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Old 09-14-2011, 02:58 PM   #1 
aurasoulful
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Bottom soil for planted tank

I plan on setting up my plants in my ten gallon tank soon. They are in their pots in the tank now and they are growing very quickly since I got them a week ago. I have Eco-complete substrate on hand already but I've been hearing that I should lay down some sort of potting soil on the bottom of the tank first before adding the gravel substrate. So I'm asking, what type and how much soil should I get for the plants? Thanks in advance <3
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Old 09-14-2011, 03:15 PM   #2 
Oldfishlady
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For a natural planted tank (NPT) you can use-organic potting soil, top soil, dirt from your yard/garden...it needs to be sifted first to remove any large clumps of debris.

For 10gal-I would use 2in soil to 1in gravel or sand to cap the soil to help hold it in place.....

With NPT comes its own set of problems and if you don't start out with the right species and number of plants, proper lights and some way to aerate the soil until the rooted plants are actively growing to bring oxygen into the soil to prevent anaerobic spot (like trumpet snails) the NPT can fail.....but once it is mature...awesome, easy care with limited water changes-no ferts or added CO2 needed......

You can see some of mine in my album....
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Old 09-14-2011, 03:17 PM   #3 
aurasoulful
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Thanks OFL! I did see your tanks, they are amazing :D How can I aerate the soil? o-o
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Old 09-14-2011, 03:29 PM   #4 
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Trumpet snail do it best...lol....nice little live-bearer snail the burrows in the substrate, however, they do have to be kept in check or they will over populate pretty fast and you won't know it until you sneak in the room with a flash light a couple of hours after light outs and see them crawling up the tank walls....lol.....

Or-you can poke the substrate every couple of days with a chopstick, wooden spoon and the like....once the stem plants take off and start sending roots into the soil they will take the needed oxygen to the soil to prevent anaerobic spot....this can take anywhere from a month to 3 months......
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Old 09-14-2011, 03:35 PM   #5 
aurasoulful
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Okay, thanks again OFL! Hopefully I can get free snails at the LFS, but I may already have some in my plants. I just hope I don't kill them when I change out the gravel. This is going to be some thick substrate :D
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Old 09-14-2011, 03:46 PM   #6 
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Most major fish selling stores will have the thin pipe used in UGF to hang the air-stone from the top. That little capillary tube. Simply take a length of it long enough to penetrate from above the water to the bottom glass and cut the tip off at a sharp rake. You can then put a small air pump on the back end if you're using rough sand or fine fluorite.

If you're using actual dirt I suggest getting a small hand pump like walmart sells for siphoning gas and pumping open aerated tank water gently under the dirt. Pressuring it under the dirt. This produces roughly the same effect as the plants cycling water through the bottom. Be sure to run tons of water through the hand pump first to get it clean. You're looking at doing this in a 15mm grid in every portion of the dirt that is not actively planted.

Alternatively you can do "thin layer" natural planting. I used this on my community tank. I applied just about one inch of hand sorted potting/top soil in the bottom of the tank, pre-mixed by hand with clean used aquarium water. I then scooped out a large bag of fine black fluorite on top, this also pre-wetted, giving me about an inch and a half of substrate but with the top half "self aerating". So I have the benefit of actual soil but with a low risk of cyanosis and other decay bubbles. I still had to penetrate the soil mixture from time to time as it seems the "dirt" I got was actually compost. You want NO compost - especially not mechanical compost where they've ground up the compost then let it sit - it rots.

I've got almost 2 inches of total soil combination in that planted tank now, the plants are very healthy and from time to time I'll dig in with a bent fork to lift up the ornamental gravel.

The thin layer seems to also encourage my crypts and red wendtii to spread wide and send up shoots a lot faster than normal. The tank has produced several new crypt and wendtii which I was able to transplant. The spot where I removed one large one was occupied by another within a month.

The compost caused me to suffer several oscillations in alkalinity and the original planting over a year ago made it to last month before the plants used up all their "dirt".

Which brings up what I did to replace the "dirt"... Cake decorator's kit! I squirted another ten cups of mud down into the bottom layer.

From what I've read, using the pipette method works well and lets you get through root systems to pockets under plants, but I've also heard of using an actual stainless steel long-handle tea stirring spoon. The kind with the dime sized head and ten inches of handle. You can feel any roots that it bumps into instead of willy-nilly poking but it requires much more time.

Best option: Plant it all, carefully, then remove some plants and let others die from competition.
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Old 09-14-2011, 03:49 PM   #7 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldfishlady View Post
Trumpet snail do it best...lol....nice little live-bearer snail the burrows in the substrate, however, they do have to be kept in check or they will over populate pretty fast and you won't know it until you sneak in the room with a flash light a couple of hours after light outs and see them crawling up the tank walls....lol.....
Mine are brazen... but their shells do make a pretty ornamental coat over the substrate. Rough estimate is I have over two hundred shell-babies and maybe thirty mid sized and five large ones. And 30 inches of fish.

My poor planted ten gallon! Lucky I have 560gph.

Last edited by Thunderloon; 09-14-2011 at 03:51 PM. Reason: Do NOT attempt to Thunderloon at home.
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