Dirted tanks- clear as mud! - The Planted Tank Forum
 1Likes
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-23-2015, 02:36 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Colorado
Posts: 5
Dirted tanks- clear as mud!

Hello! I have been lurking around these forums for years but after weeks of researching dirted tanks I finally feel confused enough to post for the first time.

With Petco's $1/gallon sale going on, I finally decided to replace my old, leaky 29 gallon with a new tank. I was so excited, until I started agonizing over substrate choice. I got this silly idea in my head that I wanted to try out this "dirted tank" thing and see what all the fuss is about. It seems the more I read the more confused I get. Lately, I have been reading some pretty scary horror stories, so I was hoping those with more experience could help clarify a few things or point me in the direction of any resources that you found helpful.

So, here are some of my questions:

1. I see people talk about Mineralized Top Soil and Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting Mix. My question is, should the miracle grow product also go through the mineralization process? or is this only done if you use topsoil? Should the other products such as clay, potash, and dolomite be added to the miracle grow? or are they only used with mineralized top soil? Essentially, if anyone could explain the difference between the two and their preparation (if there is one), I would be forever grateful!

2. I have heard a lot about plants melting or significant die back as well as severe algae overgrowth of nightmarish proportions. I get that water changes are crucial in the beginning as well as heavily planting, from the start. Is there anything else I can do to prevent a heartbreaking disaster? I am quite attached to my plants and I really would rather not kill them. Also, I do not currently have CO2 on this tank (although I am considering it) would I want to keep dosing with excel while the tank is cycling?

3. I have corydoras (cutest little buggers) and so I would like to stick with a sand cap. The tank is also home to a school of black emperor tetras that just keeps getting bigger (I didn't realize they would breed so easily). We would prefer to use a lighter colored sand so that the fish actually stand out. is it a terrible idea to cap the dirt with white sand or PFS? am I just asking for a mess?

4. I have seen reference to plants that "do well" or "do poorly" in dirted tanks but have not been able to actually find a list of actual species. Is there a list somewhere or perhaps a logical thought process that I am just missing?

I am pretty excited yet terrified about setting up a dirt tank. The last thing I want to do is screw it all up. I would really love any help or advice that anyone is willing to offer. My husband has started dodging me and I think he may be sick of hearing about CEC, fertilizers, and dirt, sand, eco-complete, etc... I dont know what his problem is . It is nice to know there is a forum full of fellow fish-geeks to help me sort through my substrate problems.
Krisnbaum is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-23-2015, 03:00 AM
Wannabe Guru
 
PTrader: (7/100%)
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Merriam, Ks
Posts: 1,949
I sifted my miracle grow for the wood bits. I put a 1/2 inch of it in the tank (started with a pile in the center) poured a layer of sand around the edges of the tank and spread the dirt even. Added another inch of sand on top to cap.

Algae issue will be driven by your light selection. I went low/med light.

I stuffed the tank from the start. Had some die back but I did semi aggressive trims and it all came back.

After a few failed attempts, I learned to be gentle with the substrate. I dare not bump the tank, and I poke some holes before I uproot/replant. If the tank can balance out, water changes I've found really disrupt the tank. I do 1 monthly small change to pick up mulm, and top off the rest of the time. The tank just grows now.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.



To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.



To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Italionstallion888 is offline  
post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-23-2015, 03:24 AM
Planted Tank Enthusiast
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Gatineau, Canada
Posts: 824
You learn to drive by driving not by reading . Throw an inch of dirt in the tank. Add an inch of play sand that you rinsed before. Plant heavily. Then see what grows. Once the tank stabilizes, add the fauna. Your corries will be happy. Mine are and so are the angels and the critters.

Dirt tanks are meant to be watched evolve. The evolve slowly but steadily. its rewarding.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
|
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
|
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
|
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
|
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
|
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

Last edited by Mariostg; 07-23-2015 at 03:29 AM. Reason: Oops. Hit send by mistake
Mariostg is offline  
 
post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-23-2015, 04:00 AM
Planted Tank Enthusiast
 
CannaBrain's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Arapahoe County, Colorado
Posts: 593
1. IMHO, I think mgop is... I don't know how to say... cheap. A more expensive, cheap alternative to actually taking the time to batch up your own mts. I have bought bags for a $1 in the past. It's cheap and GREAT but takes a little more time and effort. I believe in the MTS method, I don't believe in the mgop concept. I've set up several tanks now using mts and have had nothing but GREAT results. I think if you go w/ mgop, you should go thru the mineralizing process still, but hey, that's just my opinion.

