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Old 02-01-2012, 07:16 PM   #11 
purplemuffin
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Okay, that makes sense. In a way the dirt itself has to sort of go through a 'cycle' before it becomes mature.

Would you ever have to fully replace the dirt/sand? What soil do you use?
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Old 02-02-2012, 08:53 AM   #12 
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I use dirt from my pasture in most of my tanks and potting soil, top soil, a mix of soil with clay kitty litter in some....all different kinds that I will cap with either playsand or pool filter sand on a few I have small size gravel scattered about that I used to help hold plants in place.....

As far as replacing it....I replace it when I get tired of the look or want to do a big re-scape....the natural decomp, livestock byproduct and fish food all become a food source for the plants and soil....I don't add any ferts or inject CO2-I do make red clay balls and poke under the swords when they start to look tired.
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Old 02-03-2012, 01:25 AM   #13 
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I don't think I really have a reliable place to get soil from the outdoors. Lots of pesticides and fertilizers all over where I live, and it's quite a drive to get out to some country. Is there a type of soil that is safe--maybe some kind of organic fertilizer free kind?
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Old 02-03-2012, 02:21 PM   #14 
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Any of the potting soil or top soil that doesn't have any added ferts will work-be sure and sift it or pick through it to remove any large pieces of organic matter....one of the organic potting soils I used had the perilite or vermicerlite type stuff in it and while it didn't cause any issues as far as health, water quality...etc....it floated and looked ugly and it would clog the filter- as well as when I pulled a plant or disturbed the soil would cause it to pop up and float...more cosmetic than anything else-easy enough to take care of by netting it out..also make sure it doesn't have any of that water holding gel beads in it....
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Old 02-03-2012, 06:09 PM   #15 
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So when it comes time to plant, what problems could I possibly face? I keep hearing about people freaking out and having trouble keeping their NPTs working properly. People talking about their tanks smelling bad or the soil going bad...How do things like that happen? What do I have to do to avoid that?

I was planning on putting the soil in...Then the sand. Then add water and plant all the plants/place the driftwood and such. Then a few times a week I will poke at the sand and dirt to make sure nothing builds up in there. What other maintenance should I do? I was planning on waiting to let the plants grow in some before adding my animals to the tank, besides I wanted to make sure the tank will stay cool enough after winter is over. Since there will be no fish in the tank, should I go ahead and add in some fertilizer?
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Old 02-04-2012, 10:11 AM   #16 
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With soil based tanks you don't need ferts....

Generally soil based tanks are trouble free provided that you have the correct lights, photoperiod, correct soil at the proper dept and start with enough of the right species of plants......I set mine up in one day add livestock and make water changes as needed until the soil is mature.....look at my album and read over the link I gave you....
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Old 02-04-2012, 02:41 PM   #17 
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That's what i thought, I just wasn't sure if I would need them if I didn't have any fish in there. I suppose I could just get them early.


For a heavily planted 55 gallon what level of lighting do you think I should be sure to get? I know there is something like certain K per gallon...
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Old 02-04-2012, 03:21 PM   #18 
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On my 55gal I use two tubes-40w 6500K daylight bulbs I get in the lighting department at wal mart or Home depot-cost about $8.00 for 2 tubes and I change them out every 12 months-I bought a shop light at wal mart for under $10.00 for the tubes and removed the hood for best light penetration to plants

For live plants its the color temp of the bulb that is important....Kelvin rating in the 5500-6500k is closest to the sun color temp and what the plants can see/use for energy/photosynthesis-With florescent bulb this color temp wears out in about 12mo on a 10-12h/day PP and while we can still see the light the plants can't use it and why they need to be changed out every 12months
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