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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-26-2012, 04:12 AM Thread Starter
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many dirty questions

Hello, i am thinking of making my next planted tank, 55 gallons, a dirted tank. it would have a 1" dirt layer with a 0.5"-1" cap (black and yellow gravel, because that is what i have lol)
here are my questions
1. when doing a water change, do you siphon the ground, and how would this work, compared to a regular gravel bottomed tank? is there a video showing someone cleaning a dirted tank?
2. when doing stuff with the aquarium (moving plants, scaping...etc) the dirt gets suspended in the water, making it cloudy, is there a way to prevent this? i read somewhere you can remove the "light" dirt, so you can pick it up and it will all just fall, like gravel...how would i do this (if possible)
3. will dirt get on top of my cap, and if it does, what can i do to hide it, or does it matter?
4. i am probably going to get some MTS, and they will go digging, will they cause the dirt to get into the water, or wreck some aspect of the dirted tank?
5. related to that...what is the cap used for? just aesthetics, or is there a reason to prevent the dirt from being the only substrate?
6. plants will do better in a dirted tank, and i know you have to plant a lot when you first dirt the tank...i don't have enough plants to cover the area "needed", what harm will this do, or should i refrain from using dirt until i can get my hands on a nice big plant package?
7. using organic miracle, will the ammonia spike? i read that some people can't put fish in their tanks because the ammonia is so high (caused by the dirt)
8. how long will it be before i can get the first few fish in the lightly planted dirt aquarium?

sorry for the questions, but i have been researching a lot about fertilizers, light setups, repairing glass...etc. and i think i am more confused now then i was before lol
thanks in advance
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-26-2012, 04:04 PM
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1. I do not siphon the ground..LOL there is no cleaning. When I do my water changes I simply put my siphon in and drain

2. My rule of thumb with Dirted Tanks is "SET IT AND FORGET IT" I do not rearrange plants, if I dont want a plant anymore (ie sword) I cut it at the base and slowly snip the roots.

3. It doesnt matter to me if a little mulch is sitting on top of the cap, looks natural

4. I have well over 200 in my 75, they are so smooth that when they rise up from the substate the cap surrounds them and covers the hole quickly

5. Its to keep the dirt where it belongs (DOWN)

6. Neither did i in the beginning..Load up on some easy plants for now. Vals, Waterspite Rotela Crypts. Just remember with the crypts that you have them where you want them, they are heavy root feeders and have large roots

7. Some, I had mine setup for a month before I added any fish. I would put about 2 Water-sprites in there to begin with.

8. After your LIQUID TEST kit says you can

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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-26-2012, 04:16 PM
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you just received a great reply (imo)!
Only want to add that floating plants early on help a great deal.
They scrub extra ferts from the water helping with that new tank algae that happens with most any tank. Frogbit, red root floaters or any other option that you can control and or remove when you choose too.

Hoping if you choose to dirt the tank you are happy with the results (I was)


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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-26-2012, 04:19 PM Thread Starter
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alright, i have a friend who will give me a huge handful of the water sprite for cheap, or i could take some from my 20g tank.
I'll also see if i can find some other easy plants, give them two weeks, test the water, and if everything is good i'l put a few fish in then, if not i'll continue waiting...
is there really any reason not to put dirt in a tank?
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-26-2012, 04:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 987456321 View Post
is there really any reason not to put dirt in a tank?

If you like to rearrange A LOT.

if you have fish that like to burrow (Weathered Dojo Loach) personal experiance

Other than that I cant think of any reason a tank shouldn't have dirt in it, UNLESS its a Saltwater lol

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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-26-2012, 04:56 PM
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Agreed, dirt tanks are amazing. Except when you want to rearrage plants then its a different story. If your satisified with the layout tho, there the best
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-26-2012, 05:46 PM
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I keep hearing all these good things about dirt tanks. I have yet to try one but I believe I will now. I want in that club,lol. I recently purchased (4) 40gb during the petco sale and my plan was to use 4 different substrates with the same lighting to document growth differences. Considering now I am on more of a budget, MGOPS and PFS are the cheapest options for 4 tanks. Has anyone pushed their dirt tanks up to 3 inches vs the 2" limit. Or at least a 3 inch back with a 2 inch front

Last edited by flight50; 07-28-2012 at 04:24 AM. Reason: typo
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-26-2012, 05:52 PM
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in the back of my 125 there is probably a good 2 - 3" of MG topped with another 2" of sand. i wouldnt recommend doing that to start out though.


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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-26-2012, 07:26 PM Thread Starter
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how would you recommend me dirting my tank?
i was thinking 1" miracle gro (organic) with 0.5-1" gravel cap
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-26-2012, 07:39 PM
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i would go with a full 1" - 1.5" cap. you can slope it towards the front. i didnt dirt the front few inches so i could keep the sand against the front glass level with the bottom trim.


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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-26-2012, 07:42 PM
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organic potting mix NOT soil!
1.5 to 2" dry. press the palm of your hand down with firm pressure and measure.
Don't use round pea gravel or river gravel sold for aquariums as it doesn't hold the soil well. 1 to 1.5" of capping material. This is my opinion of what works.
Just a couple of my setup threads for you,, if you care for a peak.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...ad.php?t=86457
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=131940


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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-26-2012, 09:40 PM
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I did 1 inch of both. I actually left the soil in the front just so I could see the soil. I like the color variatons, but mine has worked great. The biggest thing is to lay down a lid when your pouring the water in, so that the soil doesnt go everywhere. I know that other people have forgot to do that and it created a mess.
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-26-2012, 11:33 PM Thread Starter
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alright, i will probably do a 1-2" dirt, with a 1-1.5" cap, thicker in the back, shallower in the front (with just gravel in the front two inches)...will the dirt get compacted, and will this be a problem (miracle gro organic potting mix)

thanks for all the input!
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-01-2012, 05:41 PM
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When I set mine up, I compacted the dirt myself to leave out air pockets and such
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-02-2012, 02:35 AM Thread Starter
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i thought you were supposed to keep it fluffy (or get MTS, to do it for you)
i am mineralizing the soil now so my new question is, is it better to compact the soil, or keep it loose? wouldn't having it loose make it easier to plant plants in?
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