Is My Logic Sound? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-11-2015, 02:51 AM Thread Starter
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Is My Logic Sound?

Hi. I've been reading posts on this forum for months now. I think I have finally done enough research to plan my next move. I want to get input on whether or not my thinking is okay. There is a ton of great info and advice on this (and other) site, but I did a lot of bouncing around and reading many different things. I want to mitigate the likelihood of being stupid.

My ulterior motive for posting is to do some networking. I know exactly zero people who are into this hobby and my small circle of normal people friends are about tired of talking about my tank plans...and my beloved snails. I don't know how else to meet people.

Anyway, I am planning a 29 gallon tank. I am pretty much settled on the concept of a dirted tank. I do not yet trust myself with co2. Plus, I live in an apartment with two semi-hyper felines. I don't know if having pressurized gas would be a smart move right now. So, no co2. Just dirt. Maybe Excel. I've had decent results with it on the little five gallon. Are the following details the correct things to do?

-1" of dirt (the iracle Grow Organic Potting Soil kind)
-1" of sand (black...I've read about the blasting sand, I'll probably choose that)
-Finnex Ray2 for the lighting
-AC 70 filter
-Put dirt directly in tank (little/no sifting)
-fill with enough water to produce mud
-Let dirt soak for a few days (or longer????)
-Plant right after soaking. Plant list is not yet final, but I plan on starting with super easy stem plants like water wisteria, moneywort, etc. I am also not a hater of duckweed.
-liquid ferts as/if necessary
-Watch paremeters for a couple of weeks, maybe a month
-Begin adding fish
-Fish list is not final, but I'd like maybe: 6 lemon tetras, 6 harliquin rasboras, 5-6 cories of some sort, either a honey gourami (I like their little feelers) or a cockatoo cichlid.

Of course there would also be some ramshorn snails and a couple of assassins to keep them in check.

I was also wondering if trumpet snails are worth adding to aerate the soil. One of my big fears is the whole toxic gas bubble thing I keep reading about. Which is probably blown out of proportion. I have learned from the snails that not all of the negative viewpoints are necessarily always valid.

Am I missing anything that I should be doing? Or, am I doing things I should not be doing at all? The dirt soaking is one thing that I am not too sure about. I am not positive if that is the best way to soak it...or if it needs to be soaked at all. Again, the bubbles of death thing kind of worries me a little.

I have also heard that sand will make matters worse when it comes to anaerobic spots. I am no opposed to using gravel, but I feel more attracted to sand. I have also read that planaria have a harder time living in sand...which is a good selling point. I have battled those worms in my snail tank already and I do not wish to have a Worm War II.

So, yeah, if anything stands out as really wrong, please let me know. Or, if my plan should get the green light to move forward.

Sorry for the rambling and such. I am wordy, I know. It's the Asperger's. I never know when I have provided enough or way too much info.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-11-2015, 04:03 AM
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Welcome to the forums

Your logic is pretty sound - seems like you have done your research. Ray 2 is too much light unless you go with CO2 / demanding plants IMO. I use a planted + on my low tech 29g and it is pushing it if I didn't have so many floating plants.

Sift your dirt. I have used MGOCPM a few times and you need to sift it IMO. There is a lot of crap in there like little sticks and random things that are not dirt/have no value. They will just break down and be gross in your tank.

Don't be afraid of CO2. If you get CO2 it is worth it IMO. It is not dangerous, and you can put the whole setup under a stand so your cats can't get to it. Costs a few hundred bucks but worth the investment IMO. Again - without CO2 to maximize growth with densely planted tank with demanding/fast growing plants you will probably be in trouble running a ray 2 on a 29g.

Plant heavily from the start, use dry ferts to provide plants with what you need, select easy/fast growing plants and pack the tank out when you begin. This is the best chance for success.

Good luck - feel free to message me if you have any questions
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-11-2015, 05:57 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you. Yeah, maybe I will look into Co2 a bit more. I have gone back and forth and toyed with the idea for a while. Again, it is all of the horror stories about gasing fish and ph swings that concerns me. However, like I said about the snails, I probably don't need to take it super seriously. Experiences vary and I don't know all of the variables behind all of the horror stories.

I will do some more research, especially on equipment, and you can probable expect a message from me at some point soon.

Thank you again!
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-11-2015, 06:09 PM
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Agree that that's probably too much light if you're not going to use CO2.

Maybe get a dimmable light instead, so you can ramp up the light and add CO2 later, if you want.

I have nothing against CO2, and use it on one of my tanks. But starting out with a medium light tank with no CO2 is a good idea, IMO.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-11-2015, 07:49 PM
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I agree with randy's post above. Dimmable light is much easier to manage. If you notice you have too much light simply tone it down rather than panicking.


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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-11-2015, 09:50 PM
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My ulterior motive for posting is to do some networking. I know exactly zero people who are into this hobby and my small circle of normal people friends are about tired of talking about my tank plans...and my beloved snails. I don't know how else to meet people.

If people don't want to talk about snails and aquariums they are not worth talking to.! LOL...

-1" of dirt (the iracle Grow Organic Potting Soil kind)

Good choice in soil, but you might want to cut the thickness in half. Wont hurt anything to go more, just not needed.

-1" of sand (black...I've read about the blasting sand, I'll probably choose that)
Tough to beat BDS medium grit for a substrate over dirt!

