Expensive vs cheap substrates
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Old 10-22-2003, 09:09 PM   #1
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I don't want to step on anyones toes with that question... it's pure curiosity.

I am wondering if anyone has switched from a "cheap" substrate (Gravel, Profile, Kitty Litter, Sand, Soil, Peat, whatnot) to an expensive one (Flourite, Onyx, Eco-complete), used the same setup (lights, CO2, fertilizing routine) and has experienced a significant improvement in plant growth/health/appearance. Or vice versa.

I often read you should spent a lot of money on them, only the expensive substrates are... what... long term stable? Worth every penny? I have never used any of them, so I have no experience. But I know that plants can grow in completely inert gravel, or even without any substrate at all, ex Water Sprite.

Please share your experiences. Perhaps you even have a tank that has part of it covered with one and part with another substrate.
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Old 10-22-2003, 09:56 PM   #2
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Well.. I can share my gravel to Soil experience...

In my 135 Gallon tank I started potting the same plants I keep planted in teh basic gravel. In the pots I keep Soil, capped with a littel bit of gravel to keep it in place.

In the pots, the same plants grow 3 times faster (apporxiamtely) then in the gravel.

This is partly why I have decided to tear down this tank.
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Old 10-27-2003, 05:06 PM   #3
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Hmmm. I am concluding that nobody has seen any significant growth improvement when changing from a cheap to an expensive substrate, or any deterioration in plant growth when going the other way.
IMO a good CEC (as various clay products provide) is more important than a big price tag and an initial supply of a particular nutrient.
One day I will do an experiment using very different substrates in the same tank... I will let you know the outcome :mrgreen:
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Old 10-27-2003, 05:25 PM   #4
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I recently switched a 2.5g nano from kitty litter/sand to sand over potting soil/peat and the difference in growth for rooted plants is pretty amazing. The kitty litter just provided a good exchange for cations, but didn't seem to be providing them. These crypts have doubled in size in just a few weeks in the potting soil/peat.

When used as a thin bottom layer, I don't have a negative thing to say about kitty litter. I'm becoming a much bigger fan of potting soil, though, for a cheap substrate.
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