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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Today I decided to try my hands at a mud tank. Yep mud. Soo I went to Walmart to get the cheapest topsoil I could find. Eco earth was the brand name I got. It cost like $1.25 +tax for a 40lb bag. So I got it home and opened the bag and the dirt is made up of clay, dirt, and some sticks/bark (not much but some.) Its also wet!! Which makes it nearly impossible to sift. Soo I decide to bake it. Yep thats right bake it. So I put some on an old baking sheet.
Sorry this pic is a little blurry but you get the idea.


I actually used two pans of dirt and baked them for an hour at 450°. Now just a word of caution. It tends to stink. I personally didn't think so but my wife had to leave and come back later. Soo I wouldn't necessarily do this unless you are prepared for the smell. After the hour is up I took the pans outside to the front porch.



Now that the dirt is dried and cooled off I use a strainer to sift the dirt to get all the sticks and rocks out of the dirt. Too my surprise there isn't that much in there. I sifted it into a bowl at first. From there I put it into my tank. I am doing this on a small scale and using a 5.5 gallon tank.



I did this to one pan full. That amount in the pic isn't from one whole pan. I got a couple bowls out of it. After that I got what I thought was enough just from one pan.
So I started to fill the tank slowly outside to rinse the dirt out some.



Yeah it makes a muddy mess for sure!! I also got a lot of particular floating. Soo I fill it up and let it overflow for a min. Then I dump it and realize that my mud is too fluffy soo to speak. Soo I add the other pan of dirt but this time I don't sift it. I do pick out what big pieces I can see but that's it. Then I start the rinsing process again. I rinse and dump then rinse and dump one more time. This time the mixture is a lil heavier and sticker. Soo I think its good to go.



After this pic was taken I dumped it and took the tank inside and fill it again next to sink. Except this time I might have filled it a lil too fast and got a bunch of floating debris again. That was obviously my fault for not using a bowl or plate to slow the water. Yeah that won't happen again. So after 30 mins of scooping out the debris I ended up with something like this.



Yep I know it doesn't look pretty! LoL I got a crazy look from my wife who said "You destroyed my tank for that!!).LoL that was her lil snail tank (well really mine but apparently she claimed it and I didn't know it till today.). I let the tank run like that for about 3-4 hours. Then I siphoned 98% of the water out. I added a different type of sponge filter and Frogbit from my dirt tubs that are outside. This time I used a small bowl to help stop the water from hitting the mud.



The Frogbit has some awesome long roots as you can see. Plus all those long roots work to my benefit as each root has small fine hair like shots on them that snag particulars and debris. They work just as good if not better then any filter at collecting them.

The water has already cleared up some since that last pic but I am going to let the tank run all night and then in the morning I will see what it looks like. I will probably do another big water change on it also. I will be taken pics along the way and updating this thread as much as possible. This tank will probably be just a grow out tank for some plant and might house the snails again. Probably no fish for it in the future unless the parameters settle and are fine through it probably still won't house fish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I just looked at the tank. I don't normally turn the lights on after they turn off but it hit me there are no fish in there anyways. So it doesnt matter! LoL

The water is getting pretty clear. Its not there yet but close. It will probably still need a water change in the morning.



You can actually see the heater in the back of the tank now and the sponge filter on the right (its the white sponge on the mud next to the glass.).

The roots from the Frogbit has a lot of debris in them. I not sure what I am going to do there. I am thinking I will take those plants out and trade them for some different plants that I have outside. I am also thinking I will trim the roots on those plants. Does anyone know if you cut cut them and not hurt the plants or roots??



In this next pic you see the dirt and the heater in the back. You can also see some more stuff stuck in the roots.

 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Got a laugh from your wife's comment :lol: Will be interesting to see how things go for your tank. Have not tried a dirted tank myself, but most people that I see who do usually do a cap of sand. Keep us updated on it's progress.
LoL yeah she wasn't too happy about it. Even through she doesn't do anything with them. They are all my tanks. She was just mad because that tank sits on the counter top in the kitchen.