2. The only plants I have lost in a dirt tank are ones that were not previously established and that had a stressful shipment. I expect these would have had issues in established tanks in their condition as well. Of the plants that failed, most from the same shipment did not. Plants I've pulled from other tanks that have been grown in my chemistry have only ever taken off once transferred into my mts tanks.

3. Meh, personal preference mostly. White or light color sand will look dirtier by contrast and will also reflect more light... technically more prone to algae growth. Haven't used white sand in a long time, but w/ natural buff colored sand, haven't noticed more or less issues than w/ black sand tanks.

4. Not familiar w/ this. Obviously heavy root feeders will make the most use of a nutrient rich substrate. Examples are plants that "run" or "creep" like crypts, grasses and other carpeters, swords and the like. But in my experience, once my stem plants hit the payload thru their cap, they take off.

I've capped w/ sand as well as gravels like flora-max. Only difference I find is that it's MUCH easier to plant into sand.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
CannaBrain is offline  
post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-23-2015, 04:02 AM
Planted Tank Guru
 
Raymond S.'s Avatar
 
PTrader: (6/100%)
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Hot Springs Ar. 71901
Posts: 5,935
"but after weeks of researching dirted tanks I finally feel confused enough to post for the first time."
Sound strangely familiar...LOL...
I did "Tom's Hardware" a site for computers and great for info for those interested in building their own. Then I found an actual "IT" forum for computer geeks.
I could only understand about every third word in each sentence...LOL...
But you may find something in this which could help at times.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...ad.php?t=27118
MGOCPM...Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting Mix
Has sterilized chicken droppings as a nutrient source. Use "as is" except that you might sift it for larger pieces of wood which likely may float up.
Any "Organic" soil will work. Mineralized top soil being the best. Occasionally sold on here from various members...check the "For Sale" section. Unless of course you want to make your own. Sound like you already have a list for it.
An inch is what I've read about how much/w 1.5-2" of cap.
Probably can use less of the bottom layer in smaller tanks.
If you keep moving the plants to a minimum and pull them out very slowly you will
minimize the mess. But I don't have a dirted tank so this is what I've read on here.
98% of all plants get nutrients from both top and roots. Those not in the sub like Anubias are the exceptions. Supplying ferts in the water gives plants the benefit of
getting the nutrients from both available sources and IMO reduces the use from the sub thus extending it's life.

The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line...in the opposite direction...
Raymond S. is offline  
post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-23-2015, 05:31 AM
Planted Tank Guru
 
Monster Fish's Avatar
 
PTrader: (44/100%)
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Queens, NY
Posts: 3,324
Quote:
Originally Posted by Krisnbaum View Post
Hello! I have been lurking around these forums for years but after weeks of researching dirted tanks I finally feel confused enough to post for the first time.

With Petco's $1/gallon sale going on, I finally decided to replace my old, leaky 29 gallon with a new tank. I was so excited, until I started agonizing over substrate choice. I got this silly idea in my head that I wanted to try out this "dirted tank" thing and see what all the fuss is about. It seems the more I read the more confused I get. Lately, I have been reading some pretty scary horror stories, so I was hoping those with more experience could help clarify a few things or point me in the direction of any resources that you found helpful.

So, here are some of my questions:

1. I see people talk about Mineralized Top Soil and Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting Mix. My question is, should the miracle grow product also go through the mineralization process? or is this only done if you use topsoil? Should the other products such as clay, potash, and dolomite be added to the miracle grow? or are they only used with mineralized top soil? Essentially, if anyone could explain the difference between the two and their preparation (if there is one), I would be forever grateful!

