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Hello! I need some advice about doing a planted, dirted tank. I really want to try to do dirt rather than Eco-Complete or AquaSoil. Can anybody tell me what kind of soil I would need to make this work? I'm scared that I will get a dirt that is some sort of compost/manure and will be 100% ammonia, which of course won't work for plants or fish. Once I learn what type of dirt I need, I'll try to play it by ear with lighting, plants, fertilization, etc. my local Home Improvement Warehouse has these two organic soils. The mushroom one won't work, right? I feel like neither of these are right! :rofl I'm just not sure. I am able to go to another Home Improvement store a little further away which may have a larger variety of organic soils, if necessary. Thanks everybody! ysa8ebe7.jpg

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Edited by Justin
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I would talk to Tammy (Yafashelli) about this ... she is quite the expert in dirted tanks! I was considering it for awhile and she answered so many of my questions. Miracle-Gro Organic Potting Soil is the dirt that is commonly used. You would also need a cap, like gravel or Eco Complete, that is at least as deep as the layer of dirt to prevent harmful compounds from leaching up. The substrate is much deeper in a dirted tank because of this.

Your tank would also need to be VERY heavily planted - at least 75% coverage. This is what ultimately made me decide not to go with a dirted tank - I didn't want to commit to that many plants to start out with. I ended up going with Activ-Flora, which contains micronutrients, as opposed to Eco Complete which is inert but perfect for a dirted tank since dirt already has so many nutrients. It's also a "set it and forget it" type of thing - so it won't work if you're like me and like to rearrange your tank from time to time. [emoji1]

Edited by *Amanda*
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What do you mean by aquarium dirt? Like Eco-Complete?

What I mean about aquarium dirt is it is safe for fish has no chemicals and doesn't leach ammonia and it is specifically made for ponds etc. But it is real dirt not the dirt balls you get with Fluval Stratum etc. :)

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I would talk to Tammy (Yafashelli) about this ... she is quite the expert in dirted tanks! I was considering it for awhile and she answered so many of my questions. Miracle-Gro Organic Potting Soil is the dirt that is commonly used. You would also need a cap, like gravel or Eco Complete, that is at least as deep as the layer of dirt to prevent harmful compounds from leaching up. The substrate is much deeper in a dirted tank because of this.

Your tank would also need to be VERY heavily planted - at least 75% coverage. This is what ultimately made me decide not to go with a dirted tank - I didn't want to commit to that many plants to start out with. I ended up going with Activ-Flora, which contains micronutrients, as opposed to Eco Complete which is inert but perfect for a dirted tank since dirt already has so many nutrients. It's also a "set it and forget it" type of thing - so it won't work if you're like me and like to rearrange your tank from time to time. [emoji1]

Thanks Amanda! That's all I really needed to know! Like I said, I'll pick up the dirt, and try to learn as I go. :)
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I am actually thinking about doing a 10 gallon betta tank, so the 75% coverage isn't really a big deal, because it's only like 25% coverage if I were to do it in my 55! Will a dirted tank work for bettas?

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Ingredients of red package pictured above: "This garden soil is regionally formulated from materials derived from one or more of the following: Canadian sphagnum Peat moss, processed pine bark, composted forest products and/or composted rice hulls, reed-sedge peat, ground dolomitic limestone (pH adjuster) and organic fertilizer.

Ingredients from Miracle-Gro Organic Soil: "This product is regionally formulated with organic materials (including one or more of the following (forest products, peat humus, or compost, sphagnum peat moss, composted manure, and pasteurized poultry litter."

Is it possible to substitute the red bag's ingredients for the Miracle-Gro formula? :idont

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Ingredients of red package pictured above: "This garden soil is regionally formulated from materials derived from one or more of the following: Canadian sphagnum Peat moss, processed pine bark, composted forest products and/or composted rice hulls, reed-sedge peat, ground dolomitic limestone (pH adjuster) and organic fertilizer.

Ingredients from Miracle-Gro Organic Soil: "This product is regionally formulated with organic materials (including one or more of the following (forest products, peat humus, or compost, sphagnum peat moss, composted manure, and pasteurized poultry litter."

Is it possible to substitute the red bag's ingredients for the Miracle-Gro formula? :idont

I don't know for sure - I would PM Tammy about it to verify before substituting. I was told to get Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix (http://www.miraclegro.com/smg/goprod/miracle-gro-organic-choice-potting-soil/prod70318); no other soils were mentioned. The ingredients in the red package are different and I'm not sure if it would work for this application or not.
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Oh! Potting mix! I was looking at soil. Not really sure of the difference... :peeka I'll look at the potting mix and see how the ingredients differ from what is offered locally :) Thanks Amanda, you're a huge help. I'll make sure I post here and ask Tammy before anything is finalized!!! :D

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I would not substitute, but only because I know that the Miracle Grow Organic Potting Mix will play nicely. If you put the wrong dirt in, it could cause massive ammonia spikes, and algae blooms. It's easy enough to find, so I would definitely try to stick with that.

