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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey Planted Tank People!!!


Well I am finally going to start the 40B for the Alvarezi Swordtails, and I have been trying to find info on plants and fish to do a True Biotope aquarium for the Alvarezi's. While I have given up on the 100% true Biotope for now I am still going to try to stay with the basic type of setup, but with some added bottom dwellers and clean up crew for sure! Also there will be some different plants, as a lot of the plants from their native area were long and stringy leaved and all looked a like, pretty much! There were some obvious choices I will include, but more about that later!

My main question now is should I dirt it or not?????

There is going to be quite a bit of rock work covering at least half of the substrate surface!There will be quite a few stem plants and possibly Java fern and Anubias, BUT I am also planning Crypts probably Parva as a front main focal point, then some medium height crypt among the rockwork, and one of the tallest ones among the plants in the back! Maybe as Yall can see I am a fan of Crypts!!! Having this hard water setup is going to be challenging with the amount of not only Crypts, but the Plant list is greatly reduced.

But with half of the substrate being covered by rock, or more, should I dirt it or not?

I have plenty of sifted Miracle Grow Organic Potting soil ready to go, and I also have 3-18# bags of Petco's "Fresh Water Black Sand", which is actually very dark grey, not really sand but not really gravel either, but it is pretty smooth, and my Corys have loved it in the past!

Or should I just use the Petco Fresh Water Black Sand, and then add root tabs either store bought or make my own, as I bought some clay a while back to make the clay/fert balls like Sara was doing, but I never got around to making them. So there is that option to, as I have 95% of the stuff needed to make them.

I NEED TO GET THIS TANK UP AND GOING IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS!!!!

So any help with this is GREATLY APPRECIATED!!!!! I am just unsure about covering quite a bit of the substrate's surface with stones will cause gas build up problems, along with a host of other things? Or if the plant roots will be able to work their way under the more compacted soil before it was to go bad?

They have FILLED UP their 10g with babies and themselves, and are needing the room to swim ASAP before they stress and get a bug started!!!So again if anyone has experience good or bad with placing large amounts of rocks/stone over a dirted substrate PLEASE holler at me, cause I don't want to hurt my Alvarezi with a gas pocket or any thing of that sort, when I can just root feed my crypts, swords, or vals that would require it! The rest would get EI dosing per Lighting!

On Lighting I have a CoraLife 2-T5NO 36" fixture with 1-6,500K 21w bulb, and 1-ColorMax 21w Bulb. I also have 2-24" 65w 6,500k Power Compact Retro Kits fitted in 24" aquarium light hoods that I can use for the tank, but I was wanting to keep it a Low to Low-Medium light Non-Injected tank!

Anyway Thanks for the Help!!! Take Care!!!!
Drew
 

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The dirt issue is(IMO) a matter of how much work you can do in the tank.
If you are wanting to keep it non-injected then that cuts some of the work.
Personally I don't get using dirt. It runs out of nutrients eventually making you add
like Osmocote+ to it but from one person to the next who do use it there seems to
be a wide spread on the amount of time it takes to run out of the nutrients.
If these stones have any size to them, a piece of egg crate under the sub will
insure you don't scratch the bottom of the tank.
I'm interested in seeing how this works out as I've been mentally working out details
of a similar tank. The dirt under rocks being the main similarity.
Until now I've just had fine gravel as my sub and let detrius fill in between it.
I do use a reduced version of E.I. but no added carbon.
 

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I feel there are pros and cons to using the method you mention.

If you plan on moving around plants a lot, dirt will definitely be very messy.

If not, you can weigh out the pros and cons of dirt versus, say, the sand you mentioned. Regardless you will eventually have to dose ferts to combat the growth of algae. It's just a matter of how long it's going to take (and let's be honest here, the pre fertilized substrates are generally not that potent and still require fert dosing almost right off the bat).
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Well I have had a 55g Dirted tank up for a few years now, but it has Clado algae, and I haven't been able to do anything with it plant wise, as anything I add will get the [email protected] clado on it, but when I took my pressurized Co2 setup off and stopped dosing even at the tiny levels I was the Clado was held back to the glass, high light parts of the black diamond substrate, and the tips of plants when they would reach the top of the water! So really I haven't been able to "play" in that dirted tank at all and it was my first dirted tank ever! I got the Clado from a Algae ball "which is actually a form of clado" but a good one not an invasive one.

