Dustin's Dirt Packs. (Aquarium Substrate Our own Premier Mix)

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This is unlike anything you have ever tried before and there is NOTHING else in the Aquarium market like it.   This is "The Next Level" of your planted aquarium....literally.

This is the dirt layer....Welcome to the Dirt Side.

A quick story here.  Dirted Tank's have always been my signature setup.  This is my Zone. I have done custom client installation, 900 gallon aquariums at the public Newport Aquarium and yes...MANY of my own "Dustin's Fishtanks" with Dirt.

So Way back in 2013 I wrote THE original "Dustin's Dirted Tank Guide"  This is a 64 Page FULL Color digital (or Hard Copy) guide of EXACTLY HOW to create your own aquarium substrate just like it do.   And yes- you can still grab of copy of that guide today and do it yourself.  

We can "teach you to fish"  You can grab exactly how I (Dustin) setup ALL of my display tanks.

OR    "We can catch you a fish"   ...provide you our own dirt recipe.

Here is how it works.   A simple understanding of a basic principle will dramatically improve your aquarium.

and that basic principle is this.  "PLANTS ABSORB 4 to 400 times MORE NUTRIENTS through their ROOTS, than through their stems and leaves."

STOP.  That's a big statement.  We need to unpack that a bit.   Have you ever seen someone do that trick where they pull a noodle through their nose and it comes out of their mouth?  Yes- Theoretically you could "eat through your nose"  but wouldn't it be more effective if you ate where you were meant to eat?

The same can be said about aquarium plants.  YES- They CAN and DO eat through their leaves, but that doesn't mean it is their preferred method.

There is obviously some species variation here, but AGAIN. "Plants absorb 4 to 400 times more nutrients through their roots than through their stems and leaves.

So- Would you like to feed your plants where they eat?  I thought so.     Here is how it works.    

I have taken the time and the long bumpy road to learn how to create the Aquarium Substrate layer.  The NEXT Layer, the forgotten layer, the dirt layer.

NOTE: Notice I am saying "LAYER" here. We will still need to COVER this layer...more on that in a bit.

Ok- So you have to understand that the "Dirt" we use has to go through a process.  We have to make it so the dirt does NOT destroy your aquarium.   We do the work for you.   I personally have prepared EVERY Dustin's Dirt Pack.  It's kind of fun too, I get to help get our customers get a better aquarium from the ground up.

You don't need to source all of the ingredients. You don't need to be standing around  at Home Depot trying to figure out which kind of dirt to buy. You don't need to figure out how to add clay to the mix or how to increase the calcium levels.  You don't need to worry about how to put it all together. NOPE.

We (ok me, Dustin) have done the work for you....most of it.  We have done the BOTTOM Layer of your aquarium substrate. YOU need to do the TOP Layer.

Here is what you need to do.

The "Dustin Dirt Packs" come in TWO size.   Small (for a 10 gallon) and LARGE (for the footprint of a 20 high or you could stretch it to a 20Long)

Here is my recommendation for the most common aquarium sizes. This is based on the FOOTPRINT of these aquariums

  • 5 gallon =  1 small dirt pack (You will have a slightly above average thickness of dirt
  • 10 gallon= 1 small dirt pack
  • 15 gallon= 1 Large dirt pack
  • 20 gallon (High) = 1 Large dirt pack
  • 20 gallon (Long) = 1 Large and 1 Small
  • 29 gallon =1 Large and 1 Small
  • 30 gallon (Long) = 2 Large Dirt Packs
  • 38 (40 Tall) = 1 Large and 1 Small 
  • 40 (LONG) = 2 Large
  • 55 gallon = 2 Large 
  • 75 gallon = 3 Large
  • 90 gallon= 3 large
  • 125 gallon (6 footer) = 5 Large

Select the appropriate size of Dustin Dirt pack for YOUR aquarium.   We will ship it out to you with instruction of exactly HOW TO DO THIS. 

NOTE: This is NOT an ALL IN ONE Product.   You will need to PURCHASE (Or REUSE) Aquarium gravel in equal proportions to the amount of "Dustin Dirt Packs" that you purchase.

