Yes I did and it worked great. I used just garden dirt that had a lot of old humus in it. The nutrients didn't run out because I had...you are going to wince at this...*goldfish*, and they kept it pretty well fertilized. 20 gallon tank with an undersized, underpowered, unsophisticated short hang-on filter that created some surface motion but didn't rile up the bottom. 1 gallon water changes once a week. Absolutely crammed with plants ....whatever was common in pet shops in Bloomington, Illinois in 1982 I guess, and some Elodea I appropriated from the fish pool in the university greenhouse. At first I had gravel on the top of the dirt but eventually with the goldfish poking around it was a mixture of gravel and dirt. Still worked fine. Discolored water from disturbed dirt didn't really bother me. I like a natural look. I think I protected the filter intake some way but I don/t remember now. The fish were healthy and grew like crazy for two semesters, after which they went into a fishpond.
Note, I didn't know what I was doing at the time and I think I just lucked out. There are a million ways that could have gone wrong.
Last edited by Euphotica; 10-11-2018 at 11:51 AM.