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I am setting up a heavily planted 40 gallon aquarium. I want to use potting soil capped with playsand for the substrate. Are there any negative effects to using potting soil in an aquarium?
 

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It can leech ammonia/ and or nitrites/nitrates. Best to set it up and plant it from day one. Test water parameters for a couple if weeks to make sure you have stable water parameters before adding fish.
 

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I've used regular dirt, with potting soil you need to make absolutely sure it is organic and not enriched in any way. The wrong soil can cause ammonia spikes. Just cap with sand and don't use more then 2" of soil. You may get some anaerobic pockets, but I have never had any negatives effects from this.

Plant heavy from the get-go and do a few WC in the first week to deal with any excess nutrients.
 

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Although I haven't setup a 'dirt' tank, I've done a fair amount of research. Dustin recommends Miracle Grow Organic potting soil. I worry that many potting soils have peat, perlite, vermiculite and/or just too much organic matter. I think you're better off with plain top soil or mineralized top soil.

Although you can plant right away, be prepared to do several water changes before you get things settled and it's not uncommon to fight an algae bloom in the first few weeks. Hold off adding fish until the tank is stable. Don't neglect 'wild life' in the substrate as Malaysian Trumpet Snails and California Black Worms will be an asset.

Good Luck,
AD
 

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From what I have read the best potting mix to use is Mirage Grow Organic Choice Potting Mix. I have this in my tank now. I sifted a little of the big sticks out but that's it. Some say take all the sticks out, some say bake it or just dump it in and cap it. After I added it and capped it with sand I planted it and monitoredthe water parameter for 2 week to make sure it didn't leech anything. Which it didn't btw.
 

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Although I haven't setup a 'dirt' tank, I've done a fair amount of research. Dustin recommends Miracle Grow Organic potting soil. I worry that many potting soils have peat, perlite, vermiculite and/or just too much organic matter. I think you're better off with plain top soil or mineralized top soil.

Although you can plant right away, be prepared to do several water changes before you get things settled and it's not uncommon to fight an algae bloom in the first few weeks. Hold off adding fish until the tank is stable. Don't neglect 'wild life' in the substrate as Malaysian Trumpet Snails and California Black Worms will be an asset.

Good Luck,
AD
Have you seen where you can get Live black worms @? I would love to have some but in small amounts. 3/4 pounds is the smallest I can find. That's a lot worms and to much for me to spend on worms.
 

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Have you seen where you can get Live black worms @? I would love to have some but in small amounts. 3/4 pounds is the smallest I can find. That's a lot worms and to much for me to spend on worms.
Sorry, I also only find mostly bulk suppliers and only one offering 3/4 lb @ $40~. I'm guessing there isn't much demand to promote direct hobbyist sales - need something like 1/2lb for about $20. I've done business with Ken - The WormMan for Redworms...He lists California black worms for $38/1lb. I'd suggest sending e-mail asking if he sell a lower quantity, but I see his website shows a stock of zero. He's in NJ so he's a reseller and maybe only has them 'in season'. (then again, 1/2lb has got to be 500+ worms when to seed a tank, 100~ or so is likely plenty...(and then comes the challenge of getting them into the substrate without being gobbled up by the stock - I imagine even with the cover of darkness, this can be tough.)
 

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I have gotten some locally a couple tines before. It was something like 1/2 pound for $20 but the last time I did that most of them were dead and I was furious. That was A LOT of worms for sure. Now I could try that route again but would still lie something in smaller amounts. Thanks Abbeysdad I might contact Ken and see what he could possibly do.
 
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