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Set up a dirt 30g for firebellies

This is a discussion on Set up a dirt 30g for firebellies within the Photo Gallery, Video Gallery, Technique and Discussion forums, part of the Advanced Newt & Salamander Topics category; Hi ive recently been experimenting with dirt tanks in my aquariums. Ive created this thirty gallon terrarium using clayballs for ...

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Old 20th September 2014   #1 (permalink)
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Default Set up a dirt 30g for firebellies

Hi ive recently been experimenting with dirt tanks in my aquariums. Ive created this thirty gallon terrarium using clayballs for the land mass; to create the steep hills, and I put a layer of already soaked soil (out of a broken down aquarium) on the top to weigh down the clayballs, and to give any plants i add a substrate.

I was never worried about dirt and water because in my experience it sinks so fast you could have dirt with no cap and still have clear water. I read that firebellies biotopes are mud holes, so i was tempted to go just soil, but to create the slope effect you would need a lot of soil. I have before used too much soil below the cap. Unless you have a lot of plant roots, airiating the soil, you get a funny smell after a while. This is where i decided on clayballs to create the landscape and just to cap and partially fill with soil. But clay balls float and i was a little paraniod that i would have a disaster, so i decided to cap the soil with grey river pebbles, about 1/2 inch circumfrence and a little gravel and some sand.

It is early yet but the tank is fine. I know i will have to continually recap the soil as the newts erode it with their movement, but its not that hard and im not worried about the soil releasing into the water, just a mass release of airfilled clayballs destroying everything. I will keep this post and put up better photos in due time. I like how this tank is precarious and requires touch ups. I do go by one thing with natural aquariums, if it smells like a forrest after the rain, its a healthy tank; this one smells amazing.
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Old 20th September 2014   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Set up a dirt 30g for firebellies

If i'm honest, while it looks beautiful, it also looks like an anaerobic nightmare. Those slopes are factories of terrible conditions.



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Old 20th September 2014   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Set up a dirt 30g for firebellies

Why not just a planted tank and a few pieces of floating cork bark? Under good conditions they should be basically fully aquatic only occasionally leaving the water, if ever.



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Old 20th September 2014   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Set up a dirt 30g for firebellies

Having such a large tank and not taking advantage of all that volume for the newts is a real pitty. I expect this is not what you wanted to hear, hehe. It is a beautiful tank, but it could be much better adapted for the species it's housing. You can create something quite impressive while still using all that volume, with a lot of plants and perhaps a few decorations. The newts would thrive in a tank like that. The way you currently have it set up it's very likely to have a short lifespan once the deeper parts of the slope become clogged with debris. You can't clean it adequately and it would take some serious work to prevent conditions from deteriorating. This is also quite dangerous as conditions can in fact become lethal.
I would encourage you to rethink the tank.
It is lovely, though.



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Old 20th September 2014   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Set up a dirt 30g for firebellies

I disagree, I think the hydroton pebbles will provide enough aeration, Im not sure but i doubt they ever become fully saturated. The beneficial bacteria will grow in those hills and it should (i hope) be fine, but if it fails it fails, no big deal and all materials were recycled anyway. im doing tests every few days



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Old 20th September 2014   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Set up a dirt 30g for firebellies

nah you underestimate the power of dirt. I have raised very delicate fish in dirt tanks without ever cleaning them. The dirt has the magic power of microbial life. I could be wrong but im not as disastrous as you think i am, an experiment yes but its not doomed already. and I have not filled up the tank fully yet as im waiting for some plants to establish. well you may get to say i told you so but i bet you a dollar it works.



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Old 20th September 2014   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Set up a dirt 30g for firebellies

Beautiful looking tank! I always cringe when I see sand piled that high, but I hope your plan works!



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