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I'm working on a presentation for my local fish club. I'm doing it on setting up a dirt tank using MGOCPM.

I want to cover basics, materials, pros/cons and example pictures from start to finish.

What I could use help on...

Lists of pros and cons of the MGOCPM/dirt tanks

and

Pictures I may use/borrow showing setup process, growth of plants, finished tanks.

Thanks for the help!
 

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Two considerations doing a dirt tank in brief overview.

Remember that while natural tanks (dirt base) and seeded filters can be stocked from day one go lightly with your first stocking list. Dirt goes through changes going from dry to saturated (submerged) and the rate of break down on the organics changes too. Sometimes it can be more than the tank and fish can handle.
For the first couple of months whether you want to or not test your water. Every couple of days and be ready to change it if the soil burps (it can happen). You might have a tank like mine that ran straight through the issues quickly and was trouble free from then on. Lots of plants (including floaters), no hard scape to trap the soil gases, control the light (a big key to dodging algae), watch things and let the tank settle (month maybe two). The capping material needs to be small enough to contain the soil yet allow the gas exchange to occur.

That's the first trade off for not waiting for the dirt to finish the mineralization process. Attention starting out, more or less high maintenance in the beginning., Things can get busy if a bump in water parameters occurs. All the organic material and the bacteria that chew through it do give you free CO2 for a period of time. :bounce: (about 11 months)

The second major trade off you make is that rooted plants are there to stay. Removing plants with a good root structure is a HUGE PITA. I had an Amazon Sword that had to go. Cutting around the root ball directly under it I killed the plant taking it out and left all the root runners in place. Thinning a field of crypts means a water change and repairing the cap adding more material. Soil tanks are best kept as a set it and forget it type of tanking (imo). If you like to change things around, re-scape, swap out plants then NPT is not for you. If you want to top off the tank when the water gets low, trim to make room for the fish to swim and not dose for months it might be what you're looking for.

Like Jason posted regarding his own, my threads here contain everything I could offer;
55 gallon Low Tech soil sub grow out tank
stainless 2 story
They include set up and growth photos along with water parameter timelines. The first from 2009 had issues with cycle and the second never even burped once.
 

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be ready to change it if the soil burps (it can happen).
Soil tanks are best kept as a set it and forget it type of tanking (imo).
And boy can it burp....If you are constant on pressing down the substrate every day for a month MOST of the time this can be avoided. But if its a good burp (like the one I had) it can blow out an entire CORNER.

IMO as well. Set it and forget it!!
 
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