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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello!, I had a 70 or 75 gallon tank given to me with a stand, fluval heater, and a gravel vacume and hose.(first tank ive ever owned besides beta tank ) It sat in my living room empty for a couple weeks, got tired of seeing it empty and put a hang on back filter and a few fish in it while deciding what I was going to do. I want a planted tank so i guess im going to put dirt 1/2 inch on the bottom,I have 50lbs of black diamond was and bukoo sand. I was thinking about mixing the two to give the bottom like a salt and pepper look. But I dont have any plants yet or hard scape yet still debateing on the rest of my setup and lack of $ rite now. Would it hurt my fish if I drained the water and put the bottom in without plants and hardscape? And added as I went? Also I am open to any advice or ideas yall have!
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Hello and welcome!

You will want to net the fish and store them in a bucket elsewhere while doing the substrate. Drain the tank really low first to aid in netting the fish. You can technically add cleaned sand without removing fish but.. that's a big tank and a lot of dust is going to get kicked up when you add the sand. For dirt.. yeah pretty much required.

Anyway my strong advice is if money is an issue not to do dirt. I admittedly don't like dirt tanks at baseline but it will be especially challenging to keep a dirt tank from becoming an algae farm if you only add a few plants. Dirt releases a LOT of nutrients which need to be dealt with or they will spawn algae. If you only have a few plants (because you can't afford the hundreds of dollars it would take to fully plant a 75 gallon tank) then those nutrients are just going to sit around till the next water change and spawn algae in the meantime.

Another thing to consider is that with a tank this size you need either a hose and a pump or a water change system (like a python) or else your life will be really miserable trying to do water changes.

Anyway you don't need dirt to grow plants. Straight sand will work fine as many on this have consistency proven. You will need to add fertilizer to your tank to keep the plants alive but you would need to do that with dirt as well. Not sure how new you are to planted tanks so not sure how much detail you need here.

Bottom line though is that a 75 gallon tank is expensive to deal with. The low cost method would be to use an inert substrate and add plants when you have money for them. Use root tabs under the plants and add a liquid fertilizer to the tank once a week during water change. Do big (at least 50% preferably more) water changes once a week to help control algae and use low levels of light around 25 ppfd/par at substrate. This way you can keep the tank looking nice and slowly add plants/propagate existing plants until you get the desired look. For a low tech planted tank consider Nicolg ThriveC for fertilizer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hello and welcome!

You will want to net the fish and store them in a bucket elsewhere while doing the substrate. Drain the tank really low first to aid in netting the fish. You can technically add cleaned sand without removing fish but.. that's a big tank and a lot of dust is going to get kicked up when you add the sand. For dirt.. yeah pretty much required.

Anyway my strong advice is if money is an issue not to do dirt. I admittedly don't like dirt tanks at baseline but it will be especially challenging to keep a dirt tank from becoming an algae farm if you only add a few plants. Dirt releases a LOT of nutrients which need to be dealt with or they will spawn algae. If you only have a few plants (because you can't afford the hundreds of dollars it would take to fully plant a 75 gallon tank) then those nutrients are just going to sit around till the next water change and spawn algae in the meantime.

Another thing to consider is that with a tank this size you need either a hose and a pump or a water change system (like a python) or else your life will be really miserable trying to do water changes.

Anyway you don't need dirt to grow plants. Straight sand will work fine as many on this have consistency proven. You will need to add fertilizer to your tank to keep the plants alive but you would need to do that with dirt as well. Not sure how new you are to planted tanks so not sure how much detail you need here.

Bottom line though is that a 75 gallon tank is expensive to deal with. The low cost method would be to use an inert substrate and add plants when you have money for them. Use root tabs under the plants and add a liquid fertilizer to the tank once a week during water change. Do big (at least 50% preferably more) water changes once a week to help control algae and use low levels of light around 25 ppfd/par at substrate. This way you can keep the tank looking nice and slowly add plants/propagate existing plants until you get the desired look. For a low tech planted tank consider Nicolg ThriveC for fertilizer.
Thank you! I think im going to go without dirt for a while based on what you just told me. I have 4 50lb bags of sand and a 50 lb bag of black diamond on my porch that the ole lady keeps complaining about plus im ready to have this thing some what set up and a few more fish in it, it looks funny empty lol
 

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Thank you! I think im going to go without dirt for a while based on what you just told me. I have 4 50lb bags of sand and a 50 lb bag of black diamond on my porch that the ole lady keeps complaining about plus im ready to have this thing some what set up and a few more fish in it, it looks funny empty lol
Is the sand pool filter sand? If not you will need to rinse it a lot before adding to the tank, like 15+ times. Also keep in mind that the black diamond will eventually all go to the top of the substrate pile. So if you want the speckled look I'd go mostly sand and just add a few handfuls of black diamond.
 
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