More substrate indesicion
I've been reading and reading on the different substrates and I have a good idea of the basic pros and cons, but I cannot for the life of me decide which to go with. I'd love to hear anyone's input and experience.
Here is my plan and equipment:
Eheim 2217 with in-line Hydor heater
36" Finnex fugeray with fiberglass mesh screen to bring PAR down to 30-35
planning on dosing Excel and occasional ferts (the next thing I need to research)
I want a low/mid light, low tech tank without the need for C02. I don't have my heart set on any specific plants yet, as I figured I'd test out a variety and go with what works. I'd like my fish to include cardinal tetras, cories, a few ottos, some shrimp if I can pull it off, and whatever else may be recommended for a community tank.
I definitely want a black substrate, and that seems to limit my options quite a bit.
I thought maybe MGOPM with a sand cap was the way to go, but I've been reading that a dirt tank is not ideal for those who like to re-scape. Would you agree with this? As I'll be learning via trial-and-error of what I like, I'm sure I'll be re-scaping.
I'm not keen on spending $145+ on Aquasoil. I know flourite and eco-complete would require root tabs, which is fine. I also know cories do fine in both of those, but I'd love to give them sand to really play in. And I know any sand on top of eco-complete or flourite will eventually end up on the bottom.
So I was considering doing an all sand substrate with root tabs for any root feeders I put in there. Would this be a good idea for my situation? That way I have my black sand (either blasting grit or Tahitian Moon Sand) and I won't make a mess when re-scaping because it's all one substrate. Did anyone go this route and would you do it again?
Or would it be better to nix the sand and go with all eco-complete or flourite because they have higher CEC properties for the root tab nutrients?
Or go off label with something like SafeTSorb, OilDri and the like.
I know I am a messy person. I cannot dab 2 dots of paint on a wall without covering myself with paint. I would have trouble with soil covered with sand.
If you are a careful neat person then go for it.
And this isn't forever. If you try sand with tabs and want to change it you can. I can break down and reset my 180 gallon tank in less than a day if I do nothing else that day.
I ruled out saf-t-sorb and oil-dri only because they don't seem to be available in a dark or black color. I heard Turface used to have a dark grey... wish it was still around. I also wish I weren't so picky sometimes, but I'm an artist/designer, so color and aesthetics rank high on my priorities. :) (edit: not saying those substrates don't look natural and wonderful! it's all personal preference and just not what I have my heart set on for this display)
I'm a careful and neat person, but that just may very well mean it'd drive me crazy if/when I'd inevitably pull up soil through a cap...
That's very true that it's not forever! I have no idea how long tank break-downs and resets take because I've never done this, so I'm thankful to hear how long yours takes. Still, it'd be nice to not spend $78 on substrate just to realize down the road it's not working out for me.
my cories are happiest in the sand, i've tried in my eco-complete tanks and they just seem to prefer the sand. the only "draw back" to sand is that it will not stay level and even. as your cories dig around they put sand up into the current and it will settle in different places based on current and give you some natural sloping, which i enjoy.
it seems like you know that you want sand, so go ahead and get it! its fun.
there was more i wanted to say but this sandwich is soo tasty i forgot it.
I was where you are about a month-and-a-half ago and after all my research and asking people's opinions I decided to go with straight eco-complete (black). It looks fantastic in my 30 gal and is a great contrast to my green, green plants :) Be aware that if you are looking at darker cories they will tend to blend in with the substrate. I added root tabs about 2 weeks ago and my plants have seemed to really of taken off. CO2 is next in my plans! I vote eco just because it looks awesome and doesn't cloud your tank. I've been thinking about adding some black sand in the back of the tank just for my cories...I'm sure they'd love it.
Thanks for sharing your experiences!
I think I'm going to go with Black Diamond blasting grit and some Pfertz root tabs. That combo will cost half as much as Tahitian Moon Sand + root tabs or eco-complete + root tabs. And since I can always keep using root tabs, it won't set me back that far if I want to upgrade the substrate down the road.
What size grit of blasting sand should I get? 20/40 or 30/60?
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