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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a planted 125G that currently uses black diamond sand as the substrate, as I am sure many of you are well aware of, on it's own it is not a great substrate for growing plants. While I am able to grow some plants, Amazon Swords slowly die off and Crypts just never seem to grow as big as I know they can. So, I am looking to convert it to something more plant friendly. If I go with a dirt tank, then realistically I could re-use some of the black diamond sand to cap the dirt, I also don't re-scape all that often and actually like a tank that looks somewhat unkept / overrun with plants, so the dirt would remain relatively undisturbed. I'll be buying dirt from somewhere like Lowes, rather than digging some up from the back garden.

I am not sure though if I can convert to using dirt while there are fish in the tank, obviously I would need to remove them to a spare 20G that I have sitting empty. That's only going to work for a short period of time though as the fish won't be happy in there for more than a few hours (the biggest thing would be half a dozen Angelfish). The tetras I have would be fine in the 20G, but the angels, yeah, they won't be too happy at all.

So, if I do swap to dirt, will it be OK to put the fish back in again on the same day? If not, then I may use Turface as I have had success with that in the past and don't mind the look.

Thanks.
 

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Many of us here have great luck with inert and plants. What ferts are you using? Never compare tanks using injected CO2 to the results you get if not using it. If your plants aren't growing well in BDBS, it's likely a deficiency.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I know you can get good results with inert, I don't know that I have been comparing to tanks with injected CO2, I think I just know my plants are looking pretty poor compared to when I had a 55G with turface. As for ferts, I had been using osmocote root tabs, but have neglected to add any lately (need to order some more, or figure out a way to make my own). As for current dosing, I've been slack here as well, but dose liquid ferts in the following doses (powder mixed with 500ml water):

K2SO4 - 29.3G
KNO3 - 32.6G
KH2P04 - 2.9G
MGS04 - 20.2G

The above solution I dose 12ml daily.

Plantex CSM+B - 28.6G

This one I dose 1.2ml daily.

I should add again though, that I have been slacking in both the root tabs and liquid ferts, which I am sure has an adverse effect on the plants, but my slacking is also why I was wondering whether a better substrate would also help.
 

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I have a planted 125G that currently uses black diamond sand as the substrate, as I am sure many of you are well aware of, on it's own it is not a great substrate for growing plants.
There are loads of great tanks that grow great plants and use BDBS. It's probably the best inert substrate available.

You mention some neglect and my guess is that is likely your problem.

And by thy way, Turface is inert as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yeah, I'm sure the neglect is a big part of things, I need to get into a better routine of dosing ferts regularly.

I think I knew turface was inert, but using the same water, I was able to grow thick jungles of crypts, tall swords etc without dosing anything. I will say that was a 55G tank though, I forget the light I had on there, nothing fancy, I think initially a home made CFL fixture and then a beamswork LED.

Hopefully with some more effort on things, I'll start getting better results with the blasting sand (and save the headache of swapping it out!)
 

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Turface may have worked for you due to porosity (plants better able to root in it) as well as a better CEC value (better nutrient storage than sand...which allows you room for that neglect you mentioned).
To answer your question: If you decide to go dirted, with the sand as a cap, definitely would be a mess trying to do so with fish in the tank...you'd have a mud mess. If you can get the job done quickly enough to get the fish back in on the same day, there are some considerations:
-make sure you keep a very good source of your established bacteria colonies so that they can get straight to work on whatever your soil will be releasing;
-be ready to do hefty water changes in the beginning if you get ammonia spikes and don't have the plant/algae mass to take it up;
-ensure that your soil is well-capped by the sand to eliminate floating bits of peat or bark, etc. (which can be minimalized by pre-soaking the soil.

All that said, yes, it can be done (done it myself). Just be smart about it and keep an eye on your fish.
 
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