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.

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