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· Registered
154 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I currently have an "extremely" low light setup right now. I'm moving from my apt to a house and have a sunny window reserved for my tank and am planning on making it an El-Natural setup.

I wanted to let you know my plans and see if anyone had any advice or tips, or if I'm going about it all wrong.

My current setup is
-30 gallon
-20 watt tube cf light
Fish: 2 danios, 4 corys, 4 ottos, 3 rainbow, 5 tetras, 1 frog, 1 dwarf pleco, 3 khuli loaches, 2 guppies, and 1 swordtail.
Plants: 1 large java fern and several small, 1 large anubia, 3 nymphaea lotus, 20+ cryptocorian wendtii, 1 amazon sword, and a few small samples of others that I've picked up but haven't taken off yet such as ludwigia repens, java moss, etc.

My plan:
-EarthGro brand "Top Soil", has been soaking for 2 weeks so far in a bucket.
-More plants to add: Bacopa caroliniana, Myriophyllum pinnatu, Cryptocoryne balansae, Singapore moss, Marsilea Quadrifolia, Egeri najas, Potamogeton gayi.
- 18" bubble wand for air and water movement.
-Whisper filter with sponge media and carbon media

I want to move the tank this friday. I will tear down my tank completely and move it to my new house. I want to put in first the topsoil, about 1" thick all around followed by gravel on top, 2+ inches thick at the back and <1" thick at the front, sloping down from back to front of the tank. Then I will add the plants, then put the water back and reintroduce my fish. All in the same night. Is this likely to work, or will many of my fish likely die from the soil being introduced to a fishy tank?

I plan also to use my powerhead filter for a while, at least until I feel like the tank is more established. Would it be detrimental for the plants or for establishing the setup for me to still use the filter for a while? Should I have both the sponge and carbon filter, or only sponge?

I'm attaching some photos of my current setup and population along a photo of my so called "top soil".


· Registered
103 Posts
Hi queijoman,

I'am telling you my expirience with which I have been successful.I would suggest that you let your tank cycle with some hardy fish for atleat 2 weeks.Dont add any fish immediately.Wait for 2 days & add some hardy fish like Guppies,mollies,Rosy Barbs.You can run a powerhead filter with sponge continuosly for 2 weeks & then slowly put in the fish.


· Super Moderator
4,122 Posts
I've set up many tanks and added fish that night. But I watch fish very closely and change water immediately if there's a problem. I would use carbon in the filter just in case there's some nasty organics in the new soil.

My advice: start tank setup early in the morning. Let filter run, temperature come up, and get water aerated/degassed before you add fish. Plan to do water changes the minute you see your fish losing their appetite.

I would not put two inches of gravel on top of your soil. It will make soil more anaerobic-- too risky for a new startup. Instead, you could put one inch and then after a couple months and/if your plants are doing well, add the second inch. You can probably pull your plants up to accomodate the new gravel layer. Or just add more gravel gradually.

Even if the soil you chose is not ideal or contains something nasty, you can always compensate by water changes, aeration, and charcoal filtration. Getting through the first couple months can sometimes be a little tricky. However, your soil may be fine and you'll have no problems.

One thing. Your swordplant doesn't look like a true Amazon Swordplant (E. bleheri), which is a great grower. Your plant looks more like an E. horemani or E. osiris, which never grew very well in my tanks. After 10 years of poor growth, I finally pitched it.

· Registered
154 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you so much for your response. I will do what you recommend and give a day for the tank to settle before I return the fish. That will make it so I can be home on sunday and keep my eyes open for fish trouble and change lots of water. :) I've boiled the soil so hopefully that will reduce the risk of giving my fish an ammonia bath.

Thanks for the tip on the sword. If it doesn't do too well, I'll give it away!
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