Like I said before, I am going to post a DIY Dirted Aquarium thread. Obviously this is for freshwater tanks(Sorry Saltwater folks). 1st things 1st, Why Dirt? Why do you want to go through the process of putting dirt into your fish tank, is it messy, what benefits does it add, what does it take away? Heres the thing.....DIRT ROCKS!!!! A thing to remember about aquatic plants is that they take in the majority of their nutrients in through their roots, not through the water(additives can help though, I still use them
). It may be messy, but thats the fun part. The dirt contains soooo much beneficial nutrients for the plants that the "trouble" you go through is totally worth it. That being said, I dont think the dirt takes anything away from your tank. Besides, its cheaper then substrate that is beneficial to plant growth. One great additive to your tank is Clay. Red Clay is high in Iron(best thing to give your plants) and like I said before, plants take in the most through their roots.....so add it as your base substrate.
So, what to do to prepare for your newly planned dirted fish tank.
1. Clean your tank (white vinegar, we all know this
2.*Spread Red Clay across the base of your tank. (Laterite is good to use http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=4876)
3.*Add your dirt to your tank!(what I do is mix in pea gravel to the dirt, it adds something for the roots to hold on to, and prevents a mushroom cloud of dirt from going all over your tank if you pull a plant out). Also, squeeze the dirt before you put it in to keep excess mud water out of your tank.
4.*Add a cap. Caps are important because this is what you use to keep the dirt from floating around, and literally making your substrate mud.
5. Add your "decorative" items (ex. Driftwood, rocks)
6. Add your plants!!!
7. Crumble up newspaper and place it in your tank(Trust me, this gets cool)
8. Use a spray bottle and mist the newspaper, make sure it covers your entire tank
9. Add in your water, make sure you pour it on your newspaper, and not your glass.(The newspaper works just like the plate trick to keep your substrate the way you scaped it to look. However, the reason why this works better is because the water flows in different directions therefore the dirt will not be disturbed too drastically keeping your aquarium looking spiffy
10. Add fish and enjoy!
*Wash this items prior to adding*
I will add pictures in the morning hopefully, but comment me with questions and what not. The pictures I will be adding will go progressively from empty tank to tank with water and fish(i think i have my fish in it......) and then I will add it to a tank showcase if i remember =P