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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Thanks to the petco $1 per gallon sale I picked up a 10 gallon tank for no apparent reason.:proud: Having an empty tank laying around just didn't sit right with me, so I decided to try a dirt tank.

Went out and bought 3- $8 clamp lamps for my lighting. Luckily I had some left over topsoil and an old bag of very fine black sand. :icon_bigg

*Update March '12*







I had a bag of blue rocks laying around. Not sure how I feel about them yet. What do you guys think? I don't want to use any driftwood or big rocks in this scape. Mainly a plant only tank.



I made the background out of laminated cardboard paper. My goal is to line each side of the "blue rock river" with red cabomba. The blue backdrop will hopefully draw you eye to the dark area and maybe add some depth.



I heard horror stories about dirt floating all over the tank, so I was worried about filling it up with water. It wasn't bad at all...just like any other substrate I've used.


Red cabomba I'll be using to line both sides of the river bed.



I also intend on using riccia for ground cover, and maybe some alternathera reineckii, Ludwigia repens, and ludwigia arcuata clippings from my other tanks.

I'll only have 1 fish in here. A paradise fish.

 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
i have the same light fixture! haha which bulb are you using? i got the 23W, 6500k one

btw, where did you get that plant fixture thing... so useful for lights
Thanks! Got it from home depot. They have a few different sizes..I needed the 15 inch one so my light would hand dead center over the tank.

Right now I have it suspended 14.5 inches above the substrate. I'm still debating on which bulb to use. A 19 watt bulb will give me ~ 65 PAR and a 23 watt bulb ~85 PAR. Most of the plants I'll be keeping are somewhat demanding so I'm leaning towards the 23 watt. Any opinions?

 

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oh GEESH that chart just made me o_O
i don't think glosso needs 100+ PAR lighting...
i've got mine vertical, 23W, roughly 8-9 inches from the substrate.

guess ill be bringing it back down to 13W..
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
oh GEESH that chart just made me o_O
i don't think glosso needs 100+ PAR lighting...
i've got mine vertical, 23W, roughly 8-9 inches from the substrate.

guess ill be bringing it back down to 13W..
You can use this as a reference. The water line is 7.3 inches. So the first example is 18.3 inches from the substrate, Second example is 13.3 inches from substrate and the last (kinda like yours) is 10.3 inches from substrate. All using 23W bulbs.

 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Any idea on what you've going to grow?
So far I've got baby tears, red cabomba, purple fanwort, some kind of gold ludwigia, some kind of alternathera and bacopa. Hopefully the fanwort and bacopa grow in thick so it covers up that white backdrop.

I just planted everything so the water is still kind of murky. Also, I didn't rince the topsoil. I just threw it in there and capped it with fine black sand. There was definitely wood chips in there and I think some tannins are being released.

I threw in a bio bag from one of my filters since I didn't mineralize the topsoil first. Introducing bacteria is kind of the same thing right? Just at a much slower pace? Isn't mineralizing another way of saying "bacteria eating the organics"?

Lastly, I really don't want to have a powerhead in this tank, but how will the plants get nutrients and CO2 without water movement? Will simple convection be enough to move nutrients and CO2 around to all my plants?




Thanks for any help :proud:
 

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I threw in a bio bag from one of my filters since I didn't mineralize the topsoil first. Introducing bacteria is kind of the same thing right? Just at a much slower pace? Isn't mineralizing another way of saying "bacteria eating the organics"?

Thanks for any help :proud:
What do you mean mineralize it first? I study soil and there is no way to flash mineralize the organic amendments in soil. I've seem people on this site talking about boiling and baking soil before going into a tank but all that is doing is sterilizing it so that the amendments take much longer to mineralize once added to the tank. I think someone once read that industrial fertilizer production utilizes heat so they assumed a waterbath or oven would work - in reality you need over 1000 degrees F and extremely high pressures to have any effect. Saying you can do this at home is like saying that you can make a diamond by jumping up and down on coal long enough.

