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UGA_Grad_Student 02-14-2012 12:46 AM

Cheap Substrate??
In the terms of a planted aquarium, I am a beginner. I have had aquariums for several years and also had plants. Before now it has been a o thats cheap and looks cool lets throw it in and hope it works. That is all about to change now that I have just acquired a 55 gallon tank. Enough background here is my question...

I am looking for a cheap substrate that will work and help plants flourish. Maybe some kind of combination from a store such as lowes??

I figure there are people on here that could help me out. Right now it is just a bare bottom tank and looking kinda boring. I can post pictures if people would like.

Thanks for all the help!!

Sugardaddy1979 02-14-2012 12:50 AM

I bought black diamond blasting media at Tractor Supply. Right now I'm not using any ferts cause I'm just getting started. Just dosing excel. Root tabs will be easy to add, but the black diamond is inert, so it won't hld the ferts like flourite or eco complete or one of those would. I used about 3/4 of a bag to do my 29G and it was eight bucks. You'd need two bags. You could always do half black diamond and half of the flourite black sand. They sell the flurite and eco comlete at Aquarium Outfitters in Athens. Just go in and ask for Chelsea or Daniel. They know their stuff.

UGA_Grad_Student 02-14-2012 01:00 AM

Yea Chelsea and Daniel are awesome, they have helped me with all my questions and more. If your tank grows too fast and you need to part with some fish or plants let me know. I'm just getting my 55 gallon up and running so it is a little/alot bare. It is tough in grad school trying to save money (reality check) survive on this kind of "pay". I am new here to athens but love it so far GO DAWGS!

Gtdad2 02-14-2012 01:02 AM

MiracleGro Organic Potting Mix capped with Black Diamond blasting grit. Doesn't get any cheaper and plants love the stuff. Lots of threads on here discussing it. Welcome to TPT.

Sugardaddy1979 02-14-2012 01:45 AM

Now what exactly does that gt stand for there? Might need to consider that source.

UGA_Grad_Student 02-14-2012 02:09 AM

HAHAHA truth!! For anyone that has used miracle-gro how messy does the process of actually planting the plants get??

Gtdad2 02-14-2012 02:09 AM


UGA_Grad_Student 02-14-2012 01:02 PM

So after watching some videos, I am very hesitant to go with a dirted tank. What are some of the benefits of going with sand as opposed to gravel?? I am also hesitant that sand would simply get kicked up everywhere which I don't want.

kcartwright856 02-14-2012 01:10 PM

I can offer advice from the perspective of another beginner.

I hated gravel because waste falls between it and gets stuck down there. You can use a gravel vacuum, but it takes a long time to really clean it deeply.

I switched to sand and couldn't be happier. I was told that it would be hard to vacuum, but I actually find it easier than vacuuming gravel. I just sweep the siphon over the surface and waste gets sucked up, leaving the heavier sand behind. I don't have any problems with it getting kicked up by anything, really.

I went with pool filter sand from a pool supply store because it was inexpensive and fit my budget for what I needed. If you want a lighter color, try that. If you want black, the black sand blasting grit from Tractor Supply, as mentioned earlier, is what you want.

Putting dirt under either one is up to you!

CrazyMidwesterner 02-14-2012 05:40 PM

The cheapest substrate I ever used was Oil Dri and I've been very happy with it. A layer of peat moss underneath topped off with Oil dri and the plants grow well. Of course Oil dri is inert so dosing is needed, but over time it's needed with all substrates.

I think a 50lbs bag was $4 at tractor supply :-)

nalu86 02-14-2012 05:54 PM


Originally Posted by UGA_Grad_Student (Post 1724045)
HAHAHA truth!! For anyone that has used miracle-gro how messy does the process of actually planting the plants get??

The process of planting is not messy at all.
Like I told you before, take the water out, 3/4 - 1" of MGOPM and 1" front and 2-3" Black Diamond B sand slope to the back on top.

Easiest I figured out was first planting in the dirt and then capping it.

After couple of days, maybe some of the dirt will show, but won't make a mess, then you just take some of the sand and cap it where the dirt is visible.

Some of the woodchuncks will be visible over time, so if you don't like that, sift your soil through a mesh before you start. But my corys love to play in the woodchuncks.

wicca27 02-14-2012 06:41 PM

i use miracle grow organic potting soil (1 -2 inches deep) and pool filter sand cap (1-2 inches deep) my plants love it my corck screw vals are as tall as the tank. one down side is it leaches tannens for a while but plants love it i have that combo in most of my tanks. trick is to put both soil and then sand and fill that way keeps it from making mud. or i have also added just enough water to the soil to make it moist and the sand on top and fill. pros is not planting sand keeps the soil from comming up. prob is when moving rooted plants. but not as bad if you go really slow and pull a little at a time. took me prob 20 min to put up a huge rubin sword (12 + inches tall and wide as a 55) but i pulled main roots one at a time so not to make a huge mess.

Sugardaddy1979 02-14-2012 07:40 PM

Does the miracle grow leach ammonia?

UGA_Grad_Student 02-14-2012 07:56 PM

Anyone done sand covered by gravel? I know it wouldn't benefit the plants much and would need to be dosed but have people done this?

kcartwright856 02-14-2012 10:48 PM

That sounds like it would be an absolute nightmare to clean.

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