Best Dirt To Use When Dirting A Tank?

DoubleD80

Valued Member
Messages
195
Reaction score
28
Points
38
Experience
1 year
I was really thinking of doing a dirt tank when ever I break this tank down. I’ve seen miracle gro organic choice one as the dirt to use on many sites but I just ran across this soil also. Fox farm ocean forest organic soil. Anyone have experience with either one of these soils and know which one is better? Also does anyone know of a good garden shading material to go on top of the dirt between the dirt and cap? I heard it was a good way to minimize mess when moving plants around. Thank you for any help!
 

CheshireKat

Well Known Member
Messages
1,145
Reaction score
502
Points
133
Experience
More than 10 years
Can I have your gravel then? :emoji_sweat_smile: I need more matching-colored substrate and aquarium gravel is ridiculously expensive.

Also does anyone know of a good garden shading material to go on top of the dirt between the dirt and cap? I heard it was a good way to minimize mess when moving plants around.
Hey, that's a good idea (if it works), never heard of doing that. The mess when moving plants around is why I decided against a dirted tank. I actually have some soil in my 7 gallon, just a little bit, from my pothos plant, and it comes up whenever I move around or gravel vac/disturb substrate in that area.

I couldn't find the organic Miracle Gro so I actually used regular potting soil, not organic, and have had no issues myself. Well, except for the dang perlite. I topped off the pots with large gravel and didn't have issues like that the second time around. I wouldn't recommend it though since it could just be a scenario for me.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #4

DoubleD80

Valued Member
Messages
195
Reaction score
28
Points
38
Experience
1 year
Either brand is fine as long as the dirt you're using is organic.
Ok thanks!

Can I have your gravel then? :emoji_sweat_smile: I need more matching-colored substrate and aquarium gravel is ridiculously expensive.


Hey, that's a good idea (if it works), never heard of doing that. The mess when moving plants around is why I decided against a dirted tank. I actually have some soil in my 7 gallon, just a little bit, from my pothos plant, and it comes up whenever I move around or gravel vac/disturb substrate in that area.

I couldn't find the organic Miracle Gro so I actually used regular potting soil, not organic, and have had no issues myself. Well, except for the dang perlite. I topped off the pots with large gravel and didn't have issues like that the second time around. I wouldn't recommend it though since it could just be a scenario for me.
Yeah sorry I’ll be using it to scape and get some height for the valley I want to create when I redo the tank! Same guy from another forum suggested using gravel in a big media bag to create height. Can’t wait to try this dirt thing out and actually scape instead of adding things one by one like this tank! Haha
 

Tinytail

Valued Member
Messages
66
Reaction score
34
Points
53
Experience
1 year
Preface: I’m definitely not an expert! Lol

Two weeks ago I set up my first dirted tank. I used polyfill to bulk up where I wanted hills. Probably not the best idea but it’s the lightest! So far so good but it does show from the sides of the tank and it did release bubbles when placing rocks or driftwood. I used organic potting soil. I sifted it through some hardware cloth because there was a ton of wood chips. I still had plenty of dirt for my 60g. I wish I had leveled out the dirt layer, just for a heads up. I topped it with pool filter sand. Again, it does show from the side like striations. It seems like it’s been working really well. I did have a little ammonia show up at first but nothing Prime couldn’t take care of. Good luck!!
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #6

DoubleD80

Valued Member
Messages
195
Reaction score
28
Points
38
Experience
1 year
Preface: I’m definitely not an expert! Lol

Two weeks ago I set up my first dirted tank. I used polyfill to bulk up where I wanted hills. Probably not the best idea but it’s the lightest! So far so good but it does show from the sides of the tank and it did release bubbles when placing rocks or driftwood. I used organic potting soil. I sifted it through some hardware cloth because there was a ton of wood chips. I still had plenty of dirt for my 60g. I wish I had leveled out the dirt layer, just for a heads up. I topped it with pool filter sand. Again, it does show from the side like striations. It seems like it’s been working really well. I did have a little ammonia show up at first but nothing Prime couldn’t take care of. Good luck!!
Thanks for the info. What plants did you add and how long did you wait before adding fish? I heard planting heavily when first setting up a dirt tank was helpful to help get rid of ammonia faster! I was hoping to carpet Monte Carlo!
 