I am figuring the rocks/stones will be pretty good size, or at least the ones I have been looking at down at the LFS are! Which means there would be a large section of dirt covered by the rock causing water not to move threw that area of the substrate which causes my biggest concern!

Before the 55g had Flourite in it which I couldn't stand! I washed, and washed, and washed in a 5g bucked a little bit at a time till the water ran clear out of every bucket, and it still would cloud the water every time I would move a single plant, and only fine filter floss in the canister filters would clear it up after a day!!! It was SUPER OVERRATED WHEN IT FIRST CAME OUT, as the have all , be all of planted aquarium substrates, and I spent WAY too much money on it!!!! All it ever did after a years time was grow hair algae on it no mater how or what I tried, so it is now in the Flower beds!!! There was only 1 Flourite when I bought it back then, and it was a mix of red and black clay pieces about 3mm in size, and it was a PITA to plant in!!!

So the more I think about it NOT DIRTING IT, and using some kind of substrate fertilizer for the root feeders makes the most since! I have NEVER USED EGG CRATE on my Aquariums before when using rocks as a main feature of the aquascape! And Actually I have done African Cichlids most of my life and had 100's of pounds of Holey rock in tanks with no problems!!! I always put the gravel or sand in first then the big base rocks, followed by the mid and top rocks! BUT BACK THEN I was buying the AllGlass Brand of tanks, and they were 100% NON-Tempered Glass, but I KNOW 4-SURE this Aquanon 40B has a Tempered Bottom!

So SHOULD I use a piece of egg-crate with the rocks I am planning to use? Also I read a lot of articles telling you to place the rocks BEFORE you put in the sand! But if I do that and I decide to move around the Rocks later it would be like doing a whole new rescape with the rocks berried in the sand!!! With my Cichlids and Saltwater Fish Only w/ Live Rock, or Reefs, The Rock was placed on top of the Substrate, and the rocks were moved around occasionally to clean the excess mulm, and to rescape!

SO Maybe a Egg Crate, then the PetCo FreshWater Black Sand, then the rocks, fill up half way, plant with stems, crypts, ferns, Anubias, ect... Top off, let settle over night and get temp correct for 24hrs, Last Add Alvarezi!!!

I just wonder if the Egg-Crate will hinder the roots of the plants from spreading along the bottom of the tank? I have pics in my 55g journal of the sword and crypts root structure from under the tank in an open bottomed stand, and it is AWESOME!!!! They spread from one side of the tank to the other!!! Even a single Bacopa Carolina stem will send roots 6" away in all directions! Has anyone that has used egg-crate had any problems when trying to remove a plant to relocate it, or just remove it, not being to get a plant up because it is grown into the egg-crate???

Thanks for the Help EVERYONE, and if anyone can Answer the continued questions about the new style of setting up with egg-crate I will be VERY GREAT FULL!!!!

Take Care, and if anyone or their family was affected by the Tornado's or Flooding over the last few days in Central Texas, or anywhere else in the Country I hope Yall are OK, and God Bless!!!

Drew

p.s.

Gommie, I don't mind going in the tank with the Alvarezi's they are very relaxed with me, unless I don't feed them enough!!! There is one female, the Big 4 Stripe, who will come to the top and try to splash me with her tail if I am not getting the food to her fast enough!!! And now that I have began to feed them frozen blood worms when I have some left over from feeding my 2 pair of Betta Rubra I have had for about a week now, she is really bold when she sees a white coffee mug in my hand!!! So I can go into their tank anytime I want or need to without bothering them! Now the Rubra are a WHOLE NOTHER STORY!!! They are in a 20g H and they are pretty skittish!!! I will post a new thread about them soon in the fish section checking about others experience with them here, if any?

Raymond S., I have done many tanks with out dirt and the 1-55g with, and it is just now showing signs of Iron defiencies with the sword plants, and I believe it is close to 2.5years old! I have dosed nothing for the past year IIRC! I will go back threw my journal and check my #s and get back to ya! I really liked the dirt setup untill I got the bad clado from a Algae ball! That ruined that tank, but I haven't had the heart or the $ to tare it diwn and start it over! But now the dirt is loosing it's power, I will redo it soon, as I need to move it ASAP anyway+ I need to rehome the 18+ Adult Kribs in it too! But one of the Rummy Noses in the tank showed signs of a bacteria infection, so I treated the tank, and everything has cleared up, and I am just waiting till all is fine for 4 weeks before I take the fish to the LFS for store credit!

Thanks Again for the Help Yall!
Drew
 
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