Best substrate solution for a 10 gallon?
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Old 11-18-2003, 01:40 AM   #1
Fyre
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I'm ready to build my first planted tank. I have a 10 gallon and I'm buying the hood and lights this weekend. My question is, what on earth should I do for a substrate? What's the cheapest alternative that will still give me healthy plants? Help!
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Old 11-18-2003, 02:33 AM   #2
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It depends largely upon what kind of plants you are going to run. There are many plants that rely heavily upon nutrients in the substrate, like sword plants. Many stem plants will pull their nutrients directly from the water column, so having a rich substrate is not that important for them.

That being said, even if you are going to have some root feeding plants, it is still possible to run a plain gravel substrate and supplement it with root tabs and or laterite balls pushed under the roots.

Now, as for cheap. The cheapest and in my opinion the best plain gravel is what is called Silica Sand. It also comes under the name of Tex-Blast. The grains are available in plain sand, #1, #2 or #3 gravel. I prefer the gravel texture. The gravel is between 1 and 3 mm. I usually describe it as a very coarse sand or a very fine gravel. It is a joy to plant in, because the stems just stick. Plus, in a 10 gallon tank the grains are small enough to maintain the illusion that your tank is larger than it is. Did I say cheap? 100lbs for around $6. It can be found at many construction stores and is sometimes sold as pool filter media. You do have to be careful though because not all pool filter media is the same. Make sure it is silica sand as that is inert.

Pea gravel is available at most hardware stores, but in my opinion it is too large for planted tanks. That's not to say it doesn't work, but I always found it difficult for plants to get enough friction to stick. Fish or water movement usually uprooted them minutes after planting. It's also a little more expensive than tex-blast at $5 for a 40lbs bag. If you absolutely can't find tex-blast/silica sand in your area then I would go this route.
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Old 11-19-2003, 03:01 PM   #3
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Do you know where I might be able to buy those? Maybe Lowes or Home Depot?
I was looking in Lowes last night and saw what appeared to be a larger grained sand. I believe it was labeled as silica sand. They had it in 50# bags for $3
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Old 11-19-2003, 03:04 PM   #4
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I've used the more coarse Play Sand at Lowes to grow plants before. It offers a good sized grain to hold down roots, but no nutrition. Get some root tabs of some sort to give the substrate a head start.
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Old 11-19-2003, 07:01 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fyre
Do you know where I might be able to buy those? Maybe Lowes or Home Depot?
I was looking in Lowes last night and saw what appeared to be a larger grained sand. I believe it was labeled as silica sand. They had it in 50# bags for $3
That might be it, but make sure. Any silica sand should be inert, but you don't know what you're getting if it isn't. Try going to infospace.com and search for sandblasting in your city. I believe that's what they use silica sand for typically.

Here is a link to a bad picture of my ram, but a really good picture of the silica sand in one of my tanks:
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Old 11-25-2003, 03:32 PM   #6
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I'm using onyx gravel with onyx sand over it (about an inch of gravel and 3/4 inch of sand) in a 10 gallon. Right now all I have is the gravel, so I'll let you guys know how it goes.
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Old 11-25-2003, 09:58 PM   #7
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DLeDeaux,

You are very lucky. What is sold here in the BORG as play sand is much finer than that. More like a combo of powdered sugar and normal sugar. Unless that Ram is much smaller than I think it is.
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Old 12-27-2003, 01:02 AM   #8
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shultz aquatic soil? i bought it because it was so cheap and it was available at home depot or lowes.
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Old 12-27-2003, 04:04 AM   #9
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Deffinately not the cheapest, but perhaps Flourite or Eco-Complete. True, they'll run about ~$20 a bag, but with just a 10g tank, you should only need one bag. Deffinately not as bad as trying to fill a 55G+ with the stuff. Onyx sand/gravel would work too, if you could handle the slight buffering.
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Old 12-31-2003, 07:59 PM   #10
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One bag of Seachem Flourite will work for you. 20 bucks a bag. It worked wonders for my 10 gallon planted tank.
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