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Discussion Starter #1
I am wondering how effective it would be if I could make the water a little more hilly rather than flat, would it work well if I used, perhaps an inch of potting mix put some sterilized rocks/slate and then put another inch or so of soil then put some white sand on top, then plant some moss so it looks like rolling hills and plants here and there. My question is how effective would it be, as in would the hills stay there or would they start to flatten over time, because I wouldn't want that. If so, is there a better way to do it?

Also would the pleco's or any Yoyo Loaches cause any trouble with this?
 

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Welcome to TFK!

I've only run one dirted/capped tank - but it housed no fish! My other tanks have been sand or gravel only.

I do create a sloped (not hilly) substrate in my tanks, and have found that it will settle out over time without being bolstered in place by rocks and plant roots. I think this *could* work in a soil tank, but you'd have to be very careful when cleaning the substrate.

I've seen for sale things that are designed to lay beneath the substrate to help with things like this, look into aqua-scaping companies and equipment. . . you may find something. I can't remember off-hand where I've seen them!

If you do go with soil and sand, I'd avoid larger loaches and bottom dwellers - some of this depends on how heavy the sand is - a heavier grit sand might stand up better to a smaller non-burrowing loach like a kuhli. . .but I'm not 100% sure! More research yet to do for sure!!!

I'm still a beginner though, hopefully someone will be by with some more experienced light to shed!
 

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Welcome to TFK!

I've only run one dirted/capped tank - but it housed no fish! My other tanks have been sand or gravel only.

I do create a sloped (not hilly) substrate in my tanks, and have found that it will settle out over time without being bolstered in place by rocks and plant roots. I think this *could* work in a soil tank, but you'd have to be very careful when cleaning the substrate.

I've seen for sale things that are designed to lay beneath the substrate to help with things like this, look into aqua-scaping companies and equipment. . . you may find something. I can't remember off-hand where I've seen them!

If you do go with soil and sand, I'd avoid larger loaches and bottom dwellers - some of this depends on how heavy the sand is - a heavier grit sand might stand up better to a smaller non-burrowing loach like a kuhli. . .but I'm not 100% sure! More research yet to do for sure!!!

I'm still a beginner though, hopefully someone will be by with some more experienced light to shed!
I've taken the plunge, and I've gotten gravel and potting mix and the rolling hills work well so far... I'll see how it goes :)
 

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You can also use gravel in pantyhose instead of rock slabs to make hills to prevent flattening out before the plants get routed. I'll be trying that route soon in just a 29 planted. But good luck with your tank! Sounds like it's going to be amazing! :-D
 
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Looks FANTASTIC!!! Great job! You're going to have to start a journal so we can watch this tank grow! ^__^ Thanks for posting the pics!
 

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Looks FANTASTIC!!! Great job! You're going to have to start a journal so we can watch this tank grow! ^__^ Thanks for posting the pics!
Thanks,really appreciate the comment. :)

Will have to add/make a CO2 system for it I presume though.
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Only if you want to go high-tech!

All my tanks are planted, some even without fish, and I don't do Co2 - I'm just not interested in that type of tanking. High light "aquascaped' Co2 tanks are gorgeous, but not the *only* way to have a planted tank. If that's the path that interests you, follow it!

Whichever direction you choose, it's going to be a lovely tank when all is said and done, I think! ^__^
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Only if you want to go high-tech!

All my tanks are planted, some even without fish, and I don't do Co2 - I'm just not interested in that type of tanking. High light "aquascaped' Co2 tanks are gorgeous, but not the *only* way to have a planted tank. If that's the path that interests you, follow it!

Whichever direction you choose, it's going to be a lovely tank when all is said and done, I think! ^__^
Perhaps I won't go down that route for now... It still looks lovely and I will probably wait till next year before adding CO2 as its so expensive. I guess I have to wait for the cycle to start with the nitrate before I get anything going. Going to probably add some Christmas moss or pheonix moss though.

Also, looks as though the Marino balls were fakes!!! (Looks like java moss and I have a suspicion its wrapped around Styrofoam.) Have 4 LFS in the area, so not going to that one again ://

The guy did tell me to use gravel instead of white sand... I had already got the white sand, not sure what to do with it now and not sure whether I got conned or if white sand is actually bad for the water in the tank.
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White sand vs gravel?! *ish confused*
What kind of sand is it? Some people prefer gravel, some prefer sand - I like sand better, but that's an entirely personal preference! As long as the sand is inert and won't shift your water parameters, it shouldn't pose much of a problem in your tank. If you have fish that dig/burrow, the sand could *possibly* pose a problem if it is very fine/lightweight. . . I've used pool filter sand and common (cheeeap!) play sand in my tanks with no problems. . .

