To Dirt or not to Dirt? That is the Question. - The Planted Tank Forum
View Poll Results: To dirt or not to dirt?
Dirt it! 1.5" - 2" of dirt with 1-1.5" TMS cap 21 91.30%
Keep it Clean: Couple inches of TMS and root tabs 2 8.70%
Voters: 23. You may not vote on this poll

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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-06-2011, 10:52 AM Thread Starter
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To Dirt or not to Dirt? That is the Question.

I am working on setting up a new 5 gallon planted betta tank. I have plans all drawn out and am nearly done collecting material.

My original plan called for an organic dirted substrate capped with fine gravel. My only problem is that I used fertilized (non-organic) potting mix. Stupid Me! (stupid) Luckily someone caught it before I added any life to the tank.

This gave me some time to reconsider dirt and I just don't know what to do.

Well, I've been thinking very hard. I've heard many great things about this Tahitian Moon Sand stuff and it's got exactly the look that I'm looking for. The only negative is that it is inert. So I have a decision to make that I would like your help on.

If I go with the Tahitian Black Moon Sand substrate should I go with only that (with root tabs for fertilization...I believe this is the more expensive but cleaner version)

OR

Should I stick with the dirted idea, get some Miracle Grow Organic Soil (or another brand of organic) and cap the dirt with an inch or so of TMS?

Decisions, decisions...


My only hesitation about dirting the tank is because I will be traveling to and from college every couple of months (6 hour drive). How messy will dirt get if it's being moved? Will lowering t he water level to about an inch above the TMS and covering with newspaper/cardboard be enough to keep it from becoming a huge mess?

I've been assured it won't be a problem but I want more responses and suggestions.

Thanks!


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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-06-2011, 11:57 PM Thread Starter
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Suggestions anyone?


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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-07-2011, 12:05 AM
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If I were to redo my 75 I would go with the dirt. I never tried it but have seen great results with less maintenance.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-07-2011, 01:00 AM
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Dirt makes a aquarium 5x easier to run, like having self dosing nutrients just under your sand/gravle. only downside is it takes longer to cycle but with good soil you dont need to fertilize until after a year or possibly longer. all in all dirt = good.

ps. i would recommend taking a visit to the mineralized top soil thread.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-07-2011, 01:50 AM
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Mineralized topsoil all the way!
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-07-2011, 10:25 AM Thread Starter
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I completely forgot about that thread. I'll definitely check it out.

Thanks.

I think the advantages of dirt GREATLY outweigh the disadvantages. The only disadvantage i can think of is it may get messy...but that might not even happen


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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-07-2011, 03:33 PM
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Well technically if you keep up with EI dosing, your MTS could last indefinitely. Dirt, especially heavy in clay, has super high CEC
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-07-2011, 06:51 PM
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you can get away with no dosing at all indefinately if you have the right amount of lighting, fish load and over feed.


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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-07-2011, 08:07 PM
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I really like my dirt tank (topsoil capped with with Aquasoil), but I did one for a friend with the SAME BAG OF DIRT and a gravel cap, and her tank is RED. Looks like it has wine instead of water. I think we're going to tear it down and start over with an upgrade to Aquasoil this weekend.


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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-07-2011, 08:21 PM
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MTS for sure.

My 65g jungle October rain
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-07-2011, 10:02 PM Thread Starter
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Ok well I'm going with dirt. I picked up a small bag of Miracle Grow Organic Potting Mix/soil.

Now for the bad news. I was going to cap it with Tahitian Moon Sand but my LFS doesn't have it in stock currently. They also don't know when they will be getting another shipment. Great...

They did have some sand that seemed very similar in structure to TMS but was white, I mean PURE White. I don't know if that's the look I want to go for either.

Does anybody know of a place to order TMS online where I won't be paying an arm and a leg? Just a finger or two wouldn't be that bad but I need my legs for football (European Kick Ball not American Throw Ball).


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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-07-2011, 11:56 PM
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Not sure of your area, but both Petsmart and Petco here in Eastern Washington sell the Tahitian Moon Sand.....


-Just looked at petsmart.com and they have 5 lbs. for about 8 dollars....
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-08-2011, 12:45 PM Thread Starter
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do you know how much i would need to cap a 5g? I found a website that has a 20 pound bag for $13 + 8$ for shipping. When my LFS had it in stock it was $22.

I know the PetCo near me does not carry it but I could call Petsmart and ask them. Thanks for the suggestion


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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-08-2011, 01:28 PM
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using dirt under ecocomplete in my 55 plus dosing macro and micos and the tank took off quick. it's been less than a month and things are going crazy with growth, so i'd recommend it for sure


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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-08-2011, 01:31 PM Thread Starter
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any idea how much TMS I'll need to cap it? I can get 5 pounds for $12, 10 pounds for $20, and 20 pounds for $26. Idk which to get.

I have a feeling I won't really be using 20 pounds of it. Idk if I should get 5 or 10 pounds :/ This is quite frustrating.


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