How to Dirt an Aquarium!? - The Planted Tank Forum
 20Likes
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-04-2016, 01:19 AM Thread Starter
Banned
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 2,672
How to Dirt an Aquarium!?

So ive been thinking, in my 75G (soon to be) dutch aquarium, should I or can I dirt it? and if so how?
BettaBettas is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-04-2016, 03:49 AM
Algae Grower
 
Bernard E. Robinson Jr.'s Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: US, VA
Posts: 29
Pardon me, I'm new.

I've been on hobbyist forums before. Unless you meet a fairy godmother, usually I'd say use your google, make a plan, present it visually, and ask pointed and specific questions. 'Do all my work' strategies rarely succeed. You're asking for an entire forum in not 30 words; didn't count.

I was curious so I searched this forum for "soil tank" and found more info than I can process in this month!

Cheers

B

Most people just call me B.
Bernard E. Robinson Jr. is offline  
post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-04-2016, 01:31 PM
Planted Tank Obsessed
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Where the devil went down to!
Posts: 345
Their are a few ways to dirt a tank, the easiest way is by MOGPM and dump it in your tank, and cap it with a fine grain gravel or sand. how ever That can lead to algae problems. I would advise to get the dirt muddy to the consistancy of pudding and put in your tank then cap. then fill your tank and do about 3 or 4 90-100% water changes. to get the access nutrients out of the water column then plant your plants and start your cycle. or you can take the time to Minerlize it which takes time. and is a better way in some respects. but not sure the logevity of it. Someone else can help in that regards. But I normally just dump in my dirt make it like mud in my tank, then cap it. and do the massive water changes. nothing really complicated about it. Just depends on how much work you want to do. but make sure you plant it heavy to help combate the algae that it will cause in the beginning.
BettaBettas and BettaBettas like this.

Everyone follows a Trend!
Their is always light at the end of the tunnel, That's when the train Hit's You!
FuelingFire is offline  
 
post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-04-2016, 02:24 PM
Algae Grower
 
nakeeta's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 77
this guy:
https://www.youtube.com/user/Dustinsfishtanks

he pretty much specializes in walstad method dirted tanks, nearly all of his how to videos are on dirted tanks. and there's way more information there than you can shake a stick at, but if you start with his basic tutorial videos (of which he has a plethora) you'll do just fine. ..if you can stand to listen to him talk =x

the high notes would be:
buy organic
make sure there's no added fertilizers or other materials, you just want "dirt" plain old uncomplicated topsoil.
make sure it's perlite or vermiculite free, or any substances that retain water and add texture to the soil to keep it from becoming compacted as these will be a constant source of surface floaters
sift out the large chunks
heavily wet it (like 1+ feet of excess water above it. sometimes the only container large enough to do this is the fish tank itself), stir it up, let it settle, after a few hours pour/syphon off the resulting water and floaters
get as much water out of it as possible, press it, do whatever you need to in order to get a heavy mud that's not too wet.
scape it in your tank, i've heard 1" i've heard 2" i suspect less means more stable water sooner, more means longer surviving substrate before nutrients are depleated, choose which one will be your goal. fast set up, or long term tank. if you're trying for anything other than flat you will have to have substrate supports.
cap it with your substrate of choice, about 1" i do not recommend sand as the small particles will sift down into it and eventually you'll be left with an open dirt top, but that's just me
plant
flood gently, the less you mix up the water, the less brown water you'll have to deal with and dust settling on your plant leaves as the water column clears.

i recommend not turning on your filter for a few days, rather just do gentle water changes till the water clears

be patient. easily takes twice as long to establish a dirted tank in my experience. i only tried it once, it was fun, and by about the 4th month all the bumps in the road had gotten smoothed out and everything was doing good. personally, i would recommend malaysian trumpet snails with the dirted tank, they'll keep the soil turning over so you don't get dangerous gas pockets and will prevent it from compacting to some degree as it decays over time. it's also very easy to burn plants in a new dirted tank, so much is released into the water column with that first flood, if you don't do regular water changes it's just too much for the plants to cope with. also, algae. pretty much a given while everything gets started unless you've planted VERY heavily.

