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I am preparing to make a dirted aquarium. I have some CaribSea eco-complete substrate which I will be putting on top of a layer of soil in my 10 gallon tank. I am considering using Miracle-Gro Performance Organics container mix. Is this soil safe for a planted aquarium? And will this soil be safe for cherry shrimp?

I am trying to complete this project very soon, so I need to know if the soil that I have (Miracle-Gro Performance Organics container mix) is safe or if I should look for a different soil.

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    For my interest: what is a dirted aquarium? – Allerleirauh May 30 at 17:09
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    @Allerleirauh Thanks for asking. A dirted aquarium is basically an aquarium where potting soil is used to provide lots of nutrients for plants. And the soil is usually covered with another substrate like sand or gravel to prevent it from being messy. – Jacob B May 30 at 17:59
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    Ahhhhhh :) I had the imagination of foggy water... – Allerleirauh May 30 at 19:37
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    I do not know much about aquariums but I read here a lot about people doing water test. Is there no way, to do a little of the soil into a glass of water and test the water? – Allerleirauh May 31 at 6:18
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    @Allerleirauh that's a good idea. Although I'm not sure how I would test for things that could be toxic to fish/shrimp. The only water test kits I know of involve tests for things like pH, nitrates, nitrites, ammonia, etc. I don't think I could test the water for other fertilizers or chemicals that could be harmful. – Jacob B May 31 at 15:30
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This soil contains large amounts of sphagnum peat moss, which will likely raise the acidity of your tank to a level that will restrict the plants you can grow and may adversely affect your cherry shrimp.

Dependent on which state it's being purchased in, it will also contain "processed forest products" or "processed softwood bark" which will leach tannins into your tank.

I would recommend reading up on the Walstad method and sourcing one of these soils (http://www.theaquariumwiki.com/wiki/Walstad_method#Soil_types) as they have been tried and tested by the author of the method (and the planted aquarium community too).

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  • Peat also turns the water the color of ice tea ; the color persisted in my 55 through any number of water changes. The discus did not care. – blacksmith37 Jun 23 at 15:24
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I made my first dirted tank a couple months ago. I used topsoil instead of potting soil because the Perlite in potting soil is allegedly a nuisance, always wanting to float at the slightest disturbance. I'd imagine that if you were disturbing the cap enough to release dirt into the water at any sort of frequency, cloudy water would be a bigger problem than floating white things.

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