Potential gnat problem in potting soil - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-23-2014, 12:07 AM Thread Starter
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Potential gnat problem in potting soil

I'm considering trying a dirted tank. I recently ordered a tiger lotus from Dustin's Fish Tanks and he got me researching dirted tanks more. I had written it off when I first started with plants because I thought the soil would be too messy, but maybe if I cap with enough sand then it'll be ok.

Anyway, the soil Dustin recommends using is Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting Mix. I found it on Amazon and some of the reviews are saying that there is a gnat problem with the soil. If I do decide to try a dirted tank then I'll probably try it in a 40 gallon tank, so capped with sand and then with all that water, could there still be a problem with gnats and gnat eggs? When I've had gnat problems in the past, they seemed to be impossible to get rid of, so I just want to be sure it doesn't become a problem. For all I know, gnats have some cockroach-like super powers and could just hatch, swim to the surface of the tank without getting eaten by fish somehow, and then make my life hell

So, could it be a problem, and if so, how do I prevent it?
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-23-2014, 12:16 AM
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Not an issue. If there are gnats, they will be killed when you flood the tank. If you are really really nervous, freeze the soil before using it.

Also, dirt tanks can (and will) be a little messy, initially. You need to accept that. It's part of the adventure, lol. It will settle down, I promise.

This is a dirt tank, one that I made a mess of many times before I took this pic. If you dirt it, they will grow.

Adding more "cap" be it sand or gravel is not the answer. 1 inch of gravel, or a 1/2 inch of sand, more or less.

It must be this way. If you go adding 2 inches of sand in an effort to keep things clean you will ruin the entire process, and make an anaerobic/toxic mess to boot.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-23-2014, 12:21 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks! I won't use too much sand then! Have you ever had a dirted tank with loaches or other sifting fish in it? I'm wondering if that's just asking for disaster lol. Or maybe they would just turn the sand over and not mess with the dirt too much?? *hopeful*
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-23-2014, 12:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NiaCas View Post
Thanks! I won't use too much sand then! Have you ever had a dirted tank with loaches or other sifting fish in it? I'm wondering if that's just asking for disaster lol. Or maybe they would just turn the sand over and not mess with the dirt too much?? *hopeful*
Loaches can make a mess. On a larger tank (55 and up), once the plants are going and the soil has settled in I don't think one or two would be the end of the world.

That said, in my humble opinion, no loaches for at least the first few months just to be safe. During the first few months a dirt tank is going though some major changes as the dry dirt substrate is being converted into marsh like substrate. (You would be surprised how much dirt is still dry dirt like stuff after a month) This is also when all kinds of bacteria colonies (more than the regular ones found in a normal tank) are doing their thing.

I have personally never added loaches, so all that ^^^ is just my best judgment in this regard. YMMV
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-23-2014, 01:11 AM
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As a dirt virgin, I did my first planted tank with mgopm capped with black diamond blasting sand.

There are definite negatives, in that when you pull up plants to move (And doing my first scape I've done it multiple times) you get some dirt. You also deal with a lot more "yellow" water for the longest period of time. However it's awesome to see the root systems go crazy (although unlike the pictures the guy posted here, I made a rim around my dirt so you cannot see the dirt in the front or sides).

If you are going low tech I can't imagine not doing a dirted tank and the problems aren't nearly as bad as they may seem. The biggest thing to me is be able to handle water that isn't pristine clear until you've let it set a long time.

I also did not add any fish for two months. Only had shrimp initially and small numbers only while the tank cycled. Then I started with just a few fish and am slowly working up.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-23-2014, 05:43 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys! I ordered the soil and decided to give it a whirl. The tank I'll be converting to dirt is already stocked :/ but I think it'll be ok. I'll move the fish and half the tank water to a holding container and then drain, dirt, sand, fill, and do a few water changes until the brown and yellow goes away lol.

I've got a lot of extra osmocote plus tabs though. I'm guessing I don't need to use them in a dirt tank? I'll still use liquid stuff like potassium and iron. My java ferns just do so much better with it! Would using tabs as well be redundant, harmful, or add an extra kick?
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-23-2014, 02:04 PM
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Root tabs might be a little redundant. I'd save them for 6 months then use them as needed under heavy root growers...swords, etc.

Adding fish to a brand new dirt tank can be a challenge. There is a lot going on for the first few weeks. I've done it, but I recommend 50 % water changes daily for the first week or two. Its not the yellowish water, that's just tannins from the wood/soil that are a concern...its the ammonia spikes from the soil settling in.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-23-2014, 09:02 PM Thread Starter
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Yikes! Ok, I'll keep my test kit and water changer on indefinite standby SUPER glad I know about that now! lol! Thanks again! Still excited to give this a try! Should make my swords, crypts, and tiger lotus very happy
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-23-2014, 10:08 PM
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You can put the fish in a container with a cycled sponge filter and keep 'em there for a few weeks. That should be safer for them, and less dangerous... Just do frequent water changes.


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