also of note, and i have no idea if it was unique to my tank, or what, but when i switched to dirted tank, i had to drop the water circulation down by half. and i have run across some people who swear by dirted tanks and virtually no water circulation at all. /shrug. tread lightly on that one i'd say and evaluate what works best for you

also also, lol, don't try this if you change your tanks around a lot. every time you pull a plant or try to plant a new one, you'll be mixing everything up. once or twice, no big deal, but regularly over time? i've read some real nightmares that ended with a total tear down.

i think, really, the only true + for dirted tank is that it's very low tech friendly. my dirted tank created enough of its own CO2 through matter decay I didn't have to dose excel. the new experimental tank with pots, which was the old dirted tank, has to have daily excel dosing or i get terrible algae (granted, how much of that is due to Petco plant bringing in hair algee, and how much of that is due to low plant load, i can't say)

-nakeeta
nakeeta is offline  
post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-04-2016, 03:06 PM
Wannabe Guru
 
AbbeysDad's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Central New York, USA
Posts: 1,360
I think FuelingFire got the acronym wrong and meant Miracle Grow Organic Potting Mix. Or you can go outside in your organic veggie garden and sift some soil through screen mesh to get the rocks and twigs out. You'll need enough for an inch or two, covered with a good inch of fine gravel or sand.

Another way (as FF suggested) is to mineralize that soil, often referred to as mineralized topsoil or MTS. For that you take the above mentioned soil in a bin and wet it really well making a slurry. You spread this out on a tarp in the sun and let it bake and dry out. You repeat this process several times to 'burn out' the organics. This will reduce or eliminate the number of required initial water changes. (the point of both reduces the likelihood of an initial algae bloom.)
But dirt tankers report a real challenge when moving rooted plants around as it gets real messy. And you will want/need to relocate plants as they grow and need to be thinned or just to rescape better.

Now personally, I fail to see the advantage of dirt in the aquarium substrate. Now I'm an organic veggie gardener for 30+ years in a 3000 sq.ft. garden, so I know the value of organically enriched soil. However, in the aquarium, the real value of an inch or two of washed out soil is pretty lean...as all of the water soluble nutrients that plants could use are washed out pretty quickly. Any goodness left is used up pretty quickly by any rooted plants and you'd end up using root tabs or tearing down and starting over. Granted this might be 6 months or a year...but still, I'm not sure it's worth it!?!?!
Btw, this is true of commercial substrate materials marketed for planted tanks. All aquarium substrates either start out or become inert in time.

IMHO, you might better just use 3-4" of sand or fine gravel and good quality root tabs as required. You'd have a clean, long lasting eco-system and no issue moving plants around as necessary.
There, I said it...someone had to...

Tank On, Mike-
60g Marineland Community, Finnex Planted+ 24/7, Silica (pool filter) sand.
10g, 29g, & 37g fry grow out tanks, 110g stock tank.


What came first, the chicken or the egg. It was the egg, but not the egg from a chicken.

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
AbbeysDad is offline  
post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-04-2016, 04:54 PM
Planted Tank Guru
 
PTrader: (84/100%)
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Sacramento, CA
Posts: 21,012
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbbeysDad View Post
...Any goodness left is used up pretty quickly by any rooted plants and you'd end up using root tabs or tearing down and starting over. Granted this might be 6 months or a year...but still, I'm not sure it's worth it!?!?!
Btw, this is true of commercial substrate materials marketed for planted tanks. All aquarium substrates either start out or become inert in time.
Probably the best commercial substrate material is ADA Aquasoil Amazonia. Amano, who was the brain behind ADA, recommended that we change that substrate every year! I doubt that it ever becomes inert, but I do think it becomes very lacking in nitrates or other nitrogen compounds in a year or so. I'm using it in my tank, and have about 4 years on it. I treat it as an inert substrate, dosing everything the plants might need. I still like it, but not because of the "goodness" in it.

