Dirt tank first time

Discussion in 'Freshwater Substrates - Gravel, Sand' started by ZanderFTW, Apr 22, 2012.

  1. ZanderFTWValued MemberMember

    I'm thinking of starting a dirt tank with my 55g probably with organic miracle grow as the dirt and gravel or sand to cap it. I know you have to rinse the dirt with water before i put it in the tank.

    I'm just asking anyone past experiences with dirt, what they used, did, and things i should encounter when i start it.

  2. MD AngelsWell Known MemberMember

    Welcome to Fishlore!

    Great to see fellow Canucks on here!

    It would seem that our dear Jeri (Jerilovesfrogs) has started this great switch over to an easy, dirty, natural way of setting up tanks. I myself am converting ALL my tanks into NPTs.

    I have used miracle grow organic GARDEN soil, and I did not rinse it (Do NOT use TOP soil - it was awful).lol I asked jeri, and she said she did not rinse hers, but you do need to "rake" through it with your hands to pull out any large bits of wood and to break up chunks. Also, I found tiny little pits of plastic bag in mine so look out for that. Add a couple of inches to the tank and cap it off with either sand, or gravel, at about an inch.

    I first went by the directions of the Walstad method and planted, then added sand, but I found it was a pain in the butt so I just added sand then planted, and it was fine. Maybe it would be different if you were adding gravel.

    Here is a link for Diana Walstad's method of a natural dirted, planted tank.

    You should set up a new thread or blog about your 55 and take us through the process with lots of pics! :D

    Last edited: Apr 22, 2012
  3. ZanderFTWValued MemberMember

    LOL your doing what I want to do, the walstad method, what happens after the first couple of weeks anything i should expect. GO SENS

  4. kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

    I've also taken Jeri's advice in setting up my first planted tank. I used garden soil too; potting soil has those little white styrofoam balls that absorb water...they also float, so you definitely don't want those in there. I also found a fair amount of sticks / pieces of plastic in the dirt, so definitely sift through it, but I didn't rinse mine either. Most people add the dirt, then the gravel/sand and then plant, but I planted the plants before I added the gravel. Unfortunately I didn't use enough gravel, so some of the dirt seeped through and made my tank a dirty mess. Make sure you have a thick enough layer of whatever top substrate you use (it took awhile for me to get the water clear again).

    So far all my plants are doing well (save the initial die-back from transplanting) and I have not used any fertilizers.
  5. ZanderFTWValued MemberMember

    how much is this thing and where can i find it terra, home depot, rona?
  6. AmazonPassionModeratorModerator Member

    Welcome to the Dirted Tank Club, I started mine on April 14. I used the Organic Miracle Grow and topped it with sand. I didn't pre rinse my dirt, I compacted it with a spatula and added sand. My only advice is that you have a sketch or plan where you want your plants to go and have all the plants you want to go in. Once they are planted, it is going to be pretty hard to move things around without getting the dirt to float. If I had to do it all over again, I would of waited a month to add fish into the tank from my old tank. I've been doing daily water changes and poking the substrate to release any buildup in gases. Have fun.

    this link is from PSLAM

  7. ZanderFTWValued MemberMember

    OH heck what do i do if i already have fish in the tank. Another reason to buy another fish tank lol. How long would it take before i can add fish, until nitrates and stuff are minimal?
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2012
  8. AmazonPassionModeratorModerator Member

  9. allaboutfishWell Known MemberMember

    i also did rinse i just picked out all the little pieces of wood. i then placed sand over it and then added plants. worked great. i would suggest some malaysian trumpet snails if you go with sand. here's mine
  10. ZanderFTWValued MemberMember

    sooo no fish and hi amazon passion
  11. AmazonPassionModeratorModerator Member

    you can do fish if you have no choice, Hi Zander. I've had one fish death a Red Eye Tetra ( 3 years old) since I converted to a Dirted Tank and it could of been through stress, old age, but haven't had any other deaths in my tank.
  12. allaboutfishWell Known MemberMember

    i havent had any deaths and i even stirred up a whole bunch of dirt a couple of days ago doing a water change.
  13. ZanderFTWValued MemberMember

    im just kind of curious how would they die from to much ammonia i do have a spare 12g but i have 10 fish and they will grow over the summer time.
  14. MD AngelsWell Known MemberMember

    Hi Zander,

    First of all - WHY on Earth are you a SENS fan living in TO!?!?!?! :;smack I can't stand them, and Im an O-town girl. I'm a Leafs fan and I bleed blue!!!!!:;f

    Lol now that I have it out of my system. *ahem . . .

    You can still do it with fish already. For my 75, I'll be bagging, and tossing fish in buckets of tank water until the tank is drained, dirted, set up and filled back up.
    I have not experienced a spike in ammonia or any other readings. You may want to fill, then do a few WCs, and fill again, if there is discolouration, or debris to clean out first before you add the fish. Be sure to acclimate them again before adding. And if you are worried, just test the water before adding, and keep an eye on it over the next few days. :)
  15. noslen1003Valued MemberMember

    sorry - go RANGERS!!
  16. ZanderFTWValued MemberMember

    Should i go with sand to cap it
  17. AmazonPassionModeratorModerator Member

    it is personal preference. I did sand with mine.
  18. jerilovesfrogsFishlore VIPMember

    hi! you've gotten some good advice! i have several tanks with 'dirt', and really enjoy them. my 12g has been set up since jan...and is really growing super well. as soon as i get the najas out, i'll get a new pic up. it is helpful to have some fast growing plants, such as najas grass, to absorb the toxins, while the rooted ones get established. i'd say 4-6 weeks.

    during this time, i would do water changes 1 to 2 times a week...as the soil is probably releasing who knows what haha. after about 6 weeks, the water changes can really go down, and you can begin to top off.

    have fun with this. oh, and i also used MGOC garden soil, didn't rinse. in the 12g i capped it with fluval plant stratum. in the 150, tahitan moon sand, and in the 20g, eco-complete (they were out of TMS, and i didn't wanna wait lol).
  19. tress29Valued MemberMember

    Any idea how many cu feet of garden soil I'll need for a 75 gallon?
  20. jerilovesfrogsFishlore VIPMember

    well i can tell you for my 150g, i didn't even need 2 bags. so i would say one would definitely do it. you want about 1.5-2 inches of soil, then 1.5-2 inches of sand/fine gravel on top.

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