2. I have heard a lot about plants melting or significant die back as well as severe algae overgrowth of nightmarish proportions. I get that water changes are crucial in the beginning as well as heavily planting, from the start. Is there anything else I can do to prevent a heartbreaking disaster? I am quite attached to my plants and I really would rather not kill them. Also, I do not currently have CO2 on this tank (although I am considering it) would I want to keep dosing with excel while the tank is cycling?

3. I have corydoras (cutest little buggers) and so I would like to stick with a sand cap. The tank is also home to a school of black emperor tetras that just keeps getting bigger (I didn't realize they would breed so easily). We would prefer to use a lighter colored sand so that the fish actually stand out. is it a terrible idea to cap the dirt with white sand or PFS? am I just asking for a mess?

4. I have seen reference to plants that "do well" or "do poorly" in dirted tanks but have not been able to actually find a list of actual species. Is there a list somewhere or perhaps a logical thought process that I am just missing?

I am pretty excited yet terrified about setting up a dirt tank. The last thing I want to do is screw it all up. I would really love any help or advice that anyone is willing to offer. My husband has started dodging me and I think he may be sick of hearing about CEC, fertilizers, and dirt, sand, eco-complete, etc... I dont know what his problem is . It is nice to know there is a forum full of fellow fish-geeks to help me sort through my substrate problems.
1: I've used both but Mineralized topsoil >>> MGOCPM. The effort to make a batch is worth it. No need to worry about your substrate being unstable for a few months because of decaying organic matter. You can use dolomite, potash, and clay with bagged organic soils no problem though.

2. Do regular water changes and monitor your parameters for the first few months. Fast growing stem plants will be needed along with floaters. As the substrate continues to settle down, start adding more slower growers like crypts and other heavy rooting plants.

3. Pool filter sand is fine to use as a cap. If you plan on rescaping, slowly pull up any plants, especially those with large root systems. You can also use a sharp knife to cut back any excess roots in the substrate. You should then do a water change after any uprooting.

4. Epiphytes like java ferns and mosses will need water column dosing if kept in a dirted tank, especially with fast growing weeds in the tank. Otherwise, most plants will do great with dirt.

The Fraternity of Dirt #112

Cryptocoryne farmer
Monster Fish is offline  
post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-23-2015, 04:13 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Colorado
Posts: 5
Thank you! Thank you! I felt like MTS was the way to go but needed someone to confirm it. I appreciate your help!

I am assuming I dont need more than one bag for a 29 gal. does anyone have a suggestion of how much I top soil I should start out with? If I make too much, can I store the rest to use in another tank down the road? or will it "go bad" if not used right away?
Krisnbaum is offline  
post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-23-2015, 04:46 PM
Wannabe Guru
 
PTrader: (12/100%)
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 1,224
No, your batch will not go bad if you prepare too much. I have a batch that's a few months old waiting for two tanks. I just wet this batch every few weeks with WC water and keep turning it until it gets mostly dry and water again, basically to keep the bacteria alive.

Stock lightly and carry a big filter. - I don't have aquariums. I have ecosystems in a glass box. - Hygrophilaholic and hoarder of Anubias.
HDBenson is offline  
post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-23-2015, 07:37 PM
Planted Tank Guru
 
Monster Fish's Avatar
 
PTrader: (44/100%)
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Queens, NY
Posts: 3,324
Start with two bags for a 29. You might lose a bit of volume after you sift the soil, depending on how much junk is in it. I started with about 120lbs of topsoil and ended up with 7 gallons worth of usable MTS after sifting out all the rocks and pieces of bark.

The Fraternity of Dirt #112

Cryptocoryne farmer
Monster Fish is offline  
post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-29-2015, 02:53 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Colorado
Posts: 5
I want to thank you guys, again, for your help. I have one more question. I have been soaking and drying my top soil all week. It is hot and Dry in CO, so the soil actually dries out in like 6-8 hours. Do I need to soak it a full 24 hours or can I soak it over night and then dry it again, the next day?

I purchased just the cheapest top soil from Home depot. it is mostly sand, a random stick, here and there, and I am assuming some peat? (it is a lighter/fluffier, blacker substance that easily get poured out with the water). Is it OK that a lot of that has gotten poured out? I wasnt sure if I was supposed to try and save it, or not, and it is hard to remove the water without this stuff going with it.