Tinytail

Valued Member
Messages
66
Reaction score
34
Points
53
Experience
1 year
Thanks for the info. What plants did you add and how long did you wait before adding fish? I heard planting heavily when first setting up a dirt tank was helpful to help get rid of ammonia faster! I was hoping to carpet Monte Carlo!
Ooh I hope I can finally grow a carpet!
I was transferring plants and fish from three smaller tanks so I had good-sized clumps of rotala, hygrophila, and water hyacinth, as well as a couple amazon swords, java moss, java ferns, hornwort, and water lettuce. I let that sit for a few days. I didn’t have much of an ammonia spike, so when I had a cold snap I rushed and brought the outdoor fish in. About a week after that I added more and yesterday, a couple days after, I added the last batch. I’m monitoring water quality every day and dosing prime every day but it seems like the cycle survived in the filters so I haven’t had much of an issue. I always recommend waiting at least a couple weeks but there are solutions if you’re in a pinch!
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #8

DoubleD80

Valued Member
Messages
195
Reaction score
28
Points
38
Experience
1 year
Ooh I hope I can finally grow a carpet!
I was transferring plants and fish from three smaller tanks so I had good-sized clumps of rotala, hygrophila, and water hyacinth, as well as a couple amazon swords, java moss, java ferns, hornwort, and water lettuce. I let that sit for a few days. I didn’t have much of an ammonia spike, so when I had a cold snap I rushed and brought the outdoor fish in. About a week after that I added more and yesterday, a couple days after, I added the last batch. I’m monitoring water quality every day and dosing prime every day but it seems like the cycle survived in the filters so I haven’t had much of an issue. I always recommend waiting at least a couple weeks but there are solutions if you’re in a pinch!
That’s encouraging. How big is the tank you just used dirt in? Sounds like a lot of plants! Don’t know if I could fit all that in my 29 gallon! Haha glad it’s going well. How’s the water clarity with using dirt?
 

Tinytail

Valued Member
Messages
66
Reaction score
34
Points
53
Experience
1 year
60g, basically two 29s popped together lol so you can probably expect to only need half the plants to fill it. I had a bacteria bloom at first but it cleared up in just a couple days! Now it’s got fairly dark tannins but I like that myself. If you don’t want such dark tint, carbon in the filter can usually remove a good amount. If you have a bigger budget, poly-filter pads will clear it right up
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #10

DoubleD80

Valued Member
Messages
195
Reaction score
28
Points
38
Experience
1 year
60g, basically two 29s popped together lol so you can probably expect to only need half the plants to fill it. I had a bacteria bloom at first but it cleared up in just a couple days! Now it’s got fairly dark tannins but I like that myself. If you don’t want such dark tint, carbon in the filter can usually remove a good amount. If you have a bigger budget, poly-filter pads will clear it right up
Thanks. I use purigen myself which works good! I’ve recharged it twice now and haven’t killed anything. Love the stuff!
 

PascalKrypt

Well Known Member
Messages
935
Reaction score
641
Points
103
If you want a cheap option you can always just use regular soil from outside (as long as your ground isn't polluted). Works just as well.
 

angelcraze

Fishlore VIP
Messages
4,158
Reaction score
2,580
Points
348
Experience
More than 10 years
Yeah sorry I’ll be using it to scape and get some height for the valley I want to create when I redo the tank! Same guy from another forum suggested using gravel in a big media bag to create height. Can’t wait to try this dirt thing out and actually scape instead of adding things one by one like this tank! Haha
I used miracle grow organic potting soil, but I can't find it anymore so I just bought some black earth (with no manure) to try. Any organic potting soil will be ok. Fyi, I bought the Pro Mix organic soil and can't stand the perlite! I lost half the bag sifting it out.

