Want to dirt my tank - tons of questions! - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-02-2015, 02:57 AM Thread Starter
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Question Want to dirt my tank - tons of questions!

Wow, it's been forever since I last posted here!

So here's what I'm thinking.

After about 13 years of using strictly gravel over a UGF in my planted tank, I think I'm finally ready for a change. I've been trying to decide between coal slag or dirted, not sure what would be easier/more cost effective.

I have several questions about dirted tanks:

1.) I'm on a budget. I hear organic topsoil (with no manure!) is economical and safe to use. What is the least-messy yet still nutritious brand/mixture (available in Canada)?

2.) How much will I need under the gravel (inches)?

3.) I would like to top it with gravel. I'm afraid that if I wish to re-scape it at some point down the road, the gravel and dirt will all mix together and the look will be ruined. How do I prevent this or does it happen at all?

4.) What sort of filtration system will I need for a dirted tank? I currently have a powerhead for surface agitation and an Aquaclear 500.

5.) Do I need to continue using my CO2 machine?

6.) I understand I will need to buy another tank to put all my fish in temporarily - how long will I have to let the dirted tank cycle before I can put them back in?

7.) Will it be more difficult to prevent algae in a dirted tank?

8.) Will it stink? Will it smell like a swamp in my livingroom?

Sorry for the zillion questions, but I want to be prepared before I before I even attempt this.

Thanks in advance!

Pareeeee ><((((>

Last edited by Pareeeee; 08-02-2015 at 03:10 AM. Reason: because
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-02-2015, 03:08 AM
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Search is your friend, and time is on your side. Read up and most of these questions are answered here on a regular basis.

1. Dirt. cheap topsoil, organic, etc. Most use miracle grow organic choice.
2. .5" dirt, 1.5"-2" of gravel cap
3. Have extra gravel on hand to replace what gets sucked down and vacuum out what comes to the surface.
4. Use what you have. Or change it up, add a sponge, it's up to you.
5. If you've got it, it's not going to hurt to continue to use it. Actually i'd probably recommend continue using it.
6. Watch water parameters, if you're using existing gravel, it might cycle a whole lot quicker than you think.
7. Not in my experience.
8. Not if you do it in a manner that's prepared and not haphazardly thrown together.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-03-2015, 11:59 PM
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I just use the cheapest brand of regular topsoil (no additives) that I can find. There's usually a lot of sand in that stuff, and it seems to work well. As far as depth I would keep it under an inch, but I don't think that's super important. A little bit of gravel might mix with the dirt, but not enough to be noticeable.
I've got several dirt tanks without any filtration. It's all about keeping the fish to plant ratio low and finding a balance. Co2 never hurts, definitely use it. A lot about how long the cycle will take depends on what plants you use and how densely you plant them. A tank with nothing but crypts would probably take awhile to cycle, but a tank full of fast growing stems wouldn't take nearly as long. I often have algae problems after the initial setup. Just be proactive about manual removal and water changes. Eventually the plants will settle in and the algae should start to subside. You could also consider using something like excel. It'll remove algae and give your plants a boost at the same time. Finally, if it smells bad, then something is very wrong.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-04-2015, 12:37 AM
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1.) Rona, Reno-Depot, Home Depot, look for regulat top soil, no chemical additives?

2.) 1 inch dirt, 3/4 - 1 inch sand

3.) You need to keep some extra gravel to cover roots that don't play fair when you plant.

4.) Start with what you have. Low tech, lots of plants, all my tanks are what one would say "under filtered". Plants play their role.

5.) If you are on a budget, turn it off. I don't use CO2. It's probably easier to turn it on later than turn it off... Also you will get a better feel as to how low tech/dirt tanks behave.

6.) Lots of contraction on this. Monitor ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. For as long as you have nitrites, it's not good for fishes. And nitrites don't show until ammonia builds up. On the other hand I read that it can be ok under some circumstances to add fishes right away. I guess that means lots and lots of plants to absorb ammonia before it turns into nitrites...

7.) Not really, but it's not worse either.

8.) I have 3 dirt tanks, one gravel tank between the living room and kitchen. No smamp smell. Been running for over a year. All tanks but the gravel one never had water change either.

It's a lot of fun. I have a fifth tank waiting for a stand


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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-08-2015, 11:28 AM
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There's no good reason to turn off your co2. It's too cheap to refill. If $15 every 6 months is outside your budget, this is probably not the best hobby to pick


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