Thanks guys!
Krisnbaum is offline  
post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-30-2015, 11:30 AM
bpb
Wannabe Guru
 
PTrader: (1/100%)
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: College Station, TX
Posts: 1,041
The miracle grow becomes mineralized over time in the tank as it decays. Sure this takes a few months, but i think too often people want immediate results. I'be actually done two batches of MTS and am currently on my first miracle gro tank. It's true. The first few months the substrate is incredibly unstable and gasses off a ton. I have had some algae. Some medium and difficult to keep plants have NOT done well right off the bat, but about 3-4 months in now and they're really starting to come around. I did add calcium, magnesium, and potassium to the soil as well before capping. No clay as I dose plenty of iron. Either way patience is an virtue and the more you invest the better your results will be. By invest I mean in learning and research, AND invest money in quality equipment (co2, lights, water, ferts).

Hindsight, if I did it all over again for a 4th time (all attempts have been on the same 75 gallon tank, I don't do multi tank syndrome) I would just buy Ada aqua soil and be done with it. It's expensive but the track record speaks for itself


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.



To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
bpb is online now  
post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-01-2015, 11:45 AM
Planted Member
 
Wilderman204's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Winnipeg, MB
Posts: 289
Try using worm castings instead of MIracle grow organic choice. It is almost already in a "mineralized"state, and I've seen better plant growth compared to MG. find "worm gold plus" if you can, it's the best bagged worm poop.
Just add a sprinkle of sul-po-mag and dolomite on the bottom, cover with 1"of worm castings mixed with red clay, cap with 1" of sand. If you are adding fish they will provide phosphates when the worm castings run out. Otherwise add some soft rock phosphate before the castings too.

Also if you can find it, add some Azomite, or "glacial rock dust"to your dirt. Both are powdered rock products containing 70+ trace minerals. I see WAY better plant growth with this in my dirt, but it's not necessary.
You can still grow great plants with just capped MG or casting.Adding the other things will prevent you running into the common defficencies in about a year. And dolomite will help prevent the dirt or castings from acidifying the water as they break down. And if you do use MG screen it. It's hard to pull out plants when their roots are wrapped up in chunks of wood under the cap.
Wilderman204 is offline  
post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-12-2017, 06:48 PM
Newbie
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Apr 2017
Posts: 1
Hi!

So I tried a dirted tank for the first time. I feel I had did my research and knew what I was doing, however, the outcome is not what I expected. I put the Miracle Grow in first and then capped it with black sand. It was fine and the water was clear UNTIL I added my filter. I let my filter run over night thinking the water would eventually clear...well it has been almost two weeks now and the water is still the brownish dirt color and does not seem like it is going to clear any time soon. Can someone please help and explain to me why this is? I want to start adding plants and fish but I want the water clear first. Any pointers will help. Thank you!
Thibault02 is offline  
post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-12-2017, 07:38 PM
Wannabe Guru
 
jrill's Avatar
 
PTrader: (4/100%)
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Near Ashville, North Carolina
Posts: 1,866
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thibault02 View Post
Hi!

So I tried a dirted tank for the first time. I feel I had did my research and knew what I was doing, however, the outcome is not what I expected. I put the Miracle Grow in first and then capped it with black sand. It was fine and the water was clear UNTIL I added my filter. I let my filter run over night thinking the water would eventually clear...well it has been almost two weeks now and the water is still the brownish dirt color and does not seem like it is going to clear any time soon. Can someone please help and explain to me why this is? I want to start adding plants and fish but I want the water clear first. Any pointers will help. Thank you!
What kind of media in your filter. To remove the brown color you'll need carbon or purigen.

Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk
jrill is offline  
post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-13-2017, 03:36 AM
Planted Tank Enthusiast
 
bigbadjon's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Auburndale, FL
Posts: 604
How deep did you make the cap? You will likely have to pull it and start over if you disrupted it.
bigbadjon is offline  
Reply

Tags
None

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

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

Password:


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

Email Address:
OR

Log-in










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