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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
because i listened to the staff at the fish store and didn't use common sense, is there a way to add soil/dirt to my tank after its set up allready. the store said no all i need is rocks for my new planted tank. so i set it up, planted the plants and then got a magazine that crushed all my undertaking. i'm tempted to mix up a thick muddy concotion of soil, suck it up in a "turkey baster" jam it into the rocks and forcefully implant it that way. does it sound crazy?
 

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When all you have is gravel as a substrate, and the tank is just recently set up, it isn't that hard to remove the plants, fish, and substrate, and start over. In the end you will be far more likely to be satisfied with the results if you do it that way.

There is also more to it than just digging up some dirt, adding it under some gravel, and using that as the substrate. People get by with doing that, but people also run into lots of problems doing that. Far better would be to "mineralize" the dirt first. That means doing something to convert the organic nitrogen in the dirt to inorganic compounds. This can be done by baking the dirt or by repeated soaking with water, then drying the dirt, to allow bacteria to do the conversions. See the thread on mineralized topsoil for more information on the latter method.

Then, you can also do a Diana Walstad type "el natural" tank, using topsoil that has not first been mineralized, but that should be done by following her method pretty closely.
 

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When all you have is gravel as a substrate, and the tank is just recently set up, it isn't that hard to remove the plants, fish, and substrate, and start over. In the end you will be far more likely to be satisfied with the results if you do it that way.

There is also more to it than just digging up some dirt, adding it under some gravel, and using that as the substrate. People get by with doing that, but people also run into lots of problems doing that. Far better would be to "mineralize" the dirt first. That means doing something to convert the organic nitrogen in the dirt to inorganic compounds. This can be done by baking the dirt or by repeated soaking with water, then drying the dirt, to allow bacteria to do the conversions. See the thread on mineralized topsoil for more information on the latter method.

Then, you can also do a Diana Walstad type "el natural" tank, using topsoil that has not first been mineralized, but that should be done by following her method pretty closely.
Hoppy,

Do you know if people still do the freezing dirt in ice cubes and shove in gravel thing anymore? I read of this idea a couple of years ago but, never tried it. I figured tropical plants might not like frozen roots. :icon_mrgr
 

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You don't want to do the turkey baster idea, it will just be a disaster.

If you don't want to do as Hoppy suggests and just start all over with a plant substrate (which is what I'd do) you could make do with putting some root fertilizer tabs in under the plants.

Ice cubes thaw really quickly in the temps we keep our tropical tanks. I've never heard of freezing just plain dirt, but I've heard of making DIY frozen fert tabs.

Soil substrates can be done, but are a bit tricky to get right without making a mess. For a person's first planted tank I always recommend going with a commercial substrate such as Flourite or Eco Complete. They're both easy to use and not terribly expensive.
 

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I agree with Hoppy tear the tank down and start over would be the fastest, sanest option you could take.

If the mineralizing topsoil thread scares you to much you could do it the old school way and use a non-fertilized topsoil from a landscaping or orchard supply store for about $3 to $5 for a 50lb bag. You would just need to sprinkle a light coat of sphagnum peat moss, potash, and Fe Chelate 10% on the bottom before adding the top soil then cap it with something like pool filter sand or Turface MVP Gray and still save a ton of money over a commercial substrate product(s).

- Brad
 

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You don't want to do the turkey baster idea, it will just be a disaster.

If you don't want to do as Hoppy suggests and just start all over with a plant substrate (which is what I'd do) you could make do with putting some root fertilizer tabs in under the plants.

Ice cubes thaw really quickly in the temps we keep our tropical tanks. I've never heard of freezing just plain dirt, but I've heard of making DIY frozen fert tabs.

Soil substrates can be done, but are a bit tricky to get right without making a mess. For a person's first planted tank I always recommend going with a commercial substrate such as Flourite or Eco Complete. They're both easy to use and not terribly expensive.
I'd agree with the recommendation to go with Flourite or Eco Complete. Sure it's a bit more expensive than than using soil, but it's more fool proof, especially if this is your first planted tank. Chances are you'll have less aggravation down the road if you go with a commercial plant substrate.

Harry
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
so how about i do nothing, hate to break it down, it's been up over a month and the plants are growing. what long term affects can happen?
 
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