Ideal Substrate for my 90gallon?
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Old 01-01-2004, 11:32 PM   #1
rasconza
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I am looking to set up a planted tank in my 90 gallon tank. I currently have just the cheap gravel. I want to upgrade to either flourite or perhaps eco-complete. Are there any endoresments or recomendations out there for either. I have noticed there seems to be some debate on which is better. Also the eco-complete comes in 20lb bags and the Flourite comes in I think a 17lb bag? How many bags would I need to get a deep enough layer for good root growth? Do most people mix with gravel or use is by itself? Thanks for the info. This is my first post but all the information on this forum has already been greatly beneficial to me.

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Old 01-01-2004, 11:53 PM   #2
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I recently started up my 72g with 140#s of eco-complete. I must say that I have been very impressed with this product. As a matter of fact I have used laterite in a few tanks now and the eco complete seems to do a much better job. An extra bonus is that eco-complete comes with bacteria already in the bag-thereby cycling your tank that much faster. One other cool thing is that eco-complete has an ability to "settle" itself. By that I mean that there are different granule sizes in each bag. The larger granules stay on top while the finer granules shift to the bottom-which is much preferred by your plants sensitive roots. Im sure 180-200#s would be plenty for your 90g. As stated before I have 140#s and have about a 6-7in. rear depth with about 4-5in. of foreground depth.....yeah its expensive but worth it
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Old 01-02-2004, 12:01 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reply Verminaard. The eco-complete does seem nice and it is considearbly cheaper than the flourite as well. You say you have anywhere between 4-7in depth of substrate? Is that much neccesary? I always thought recomended was around 3ish. One other question~the eco-complete looks very dark? How does it look in the tank? Black? Just curious on that one. Thanks

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Old 01-02-2004, 12:10 AM   #4
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Yes I have about 4-5in . in the foreground and slightly deeper in the rear. I have a very heavily planted rear of the tank(ludwigia, cabomba, wisteria,rotala,lloydia,etc....)and feel that with the extra depth the root systems can go pretty deep and have a great supply of nutrients. I have had tanks with a 50/50 mix of laterite/gravel and only 3 in depth with varying success. Case in point-I have a 55g with this mix (the 50/50 and only 3 in deep)with a large patch of echinodorus tennelus dying off -I believe the reason is the plant has absorbed every last bit of nutrients from the substrate and it grew so thick that the roots are probably choking each other out......I would have been better off with a much deeper substrate. Im sure there are other sources of info on this forum elsewhere on ideal substrate depth........
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Old 01-02-2004, 12:16 AM   #5
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Thanks for the info. I may go a bit deeper then. I did not realize that the plants would completely use up the nutrients from the substrate. I assumed over a long period of time the nutrients would become depleted. Good info tho. Not sure if you saw because I edited my last post. What do you think of the color of the eco-complete in your tank? Does it look good? Seems very dark in the bag. Thanks again.

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Old 01-02-2004, 12:49 AM   #6
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I really like the dark look of the eco-comp. I have always read that a dark substrate is usually preferred by most fish. Check out my tank in the photo album section under 72g planted bowfront and you can see that the dark color of the substrate (with the black background) gives a very nice contrast to the colors of the plants. good luck with your tank
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Old 01-02-2004, 12:55 AM   #7
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Wow~very nice. I like the look of your tank alot. You have so much green that you don't even notice the black substrate. Nice work man!
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Old 01-03-2004, 11:56 AM   #8
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You won't need that much substrate, 3-4" is the maximum; I mean with 4" of substrate how much depth will be left for your fish?! The dark substrate is great for bringing out the best colors in your fish, and it's good that it won't reflect light off causing stress to your fish. If you can't find Eco-Complete locally, go to Drs.Foster&Smith...they have the best prices around including shipping...
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Old 01-03-2004, 01:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raul-7
You won't need that much substrate, 3-4" is the maximum; I mean with 4" of substrate how much depth will be left for your fish?! The dark substrate is great for bringing out the best colors in your fish, and it's good that it won't reflect light off causing stress to your fish. If you can't find Eco-Complete locally, go to Drs.Foster&Smith...they have the best prices around including shipping...
He's setting up a 90 gallon tank so he should have plenty of room left for the plants and fish. Lots of people (think Amano) aquascape their tank with very radical changes in substrate depth, it gives an undulating (rolling hills) feel to the 'scape. Disclaimer: this is coming from a guy who has substrates that are less than 3 inches deep.

The only thing I would caution against is using a lot of shallow rooting plants over the deepest substrate. You want you deep rooters there so that the plants do what they do best and keep the substrate oxygenated. While I can demonstrate that plants can overcome an anoxic substrate, one that has decomposed to the point of being toxic is dangerous to your plants.

This is coming from an aquatic ecologist.
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Old 01-03-2004, 04:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SCMurphy
While I can demonstrate that plants can overcome an anoxic substrate, one that has decomposed to the point of being toxic is dangerous to your plants.
Are you talking about sulfur compounds? I'm just thinking you'd need a lot of organic material there in the first place to create toxic levels of these. 3" of sand and laterite, for example, without any nitrogen or carbon compounds, wouldn't be an issue, even if it was densely packed with no roots, right?

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Old 01-03-2004, 06:37 PM   #11
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To start, but how long does it take for mulm to work it's way though a substrate?
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Old 01-03-2004, 07:00 PM   #12
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Well... I'd hypothesize that if mulm can go somewhere, so can water w/dissolved O.
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Old 01-03-2004, 07:07 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hypsophrys
Well... I'd hypothesize that if mulm can go somewhere, so can water w/dissolved O.
:roll:

Except that the DO would be used up before the water carried it down through 4 inches of gravel. Where as Mulm wouldn't be used up, and would just accumulate. Without any plant roots penetrating down through the gravel there wouldn't be any DO delivery that way either, which was the original problem I was trying to help someone avoid.
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Old 01-03-2004, 07:39 PM   #14
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Excellent condescention, thanks.

DO would be used by aerobic bacteria nitrifying/nitrafying the organics... Mostly nitrates being the result. Once the oxygen runs out, Anaerobic Nitrate Respiration then Anaerobic Denitrificaction (which I believe can occur via more than one pathway - one w/no sulfur) can reduce nitrate to gaseous N2.

My point is that there is a whole methodology of using Deep Sand Beds to detoxify aquariums, and I think the rumours of the release of toxic compounds are pretty exaggerated. That seems relevant.

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Old 01-03-2004, 08:21 PM   #15
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It sure doesn't seem excellent....

Remember that this is a forum for helping people avoid problems in their tanks. If you don't like being redirected to the answer of the question, there's nothing I can do for you. If you have a point and try to disguise it, don't be surprised if you don't get a reply that matches what you are thinking of. Personally I'd just like to reiterate that all I want is to help the person who asked a question avoid a potential problem that we know about.

Denitrification is accomplished by anaerobic processes, yes, but not fast enough to rid the aquarium of all nitrogen compounds, so you still get the slow release of ammonium and methane from other anaerobic processes.

But in a planted tank those aren't the problem. The creation of the nasty sulfur compounds that you started to bring up earlier also occurs in the anoxic substrate, these ARE poisonous. Rumors? No, not rumors, ask the last person who got to smell rotten eggs when they stirred up a substrate and pulled up wilting crypts with blackened root tips. What a wonderful result of a deep sand bed.

The daily interplay between aerobic and anaerobic processes in a planted tank substrate is absolutely necessary for the rooted plants to obtain their nutrients and detoxify the area around their roots. The problems occur when a substrate goes completely anoxic and is never “switched” allowing the “rumors” to build up.
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