Cheap Planting Substrate - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-07-2012, 05:30 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Scranton, PA
Posts: 31
Cheap Planting Substrate

I have a 5 gallon tank. It currently has gravel, but I'm looking for something better to help my plants grow. It has 7 watts of lighting, so thats 1.4 watts per gallon. The plants in there are a moss ball, two java fern, two amazon sword, and two aponogeton.

I'm just looking for a little extra boost for my plants. I currently just use some Aqueon Plant Food which is a liquid fertilizer. I'm wondering if there is any cheap substrate, I've heard of Miracle Gro Organic Potting Mix?
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-07-2012, 05:35 AM
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For a 5 gallon tank even the most expensive substrate is almost 'dirt' cheap!

Anyway, yes, Miracle Grow is a reasonable product. Read the other posts here about all sorts of alternatives.

If there is an aquarium club near you maybe someone would want to split a bag of something with you. Most bagged products come in a bag that is large enough for 2 or more tanks your size.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-07-2012, 09:21 AM
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might want to add that you should cap the soil with a fine gravel or sand.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-07-2012, 01:00 PM
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I use MGOPM in 4 tanks now, and all are capped with either sand or gravel. I would honestly say go with sand as it makes for a tighter cap, especially when pulling plants out and will make the dirt stay under the sand better than gravel will when pulling plants out. I'm starting up another tank and I'm going to be using Blasting Media from my local hardware store as the cap for my MGOPM. Without a cap, the dirt will just get blown around in your tank and make a mess, and you don't want that. You could also use Pool Filter Sand or Play Sand as your cap as well

If you don't want to go the MGOPM route, you can get Eco-Complete which has a high CEC and that stuff should last you for a few tanks that size

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Who would have thought that plants like dirt?!

Last edited by shinycard255; 07-07-2012 at 01:02 PM. Reason: :)
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-07-2012, 09:56 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Scranton, PA
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Thanks for the replies everyone. I'm going to do the organic potting mix and cap it off with playsand.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-07-2012, 11:42 PM
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Don't use play sand. It has too many fines and can cloud the water.

Pool filter sand is good, or any other material that has been graded to remove the fines.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-08-2012, 02:12 AM
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Location: Ohio
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My play sand tanks are crystal clear. You just need to rinse it really well to get the small particles and any dust out.

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