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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Quick question for the dirt masters.

I am starting a new 10G Planted, I want try MTS Capped with black diamond.
At the end of the summer/fall I decided to start prepping some MTS. I bought the recommended bag of Miracle Gro, when I started the process the bag ended up to be probably 80% of wood and mulch that floated to the top. I ended up just dumping it in the garden and gave up.

The cold is here, my garage is unheated so the whole MTS process isn't an option right now. Is there any options to still go the dirt tank route?

Any help and suggestions would be appreciated.
 

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you could buy the aluminum pans from the grocery store and wet/dry by baking it...you could boil it stove top...or just put it in your tank and mineralize it in your tank

any of those methods would work...

my personal favorite is to mineralize it in the tank...though you'll need to watch your ammonia levels initially (and it will smell like a swamp to begin with until it smells Earthy -takes about a week)
 

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What exactly is the process to mineralize it in the tank?
Thanks.
Buy the same bag of wood chips you wrongly selected the first time and dump it in the tank and cap it. LOL easy enough.
Look at any of my tank threads and the setup is all in the first couple pages.
 

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1. Open bag of MGOPS

2. Dump in tank

3. Cap

4. Watch plants grow

5. RAOK the spoils.

6. Repeat.

Remineralize what.? Dont complicate yourself too much with this. Yes, you can sift the stuff to remove the wood chips, but they wont bother you unless you uproot, and then its nothing a good netting wont solve.

My 20L has it sits currently:

 

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Miracle Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix

MGOCPM (potting mix) contains soil and a large portion of organic material (55-65% by volume). Sphagnum peat moss, composted bark fines, leaves, twigs, wood chips etc. and "pasteurized poultry litter" (cooked chicken crap).

or mix up the following;

50% composted tree barks and fines, 30% sphagnum peat moss and 20% worm casting. Powdered clay can also be added to the mix if you like.

Manure tends to spike ammonia early on in a rather rich release. Stay away from manure rich mixes.

About a 1.5 to 2" layer of the mix capped with 1 to 1.5" of fine gravel or coarse sand.

Using either one moving rooted plants you have to work slowly moving things around and pulling plants.
tip; setting up the tank hold back a sandwich baggie full of capping material for added touch ups as needed, much later I find it hard to find a good color match. Bang for the buck and the least effort go dirt because it works :smile:
 

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1. Open bag of MGOPS

2. Dump in tank

3. Cap

4. Watch plants grow

5. RAOK the spoils.

6. Repeat.

Remineralize what.? Dont complicate yourself too much with this. Yes, you can sift the stuff to remove the wood chips, but they wont bother you unless you uproot, and then its nothing a good netting wont solve.

My 20L has it sits currently:

I literally did these steps and it's true once it's capped your good until you try moving a Plant then your gonna have to do a couple of back to back water changes.

I also have 1 CAE that likes to remind me there's dirt under my cap every night but it doesn't the tank at all just annoying
 

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+1 for the MGOPM capped with sand. If your having problems when you move plants, you need to have less Dirt and more cap-your gonna want at least 1.5" of cap at all times, probably between 0.5-1.0" of dirt on the bottom, Also, it helps if you hydrate the dirt before you cap it, that way you don't get chunks of dry soil shooting to the surface when you fill the tank.
 

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I think the "mineralize" thing has gotten way off track. The idea was to breakdown topsoil and eliminate organic material. So you wanted to AVOID soil mixes that were very high in organics. Miracle Grow is the wrong way to start when you're mineralizing. Some of the cheapest topsoil mix at your local home improvement center is a better starting place than MG. See the article that I think is the originator of mineralization (Arron Talbot's post at AquarticPlantCentral) here.

What you're thinking of doing with Miracle Grow is the method that Diana Walstad started. Over at APC, it's referred to as "el Natural".
 

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The cold is here, my garage is unheated so the whole MTS process isn't an option right now. Is there any options to still go the dirt tank route?

Any help and suggestions would be appreciated.
I think the "mineralize" thing has gotten way off track. The idea was to breakdown topsoil and eliminate organic material. So you wanted to AVOID soil mixes that were very high in organics. Miracle Grow is the wrong way to start when you're mineralizing. Some of the cheapest topsoil mix at your local home improvement center is a better starting place than MG. See the article that I think is the originator of mineralization (Arron Talbot's post at AquarticPlantCentral) here.

