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post #1 of 16 Old 06-28-2009, 09:13 PM Thread Starter
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Question dirt for plants

i was looking at pictures of fish tanks and saw some heavily planted tanks and i belive the substare look like dirt and has grass growing all over it
can u have dirt in a tank and have it hold grass?
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post #2 of 16 Old 06-29-2009, 08:50 AM
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To be safe, no on the dirt. Regular dirt (soil) would be mud under water, and be constantly stirred up by water movement and fish (like it is in a river or creek, if you've ever tossed a rock into the water up comes a cloud of muck), not to mention it would be impossible to clean. I have read about some aquarists who put a layer of soil (but this is cleaned and specially prepared soil, not dirt dug from outside that may contain all sorts of undesirable pathogens) with a layer of gravel or sand over it. I suspect that what you are actually seeing is a planted tank substrate like eco-complete. Some of these can be in the form of gravel or sand that closely resembles "dirt" in appearance and are very authentic.

As for the grass, that is an aquatic plant not ordinary grass; common grass will not grow under water for the same reason as any true land plant will not grow permanently under water.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If youíre going to take it under your wing then youíre responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #3 of 16 Old 06-29-2009, 02:50 PM
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I have no idea what the plant is that looks like grass but the dirt might well be dirt. If you follow the advice of Diana Walstad, you will use either potting soil or garden soil covered by gravel as a substrate in a naturally planted tank. I have one set up about a year ago with potting soil. I went to a local Walmart and bought the cheapest potting soil that they had. I placed a 1 inch layer in the bottom of my tank and covered it with what might be called coarse sand or fine gravel to another inch of depth. I soaked the potting soil well before I added any more water then planted all the plants that I had available. Once planted I gently brought the tank water level all the way up and put a sponge filter with a power head into the tank. After that I deviated from the Walstad method and cycled my sponge filter before adding any fish. If I had followed the standard approach, I would have added the plants and fish all at once.
The only thing special about the potting soil is that you want the stuff with no added fertilizers. If I had garden soil that I knew had not had any poisons or ferts added, I would have used that instead but my yard was farm ground not all that long ago.
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post #4 of 16 Old 07-04-2009, 06:39 PM
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The grass is probably dwarf hairgrass (Eleocharis vivipara) or microsword (Lilaeopsis sp.). Dwarf hairgrass is a much better foreground, microsword doesn't grow as dense and is more suited for the midground.

Everything happens for a reason, but the reason isn't always good.
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post #5 of 16 Old 07-04-2009, 10:27 PM
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This tank has Miracle Grow potting soil,with black aquarium gravel on top.The "grass" is dwarf hairgrass.I have pics of the initial set up.From an empty tank,to full of water and plants.Let me know if you want to see them.This pic was took right after I pruned and cleaned it.It is usually much fuller.Sorry about the water spots on the glass.



here fishy,fishy

Last edited by fishbum; 07-04-2009 at 10:33 PM.
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post #6 of 16 Old 07-05-2009, 09:52 AM
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Actually, the foreground plant in that tank looks more like Echinodorus tenellus (dwarf chain sword).

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post #7 of 16 Old 07-05-2009, 09:53 AM
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Could be.I'm horrible at remembering plant names.

here fishy,fishy
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post #8 of 16 Old 07-05-2009, 10:11 AM
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Using soil in planted aquariums is a very common practice.It is a cheaper alternative to buying Eco complete,and substrates of that nature.People often use kitty litter mixed in with soil as well.Whether it is just plain ol' dirt,or potting soil with lots of ferts like I did,it needs to be capped with gravel or sand,or you will have a mess.The only problem I had with using the Miracle Grow soil,was the the water turned yellow for the first 2 or 3 weeks it was set up.I had to do water changes every other day for this time to keep it clear.Once the soil had leeched out whatever was staining the water,it was a great way to plant a tank.This is a 10 gallon tank.With all of the water changes needed in the initial set up,I personally would not want to do this in anything larger that a 30 gallon,maybe a 55.

here fishy,fishy
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post #9 of 16 Old 07-05-2009, 12:04 PM Thread Starter
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your tank is beautiful!!!
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post #10 of 16 Old 07-05-2009, 04:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ohhmgeitsbri View Post
your tank is beautiful!!!
Thank you!

here fishy,fishy
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