Still confused on how to use topsoil in tanks - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-13-2010, 06:24 AM Thread Starter
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Question Still confused on how to use topsoil in tanks

So some people are using topsoil in their tanks, and I'm still a bit confused on how to do that. I'm wondering if it has to be a special kind of topsoil (I'm hearing 100% organic) or could it just be soil from your backyard lol. I'm not sure. And another thing is it cheap? I'm working on my cory tank at the moment, and I'm wondering if I can use topsoil at the bottom, then play sand on top.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-13-2010, 06:31 AM
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It does not have to be a special kind of topsoil. Really anything that doesn't have a ton of twigs or is fertilized with something like Miracle Grow would work fine. I've used soil from my backyard in a tank before, and didn't have any problems. Just mineralize the soil before you add it to the tank. And laying it down and capping it with sand should work excellently. It's a great substrate, and it's dirt cheap (haha, puns...).

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-13-2010, 07:30 AM Thread Starter
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Ahh that makes things a bit more clear. Another question, how would you clean it before putting it into a tank? Would it be the same as washing flourite? (Meaning taking small amounts and washing it in a small container with water, rinse, and repeat several times until water is clear). And depending on the source (I'm thinking about some cheap organic topsoil from like Home Depot or something) it won't alter your pH right? And ONE MORE question (haha sorry) if I top it with sand, it won't come up out of the sand right? Like I used flourite under sand once, but eventually some of the pieces of the gravel just came up and looked out of place.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-13-2010, 07:51 AM
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The process is pretty simple when you break things down...

1. Buy the cheapest TOPSOIL that Home Depot sells (comes in 40lb bags for $1.25ish) ask a sales associate for the stuff that is just dirt and nothing else.
2. Put topsoil in a tote bin (also sold at HD for $3ish for an 18 gallon bin)
3. Fill with water and stir it around for a bit then let it sit for a day.
4. Carefully pour the water out without disturbing the soil that is resting on the bottom of the water...with this step you are removing sticks and other floating debris, along with anything in the soil that is water soluable that might be poisonous to your fish.
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you have no more sticks and floating debris left to wash out.
6. Put wet topsoil on a tarp and spread it around with either your hands or a shovel to make it as thin as possible on the tarp.
7. Let the topsoil dry out completely, then repeat the process about 4 more times.
8. Optional: sift the topsoil to get rid of rocks. Doing this will decrease the topsoil yield by about 30% (in my experience).

GLHF! (nerd speak for GOOD LUCK HAVE FUN!)
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-13-2010, 01:09 PM
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I just set up my 7.5 cube with MTS. I know you don't have to screen it, but I would highly recommend it. I rinsed mine quite a bit, let it dry, repeat. On the last dry cylce I used window screen to get rid of leftover junk. There were still bits of wood, and other debri. I was left with a fine powdery sand.

From there I just added enough water to make mud and placed it on the bottom of the tank. Capped it with sand, I used sand from HD that is used for setting pavers, it looks ok, but with any luck will be covered in plants so..

There is a sticky at the top of this forum that will answer all of your questions.

I'm by no means an expert, but there is a lot of info on this site that helps.

good luck
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-13-2010, 02:48 PM
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I heard putting some of it in an old pillowcase and running water through it is the best way to clean it.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-13-2010, 05:04 PM Thread Starter
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Ahh I see, okay, sounds fairly simple =D
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topsoil confused rawr

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