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re: Top Soil substrate gone horribly wrong

You replied:

About 4 weeks ago I tried to setup a 30g long tank with
a top soil substrate. I put about 1" of top soil straight from
the bag and 1"of pea gravel on top.

The water has been really cloudy getting worse. I do a
good 75% water change and it doesn't seem to help.
I don't stir up any of the dirt. I can't even see the filter at
the back of the tank.

Strangely enough the plants seem to be doing fairly
well, which I'm surprised at because the light must be
very diffused by the time it reaches the plants. I've just removed
the couple mollies that were in there and I'm about to get ready
to scratch the whole thing.

I recently did 2 tanks similar to that.  You can see the results on my web


Topsoil has a lot of organic material in it.  That's why your water is
cloudy and will probably have considerable algae growth like mine did.
After a few weeks, the cloudiness went away and I never did have high
ammonia or nitrites!  The plants took care of that.  I want to point out
that I am a relative newbie to planted tanks (been doing it for 2 years
now), but have been suceeding thanks to the Vancouver Aquatic Plants club.
In fact, check out this link for more information on soil in tanks:

Steve Pushak's web page where I got a lot of my information:

BTW, if you have a diatom filter, that may help clear up the water by taking
out the supsended matter in the water.

Good luck!

Grant Miller
grantmiller at home_com

I wouldn't start all over again!