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Old 03-24-2014, 10:09 AM   #31 
Blue Fish
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Originally Posted by AudaxViator View Post
Hmmm I wonder why your sand made it cloudy. Did you rinse it out beforehand? Was it random play sand or pool filter/aquarium sand? I used black aquarium sand and it only started getting cloudy later because of tannins and a bacterial bloom. Oh also, did the gravel keep the soil down fairly well? I don't have experience with it but it seems like the soil could creep up because gravel can't compact as much as sand.

To givemethatfish: I think next time I do a tank I'm not going to use dirt. It's just too messy even with sand. I tried getting all the big chips out but there's still some coming up. And the soil I used came with little seed hulls that keep coming to the surface. Plus I think without a layer of dirt the substrate will be less thick and I won't have to poke it every week and worry about anaerobic bacteria gas pockets. I mean it looks fine but meh. I'm still experimenting with all this though and my tank has only been set up for a little over a month, so maybe in the long run I'll find dirt is better, who knows.
First go round was regular play sand, not rinsed, and that was a disaster. ;) Second attempt was with rinsed pool filter sand, rinsed...but still the mess. I did not know about using the plate or the paper towels though, so that may have made a significant difference. :P

As for the gravel, I wasn't sure about that either, but I found many, many videos on youtube from experienced aquarists who were using it, some even using pea gravel...and it worked, so I thought I'd give it a go. :)

I've only done this one tank so far, the other four are still as-is, I'm waiting to see if this makes a significant difference in plant growth...and is worth it. :)

Also, I believe trumpet snails can be used to aerate your soil if you don't want to poke. :)
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Old 03-26-2014, 06:40 PM   #32 
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Public and profuse thanks to Blue Fish for recommending Tricker.com for plants. They sent me HUGE healthy bunches of plants as well as a giant portion of a Joshua plant for free. I couldn't be happier with the quality and quantity. It's also below freezing here, and everything arrived nice and non-frozen with a little heat pack.
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Old 03-28-2014, 02:13 PM   #33 
OrangeAugust
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I did whole foods brand organic potting soil with fine gravel over it, and I just could not get the tank filled up without creating a dirt cloud. I tried a plate, a plastic bag with holes cut in, and also literally spooning the water in with a tablespoon. I immediately gave up and just took the tank outside and hosed it out, which is kind of my track record...maybe not a good quality to have.

So now I'm afraid of trying dirt in this gigantic awkward tank. It's a corner tank, so it's super deep and like hell to try to clean out. I suppose I could try the paper towel method in my 5G tank first before taking the plunge into the 54 gallon tank. I know it's the best way to grow plants. However, I'm fickle and like to move plants around like 1,000 times before I get them settled in their forever spot.

Maybe I'll try sand. I don't know. I was thinking of getting some cories, so they would be pleased by sand I'm sure.
Haha That sounds exactly like what happened with my 55 gallon tank. I tried the whole NPT thing with the organic soil layer and sand on top... it was terrible. lol. The soil wouldn't stay underneath the sand. I was always getting gas bubbles coming up and it would shoot up a bunch of soil with it and the soil kept puffing up with air and I'd have to press it down and of course it made a huge mess with all the bubbles coming up. I made the mistake of having driftwood so it turned my water a green tea color and my parents were always commenting that it looked dirty. I also got overrun by hair algae. It was terrible, so after having it up for about 8 months I totally redid it. I threw out the soil and sand (it smelled like sulfur too. Eww). And I replaced the substrate with natural-colored gravel. It's been up for about 5 months now, and it still looks really nice. No algae or anything.
I'm attaching a picture of it from a couple weeks after I set it up.
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Old 03-28-2014, 02:23 PM   #34 
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Gorgeous tank. I love that big sword plant in the corner!
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Old 03-28-2014, 02:38 PM   #35 
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Thanks!
The funny thing is that it's almost 5 months later and it pretty much looks the same. So of course you don't get a lot of growth when you use gravel, but it's ok with me. Although one of the anubias plants in the front (the left one) has grown a lot. About 3 new leaves in the past 5 months. It's my favorite plant.
The big sword was called an amazon sword, but so were those two smaller ones in the back. But they're totally different in size, obviously, but also in leaf shape. The sword on the right in the rocks is an Argentine sword.
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