To Be, Or Not To Be?... - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-03-2013, 07:35 PM Thread Starter
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To Be, Or Not To Be?...

First, I'd like to say, I'm excited to get this 55gL NPT going. I'm withholding the urge though, of just dumping all this dirt into the tank, capping it, filling it with water and waiting for a miracle to happen.

The plethora of info I've taken in the past 3 months I had this 55 sitting here is amazing. From different people's experiences, to the educated conclusions they've conclusively led me to.

Here is what I've ended up with thus far:

DIRT:

I have 2 bags of MGOCPM soaking in a Rubbermaid container outside as we speak. I have already filled the container with water once over night, came back to it with a hand hoe and stirred it all around breaking up all the big chunk. I siphoned the water out and filled it back up with water, and now all that is floating is the little wood chips. I left it like that over night again and I'm just about to pull all the floaties out, strain all the water again, then lay all the dirt out in the sun to dry up.

CAP:
Target Pool Filter sand is all I could find where I live. I looked for Black Diamond Blasting sand, and other cheap caps instead of going to the LFS, but this is what it shall be. I was expecting very white sand as I've read, but I'm actually happy to find that it's got a darker tone to it so it should look a little more natural, to me.

FLORA:
I have plants from my 29gL that I have grown apart from, probably mainly due to the tank being my starter tank and me not having a clue what I'm doing. The whole tank has no structure and it kinda looks like a hot mess at this point, so I really I'm not too attached to these plants. I may just float them in the 55 when I fill it so they eat up most/all the spikes ASAP. But I am planning on getting a new selection of plants.
I did just read about how much people are regretting putting duckweed in their tanks.....? Now I'm afraid to just get anything.

FAUNA:
Also a variety from my 29gL that I'm breaking down once this 55 is set. Tetras, Danios, Grouamis, dwarf cichlids, Red tail shark, and a little cat.


Now, my main question of "To be, or not to be?"

I see everyone dirting their tanks, and having the substrate flat. Can I not have hills towards the back or anything like that? I know the idea is to keep the dirt at about 1-1.5" and the cap about the same. I got the idea from reading around that the more dirt I put down the more the chance of these areas becoming anaerobic? I really like the look of hills and valleys.

I have 2 filters - 1 for the 29, and a bigger one for the 55. Can I not seed the 55 with the 29, and then use it on the 55 to further progress the culturing of live bacteria in my new setup? Or will all the ammonia from the dirt kill everything in my newly seeded filter?

Last but not least, so far! DHG! I really like having a carpet in my tank but was never successful with the 29 as I read they are typically high light plants. Will they grow better in a dirted tank? I have a total of 79W of T5HO's at 10000K to move from the 29 to the 55. I've read of people growing carpets no problem, and I've also read of people saying you need all these other high tech (co2, more light) things that I'm not really into a dirted tank for. I want this to be as low maintenance as possible.




I'll stop bombarding you guys with questions, and we'll see what else arises as we go.

Thanks in advance
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-03-2013, 07:41 PM
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Check first if the pool filter sand will alter ph. Where I live in Los Angeles the pool filter sand here will bring the ph up.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-03-2013, 08:42 PM Thread Starter
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Hmm, interesting point that I've read about as well but completely overlooked. I've heard of people using Target brand filter sand and it was find so I assumed it was fine. But I also read that from location to location the sand may be of different colours. I'll look into that further. Thanks!

Another opinion I'm seeking from you guys is - you guys think I should spray paint the back of the 55 black, while it's still empty? Or just leave it clear?
I have a black background on my 29, mainly because I didn't like the look of the filter and all the wires hanging over the back. My assumption is I won't even be using a filter with this NPT, but only a powerhead?
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-03-2013, 10:40 PM
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You don't need to minieralize the soil. I didn't. You can even let your dirt to sit for days until you are ready. Just keep stiring and mixing it until it is like mud.

For the caps, I won't use sand, especially white sand. I think petco sells their black sands for $17 20lb, if you can't find the sand you are looking for.

Seriously, you shouldn't have used more than 1.5" dirt. 2" is pushing it. See if you can seed your new filter but using some bio media from the old filter. That should start your n cycle pretty quickly. In fact, you tank water should be fish safe within 2 to 3 days. Just makes sure you do a 50%+ WC 3 to 4 days consecutively. On the fifth day, your water should be 90% crystal clear.

For DHG, you can use medium lighting but CO2 is a must. Mine is starting to spread within 11 days of planting them.


