Starting a dirted tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 43 (permalink) Old 10-04-2015, 09:16 PM Thread Starter
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Starting a dirted tank

Sorry I didn't know where to specifically post this, and I also wanted go get a lot of feedback. So I have decided to try a dirted tank in a 10g tank. I'm going to keep it low tech and simple. I plan on using miracle grow organic potting mix, if that works. So I wanted to know what kind of prepping I would have to do on the soil and how much of it to put in. Also how long will the soil last before I have to start adding root tabs? As a side note question, is a dirted tank something a rookie should be attempting or is more for the advanced hobbyist? Thanks for the help everyone!
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post #2 of 43 (permalink) Old 10-04-2015, 09:24 PM
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Check out the forum about substrate, there is a sticky at the top about mineralized soil.
If you do this to the Miracle Grow it will leach less tannins into the water.
I would put root tabs or Osmocote at the bottom from the beginning, but not very much. As the fertilizer is released from the tablets the soil will hold onto most of it until the plants take it.
In a 10 gallon, I would keep it pretty shallow, perhaps an inch at the front, then build it up into whatever hills and valleys you want. A 10 is not very tall, so I would not try to mound up the substrate much at all. No room for the plants to grow, if the substrate is piled up too high. Use rocks or driftwood and plants that grow taller (still in scale for that tank size, though) for height.

here is the link to the mineralized soil concept, and there is another thread in the same place with more discussion.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/29...on-talbot.html
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post #3 of 43 (permalink) Old 10-05-2015, 12:47 AM
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An alternate dirted tank: I used an inch of Miracle Gro Organic Choice and an inch on top of that of fine black sand. Less than one bag of Miracle Gro. Flat. I find that fertilizers help the plants a great deal.

I sifted the Miracle Gro through 1/4" metal mesh - hard but not impossible. I think it would help to get a spray bottle and wet down the top of the Miracle Grow, then pour water into the tank until it is enough to saturate the Miracle Grow. Create a space next to all the glass walls so that all you'll see is sand. Then put in the sand and spray it. Then pour in water until it reaches the top edges.

This is just the way I did it, there are other methods and you should read about them to see what appeals to you.

MY TANK: Planted 10g; 2 x 10W CFL; Fluval U2 internal filter; MGOCPM/black sand cap

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post #4 of 43 (permalink) Old 10-05-2015, 01:33 AM
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I'm a beginner and three months into my first dirted planted tank. Have learned a lot of lessons.

Re miracle gro: I just picked out the big sticks and put it in the tank, then wet it and mixed it with some red clay (iron). No more than 1" is the beginner recommendation to avoid anaerobic conditions.

I capped it with about 3/4" of black diamond blasting sand, medium grade. I've read that gravel you want more like 1-2", but sand should be shallower to allow gas exchange since the particles restrict the flow.

I added trumpet snails to aerate and keep the tank clean (see my thread on to trumpet snail or not- I got lots of input first as to whether to add them or not).

My water was yellow for about the first two months with weekly water changes, 50% for the first few weeks then 25%.

I test the water weekly in between or just before water changes. I have never registered any ammonia or nitrites, not even at the beginning. I have a big sponge filter, and the tank cycled amazingly fast.

I've been advised that with dirt you need to start by planting heavily including some fast growers and floating plants to suck up nutrients.

Happy to answer any specific questions with my teeny tiny bit of experience!
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post #5 of 43 (permalink) Old 10-05-2015, 03:10 AM Thread Starter
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I liked Django's method. My only question is why do saturat e the dirt? Also is very important to mix it with clay, dolomite, and potash, or is it ok if I just add the miracle gro organic potting mix by itself?

