I am sooo confused :icon_conf
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Old 11-14-2012, 10:29 PM   #1
TaDoey
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I am sooo confused :icon_conf


What is the point of substrate? I understand that substrate is used to allow plants something to cling on, but why drop $40 on 9 liters of ada aquasoil? Yes I know that there are nutrients in it for plant roots, but wouldn't regular fert dosing give plants the necessary nutrients? Couldn't a bag of turface drowned in ferts have the capabilities of ada aquasoil? I'm not ranting, but rather extremely confused. There was a thread where Hoppy had posted a post and I quote
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EDIT: I just remembered one test result I have seen. Tom Barr did some testing using two, as I recall, species of aquatic plants, with a few different types of substrates, among which were Lake Tahoe silt, soilmaster select, which is a high CEC material, ADA Aquasoil, S.F. Bay Delta silt, etc. He judged the results, again as I recall, by drying and weighing the plants that grew in the substrates. The soilmaster select was one of the best, Delta silt was one of the best, and Lake Tahoe silt was one of the worst (being largely quartz sand, I would assume). ADA Aquasoil wasn't the best! These results might suggest that high CEC materials do have a significant advantage over pool filter sand.
He clearly says that ada aquasoil did not come out on top but rather soilmaster select, which is now replaced with turface, was one of the best. I'm pretty sure that something that's supposed to be put on a baseball field wouldn't have the key nutrients that an aquatic plant might want. So why did soilmaster select come above ada aquasoil? I myself am not too sure what my question is, but I guess what I'm asking is what's the point of spending so much money on substrate when you could just dose ferts and use turface.
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Old 11-14-2012, 10:38 PM   #2
somewhatshocked
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It's all personal preference.

I use all kinds of substrates - even Turface-like products. They all work well.

But I prefer ADA Aquasoil because it already contains nutrients (less I have to do in low-tech tanks re: ferts), looks attractive and helps buffer my water. I use it in smaller tanks because it's decently affordable to fill a 10gal with it.

I like Turface and pool filter sand because they're cheap and can be used for larger tanks without breaking the bank. Turface and Safe T Sorb have high CECs so they're great for holding onto ferts for root feeders.
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Old 11-14-2012, 11:17 PM   #3
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So basically ADA aquasoil is used because of its aesthetics as well as it already having the nutrients and it buffers. So would it be possible to somehow add nutrients to the other substrates? Like putting the substrate in a bucket and dumping in a bunch of ferts?
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Old 11-15-2012, 02:11 AM   #4
Diana
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Soils of several sorts can hold onto fertilizers in a way that the plants can get them but the ferts are not released into the water column. This is referred to as Cationic Exchange Capacity. Mostly it is extremely fine substrates that can do this. Clay and well decomposed organic matter. The clay can be clumped together like ADA products and others and still have this ability.

The sports field products and the 'sorbant products like kitty litter, Oil Dri and related products are very good at this, too.
Soil Master Select was one of the earlier products used like this, but is no longer available.
Turface is one that is still available, but the colors are not great looking in an aquarium. Sort of bright.
Safe-T-Sorb is one of the oil absorbing materials that looks really good in an aquarium, being soft greys and browns like a natural river bed. It seems to hold up well, too.
Oil Dri and most other oil absorbent materials and kitty litter are usually white or off white, and may fall apart too fast in an aquarium.

These materials are all somewhat lighter weight than most aquarium substrates. Plants do not stay down so well when they are first planted, though they will root well and run through the substrate quickly if they can stay down long enough to get going.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
No matter how much fertilizer a substrate may have when you first install it you need to supply more fertilizer over time.

Think of the substrate as your plates and bowls. The fertilizer is like the food. Keep on using the plates and bowls, adding food for each meal.
The substrate should last for years, but you need to keep adding fertilizer.
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Old 11-15-2012, 02:58 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
No matter how much fertilizer a substrate may have when you first install it you need to supply more fertilizer over time.

Think of the substrate as your plates and bowls. The fertilizer is like the food. Keep on using the plates and bowls, adding food for each meal.
The substrate should last for years, but you need to keep adding fertilizer.
Your use of the plates and bowls really helped me understand and visualise the importance of substrate what what it does. Thank you both for taking the time answer my question.
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Old 11-15-2012, 06:15 PM   #6
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And just having fish in your tank can provide a good deal of ferts/nutrients over time (depending on plants, fish, and set-up, you may still need supplemental ferts/nutrients)
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Old 11-15-2012, 10:00 PM   #7
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It's easy to get caught up in the fervor for "next, biggest, best!" when reading thru a forum like this, but ultimately, there are a thousand ways to do pretty much anything and everyone of them are "right" if they work for you.

Personally, I still love good old polished aquarium gravel and keep a couple buckets of it around for temporary setups like grow-out and rescue tanks.
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Old 11-15-2012, 10:17 PM   #8
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the beauty of substrates is there is sooo many to choose from.

Lets say you want to do a sandy river bottom you can you use some sand, if you want something like SE asia you can use aquasoil malaya. if you want some shrimp you can use a shrimp soil.
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