Dirt as substrate? - The Planted Tank Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-04-2012, 09:23 PM Thread Starter
Planted Member
bud29's Avatar
PTrader: (33/100%)
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Kansas
Posts: 294
Dirt as substrate?

Hi all, I have now heard a few times of people using dirt as a substrate in their tank. How do you go about making a dirt substrate? Now don't laugh, but can you just dig up dirt from your back yard, or do you need to buy some "special dirt?" Thanks in advance
bud29 is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-04-2012, 09:40 PM
Wannabe Guru
xxUnRaTeDxxRkOxx's Avatar
PTrader: (14/100%)
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Denver, CO.
Posts: 1,084
Best bet is to pick up a bag of organic topsoil, or organic miracle-gro. If you plan to do a mineralized topsoil tank then follow this link


I've personally tried both mineralized topsoil, and the organic miracle-gro.... I had better success with the mineralized topsoil.

Either way you decide to go, you'll need to cap the dirt with some sort of gravel or sand substrate.

15g Fluval Flex - Will be a planted shrimp tank
xxUnRaTeDxxRkOxx is offline  
post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-04-2012, 10:39 PM
Wannabe Guru
AVN's Avatar
PTrader: (18/100%)
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: SoCal
Posts: 1,141
+1 to post above

Originally Posted by bud29 View Post
How do you go about making a dirt substrate? Now don't laugh, but can you just dig up dirt from your back yard, or do you need to buy some "special dirt?"

Just kidding bro, you can use any dirt, so long as it's clean. By clean I mean free of bits of plants and wood and rocks and stuff like that.

You can dig up dirt from your backyard, but it might have things you don't want, or might be completely barren of nutrients.

It depends on what kind of dirt you want and what you want to do with it.

AVN is offline  
post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-04-2012, 10:53 PM
Planted Tank Enthusiast
PTrader: (18/100%)
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Denham Springs, La
Posts: 763
Typically dirt in your yard has had fertilizer in one form or another added to it ...bad for fish!
Merth is offline  
post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-04-2012, 11:16 PM
Algae Grower
hobos's Avatar
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Ottawa Canada
Posts: 131
What you want is Miracle Gro Organic Potting Mix
hobos is offline  
post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-04-2012, 11:37 PM
Planted Tank Guru
PTrader: (33/100%)
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Gone
Posts: 5,994
I'd suggest you read all the old threads on this forum before you do anything. Along with learning how to "build" a good dirt substrate, you'll see lots of posts from people that rushed into this without research that crashed & burned

It really is easy, if you'll put some thought and effort into it.

Last edited by DogFish; 11-05-2012 at 11:34 AM. Reason: sp
DogFish is offline  
post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-05-2012, 06:09 AM
Algae Grower
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Northern BC, Canada
Posts: 47
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
altiuscitius is offline  


Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Planted Tank Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome