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Starting a 10 gallon dirted aquarium

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Hi guys, new to the forums and I've just started up an empty 10 gallon tank I've had laying around as a dirted aquarium. I've used Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix (which I rinsed several times) mixed with some Amaco red clay before capping with gravel.

Here's the equipment I'm using:

Aqueon - Quiet Flow 10 Aquarium Power Filter
Tetra - HT10 50W Submersible Heater
Tetra - Whisper 10 Aquarium Air Pump (not on)
Zoo Med - Flora Sun Max Plant Growth (5000k) (15 watts T8)

So I got several plants from my local Pet Plus, such as wisteria, anubias nana, and what I believe was called creeping moss or something similar (they were out of java moss).

I've added no animals yet (figured I should wait, as I've heard that tannins being released early on, as well as spikes in ammonia and nitrates. When I do add, might start with some inverts first like shrimp and snails). I'm also not adding any chemicals/fertilizers, besides the necessary dechlorinater.

As one can see, the water is currently a slightly pinkish/whitish cloudy (camera makes it look a bit worse) and still some dirt stuck to the glass at the top of the water (will clean out when possible, and haven't performed any water changes yet as I've just set it up the other day).

Some questions I have as of now is how much and often should I do water changes for the first few weeks. I had planned 50%, but the staff who helped me said I should only do 25% every week. What do you guys suggest?

Also, should I turn my airstone on even if I don't have any fish/invertebrates in the tank?

Besides that, any tips and/or suggestions?
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124 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
The tank has cleared up quite a bit, possibly due to a combination of having the filter on and performing a small (~10 to 15%) water change. I'm planning to keep on doing this daily for the first two weeks, to help remove the excess nutrients. Would this be ok, or should I do bigger changes instead?

I've noticed a lot of bubbles on the surface of the water. Is this normal, or is it because I have no fish/inverts in the tank with only plants while the filter is on? Is it simply the gases produced by the soil that have yet to disperse into the atmosphere?

On a different note, here are the types of plants I have. I believe their healthy, but if anyone has an opinion I'd be glad to hear it.

One of the wisteria 'patches' that I planted. I used some scissors to cut off some of the lower leaves that were brown and flimsy when I bought them.

What I believe to be anubias nana, though I may have misheard. If anyone can confirm the species based on the pic, I'd be very grateful. I'd also like to know how fast it will grow, cause it looks very nice. It came in a small meshed pot, which I removed.

Some creeping moss. A good portion I've secured under the gravel, as I had trouble getting it to stay on the rocks as they kept getting knocked off by the filter current. Some of the other are around the roots of the wisteria, as well as a small amount is in the filter intake. Not sure how damaging that will be.

Not sure what species this is, if anyone knows could they tell me? I've planted several patches of varying sizes of these.

I plan on getting more plants, hopefully when my local store restocks. They did have some banana plants (aquatic version, as you would guess) and moss balls. Would these be any good in the tank?

Still not sure whether or not I should turn my air stone on.

124 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Tank is fully clear after about 3-4 days. Water is steady around 80 degrees, though I am unsure of the water parameters as I lack a testing kit (plan to get one tomorrow or thursday). Still planning on adding more plants, though I do know that might make the tank cloudy again due to upsetting the inch of soil/clay beneath the inch of gravel, but I'm ok with that. I'm hoping to get some java moss which I'll attach to the rock (one with the hole) on its upper side, as well as maybe a moss ball and what ever else is hardy.

Plants seem to be doing well, though since I've had little experience with them, I can't be sure. I've noticed some of the lower leaves of the background plants have turned brown and wilted, though I also see what I assume to be new growth at the tops of them.

The creeping moss that I've secured in the gravel is doing much better than the ones located around the roots of the background plants. They've turned green and vibrant, though I don't know how long it takes them to spread.

These also seem to be doing well, though I can't recall their names. Not sure if they are slow growers, but they're still green and healthy looking.

Now for some questions I have been having.

1. Even though the tank isn't cycled, would adding snails like the malaysian trumpet snail be ok, on one part to start producing nutrients for the plants, and on the other to help aerate the substrate? I've heard that most freshwater snails in general tend to be rather hardy, even being able to withstand chlorine in water to a degree.

2. Should I be adding CO2 or any other chemicals/fertilizers/supplements to the water? I haven't been, though if I should I'll get right on that.

3. I've been performing 15-20% water changes daily. Is this too much or too little for a 10 gallon dirted tank?

4. Is there anything you'd guys would recommend that I could do to help my tank cycle (add fish food, add water from other tanks, etc...)?
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