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i changed my mind im going to make a npt 20 long new sorrority i bought the quickcrete play sand and scotts organic topsoil
Awesome! I'm about to do my own 20 long the same way.

OFL, I have some wild albimarginata coming next week. Would you suggest I jumpstart the cycle in my new NPT before they get here, or let the tank cycle with the fish in? Normally I just do the latter but I don't want to stress the fish out too much.
 

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What kind of soil shold I use like dirt from the garden?
 

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ok about to take the plunge i have small river rocks with beneficial bacterias should i strech an inch of this gravel over the quick creat sand planing to sponge filters in my 20 long have snails and 3 pregnant healty ghost shrimp i have red ramshorns nerite snails and mts this will be my sorrority tank
i also have caves with those cycled baterias i also plan to modify my 10 gallon hop filter with a sponge on the intake and baffled is that to much
 

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OFL what kind of soil do you recommend? I've heard people use Miracle Gro, is there a specific type that works best?

Also, I just put some Quikrete Commercial Grade Fine Sand in one of my 5 gallon tanks and I was AMAZED at how it responded to being in water. It's a very fine white silica sand that is 0.6-0.2 mm so it's comparable to pool filter sand, possibly even finer. No dust at all, I dribbled in the first bit of water and after that more or less splashed bucketfuls into the tank and the sand did not move. No floating particles whatsoever. It's beautiful sand, I will definitely be using it in my next NPT. And it's available at pretty much any home improvement store at around $3 for a 50 pound bag. Win.
Do you know if the have any smaller bags?
I know it's an awesome price but my boyfried doesn't want me to get that much sand because of the risk of spilling it every where -.-
But I appreciate his thoughtfullness 'cause I would be sooooo annyoed with picking up a mess that big!
 

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For soil-anything that doesn't have any type of chemical additives, ferts, too much manure, pine bark.....Organic type potting soil, top soil, dirt from your yard.

I have used all kinds of different soil bases-and really haven't seen much difference as far as water quality-but I have seen differences in plant growth.

I used a local nursery brand potting soil they make and it was full of the perlite and that didn't cause any problems other than it floats when disturbed and looks a bit ugly until you net it out.

My dirt I use from my pasture "black gold" I like to call it-since it is from virgin land high in organics, composted leaves...etc....It will have lots of bugs, critters, worms and the like. I don't stress over it-I leave them and they drown-I look at it as more plant food or even food for the fish.

I like to add a bit of native sand and clay to my dirt and I sift it all together.

I have used generic clay kitty litter-but found it too messy when I pull plants-but it is great when used in a 25/75 mix. The added Iron is loved by the rosette plants.

When I set one up-
I add my dirt-then add just enough water to cover-then I add my sand-I don't rinse my sand-I like to use everything dry. Then I add water-drain and repeat until clear. Then I add about 2-3 inches of water and start to plant-I already have my hard scape placed, filter, heater and check the hood for placement if one is used.
Once I have everything planted-I fill with water and drain and re-fill if needed until clear.

Its important to start with enough stem plants from the beginning and clear water for best light penetration to plants. The active plant growth is what keep the water safe.

The cap-its up to you on what you want to use-My first NPT I used sand but I had some really nice 1-2mm gravel and used that on one tank and larger on yet another. I use both on some or use sand with handfuls of gravel around the base of plants to help keep them anchored until they take root or for some contrast in texture......It endless...no right or wrong per se...The goal of the cap is to help hold the soil in place until it is water logged and starts its life under water and why you don't need that much.

I used pool filter sand for the first time on the 55gal I re-setup last Oct. and it has worked fine.

This is the tank that I experimented with using sand I collected from my stock pond and ended up needing to add an inch of gravel on top of that sand due to the silts from the pond sand-What a mess-but the gravel worked to help collect the silts and to prevent more silts in the water column. I also had some anaerobic soil issue due to too deep of substrate layer, however, even with all these problems the tank lasted for 5 years before I got tired of looking at it and 2 of those years it didn't have a filter running-but only because it stopped working and I didn't replace it-that is how well the plants worked as the filtration-Plants or fish never suffered-everything thrived.....And this is the tank that also got the flea powder in it at one point-killed a lot of shrimp but nothing else......

I have needed to replace sand on occasion-after a time the sand will start to discolor and I will suck it out with my python that drains out in the garden. I use a plastic cup with dry sand-lower it into the tanks and pour in the places I need it. Best to have the filter off if one is used and usually within 2-3min its all settled.

I have also used a larger meshed net to kinda turn the sand a bit and to remove the hundreds of snails-I scoop them up along with a net full of sand and kinda shake it or sift it and that brightens the sand back up.

I don't use any specific brands-honestly I don't think it matters, I don't stress over water prams. I watch the water, plants, fish, shrimp and snails and they tell me when something is wrong-You can't beat the power of observation. Too many things can cause skewed water pram readings and you are going to do the same thing with the results that you would do with change in behavior of livestock....Water change......

