A few questions on substrate - 55 gallon tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-16-2012, 12:47 AM Thread Starter
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A few questions on substrate - 55 gallon tank

I recently found my organic choice potting mix and am planning to use it for my 55 gallon tank. The mix will have mixed amaco potting clay mixed throughout. Finally id like it capped with black gravel.

The questions are based on the execution of the establishment of the substrate. Im assuming that you filter out all the chunks of wood from the potting mix and line your tank mixed with the clay to about 2 inches, then, get the soil wet and let it set for a while, periodically mixing to allow air pockets to escape. - Is this assumption correct? If im suppose to let it sit, how long should I allow it to do so before its prepared to be capped?

Secondly, I want to cap it with black gravel. After i've capped it and placed all other forms of decoration (not including plants) is it safe to fill and leave it? or am I suppose to fill the tank, empty it, and fill it again several times to remove anything? If so, am I able to fill it with tap water that has yet to be dechlorinated and then just remove the chlorine on the last fill?

The whole process is confusing me and im sure im making it far more complicated than it is. Im new and on a budget so im trying to get this done right so I don't have a huge setback. Thanks to anyone who can help me clear up this confusion.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-16-2012, 06:04 PM Thread Starter
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No one eh? Lol
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-16-2012, 07:15 PM
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When I did my 55 I added just regular big box store top soil in and planted it up. I left a 2 inch gap between the front and side glass so the gravel would hide the soil. Anyhow I put the top soil right in, planted it then capped it with a thin layer of black gravel. Just enough to hide the top soil. Filled it with water and let it go for a couple of weeks. Checked the water and added fish.

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-23-2012, 12:16 AM
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i put the dirt outside, on a tarp and got it nice and wet. then i let it dry fully. repeat this about 3-10 times or until it no longer has any smell.
you can remove the bigger pieces of wood, but i didn't and my tank is fine. removing the wood just helps lower the amount of tannins that will go into your tank.
put the dirt in (put a border around it if you wish) about 1.5-3" thick, then add your cap, about 1-2.5 inches thick.
you can put your rocks or other decor in any time from now on
fill it with water (slowly. onto a plate if possible.) and leave it for a day or two. then do a water change and de-chlor it.
then you can add your plants (you can do this before the water change, but i would de-chlor your water if you add plants)

now you can either wait a month (or more) before adding fish, or you can test your water until it is safe (0 ammonia, 0 nitrite) then add fish.

doing a water change is easy. remove water, and fill it back up with de-chlor'ed water...you can gravel vac if you want, but do not dig into the gravel, siphon about a half inch away to just remove the fish poop or dead leaves that has landed on top.

Welcome to the dirt.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-24-2012, 02:14 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you both very much for your replies.

987456321, im definately going to try this method. Ive switched to blasting sand but ill just have to use a 1 inch thickness for it. Thanks alot for the information
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-24-2012, 02:29 PM
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I dont screen out the mulch, etc from the potting mix. I just soak it for a few hours and skim off anything that floats. Cap it (sand is better than gravel for a cap) and fill it.

you'll probably need to do a WC or 2 to get rid of cloudy/dirty water.

Mineralizing top soil isn't required. Personally I think its a waste of time. The CO2 released from decomposing material is a big part of what makes dirt tanks go strong from the start.

A couple days to a week and the tank should be ready for fish (test daily). At least IME.
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