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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-05-2015, 07:49 PM Thread Starter
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PFS and Dirt

I plan on using Organic Miracle Gro Potting Mix as my base substrate and then capping it with pool filter sand. What would be the best way to set it up? Soak the soil from now until Friday and then add it? That's when I plan to redo my aquascape becuase right now I have the nat geo substrate from petsmart that I don't like. I'll also then add all my plants becuase I'll have about 50 or more plants mostly lo tech. So I'd do the dirt, then sand, add a little water and plant my plants and when adding the water do it over a plate so it doesn't disrupt it as much. Then fill my tank the rest of the way? In advance thanks for the help!
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-05-2015, 08:22 PM
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Hi how long you planning on having the tank up and running. I don't think sand will work long term. It's more for shorter term projects like upto a year if your lucky. It's also not a good idea to have the soil to wet or you risk sinking the cap. The soil needs a bit of integrity before capping. But def low water level then plant then fill up has worked well for me. I usually soak my dirt first and then let in dry out a bit before using. Doesn't have to be bone dry just solid.
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-05-2015, 08:23 PM
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Prob should add, im guessing the sand has worked for some people but im also guessing it's a minority. There's always exceptions lol
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-05-2015, 08:52 PM Thread Starter
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Well I planned on having my tank long term probably. I love the aethestics of sand. I'll have the SunSun 304b canister filter and I may leave my HOB marine land penguin 200B on there I'm not sure yet. Plenty of filtration lol. I guess I was just looking for the aethestically pleasing part and I went out and purchased the soil and the sand today.
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-05-2015, 08:56 PM
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Ah ok, im aware people have had success with sand and agreed it def looks good. I usually end up not being able to see my substrate b'cos I put in so many plants. Something like malaysian trumpet snails could help by burrowing into the substrate to keep it fresh and turning over.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-05-2015, 09:04 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah I was talking to someone on reddit about that. I would be inclined to agree I'm about the same, but I'll probably have some patches where you can still see the bottom and I'd prefer it to be sand. Like where my driftwood will be. I plan to have my tank planted heavily with the overgrown look kind of. Also I'll be attempting to have a carpet. I was thinking of maybe doing CO2, but I haven't really found much on it.
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-05-2015, 09:10 PM
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I done co2 on a dirted tank once and it looked lovely for about 9 months. Funny enough with a sand cap. And then it just stalled. I'm no scientist, and I don't profess to now all the ins and outs. But my hunch was that the dirt couldn't keep up and in the end it was blead of all the goodness by the rapid plant growth. For me dirt is like a low and slow. It takes time to mature and get the biological processes behind it in progress. At the point of the stall I had a choice to fert or re build and do it right. When I looked at ferts I couldn't see the point of the dirt so i started again. But once dirted tanks establish they are tanks that can go on for years and years with little intervention.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-05-2015, 09:13 PM Thread Starter
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Well I'd plan on adding the DIY root tabs I've made. I more than enough of those to last me a really long time espeically if my dirt were to last for 9 months. I'm kind of interested in maybe having CO2 injections and then also I'd do seachem Excell Flourish.
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-05-2015, 09:39 PM
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I'll weigh in here - I have a 125g heavily planted dirt tank with a sand cap. I would wet the soil now and let it soak until it's time to fill. You'll want to drain it so that it's not completely liquid, and doesn't just move when you dump the sand in. A huge portion of people with dirted tanks use sand, so dont worry about plant growth. I have a full carpet in my 125 - half is dwarf baby tears and half is dwarf hairgrass - they both spread quickly and are very lush and healthy.

Sounds like you have the right idea. Sand is very a popular and successful cap. It is easier to plant in and fish seem to prefer it. Watch your parameters for the first few weeks - you're likely to have an ammonia spike with the decaying organics in the soil. Also, malaysian trumpet snails are your friend and will help turn your sand and avoid anaerobic buildups.
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-05-2015, 09:40 PM
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Which National Geographic™ substrate are you using? 25lb bags of the black sand? Do you have any photos of your tank using it?

Picking up at least 1 25lb bag of it to mix with my Eco-Complete.
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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-05-2015, 09:41 PM
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Can I ask do you use ferts @kelsier25
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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-05-2015, 09:47 PM Thread Starter
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http://imgur.com/v08tEuX That is what my tank looks like now. I'm not really a fan of their "sand" which is basically just crushed up gravel. I like the looks of sand so I plan I doing the dirt capped with the sand.
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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-05-2015, 10:00 PM Thread Starter
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I plan on going home today after working at the hospital until 11 and soaking the soil in a 5g bucket until friday. Then just dumping the water out and adding it to the bottom of my tank for probably 2" or a little more. Then cap it with most likely an inch of sand I'll see how much soil I'll have. Would it make sense to rinse it like I would the sand? Should I do the sand cap then plant my plants or plant my plants and then sand cap?
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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-05-2015, 10:04 PM
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Sand cap first and hold a bit back to top up here and there as required. If you've soaked the soil for a while it should have settled just gently pour off the excess water before adding to the tank.
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-05-2015, 10:07 PM Thread Starter
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Would it make sense to sift out stuff from the organic bag or would it be okay just to add it as is like no tree branches or whatever that comes in soil? I do have the 50lb bag of sand so I'll have plenty :P
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