View Full Version : Best way to start a 55g dirted tank?

12-15-2014, 02:18 PM
I am about to set up a 55g Long Tropical Planted tank, and am thinking about laying a 1/2"-1" layer of dirt covered with 1" of black diamond coal slag (its really blasting sand). I am currently using the sand in my first planted tank, a 20g long and have been very successful, plus it looks great! Anyway, I am probably going to use Miracle Grow Organic Mix, and I plan on mineralizing it. I'm going to put it through a sieve to get out all the larger pieces, then put it in a bucket and soak it overnight, pour off the floaters. I'd like to soak it 2-3 times, but I am concerned about how much soil I am going to lose doing both of these methods. Would it be around 50% loss? Also, how much soil should I get for this size tank?

I am also considering mixing 75% and 25% unscented, non-perfumed cat litter, along with some red clay for iron. I have heard the cat litter gives the ammonia in the soil something to bind to, so however much ammonia does get absorbed stays in the soil for the plants and thus doesn't affect the fish nearly as much, if at all. Theoretically, this would decrease my ammonia levels but this is purely speculation on my behalf. Does anybody have some experience with this?

I'm not sure what plants I want to put in there, but I know if I go with the Walstad Method I need to put a lot of fast-growing plants to keep the tank balanced. I will be dosing Flourish Trace Elements and using 10,000K, 4400 Lumen LED Light. Does anybody have some nice looking plants that will work for my tank?

Thanks for reading! If anyone is interested I can post some pictures of my 20g

12-15-2014, 02:27 PM
I don't think you'll lose much dirt doing that. It'll save you from having to fish out all those white floating bits. I'd just let the dirt settle completely. I didn't worry about getting the big pieces out. They all stay at the bottom. I'd say 2-3 of the little bags would be enough for your tank. I don't know about the cat litter or it's buoyancy.I've never heard of using it.

12-15-2014, 02:42 PM
Okay, thanks. How long did you wait to add fish, if you added any? I'm thinking about waiting 1 month. How quickly would I be able to put snails in the tank? I would like the get the larger pieces out because some of them are decaying pieces of bark, which could add tannins to my water. I had to deal with tannins from driftwood in my 20g, and I would much rather not in a 55g.

12-15-2014, 02:52 PM
I waited two weeks I think. I had tannins but after a couple big water changes it was fine. You can probably drop snails in as soon as there's water in there. Snails always die in my tanks anyways. I don't know if the water is too soft or what. Just add the fish slowly. I'd recommend a couple ottos. They'll take care of must algae on the glass and the plants. Jungle val is a nice fast growing plant that help with algae. If algae gets bad just put in some floating plants like water lettuce. They'll suck up the nutrients and cut down on the light

01-29-2015, 02:58 PM
anyone know where to get Miracle Grow Organic Mix in atlanta? I see home depot sell the Nature's Care Organic Potting Mix... i'm not sure if it is the same thing.

01-30-2015, 11:57 AM
I bought the Miracle Grow Organic Mix at home depot. It should be fairly easy to find around here, but really any organic non-fertilized topsoil will work just fine. I went with MGOM because it lists the composition of the soil on the bag. Also i used this guide, which explains a lot about the mineralization process and its benefits: http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/library/52554-how-mineralized-soil-substrate-aaron-talbot.html