Dirt keeps clouding up water in 20 gallon - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-18-2018, 02:07 AM Thread Starter
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Dirt keeps clouding up water in 20 gallon

So I decided to switch from a gravel to dirt substrate so I started with an empty tank, covered the bottom with organic Miracle grow potting mix and filled the tank with up with water. Naturally the tank was dirty and cloudy but it gradually settled down and I added a filter and a day later the water was clear. I wanted to do a small water change due to ammonia levels and I tried my best to not disturb the water but the watee just became all muddy again. Is there any way to keep the dirt from billowing up?
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-18-2018, 02:26 AM
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When dealing with dirt, I found the only way was to go very slowly and let the force of the water hit something like a cup or dish that tends to spread the water out all around the edge instead of into a single point. But I also found the dirt was not something that I felt added enough to offset the added work it took to use it. I wound up simply adding enough other material like pool sand and Flourite to the dirt that it became less bothersome.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-18-2018, 05:24 AM
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Do you have a cap on the soil? I have about an inch of small gravel over 3" - 4" of potting soil. The first month it was pretty easy to kick up a cloud of silt. After the first month or so the tank seemed to settle. I can add water pretty casually without kicking up a cloud now. I did a lot of filter changes the first couple months, so I think most of the smaller particles were removed by my filter.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-19-2018, 11:45 AM Thread Starter
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No I dont have a cap...ill have to try that
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-20-2018, 04:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhianna View Post
No I dont have a cap...ill have to try that
I love my dirt bottom tank and wouldn't want to do a planted tank any other way... but a gravel cap is a must for me! Some people use a coarse sand... I have never tried sand.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-20-2018, 05:47 PM
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I’m shocked you’ve managed so far without a cap. I have about 2” of gravel as a cap in my 55 gallon. I have had no issues with silt so far with this set up.

My 10 gallon has a thin layer of gravel over the dirt and I just change water slowly and carefully.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 02:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PlantedRich View Post
When dealing with dirt, I found the only way was to go very slowly and let the force of the water hit something like a cup or dish that tends to spread the water out all around the edge instead of into a single point.
I have a designated Rachel Ray salad plate that has never been washed with detergent.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 05:05 PM
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Yep. Cap is great to have. I use Pool filter sand in my 10gallon as a cap, about 1-2 inches. Works great and my plants love the dirt.
I was thinking about using BDBS-BlackDiamondBlastingSand as a cap next time just to have the dark top, better for shrimp coloration etc.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-27-2018, 06:12 PM
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With dirt you always need a cap and should fun your filter right away. No matter how slow you pour your water even with a cap the water will cloud a bit... filter with help clear it up. Did you plant the tank yet? You should plant it right away to, otherwise you can create a mess after you finally cleared your water
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