-Finnex Ray2 for the lighting
AS others have said...that's a ton of light for a non-co2 tank

-AC 70 filter
-Put dirt directly in tank (little/no sifting)
-fill with enough water to produce mud
-Let dirt soak for a few days (or longer????)
-Plant right after soaking. Plant list is not yet final, but I plan on starting with super easy stem plants like water wisteria, moneywort, etc. I am also not a hater of duckweed.
-liquid ferts as/if necessary

I put my dirt in bucket, rinsed lightly to get the sticks and stuff out, and made mud. I scooped that into the tank. It was easier and neater to move around and scape in to higher areas.
Yes, plant right after putting in the dirt AND PLANT HEAVY! You can not have too many plants when starting out. If you have a light plant mass the nutrients won't get taken up fast enough and with a RAY2 and no CO2 you are going to start a nice algae farm very quickly.



-Watch paremeters for a couple of weeks, maybe a month
-Begin adding fish
-Fish list is not final, but I'd like maybe: 6 lemon tetras, 6 harliquin rasboras, 5-6 cories of some sort, either a honey gourami (I like their little feelers) or a cockatoo cichlid.
Get a chopstick and probe the substrate on a regular basis. Gas bubbles will want to build up and then will come up through your sand. Probing regularly for the first couple months will help.

Of course there would also be some ramshorn snails and a couple of assassins to keep them in check.

I was also wondering if trumpet snails are worth adding to aerate the soil. One of my big fears is the whole toxic gas bubble thing I keep reading about. Which is probably blown out of proportion. I have learned from the snails that not all of the negative viewpoints are necessarily always valid.

Am I missing anything that I should be doing? Or, am I doing things I should not be doing at all? The dirt soaking is one thing that I am not too sure about. I am not positive if that is the best way to soak it...or if it needs to be soaked at all. Again, the bubbles of death thing kind of worries me a little.

I have also heard that sand will make matters worse when it comes to anaerobic spots. I am no opposed to using gravel, but I feel more attracted to sand. I have also read that planaria have a harder time living in sand...which is a good selling point. I have battled those worms in my snail tank already and I do not wish to have a Worm War II.

So, yeah, if anything stands out as really wrong, please let me know. Or, if my plan should get the green light to move forward.
Your plan is pretty solid!

Sorry for the rambling and such. I am wordy, I know. It's the Asperger's. I never know when I have provided enough or way too much info.[/QUOTE]

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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-11-2015, 11:04 PM
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Sounds pretty good! I've done the dirt 2 different ways, both using miracle grow organic. First method I sifted everything first, which got rid of a ton of stuff and took forever. I then did a half dozen wet and dry cycles to mineralize it. End product looked kind of similar to pottery clay, but man it worked out great in 2 different tanks both with sand caps. Be careful not to go to deep with the substrate though, when I tore apart my 40 the whole house smelt like rotten eggs which I blame on the 2-3 inch cap. A little dirt goes a long way, 1 inch is your max.
The other method I've tried is simply dumping your dirt in a bucket filling it about 1/3 of the way, then rinsing with the garden hose getting rid of all the big floaties. This method was a lot easier and honestly I couldn't tell much difference between the 2 once setup and running. Ammonia spikes occurred from both methods and we're easily kept under control with initial water changes. Overall I've had alot of success using dirt and you gotta love the price! I got silica sand from lowes for like 10 bucks for I think 80 pounds. Worked great.
As for the light I have both the ray2 and the planted plus and I personally love the ray2. I've been using it on a low tech with java fern and anubius for over a year without much problem. I will however, highly recommend you hang it. That way you have the option of raising the fixture, thus dimming it. The planted plus would likely be a better option if you don't want to suspend your lighting, though I would recommend hanging whatever light you end up with regardless. Makes working on your tank alot easier, gives you more flexibility with light levels, and IMO just looks better.
Your off to a good start though, much better than my first tank. Good luck!


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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-20-2015, 01:47 AM
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After almost 20 years of absence from the hobby, I got involved again through a betta that was given to me. And I bought him a 5 gallon nano tank. Recently, I replaced the gravel with Fluval Stratum. So far, so good. Plants responding well, except getting microswords firmly rooted remains a challenge. But then, a 29 gallon tank came wandering in. Now I am getting serious. Looking into all the options again. Will try the Hydor co2 unit. Put it on a timer... Not ready for a CO2 system costing many times what the tank costs... as for substrate, looking into Aquadert. Wondering if i should keep some of my well broken-in gravel as a bottom layer. Will be looking into the kighting in depth also. Tempted to get lumen blaster. Have a nemolight on the hano tank with great results... Built in a dark background from Underwater Treasures, and backed it up with a radiant heat barrier, becauee that is my greatest problem in summer... struggling not to end up with fish soup, as apt walls stay hot overnight in summer... decided tonshare this because of similarities...
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-20-2015, 02:23 AM
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A lot of people happily use dirt under a cap, but I don't like it much. It's just to messy for my taste. I have to be careful doing water changes and moving plants around - once it's out from under the sand, it's not going back. And if you think you might be doing a lot of experimenting with layouts, it's something to consider. That said, it'll provide nutrients for the plants for at least a year or two, so it has its use. And if you're careful, there's no need to soak it. I'd layer it and get it damp (not too much water, as it'll float), then layer sand on top, and *very carefully* fill with water. And use tweezers to plant.

The alternative is just the sand. Put some root tabs in and use fertilizers regularly.
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