If the plants are thriving/growing and needing regular trims-provided that you used enough stem plants-they will keep the water safe.
Shrimp usually will be the first thing to tell you that you have a water quality issue. Bettas will be the last to tell you since they can tolerate more harsh conditions than other species of fish.

By understanding normal behavior it will be easier to pick out abnormal behavior.....

And when in doubt....make a water change-by the time you complete the water test it might be too late.....

Most important...relax, have fun, use your imagination and enjoy your little ecosystem....That is what its all about...

hello, Can you explain to me how I would use the dirt from my yard?
We don't use any ferts or anything so it should be safe but all I need to do is get the big chunks of randomness, rinse it a few times, then add it? Thanks!
 

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The way I harvest dirt from my yard-I dig down a few inches to avoid any grass, weeds...etc.....Once I have my dirt-I sift it-I use rabbit wire for this.

I don't rinse my dirt before I use it-I like to add it to my tank dry-then I add water-just enough to cover slightly-but not soupy-then I add my sand cap dry-I don't rinse the sand either-I fill up the tank-drain-repeat until near clear-then with only a few inches of water I plant-then fill with water-drain-repeat if needed until the water is crystal clear.

If you do it correctly-you shouldn't need to make but 2-3 water changes to clear the water column
 

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Thank you :3

This thread is so helpful and I really appreciate your advice.
I'll post some pictures on a new thread once I can take pictures and get the tank established C:
 

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So when/how do you add plants?

  • Do you plant the plants in the soil and then add the cap, or do you plant the plants after you add the cap?
  • Do you plant with some water in it already or do you plant without water?
  • How do you add in water without disturbing the plants and sand/soil?
 

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So when/how do you add plants?

  • Do you plant the plants in the soil and then add the cap, or do you plant the plants after you add the cap?
  • Do you plant with some water in it already or do you plant without water?
  • How do you add in water without disturbing the plants and sand/soil?

I don't think it matters how you put the plants in but I'd recommend putting them in the soil then put the cap on because I put them in after I put that cap on and after I put the water in and it made a mess but I was too frustrated to start over but it still looks nice!
Usually after you put in sand and soil the water will get cloudy and you will most likely have to do like 3 or 4 water changes[what I did] for the water to get clear.

AS far as adding water without disturbing the plants, Its a semi-long process but it worked for me, use a plastic cup to add the water in verrrry slowly cause if you try to rush it, it will make the mess bigger.
From my experience last night. I'll post some pictures for you to see in a minute[ FINALLY GOT TO TAKE PICTURES!]
 

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I don't think it matters how you put the plants in but I'd recommend putting them in the soil then put the cap on because I put them in after I put that cap on and after I put the water in and it made a mess but I was too frustrated to start over but it still looks nice!
Usually after you put in sand and soil the water will get cloudy and you will most likely have to do like 3 or 4 water changes[what I did] for the water to get clear.

AS far as adding water without disturbing the plants, Its a semi-long process but it worked for me, use a plastic cup to add the water in verrrry slowly cause if you try to rush it, it will make the mess bigger.
From my experience last night. I'll post some pictures for you to see in a minute[ FINALLY GOT TO TAKE PICTURES!]

p.S I used a 1 gallon water pitcher to ad water in from the cup.
 

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I place my dry soil-then add water-just enough to cover the dirt-then I add my dry sand-then I fill with water-drain-repeat until clear-Then with about 3-4inches of water-I plant. Then fill, drain if needed-refill...etc...until clear-usually only take 2-3 water changes-if done correctly.

I use my free hand to divert the water flow so not to kick up the dirt/sand or depending on the hard scape item-I might direct the water flow on it.

I let the water settle for at least 5 min between changes to allow the sand to settle.

I already have my hard scape in place before I add the sand cap

I also might add more sand if needed after I am done and sometimes I will use a small handful of gravel or larger rock at the roots of stem plants to help keep them in place.

I like to plant my rosette plants (swords, crypts, sags, vals..etc...) after the cap-you want their crown to be slightly above the substrate-
Stem plants can be planted before or after the cap-I have found it easier to plant after the cap.

When I make the water changes for setup-I don't drain 100% of the water-I may only remove 50-75%-then refill-this will help avoid too much disturbance of the soil/sand or up-rooting plants.
 

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ok i did it lets see if its good set it up last night i diy the cover with egg crate its for drop ceiling lights. the lights are 2 20 wht 6500k ge's and 1 26 wht 6500k ge clamp lights. 1 more partial water change and ill add my girls




















jj
 

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is it okay to use 2 different substrate as the cap? Like sand and small river pebbles for example?
 

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Yes its fine...I do this on occasion myself-Just try to keep your cap half as much as your soil layer. The cap is only to help hold the soil in place until it matures-plus it is easier to clean than soil.

Sweet :D

Thanks a bunch, you have been such a HUUUGE help >.<
 

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Great thread! is there any other kind of livestock that you recommend to aerate the soil? the snails are small and easy, i just don't like cleaning them out of my tanks all the time. Or maybe using some kinda of other live stock that feeds on the snails?
 
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