Put the dirt on bottom no fertilizers organic choice potting soil is what i used smooth out how ever you want it and then wet dirt to a mud. squish mud with hand to get out access air Cover mud with a good ratio of dirt to gravel (2 dirt, 1 gravel) something like that just so the tank isn't cloudy the hole time. Smooth out Gravel to your liking and then setup the rest of the tank but be careful of stirring up the bed when poring water in i put a plate down. You can drain and fill it a few times to get out the cloudy water if there is some. The bubbles coming out of the substrate is not harmful just more air. The link is a video i watched might help .http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Sgn8995428
You are going to ned t5 lighting or other high output lighting
thanks you guys i finished it heres a link and let me know what you think still gotta add more plants this friday. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_aBflPaeHA&list=UUvToZospiPFELz...
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New video up! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLlny2NvAzo&feature=plcp
a simple approach is, get top soil. NO FERTILIZERS ADDED AT ALL!!!
I would mineralize it (if you dont know how look at the bottom of this reply)
put your planted tank substrate ferts in tank dry (if you want your substrate ferts)
put your very moist wet dirt in tank
put your gravel as a cap (common amount is 1 inch to 2 inches on top of at least 2 inches of dirt) I have 1inch gravel and 2 inches of dirt
slowly fill with water to at least an inch above substrate (use a plate or whatever to prevent soil movement)
place your plants (good idea to have at least more than half the grown covered in plants)
fill with water
if you have junk floating around clean it out
cycle tank do NOT ADD FISH YET untill you have fully cycled the tank
to mineralize you get the amount of dirt you need in your tank to have 2 inches of dirt
put it in a bucket and flood it with water
mix it up and let stand for some time ( maybe 20 mins)
empty the water
place the soil on a tarp or large surface and spread to a thin layer
let it dry out or till its slightly moist
re moisten the soil 4 times or till you dont want to anymore
(i did this process for a week)
now you have mineralized soil
the reason you mineralize the soil is to have the least amount of ammonia and other toxic molecules leaching into the water column and to make the neutrients available in the from that aquatic plants can use
btw youll have less algae problems
with my process i did not have ANY CLOUDY WATER and no algae problems
Thank you very much i will try this one on my 10 gallon, i will be dirting that one soon.
I ammend my statement about 1 inch of dirt. for most people who dont have TONS of plants please use only 1/4 inch of dirt to max 1/2 inch. you dont want too many nutrients leeching.
BTW i must also mention if you want a more balanced mineralized soil you can add macro ferts and micro ferts to this process to hopefully infuse the dirt with these ferts.
If you want to increase the CEC of the soil (soil is very low in CEC) you can add activated carbon during the mineralizing process so that the activated carbon absorbs the nutrients and locks it up for slow release process, also it can absorb more nutrients as it releases the nutrients =)