Hope for just gravel? - The Planted Tank Forum

 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 04:11 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
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Hope for just gravel?

Hi all, I was wondering what you can really do with just a gravel substrate. Personally, I use soil and want to get into flourite as well for ease of plant removal, however I work at a LFS and talk a lot of customers into planted tanks. With the new affordable availability of high par lights a lot of customers would like to upgrade their lighting without upgrading their substrate. Is there any hope in having a nice planted tank with just gravel? I understand floating plants do fine as well as plants that aren't too nutrient dependent. Would it be possible for inert substrate to become lively enough for healthy and full growth of vals, sag and easier stem plants and handle par values in the medium light range?
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 04:23 AM
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Hi TMuller,

This is what you can do with just gravel, a little DIY CO2, Seachem Flourish Comprehensive and Seachem Excel for ferts. Light is a 1X96 watt AH Supply CFL kit.

45 gallon tall (36 X 12 X 24H)

Roy
75 Gallon, 2X55W AH Supply CF 8800K, 1XMarineland Doublebright, 2X Marineland 350 Magnum; 45 Gallon Tall, 96Watt AH Supply CF 6700K; 30 Gallon Long; Fluval F&P 2.0 36"/46W; 20 Gallon, 1X26W AH Supply LED kit; all with Press. CO2; (Calcined) Montmorillonite Clay
Greater Seattle Aquarium Society (GSAS)

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 01:38 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
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That is a beautiful tank, thanks for sharing!
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 01:45 PM
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Do you stock any root tabs?

inert, no cec, substrate will never be "lively" enough to support plant growth. but with what we have available it's certainly more than possible; as Seattle_Aquarist has demonstrated above.

dead plant matter, fertilizer tabs, etc, will give the plants nutrients to their roots. The substrate might not provide, but we can.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 03:59 PM
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Hope for just gravel?

I have 2 CFLs on a 10 gallon with standard gravel and DIY CO2. Granted, I have fairly easy plants to grow besides my Madagascar lace and even that is growing like crazy!

40 Breeder|36" FugeRay|Aquaclear 110
Oto|Guppy|Danio|Kuhli|Swordtail

My 40B Work In Progress
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 04:17 PM
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Gravel only ever posed a problem for me in dealing with very fine stem plants that were difficult to root/keep down in larger gravel. Other than that, it's really no different than any other inert substrate.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 08:54 PM
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Using Gravel Substrate

Quote:
Originally Posted by TMuller View Post
Hi all, I was wondering what you can really do with just a gravel substrate. Personally, I use soil and want to get into flourite as well for ease of plant removal, however I work at a LFS and talk a lot of customers into planted tanks. With the new affordable availability of high par lights a lot of customers would like to upgrade their lighting without upgrading their substrate. Is there any hope in having a nice planted tank with just gravel? I understand floating plants do fine as well as plants that aren't too nutrient dependent. Would it be possible for inert substrate to become lively enough for healthy and full growth of vals, sag and easier stem plants and handle par values in the medium light range?
Hello T...

I've used gravel substrate in my planted tanks for years and my plants do fine. I don't ever vacuum the gravel, though. So, any uneaten food, dead plant and fish material settles into it and over time, dissolve and fertilize the plants. This sounds like a recipe for a poor water chemistry, but if you keep up with your weekly water changes, you'll maintain stable water properties. The only other thing you need for an nicely planted tank is to research the lighting the plants require and provide it.

Just an opinion, this is what I do. There are always alternatives.

B

"Fear not my child, just change the tank water."
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-04-2013, 12:44 AM
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There are millions of people around the world growing hydroponic gardens. That alone proves that gravel can work as a growing medium. The catch is that you need to keep nutrients in the water to feed the roots. Which is exactly what the hydroponics folks do.

And as BBradbury points out, uneaten food and dead plant matter left to decay on the bottom will also feed the plants. If you keep the tank for a century or so all that detritus will eventually form a layer of soil.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-04-2013, 02:07 AM
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In a high light, high tech tank, weedy stem plants get trimmed and replanted so often they rarely have enough roots to really take advantages of the substrate anyway; so whether you use gravel or something nicer is almost irrelevant.

For plants that establish better roots, a very few strategically placed roots tabs, or just a well-mulmed substrate will still grow decent plants.

The only thing that will really have difficulty is plants that spread by runners, especially carpeting plants.

I still have gravel in one of my tanks, and no plans to upgrade that one.
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