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Old 02-04-2012, 08:50 AM   #1 
Littlebittyfish
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Topsoil for aquarium plants…a few questions.

Hey you all! It has been awhile since my last sign in…I was having a bit of computer issues, but should be back for awhile now.

Anyways…

Over the next week or so I am planning a tank tear down in my 10 gallon…I will be redoing the substrate currently in my tank (pool filter sand went anaerobic and killed ¼ of the plants from the root up on the left side of my tank. )
and replacing it with topsoil caped with gravel. I will also be buying a lot of new aquarium plants-rooted and floating plants- before I start . (woohoo). Also, a few snails.

However, I want to make sure I am doing this right before I begin…Right now I have a few bags of store brand topsoil (Ace Hardware Store Topsoil to be specific)

Is there anything I need to do with the topsoil before I add it to my tank and plant? Right now I have one bag soaking in a 5 gallon bucket on my porch…Mostly to get off any light wood pieces that float to the top. Does this seem like a good idea?Or should I just use it right out of the bag? Also, the topsoil looks to have quite a bit of wood material In it…Will this cause problems? (photos below)

Does this look like a decent topsoil for the aquarium?

I am currently “testing out” this soil in a 1gallon critter keeper and have noticed it has been pretty foggy:


Is it normal for it to look a bit clouded or does my gravel cap need to be deeper?

And, last but not least…how long should I wait before adding my fish back into the 10 gallon after I get it planted and set up again?

Also, If you have any other tips and pointers I would really appreciate it.

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Old 02-04-2012, 09:22 AM   #2 
Oldfishlady
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Welcome back....

The soil should be fine, however, I would either sift it or pick through it to remove any large pieces of organic matter...I don't like to soak mine or rinse it in any way due to it leaching out the nutrients.

The gravel in the pic is too big-if you are going to use gravel for the cap-use really small diameter or play or pool filter sand...you want to use half as much cap as soil...the cap is just to help hold the soil in place so it doesn't need to be too deep.....

Be sure you have enough of the right species of plants on start up and the correct lights...

What kind of lights, age of bulb, kelvin, watts and photoperiod....

Here is a link to a dirt based tank I set up in Oct to give you more information and also check out my album for more pic and info in smaller NPT's

http://www.bettafish.com/showthread.php?t=84915
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Old 02-04-2012, 10:13 AM   #3 
Littlebittyfish
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Thankyou Oldfishlady. I will make sure to remove any of the larger pieces and just use the un soaked soil…into the garden with that..haha..
The gravel I was thinking about using is a little bit smaller.

 
The dark brown gravel is what I was thinking about using…The lighter gravel was just some pea gravel I had left over. I have been tossing around the idea of using pool filter sand though…I have half a bag leftover anyways.. Do you think the dark brown gravel might be to large as well?

Right now I have a nice bit of hygro tiger as well as rotala..I also have an anubias, but I plan on moving that to another tank and replacing it with a few cryptocoryne.

Right now my tank is at 1.5 watts per gallon and has 6500k…I usually leave my tanks light on for 9 hours. I replaced my light last month so it is fairly new. This tank also gets a little bit of natural light early in the morning.
Thankyou for the link I will check it out .
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Old 02-04-2012, 10:26 AM   #4 
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The gravel needs to be about 1-3mm....to me both of those look too large...for plants in a soil based tank...you need to start with about 75% of the floor planted with stem plants and 10-25% floating like water lettuce, frogbit, duckweed-you can add rosette too-but stem plants are really important since they are big fast feeders to help keep the water safe....you also need trumpet snail to help prevent anaerobic spots or you can poke the soil a couple of times a week until the stem plants are actively growing to help bring oxygen into the soil.....

Light penetration is really important-you may need to remove the hood and just use the light strip over the 10gal and you might need to add a second light strip for the first few months to help plant growth-I cut slats using a yard stick and placed on the lip of my tanks to help hold the light strips in place-On one tank that I needed to use the hood-I removed the glass/plastic partition between the light and water for better light penetration.
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Old 02-04-2012, 11:38 AM   #5 
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Alright, I will use the pool filter sand. After looking at the link…I really do love the way the sand looks over the soil. Your tanks are very nice!
Here is the tank I am planning to redo:

Most all of the plants are still alive, besides about half of the hygro behind the anubias…It took me awhile to figure out why they were looking bad…and then the light bulb in my head went off (lol) and I went to pull them and noticed my sand had turned BLACK…....so I will definitely be getting some trumpet snails…and maybe a nerite…as well as some duckweed…I will most likely be ordering them online because locally things are difficult to find here..but... If I get 2 bunches of stem plants and 4-5 Cryptocorynes plants do you think I would have about 75% ground cover?

About removing the plasic clear part on the hood for light penetration…Have you had any issues with evaporation getting inside the light ?
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Old 02-04-2012, 02:08 PM   #6 
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Your tank looks lovely....I had to do a double-take...lol....I thought it was one of mine....lol.....anyway......along with the black sand and plant stems did you have the rotten eggs smell.....sometimes with just discolored substrate-especially in areas under plants that receive poor lighting-it could also be algae.

I would research the nerite snail and make sure they don't eat plants-I got some Zebra nerite snails and they really did a number on my plants and had to be evicted...lol.....

Nearly all my tanks are open top and while I do have a lot of evaporation with the need to top off the tanks weekly-I have never had any issues with my lights and I have had them fall in the tanks on several occasion.....dang cats...laffs.....you can get special caps to use with the florescent bulbs to help guard against problems with moisture...I don't use them...I should.....mixing water and electricity can be dangerous......

Its hard to say if that will be enough plants or not-it would depend on how many in the bunch, however, I am pretty sure you will need more....

In 10gal-I would look at getting at least-2-3 bunches of 3-4 different species of stem plants along with the crypts and duckweed.....
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Old 02-04-2012, 04:35 PM   #7 
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I had the sand sort of sloped up in the back so it was pretty deep…I think that may have caused some issues…I am pretty sure it was anaerobic..it was pretty nasty looking...as soon as I noticed it I reached down and got my siphon and siphoned out all the sand in that area and did a large water change. The whole bucket of water I siphoned out was very dark. It did smell gross but not as strongly as I would have imagined it to after reading some stuff online about it. None of my corydoras seemed to be effected in any sort of ill way…so you may be right about the lighting or algae..

That is interesting about the nerite snails…I have always heard they were plant safe…I will have to look into that a little more! Maybe I will just stick with the trumpet snails for now.


Another lighting question…lol.. I have a lamp like this :

It holds two 18” florescent tube lights….If I replaced the lights with two 15 watt daylights do you think it would provide nice lighting for the plants? Instead of using the hood which only has the one 18" florescent.

Thanks so much for the help oldfishlady! I should get around to ordering some plants online sometime this week..
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Old 02-05-2012, 09:45 AM   #8 
Oldfishlady
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That light should work fine...I have one just like it that I plan to use over a neat little tank I recently received once I fix the leak....lol....anyway....make sure you have the right kelvin bulbs 5500-6500k range daylights...watts are fine...it the kelvin or color temp that is important for the plants....
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