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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-03-2013, 11:51 PM Thread Starter
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Oh I haven't set up the dirt yet! Thus the reason I'm asking if I could create hilla and valleys with it. Hmm, I might have to look into other methods to build my hills, perhaps driftwood or rocks with plants tied to them, hoping they would eventually grow and cover the rock/wood.

I first started soaking the dirt to mineralize it, but changed the plan and stuck with only soaking it to remove all wood and debris so I don' have to deal with too much in the tank.

What plants are preferred to use with dirted tanks? I guess what I'm asking is which plants have fast growing roots? Which plants can I just have floating in the water to eat up the ammonia spike?

I'm thinking of also using my 29's water to soak the dirt when I have it set up in the 55.

I don't really want to order stuff online, I'm impatient! A 20lb bag sounds like I would need 2 of them and my main purpose of all this is a low maintenance, low budget, eventually hassle free tank.

I've already spent upwards of $300 on the 29 so this tank is to cut my hobby budget down but also end uo with a much better product.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-04-2013, 12:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrG View Post
Oh I haven't set up the dirt yet! Thus the reason I'm asking if I could create hilla and valleys with it. Hmm, I might have to look into other methods to build my hills, perhaps driftwood or rocks with plants tied to them, hoping they would eventually grow and cover the rock/wood.

I first started soaking the dirt to mineralize it, but changed the plan and stuck with only soaking it to remove all wood and debris so I don' have to deal with too much in the tank.

What plants are preferred to use with dirted tanks? I guess what I'm asking is which plants have fast growing roots? Which plants can I just have floating in the water to eat up the ammonia spike?

I'm thinking of also using my 29's water to soak the dirt when I have it set up in the 55.

I don't really want to order stuff online, I'm impatient! A 20lb bag sounds like I would need 2 of them and my main purpose of all this is a low maintenance, low budget, eventually hassle free tank.

I've already spent upwards of $300 on the 29 so this tank is to cut my hobby budget down but also end uo with a much better product.
Pretty much any heavy root feeder would do nicely. My current favorite is the Blyxa Japonica. It does require at least medium lighting. I would avoid swords in general unless you can find some remaining bushy looking. I also like hygrophila corymbosa or its compact version. For carpeting, you can try chainsword narrow leaf. I think your carpeting plants are limited since you aren't using CO2. However, dosing excel would help greatly. My low tech dirt tank 20g has been only using excel, with medium lighting. The plants are doing great. Ammonia spikes? It shouldn't be if your tank has been already cycled. I didn't experience any ammonia spikes. In fact, I didn't even bother to check it. Fish were put in only 3 days after. They are very happy. For floater, get some ricca. I have 2 big mats flowing on my 40g. I see no bio film on the water surface at all. With my 20g, I am seeing bio film on the water surface. You may also need to dose the water column. Using dirt does not mean you don't dose the water column. You can test it for yourself. Do a nitrate test after your water is clear. Your NO3 level should be less than 2ppm. Ideally, you should keep it around 5 to 10ppm.

You can try to glue some Styrofoam blocks to elevate the area to get your hills. Then, pour dirt on it. Other than that, if you want hills, you would have to use regular aquarium plant substrates.

To presoak the dirt, just use your regular tap water.


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Last edited by tetra73; 08-04-2013 at 03:13 AM. Reason: typo
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-04-2013, 03:00 AM
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I always paint my background, but some people use poster board instead. It just looks better to me, makes the plant and fish colors pop.

My DHG spread fine under not so high of lighting, no CO2, and dirt. Probably not as fast as they could, but it still looked great.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-04-2013, 03:08 AM Thread Starter
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I'm really leaning towards spray painting my background. I went with the black poster for the background of my 29, and it's a pain to get it on clean, and to also reapply it if bubbles end up forming on it for whatever reason.

I think i'll end up trying the DHG, as long as I can find some tomorrow. I'm in the process of collecting plants to use, but i'm having a hard time envisioning plants that will go together once everything grows in.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-05-2013, 01:53 AM
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I am still in the design phase for my multi tank setup but I too will be going with dirt and I want hills. Big hills at that. One thing I see recommended a lot is good ole lave rock. Its cheap and you can find it at home depot or lowes. Pile it up, add the dirt and cap. Lava rock is actually cheaper and less effort than trying to use styrofoam. You don't have to worry about it breaking down or loosing form. This is the approach I am going with because trying to go aquasoil will be wayyyy to expensive to the setups I am doing.

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