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656 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone, I'm new here and I've been learning a lot reading over the past few months. I finally have most of what I want in/for my tank, and would like a quick bit of help verifying if my idea(s) is(are) sound.

To save some cash on substrate I've purchased some organic potting soil, super cheap stuff ($2) that doesn't have any kind of manure in it. And some kitty litter (the only bag I could find that specifically stated the only contents were clay) (also $2).

I've got in my tank:
what I think is an Echinodorus-bleheri (came from LFS without label)
Some Lilaeopsis novae zelandiae
3 tetras
and a pair of guppies

I'm running:
Evo18 LED lighting system (freshwater, no blue LEDs in there).
a simple hang-on-back filter system (is HOBF the proper abbreviation I've seen here?)
Small heater
and all that for a 10 gallon tank

So far as I can tell, I have everything I need. However I've got a couple questions.

1) I've read that soil can leach a lot of tannins and other phosphates and organics, and it's best to have it well "sealed" beneath a layer of sand. Would a layer of clay work to do this? I was thinking of putting soil on the bottom, a thin layer of moist clay on top, then covering with gravel.

2) The gravel I'm using is your typical pet store size gravel. Pieces roughly 1/8th an inch in size. If I have a half inch to an inch of this on top of the clay, will this be enough to prevent the clay from clouding up my water due to the motion of the water from the HOBF outflow? Or should I cap the clay with a thin layer of sand first?

Any other general tips on how to actually go about putting all this stuff together would be great. I've got some awesome rocks and a great layout in mind, but I'm not sure just what the best way is to lay out this kind of substrate. Perhaps mix the clay with the soil and let it sit in water for a while till it can be mixed thoroughly into a paste like substance? I want some good soil for my micro sword to spread and grow, but perhaps too much clay would be hard for it's roots? Also, the micro sword is in a little basket as it came from the store. Can I safely cut the plant into 4 or more groups given it's a pretty tight bunch and I want the plant to spread out?

Thanks in advance!

· Banned
5,927 Posts
Not familiar/w the Evo 18, perhaps someone else will let you know on that one.
The kitty litter is often used by it's self as a sub. So some gravel under the filter maybe all you need. That 10g is shorter than what most use the kitty litter in.
Clay or gravel goes on top of the soil. Soil should be wet but not standing in water
before you put in/on the cap.
Plants should be separated and the rock wool between them removed.
I think you'll find those will take up too much room in there but to each his own.

· Registered
656 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Raymond,

The plants will likely overtake a lot of the space in the tank. I figured that 10 gallons is quite small for these, however it's the tank I currently have, and in the summer the wife goes to all the garage sales. I'm sure another, and likely adequate tank is about 5 months away for me. Till then, I'd like to try and get the micro sword to grow and spread so I can do a 20 or larger this fall.
Thanks for the tips.

I'm going to assume that I should dip the rock and driftwood in a very very weak bleach solution or give them a very short dip in boiling water (less than 15 seconds to avoid rock explosions I've heard of) to help sanitize them. I collected these from the local river bank.

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If you look at my signature you will see pretty much what I'm using - note the Miracle Grow Organic Choice Planting Mix. Supposed to be better than the soil (topsoil). I would not advise using clay for the reason you mentioned - plants would have trouble getting roots through it. I used sand in my 10g. Oh, you have to sieve the planting mix with 1/4" x 1/4" metal before putting it in.

I don't remember whether the tank was cloudy. The filter sponge should take care of that.

I would say, from experience, not to overstock the animals. It's easy to do with such a small tank.

· Registered
656 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks Django.
I have 3 tetras and two guppies (wife wanted some guppies).
And a pair of red cherry shrimp. No telling yet if the shrimp are the same gender, only had them for about a month.
That seems pretty fair for a 10 gallon, no?
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