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Old 10-31-2012, 07:17 PM   #1
mrramsey
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Substrate - only targeting planted areas?


Hi again,Thanks for the input. I still have a question or two before I start working on this remodel project this weekend.

My tank design is mainly going to be a pool sand base with rocks and wood as a centerpiece growing java fern and anubias on them. I would also like some taller BG plants in the corners and maybe some shorter foreground plants in front.

Is it advisable to ad eco complete or some other substrate just in the areas where I want additional plantings? I really don't want spend another $60+ on substrate to cover the entire tank bottom, but think the tank may look a bit bare if I don't add some additional plants.

I have heard of people using miracle grow potters mix but that introduces ammonia from the animal waste in it. I have stock that will need to go back into the tank ASAP.

Also just wondering about timing... should I introduce just the hard scapes now and plant in a couple weeks or do it all at once?
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Old 10-31-2012, 09:24 PM   #2
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Maybe try something like Safe-T-Sorb, it's pretty cheap, and doesn't look bad.

If you have an inch or two of pool sand over the dirt, it should slow the rate that anything from that leaches into the water column. You could also try rinsing the dirt to remove the easily soluble stuff.

I find it easier to set up the hardscape, then go get the plants and plant them, and then fill the tank and gradually add the critters, but that's just me.
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Old 10-31-2012, 11:04 PM   #3
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You could indeed put a better quality substrate in areas you want to plant.
I would be concerned that if the 2 materials (sand and plant specific substrate) are different weights one will drift under the other, not stay in place. Using sand and EC might be safer that way.
If you like the look of Safe-T-Sorb, you could use 100% STS, no sand. It is a high CEC material that is really good for plants. I would not use sand in the same tank unless there was a physical barrier between the 2. I did that with Soil Master Select, and the sand (heavier) kept moving, ending up mostly at the bottom of the tank, and the SMS on top, but just mixed enough that they cannot be separated.

If the substrate leaches ammonia that can be useful if you are doing the fishless cycle.
If you will be cycling the tank faster then you would still have to wait it out until the substrate quits producing the ammonia.

I would do the hardscape and planting, then do the fishless cycle.

Safe-T-Sorb and the related materials, sand, EC and many other substrates do not produce ammonia when they are submerged.
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Old 10-31-2012, 11:06 PM   #4
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Oh yea, on the timing:
I would set up the hardscape and plant the tank.
Then do the fishless cycle. If you are using plants that are sensitive to ammonia you might cycle it a bit differently. Add no more ammonia than it takes to reach 1 ppm, but add that much twice a day. That will still grow lots of bacteria, but the ammonia peak will not be so high as to burn the plants.
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Old 11-01-2012, 02:55 PM   #5
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Don't use eco complete, there's nothing in it.

Also, yes, you can just use substrate where the plants will be but remember where you first place the plants isn't necessarily where the roots will end up!
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Old 11-01-2012, 04:31 PM   #6
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I second the Safe t sorb. It was only $4.99 for 40 lbs at tractor supply last week. That price alone makes it worth the trip to a TS.
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Old 11-04-2012, 03:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
You could indeed put a better quality substrate in areas you want to plant.
I would be concerned that if the 2 materials (sand and plant specific substrate) are different weights one will drift under the other, not stay in place. Using sand and EC might be safer that way.
If you like the look of Safe-T-Sorb, you could use 100% STS, no sand. It is a high CEC material that is really good for plants. I would not use sand in the same tank unless there was a physical barrier between the 2. I did that with Soil Master Select, and the sand (heavier) kept moving, ending up mostly at the bottom of the tank, and the SMS on top, but just mixed enough that they cannot be separated.

If the substrate leaches ammonia that can be useful if you are doing the fishless cycle.
If you will be cycling the tank faster then you would still have to wait it out until the substrate quits producing the ammonia.

I would do the hardscape and planting, then do the fishless cycle.

Safe-T-Sorb and the related materials, sand, EC and many other substrates do not produce ammonia when they are submerged.
So if I use the safe t sorb as a base what type of a physical barrier would I do then to cap it with sand?
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Old 11-04-2012, 10:14 PM   #8
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Actually i ended up just using the safe t sorb! I think it looks great. The water is still a little work cloudy nit should be back to normal in the morning. I think i will order some plants this week.
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Old 11-05-2012, 06:42 PM   #9
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Here is where I am with the STS substrate - Before and After

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