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Old 07-03-2015, 07:58 PM   #1
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Switching from 29 gallon to planted 55 gallon with dirt

Posted on here and another forum about switching my 29 gallon to a 55 gallon dirt tank. Thanks for your guys advice/help thought I'd post an update on how it went and my experience in case anyone is looking to do the same thing or someone can point out a fatal error.

It was been a week now since the switch and things seem to be going good. I wasn't unable to find the Organic miracle gro that everyone seems to suggest. Instead I picked out some plan old dirt from the local home depot. The most important thing was there was no fertilizer in it and was made from organic materials. All bags with fertilizers in them seem to list the percent of nitrogen in them, the one I got didn't.

Cleaned and dried the new tank, and poured the dirt in the tank, roughly an inch to and inch and a half over the whole surface. Misted the dirt to make sure it was completely damp but not soggy. I then drained most of the 29 gallon tank into a sterilite tub, scooped the fish out, put them in the sterilite tub, threw the filter on the tub and put the heater in. Put the glass lid over the tub to make sure the fish couldn't jump out.

I drained more water into a huge pot, put the driftwood, rock, and plants into the pot and drained more water out. Then scooped my substrate out of the 29 gallon, I'm using a mix of white sand and gravel 50/50 mix. I took the sand/gravel and used it as my capstone to the dirt. I put roughly an inch of gravel and sand over all the dirt, some places more some less. I then filled the tank a quarter of the way (when I fill my tank I siphon the water into the tank, so I don't kick up the sand/gravel and then the dirt) I drained it because of cloudiness, then filled again, noticed less cloudiness, so I planted plants and placed driftwood and rocks in.

I filled it up a few more gallons, having roughly 10 gallons in the tank. At this point I figured the best way to reduce stress to the fish was to add their water to the tank slowly and as it drained add the fish, that way it seemed more like a water change rather than a whole change in water and environment. I added hardly fish first made sure they were okay then added the rest. After the fish were added I completely filled the tank with water.

I left it the rest of the day the whole process took roughly three hours. I did notice some cloudiness put nothing to bad. The next day I went to work my girlfriend had the day off so she ran a test on it and monitored the tank temp. I purposely placed it close to the window to allow natural light in and help grow the plants. We have central air so the house stays at roughly 73 but was worried about the sun cooking the tank. The last week the outside temp has been in the high 90's low 100's so the tank got hit as hot as it can get here. The tank starts out at 78ish in the mornings and the temperature hasn't rose above 80.8. There are mesh curtains over the window helping to block out some sun but not all. It is an east facing window so it only gets light from sunrise till noonish. Nitrate levels were 40ppm so when I got home the first day I did a 50% water change, I never measured them before just did the nitrite so I had no comparison, I know not smart. All other tests, ph, nitrite, and ammonia have remained the same.

I did 50%-60% water changes the next day and the day after. The tank had a green tint to it one day but a water change took care of that. I order more plants the last of them got here today and are now planted.


The nitrate levels dropped to 20ppm over the water changes and has been stable the last couple of days. Fish were added yesterday, another angelfish and two kribs. We had another angelfish from the other take and were worried about them going at it, however, it has seemed to mellow out the first angelfish and she is now less hostile towards other fish. The kribs are getting harassed by cockatoos and german blues, but the plants seem to be helping and they aren't doing a lot of nipping just chasing. Sorry for the long post let me know what you guys think.
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Old 07-03-2015, 09:51 PM   #2
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One thing that would worry me is the direct sunlight causing algae issues.
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Old 07-03-2015, 10:54 PM   #3
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One thing that would worry me is the direct sunlight causing algae issues.
Ya I'm worried about that too.... I"m banking on the plants out competing the algae for co2. Also fish and snails to keep it at bay, if I have to I'll get an SAE. I did have some green hair algae in the 29 gallon and that is when I added the snails, they took care of most of it. When I had the green tint to the tank I was thinking it was the start to a green algae bloom and I think doing the big water change along with the addition to plants nipped it before it got bad. I also have another spot I can put the tank that receives no sunlight if need be.
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