After two months of research and after gathering all the required equipment, today i finally finished my first dirted tank! It's only a 20 gallon, but it's my first and I'll hopefully upgrate to something bigger soon!
I didn't have much money to buy an organic top soil, so I had to mineralize a big amount of aoil I had in a huge flower pot in my balcony. Im 100% sure it has no chemicals and such.
1 So what I did first was adding a lot of water to the soil, and I let it dry for a day. Then I added again water, stirred the soild and let it dry for another day. I repeated the prcess for two days.
2- While waiting for the soild to dry, I did some work on the 20 gallon on my own, such as silicone the loose hood, scrub the calcium deposits with vinegar etc. I have to admit that this was one of the hardest parts of setting up this used tank.
3- Today was the big day, at first I went to the hardware store and got two 20 watt CFL bulbs, since I decided to set up a DIY light system. I just think that the T8 bulbs at my LFS, 10-15 watt max. can't cover my plants lightning demands.
When I got home, I first rinsed the capping material very well. I'm using a natural gravel I got from the beach last summer. It's mostly grey but has A LOT of little colorful particles in it that make it look cool (the pics do no justice). I'm so glad I was smart enough last summer to get 70 pounds of gravel, I knew I was going to need it for something soon, even though my parents didn't allow me to set up another tank back then.
After rinsing it with the pillowcase method, I slope it around the tank's edges.
4- After a rest, I put the soil I previously sifted to remove the debris, into a big 10 gallon container, and put there a chunk of clay, approximately 150-200 gr. I filled the container with water and stirred it, so the clay got dissolved and turned into a muddy clay-soil mixture.
I dumped the water and put this mud in the spaces in the tank:
5- Next, I put about 40-50 lbs of the remaining gravel in the pillowcase and rinsed it really well. This took me 30 minutes or so. I put the gravel in the tank and created the slope effect, which I love btw, and enjoyed a well deserved rest :P. (Sorry for the picture quality put these last ones were taken 2 hours later):
I know you can't notice anything good in the last pics but my iPod's camera sucks... I'll try to take a picture of it with my dad's camera later. And by the way, I've got a question about the gravel. Did I use too much gravel to cap the soil? It's a nice layer of roughly 4 inches in total, including the soil. The capping gravel that I put on top of the soil is only 3 cm/1 1/2". Although I've always loved a nice thick layer of substrate, should I remove some of the gravel? Will it affect my stocking list at all?
The stocking list will be:
- 6 Neon Tetras
- 6 Harlequin Rasboras
- A German Blue Ram
- 6 Cory Cats
- 3-4 Apple Snails
- Lots of MTS
This will be a heavily planted tank, the plants will be shipped to me within this week. Should I keep the substrate wet in the meantime? Does it matter?
I'll also be dosing DIY CO2.
The thread will be regularly updated with pics of it's progress, so don't forget to check regularly if you're interested.
I just can't believe I did this so soon, it was a tiring work but it was worth it, I can't wait to see the results
I'm sorry for the long thread, hopefully anyone interested in this will read it lol
Thanks a lot, wouldn't have done it without your help!