I can't make this more simple.     If you are looking at the bag of a Dustin Dirt Pack, you are going to need AS MUCH GRAVEL as the size of the bag (or More)

SO. For example. If you select ONE Small "DDP" You will need the equivalent size amount of gravel"

If you grab ONE LARGE DDP, you will need gravel enough for the same amount as ONE LARGE DDP or more.    

 If you are doing a 125 Gallon aquarium and you grab 5 Large DDPs. YOU WILL NEED 5 (Or more) bags of gravel of the equivalent size.

Got it?  This is NOT a "Dump it in and it's ready product.  If you pour a bag of this in your aquarium, make a mess and kill your fish. don't come crying to me. WE WARNED YOU.

The DDPs work best with a bare bottom empty tank it. (I do NOT recommend trying to add dirt to an existing tank with fish already in the tank. Think if you were the fish?). Get a tub, siphon the tank water into a tub and add the fish temporarily into the tub. (They will be fine- how do you think they go to the pet store anyway- worse conditions than this!)

Place the DDP to the bottom of the bare aquarium.

***Cover the dirt with Equal portions or more of gravel*** I recommend an inch or more of gravel on top of the DDP dirt mix. When in doubt add MORE gravel. Note: Don’t cap the dirt with the following- play sand, ECO-complete or anything too fine. 2-6 mm gravel works best.

Fill the aquarium just past a slow drip so as not to disturb the DDP layer. If the water is cloudy do a water change later in the day. Plant heavy and enjoy!

(I recommend adding fish after 24 hours just to be safe if the tank was cycled just to be safe)

Watch your tank grow like you have never seen!

Grab a DDP today! Welcome to the Dirt Side!

NOTE: This product might not ship instantly as we have to dry it out in the sun for best use prior to going into your aquarium. We literally make this stuff.

Dustin's Dirt Packs. (The DDP)

Customer Reviews

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Customer Reviews

Based on 90 reviews
Chuck Segal
New client/ informative company

I am starting up in the hobby again after taking a few years off for health reasons. Although I had a reef tank the last 20 years I have always wanted to set up a planted freshwater tank. After a lot of research I decided to try a "dirt" tank. I ordered and received my dirt substrate from Dustin's. I was ae to track the order all the way. I had a few questions that I sent in and Dustin's answered right away! Can't wait to order my plant pack!

Reviewer avatar
Benito gomez
See where this goes

I do small walstad method tanks but been real lazy and wanted a bigger tank which meant more work to sift soil.well.heard of DustinsFishtanks dirt.I did some research and didn’t really see YouTube videos about it nor what this comes with.I’m actually kinda iffy about it honestly.I usually have nice soil very little wood chips and stuff but this looks like more tiny wood chips and perlite I believe? Saw on the reviews it has clay.I haven’t opened it yet but felts around and didn’t see any clay.as a dirt person this makes me wonder but I’d give it a shot. I wanna add some of my stuff with the dirt but I’ll let this dirt be alone with gravel cap to see if it’s really up to par. I’ll do a pic of what my tank before and after maybe in a month. If it’s bad I’d let you know and maybe do a YouTube video on it just so you see if it’s good or not.if it is then the money is all worth it. Also have bought plants from here too and yeah there were amazingly good.I have high expectations for the DustinsFishtanks dirt.well.see you next month

Joyce Rogers
It was easy to dirty a tank, until...

After watching Dustin's "dirtying a tank" video on youtube I was hooked! "I can do this!" So I ordered a pack of soil from Dustin. Bought some pretty gravel and already had the crushed coral on hand. The tank was looking beautiful as I filled it with water. I was careful to keep the water flow on a plastic bag as Dustin showed in the video. I was proud of myself as the water in the tank was very clear. Then I lost my balance and fell. (I'm elderly and I fall often.) The water force from the hose went directly onto the gravel and the dirt underneath washed up into the water. I cried as dirt was all over the gravel and floating on the surface. My motto, in my later years, is "And then we start all over again!" This mishap is NOT going to deter me from having a dirtied aquarium! Dustin's plants in my other tanks with only gravel, are doing great but are slow growing, but I'm longing for the tank with robust growth that the dirt will allow. So "I'm starting all over again." I highly recommend Dustin's dirt pack, but watch his video before starting your tank!

