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Old 09-01-2013, 02:14 PM   #1
jonnyboy
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Help me convert to dirt!


Right now I have a 20gal planted tank. It's my first, so I made alotta mistakes. I want to fix the substrate, and switch to dirt. Also have a decent bit of algae that I can't seem to shake. Doesn't seem to be getting to much worse, but no better. So I really wanna clean the tank and filter completely! Switch out some plants that have algae on them too.

SPECS!
Tank: 20gal high
Light: Finnex fugeray-R (puts me in the lower end of low tech)
Filter: Quietflow 20
Extra: Sun sun UV pump
Substrate: Mix of Eco complete and regular 1/4" gravel

I have a 5.5 that's been up for about a month now. Through it's cycles and safe to keep my fish in for the conversion.

My main question is, is this a good idea? Should I even bother? I think I can figure out the dirting process fairly easy. I've read and seen people having good experiences with dirted tanks....if done right of course. I just like the idea of having a tank that needs low maintenance and is almost it's own little Eco system....with some help of course.

I would like to switch to a dif filter and heater. If I don't get a new filter I'll have TWO quietflow 20 (one is on the 5.5) but looking at canister filters. Any suggestions? Don't wanna have too much flow and I'm having a hard time finding smaller ones. Any opinions on substrate heaters? Bad idea with dirt? Lemme know please!

The fugeray-R puts me at about 15 par....which is low. I love the led's and don't really wanna buy another light fixture....should it be good? Just trying to pull in as much info as possible before going through with this!

ANY input is MUCH appreciated! Really just wanna restart from scratch and get it right! This is just a pic of the tank now. Will not be planting the melon sword or broad leaf in the dirt. Those are going away
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Old 09-01-2013, 02:51 PM   #2
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Tank looks great as is. Maybe just getting some oto's and nerites would help your algae problem. Also possibly a small powerhead to increase circulation. Going dirt has it's own problems and can lead to more headaches. It takes time to get established just like any other form of tank, so might be easier to "fix" your current problem than starting over. Like I said, your tank looks great right now, a little effort might bring it around.
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Old 09-01-2013, 03:10 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by sadchevy View Post
Tank looks great as is. Maybe just getting some oto's and nerites would help your algae problem. Also possibly a small powerhead to increase circulation. Going dirt has it's own problems and can lead to more headaches. It takes time to get established just like any other form of tank, so might be easier to "fix" your current problem than starting over. Like I said, your tank looks great right now, a little effort might bring it around.
Thank you. I have 3 amano shrimp, and 1 oto. Lost one a while ago and my lfs hasn't had any since. With the UV pump I'm getting decent current. It's mostly focused on the plants with the worst algae. But the algae bloomed when I had my ray-2 set up....cuz I was an idiot....so now it just won't go away even though I have the ray-R set up for almost a month.

But this is why I'm asking. I just do not like how the substrate looks now, and feel like it's stunting root growth cuz of the larger gravel. If I didn't dirt, my lfs only carries Eco complete for decent substrate, or sand. Not a huge fan of the color of the Eco complete though
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Old 09-01-2013, 03:31 PM   #4
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I'm setting up my first dirt tank today it's going to be a 20 gallon high. I have no experience this is going to be my first dirt tank. I've done some research into it. Dirt tanks are about creating a self sustaining ecosystem. You have to balance light fish and plants. I'm still learning about it myself. You might want to pick up Diana Walstad's book the ecology of a planted aquarium. There are also a lot of video's on youtube explaining the process.
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Old 09-01-2013, 03:36 PM   #5
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if rootfeeding plant growth is the problem, add few osmocote root capsules or similar. just make sure they are not micros only. thos wont help much.
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Old 09-01-2013, 03:50 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by wantsome View Post
I'm setting up my first dirt tank today it's going to be a 20 gallon high. I have no experience this is going to be my first dirt tank. I've done some research into it. Dirt tanks are about creating a self sustaining ecosystem. You have to balance light fish and plants. I'm still learning about it myself. You might want to pick up Diana Walstad's book the ecology of a planted aquarium. There are also a lot of video's on youtube explaining the process.
Good luck! Are you doing a journal or something? I don't think I'll have a problem going through the process of dirting. I found a website that explained very well how to prep everything: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=152027

