setting up a new tank.. soil layering for substrate? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-27-2006, 11:51 PM Thread Starter
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setting up a new tank.. soil layering for substrate?

i'm setting up a new 29 g tank and i have about 1.5 inches of used flourite substrate from a 20g tank.. that i want to use as the base substrate for this tank

additionally, i have copious amounts of pool filter sand and also some fox farm high grade potting soil

i was considering putting down a layer.. say 1-1.5 inch of the fox farm then layering the flourite/sand on top

has anyone ever done anything like that? i'm not planning on buying fish for a while.. i want to get it planted and into a nice equilibrium before i introduce them.

i also have some nutrients meant for a hydroponic garden.. i haven't done the calculations but i'm pretty sure it would require a mean dilution to use them in a planted tank.. has anyone ever used hydroponic nutrients in a planted tank with success?

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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-28-2006, 12:28 AM
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I would advise against using the potting soil. Most all potting soil is much to high in organics to use in an aquarium.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-28-2006, 01:07 AM
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You want neglected/unfertilized dirt like from under a house or something. An inch is way too much. That could be really messy. I put about a coffee can full in a 20 and it worked ok. Still it got cloudy when I pulled up plants but not for too long.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-28-2006, 11:43 AM
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Well I've never used potting soil, so can't speak to that end. I've mixed PFS and fluorite, and that's just fine. Eventually the fluorite will end up on top and the sand on the bottom, unless you have magical powers.

As for the hydroponic ferts, I've used them but just not on aquariums We would need a full list of components before giving the OK for use on planted tanks!
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-28-2006, 02:48 PM
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I know a lot of people do it but the one time I tried it the tank crashed and it was the most horrific smell ever.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-28-2006, 03:12 PM
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Use a mineralized top soil, using a potting soil is like putting down an inch of peat instead of the recommended dusting, just asking for trouble.


Aquascape? I'm a crypt farmer.

It's a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore looking like an idiot.

That IS an aquascape, it's titled "The Vacant Lot".
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-28-2006, 03:23 PM
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Soil substrate works great. However, Please read Diana Walstad's book before using dirt in a tank.

Make sure the soil does not contain any added fertz and does not include too much composted organic material. If you have excess organics in the soil it will take quite a long time for the tank to cycle. Most advise against using sand over soil, but in my dirt tank, I have about 1/2" of sand between the dirt and the fine gravel. Be sure to use plants some plants which have a good root structure if using soil, swords or crypts are nice and will prevent you from getting anaerobic pockets which could cause sulfate problems.

I have had problems dosing nitrate with a soil substrate. I can dose huge amounts of KNO3 without problems in CO2 enriched tanks with inert substrates, but if I dose it in a soil substrate tank, I get some reduction back to ammonia -which is not good for fish or shrimp. With soil, the best approach is to lower light level if you have algae rater than try to increase nutrients. I do occasionally dose micronutrients and KH2PO4 if the plants look like they need it.

my soil substrate tanks are built into west facing windows of the house and get plenty of direct sunlight, so they require minimal supplimental lighting.

there is a good forum with Diana Walstad at

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