What you're thinking of doing with Miracle Grow is the method that Diana Walstad started. Over at APC, it's referred to as "el Natural".
The OP asked for other options to MTS and received them. Diana Walstad added the details of why things happen but she's not the originator of the "method", she followed up on the works of others, detailed it, and was published. In fact several have said the organic content of the MGOCPM is too much based on her method guide. Hope this doesn't drift into that (conversation).
 

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If the chicken poop in MGOCPM is already baked,
sterilized by heat, eliminating animal feces bacterial issues.
'chicken poop' gives it the initial NO3 boost needed until good bacteria start working on the organic content.
 

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The reason you buy MGOCPM is so that you don't have to mineralize it. You can simple just dump about 1 inch of it into your tank and cap off with your substrate of choice. I'd be really sure when planting that's the scape you want as often when the plants take root, uprooting it would cause a whole spew of mess for you and the fish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Wow, thanks for all the great help on a question that has probably been asked a hundred times. I will give this a try with mgocpm and the black diamond. How long before re adding the fish? I will be using an already cycled filter. Do I need to be monitoring anything special?

Thanks wkndracer and everyone who posted.
 

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The reason you buy MGOCPM is so that you don't have to mineralize it. You can simple just dump about 1 inch of it into your tank and cap off with your substrate of choice. I'd be really sure when planting that's the scape you want as often when the plants take root, uprooting it would cause a whole spew of mess for you and the fish.
yeah I am living proof of this as I cant seem to keep my hands out of the tank and am always rearranging things
 

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Wow, thanks for all the great help on a question that has probably been asked a hundred times. I will give this a try with mgocpm and the black diamond. How long before re adding the fish? I will be using an already cycled filter. Do I need to be monitoring anything special?

Thanks everyone who posted.
Always adding water boxes here it seems I try lots of things to see what works for me.
Single day setup using all the water, plants and other materials from a 20 long setting up a new 29g. Tanks are the same foot print so replacing one tank with another and adding dirt. What, how;
1st) I did my normal tank water change and filter cleaning then ran the tank for about 2 weeks before the swap. This was and has remained a low tech tank with a HOB 280. The 2 week run allowed good bactors to coat everything in the cleaned HOB but did not allow the floss panel to become filthy. The stocking is light in this tank so the feeding was only every other day and small amounts of fish food.

On the day of the swap.
Siphoned off about 4.5g of water into a 5g bucket then caught the fish and put them in it with an air stone.
Filled another bucket (3.5g) with tank water, added the hard scape, plants, in tank filter parts etc. My idea was keep everything wet and protect as much bio film as I could doing the swap.
Siphoned off the remaining water that could be removed without substrate mum into additional buckets then drained the tank dry and moved it aside.


Placed a border layer of substrate around the glass then added 1 1/2" of mud pudding.


Capped the mud with the black grit and planted. The crypts will fill this tank.


Albinos with a black substrate have nowhere to hide LOL


A founding member in The Fraternity of Dirt :biggrin:
A single WC of 20g (just over 50%) was done 5 days after the reset.
Two weeks after the tank change the filter pad was cleaned. The cycle never stumbled using everything from the 20L.

Stocking was light. 2 otto, 2 Cory, 2 Angelfish.

Changing the substrate in an existing tank (imo) don't even clean the glass doing the swap because bio film coats everything within the tank.
Resist the urge to be a neat freak. :wink:

I did test the water every day the first week. Never saw any ammonia so nothing stumbled.
 

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Hmm, jut bought some Miracle grow organic choice, and was searching around for tips. I found some!
Problem is, the sand I'm using to cap is the sand that's in the tank I'm upgrading! I'd read some stories of ammonia leaching? Anyone have that?
My plan is to lay about an inch of mix, moisten til thouroughly, but not til it's soupy. I then plan to add sand, or maybe the hardscape before the sand?
I'd like to do a one day swap, if possible.
Do I plant the plants before or after sanding? Should I add sand I top of moist mix, or add some water and sprinkle the sand in? How do I make sure it covers everything?
Sorry if I hijacked!
 
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