What is the best substrate for a planted tank that won't alter the water parameters or cause an ammonia spike? I am planning to add eco-complete to my 10 gallon aquarium, which is already established. Will adding the new substrate cause an ammonia, nitrate or nitrite spike? And will it cause a pH swing? Will I have to cycle the tank again, even if I keep the same water in the tank as I had before changing the substrate? I need some advice on this. Thanks.
Eco is inert and didn't mess with my pH at all. Some people have reported differently saying that it raised the pH but I did not experience any of that.
And as long as you have a decent filter changing out the substrate should not cause any spikes except for a nitrate spike if the old substrate is particularly dirty. But the water changes and plants will fix that anyways.
i have 2 bags of eco-complete in my 10 gallon. have had algae and ph problems but i'm assuming its my local well water causing this. from what i gather the biological filtering of your substrate is minimal. there is a post somewhere in this forum where a guy named Snapple changes his substrate to eco-complete while his fish are still in the tank. i couldn't find it with the search. i remember Snapple has a tire with blinging rim on it in his profile pic. anyway, Snapple loved the eco-complete until he upgraded to ada aqua soil and then he said he'd only use ada soil from then on. i think he grew out some hairgrass and then quit his tank. some people may remember Snapple giant ball of japonica.
I am in the midst of experimenting with substrate. If I had the money I would buy Red Sea Flora Base. It is sold at Dr Foster & Smith ,
Since I don't have the money I am making my substrate Bottom
Scotts potting soil Middle
Scotts Top soil------------------- 8 cups
Organic Charcoal crushed---2 cups
Dolomite--------------------------- 1 cup
Calcium sulfate------------------ 3 Tbs
Sodium bicarb------------------- 3 Tbs Top
To enhance the mineral content I will be letting the river sand soak for a week. Also in a separate bucket will soak the middle substrate for a week. This is my version of mineralised soil.