Dollar Store Dirt Tank - 20g - New Fry Pics 06.07.11 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 51 (permalink) Old 04-20-2011, 02:37 AM Thread Starter
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Dollar Store Dirt Tank - 20g - New Fry Pics 06.07.11

This tank has been in the planning phase for about 3 months and actually setup for 10 days now. All of the dirt tanks, especially WeekndRacer's tank, on TPT have inspired me to setup my own dirt tank. So, I was at the dollar store buying some cheap plant pots to use in tub pond experiment I'm attempting when I spotted 8lb bags of potting soil for $1. Since dirt was already on my mind the $1 price was extremely appealing. Being the skeptic I am I immediately look at the ingredients to see why this dirt is so cheap. Here's what it says on the bag: Organic Compost, Peat Hummus, Sand, Composted and Aged Softwood Bark Fines, and Perlite. Nothing really raised any immediate red flags in my mind so I bought a bag.

Not wanting to create a complete disaster in my empty 20g I decided to experiment with the Dollar Store dirt in my container pond. The indoor container pond will be moved outdoors when the weather permits. But for now it's just a half filled 18g rubbermaid storage bin with a 23w CFL in a clip on shop light. There are 5 or 6 juvy male platys along with a lonely black skirt tetra. I do have a Tom's mini filter in there for water circulation. There is a sponge in the filter, but I'm not sure how much good it really does. So I took two plant pots and filled them with 3.5-4" of the Dollar Store dirt and then capped with an inch of leftover Fluorite Red. I planted some crypt spiralis, hygro tiger, water wisteria, ludwigia repens, and rotala rotundifolia in the pots and let them grow for two months. Everything started growing immediately and continues to grow well. I paid special attention to how the fish behaved on a daily basis and to how the soil broke down. I did some random testing with cheapo test strips and never experienced any unacceptable parameters. 50% water changes every 1-2 weeks depending on my schedule seems to work great. The entire two months I was poking and prodding at the dirt pots to check for signs of it going anaerobic. Small bubbles would occasionally rise but they did not have an odor. So I deemed my dirt pot experiment a success and got the courage to setup a Dollar Store Dirt Tank.

Specs:
Tank Size: 20g

Substrate: 16lbs Dollar Store Dirt (Gardenscape All Purpose Potting Soil) with a 15lb Seachem Onyx Sand cap

Filter: Sponge

Lighting: 2 15w CFL in clip on shop lights

CO2: 2 DIY yeast bottles with Hagen Mini Elite diffusion

Ferts: RootMedic Macro and Micro Liquid Ferts

Fauna: 3 platys

Flora: alternanthera reineckii, cabomba carolinia, bacopa carolinia, ludwigia repens, hygro tiger, eichornia diversifolia, water wisteria, water sprite, rotala rotundifolia, needle leaf java fern, glossostigma, bacopa sp "japan", limnophila sp. 'guinea broad-leaf', crypt spiralis, and anacharis



Seachem Onyx Sand and Dollar Store Dirt



Week 1:
I set the tank up and added the fish the next day. The filter was in my 55g for 2 months as prep for being used on this dirt tank. I didn't rinse any of my substrate this time and was pleasantly surprised at how clear the water was right after setup. The Seachem Onyx Sand isn't really sand IMO. It's more like smaller pieces of Fluorite and does kick up little dust clouds when disturbed, but I'm really happy with the way it looks. For some reason I really like dark substrates. Especially if there is a possibility of some of the dirt coming up. I could probably use another 1/2" of cap, but the dirt is already 2" thick so I didn't want to risk it. As the tank matures and stabilizes I might add more cap later.


Week 1 - Took this shot about an hour after setup. 04.09.11

Week 2:
I'm really surprised at how much the plants grew in one week. I don't think I have ever had to trim a tank after only 1 week of setup. The DIY CO2 really helps IMO. Cheapo test strip results are all normal. Fish are looking good, behaving normally, and eating well. I did a 70% WC on Sunday.


Week 2: Added more plants and replanted what was trimmed. 04.19.11


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Last edited by tuffgong; 06-07-2011 at 07:03 PM.
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post #2 of 51 (permalink) Old 04-20-2011, 02:40 AM
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holy crud, that was a week of growth? they looked pathetic in that first pic! nice work!
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post #3 of 51 (permalink) Old 04-20-2011, 02:53 AM Thread Starter
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Yes and Thanks! I did add some plants during the week, but several of the original plants reached the surface fairly quickly. Specifically the rotala rotundifolia, eichornia diversifolia, cabomba carolinia, and the hygro tiger.


