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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all. I've got a 1 month old 40 gallon breeder tank with small pea gravel as the substrate, and large driftwood and some easy plants (anubias, java fern, amazon sword, valisneria, crypts, moss, microswords, cabomba, ludwigia repens). My initial reasoning was that I wanted a low-maintenance tank that wouldn't get seriously cloudy and dirty evertime I moved one thing. I also have a 5 lb CO2 tank that I just filled and have been injecting a small amount of CO2 (~1 bps) in the past few days.

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But now looking at how the tank is progressing and looking at dirted tanks and the Walstad method book I've had for ages... I'm kind of regretting not doing a dirted tank. I'd like to get really health plant growth and a nice densely planted aquarium. I wanted the gravel because I figured it'd work good enough, but I bet the plants would be better with real soil for the roots to feed off.

I've used fert tabs before. But I was thinking about trying getting some organic miracle gro (or whatever people suggest for dirted tanks), letting it dry out in the sun, then putting it in those big ol' pill capsules. Then placing those at the very bottom of the substrate. I would do this slowly over a period of several months. The goal being to create a bottom layer of actual soil for the plants to utilize. I found some "vegetarian capsules" on Amazon that are pretty good sized.

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What do you think about this idea? Has anyone done this? Is there a way I could do this to avoid any issues with ammonia, plant burn, poisoning my fish? I want a health rhizosphere so my plants can thrive.

Thanks!
 

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I do not much care for dirt, so.. you know, take this with a grain of salt.

But I would never recommend anyone do a dirt tank unless you are just experimenting and wanting to try something you haven't done before. If you want a nutrient rich substrate buy a bag of aquasoil.

Anyway when I see your tank my initial impression is that the gravel you are using is too big. Granules should be 2-4mm across for plants (or smaller). What you have in there looks like the slightly larger size aquarium gravel. If that is the case and you want to rescape, then I would pull all the substrate and replace it with 1/2" of aquasoil and 1.5+ inches of pool filter sand. I rescape at least one take every few months, its a couple of hours but not a big deal.
 

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Lol I did the whole "Eh, it'll work" in my 40b with similar gravel and got frustrated took out a whole bunch and mixed in eco complete and fert tabbed the heck out of the substrate and got good results. I'm honestly very skeptical about dirt in capsules having the desired effect. I'd say try it out in a container first (maybe do a walstad vase mock up) with some scrap plants and a diy sponge filter and monitor parameters and effects that way you're not jeopardizing your actual tank in the experiment.

Oh- btw- carpets are almost impossible in most walstads
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Lol I did the whole "Eh, it'll work" in my 40b with similar gravel and got frustrated took out a whole bunch and mixed in eco complete and fert tabbed the heck out of the substrate and got good results. I'm honestly very skeptical about dirt in capsules having the desired effect. I'd say try it out in a container first (maybe do a walstad vase mock up) with some scrap plants and a diy sponge filter and monitor parameters and effects that way you're not jeopardizing your actual tank in the experiment.
Haha I really should try this out in a vase first. That's probably the best advice.

I tend to make impulse decisions so I'm trying to get some perspective first.
For what it's worth, a 1 month old tank isn't really that established. Why not just start over with the Walstad method , if that is what you have wanted to do all along?
My biggest mistake was being impatient and buying a group of juvenile angelfish. I don't want to stress them out to death, or I really would be considering draining the tank and adding a layer of soil.

Also for background info, I've set up a tank for a client that was all pool filter sand and root tabs and it did okay for low maintenance plants.
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Okay looking at the photos, it was primarily java moss that did well haha. I'm not a master aquascaper but the client was happy enough with it.
 
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