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dirting tank after moving in


soupmonster

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Hi guys. I have two tanks... a 20gal with one small ranchu and a 40gal with two 6 inch single tails. I'm moving to a new apartment for grad school. I want to dirt at least one of these tanks the day after my move-in day. The smaller one first.

Can the more experienced "dirty" people here help me plan it out? :D

I've read Walstad's book and have been looking at quite a few dirted tank videos. I'm inclined to use red clay, miracle gro organic potting soil, and a .5-1 inch gravel cap.

Clay: What clay do you suggest? How much clay am I supposed to add? Is it mixed in with the soil or is it the bottom layer?

Fish Displacement: Can I add my little 2 inch buddy to the 40 gal while I get his tank remodeled? I think that would be better than in the 5 gal moving bucket with aeration and daily water changes.

Adding water: What's the best way to setup everything without a mess? How do I know when to add my fish back in?

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I'm an unimaginably dirty girl, so I'm here to help.... :rofl

Firstly, what are you planning on planting? That'll help us set the dirt/cap depth.

This is the clay that I use:

http://www.staples.com/office/supplies/StaplesProductDisplay?storeId=10001&catalogIdentifier=2&partNumber=942321&langid=-1&cid=PS:GooglePLAs:942321&KPID=942321

Lay your clay down first, against the glass, and only use it near your root heavy root feeders. If that stuff gets disturbed, it makes such a nasty cloud! :o

Once you have your clay down, put your miracle grow potting mix in. If you're putting it in dry, try to put double the depth that you're shooting for. The soil will settle a LOT, as it converts to its submersed form. However deep your soil is, that's how deep you'll want your cap to be, so that the fish don't go digging it up. ;)

What I recommend, is to put all your dirt in a long, shallow container, and keep it fairly wet for a week. I like to make mine a little gushier than mud pie thick. Something firm enough that I can scoop up with my hands, but wet enough that it all packs down well. You'll need to add more water daily, but I find that letting the soil settle out of the tank, works much better. Doing this extra step cuts down on the in-tank settling, which means the substrate won't be belching up gasses into your tank. It's gross to see, and releases soil into the water, but it's not really harmful. It also ensures that you have a better idea of what your finished substrate depth will be. You won't believe how much soil settles in. :o :O

In the beginning, you'll want to stick with tons of very fast growing plants. I recommend duckweed, water lettuce, water wisteria, water sprite, and stem plants. You'll have a lot of excess nutrients in the water column, and if there isn't something in there to eat it, you're looking at some serious algae blooms. Once your tank settles in a bit, you can get "cooler" plants, but in the beginning, I'd stick to your old Walstad stand-bys. ;)

For the first two weeks, test your parameters daily. You're likely to experience a small cycle bump, as the soil decomposes, and starts converting to submersed form. I generally like to drain and refill my tank three times, within the first 36 hours of dirting it. After that, just a daily change will suffice. Once you get past that first week, it gets a lot less maintenance intensive. The key is doing your big water changes, while the tank balances out.

To fill it up, without a mess, you're going to need to leave a space in the tank empty, so you can take a shallow bowl/plate, and rest it on your substrate. put your siphon hose in that, and refill. You won't want to pour buckets into a dirted tank--you'll definitely need to get a Python, if you don't have it already.

Good luck. Dirt is fab, and once you've done it once, you'll be ready to do it again. ;)

Edited by yafashelli
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I wanted to add some bronze or reddish plants. Tiger lotus (with the little guy, not the monsters), swords, crypts and maybe hygros. I really want them in the background and sides. They will be grown in low-medium light. I already have a big amazon sword and a bunch of dwarf sag with root tabs at the moment. (Does having an enriched substrate help stems much? I have ludiwigia repens, and it's doing just o-kay.)

I have a lot of fast growing plants already, so I'm not worried about that part. Hornwort, water lettuce, frogbit, duckweed, salvinia, azolla, etc..

Also have a python!

Thanks for the extensive guide, Yafashelli.

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I wanted to add some bronze or reddish plants. Tiger lotus (with the little guy, not the monsters), swords, crypts and maybe hygros. I really want them in the background and sides. They will be grown in low-medium light. I already have a big amazon sword and a bunch of dwarf sag with root tabs at the moment. (Does having an enriched substrate help stems much? I have ludiwigia repens, and it's doing just o-kay.)

I have a lot of fast growing plants already, so I'm not worried about that part. Hornwort, water lettuce, frogbit, duckweed, salvinia, azolla, etc..

Also have a python!

Thanks for the extensive guide, Yafashelli.

Ludwigia and dwarf sag loooove dirt. ;) Watersprite, too. Get yourself a nice chunk of that, and watch it grow. :)

In fact, everything I see here, should do fabulous--you're setting yourself up for a great tank. That sword might mean a deeper substrate depth, though. We're talking about 2" deep wet soil, plus another 1.5-2" dirt cap? They get very large, very quickly, when grown in decent lighting, with dirt, and you want to make sure that a big plant like that doesn't topple over. :o :O

Dirt tanks are a "set it and forget it" kind of deal, so have a very thorough layout planned, before beginning to plant. Moving things around makes a pretty big mess, later on. :o

You're very welcome. I'm a big fan of dirt tanks, as you can tell. ;) Any questions that you have, please don't hesitate to ask. :heart

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