Last edited by fishkeeper01; 10-05-2015 at 04:55 AM. Reason: ...
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post #6 of 43 (permalink) Old 10-06-2015, 02:30 AM Thread Starter
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Do I have to use miracle gro organic potting mix, or can I use miracle gro organic soil? Also what are the benefits of using dirt vs root tabs? How long is the dirt going to last before root tabs will have to be added in again, and after the dirt hs been exhausted is there any negative effects from the dirt remaining in the tank?
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post #7 of 43 (permalink) Old 10-06-2015, 06:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fishkeeper01 View Post
Do I have to use miracle gro organic potting mix, or can I use miracle gro organic soil? Also what are the benefits of using dirt vs root tabs? How long is the dirt going to last before root tabs will have to be added in again, and after the dirt hs been exhausted is there any negative effects from the dirt remaining in the tank?
Use SOIL (Garden or Topsoil), "Potting mix" has a lot of "Extra" stuff added that you will have to remove.

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post #8 of 43 (permalink) Old 10-06-2015, 06:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fishkeeper01 View Post
Do I have to use miracle gro organic potting mix, or can I use miracle gro organic soil? Also what are the benefits of using dirt vs root tabs? How long is the dirt going to last before root tabs will have to be added in again, and after the dirt hs been exhausted is there any negative effects from the dirt remaining in the tank?

I believe miracle grow either changed their bags or possibly changed their product altogether recently so I'm not sure which is right anymore.

Check the back of the bag for an ingredients list. You want to use something derived from "poultry litter" as opposed to cow manure.

This is what the back of the bag used to look like:

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post #9 of 43 (permalink) Old 10-10-2015, 02:25 AM Thread Starter
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Ok so the tanks been running for a few days now, and it has a yellow tinge to the water. I have been keeping up with daily 50% water changes to help with the excess nutrients. How long will the water keep this yellowish color?

Can anyone help me out?

Last edited by Darkblade48; 10-10-2015 at 01:23 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #10 of 43 (permalink) Old 10-10-2015, 07:01 AM
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Mines bin set up over a year. Still has a yellow tinge. But I like it.
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post #11 of 43 (permalink) Old 10-10-2015, 08:21 AM
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My first 40b was miracle grow, tannins like you couldn't imagine.
I just did the full mineralized top soil process for my 90, and what a difference, a lot less tannins.
It's a lot more work, but I wouldn't do the straight miracle grow again. My bags of miracle grow were full of twigs and organics. Running RO, all the large water changes to get rid of tannins was a pain.
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post #12 of 43 (permalink) Old 10-10-2015, 09:35 AM Thread Starter
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So is my tank doomed to be stained yellow?
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post #13 of 43 (permalink) Old 10-10-2015, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by fishkeeper01 View Post
I liked Django's method. My only question is why do saturat e the dirt? Also is very important to mix it with clay, dolomite, and potash, or is it ok if I just add the miracle gro organic potting mix by itself?
1) To keep it from floating.

2) I just put an inch layer of Miracle Gro and an inch of sand. Plust EI ferts on a continuing basis, but that is optional.

The tinting will go away - my tank has been perfectly clear for a long time. Shouldn't take more than a few weeks to clear, or maybe a couple of months. I would recommend one 50% waterchange per week. You really have to work this hobby with a slow hand. There is a whole process going on in there.

It would help a lot to put some fast-growing plants in there, get the cycles in the tank going and the plants taking up ammonia and growing.

I've read a lot of posts on substrate additives and Miracle Gro by itself is pretty good. Additives I think have their own respective merits.

MY TANK: Planted 10g; 2 x 10W CFL; Fluval U2 internal filter; MGOCPM/black sand cap

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Last edited by Django; 10-10-2015 at 11:29 AM. Reason: edit
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post #14 of 43 (permalink) Old 10-10-2015, 07:10 PM Thread Starter
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I've also heard that sand is not the way to go with dirted tanks? I remember I watched one of Dustinsfishtanks video and he talked about how sand is not the right thing to do cuz it causes to much anaerobic spots.
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post #15 of 43 (permalink) Old 10-10-2015, 09:25 PM
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I use play sand in all my dirted tanks. And I am not alone. Heck the most recent tank I setup has pure clay from my backyard, pond soil and play sand. The roots have already grew through all this as I can see under the tank.


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