One dirt pack- 10 gallon tank, hopefully the saying 'With great risk comes great rewards' is true

My established aquarium leaked about a week or so before I bought Dustin's Dirt Pack and after resealing my tank I tried setting up with Seachem red flourite gravel, but I changed my mind and decided to go for broke and try dirt because I've seen a bunch of Dustin's videos on youtube. I tore everything out and started over, again. The second time I set up my ten gallon fish tank nine days ago using about 3/4 of a dirt pack capped with 1 1/8 inches of Seachem black flourite sand (one full 15bl bag).

The dirt bag contained substrate that was moist, but not wet, with medium to large particle size and roughly 1" diameter moist clay balls. It was nothing like the starting medium Dustin recommends for making your own substrate (Miracle Grow potting soil). It was well washed or sifted without any muddiness. I thought it was costly, but worth the price given my emergency situation.

There were firm damp grey clay balls about 1" in diameter in the mix, which I tore up into smaller pieces a distributed evenly around the dirt bed because I know from past experience an amazon sword I had liked having balls of red artist clay shoved in gravel near its roots, and thought all the plants in the tank should have easy access to a little bit of clay. I sprinkled about 1/4 of a bottle of Seachem Stability bacteria solution, and old water with mulm recovered from my previous setup's gravel, evenly on the dirt. Since this was a teardown from using the red flourite I had some unwashed, dusty substrate left so I mixed in about five hands full of of the stuff since a University chemical analysis available on Seachem's website stated that the red flourite contains a lot of iron and I want to give the tank the best chance of lasting several years without more additives (plants love iron, and it becomes bio-avalible over time). And I just happened to have the stuff laying around.

I wet the dirt using a hand held sprayer 'till soggy but not immersed and smashed it down with my hand to expel air pockets. I had previously washed and graded the black flourite sand using different mesh collanders, so the finest sand went directly on top of the dirt, follower by the medium and coarse sand. I planted as much of the chain grass as possible from my previous setup, with the anticipation of replacing some or most of it later on. I figured half of a 5 gallon bucket of grass constitutes "plant heavy" and will get my tank through the break-in phase. I've been adding a bit of the Stability solution every few days and have a HOB filter with a coarse sponge and filter floss running to remove the finest dust from the flourite. Five days later the water was clear but darkly stained, which was not off-putting since I'd had driftwood in my previous setup, and videos of dirting a tank on youtube warned me this would happen.

After one day amonia was 0.5ppm.

Seven days later... I noticed air pockets near the front glass so I pushed a 1/8" diameter wire through the sand and expelled a lot of bubbles. I don't know whether it was trapped air or gasses resulting from bacteria action, but I hope for the latter since I would like to develop a bed of nitrifying bacteria to help deal with nitrates (I like the idea of a fully closed loop system in my tank). Amonia was 0ppm and nitrate was around 10- 20ppm. I did the big "water change."

Three days after that (nine since installing dirt) the water seems to be darkening a bit and a small amount of algae is growing on the glass near the back light; I have one on top and one behind the tank from the previous setup. The chain grass is not showing signs of algae formation, and some are occasionally pearling. I actually want the algae as a place for bacteria to take hold and further to provide a food source for my shrimp when I move them back into the tank.

Today (nine days in) the amonia is zero. I'm still getting bubbles from the substrate, but they don't don't smell bad or burn, so at least it is not methane- and that's good (considering how fine my sand cap substrate is, there may not be a lot of water circulation getting down there). A lot of the grass is showing new growth and some of the old leaves are melting, but that is to be expected. Nitrate is 0.5ppm, but it isn't a fair comparison because my first nitrate test didn't occur for seven days. But it seems promising.

I expect this setup will take a bit of hand-holding for at least two more weeks, but it is off to a good start. I have a water quality test kit, but I'm only testing the end points for now. I expect it will take about two weeks to cycle well enough to start tracking nitrite, however if nitrate starts going down it's a sign that things are going the right way.

I'm fairly experienced with tanks, this seems like a fun experiment. So far, I think someone new to aquariums could have good success following the advice: plant heavy, big water changes, don't add live stock for several weeks. I'm expec...