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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-05-2012, 06:26 AM Thread Starter
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im substrate stupid lol

Ok so I've been reading on here and was just wondering if I had this right. I have a 75 gallon tank that has a few plants and driftwood, but it only has gravel in it and I would like something better for plant growth so is this all I need to do:
Miracle Grow organic potting mix topped off with sand then plant plants and plug cycled fiter back in and add fish back in? Lol
Also I would like light(cream or white or light tan) substrate on top what is the best/cheapest kind?
And do I need to soak the miracle grow before adding to the tank so it doesn't turn my water Brown?

Last edited by jordan.55; 09-05-2012 at 07:20 AM. Reason: added question
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-05-2012, 09:07 AM
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You'd want to take the old substrate out first. Drain the water and clean the tank out, mix the potting soil into a thick mud in a bucket, add 1-2" of soil to the tank, cap with 1-2" of silica sand or pool filter sand (find at hardware or pool supply store for 8$/50lbs), plant it, fill it, and plug in your old cycled filter (don't clean it).

And then you get miraculous growth.

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-05-2012, 10:29 AM
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Just a hint, when you get sand from the hardware store, especially play sand, it will have a large clay content and will need to be rinsed a lot before added to the tank. I used play sand as the substrate for my African cichlid tank and I didn't rinse it enough at first and the clay kept turning my water a redish brown so I ended up having to break the tank down and rinsing the sand more.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-05-2012, 11:41 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by aweeby View Post
You'd want to take the old substrate out first. Drain the water and clean the tank out, mix the potting soil into a thick mud in a bucket, add 1-2" of soil to the tank, cap with 1-2" of silica sand or pool filter sand (find at hardware or pool supply store for 8$/50lbs), plant it, fill it, and plug in your old cycled filter (don't clean it).

And then you get miraculous growth.
Lol ya I was planning on taking out all the gravel first lol I'm not quite that bad. Just newer to planted tanks so adding dirt is just so weird so I just wanted to make sure I wasn't going to mess up.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-05-2012, 11:42 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by aquarist View Post
Just a hint, when you get sand from the hardware store, especially play sand, it will have a large clay content and will need to be rinsed a lot before added to the tank. I used play sand as the substrate for my African cichlid tank and I didn't rinse it enough at first and the clay kept turning my water a redish brown so I ended up having to break the tank down and rinsing the sand more.
Ok thanks for the tip. It doesn't raise ph or anything like that right?
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-05-2012, 12:01 PM
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Ok thanks for the tip. It doesn't raise ph or anything like that right?

Watch out for your livestock!

As I understand it, It's advisable to let the miracle gro sit for a month under the cap and water preferably with a bunch of Malaysian trumpet snails to turn it to let out ammonia and nitrogen.

Otherwise you can get nasty spikes which can kill your livestock.

Dogfish and Diana and xenxes have lots of planted tank experience. Maybe they can chime in?

I ended up doing Eco complete bc I was too impatient to wait for the miracle gro.

So I just have Miracle gro in my snail tank.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-05-2012, 12:06 PM
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Play sand which is a silica sand will not raise your ph, however if you buy a crushed coral sand it will raise the ph but just slightly. I've a crushed coral sand tank now and I used to use ph down on it to bring it from 7.8 to 7.0 but now I don't even both. Unless you have really picky plants or fish the .8 isn't going to matter much, the main thing to shoot for is consistency.

If your natural water ph is high embrace that, your plants and fish will adjust to the higher ph. It's not usually ph that kills plants and fish, unless it's unnormaly high, it is large ph swings that will kill them. That's why it's a good idea to go ahead and accumulate your fish to the ph of the water at your location that way you never have to worry about treating for ph.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-05-2012, 04:52 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by SpecGrrl View Post
Watch out for your livestock!

As I understand it, It's advisable to let the miracle gro sit for a month under the cap and water preferably with a bunch of Malaysian trumpet snails to turn it to let out ammonia and nitrogen.

Otherwise you can get nasty spikes which can kill your livestock.

Dogfish and Diana and xenxes have lots of planted tank experience. Maybe they can chime in?

I ended up doing Eco complete bc I was too impatient to wait for the miracle gro.

So I just have Miracle gro in my snail tank.
So with miracle gro do I have to wait to put my fish back in?
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-06-2012, 04:47 AM
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I have not heard that you need to wait with the Miracle Gro, as long as you get the right one. I have not used it myself, though.

Pool filter sand is much better than play sand, all the particles are the same size and the only fines are the minor amount that happen during shipping.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-06-2012, 08:25 AM
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When I did my first soil tank using miracle gro I didn't plant heavy or wait for ammo to lower.
I wait till the next day and add fish, I'm talking about 10+ fish not 3 or 5.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-06-2012, 08:56 PM
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Plant heavy!

Another pro on soil is wkndrcr. I'd advise airing out the soil for ~12 hours before putting it in the tank. While it's been sitting in the bag, it's been decomposing and when you first open the bag it definitely smells. I spread mine out over a tarp and turned it with a shovel every hour. The smell was definitely reduced if not eliminated.

I also noticed after putting in my plants that they were pearling, which was not normal. So I'd wait a couple of hours before putting in fish.

EDIT: I would not recommend Malaysian Trumpet Snails unless you wanted them anyway. They can get out of hand. Your soil may burp but it should not be a problem unless it's several inches deep maybe.

Last edited by Soujirou; 09-06-2012 at 09:36 PM. Reason: Added info.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-06-2012, 10:38 PM
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1. Miracle Grow Organic Potting Soil, 2"
2. Sand/Gravel, 1.5-2" - light sand (Play Sand @ Home Depot 50lbs for $7-10).
3. Plant very heavily, clip and propagate till >50% tank surface area covered

I'd wait a week for most of the plants to take hold. Make sure your nitrite levels read 0, then dump fish back in. You may not even encounter another cycle if your filter is well established, many aquatic species directly uptake ammonia before they do nitrates.

Some dirt may get into the water, along with woodchips and other floaties, just net them out or wait, everything sinks eventually or get caught up by the filter intake. Your prefilter sponge will need frequent rinsings (in old tank water) the first few months, so as to not get clogged.

I like Malaysian Trumpets, they move and aerate the soil, but more importantly they eat dead root matter. Like terrestrial container gardening, plant roots will grow and grow and will compact / die off over a long period of time. MTS eat the dead root matter and makes sure there's room for new ones to grow. Population may boom at first, but they will level off and stabilize with competition, i.e. get some shrimp and scuds.

Over time you will notice little squiggly worms (nematodes) near the substrate, they're harmless, think earthworms. If you see a triangular shaped-head worm, it's a planaria, dose Fenbendazole @ 0.1 g / 10 gallons.

Easy peasy!

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