Ordinary, from the backyard, topsoil may or may not be as good as Aquasoil, but it also isn't an infinite supplier of nutrients. What it is, is a very cheap substrate.
BettaBettas and BettaBettas like this.

Hoppy
Hoppy is offline  
post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-04-2016, 06:12 PM
Planted Tank Obsessed
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Where the devil went down to!
Posts: 345
AbbeysDad: your right I was in a rush this morning and messed up the Acronym thanks for mentioning it. and I have to say one thing My dirt tanks have lasted 2 years or more, and the reports are they last longer then that. (i'm tearing my tanks dow for my 240g) as long as you don't go high tech and let the plants consume more. But they can last a long time, and can be cheaper then buying ferts and roots tabs constantly. however they do require like anything work to maintain. But moving plants around with out making a mess takes patients and practice. and helps if you have sand. because you can do it slowly. with out making a big mess. But I do agree it isn't for someone who moves plants around a lot, because it will make a mess more then if you just move a few plants here or there.

Hoppy: the problem With ADA is the cost, not everyone has deep pockets for that kind of substrate. I priced it for my 240g and it was a little over $1200, I know for a small tank it can be a good choice. and I really would like to try it. but Dirt is a good ole Cheap option. But i have heard that ADA amazonia can break down over time to a more silt like substance. (not sure if this is true) But I do agree if the OP can afford it to get ADA.

Also I would not recommend dirt from your backyard, unless you know for sure it hasn't had any chemicals or other pollutants spilled on it in the last 5 years. and to dig about 2 feet down to get the stuff deep to help get the richer and cleaner dirt. I Always use Clay from my back yard, Living IN GA i got Nice RED IRON RICH CLAY, and i mix it in my dirt for the iron.

I would also check out Dustins youtube channel Like mentioned Because he knows a lot about dirt. and you can learn a lot from his youtube channel. Other than that Do a lot of research before you commit to it, because it may not be for everyone.

Everyone follows a Trend!
Their is always light at the end of the tunnel, That's when the train Hit's You!
FuelingFire is offline  
post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-04-2016, 08:37 PM
Wannabe Guru
 
AbbeysDad's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Central New York, USA
Posts: 1,360
Quote:
Originally Posted by FuelingFire View Post

Also I would not recommend dirt from your backyard, unless you know for sure it hasn't had any chemicals or other pollutants spilled on it in the last 5 years. and to dig about 2 feet down to get the stuff deep to help get the richer and cleaner dirt. I Always use Clay from my back yard, Living IN GA i got Nice RED IRON RICH CLAY, and i mix it in my dirt for the iron.
I dunno FF, if you go down 2 feet in most places yer into lifeless subsoil. I know I wouldn't plant my garden in it, so I'm thinking aquatic plants aren't gonna like it much none neither. I'm thinking you'd be better off with topsoil or the store bought MGOPM.

Quote:
I would also check out Dustins youtube channel Like mentioned Because he knows a lot about dirt. and you can learn a lot from his youtube channel. Other than that Do a lot of research before you commit to it, because it may not be for everyone.
Dustin's okay except for his advice on chopping down Jungle Val so it grows back thicker...it was a big mistake! He does push his dirt tank agenda.

Tank On, Mike-
60g Marineland Community, Finnex Planted+ 24/7, Silica (pool filter) sand.
10g, 29g, & 37g fry grow out tanks, 110g stock tank.


What came first, the chicken or the egg. It was the egg, but not the egg from a chicken.

