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I'm considering substrates for a nano tank I am about to start. I was wondering:

Are there any big downsides to using just plain dirt?
By "dirt," do you mean just regular topsoil like you can get at Lowe's or Home depot?
Are there any advantages of using plain dirt compared to common planted tank substrates like Amazonia, Aquasoil, Eco-Complete, Fluorite, etc.?
 

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Price is one advantage of dirt when compared to Aquasoil. The "dirt" most people use is Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting Mix. However when using dirt, you will need to use the appropriate substrate cap. Also, constant rescaping will be a problem with dirted tanks.
 

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MGOCPM (potting mix) contains soil and a large portion of organic material (55-65% by volume). Sphagnum peat moss, composted bark fines, leaves, twigs, wood chips etc. and "pasteurized poultry litter" (cooked chicken crap).

or mix up the following;

50% composted tree barks and fines, 30% sphagnum peat moss and 20% worm casting. Powdered clay can also be added to the mix if you like.

Manure tends to spike ammonia early on in a rather rich release. Stay away from manure rich mixes.

About a 1.5 to 2" layer of the mix capped with 1 to 1.5" of fine gravel or coarse sand.

Either one moving rooted plants you have to work slowly moving things.
tip; setting up the tank hold back a sandwich baggie full of capping material for added touch ups as needed, much later I find it hard to find a good color match. Bang for the buck dirt works :smile:
 
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