Setting up first dirted tank, so many questions

SRbettas

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Hi all it’s been a while but I’m glad to be back.
Anyway as the title says I am setting up my first dirted tank and have a couple questions. Firstly, how do I know which soil is safe, I’ve heard organic topsoil is best but I’m scared I’m going to put something toxic in my tank?
I’m also very confused by the process of mineralisation, do all soils need to be mineralised before adding to the tank if so how do I do this?
And lastly, the tank I am going to be setting up is an upgrade for an already existing tank and I will be using filter media from my old tank, do I still need to perform a fishless cycle? Normally when using media from an established tank I wouldn’t but I’ve heard dirted tanks can cause ammonia spikes which I obviously don’t want.
Any and all help appreciated
 

Rocky998

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Well all aquariums go through a cycle and if you are going to be using a soil that causes spikes its best to do a fishless cycle on an aquarium. These cycles take 3-6 weeks but rarely reaches the 6 week mark... Do not use land soils that have fertilizers. Me, I stay away from land soils all together just to be cautious... Who knows whats in there. They didn't make it for aquariums after all. But I have heard of people using it before
 

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@WhistlingBadger is doing something like this too. Yeah, I've heard about it too but I'm not willing to chance the hydrogen sulfide and wild pH swings. For a plant only tank with a minimal fish population it could be something to think about. I will be interested to read what those with experience have to say.
 

Colin_T

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Why do you want to add dirt to a tank.
There is no point using soil in aquariums. They produce ammonia for a bit and then stop. After that all you have is mud. Just use normal aquarium gravel or sand and aquarium plant fertiliser.
 
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SRbettas

SRbettas

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Why do you want to add dirt to a tank.
There is no point using soil in aquariums. They produce ammonia for a bit and then stop. After that all you have is mud. Just use normal aquarium gravel or sand and aquarium plant fertiliser.
I’m sort of doing it as an experiment but also to save money, for larger tank especially planted aquarium substrate is really expensive. Since the tank is going to be heavily planted with plants that are heavy root feeders it’s a lot easier to use a nutrient rich substrate than be constantly adding root tabs.
Ive seen many people having great success using organic topsoil which is free from pesticides ect and covering with a thick layer of sand. This prevents the soil from being disturbed and also makes the tank look a lot nicer.
I was hoping someone could point me in the direction of a tried and tested brand as I’m still concerned about what’s in the soil.
 

itiwhetu

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I have lined tanks with peat before and then covered that with gravel. I have done this when I wanted a soft water aquarium but have a hard water source. It works fine. My old Discus tank was done like this and lasted over ten years.
 
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SRbettas

SRbettas

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I have lined tanks with peat before and then covered that with gravel. I have done this when I wanted a soft water aquarium but have a hard water source. It works fine. My old Discus tank was done like this and lasted over ten years.
How did you find peat safe for aquarium use, did you have any issues with ammonia, some people say using soil or peat causes ammonia spikes?
 

itiwhetu

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How did you find peat safe for aquarium use, did you have any issues with ammonia, some people say using soil or peat causes ammonia spikes?
I used dried peat that I bought from a garden center ( just make sure it is pure peat and nothing else). I never had any problems with Ammonia, the tanks are always acidic, so Ammonia is not an issue. One of the things I try to encourage all aquarists to do is run their tanks acidic if they can, most of your problems will go away if you can do that.
 
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SRbettas

SRbettas

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I used dried peat that I bought from a garden center ( just make sure it is pure peat and nothing else). I never had any problems with Ammonia, the tanks are always acidic, so Ammonia is not an issue. One of the things I try to encourage all aquarists to do is run their tanks acidic if they can, most of your problems will go away if you can do that.
I try and keep my tank at around 7, tap water here runs at 7.8ish so getting it down to 7 is the best I can do. Is the peat any good for plant growth?
 

connorlindeman

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I’m sort of doing it as an experiment but also to save money, for larger tank especially planted aquarium substrate is really expensive. Since the tank is going to be heavily planted with plants that are heavy root feeders it’s a lot easier to use a nutrient rich substrate than be constantly adding root tabs.
Ive seen many people having great success using organic topsoil which is free from pesticides ect and covering with a thick layer of sand. This prevents the soil from being disturbed and also makes the tank look a lot nicer.
I was hoping someone could point me in the direction of a tried and tested brand as I’m still concerned about what’s in the soil.
What about quikrete play sand? Its safe for fish... Only about 5$ for 50lbs
 

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