Dirting An Established Tank

Alex6455
  • #1
I would like to dirt my 10 gallon tank, which currently has gravel in it. I want to do thisbecause iam slowly trying to plant this tank. I have limitations with plants selections whenI have gravel lol. Please help, as I am still learning. Chip in with your experiences!
This is the info I found as well as what I think I will be doing.

New substrate:

Miracle Gro Organic Potting soil - 1 inch layer
Sand as a cap - not sure what brand /type. What do you recommend? I am looking for a sand that won't create much of a mess/dust cloud. - 1 inch layer

Process:

I think I will be doing a fish in change. Before, I will vacuum the gravel, as well as bringing the water level down. Would I remove all the gravel from one side, add the dirt and sand, wait for it to settle, then repeat for the other side? I considered taking the fish out, but decided it would be too much of a hassle.

In conclusion, what steps here are right and what else do I need to do? What sand would you recommend (looking for minimal mess and cheap sand)? Thanks in advance!
 
Demeter
  • #2
You best remove all the fish, drain all the water, then add the dirt as a thick mud, then add the sand after rinsing it. If you try doing a fish-in change you will have a big mess and cloudy tank. I've dirted 6 tanks and trust me, you do not want even a smidgen of mud having access to the water column. For a little 10gal tank, it should be no problem. A 36gal bowfront on the other hand took me a few hours.

Pool filter sand both looks nice and is cheap, I'd go with that.

Side note: be careful with ammonia spikes. As the organic material (and any little organisms) break down under the sand it will create ammonia, so test the water every couple of days and do water changes accordingly.
 
Alex6455
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
OK thanks! I have heard a lot about PFS and I am considering it. For fishout, would I just net them into a large plastic container with a heater and filter? Would I fill the container with tank water, and just refill the tank with that water when I am done? How long do you think this process will take? Sorry for all the questions
 
Demeter
  • #4
Yes take the fish out and put them in a 5gal bucket along with the heater. You shouldn't need the filter on but keep the media in water so the bacteria stay alive. Once the tank is dirted and capped, use a glass plate to slowly pour water on when refilling it, try not to disturb the substrate too much while planting either.

I'd do half new water and the rest the water from the fish bucket, just make sure both are the same temp when adding the fish back in. It shouldn't take more than 2 hours, once the tank is drained and gravel taken out it's pretty straight forward from there. If you cap the dirt properly there should be next to no cloudiness and the fish can go right in.

A quick plant suggestion, crypts of most kinds will do well with proper lighting (low-medium). Crypts love dirt and will send up runners (new plantlets) once they are established. I probably pull a dozen runner out of this tank every 1-2 months. It's a dirted 10gal btw.

heavily planted 10gal.JPG
 
Alex6455
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
Thanks for all the information! I am thinking about planting dwarf sag, crypts, and some jungle val, as well as the plants I currently have. I think that is all the info I need! Thanks! Will update when I dirt the tank (not sure when).
 
dwarfpufferlover
  • #6
Demeter
Looks like you didn’t use a cap, I’d give this a try again too if I didn’t have to make a mess trying to cap it with sand and break through....
 
Alex6455
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
Would getting just the Carib Sea complete planted substrate be cheaper and easier? About 24 dollars on amazon, and the sand and dirt is about $30. I have read you do not need a cap for that. Wouldn't taking the fish out and then putting them back in be more stressful? I am thinking to keep the fish in, because people say the Complete Planted Substrate won't cloud your water.
Sorry for the questions :/
 
Demeter
  • #8
Demeter
Looks like you didn’t use a cap, I’d give this a try again too if I didn’t have to make a mess trying to cap it with sand and break through....

There is definitely a cap in this tank, I'd never try a dirted tank w/o a cap. It is black and white sand I had left over from my African cichlid tank, it just what with pulling little crypts and the Malaysian trumpet snails digging around for 2 years I admit the tank is a bit dirty, I always get a fair amount of crud when doing water changes.

Alex6455 I would think doing a fish-in switch is more stressful because you are creating a lot of commotion while getting things switched out. Plus all the crud that has built up in the gravel substrate will make its way into the water column, even if you do a thorough gravel vacuum. It will be much easier on you and the fish to just move them to a bucket. What kind of fish do you have? I can't see many species being so delicate that they can't handle being removed for a short time, and even if they are super delicate I'm pretty sure the stress from the gravel switch would be worse.
 
Alex6455
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
OK I was just wondering. No problem with fish out, just curious. As for the Eco-Complete Planted substrate, would I need a cap? I have read that I won't need one but I just want to be sure.
 
AntsRule
  • #10
Would getting just the Carib Sea complete planted substrate be cheaper and easier? About 24 dollars on amazon, and the sand and dirt is about $30. I have read you do not need a cap for that. Wouldn't taking the fish out and then putting them back in be more stressful? I am thinking to keep the fish in, because people say the Complete Planted Substrate won't cloud your water.
Sorry for the questions :/
I believe it can be for smaller tanks, but for 55 gallon and up it gets pricy, since the 30$ in dirt and sand (I got mine for 20$) Can do many tanks because each bag is like 30-40 pounds each. I am doing dirt sand cap also in my 55g
 
Alex6455
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
I believe it can be for smaller tanks, but for 55 gallon and up it gets pricy, since the 30$ in dirt and sand (I got mine for 20$) Can do many tanks because each bag is like 30-40 pounds each. I am doing dirt sand cap also in my 55g
Yeah, I think it would be cheaper and less of a hassle. Do you think I would near a sand cap (I heard it is sort of like gravel)
 
AntsRule
  • #12
You will definitely need some type of cap(gravel or sand), I think a sand cap would probably be easier for plants to send out tubers and for young plants to establish. Plus if your getting corys, plecos, etc... that like to dig, sand would allow them too. Sand also allows debris to settle on top and you won't have the issue of vacuuming the gravel and disturbing the soil underneath. Those are just my opinions though Ill let you know how my progress goes, let me know about yours
 
Alex6455
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
Oh ok. I thought I wouldn't need one because the Eco-Complete is sort of like gravel. People said just to rinse it, and even without rinsing it, it would be fine. Will search up more.
 
Alex6455
  • Thread Starter
  • #14
___
  • #15
Miracle Gro Organic Potting soil - 1 inch layer
Do not use potting soil in your tank. Especially miracle grow. You have no idea what chemicals can leach into your aquarium. If you dodge that bullet, you will constantly be fighting algae. You need organic mineralized top soil.
 
___
  • #16
Make a nice mud pie and spread it about an inch or so thick keeping it an inch away from the edges all the way around. Then fill the edges and cover the dirt with at least another inch and a half with whatever substrate you want. If you want sand I’d use seachem fluorite. It’s only a 10 gallon so you’ll only need one bag. Hope this helps.
 
Alex6455
  • Thread Starter
  • #17
OK thanks! I already did all of this, because the thread is old. I ended up going with CaribSea Eco-Complete.
 

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