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
AbbeysDad is offline  
post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-04-2016, 08:41 PM
Planted Member
 
Albtraum's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: California
Posts: 152
Dirt seems like more trouble than it's worth. Especially if it can be depleted of the-goods in just year or so. No thanks.
Albtraum is offline  
post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-05-2016, 12:39 PM
Planted Tank Obsessed
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Where the devil went down to!
Posts: 345
Yeah I don't always agree with everything dustin says, But He is a good starter reference. and Sometimes though if you dig deep enough their is nutrients down deep, that gets trapped over the years, But I agree 2 feet probably might be to deep depending on your location, Because I know farmers Who would Till about 1-2 feet down to stir the soil about every 3rd year. (of course this was on the eastern Shore of Maryland and it depended just how sandy the land was.). So there is nutrients down there, But it's better to get the store bought stuff. at least you know it is clean. I know I bought a Really big bag of MG and left it on my front porch for about 3 weeks and when I opened it i had about 2 hundred soil centipedes everywhere, So i decided the soil was going to get minerlize. before it came into my house. But that is the first time that has ever happend and I blame it on leaving it outside and it getting wet from the rain blowing in through the screen. But it was a good excuse to minerlize it at least partly. But I love dirt tanks, and I tryed to go back to just sand substrate but my plants just didn't do anything it stunted my swords and even my crypts and I was giving them root tabs plus liquid ferts, But my plants just never did anything like they did in dirt. I also tryed Eco-complete and again my plants just didn't have the growth like dirt. But it's I guess hard for me not to go dirted once you get use to it.

Everyone follows a Trend!
Their is always light at the end of the tunnel, That's when the train Hit's You!
FuelingFire is offline  
post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-05-2016, 03:07 PM
Wannabe Guru
 
AbbeysDad's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Central New York, USA
Posts: 1,360
Quote:
Originally Posted by FuelingFire View Post
Yeah I don't always agree with everything dustin says, But He is a good starter reference. and Sometimes though if you dig deep enough their is nutrients down deep, that gets trapped over the years, But I agree 2 feet probably might be to deep depending on your location, Because I know farmers Who would Till about 1-2 feet down to stir the soil about every 3rd year. (of course this was on the eastern Shore of Maryland and it depended just how sandy the land was.). So there is nutrients down there, But it's better to get the store bought stuff. at least you know it is clean. I know I bought a Really big bag of MG and left it on my front porch for about 3 weeks and when I opened it i had about 2 hundred soil centipedes everywhere, So i decided the soil was going to get minerlize. before it came into my house. But that is the first time that has ever happend and I blame it on leaving it outside and it getting wet from the rain blowing in through the screen. But it was a good excuse to minerlize it at least partly. But I love dirt tanks, and I tryed to go back to just sand substrate but my plants just didn't do anything it stunted my swords and even my crypts and I was giving them root tabs plus liquid ferts, But my plants just never did anything like they did in dirt. I also tryed Eco-complete and again my plants just didn't have the growth like dirt. But it's I guess hard for me not to go dirted once you get use to it.
I'm having very good plant growth with silica (pool filter) sand. But the tank was well established with the sand for many years before I got the Finnex light and planted. I'm using Seachem Flourish Root Tabs, Trace, and Comprehensive in very modest amounts, but the sand was/is a previously well established biotope and perhaps that's a factor. I also added Malaysian Trumpet Snails (a few has quickly become many dozens) in combination with high quality Omega One food (less grain filler) all may make a difference. I'm hopeful that in time, I can manage the balance organically with little chemical fert inputs.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/12...rney-time.html

Tank On, Mike-
60g Marineland Community, Finnex Planted+ 24/7, Silica (pool filter) sand.
10g, 29g, & 37g fry grow out tanks, 110g stock tank.


What came first, the chicken or the egg. It was the egg, but not the egg from a chicken.

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
AbbeysDad is offline  
post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-05-2016, 03:16 PM
Wannabe Guru
 
ichy's Avatar
 
PTrader: (3/100%)
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: United States
Posts: 1,461
A thin layer of worm castings works extremely well! It packs down hard, provides a ton of nutrients and does not get into the water column easily.

I personally would not do another planted tank again without some sort of capped dirt layer. Once these tanks mature they can't be beat.

