Hola, new to planting but its coming along - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 08-02-2014, 07:07 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Maryland
Posts: 5
Hola, new to planting but its coming along

Hello, My name is Zoe and I just joined this forum as my foray into planting has gotten out of control in a short month... I told myself " Oh we'll just have some silk plants and some plastic cutesy decor from petsmart/petco"
Yea, okay, surrreeee

I have a 10 Gallon Low Tech Tank
Houses: 1 Male Betta, 2 Nerite Snails
Plants: Java fern, Java Moss, Anacharis, Ambulia, Ludwigia, Micro swords
Substrate: Plain gravel
Lighting: Current USA Satellite LED+
Fertilizer: Seachem Flourish Comprehensive and Flourish Root Tabs

My main reason for posting is to introduce myself and to ask a specific question about substrate....
My tank is now established, the cycle is definitely done with 0/0/20ppm, and it has held steady for over a week at that with no water changes...
I know its a little late in the game but I really want to change my gravel into something that holds better for plants than the generic gravel I started with...I want to do it now before it is even later in the game..
I was thinking of eco complete but I am not too fond of the look and some reports of people commenting that it needs to be capped or it creates a mess etc...

I LOVE the look of white sand... I believe flourite has a planting sand that holds/has some nutrients..? Does it need to be rinsed a whole lot & does it take over a day to settle? Since I already have fish/snails/plants, I really want a replacement that would take less than a day

I don't mind the idea of using organic potting soil + pool filter sand to cap but I am concerned about the ammonia that might get released and mess with the cycle? Would anyone mind listing some pro/cons?
I have been going back and forth on this for a hot minute and I would love to do something about it today, any advice, tips and feedback is welcome. I would like to add that my goal is definitely to keep this tank low tech....I love where it's gotten but I want to keep it relatively low maintenance, so no Co2 X_X... I could've sprung for a high-light fixture but I knew that was pointless unless I wanted to go the high-tech route...hence why I got the pretty but low/med USA Current Satellite+
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 08-02-2014, 07:45 PM
Planted Tank Guru
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Contra Costa CA
Posts: 11,721
I have EC in a few tanks, and it is not messy, no cap needed. Does not really supply nutrients to the plants the way the label makes it sound. The material itself has these minerals, but it is the same as saying the plates you eat off of have minerals your body needs. NOPE! Gotta add food to the plate. Gotta add fertilizer to the substrate.

I have pool filter sand in several tanks. It is a bit harder to vacuum, and I do not like that light colored substrate. It does not cloud the water, nor compact, so is OK that way. Does not hold nutrients the way the better substrates can. Makes a nice path through a couple of planted hills, other accents.

Soils vary, but I would err on the side of caution.
If you get Miracle Gro, then I would sift out the largest bits (easy to do: just dump some in a bucket of water and stir, then net out the big pieces, they float).
Then, let it sit in that bucket for at least 24 hours and test the water. If there is no ammonia, then go ahead and do the change out. If there is ammonia, then cycle it in the bucket, doing enough water changes to keep the ammonia under about 3 ppm. Stir it as often as you can (couple of times per day) or add a bubbler or something to keep the water aerated. Might take a few weeks to a month.
This is almost the same as allowing it to go through this cycle in a tank, but no risk to the fish.
When the ammonia and nitrite tests show the water is OK, then the substrate is OK to make the switch.

To do the switch in a 10 is so easy!
Have enough buckets on hand to hold everything, strip it down, and rebuild.

If you like the gravel you are using then skim off the top layer, and reuse that as a cap. That is where a lot of the bacteria are. Not deeper in the substrate.

Then monitor it for a mini-cycle. A certain amount of the beneficial bacteria live in the substrate. You are losing them when you swap it out.
If the soil you are using had to be cycled then more bacteria grew in the soil, and your tank might not have much of a cycle.
If the material you are using had no ammonia, so did not need cycling, and it was used with just a bit of rinsing, then watch for ammonia, and be ready to do some water changes.

You could add some bacteria from a bottle, but make sure it has Nitrospira specie of bacteria. Don't waste your money on anything else.
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 08-03-2014, 01:25 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Maryland
Posts: 5
So I took the plunge and swapped for Eco complete tonight. Everything is replanted, put in root tabs to the populated areas etc

So the water is very slightly cloudy... Probably because I had to keep shifting the gravel tiny bit by tiny bit to cover the micro swords and a few of the other stem plants...

Is it okay to put my fish back in? The snails are already in there
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 08-03-2014, 02:38 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 265
I think it should be fine to add the fish if everything has been running for an hour or two. Just keep an eye on it
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