My first dirted tank! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 12:24 AM Thread Starter
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My first dirted tank!

Hi everyone!
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!
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 12:53 AM
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I think it looks good, you are right that the pics do not do the gravel justice. It is hard to see the coloration. I'm not sure how to advise you about leaving it wet, I would if it were me but I can't say that one way is better than the other.

I too just started my first dirt tank last week. Mine is also a 20 gallon.
Can't wait to see when you have your plants added
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 10:21 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by tlyons01 View Post
I think it looks good, you are right that the pics do not do the gravel justice. It is hard to see the coloration. I'm not sure how to advise you about leaving it wet, I would if it were me but I can't say that one way is better than the other.

I too just started my first dirt tank last week. Mine is also a 20 gallon.
Can't wait to see when you have your plants added
Thanks for the reply! I can barely wait myself to add plants!
Ill fill the tank with water about 1-2" above the substrate then, just in case.
Oh and btw, do you think the amount of substrate is okay? It's 4 inches in the foreground and 5 inches in the background. The capping gravel is 3cm/1 1/2" above the soil. Is this okay for the fish an the plants themselves? Will it limit my stocking list?
Thanks
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 12:32 PM
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Again, I can't say for sure about the capping heights. I will just pass on the advice/instruction I was given. 2" of MTS and .5"-1" of capping substrate. When you plant your plants, you want to be sure that the bottoms of the stems and/roots make it to the soil. Otherwise they aren't going to get as much, if anything from the soil. Also, if you haven't already, get a testing kit, drops works best. Soil can leech ammonia into the water, so you want to be sure that things looks good before you add your livestock.

As far as the gravel limiting your stocking choices, it's really going to depend, I think that corydoras may not like the gravel, if there are sharp edges. They could damage their barbels if its too rough. I don't know much about GBR or MTS, but the rest sound ok.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 01:09 PM
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everthing on the stocking list is ok but you may have a problem with the cories as mentioned above

40 gallon dirt tank
5 Gallon planted bonsai dirt tank
1 Bearded Dragon ''Spyro''
Normal Leopard Gecko ''Shadow''
Super hypo tangerine baldy carrot tail leopard gecko ''Moon''
2 whites tree frogs ''Ying and Yang''
1 Royal Python ''Neptune''
1 Veiled Chameleon '' Yoshi''
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 01:29 PM
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yikes, get rid of that background.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 04:25 PM
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You built the substrate a little thicker than I prefer but (imo) you should be fine with going deeper. With 2" of soil I prefer a 1.5" capping layer but the added material should not cause you a problem. As always just plant heavily with root feeders.

Glad to see you got the tank set up and flooded.


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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 04:49 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by tlyons01 View Post
Again, I can't say for sure about the capping heights. I will just pass on the advice/instruction I was given. 2" of MTS and .5"-1" of capping substrate. When you plant your plants, you want to be sure that the bottoms of the stems and/roots make it to the soil. Otherwise they aren't going to get as much, if anything from the soil. Also, if you haven't already, get a testing kit, drops works best. Soil can leech ammonia into the water, so you want to be sure that things looks good before you add your livestock.

As far as the gravel limiting your stocking choices, it's really going to depend, I think that corydoras may not like the gravel, if there are sharp edges. They could damage their barbels if its too rough. I don't know much about GBR or MTS, but the rest sound ok.
I see, but will I be okay if I bury the roots deeper? They will make it then, wont they? Also what did you mean by MTS?
Also the gravel is really smooth so no worries about that.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 04:51 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by wkndracer View Post
You built the substrate a little thicker than I prefer but (imo) you should be fine with going deeper. With 2" of soil I prefer a 1.5" capping layer but the added material should not cause you a problem. As always just plant heavily with root feeders.

Glad to see you got the tank set up and flooded.
You're saying that with two inch of soil you prefer 1,5 " capping layer and that exactly how much I added to cap te soil! Am I explaining it wrong or what?
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 05:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Henri View Post
Thanks for the reply! I can barely wait myself to add plants!
Ill fill the tank with water about 1-2" above the substrate then, just in case.
Oh and btw, do you think the amount of substrate is okay? It's 4 inches in the foreground and 5 inches in the background. The capping gravel is 3cm/1 1/2" above the soil. Is this okay for the fish an the plants themselves? Will it limit my stocking list?
Thanks
oopps ??!??


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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 08:17 PM Thread Starter
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oopps ??!??
Yes, I was saying that in the background it has 5 inches of substrate In Total. In these 5" of substrate in the background, 1 inch is the bottom gravel that creates the slope to prevent the soil from being shown, 2,5" is the soil and 1,5" is the gravel used to cap the soil.
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 09:00 PM
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Yes, I was saying that in the background it has 5 inches of substrate In Total. In these 5" of substrate in the background, 1 inch is the bottom gravel that creates the slope to prevent the soil from being shown, 2,5" is the soil and 1,5" is the gravel used to cap the soil.
It sounds like you have just the right amount then. Like I said, when you plant just be sure that they are down in the soil.

MTS= Mineralized Top Soil (I was referring to your soil)

Good to go!
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 09:47 PM Thread Starter
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It sounds like you have just the right amount then. Like I said, when you plant just be sure that they are down in the soil.

MTS= Mineralized Top Soil (I was referring to your soil)

Good to go!
Great! I'll plant as soon as the plants arrive . Oh and, is there a problem if I bury a part of the plant's stem along with the roots? Just in case the roots aren't long enough? Or will this cause the stem to rot?
Thanks again
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-06-2012, 09:09 AM
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There will be some that you can get away with that, I think. I almost mentioned it in an earlier post.. I didn't want to assume that you didn't know already. I would look for signs that the stem is dying, after its been planted. For example, anytime I plant Anacharis, the stem part always turns brown and if it comes up, you can see where it is really soft. I'm not sure myself if that is common, or just something I am doing, so just watch your plants and you should be alright, I think
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-06-2012, 04:05 PM
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as long as you trim any leaves from the part of the stem that will be buried they should be ok but still keep an eye on them

40 gallon dirt tank
5 Gallon planted bonsai dirt tank
1 Bearded Dragon ''Spyro''
Normal Leopard Gecko ''Shadow''
Super hypo tangerine baldy carrot tail leopard gecko ''Moon''
2 whites tree frogs ''Ying and Yang''
1 Royal Python ''Neptune''
1 Veiled Chameleon '' Yoshi''
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