I think that dirted tanks are absolutely amazing, but it's not something to just do on a whim. It will require planning and practice, before purchasing and execution. My recommendation to you would be to buy a glass bowl or two, and plant something in those. They will help you get used to using the dirt, before you ramp it up, and go full scale.

The tank will need to be heavily planted, as Amanda said, and you will need to do massive water changes, as the dirt will put you into a cycle bump, as it matures. It's also a "set it and forget it" kind of deal, so if you're the fickle type, who needs to rearrange the tank every two weeks, then this setup may not be for you. :)

If you have more questions, feel free to ask!

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Ingredients for "Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix" are similar... It seems they've just removed some of the ingredients from the "Miracle-Gro Organic Soil."

Ingredients: "This product is formulated from composted bark, sphagnum peat moss, and poultry litter"

I'll try to find that in a store a little further away. If they don't have it, well..... I'll just have to use Eco-Complete or the like.

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I would not substitute, but only because I know that the Miracle Grow Organic Potting Mix will play nicely. If you put the wrong dirt in, it could cause massive ammonia spikes, and algae blooms. It's easy enough to find, so I would definitely try to stick with that.

I think that dirted tanks are absolutely amazing, but it's not something to just do on a whim. It will require planning and practice, before purchasing and execution. My recommendation to you would be to buy a glass bowl or two, and plant something in those. They will help you get used to using the dirt, before you ramp it up, and go full scale.

The tank will need to be heavily planted, as Amanda said, and you will need to do massive water changes, as the dirt will put you into a cycle bump, as it matures. It's also a "set it and forget it" kind of deal, so if you're the fickle type, who needs to rearrange the tank every two weeks, then this setup may not be for you. :)

If you have more questions, feel free to ask!

Thanks Tammy! Yeah, I'll try to find the Miracle-Gro potting mix. It'll be a 10 gallon for a betta, so 75%+ coverage shouldn't be a problem. I don't think I'll want to be getting in there all the time, so that shouldn't be a problem either. What should I be looking for when I do the trial with the bowl? I was planning on having just the dirt and plants for a month or so with the filter going as to remove any ammonia. Then I would add the fish. Does that sound good? Would i need to add ammonia? Thanks again Tammy :)

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Starting with a simple bowl will help you learn how the dirt and cap behave, so that you don't make a big mess when doing it in the big tank. The bigger the dirted surface, the more money you have to sink into it. If you do it right the first time, it's much less expensive. Practice makes perfect! :P

Always work with your dirt the consistency of a mud pie. You should be able to shape it in your hands. Using dry dirt will cause it to collapse when water hits it, and it will make a mess of your nice cap.

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Justin

My local Lowes didn't have the Miracle Grow that many people use. So I just used their generic organic potting soil that had the same basic stats and it worked great. I wouldn't recommend anything that has limestone or fertilizer in it. I think the ingredients in my organic potting soil was something like poultry litter and feathermeal.

One small drawback to the Miracle Grow organic potting soil is that many people report getting lots of floating debris in it, which I was lucky enough to not get.

I would recommend that after adding the dirt you only add a few inches of water and let it set overnight. If it doesn't mostly clear up on its own I would recommend vacuuming up all the floating debris BEFORE filling the whole tank with your substrate and water.

And the main thing to remember about a dirted tank is you want to add as many plants as you can afford from the start so they can outcompete algae for all the nutrients that dirt will be slowly leaching into the water. And DON'T use your lights until you actually start planting plants.

If you haven't already I would highly recommend watching some YouTube videos at Justin's Fish Tanks to get lots of good info on dirted tanks:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4j90aZYe6v7J4Yb6qpbiLw

If you do some basic research and plant enough suitable plants you should find that dirted tanks are actually way easier and less maintenance than about any other way of keeping plants. You'll spend most of your maintenance time pruning excess plant growth. Happy dirting!

Edited by Andrew Goldfish
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Starting with a simple bowl will help you learn how the dirt and cap behave, so that you don't make a big mess when doing it in the big tank. The bigger the dirted surface, the more money you have to sink into it. If you do it right the first time, it's much less expensive. Practice makes perfect! :P

Always work with your dirt the consistency of a mud pie. You should be able to shape it in your hands. Using dry dirt will cause it to collapse when water hits it, and it will make a mess of your nice cap.

