Sloping Substrate - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-11-2004, 08:41 PM Thread Starter
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Sloping Substrate

When I got into fishkeeping a while ago (not yet plants) with a UGF filter, the instructions said to slope the substrate slightly downward towards the front. They said it will allow the UGF to work better and that detris and junk would accumulate closer to the front, easier for siphoning. Since then I've had the habit to slope the substrate in all my tanks. None have a UGF and I don't vacuum them either since they're planted.

Just wondering if others do the same thing, or not, and if there's any big issue by sloping the substrate.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-11-2004, 08:43 PM
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I hadn't heard that about the UGF, but I slope mine just because it gives the appearance of greater depth. I notice that when my substrate settles (and it always does manage to level itself back out eventually), the tank looks so much shallower front-to-back.

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-11-2004, 09:15 PM
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Yes, I read that also. Some beginners guideline also mention the same thing. I tried it but in my fish only tanks, the debris would still accumulate close to or around the filter intake and not to the front. I don't use UGF though.

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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-15-2004, 07:25 PM
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I slope my substrate because usually you have larger plants in the back that require more substrate, while short groundcover can grow in shallow substrate. Saves substrate that way, less weight and cash...
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-16-2004, 02:07 PM
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The 'Iwagumi' style tank with the rocks and a field of foreground plants through the aquarium uses a sloping substrate to give the illusion of depth and distance. The substrate is not sloped for the plants or to clean the tank but just for the visual effect. My ‘farm’ and ‘vacant lot’ tanks do not have sloped substrates, but my (feeble) attempts to aquascape tanks are sloped.


Aquascape? I'm a crypt farmer.

It's a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore looking like an idiot.

That IS an aquascape, it's titled "The Vacant Lot".
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-16-2004, 03:05 PM
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sloping will have an effect on where detris collects, but the water current can completely change the 'collection point' regardless of sloping.

I don't use UGF's in planted tanks. No reason to.

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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-18-2004, 06:07 PM
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One effective way to maintain the slope is to use buttresses and/or retaining walls made from slate or other tank-safe stone.

I have 50-60 pounds of Tahitian Moon sand as a substrate, which holds a slope for two or three days at best. The main non-plant features are two large pieces of knarly stump-type driftwood on each side of the tank.

I used thick pieces of black slate to form a stepped retaining wall in the back, between both pices of driftwood. I also angled a thinner piece on the right side of the tank to hold the right-side slope in place. The sloped piece is completely hidden from view and does a great job of keeping the sand in place. The steeped wall in the back is partly exposed, reminiscent of the step pattern of an open-pit mine. As the plants grow in, however, very little of it will remain visible.

As a bonus, my larger piece of driftwood (left side) is basically a large root with an “arm” that butts up against the front glass, forming a “substrate dam.” The substrate behind the dam (front left 1/3 of tank) is about 3.5 inches deep. The substrate on the right side of the dam (front center & right 2/3 of tank) is about one inch deep, creating a nice, natural-looking drop-off effect. Most of the arm is hidden, except for the very top and the edge that forms the drop-off. A rivulet of substrate is able to flow through a small space on the glass side, softening and enhancing the natural looking-appearance.

The chief benefit is that the plants in the back are raised closer to the light, and into the zone where light penetration is strongest. This is important because I have an Eclipse 3 hood with the lights way up front. I am also noticing that debris is collecting at the base of the dam, makijng vacuuming easy.

As my plants continue to grow in after my most recent pruning – which is when I made these changes -- it should hopefully look quite interesting.

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