I'm willing to go through with the work and reap the benefits. Basically looking to see if someone has a valid reason to NOT dirt
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Old 09-01-2013, 03:55 PM   #7
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if rootfeeding plant growth is the problem, add few osmocote root capsules or similar. just make sure they are not micros only. thos wont help much.
I use seachem root tabs for all the plants even though some aren't big root feeders. It's a healthy tank. Just hate the substrate, and feel like it isn't the best for the plants. I couldn't keep a rangeri sword....partly cuz my loach was eating at it, but it never had healthy growth. And when I pulled it the roots literally didn't expand at all! And it had been in there for 5-6 months....
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Old 09-01-2013, 04:33 PM   #8
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I have had amazing success with MGOPM. Very very little maintenence required and the plants go insane. I've also found the plant/dirt combo does wonders for controlling nitrates as well. I have 11 tanks setup like this running between 3-7 wpg. There is always a small initial algae outbreak, but this rights itself in short order. Very stable, very healthy and highly recommended Give it a shot, you won't be disapointed!

As for canisters, I love Eheims. The 2211 should do your tank nicely.

I have a friend who uses undergravel heating in his dirted tanks. He says its especially helpful for improving water circulation through the deeper parts of his substrate. Some areas are almost 12" deep!!!
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Old 09-01-2013, 04:41 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by wrm130 View Post
I have had amazing success with MGOPM. Very very little maintenence required and the plants go insane. I've also found the plant/dirt combo does wonders for controlling nitrates as well. I have 11 tanks setup like this running between 3-7 wpg. There is always a small initial algae outbreak, but this rights itself in short order. Very stable, very healthy and highly recommended Give it a shot, you won't be disapointed!

As for canisters, I love Eheims. The 2211 should do your tank nicely.

I have a friend who uses undergravel heating in his dirted tanks. He says its especially helpful for improving water circulation through the deeper parts of his substrate. Some areas are almost 12" deep!!!
Yeah I'm still def leaning towards dirt! Thanks for the reassurance though. If dieting my tank makes it more stable than it is already....my biggest chore will be topping the water off haha! And I've been looking at the eheim filters. Specifically the 2212 or 2213. I'm sold on the substrate heaters! Thanks for the response!
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Old 09-03-2013, 01:47 AM   #10
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Any suggestions on what I should cap with? I have Eco complete....and it's doing a good job I just don't like the colors.
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Old 09-03-2013, 03:31 AM   #11
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you can cap with Flioramax same as Eco-complete but color is not black I think it comes in Red or brown
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Old 09-03-2013, 04:40 AM   #12
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Here's what I've learn with my experience with dirt'd tanks.

Use at least 2 inches of cap (it will settled down). More is better.

Fill tank with dirt. Use a spray bottle to soak dirt, compress it gently.

Scoop in the Eco-complete one cup at a time. Go slowly.

Fill the tank with water VERY SLOWLY. Maybe using the cup method. Don't just pour water into the tank. The force of the water will displace you cap, and you'll have a never ending mess on your hands.

I'd suggest using a kitchen strainer to filter out small wooden bits in the MGO. It's totally optional and take a bit of effort and time.
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Old 09-03-2013, 05:23 AM   #13
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I dirted a 10 gallon a while ago and just completed a 5 gallon build as well. Both have the MGOPM, the 10 gallon has flourite regular and the 5 gallon is capped with flourite black sand. I also sifted the MG when I did my 5 gallon. Truthfully both are doing great and I've had no problems with either. I did move a bunch of plants in the 10 gallon which stirred up a dirt storm, but it settled after a day or so. In all, do what you want, but I don't think you'd be disappointed with dirting. I do think you need a bigger filter with more flow to help your algae problem.
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Old 09-03-2013, 08:39 AM   #14
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Not sure which EC you have or what you're looking for but I have the fine grained version and it's pretty much all black. Pretty good cap so far in my opinion.
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Old 09-03-2013, 11:47 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kareen View Post
you can cap with Flioramax same as Eco-complete but color is not black I think it comes in Red or brown
Thanks! I'll check it out. I don't like how Eco complete has little reddish orange pieces in the black
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