This is my second attempt at a soil substrate low tech planted Aquarium. The only other experience I have is with my 29 gallon sand substrate tank, but it's not heavily planted and wasn't set up initially for plants and has to be redone. It was a fish only tank and it started with trying one plant in the tank and went on from there, my interest was peaked. At times I paid more attention to the plants rather than the fish. Seeing new growth rather than fulfillment of the prophecy of the aquatic dept at my local Petco "don't buy plants, they will just die", felt good.
Instead of tearing down the 29 I decided to go bigger first to a 75 gal. That way I have a place for my fish to go when I do get to the 29.
I made a lot of rushed decisions and cut some corners in my first attempt and I did not research the project thoroughly. I was very impatient. The majority of my research was directed to LED lighting and I relied heavily on what I learned from YouTube and Dustin's fish tanks in regards to substrate. I came upon this forum when i started having problems and I'm glad I did. Something good came from the disaster.
I used Miracle-Gro organic Choice potting mix with a little backyard dirt mixed in and added red clay, crushed shell and imitation salt for potassium. I made the substrate to high in a lot of areas and ended up with a buildup of gas all throughout the substrate. Some areas were so bad that it looked like little volcanoes forming with built-up pressure.
This inspired a thread
which was me reaching out for help. During that time I learned a lot from the people that participated, especially @thedood
who shared a lot of his knowledge with me and had an unbelievable amount of patience for my many many questions. I decided to tear it down and start over.
Lighting 4 bulb T8 shop light
Currently running 2 6500k bulbs and one Philips Plant and Aquarium bulb 3200k, leaving one bulb slot unused. Researching LEDs and reading the product reviews on them inspired me to use an inexpensive shop light and build my own LED lights for another project.
2 parts sifted top soil "premium top soil" with sphagnum peat moss from Lowe's
2 parts backyard dirt
1 part Special Kitty cat litter soaked in organic garden lime/water solution for 24 hours
Cat litter on bottom
Roughly a pound of Mexican red pottery clay, 30 root tabs,
Substrate is no more that 1.5 inches high beneath the cap layer
Black Diamond blast sand
Jebao 404 canister filter
(Floss, bio media, Purigen)
Heater, air pump, stone, thermo