Join Date: May 2015
Location: british columbia
Totally agree, any organic dirt will do, I used organic black earth on my second tank. I found miracle grow had a surprising amount of good sized chunks of wood and sticks.
With my second tank I put more dirt than I needed in a large bucket and filled it with water, stirred it up and left it for a few hours to settle. Then I scooped out all the floating material and drained the water. I continued letting the mud settle and dumping out the excess water until I had really thick mud then put it in my aquarium.
I've always capped with a very small size gravel, and havent had any issues. You definitely want to cap before water goes in the aquarium, then fill very GENTLY. I fill my aquariums pretty quickly, but make sure I have something (plate, zip lock bag, etc) to pour the water onto to it isn't directly hitting the substrate.
I use floating plants to use up the extra nutrients in the water instead of doing massive water changes (water lettuce and frogbit are easy to control and get rid of unlike duckweed). This has worked pretty well for me.