To dirt, or not? first low tech tank setup!!! - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-11-2015, 01:44 PM Thread Starter
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To dirt, or not? first low tech tank setup!!!

Hi everyone, ive posted abit about some lights and other questions. Now im curious, when I set up my new planted tank, should I dirt? Not dirt? I have a 45 gallon tank, 48wx18hx12d. I have a few pieces of driftwood id like to have as décor, and I would also like to house some bolivian ram cichlids and other fish. I will be using a 20 gallon tank as a sump filter. My question is, should I dirt this tank? I was thinking of grabbing some miracle grow organic potting soil and then I would likely cover it with some kind of sand (does it matter what kind?) OR if im swayed against adding dirt, what substrate should I be using? From what I’ve seen, the walstad tanks are planted a little too heavily for my liking, but I realize that’s sometimes to create a no maintenance tank. While that is nice, I will be performing water changes and I will have a pretty heavy duty filter.
So please, tell me, should I get dirty, or not?
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-11-2015, 02:17 PM
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If you have decided where to place the plant's and ain't gonna be moving them about frequently,then dirt would be my choice either the MGOC ,or plain top soil with no additives.
Moving plant's in soil based tanks often result's in muddy water, and the need for large water change or two to help clear the tank followed by cleaning of the filter material maybe a day later to return the tank to desired clarity.
If you plant carefully noting size plant's may reach,and take care not to disturb the plant's much,then soil in my view work's well.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-11-2015, 02:46 PM
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Dirt and aquarium plants are amazing together I have a dirted 30g and my plants grow like mad in the dirt I used MGPS and added clay to it and capped with small gravel , if your going to be moving your plants around it's not a good choice but if you place them and leave them alone it's the way to go in my opinion , I sifted my dirt first to get out the big wood and stuff that's in it
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-11-2015, 03:01 PM Thread Starter
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Cool, thnaks for the tips! I'll likely use miracle grow stuff..

did you all use the dry start method for plants?
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-11-2015, 03:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simko View Post
Cool, thnaks for the tips! I'll likely use miracle grow stuff..

did you all use the dry start method for plants?

I did not use dry start method for I could see no real benefit unless I was going to inject CO2 from the start.
In low tech/high tech, the dry start method does prolly help root's get a good start, but with no CO2 injection,once the tank is flooded,, the plant's would still take a hit(in my opinion) from sudden lack of CO2, much less than that which was available while they were growing via the dry start method and had access to considerably more CO2.(atomospheric)
As my tanks were going to be low tech with no CO2 enhancement,I just placed the soil in the tank,covered it with sand/gravel,stuck the plant's in, and that was it.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-11-2015, 03:50 PM
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My vote is for dirt if you want low-tech. I just have two questions: First, why a refugium/sump? A refugium in a planted tank situation is just another planted tank. Then there is the build for it that would outweigh the cost of just running a separate tank. Secondly, how heavily planted are you wanting the tank to be? You say most dirty tanks you see are more than what you want so what are you looking for regarding plant density? Do you have some pictures of other tanks you can post to give us examples of what you are wanting?
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-11-2015, 05:20 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Benson

I really enjoy a tank like this
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=531346

whereas some walstad pictures , im not a big fan of http://naturalaquariums.com/plantedtank/090302.jpg

The reason i want a sump is that i already have a 20 gallon tank thats not being used, I have the tools required to cut the glass panes. I was hoping to have lots of filtration to keep a nice clean tank that would keep my fish happy, and if i wanted to go on vacation i would have enough plant biomass and filtration capacity to skip one or two weekly water changes
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-11-2015, 06:07 PM
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Dirty tanks sound right up your alley then. You can have modestly planted dirt tanks. Just put dirt where you want plants and just sand everywhere you don't. No need for a sump even in a moderate planted dirt tank. Just keep the fish lead down. If you want to do Bolivian rams like you want and then a school of something plus a heavy-duty filter I see no need for a sump. But if you want then go for it I say!
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-11-2015, 06:29 PM
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I didn't use dry start method , dirted planted capped and then a few fill up and drain to clear up tank 3 for me to be exact been running flawless ever since with good growth
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-11-2015, 08:12 PM
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Be careful, dirt tanks are addictive . I'm addicted.


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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-11-2015, 10:02 PM
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I vote dirt. Mine is doing great after a month. Plants dig dirt!
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-12-2015, 05:53 AM
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dirt is great as long as you have rooted plants all over the place. if not, you will run into anaerobic substrate condition.
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-12-2015, 03:26 PM
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I have a few dirt tanks but I've been going another way. I get the net pots used in hydroponics and fill with top soil. I use a pea gravel base fairly thick. Thick enough to cover the pot. I also use the pea gravel as a cap in the net pot. Then I insert the pot into the gravel substrate. I started doing that on my 75 and it works great. If you find you want to move plants it's not as big a deal. The roots migrate right into the gravel about the time the mulm is ready for being used as a fertilizer. And those roots do get big.

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