Did I get the right stuff to dirt my tank? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-07-2012, 11:15 PM Thread Starter
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Did I get the right stuff to dirt my tank?

Hello everyone.

I am setting up a 10 gallon planted tank (first attempt with plants) and my painted background is finally dry and its time to set it up. Seeing how I am a recent college grad and none of my local pet shops have the desire to get in a plant substrate, I decided to save some money and dirt my tank. I went to lowes this evening and picked up a few things and I just wanted to make sure I got the right items before I go setting it up. I picked up miracle grow organic choice potting mix and natural play sand to use as a cap. Here are some pictures of the items I bought. Can someone verify if these items will work? I know the potting mix is most likely right but I wasent sure about the play sand. It was only 4 bucks so I decided to pick it up. Thank you.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-07-2012, 11:41 PM
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Hello MJK87, I myself would go with a 100% natural top soil, just because potting soils & potting mix both contain added fertilizers in them that can still pose a threat to fish. Not to mention top soil is very cheap, 40 lbs for $3 where I live.

As for the play sand, that's fine to use as a cap. I go with some eco-complete, then cap it all with play sand myself.

Now how I intend to setup my 100 gallon, and custom 40 gallon is to enrich the top soil with muriate of potash which is a potassium supplement, dolomite (dolomitic compound) which supplies both calcium and magnesium, and add in a bit of iron chelate which adds iron to the soil.

You can research all of this in this posting here

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/su...mts-aaron.html


It explains how to add the dry ferts and how to enrich the top soil.

15g Fluval Flex - Will be a planted shrimp tank
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-11-2012, 03:40 PM
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Yep that's the right potting mix.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-11-2012, 04:02 PM
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Yes that is the right stuff. I have it in 2 tanks and have not had a problem and my plants grow like they're on roids.

Play sand tends to compact because of the finer granules but it should be OK if you make it around 1.5-2"
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-11-2012, 04:06 PM
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thats the potting mix i used with no ill effects
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-11-2012, 06:34 PM
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I personally would not use Play sand. In my experience, it will really trap your soil. Your soil needs to breath. I would recommend bigger granules such as PSF (pool sand filter) or Black diamond. Even with PSF, I sometimes see the substrate would explode and have to poke it.

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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-11-2012, 06:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by green_valley View Post
I personally would not use Play sand. In my experience, it will really trap your soil. Your soil needs to breath. I would recommend bigger granules such as PSF (pool sand filter) or Black diamond. Even with PSF, I sometimes see the substrate would explode and have to poke it.
How long would it take after initial setup for the substrate to look like it was on the verge of explosion?
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-11-2012, 08:41 PM
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How long would it take after initial setup for the substrate to look like it was on the verge of explosion?
Within few weeks. But most of the air will come out itself with bigger granules cap. With my playsand, I got crater at some point as the air was trap too long. I actually have a video about this, I might post it tonight.

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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-11-2012, 08:51 PM
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I have sand on top of my potting mix and have never had it belch bubbles, but it is a more coarse grade pacific sand, almost like aragonite.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-12-2012, 12:05 AM
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Hard to be 100% certain without further research but I am 90% sure that is the type of Miracle Gro that I have used with great success (and no real problems to speak of).

Getting known good 'dirt' is the first and most important step, IMO.

Even if you use play sand or some other fine grain sand the potential issues are minor and limited but if you get the wrong 'dirt' then you have the potential for whatever horror stories you may have heard about dirt tanks.
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-13-2012, 03:13 AM
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So after you dirt and cap the tank... what is next step BEFORE adding plants and fish. I.e. Water changes??

THX
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-13-2012, 03:14 AM
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Also what about a light coating of organic peat moss first??
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-13-2012, 03:31 AM
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i use the same stuff with kitty litter.
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-13-2012, 06:37 PM
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Also what about a light coating of organic peat moss first??
There's no point, the MGO has peat moss already in it. Also you will need to plant right away and change the water several times as the soil breaks down and establishes.

I would do two things, one I would strain it. The hunks of wood in MGO will leak tannins for a while. Second I would mineralize it (basically soak it in water before you put it in the tank). There's a write up on it here somewhere.

Next on your play sand, if it were me, I would bake it. Place it on a cookie sheet and cook it at 300 for 30mins stirring every 10 mins. You may want to sift it as well, but I imagine that would be quite a pain.
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-13-2012, 06:38 PM
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i use the same stuff with kitty litter.
What brand of kitty litter?
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