What Soil Can I Use For Planted Tank?

Discussion in 'Freshwater Substrates - Gravel, Sand' started by mdm2223, Apr 14, 2018.

  1. mdm2223Valued MemberMember

    I am slowly wanting to start a planted tank.

    What soil can I use? I’ve see everything from regular miracle grow or potting soil all the way to I “have” to use a brand name planted tank soil.
  2. DutchAquariumWell Known MemberMember

    Definetly stay away from miracle grow and potting soil. You can use it, but it is very messy and you will never have a clear aquarium again. if you want a high tech planted soil, go with amazonia which is the best out their but also the most expensive. Flourite is good and is much cheaper. if this is your first time, go with flourite.

  3. mdm2223Valued MemberMember

    Well I’m wanting a soil that I can put a small layer of sand over. Based off the look Flourite wouldn’t really work?...

  4. ralph113Well Known MemberMember

    mine i did was soil and then thick gravel to prevent pockets of aint. i did sand before lots of air pockets. and u bettrr have tons of plants.

  5. Jocelyn AdelmanFishlore VIPMember

    Soil and flourite won’t work.
    Miracle grow organic can be capped with sand, but it really is a pain... esp if you want to move around plants/replace dying plants, etc... each disturbance makes a mess. Some also mineralize their soil, tends to be less messy but takes awhile to get set up.
    Aquasoils such as Ada Amazonia, tropica aquarium soil, fluval stratum, etc will do a bit better for you then a dirtied tank, but be aware that they lower the kH/ph so you need to keep that in mind (miracle grow can do this as well)
    Other choices for substrates (high cec) would be eco complete, flourite, turface, safety sorb.
    Eco complete and flourite have the least impact on kH/ph
  6. mdm2223Valued MemberMember

    Thank you for all the information!!

    Do you think Seachem onyx sand would work? I’m essentially looking to grow a carpet and maybe some other low light plants.

    The onyx sand gives the appearance I am going for and can use it alone and be satisfied.
  7. YesI'mCycledNew MemberMember

    I would stay away from Amazonia if this is your first foray into a planted tank. As @Jocelyn Adelman said it will buffer your tank good for plants but terrible for water changes - you’ll either need to either buffer your change water or live with frequent low volume water changes to prevent / minimise PH swings for your fish.
  8. WobbegongWell Known MemberMember

    I like to use seachem fluorite in my planted tanks, it can be a bit dusty so just make sure there is decent filtration.
  9. endlercollectorFishlore VIPMember

    I use Miracle Grow organic potting soil (sold under the name Nature's Care) and other random brands. They've all been fine. I just put down a layer of it, cover with an inch or two of glass pebbles, and slowly add water. You can also top it with sand. The main thing is to be gentle. There will be some soil that floats to the top as well as perlite, but I just scoop it out with a net. Depending on the brand, it may look more like tea at first, but regular water changes will clear it up. I like it because it's cheap, and the plants love it. If I feel the need to redo the tank (which I'm always doing), I just toss the soil into the garden, rinse the pebbles and, after they dry, spray them with some 70 rubbing alcohol.
  10. mdm2223Valued MemberMember

    When redoing my tank I plan to remove all the fish into a tub that I drain the water into after turning off all my equipment, then removing plants, decor, substrate, and putting in the new substrate soil, sand, add plants, fill tank with water, turn on equipment, acclimate fish, and be on my way.

    Do you see anything wrong with this?

    I have a huge concern of anything happening to my cycle/beneficial bacteria!

    Also will anything happen with the fish going into shock over the temp of the tank??? (I plan to try to match the water temp as close as possible then let the heater run for an hour or so to get it close to how it was.)

    Also will my tank need to have serval water changes after or will it settle on it’s own?
  11. endlercollectorFishlore VIPMember

    I've done this, too, without any problems, so long as your filter media doesn't dry out, which likely won't happen, and the water in the bucket doesn't get too hot or cold. The fish should be fine unless they're very delicate. Put the plants in the bucket with them and cover it, in case they get jumpy.
  12. Hunter1Well Known MemberMember

    I have 2 true dirty tanks. Organic potting mix capped with BDBS. One has given me no problems and plants grow great in it. But a ton of diatoms initially.

    The other? Fantastic plant growth! But the other day I was trying to reroot a runner from a chain sword and started getting bubbles popping up everywhere I probed the sand. It released a bunch of peat from the potting mix. This tank only has sponge filters. 2 50% waterchanges later, there is still lots of peat covering everything.

    I just got a HOB to remove this stuff. I plan on increasing the cap with more BDBS and installing the HOB.

    Love the plant growth but not the mess.

    And the one tank I put eco-complete, covered with black flourite, capped with BDBS is always clean with decent plants growth. But the substrate in that tank cost 4-6Xs more.
  13. WobbegongWell Known MemberMember

    I wonder if having a dirt bottom tank would be better for breeding killifish, both annual and non annual.
  14. Hunter1Well Known MemberMember

    Not sure about breeding killifish but a dirty tank isn’t true dirt bottom. The “dirt” is covered with sand or gravel.

    But most use a potting mix.

    I guess if you used a clay soil, it may stay in place better but I think the tank would be forever murky.
  15. Lacey DWell Known MemberMember

    After watching a video last night, I just tried my first soil tank last night, using Miracle Grow, and capping it with a little black sand, then gravel. I think the "be gentle" part is key, and why I'd doing a test setup in a 10 gallon first :p I filled it all the way once and then did a big drain, and filled it halfway to see how dirty the water still was--answer, pretty murky. My mistake was that I added the water to the soil when it was just capped with a thin layer of sand (I thought I bought enough, but no). The gravel seems to be helping, but I need to do a few more water changes, probably. Did you do those plants in or not?
  16. Hunter1Well Known MemberMember

    So the tank I mentioned above got another inch of BDBS and a HOB filter. Very clear now with great plant growth.

    What’s kool is even with 1.5” of potting mix covered with 2” of BDBS, I can see roots of chain swords next to the front glass penetrating the sand and potting mix all the way to the bottom.

    When I started each of my dirty tanks, I had to clean my filters regularly because they picked up so much peat. But between vacuuming peat off of the sand and doing water changes, I got th e tanks clean in a few weeks.

    If you continue getting peat floating through your sand, increase the depth of your sand cap.

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