The Plan: Get a sheet of paper, draw out your tank, from an above view and front view. Draw in a rough key or where you want what items, plants, and equipment. This will give you a good idea of how you plan to set your tank up Find a layout YOU like If not, not a big deal. Make a list of plants you want, which you have, and which you need. Then make a stocking list of fish you want. The Equipment: Got your plan done? Okay, now go get your equipment. To set up the tank you will really only need a few things that are mandatory: 1. Aquarium 2. Lights 2. Dirt (Miracle Grow Organic Potting or any organic/top soil works) 3. Gravel or Sand
Equipment you need 1. Clay or Flourite pieces (or any root fert tabs you may want to use, all are matter of choice) * Optional* 2. Heater 3. Filter
The Set-Up: 1. Rinse the aquarium with tap water to ensure no dust or anything is in it. 2. Set it up on a sturdy, level surface near outlet. 3. Add in your choice of dirt (about 1 inch thick is all that is needed) 4. If applicable, add in whatever pieces of flourite, iron, or fert tabs you have generously to the soil. 5. Slowly spray/sprinkle the soil a bit, then stir it up, add more water, stir...repeat until a VERY thick mud. **Note-You should see NO puddles of water on top of the soil. If added too much water, or even for a precaution, let the dirt sit for an hour to soak any water up.** 6. Once the dirt is the consistency of thick mud, add in whatever substrate you will be using to cap the dirt (I.E- Gravel, Sand, Ecocomplete, Etc.). Add the same amount of substrate as there is dirt. Note- Example; If 1/2 inch of soil in front, add 1/2 inch of gravel...if 1 1/2 inches of soil in back, add 1 1/2 inches of gravel 7. Place any driftwood/rocks/heater you have in the tank. 8. If siphoning in water from an outside source, use airline tubing and knot the tubing so the water siphons very slowly. If pouring in water, put a heavy plate (that doesn't float) on the bottom of the tank on top of the gravel or sand and begin pouring slowly onto the plate to not stir up substrate. 9. Once filled half way, plant heavily... being careful not to disturb TOO much soil from under gravel/sand. Taller plants in back, medium in middle, short in front. 10. Use a small net to net any loose pieces of dirt floating. 11. Finish filling slowly (Don't forget to dechlorinate). Once finished the tank should be a little cloudy but should be ready for a filter. Let the tank sit until most of the debris has settled (if any) and start filter. 12. Add rest of equipment. Watch it grow! At this point, if done right, your tank should be. With a few water changes your tank will be crystal clear. You can begin your nitrogen cycling for the tank, or wait to add fish. The soil should sustain nutrient and co2 output for the plants.
It's a good basic start to setting up a dirt based tank. Another item that should be addressed is lighting. You will need a light at the correct color. Plants react best to 6500K light. Anything too far below that color wont aid the plants in photosynthesis. Instead you'll grow alot of algae. Also you'll need the correct wattage. This will depend on the size of the tank. Depth also plays a part but I will let someone more versed in planted tanks comment on that.
Thanks for the cool post! I actually started a planted tank about two weeks ago. It's a planted Biocube 14. What kind of tank are you thinking about setting up?
Depending on the hood you have for a 10 gallon, you can use these bulbs in an incandescent hood. You'd have plenty of light for plants then. What's your plan for filtration? You can just plant heavily with lots of stem plants and simply have a pump in there for water flow and let the plants do the cleaning.