Alright! I'll make sure to do that. Good thing I'm only doing a 10 gallon! :D I should get a couple of tries if I mess up. A 1" layer on a 10 gallon is only 200 cubic inches, which is only .12 cubic feet. And most bags of soil I saw were at least 1 cubic foot. :idont

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I don't know that an inch of dry soil will be enough. Wet your soil to mud pie consistency, and shoot for about an inch and a half. Your cap should be as thick, or just a bit thicker, as the soil layer.

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Justin

My local Lowes didn't have the Miracle Grow that many people use. So I just used their generic organic potting soil that had the same basic stats and it worked great. I wouldn't recommend anything that has limestone or fertilizer in it. I think the ingredients in my organic potting soil was something like poultry litter and feathermeal.

One small drawback to the Miracle Grow organic potting soil is that many people report getting lots of floating debris in it, which I was lucky enough to not get.

I would recommend that after adding the dirt you only add a few inches of water and let it set overnight. If it doesn't mostly clear up on its own I would recommend vacuuming up all the floating debris BEFORE filling the whole tank with your substrate and water.

And the main thing to remember about a dirted tank is you want to add as many plants as you can afford from the start so they can outcompete algae for all the nutrients that dirt will be slowly leaching into the water. And DON'T use your lights until you actually start planting plants.

If you haven't already I would highly recommend watching some YouTube videos at Justin's Fish Tanks to get lots of good info on dirted tanks:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4j90aZYe6v7J4Yb6qpbiLw

If you do some basic research and plant enough suitable plants you should find that dirted tanks are actually way easier and less maintenance than about any other way of keeping plants. You'll spend most of your maintenance time pruning excess plant growth. Happy dirting!

Hey, Andrew! The link didn't work for me on Tapatalk :idont Did you mean Dustin's? I couldn't find a Justin's. Dustin's has lots of plants and stuff, though, so I assume that's what you meant :) The low maintenance is the reason I wanted to do a dirted tank rather than one with Eco-complete or AquaSoil. Lowe's is the store I went to, which didn't have the Miracle Gro, and Home Depot, which does have it, is about 20 minutes away, so I'll just visit them and pick it up. The two pictured soils are the only soils that Lowe's had that were organic :yikes I actually saw a video where a guy spent an hour or so picking out twigs, sticks, and other debris from the soil before he out it in there. It seems very time consuming, but I might do it if it means I won't have to siphon out the debris several times. I wasn't planning on it, but why not use lights until I've planted? Does it affect the soil? Thanks a lot :D
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I don't know that an inch of dry soil will be enough. Wet your soil to mud pie consistency, and shoot for about an inch and a half. Your cap should be as thick, or just a bit thicker, as the soil layer.

Will do! I'm not trying to rush this, so I can plan it out and get all the plants at one time to help establish the tank and reduce algae :)
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Yes, Dustin's fish tanks. He gives a lot of great info, but his language is not always youngster friendly, so be sure to ask your mother first, please.

You will absolutely need to plant the tank fully, and right away, as I said before. Andrew gave some great info up there! Good posting!

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Yes, Dustin's fish tanks. He gives a lot of great info, but his language is not always youngster friendly, so be sure to ask your mother first, please.

You will absolutely need to plant the tank fully, and right away, as I said before. Andrew gave some great info up there! Good posting!

High school isn't youngster friendly :rofl Like I said, I am planning to plan this out completely before doing anything, so I'll make sure to order/pick up all of my plants at once so that it can be fully planted. Thanks to you and Andrew! Now I need to start looking into plants. I think I'll do some swords, crypts, java fern and moss, anacharis, and anubias. Mostly things I can't kill too easily!!! :rofl
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Yes, Dustin's fish tanks. He gives a lot of great info, but his language is not always youngster friendly, so be sure to ask your mother first, please.

You will absolutely need to plant the tank fully, and right away, as I said before. Andrew gave some great info up there! Good posting!

High school isn't youngster friendly :rofl Like I said, I am planning to plan this out completely before doing anything, so I'll make sure to order/pick up all of my plants at once so that it can be fully planted. Thanks to you and Andrew! Now I need to start looking into plants. I think I'll do some swords, crypts, java fern and moss, anacharis, and anubias. Mostly things I can't kill too easily!!! :rofl
I've watched a ton of his videos, and you aren't a kid, you are a teen who is in high school. You will be fine.

:)

Those all sound good. Be sure not to bury the rhinestones of the java ferns, Anubias, etc

Edited by Moucho+Moncho
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