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Thread: Substrate Recommendations for Planted Tank

  1. #1

    Default Substrate Recommendations for Planted Tank

    Hi guys,

    I'm in the process of trying to set up a 40 and 70 gallon and wanted to make them low-tech Walstad tanks. I was planning to use prepped Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix, but it looks like it has been discontinued and replaced with Miracle-Gro Nature's Care Organic & Natural Potting Mix with Water Conserve, which has some kind of unwanted additive.

    Does anyone have specific brand and line recommendations or have still seen the MGOCPM around?

    I've tried researching this online but the recommendations are either outdated or too non-specific (i.e. generic topsoil).

  2. #2
    Blessed by God Site Supporter TanyaQ2000's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Irving, TX


    Michael will know but you might read this too....

    welcome to the Box

  3. #3


    Just use regular topsoil. Less issues with water quality. Less issues with algae. Same great plant growth. Much lower price.

  4. #4


    I use the cheapest topsoil or Scotts premium topsoil in my tanks. All capped with pool filter sand.

  5. #5
    Site Supporter Site Supporter
    Join Date
    Jun 2016


    Quote Originally Posted by Oliphant View Post
    I use the cheapest topsoil or Scotts premium topsoil in my tanks. All capped with pool filter sand.
    How thick do you normally make each layer? Do you go with an inch of soil and an inch of sand?
    Steven // Life is too short to not pull up a chair and enjoy your tanks.

  6. #6
    Fahaka Puffer Michael's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Dallas near White Rock Lake


    Scott's Premium will work, and is normally available at Home Depot. I strongly recommend that you prepare the soil by doing several soak and drain cycles at least. The bag of Scott's I tried had a lot of big chunks of floating wood. These were removed during soak and drain, but I lost about 40% of the soil volume. So start with more than you need.

    There is a very extensive discussion of soils for the Walstad method at

  7. #7


    I do an inch of each in my smaller tanks. Think my 120 was 2 inches of soil and 1 inch of sand. I didn't soak my dirt, but I know the soil varies from place to place . All the plants I have seem to love it.

  8. #8


    Turned out Big Lots still had small bags of MGOCPM! Very pricey, but I think I have enough for the 40. I might try Aaron's instructions on the the 75.

  9. #9


    I'd also like to recommend sifting/screening the soil. I've found so much crap in bagged soil... bits of rubber, plastic , trash....and that's ignoring the profusion of wood chunks, sticks, leaves, etc. I second the 2" soil, 1" sand suggestion, though 1/2" sand isn't bad either. Just need to keep it contained


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