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Finally Ready to Dirt!


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So I finally purchased the ingredients for my planted tank! The only problem is, the dirt I got is not Miracle Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix. It's a non- name brand called 'Just Natural' and I got one that said organic and without fertilizers. Neither Walmart nor Lowe's carries the organic miracle gro by my house. Does anyone have experience with this?

I'm going to be doing the preliminary testing with layer work today, to make sure that I have it correct before putting it into my tank. I'm a bit rushed, however, because I purchased some plants and they arrived way too early, and are currently floating in my 10g! You can hardly see the fish in there there's so many!

So, any advice? Ratio of dirt x gravel x sand? Anything would be appreciated.

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Although I've set up a dirted tank a few weeks back i have no clue about your type of dirt although it should be fine and also you want about 1-1.5 inches of dirt and the same amount with the cap so 1-1.5 inches of gravel for an example :) I have just started dirting another tank today but its less than 10 gallons so it doesn't use too much dirt etc. :) You will love your dirted tank for sure :thumbup2::greenbanana::redbanana::nana:carrot::panana:tbanana

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I don't know about that brand, unfortunately. Hopefully, it'll be fine--I just have no personal experience with it.

You'll want to go ahead and wet your dirt to the consistency of a mud pie. You should be able to shape it with your hands, but it should be wet all the way through. Once it's been wet, you'll want to drain your tank all the way down. Dump in your mud until it's about 1-1.5" thick, and then cover with your cap. The cap should be as deep, or a little deeper, than the thickness of your dirt layer.

What will your cap be?

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I don't know about that brand, unfortunately. Hopefully, it'll be fine--I just have no personal experience with it.

You'll want to go ahead and wet your dirt to the consistency of a mud pie. You should be able to shape it with your hands, but it should be wet all the way through. Once it's been wet, you'll want to drain your tank all the way down. Dump in your mud until it's about 1-1.5" thick, and then cover with your cap. The cap should be as deep, or a little deeper, than the thickness of your dirt layer.

What will your cap be?

My cap is quikrete play sand, and I have pea gravel to go between the two.

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Fabulous. Have you thoroughly rinsed both the gravel and the sand?

No... Is it possible just to let them get rinsed when they are in the tank? I plan on moving my gf to a separate container for a week or so after dirting the tank anyways, and as long as i did wcs, that would still get them clean, wouldn't it? I only ask because my stepmom would not be impressed by huge buckets full of water and sand sitting outside. Nor do we have huge buckets.

edit: i could probably rinse the gravel, just not the sand.

Edited by Morgan'sMiracles
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I would definitely rinse them. Neither of these are meant for aquarium use, so they're extraordinarily dirty. Any time the fish move the substrate around, it will make the tank gross.

Always rinse your substrate.

You can see what the others have to say, but that's my two cents. :)

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I would definitely rinse them. Neither of these are meant for aquarium use, so they're extraordinarily dirty. Any time the fish move the substrate around, it will make the tank gross.

Always rinse your substrate.

You can see what the others have to say, but that's my two cents. :)

Okay, I'll see what I can do. What about the dirt?

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The mud doesn't need to be washed, but put into the tank wet. If you put dry dirt into the tank, and then wet it, it collapses, so what you end up with is much thinner than your originally planned layer. It'll be supremely difficult to fix any errors, once the cap is in place, so we need to take whatever steps that we can to do it right the first time.

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Update: Tank has been emptied, fish has been moved, dirt has been mudified and placed into tank. Unfortunately, dirt is now too wet due to my stupidity and inability to remove ALL water from 30g. Progress is halted for the day due to thunder storms outside. Really frustrated with the dirt, and hopeful it will dry out quickly!

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How much water is too much? Take a pic--maybe we can just go over it, and do a few water changes. The water is going to be super gross for a lot of the planting process, and a day or two after, anyway. We'll increase water changes to accommodate for this.

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I don't know if you have a filter on your tank or not while adding your substrate but just a heads up if you do>>>>> If your water is still cloudy/dirty after your substrate is in your tank you'll want to rinse your media at least a couple of times a day. Perhaps once in A.M. and another in P.M. I think I did it about 3 times a day to clear up my tank faster. Your media is going to get dirty fast as it clears your water.

Looking forward to seeing your planted tank. :)

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Congratulations on beginning the set-up of your dirted tank! You are so brave to go down this route. I look forward to seeing pics when your fish are in.

Edited by LisaCGold
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So, good news- My stand arrived today! This means I won't have to empty and move the tank after it's full of water. Unfortunately, this also means that I have to construct the stand. Don't get me wrong, the directions are easy... Just not, apparently, easy enough. I ended up putting the bottom 'shelf' on wrong and I'm having a hard time removing the washers and bolts now so I can fix it. Maybe my dad will be able to help when he gets home.

It's not a lot of water- Maybe 1/2- 3/4 of an inch? I will try to bail it out after lunch. Right now, I need a break from the whole thing and the disaster it has made of my room! Thanks for all the support!

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It's not enough to bail, but I think I'll try the paper towel thing! Thanks for the suggestion, Amanda!

I went ahead and cleaned and added the rocks (After, of course, finishing fighting with the stand!) but right now, I can't tell if they completely cover the mud dirt, so I'm going to try Amanda's idea with the paper towels and then I'll see what I can do from there.

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Stick sand into the container up to about 1/3 of the depth, shove a hose into the bottom, and stir, while holding the container on an angle. The idea is to get the lighter debris out, while leaving the heavy sand inside.

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