I used big rocks to retain my hills, but pantyhose bags of gravel work well too. Pantyhose is cheaper

I like a Pool Fiter Sand cap, then gravel because it keeps the plants better anchored and I prefer the look too. Sand keeps the soil better contained while moving. But with a dirted tank, it's better to keep moving plants to a minimum.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #15

DoubleD80

Valued Member
Messages
195
Reaction score
28
Points
38
Experience
1 year
If you want a cheap option you can always just use regular soil from outside (as long as your ground isn't polluted). Works just as well.
Haha I was thinking about that looking in the backyard the other day! Thanks for the suggestion!

I used miracle grow organic potting soil, but I can't find it anymore so I just bought some black earth (with no manure) to try. Any organic potting soil will be ok. Fyi, I bought the Pro Mix organic soil and can't stand the perlite! I lost half the bag sifting it out.

I used big rocks to retain my hills, but pantyhose bags of gravel work well too. Pantyhose is cheaper

I like a Pool Fiter Sand cap, then gravel because it keeps the plants better anchored and I prefer the look too. Sand keeps the soil better contained while moving. But with a dirted tank, it's better to keep moving plants to a minimum.
I found mgoc on amazon but it was like $20 a bag! I was going to use my old gravel I have now in a media bag or something for creating the valley I want to do! Do you put the sand in the dirt and then the gravel on top of the sand? Thanks for the help!
 

PascalKrypt

Well Known Member
Messages
935
Reaction score
641
Points
103
Show us a picture when you are done! It sounds an interesting idea and I'm hoping to do something with elevating in my next tank so I'd love some inspiration
 

angelcraze

Fishlore VIP
Messages
4,158
Reaction score
2,580
Points
348
Experience
More than 10 years
I found mgoc on amazon but it was like $20 a bag! I was going to use my old gravel I have now in a media bag or something for creating the valley I want to do! Do you put the sand in the dirt and then the gravel on top of the sand? Thanks for the help!
I use just soil for the planting media and cap it with sand, then pea gravel in parts or the whole thing depending on the look you want to acheive. The sand helps keep the soil better contained.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #18

DoubleD80

Valued Member
Messages
195
Reaction score
28
Points
38
Experience
1 year
I use just soil for the planting media and cap it with sand, then pea gravel in parts or the whole thing depending on the look you want to acheive. The sand helps keep the soil better contained.
Thanks. Appreciate sharing your experience with dirt!

Show us a picture when you are done! It sounds an interesting idea and I'm hoping to do something with elevating in my next tank so I'd love some inspiration
I will definitely do pics and maybe a journal on the whole process! I want a Grand Canyon look using maybe dragon stones or petrified wood! Also wanted a land bridge connecting the two sides of the valley maybe using drift wood. Having the carpet of Monte Carlo going from one side to the other on the dirftwood land bridge to cross. Now if I can pull it off without spending a fortune is another thing
 

angelcraze

Fishlore VIP
Messages
4,158
Reaction score
2,580
Points
348
Experience
More than 10 years
Thanks. Appreciate sharing your experience with dirt!
No worries, all of my tanks are dirted (with exception to bare-bottom growout tanks) only one not totally dirted is my 120g, but I have pots of dirt. So lots of experience. Ask away if you have more questions
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #20

DoubleD80

Valued Member
Messages
195
Reaction score
28
Points
38
Experience
1 year
No worries, all of my tanks are dirted (with exception to bare-bottom growout tanks) only one not totally dirted is my 120g, but I have pots of dirt. So lots of experience. Ask away if you have more questions
Cool thanks. I’m sure I’ll come up with some questions! Haha

No worries, all of my tanks are dirted (with exception to bare-bottom growout tanks) only one not totally dirted is my 120g, but I have pots of dirt. So lots of experience. Ask away if you have more questions
Ok here come the questions! You asked for it haha when first setting up the dirt how did you prepare the dirt before capping it? Also once you flooded it did you have any algae problems at first? How long did it take to cycle before adding fish? I know every tank will be different on how long the cycle takes. Just wondering if dirt tanks maybe cycle faster? Thanks again for the help!
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Toggle Sidebar

Aquarium Calculator

Follow FishLore!





Top Bottom