Bump:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Albtraum View Post
Dirt seems like more trouble than it's worth. Especially if it can be depleted of the-goods in just year or so. No thanks.
I have found the dirt layer really starts to shine after a year!
No algae, plants are growing like mad and the tank is very stable.

+++++++++++++++++++
Just started Nano

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

++++++++++++++++++++
ichy is offline  
post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-05-2016, 10:08 PM
Wannabe Guru
 
GrampsGrunge's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Diatom Alley, Lakeside, OR
Posts: 1,453
My dirted 20 H is done with a mix of yard soil, ( pretty dry, not much in rich organics, but lots of reddish clay.) and streambed soil, (seems to be loaded with alot of the same stuff the yard soil has and some heavier, grayish clay-like gravel.)

It's been an odd experience. My rooted plants are a mix of Crypts, Ludwigias, Water Sprite and Swords, and they are all growing pretty well, I inject a small amount of DIY CO2, but I fight a lot of pale turquoise colored BGA. Funny in that it's grows in sheets, but the sheets are made of lots of little tiny bits that tend to float free in the water. Easy enough to do a weekly cleaning off with a small silicone hose, but I'd like to see it get more in balance. It's been running for 5 months now.

Starting small, keeping it simple..(?)
250 gallon stock tank, "pond"
20 gallon H CBS Shrimp tank

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.
GrampsGrunge is offline  
post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-05-2016, 10:25 PM
Planted Tank Obsessed
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Where the devil went down to!
Posts: 345
AbbeysDad; I have a ton of MTS in my 75 I love them for stiring up the sand in my tank. but As far as growing plants, Unless the sand has, like yours been established and all, and has organics to help it, I just can't never seem to get anything to do good long term, they all seem to wither to nothing over a period of time. Like i said though It may be me since I switch to dirt, Because I use to grow plants in just play sand just fine. But now It just isn't as easy. Maybe I got use to the Dirt that I over look something, Idk. I also switched to the finnex 24/7 about a year ago, and That could of been a cause for my plants to whither. though I can grow duckweed better than anything else. I hate the stuff. i can't get rid of it. But I think my finnex 24/7, my not have enough light for the front to back ratio, I mean my plants didn't die. But they didn't grow at all either. But now that I am changing everything up going to the 240 I got my plants back in a 20g soil tank to help get them back to lush conditions. and to get rid of bladder snails. my 75 is really my South american black water tank. so I really wasn't stressing if I had plants as it is just leaf litter and driftwood with play sand. And it is also going through a change as well. (i'm sorry for hijacking the OP thread, hopefully I can be forgivin)
BettaBettas and BettaBettas like this.

Everyone follows a Trend!
Their is always light at the end of the tunnel, That's when the train Hit's You!
FuelingFire is offline  
post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-06-2016, 12:24 AM
Algae Grower
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Mesquite Texas
Posts: 9
I have a few dirt tanks and the best by far is my 75 gallon.I have an organic garden that I add mulch to every year and by the end off the year the mulch has pretty much decomposed.I see no reason to mineralize it since it has already mineralized itself over the summer.If I want soil I just go out to the garden with my screen and a bucket and get what I want.I have tried the clay mixed with it and while I liked the results the 75 gallon I set up I used a 50%mix of mineralized top soil and 50%safe-t-zorb capped with black diamond blasting sand this is a low light low tech tank that will grow just about anything I throw at it.As far as depleting the mts I know people that have been running them for years with an occasional dose of ferts. I do dose mine I don't really know if I need to but I dose my high tech tank everyday and just throw a very small pinch in this tank while I'm at it.This tank has been a very forgiving tank for me it has been algae free since I set it up about 2 1/2 years ago.I will say if you like moving plants every other day like some people do dirt is not for you it can make a mess.I find if I want to move a plant I just pull it up a little then cut it at the substrate.
BettaBettas and BettaBettas like this.
m,ooncon 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