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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I'm new here and I have a two week old 10g planted tank with a dirt substrate. I noticed last time I did a water change that some of the gravel "cap" and soil have mixed. I don't mind it but I was wondering if there was any harm in leaving the soil uncovered like that? Also, how long should I wait to put some red cherry shrimp in the tank. Thanks:)
P.S. The tank has some driftwood and is not yet heavily planted. There are several plants, however, and I plan on adding more.
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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Welcome!

What type of soil did you use? Do you have any test kits?

As long as your soil isn't too high in organics and leeching ammonia into the tank, you should be able to add cherry shrimp in as soon as you get your plants going (shrimp are so small that the plants should be able to quickly absorb any ammonia they produce before it reaches toxic levels in the tank).
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I used Miracle gro organic soil. I don't currently have any test kits. How many plants do I need before I start adding shrimp? And can I add the shrimp all at once? Also, the water is brown-ish from the tannins in the soil, will that affect the shrimp? Sorry for all the questions, but thank you!
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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I usually get the API drop kits. They're not nearly as accurate as electronic kits, but a tiny fraction of the price and usually good enough for our purposes.

Your Miracle Gro should be fine. I'd start off with some mosses and a fistfull or two of a nice hardy low-light stem plant like Hygrophila/water wisteria, give the plants a week or so to get established, check your water parameters, and if you don't get any ammonia or nitrite readings, toss in a dozen or so shrimp.

Just keep an eye on your ammonia and nitrite readings for the next few weeks, do a nice big water change if you detect anything over 0 ppm, and you should be good to go. Cherry shrimp are pretty hardy.
 

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I imagine you're problem is either your cap is overall too thin, or you just had a thin spot in it.

If you have more of the substance you used to cap, I'd guess adding more of that (maybe all over, but especially where you notice the breach...) might help.

One way that works pretty well to add substrate to a tank is to take a soda or water bottle, funnel a bunch of your substrate into it, add water, and then stick it in the tank, let the substrate fall out, and then remove the bottle (water and all). Most of the cloudiness from the substrate remains in the bottle, and that method also 'sprinkles' or 'rains' the substrate grains, so it's great for both distributing the substrate, and also adding it to an existing tank with plants and all. Soda/water bottles work great for gravel, if you are using sand you may have to use something with a smaller opening (or maybe use the cap with a hole drilled into it).
 

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Your problem is you used gravel instead of sand. Sand is the only substrate that will hold soil down.
This is not true at all.
Lot's of folk's (me too), have used fine gravel to cap soil based tank's.
If cap is not deep enough, then soil will escape back into the water .
Does not matter what cap is being used,sand,gravel,catlitter,eco -complete,flourite,etc.
 

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I have a sand cap in my dirted tank and I still had some of the dirt come up. This is due to some gas bubbles coming out

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I747 using Tapatalk
I had the same experience with the bubbles. My sand cap was a little too thin too. I read some threads about using MGOCPM with sand and decided on an inch of MGO and an inch of sand. I'm not even sure I got an inch down - I used all of a small bag of sand in my 10g. So now I'm patching up the spots where the potting mix has come up with more sand.

The water is still like brown tea, although I can see through it even from end to end. Patching, water changes and my filter will ultimately, I think, be the solution.
 

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One way to avoid soil seepage is to moisten the soil before you cap.

I added just enough water to completely moisten the soil and when I saw hints of a small puddle, I stopped. I then planted the larger plants, capped with gravel then added all the small plants. Once fully planted, I added a few inches of water then completely siphoned the water and repeated this maybe 4-5 times. When I finally flooded the tank, I had zero debris floating around.
 

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Your problem is you used gravel instead of sand. Sand is the only substrate that will hold soil down.
This is not true at all.
Lot's of folk's (me too), have used fine gravel to cap soil based tank's.
If cap is not deep enough, then soil will escape back into the water .
Does not matter what cap is being used,sand,gravel,catlitter,eco -complete,flourite,etc.

Agree with roadmaster, I have a MGOPM capped with gravel in a small vase and after initial set up (took several small water changes to get the floating bits off the top) its been clean ever since. Granted I only have snails in there and nothing that will rip up the plant or disturb the substrate but still its very possible to use gravel. (dark areas in the photos is reflections from items outside the 'tank')




One way to avoid soil seepage is to moisten the soil before you cap.

I added just enough water to completely moisten the soil and when I saw hints of a small puddle, I stopped. I then planted the larger plants, capped with gravel then added all the small plants. Once fully planted, I added a few inches of water then completely siphoned the water and repeated this maybe 4-5 times. When I finally flooded the tank, I had zero debris floating around.
I followed a very simular procedure to this, works quite well!
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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OH I forgot to mention- water changes and either activated carbon in your filter or a bag of Purigen will take care of the tannins.

The tannins won't harm your shrimp, but will block light to your plants, so you do probably want to clear them up at least a bit.

I've usually been cycling driftwood in my tanks along with using Miracle Gro, so I'm not sure which was throwing off the most tannins, but I'd usually have everything all cleared up within a week or two, between doing a few big water changes and running Purigen in my filter (I'd usually have to recharge the bags a few times).

Also, a fish net works well to skim off the Miracle Gro floaters. Also after the first few weeks, it would all be waterlogged and I'd rarely have any more float to the surface. Though my fish and snails would still mix my substrate all up.
 
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