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I am totally new to dirt, never done it before. I am setting up a planted tank this weekend and want to use dirt. I plan on using a layer of dirt, topped by black sand, with some root feeders like amazon swords, vals, and red lotus. I have read that sometimes soil needs to be "mineralized" before use. I want to do this tank this weekend, so I'm wondering if I use Miracle Grow Organic do I need to mineralize it? Or can I just sift it, put it in tank, cap it, and fill? It will have an angelfish in there from the beginning so I can't ave ammonia spikes. If it's not doable I will skip dirt for now but am in need of advice.

Edit: nevermind! I had it in my head for some reason that Miracle Grow did not release ammonia but now realize it does. I will be goig with sand and root tabs then.
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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Not from the Miracle Gro.

Every major tank change risks disturbing a tank's balance and triggering ammonia spikes, though- especially big substrate changes - so I'd still keep a really close eye on your water parameters.
 

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Ammonia may or may not be released depending on which Miracle Gro Soil you use. MGOC Potting Mix won't release ammonia. MGOC Garden Soil contains composted manure and will release ammonia. Either way, the only thing you have to do with MGOCPM is to sift it to remove any large pieces of bark, sticks, and other assorted junk that ends up in the bags.
 

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Plants take up ammonia very well, particularly fast-growing stem plants. If you plant densely you don't have anything to worry about, assuming you have appropriate lighting.

I agree with sifting MGOCPM - I did it when I converted my 10 from gravel to dirt recently.

Also, in regard to mineralizing MGOCPM, I am hoping it already has what you need. I know from the packaging that it has .10-.05-.05 NPK (macros) and I think the material, which is mostly organic, should have all the micros. I'm sure it's very obvious except to newbies like me.

Also, in case you end up using MGOCPM, I read a post today in this section saying that you have to soak the MGO up to the surface before adding the sand, or you get trapped air bubbles. I had lots of air bubbles and I added the sand before the water as I recall.
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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I've done I think 3 MG tanks now?

I usually slowly pour some water all over the MG and press it all in with my hands to help waterlog the MG before capping it. I don't fill the tank by any means, just add enough water to make sure it's thoroughly wet. This also helps hold it in place when I add the cap layer.

Fortunately, I always did love playing in the mud as a child. :hihi:

I still got airbubbles for the first few weeks, but no big deal. After day 2, I've never had much of anything float to the surface. (And I don't bother sifting mine first, either.)
 

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Yes I can see how floating pieces would be an issue on bare dirt, but with a 2 inch or so cap? That should hold the bark down shouldn't it? I wonder also do the pieces add anything nutrient wise to the plants long term..
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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LOL You haven't set up a tank with it yet, have you. ;)

I don't find it a huge deal, but I usually spend a few days after the initial setup skimming the surface with a fishnet to pull off all the floaters that work through the cap. It can be a pretty messy process for the first few days... and I'm pretty careful when I lay it down, too.

No matter how hard to work to waterlog the MG before laying down the cap, you'll still have air bubbles that can lift/work their way through the cap and take floaties with it.

And then when you go to plant, you'll disturb the cap again get even more floaties.

Every tank I've done has settled in within 2-3 days, though.
 

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Ermm.. Lucky guess :L ;). I plan to dirt my 60litre after we've moved house sometime, damn I'm excited to set that up.

Hmm with all those floaties you're talking about, it's starting to sound like it might be easier to just sift the stuff after all?

Settling in after 2-3 days isn't bad at all, I could wait that, I'm a patient guy.. Ha. Do you find that using dirt is worth the extra bother compared to planted substrates?
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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I find it worth the $$ savings. :icon_smil

I've been recyling the same flourite mix for my tanks for years and years now, which is what I use to cap the MG, so I can't really say if one is better than the other or not... but I can say that plants do very well with MG.
 

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I did an unsifted MGOCPM tank a bit over a year ago, and after a couple months I started finding wood and bark chunks on the surface of the substrate. Not a lot, and it didn't really bother me in that tank, but I did sift for the next tank. I had about a 1/5-2" flourite (not sand) cap.

Oh, and I didn't do anything with the MGOCPM in either of my tanks, aside from sifting for the second one.
 

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I did.

Even if you sift and mineralize you still need to do about 5 100% water changes that first day. Helps settle the cap on the soil and gets rid of the excess minerals. Or you will have pink cloudy water for a long time.
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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I did.

Even if you sift and mineralize you still need to do about 5 100% water changes that first day. Helps settle the cap on the soil and gets rid of the excess minerals. Or you will have pink cloudy water for a long time.
Pink? Really? Weird- what made yours pink?

I always run Purigen in my filters, I have to recharge it every few days at probably for the first few weeks from the tannins. But tannins are yellow/brown...

Pink makes curious! lol
 

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Pink? Really? Weird- what made yours pink?

I always run Purigen in my filters, I have to recharge it every few days at probably for the first few weeks from the tannins. But tannins are yellow/brown...

Pink makes curious! lol
Probably a mix of lighting with the micro dirt in the water column. Along with some red clay residue I stuffed into the dirt.

I don't have fish in this one yet, so I don't do anything fish-wise. 100% changes aren't an issue for me.
 

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I've done I think 3 MG tanks now?

I usually slowly pour some water all over the MG and press it all in with my hands to help waterlog the MG before capping it. I don't fill the tank by any means, just add enough water to make sure it's thoroughly wet. This also helps hold it in place when I add the cap layer.

Fortunately, I always did love playing in the mud as a child. :hihi:

I still got airbubbles for the first few weeks, but no big deal. After day 2, I've never had much of anything float to the surface. (And I don't bother sifting mine first, either.)
has been helpful
 
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