View Full Version : Benifits of dirted tanks and how to set up.

Angel keeper
08-18-2011, 08:19 PM
Recently I have been exposed to setting up dirted tanks and the benifits it can have on growing plants and I would love to share it with everyone. I am new to this set up for aquariums so I hope my knowledge would be of use anyway.

Dirted tanks involves using aquatic soil or even any organic potting soil such as Miricle Gro potting soil. Dirt with help plants to establish good root structures and provide nutrients for plants with little to no fertilizers needed. Dirt also releases little tannis into the water which can lower the ph and can act as a slight bacterial protection. Also, plants are known to take in more nutrients through their roots than their leaves which means the dirt can easily provide the needs that suits the plants adaptations and for those hobbiests who likes the use natural methods in fish keeping dirt can be a great replacement for root tabs.

Research has shown that adding red unfired clay to dirted tanks can make plants that would otherwise find hard to gain their potential red colouration easier such as Ludwiga Repens.

Of course Dirt will make the tank messy if you only use dirt for the substrate. However, you can use gravel or sand to cap the dirt to make setting a dirted tank a lot easier. Here are some steps in which you can take to set up a dirted tank:

1.Place the potting soil into a bucket and rinse the dirt as much as you can to clean the dirt.

2. You will now want to add the dirt to the tank and make sure to make things even unless you want to make slopes and adjustments that meets the desired look. About 1 inch dirt will do fine but feel free to add more if you want to.

3. Next add the unfire red clay into the dirt and make sure that its not exposed.

4. Add water to the dirt but make sure theres no puddle, you want a thick consistanst dirt.

5. You will want to add your chosen substrate to cap the dirt after rinsing. Gravel or sand will work fine. Make sure the layer over the dirt is a 1:1 ratio so 1 inch of dirt is covered with 1 inch of gravel or sand and so on.

6. Place any decorations you want in the tank now and plants. The plants does not have to be placed right down into the dirt since once the tank starts to age the roots will reach the dirt in no time.

7. Carefully add the water into the tank and keep doing partial water changes to clean the debris of the tank.

8. After doing so proceed to cycle the tank and then add the fish you wish to keep and enjoy the plants grow healthily.

I hope my knowledge of dirted tanks would be of help, I want to enforce the fact that this a breif introduction to dirted tanks there are infomation that I have missed or infomation that i do not know so I hope when/if you want to set up dirted tanks please read and do investigations of your own too.

Thanks for reading and I hope this is useful, Angel Keeper.

08-18-2011, 08:49 PM
Good to know. thumbs2: This should be stickied

Lady Hobbs
08-19-2011, 12:05 AM
I have other opinions on this.

If the clay (laterite) is to be covered, then why are you adding it to the top of the soil? It should be mixed into the bottom couple inches of soil with other soil on top to make sure it does not get into the water column.

The "red" in plants is due to the lights provided. Good lighting will bring out the red hues but I don't believe the soil has a thing to do with the color of plants.

Miracle Grow often comes with fertilizers added so I would stick with the organic. Not just Miracle Grow but make sure it says Miracle Grow organic. I also never washed the soil. I dumped it in the tank and leveled it out and planted the tank.

And now the trick......plant the tank heavily and then leave it alone. Each time you pull a plant out of the soil, you will have a mess and especially if you use the clay. Not a good place for bottom feeders that dig, either.

Didn't work for me beause I like to play with my plants and move things about. I find aquarium plant substrate much, much easier. But the potting soil does work fairly well but best to be left to the experts.

08-20-2011, 06:26 PM
I currently have a 10g dirtied tank and the plants have gone wild. Its like a jungle in there now and have done only 1 50% WC on it in 3 months. It has 2 female guppies whom both had babies. The male jumped out a while back. Got a ton of fry in it.

I agree with LH, set it how you want as moving it around will just ruin the experience. Also I did not bother wahing the soil either. I just made it into a thick mud before adding the top substrate.

Another thing is lighting, it needs to be good or it will not be worth all the trouble.

The massive plus I find with a dirtied tank is low algae, if any, and low costs compared to the planted substrates.

08-20-2011, 07:25 PM
Sounds like you are going for something a little similar to a Walsted method. Or at the least similar to my understanding of it

08-20-2011, 08:57 PM
I went with this method mixed with flourite sand to recharge the soil....

Works a treat!

Lady Hobbs
08-21-2011, 06:47 AM
Potting soil is very rich in nutrients. I don't know why a person even would need the red clay. It makes such a mess!

08-21-2011, 10:47 PM
Clay holds nutrients very well especially iron. It also has the highest buffering capacity of all soil types.(resistance to ph change)

08-21-2011, 11:42 PM
Great.. now I want another tank ;)