What substrate are you using - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-24-2013, 09:39 PM Thread Starter
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What substrate are you using

I have a 150g and used ADA soil which was kinda expensive. I will be setting up a 250G hi-tech for my friend and he wants to use something other than ADA.

I know ADA is the bench mark for substrates, but what other soil are you using and with what results. Please post pics if have some.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-24-2013, 09:44 PM
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i am using fluval stratum in 3 tanks and its ok. im also using UP aqua soil in my 75g and really like it. it is about the same as ADA from what i can tell but much cheaper. i got it on GLA.

other then aqua soils the closest thing would be caped dirt. blasting sand is a cheap cap at only $9 a bag.

8g Fluval 1M CT Betta
125g 5 Blood parrots, 1 Green Severum, 8 Dension Barbs, 10 Yoyo Loaches, 1 RTS
75g Angelfish, 3 EBGR, 4 Siames Alage Eaters, 12 Harlequin Rasboars, 1 BN Pleco, 1 Swordtail
33g long cherry shrimp, 8 pygmy corys, 5 ottos
15g 2 GBR
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-24-2013, 09:51 PM
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I mostly use a mix of Red and Black Flourite over some Kitty Litter over some peat. Pictures available via signature link.

No experience with ADA soil but if you look at plantbrain's excellent behemoth thread it will make you think twice...
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-24-2013, 11:30 PM
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soil or peat with flourite topping, mind you if you have corys it's better to get sand as to protect their barbels.

So a guy walks into a Pet Store

Guy: "I have Algae on my drift wood!"

Pet Clerk: "Take two Plecos and call me next week."

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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-24-2013, 11:55 PM Thread Starter
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What substrate are you using

Few people told me Fluval substrate is pretty good. Has anyone have any luck with it?
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-25-2013, 12:20 AM
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clay + mineralized compost/manure/topsoil (Ca/Mg/Fe/potash/boron) + aquasoil topped with sand

Works great since there's aquasoil for anything with really shallow roots, like most foregrounds. And there's some good minerals available for plants that would ordinarily require root tabs. The only downside would be that mine always leeches for over a month. Also pulling plants up causes issues.

On holiday.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-25-2013, 01:40 AM
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I use Eco-complete with a black diamond blasting grit as a cap! It has been working well for me!

I literally love my aquarium(s).

20L Rimless
40G Breeder Tank
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-25-2013, 02:28 AM
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My substrate is ever evolving as I don't throw it away, just add more when changing tanks. So the base is 15 year old mulm! Some smooth gravel mixed with Schultz's Aquatic Soil and the newest addition of SafeTSorb is most of it of course. Currently using home made red clay fertilizer tabs and originally did use laterite in the bottom half of the substrate. I really like the STS and would buy it again in a flash. It has high CEC which means it strips hardness at first, takes some work to rinse as it is dusty and is light weight so can be a challenge to plant in but the color and particle size is really nice and the price - $10 for 40 pounds shipped. My 180 gallon tank might need 3 bags if I replaced all the substrate that is in there now. Photos in the signature link.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-25-2013, 02:51 AM
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fluval stratum

I'm using the Fluval Stratum in my 20 gallon right now and I'm really happy with it. I don't have any experience with any other plant specific substrates so I can't compare those but I can tell you my rooting plants like the Stratum 100% better then regular aquarium gravel. I also have the Fluval Shrimp Stratum in my shrimp tank and my glosso absolutely loves it. The shrimp stratum has smaller, lighter granules than the regular Stratum which kinda made planting a pain in the ass.

The only reason I went with the Stratum was it the local availability. I can't stand paying for shipping, especially up here in Canada it's insane But even if I had other options now I'd probably still buy the Stratum because my plants love it so much.

Sometimes I wish my hobby didn't involve water
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-25-2013, 05:50 AM
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For larger tanks, Ecocomplete seems to be the better option due to not having to clean 300-400lbs of gravel.

I'm personally not fond of the new multi color 4 type of stuff they are now selling, but it's okay.

Soil/ADA/clay based stuff tends to cause a lot of headaches at larger scales for various tanks and users.

Muck and mud and cloudiness, these are much less of an issue for smaller tanks, or for folks who do not mind tearing the tank down completely and redoing it from the ground up anytime they want to move things around. This means buying new soil each time you do this and more labor.

A 3rd option is black flourite, nice color, 2 sizes regular and then the sand is really nice IME.

But washing it is a bit of work.
It will last forever.

Plain old sand works also.

Tom Barr
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-25-2013, 05:52 AM
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I personally use controsoil in all my tanks.

Abhradip Choudhuri

Good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement.

Few of my works
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-25-2013, 04:51 PM Thread Starter
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What substrate are you using

That's a wide variety of soil that everyone is using and everyone has success. I am going to go with Fuval substrate for my friends tank but it's not readily available at my lfs so they might have to order it. This brings me to my next topic for another time. What products would you like to see in your local fish store. Look out for it.
Thanks so much for your valuable inputs.
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-25-2013, 05:45 PM
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MTS & Play Sand are my substrate of choice. I have none of the reputed headaches that the Tech Substrate Fanatics love to point to.

In my Uber-organic matter, "Toxic Ten" I just had my GBR's spawn.

I think the important thing is not to get hung up on the parts but, focus on the Aquarium as a whole system working in balance.
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-25-2013, 06:38 PM
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6 bags of eco complete for a 55. My plants grow incredibly-well for a low-tech (no CO2 injection, no ferts) setup. I ran a bottle's worth of kent growth accelerator and liquid carbon for a while but I ran out and I've been too lazy to be bothered to get more yet lol
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