I have done fitted tankels before. Usually use Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting Mix with a sand cap. I have always wanted to try just a dirt tank with no cap just too see if you could.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Plants!

So today I did a couple of water changes and added some plants. I have to say that planting in dirt/clay is much much easier then sand! The plants go right in and stay! Right now through if you disturb the soil it makes some what of a mess! I don't know if it will always be that way or not but a water change gets it right out! Here are a couple of pics.











I am going to let it run for a couple days without touching it and see what happens.
 

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So glad you posed this up, John! I've been wanting to do a capless dirt tank for ages now, and have been having such clear water in my outside buckets of mud and plants that I think it'll work perfectly - now I get to watch you for proof, so whenever I GET an open tank, I'll know just what to do! No loaches, tho. . .*giggle*

Looks like it's clearing up really quickly, and looking great!!! Keep us posted on how things develop - and how much the plants love it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you Jes. I will update it later this week when I test the water just to see where it is.
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
No sand in this tank just dirt. As for a smell well it smells like dirt water if that makes sense. Not as much now as it did yesterday but nonetheless a smell.
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BEAUTIFUL! ^.^ I knew it wouldn't take long to clear up. And they said it couldn't be done!!! Can't wait to see how this tank progresses. . . I just love the look of the dirt with no cap. And. . . I know it sounds weird, but I love that dirt smell, lol.

*wonders if TMS will burrow through the dirt*

Have you had a chance to test parameters??! I'm really curious as to what/if anything is going on in there. . .
 

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No sand in this tank just dirt. As for a smell well it smells like dirt water if that makes sense. Not as much now as it did yesterday but nonetheless a smell.
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*facepalm* Sorry, I meant dirt! So not used to using that word in conjunction with a tank. Hahahaha.

It looks GORGEOUS, I love it so much! Do you think the baking mineralized it at all? Like the procedure with constant wet/dry on top soil?

Totally gonna have to give this a whirl one day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Have read that oxidation is oxidation is oxidation which is part of the reason for mineralizing it. Baking works the same.
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
lol, sorry! I meant MTS!!! Malaysian Trumpet Snails. Are they in yet? Darn initials!!!
Yes they are in there. They seem to be doing well. They also burrow through the dirt just the same as sand or sand/dirt mix.
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Some more pics....



My sad lil crypt that refuses to grow. LoL I guess I should be happy that it hasn't melted yet like most of mine do!!


Here are the MTS Jes.
 

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Hmmm. This has gotten me really curious. Besides the environmental issues of peat, would you think using peat or a mixture of peat/soil could work as an only substrate? I'm assuming it would soften water a bit, considering its used in filters for the purpose.....*chin scratch* I know it can waterlog easily, although its still rather 'light'.
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Hmmm.... I don't know Jen. The soil is already light as it is and mixing it with peat might make it too light. Through can't say for sure as I have never used peat. Tomorrow when I am off I am going to check the parameters and let y'all know what they are. I would say if you have a small empty tank just try it as its pretty fun playing with mud to see what you can make in a tank.
 

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OMG! Me n' Jen just can't seem to get our words down right, lol! *hugs Jen*
Thanks for the info about the MTS, I've always wondered about that - and the newest shot looks GREAT! Thanks for taking the time to check params for me. I forgot to do it when I set up my tank. Well, I didn't FORGET, I was just INSANELY busy that week, and didn't get a moment to. Can't wait to hear the results!

its pretty fun playing with mud to see what you can make in a tank.
This is me right now. I'm just having fun playing with mud. Topsoil, Potting mix, and plain ol' dirt from the backyard (the winner so far) Mud is AWESOME! Once you get all the gunk out, it's sooooo squishy soft, like cake batter. *giggle* The husband just rolls his eyes at me. . . but MUD is FUN! I always knew I'd love it, and I was right!
 
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