Bummer about the moss balls!!! >.> Some people will do anything to make a buck!

Is your plan to cycle fish-less with ammonia before adding stock/plants?

You can definitely learn a lot about the plants and their needs without Co2 for a year or so before 'upgrading' to a Co2 system!

Can't wait to follow your journey!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
White sand vs gravel?! *ish confused*
What kind of sand is it? Some people prefer gravel, some prefer sand - I like sand better, but that's an entirely personal preference! As long as the sand is inert and won't shift your water parameters, it shouldn't pose much of a problem in your tank. If you have fish that dig/burrow, the sand could *possibly* pose a problem if it is very fine/lightweight. . . I've used pool filter sand and common (cheeeap!) play sand in my tanks with no problems. . .

Bummer about the moss balls!!! >.> Some people will do anything to make a buck!

Is your plan to cycle fish-less with ammonia before adding stock/plants?

You can definitely learn a lot about the plants and their needs without Co2 for a year or so before 'upgrading' to a Co2 system!

Can't wait to follow your journey!
I love the sand but have grown to like the gravel, it makes it look more interesting and less bland (the sand was a brilliant white.) The place I got the sand from said it has no real effect on the water the next time I went in but by then it was too late.

As for the aquarium that sold me the fake moss balls and told me I need to use gravel as opposed to sand, never going to that place again. (Shame out of all of the fish shops they had the best looking bettas).

I haven't particularly liked the java moss that I've seen and hopefully I'll be able to find some proper marimo moss. Might take out the fake moss but I kinda like it because its on a stone and floats half-way up the tank.

I'll probably end up doing one of the following:
Not use CO2 at all
Not use CO2 and get proper CO2 in a years time
Use DIY CO2 and upgrade
Use DIY CO2 and keep it

In the end, I'll probably get some sort of CO2 system though.

Now all I need to do is wait for my bank transfer to complete so I can buy some Pheonix Moss and other similar things! :)

As for the cycling, I am doing it with fish food and shrimp while doing water changes and using the bottled bacteria, should only take 3 days to cycle (I hope!)
 

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It's still going to take around 2 weeks or a week and a half to fully cycle, unless you're also using seeded material from a mature tank, then it might cut the time but you'll still have to definitely wait longer than 3 days lol. I wish it only took three day's!

Normally I'd suggest using SeaChem Flourish Excel but that would be a little difficult for a 90 gallon lol, not impossible but impractical is all compared to a real CO2 set up. Of course I'm used to dealing with much smaller tanks, like 5.5 or 10's XD ;-) good luck with your cycle though!
 
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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
It's still going to take around 2 weeks or a week and a half to fully cycle, unless you're also using seeded material from a mature tank, then it might cut the time but you'll still have to definitely wait longer than 3 days lol. I wish it only took three day's!

Normally I'd suggest using SeaChem Flourish Excel but that would be a little difficult for a 90 gallon lol, not impossible but impractical is all compared to a real CO2 set up. Of course I'm used to dealing with much smaller tanks, like 5.5 or 10's XD ;-) good luck with your cycle though!
Well, I forgot to mention, the other day I picked up this cycle stuff from my LFS, seemed to work wonders, perhaps also due to the shrimp being in there and 50% water changes. Anyway... did a 50% water change this morning, tested the water tonight, and all is good! Despite me needing to tweak the KH and GH a bit (currently at 2d and 4d respectively) its all ready for fish!!! <20ppm Nitrate, 0 Nitrite, 0 Ammonia. I also used some fish food to ensure that it cycled well. Probably somewhat due to the fact that the Anubias on the driftwood were from an old tank. Was going to get some water from the pond and some goldfish but that wasn't necessary. :) :)

Looks as though my peppermint pleco's are going to go in tomorrow or perhaps some cardinal tetra's. Not sure which one yet.

My full list will be:
1xBetta{Male}
20-30xCardinal Tetra
10-20xNeon Tetra
10xGlowlight Tetra
5xCorydoras Julii
1xBristlenose Pleco
10xRed Cherry Shrimp (already in)

I wish there were some big, compatible schooling fish that could work but no :|

Thinking of putting a red-tailed black shark but it may or may not work with the betta, would be lovely to see the two though :|, and my LFS sells them for about $12

ALSO: Turns out my tank is 75 gallon, not 90. Doesn't really change anything though.
 
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