop the floaters and scrape up the stuff that has settled on the bottom.
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Old 06-20-2013, 07:36 PM   #6
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I just started dirting my tanks so take my advice for what its worth. I've added malaysian trumpet snails to keep the gas pockets from building up. I also suck the random little blobs of dirt that still pop up on the cap with a turkey baster. Hope it helps!
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Old 06-20-2013, 09:25 PM   #7
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If your keeping fish i would advise against using blasting grit, well i guess depends on the fish you intend on keeping, but for me i gave it a try 2 months ago, and still on-going, and nothing but issues going on in that one tank since. I'm not exactly sold on it being fish safe, well at least cichlid safe.
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Old 06-20-2013, 10:11 PM   #8
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I love black diamond. 20/40 grit. All fish seem fine with it. The corys sift it. And its easy to keep clean. And $8 a bag at trac tor supply

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Old 06-21-2013, 01:35 AM   #9
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I'll keep it in mind, but I think it may be too late to swap substrate caps.
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Old 06-21-2013, 01:42 AM   #10
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My 75 has pool filter sand over floram ax. And I hate the fact that the darker substrate gets above the lighter pool filter sand. Definitely will do different when I redo the tank. But honeatly I did the black diamond with root tabs and I dose liquid ferts and the plants grow Like crazy

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Old 06-21-2013, 01:54 AM   #11
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The main problem with my pool filter sand is some nasty hair-like, white algae growing off it and now the plants.
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Old 06-21-2013, 04:49 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tattooedfool83 View Post
I love black diamond. 20/40 grit. All fish seem fine with it. The corys sift it. And its easy to keep clean. And $8 a bag at trac tor supply

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Thats exactly the stuff i was referring to, and exactly where i bought it from. It's coal slag. Though they say it's inert, i've also read about the many hazards to human health it can cause too which i was reading on yesterday. Some well known LFS owners i've spoken to about the stuff are wary of it as well, and refuse to use it.

Just something maybe worth looking into. Not to raise myself, but i never have issues with fish, but this one tank, and the fish in it ever since i put it in the tank, nothing but health issues as well as a death recently has me concerned, and i've been slowly trying to suck it out as it's mixed with 3 bags of eco i'd hate to just toss out.
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Old 06-21-2013, 04:59 PM   #13
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Quote:
Thats exactly the stuff i was referring to, and exactly where i bought it from. It's coal slag. Though they say it's inert, i've also read about the many hazards to human health it can cause too which i was reading on yesterday. Some well known LFS owners i've spoken to about the stuff are wary of it as well, and refuse to use it.
Can you post links to what you've read. So far all of the msds sheets I've read says silicosis, but heck you can get that from sand even.
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Old 06-21-2013, 06:05 PM   #14
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I, too, would like to see proof rather than speculation and ancedote. People used to blame the blasting grit for causing barbel loss, but that seems to have been debunked. Otherwise, it seems lots of people use it and dirt without issue.

I agree though that it would not likely be feasible to switch out caps. Are you still having issues with dirt coming through the sand? Or just algea now?
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Old 06-21-2013, 07:18 PM   #15
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ive used black diamond in my 75 with root tabs and never had any real problem with it other then grain size and weight had a horseface loach that used to love to burrow down in the sand and my cories loved to cruise all over the place
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