Planted tank with Soil Substrate - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 12-08-2004, 08:35 PM Thread Starter
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Planted tank with Soil Substrate

So I've read Diana Walstad's book several times and find it immensely appealing (must be the chemist in me). I would like to set up a 55G in the manner she describes. The only visual evidence I have seen of an actual setup like this is from Mike Edwardes (he breeds tropical fish, has a nice website, Google for it).

I guess I would like to hear of some/any experiences people have with this method. Will it work if you won't have any sunlight on your tank?

What specific kinds of potting soil can you use for this? I think that's my main concern, as she's not very specific about that.

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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 12-08-2004, 09:09 PM
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Hi, Dennis,

I've set up three planted tanks with soil substrates. I am very satisfied.

The most important thing that I have learned is to not have too rich a substrate. Potting soil can work, but because it has a lot of organics it it, it should be used sparingly if at all.

I use unenriched subsoil. It has a few organics and it mainly contributes minerals. The theory is that fish food delivered via the fish will provide most of the organics.

I also soak the subsoil for a week or so, changing the water every few days. This reduces the amount of rotting material that will be put into your aquarium. Note the bubbles that form in the pail in which you are soaking it.

When I set up a new tank, I add a dusting of peat moss, some mulm from an existing aquarium, if possible, then 1/2 to 3/4 inch of the wet subsoil. I put up to an inch of 2mm - 3mm inert gravel over that.

A forum devoted to this kind of setup can be found at


Ms. Walstad is the moderator.

Good luck!

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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 12-08-2004, 09:25 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for the link! I'm sure that will answer most of my questions.

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