soil, kitty litter, or flourite or ???
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Old 03-04-2004, 10:48 PM   #1
NFish
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I'm planning a 29 gallon tank, with 110 watts of light and DIY CO2. I'm on a budget, but willing to spend a little maybe on substrate.

So, which would you recommend?

1. Fluorite (I would only buy one bag, and have regular gravel)
2. Soil (a specific brand please if anyone has had sucess, and regular gravel on top)
3. Kittly Litter (Gravel on top)
4. something else. Suggestions please?
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Old 03-04-2004, 10:55 PM   #2
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I would say-- eco-complete---i have a 10 gallon with flourite and one with eco-complete, i love the colour of the eco-complete better, and i think the plants look better against the dark colour- also i think the plants in the eco-complete tank are growing better than my flourite tank--- i am also setting up a 30 gallon planted right now, and just ordered 4 bags of eco-complete for it. well good-luck :!:

i forgot to add-- i just ordered the 110 watt- all-glass high output compact strip-lites at www.petsolutions.com on sale for $101.99. for the 36".
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Old 03-04-2004, 11:06 PM   #3
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I would not recomend the Kittly Litter or soil route unless you are willing to go through a LOT of trial and error. If you can afford it.. buy some Flourite or Eco Complete, you really wont regret it.

I speak from experience, I love my soil tank, but there are drawbacks.
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Old 03-05-2004, 02:33 AM   #4
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Ditto, my soil tanks hum, but I won't recommend it as a person's first attempt at a planted tank.
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Old 03-05-2004, 02:53 AM   #5
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This is not my first attempt and if i was going to buy anything like flourite or eco, than I can only get one bag and then add gravel.
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Old 03-05-2004, 06:44 AM   #6
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Hi There

Soil Rocks!!! BUT it works best for the low tech set up as per the Walstad method.

Unfortunately in my country there is no flourite and no Eco-complete. All I have to use is soil or litter. The other posters are right for a high tech tank(CO2, high light, ferts) soil is not the best option. I use soil in all my tanks and the trial and error thing can be a real PITA!

I think you will be happier to go with a prepared substrate like those mentioned.

Whatever you decide good luck to you.

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Old 03-05-2004, 08:27 PM   #7
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I'm still not sure what to do yet. If I do soil, what kind/brand should I buy?

What do you think of 1" of soil, 1" of kitty litter, and 1.5" of gravel???
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Old 03-05-2004, 09:57 PM   #8
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It would be next to impossible for us to recomend a "brand" of soil for you. Most soils are colelcted regionally so the "brands" we have around us will most likely be night and day different from what you have available to you. Like we said.. Its not for the beginner. You need to know the soil composition.. Does it contain Urea? High organic matter? was it recently composted? Does it contain Fertilizer of any kind?

"IF" you decide on soil.. just use soil, and cap it with Silver sand (Silica sand) or something similar. You want to try and seal the dirt under your substrate (I've tried soil several ways with varying results). You can also mix in a bag of vericulite to keep the soil from compacting too much (this can cause serious anaerobic problems).

Check out Eco-Complete, its a little cheaper then Flourite up here, I'm not sure about the states. Some of our members swear by it.

Basically you have two choices here

1.) Spend a little money and buy a substrate designed for planted tanks. This will cost more up front but is well worth it in the long term.

2.) Spend less money up front and go with a DIY substrate (Soil, litter, etc) and experiment. This will end up costing you more money (and time) as you may end up having to replace fish, or your substrate a few times before you get it right. It really isn't a good approach for a beginner (General assumption that a begginer has less then 5 years experience.)

Soil tanks can take a looooong time to mature properly before they are safe for fish. The Ammonia spike that results as the soil breaks down can last for months so you may not be satisfied.

Seriously, save the money up untill you can do it right.
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Old 03-05-2004, 10:14 PM   #9
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IMO you would want to avoid soil, or other organic matter, in your substrate. It is just too unpredictable, especially for a larger tank, especially if it is your one show tank.

For a smaller tank, experimenting with soil is great, and you get an awesome growth out of your plants, and when the soup starts to blubber, you just clamp your nose shut, throw the hole enchilada out and start over. It is a little harder with large tanks.

I have had tanks with soil, and for the low maintenance, low light, no fert and CO2 approach it works wonders. But if you like aquascaping, and want to pull out plants once in a while because they would look better in a different spot, basically mess around with your tank, again, I would not use soil.

I don't think the high tech substrates are worth that much money. You can grow awesome plants in enriched fine gravel, which costs about $4 for 50 lbs (versus $60 for a plant tank substrate). It is just as long term stable. To increase the nutrient binding capability, something like laterite, or fired clay substrate like Schultz Aquatic Soil (I love kitty litter though ops will not break the bank.

Anyway... that's what I think and do, and there are many ways :mrgreen:
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Old 03-05-2004, 11:07 PM   #10
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Ok, I won't do soil!!! you convinced me. I might still do kitty litter, but I'm considering eco-complete. But it will cost me about $25 a bag.

If I do kitty litter, how do you tell if it's safe?
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Old 03-05-2004, 11:12 PM   #11
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maybe some help? instead of ordering eco-complete online--i had my local pet store order it for me- they charged me $17.00 a bag- i had to call around to find a pet store that would do that--good-luck
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Old 03-06-2004, 12:56 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NFish
If I do kitty litter, how do you tell if it's safe?
Some hints here: http://www.plantedtank.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5881
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