Good substrate for my 20 gallon planted tank?
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Old 09-19-2004, 08:18 PM   #1
DocRay
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Good substrate for my 20 gallon planted tank?


I was wondering what would be a good planting substrate for my 20 gallon planted tank and also where is a good spot to get them? Thanks! Spot meaning website.
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Old 09-19-2004, 11:37 PM   #2
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Either Eco-Complete or Flourite would be my choice and in that order. As for mail order it really depends on where you live. Shipping on substrate can easily exceed the cost of the substrate. For a 20 long you are going to need two bags of either Flourite to get just under 3" and three bags of Eco-Complete. You might see if your LFS can order them for you as you will need one case of Flourite and 1.5 cases of Eco-Complete. These figures are for a 20L tank. A 20H tank would take two bags of either one to get 2.5-3" depth.
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Old 09-20-2004, 02:54 AM   #3
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An alternative to the high priced substrates is plain top soil, at about $3.00
for 40 pounds. I have two tanks with this substrate and the plants are growing extremely well. I have to prune every two weeks.

I should add that these are 2 wpg, non CO2, noy fertilized tanks.

Good luck.

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Old 09-20-2004, 03:33 AM   #4
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If this is your first tank, I definitely would not make it an experiment with topsoil. They can a heavy amount of fertilizers and organics. Eco-complete and flourite are the way to go. If you need the save money, Schultz aquatic plant soil (profile) or Schultz clay soil conditioner can be bought locally cheaply in 40lbs bags. People like to mix it with gravel cause it is too light (in color too). Some have had phosphate problems with it - just a warning.
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Old 09-20-2004, 04:05 PM   #5
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I think sometimes we tend to make the price of entrance for new (or newer)
aquarists too high by suggesting that he or she invest hundreds of dollars
on a new tank. The purpose of my post was to advise Doc and anyone else who followed this thread that it is not necessary to spend a lot of money on substrate. Rolo's contribution also helps to do that.

BTW, the conventional wisdom is or was that soil substrates are difficult and best left to experienced hobbyists. But a lot has been written about it in the last several years and a lot of the mystique has been stripped away. If one starts with nutrient-poor (unenriched) top soil from Loews or Home Depot,
soaks it for a few days, adds no more than a half inch of it to the bottom of the tank, tosses in a little peat and some mulm, and covers it with about an inch of 2mm - 3mm gravel, he or she shouldn't have any substrate-caused problems.

Here are some links for those who want more information. Note the conflicting advice, in some cases.

http://fins.actwin.com/aquatic-plant.../msg00045.html

http://fins.actwin.com/aquatic-plant.../msg00205.html

http://fins.actwin.com/aquatic-plant.../msg00151.html

Good luck.

Bill
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Old 09-20-2004, 04:14 PM   #6
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You could always use the regular aquarium gravel with laterite. You may even layer some of those to cut down costs or mix gravel with Florite. You may notice these guys are hardcore and sometimes while they are recommending the best sometimes it is just cost prohibitive and you have to do what you can. I have to agree though that it is better to go with the best you can afford then relpace it later or have to add stuff to the substrate later. You normally want to disturb the substrtate as little as possible after a tank is setup. So do it right the first time.
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Old 09-20-2004, 06:16 PM   #7
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If cost is a factor I would use inert gravel with some laterite and peat. I can get 100 lbs of coarse sand (1-3 mm) for around $15.

Around here top soil from the BORG has way too much organic matter in it for my tastes and I would really NOT want to put it in a tank. Bagged bulk soil varies a lot from location to location in the US. Here in the Pacific NW with all the rain we get and the poor soils that seem to be common place most all the bagged products are very rich in organics to make up for what we start with.

I know that people in other parts of the US have had good luck with what seem to be common place materials. Top soil and cat piss absorbent are two frequently mentioned items. But these two items also are very inconsistent even within the same package and from the same vendor.
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Old 09-20-2004, 09:16 PM   #8
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It would be great if SCMurphy would chime in on this. he has been running soil substrates and probably has the most experience with them.

Personally, I wouldn't skimp on a substrate. It is one of the most important aspects of a planted aquarium. It is the easiest thing to put in initially, but one of, if not the most difficult thing to replace once you have things up and running.

While it might not be the least expensive thing, a good substrate like Flourite or Eco-Complete would probably be the best thing for someone just entering the hobby, just for the reasons Rex mentioned. Soil varies from source to source. It's nutrient contents can vary greatly from package to package. That lack of consistency would make it very hard for even an experience aquarist to maintain stable conditions in the aquarium. For a beginner this could be a great source of frustration as well as discouragement.

Best bet for someone new and on a budget who might not be willing to wait and save up for Eco-Complete or Flourite, would be to use one of the gravel substrates. Some laterite under a finer gravel substrate would more than likely be a good start. Searching through the "Substrate" part of the forum would provide some good substrate suggestions.

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Old 09-23-2004, 09:26 PM   #9
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Got some red flourite from the LFS, $20 per bag, which is cheaper than on the internet with shipping and everything, going to mix it with pool filter sand I think, like $3 a bag, I think it should work ok! Thanks for everything guys
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Old 09-24-2004, 02:10 PM   #10
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FYI the sand and flourite won't look very good together, and pool filter sand is very fine I believe.
2 bags of flourite would be perfect for a 20H tank.
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Old 10-01-2004, 08:47 PM   #11
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hate to burst your bubble Malkore but pool filter sand isnt fine...its actually a lot coarser than the sands you buy at the LFS, but definately no where near as coarse as onyx sand(that stuff looks like gravel to me)
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Old 10-01-2004, 08:52 PM   #12
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I swear by Flourite myself, I give it a large part of the credit for the success I've had with my planted tanks. And the last time I bought was at Pet Solutions for $9.99 and with UPS Ground, it was still cheaper than the only local place (Petsmart) that sells it.
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Old 10-08-2004, 12:33 AM   #13
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Kittly litter from walmart i have had good success with.
Eco- complete i like though as it is dark and will not cloud your water like my kitty litter tanks get when i move plants around.
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Old 10-08-2004, 01:31 AM   #14
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Like I have said many times it really depends on where you live. The pool filter sand out here is very fine. Like most all of the sand available. Most of the sand that is mined locally comes from the river bottoms and is more like a hard gritty silt than sand.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MentaldisordeR
hate to burst your bubble Malkore but pool filter sand isnt fine...its actually a lot coarser than the sands you buy at the LFS, but definately no where near as coarse as onyx sand(that stuff looks like gravel to me)
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Old 10-14-2004, 03:53 PM   #15
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Does eco-complete harden the water, i bought stuff here in the uk which came in bag mixed with water, is the this the same stuff? I found i raised my GH and KH by a few degrees
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