To mineralize soil you are going to need to take advantage of bacteria, there is no other way to do it at home. You could drop all the soil into your compost and water it for several months or you could rig up a bubble barrel and bubble the soil in a water bacteria mixture for several weeks both of which would mineralize some of the soil but not all of it. Luckily miracle grow likes people so see instant results so they load their soil up with high amounts of immediate release (mineralized) organic amendments versus those that need processing - for instance bat guano and earthworm castings are naturally mineralized by the bacteria in the animals gut and are immediately available to the plants whereas feather meal, alfalfa meal, bone meal, and most of the rest of the organic amendments need processing first which makes them a slow release.

Luckily you don't want completely mineralized soil. If it was 100% mineralized then most all of the nutrients would be gone by your third or forth water change; well at least all your nitrogen would be. The non mineralized amendments are what gives the soil it's slow release profile which I assume is why people like to use it. All in all I wouldn't worry about it :)

Tanks looking great.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
What do you mean mineralize it first? I study soil and there is no way to flash mineralize the organic amendments in soil. I've seem people on this site talking about boiling and baking soil before going into a tank but all that is doing is sterilizing it so that the amendments take much longer to mineralize once added to the tank. I think someone once read that industrial fertilizer production utilizes heat so they assumed a waterbath or oven would work - in reality you need over 1000 degrees F and extremely high pressures to have any effect. Saying you can do this at home is like saying that you can make a diamond by jumping up and down on coal long enough.

To mineralize soil you are going to need to take advantage of bacteria, there is no other way to do it at home. You could drop all the soil into your compost and water it for several months or you could rig up a bubble barrel and bubble the soil in a water bacteria mixture for several weeks both of which would mineralize some of the soil but not all of it. Luckily miracle grow likes people so see instant results so they load their soil up with high amounts of immediate release (mineralized) organic amendments versus those that need processing - for instance bat guano and earthworm castings are naturally mineralized by the bacteria in the animals gut and are immediately available to the plants whereas feather meal, alfalfa meal, bone meal, and most of the rest of the organic amendments need processing first which makes them a slow release.

Luckily you don't want completely mineralized soil. If it was 100% mineralized then most all of the nutrients would be gone by your third or forth water change; well at least all your nitrogen would be. The non mineralized amendments are what gives the soil it's slow release profile which I assume is why people like to use it. All in all I wouldn't worry about it :)

Tanks looking great.
Thanks! Very good info!

On APC they talk about spreading the soil over a tarp, soaking it and letting it dry out. Then repeat the process like 4 times to mineralize it. I didn't know if that was necessary or not. I didn't end up doing it so I was wondering what effect it would have. Guess it's not a big deal at all. Thanks :)

http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/?p=vB52554
 

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i personally never mineralize and find it to be a waste of time. its going to get mineralized eventually in your tank anyways.
Same here. Although I used Miracle grow organic not just regular top soil.

Where do you buy those lights? Is there a specific type? Curious because I have looked before at walmart and didn't see any. Didn't really shop anywhere else (It wasn't that big of a concern at the time) can i pick one up at HD or menards?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Where do you buy those lights? Is there a specific type? Curious because I have looked before at walmart and didn't see any. Didn't really shop anywhere else (It wasn't that big of a concern at the time) can i pick one up at HD or menards?
Yep...HD or lowes or any general hardware store should have them. They're general work lights. If you have a choice between 2 pick the one with the wider reflector... it's the 150 watt one.

http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc...splay?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053
 

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Thanks! Very good info!

On APC they talk about spreading the soil over a tarp, soaking it and letting it dry out. Then repeat the process like 4 times to mineralize it. I didn't know if that was necessary or not. I didn't end up doing it so I was wondering what effect it would have. Guess it's not a big deal at all. Thanks :)

http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/?p=vB52554
Very interesting article but I have a feeling he was slightly confused coming back from that conference. Mineralization occurs very slowly. You can ramp the process up by making sure your carbon and nitrogen ratios are correct and upping the heat/O2 rates but even then it takes a long long time and you would never want to allow the soil to fully dry at any period. My organic veggie gardens was amended this season and is watered and left to dry every day and it wont all be mineralized for years even with the high bacteria content of naturally amended soil (versus the low bacteria content of potting soil).

Soaking and draining would leech out much of the mineralized (fast release) nitrogen which would drastically help cut down initial algae breakouts and should help with tannins. The amending with clay and lime makes sense as well. Crazy how one very practical article has incorrectly informed so many when it comes to that one point.
 

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