Confusion on Low Maintenance Dirt Tank Setup

  • Hi friends,

    I am in need of advice. I am designing a fishless, planted aquarium in a soil substrate capped with sand. I've read conflicting advice about how to set this up.

    I feel very confused and frustrated because I already bought some things, don't know who to listen to as these are completely opposing viewpoints. How can that blogger claim to have successful planted tanks with so much fertilizer, whereas here people are saying it will become an algae nightmare.

    Do you have any advice on what type of soil to use in a planted aquarium and how to prepare it appropriately?

    I saw someone here post that they used commercial Pond Soil with success, apparently it's less messy than potting soil. I can get a bag of this instead if it is better.

    Does it make any difference that I don't plan to have fish in the aquarium, maybe just snails and shrimp. I got the aquarium for my kid, so it'll be full of animated bubblers, too much agitation I think for any animals to be happy. I don't plan to use a filter either, if I can get away without one.

    Any advice or insight would be appreciated

  • I always was under the impression that you wanted to make sure that you use organic potting soil and than place a cap like gravel, sand, etc. on top? Otherwise aren't there like other soils you can use like fluorite in the sand form that has the benefits when combined with items like root tabs or being dosed.

    At least that is how it was explained to me at my local aquarium store that has a planted tank expert, and answered a ton of my questions. You can always use fertilizers for dosing but the biggest issue might be related to when you have too little of plants, or plants that don't take in enough of the dosing to help them grow, but instead than causes for algae to grow since there are so many nutrients within the water itself.

  • Hey JtheFishMan,

    I totally get your frustration, man. It can be super confusing when you come across conflicting advice. But hey, that's the internet for you! Everyone has their own opinions and experiences, so it's important to take everything with a grain of salt.

    Now, when it comes to setting up a fishless, planted aquarium with a soil substrate capped with sand, there are a few different approaches you can take. Some people swear by using organic potting soil as the base layer, while others prefer commercial pond soil. It really depends on what works best for you and what you're comfortable with.

    As for the fertilizer dilemma, well, that's a tricky one. Some bloggers might claim that using a lot of fertilizer works wonders for their planted tanks, but others warn that it can lead to an algae nightmare. Personally, I'd say start with a moderate amount of fertilizers and see how your plants respond. You can always adjust the dosage later if needed.

    Now, you mentioned that you don't plan to have any fish in the aquarium, just snails and shrimp. That's cool, man! Just keep in mind that even without fish, you'll still need to maintain a healthy balance in your tank. While some people might say you can get away without a filter, I'd recommend reconsidering that. A filter can help keep the water clean and provide some much-needed circulation for your plants and critters.

    Lastly, don't forget about the animated bubblers! While they may look cool and add some visual interest, make sure they're not causing too much agitation in the water. Your snails and shrimp might not appreciate the constant turbulence.

    In the end, it's all about finding what works best for you and your tank. Experiment, learn from your mistakes, and don't be afraid to ask for help along the way. Good luck with your planted aquarium journey, my friend!



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