Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Northern BC, Canada
Follow Dogfish's advice, read the main MTS thread on this forum, theres so many easy do's and donts that answer all your questions.
If you do go the miracle gro route, get the Miracle Gro Organic Choice Potting MIX in the orange bag. Not the Potting SOIL in the green bag. Two different things. Many other brands of soil will work if you know what to look for in the ingredients, but its much simpler to just buy this one tried and tested brand.
I would then soak it for a day, let it dry for a day, repeat a few times, wash out a tonne of the easily dissolvables, Then mix in some clay powder if you have it, some other additives if you can find them, but theyre not neccessary if you cant (muriate of potash, magnesium, etc) then make sure you cap it with 2 inches of sand. A lot of people here use the home depot Sakrete multi purpose sand, or play sand. $5 for 50lbs, and looks natural. The colour will vary based on your area, its a browninsh grey where I live, very natural looking.
$10 of soil and $5 of sand and a couple hours of your time spread out over a week will do a 55g tank pretty easily. Not a bad deal