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post #4 of 51 (permalink) Old 04-20-2011, 05:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tuffgong View Post
Since dirt was already on my mind the $1 price was extremely appealing. Here's what it says on the bag: Organic Compost, Peat Hummus, Sand, Composted and Aged Softwood Bark Fines, and Perlite.
Organic compost will probably be caustic to fish. Potting soil usually also contains ferts that are not good for the fish. You will have to do weekly water changes with this soil.
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post #5 of 51 (permalink) Old 04-20-2011, 05:30 AM Thread Starter
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Hilde,

I am definitely keeping an eye on things to see what occurs. I perform weekly to bi-weekly WC's on my tanks anyway so that was the plan. This tank is 100% an experiment which is why I started on a very small scale. In my container pond I have not had any problems with WC issues and the dirt and fish have been in there for 2 months.


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post #6 of 51 (permalink) Old 04-20-2011, 05:41 AM
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This tank is 100% an experiment which is why I started on a very small scale. In my container pond I have not had any problems with WC issues and the dirt and fish have been in there for 2 months.
What type of fish and how many are there in the 20 gallon?

So you used the same dirt in the pond.

Top soil is cheaper in the long run.
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post #7 of 51 (permalink) Old 04-20-2011, 05:49 AM Thread Starter
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There are 3 sunset platys in the tank. I also have platys and a black skirt tetra in the container pond.

Yeah, I did use the same dirt. I figured the degree of difficulty and potential for disaster was a lot lower if I started on a small scale.

Why do you think top soil would be cheaper? What water parameters would you anticipate the dirt causing problems with? These are the types of things I'm trying to figure out. Thanx!


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post #8 of 51 (permalink) Old 04-20-2011, 12:46 PM
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nice job, cant wait to see it fill in.


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post #9 of 51 (permalink) Old 04-20-2011, 12:48 PM
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Organic compost will probably be caustic to fish. Potting soil usually also contains ferts that are not good for the fish. You will have to do weekly water changes with this soil.
thats funny because alot of us use potting mixes. and i do bi-monthly waterchanges & keep discus.


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post #10 of 51 (permalink) Old 04-20-2011, 02:10 PM
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Quote:
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What type of fish and how many are there in the 20 gallon?

So you used the same dirt in the pond.

Top soil is cheaper in the long run.
Cheaper than $1?


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post #11 of 51 (permalink) Old 04-20-2011, 02:48 PM Thread Starter
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nice job, cant wait to see it fill in.
Thanks! Your tank was definitely a reference point and an inspiration for this experiment.



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Cheaper than $1?
I was wondering the same thing.


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post #12 of 51 (permalink) Old 04-20-2011, 03:40 PM
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I was wondering the same thing.
I did not want to throw in my two cents on that but I second you on that. Not much out there cheaper than a buck unless you are secretly digging up the neighbors yard and pilfering their dirt..
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Thought that the top soil cheaper for the potting soil bag looks smaller. I got top soil for aprox. $2.

I read that some whom have use Miracle grow organic potting soil have problems with nitrite spikes. Also read that nitrates is uric acid which is toxic to fish. Strangely though some root tabs for pond have uric acid for nitrates.

I started aquariums with dirt for goal is to only do water changes monthly.
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post #14 of 51 (permalink) Old 04-20-2011, 06:26 PM
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I'm watching this thread. Interested in results.
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post #15 of 51 (permalink) Old 04-20-2011, 06:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hilde View Post
Thought that the top soil cheaper for the potting soil bag looks smaller. I got top soil for aprox. $2.

I read that some whom have use Miracle grow organic potting soil have problems with nitrite spikes. Also read that nitrates is uric acid which is toxic to fish. Strangely though some root tabs for pond have uric acid for nitrates.

I started aquariums with dirt for goal is to only do water changes monthly.
people have problems with dirt just like with any other method. there is no golden ticket. I had a tank fail right from the get go. never figured it out, set it back up the exact same way, exact same dirt and its been fine for over a year.

can't comment on the nitrite spikes as it hasnt happened to me, other than a tank crash due to a dead fish (i presume).


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